Christmas tree prices on the rise

CORVALLIS — Experts in Oregon, the nation’s No. 1 supplier of Christmas trees, say prices for a holiday evergreen will remain higher this year due to a tight supply.

Chad Landgren, with Oregon State University’s College of Forestry, says there are 400 fewer Oregon growers than there were 15 years ago and land once used for Christmas trees is now being used for less labor-intensive crops. Many tree farms went out of business about a decade ago.

On average, consumers paid $78 for a tree in 2018, up $3 from 2017.

There are 383 licensed Christmas tree growers in Oregon who sell about 4.6 million trees a year.

Most of those trees are sold in the Pacific Northwest, California, Nevada and Arizona.

Mexico is the top international importer of Oregon trees.

Congress may tackle robocalls

Before the end of the year, Congress may tackle the robocall epidemic plaguing phones of lawmakers and constituents alike.

House and Senate lawmakers released text Wednesday of a bipartisan compromise measure that merges the House and Senate versions passed earlier this year.

The joint bill will require phone companies to verify that phone numbers are real and block robocalls without charging consumers any extra money. The measure also pushes the Justice Department to bring more criminal prosecutions against robocallers and gives the Federal Communications Commission more time and authority to investigate and punish illegal robocallers.

Lawmakers announced that a deal was reached earlier this month, but the final compromise legislation was not released until Wednesday.

“It’s time to put Americans back in charge of their phones,” House and Senate lawmakers said in the statement.

Technological advances in recent years have allowed robocallers to target thousands of phones with minimal effort, which some advocates say has rendered the 2003 National Do Not Call Registry ineffective.

Group Athena aims to stop Amazon

Critics worried about the displacement of residents, the company’s surveillance-heavy labor practices, and the logic of offering billions of dollars in financial incentives to a company owned by one of America’s richest men. Organizers eventually succeeded in pushing Amazon out of one of its chosen locations: Long Island City, Queens.

The nascent movement to hold Amazon accountable gained momentum this week when a grassroots coalition launched an organization called Athena.

Athena, the group said, aims “to stop Amazon’s increasing stranglehold on our economy, democracy, people, and planet.”

Amazon is projected to have $238 billion in sales this year. It employs 750,000 people. Its CEO, Jeff Bezos, is one of the richest people in the world.

— Bulletin wire reports

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