Tuesday, June 1, 2021

US Post Office plans to raise stamp prices this summer

The U.S. Postal Service wants to raise rates on first-class stamps from 55 cents to 58 cents as part of a host of price hikes and service changes designed to reduce debt for the beleaguered agency. The request for the changes, which would take effect August 29th, was filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission. It includes price hikes for first-class mail, magazines and marketing mailers. The price hikes are part of Postmaster General 10-year plan for the agency, which faces an estimated $160 billion in operating losses over the next decade. The Post Office has grappled with declining revenues for years; in the past decade, overall mail volume has dropped 28 percent, and first-class letters have declined by 47 percent, according to the agency. It also faces fierce competition in the package delivery business from FedEx, UPS and Amazon. (United States Postal Service)


Why some states lag in filling jobs

States in the Plains, New England and the Mountain West are having an especially tough time filling open jobs compared to much of the rest of the country, with about three available positions for every one unemployed job seeker in April. Some states, including Montana and the Dakotas, became “pandemic refuge states,” explains a labor economist, igniting economic activity and the need for more labor. Meanwhile, northern New England’s job market is struggling due to aging residents and stagnant population growth. (The Wall Street Journal)


China increased its limit on births from two to three children for married couples, following a decline in the number of new babies born in recent years

Married Chinese couples may have up to three children, China announced, in a major shift from the existing limit of two after recent data showed a dramatic decline in births in the world’s most populous country. Beijing scrapped its decades-old one-child policy in 2016, replacing it with a two-child limit to try and stave off risks to its economy from a rapidly aging population. But that failed to result in a sustained surge in births given the high cost of raising children in Chinese cities. The policy change will come with “supportive measures, which will be conducive to improving our country’s population structure, fulfilling the country’s strategy of actively coping with an ageing population”, according to President Xi Jinping. Among those measures, China will lower educational costs for families, step up tax and housing support, guarantee the legal interests of working women and clamp down on “sky-high” dowries, it said, without giving specifics. It would also look to educate young people “on marriage and love”. China had a fertility rate of just 1.3 children per woman in 2020, recent data showed, on par with ageing societies like Japan and Italy and far short of the roughly 2.1 needed for replacement level. (Reuters)


Cities want to tear down highways

Highway building in 1950s and 1960s America disconnected communities and grew dependence on the automobile. Yet, it also represented a booming economy and a growing population. Recent activism and a potential federal infrastructure bill have reawakened calls for more density, less car dependence and more walkable neighborhoods and many U.S. cities are now considering taking down their highways and reimagining communities that became disconnected and lifeless. (The New York Times)


Cornwall officials urge tourists to ‘engage brains’ after car swept into sea

Bemused residents and tourism officials in Cornwall have urged visitors to “engage their brains” after a family car was washed into the sea near St Agnes. In the second such incident at Trevaunance Cove in the past eight months, the vehicle was swept away at high tide after the driver got stuck on a steep slipway while doing a three-point turn. The 26-year-old, who was visiting from the Midlands with his family, said the incident happened overnight when he and his friend became lost. “The back tires fell over the edge of the slipway,” he said. “I tried calling 999 but we had no signal so we slept in the car for four or five hours with the wheels over the edge. Then my friend said: ‘I’ve got a bad feeling, let’s get out of this car.’ We got out, went for a walk up the hill to get signal and by the time we got back the car was swimming.” Salvage experts recovered the vehicle, worth more than $25,000. (The Guardian)


Johnson & Johnson wants the Supreme Court to review a verdict that ordered the company to pay Two Billion Dollars to women who say that J&J talc products gave them ovarian cancer

Johnson & Johnson is asking for Supreme Court review of a $2 Billion verdict in favor of women who claim they developed ovarian cancer from using the company’s talc products. The case features an array of high-profile attorneys, some in unusual alliances, including former independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who is representing the women who sued Johnson & Johnson. At the root, Johnson & Johnson argues that the company didn’t get a fair shake in a trial in state court in Missouri that resulted in an initial $4.7 Billion verdict in favor of 22 women who used talc products and developed ovarian cancer. Health concerns about talcum powders have prompted thousands of U.S. lawsuits by women who claim asbestos in the powder caused their cancer. Talc is a mineral similar in structure to asbestos, which is known to cause cancer, and they are sometimes obtained from the same mines. The cosmetics industry in 1976 agreed to make sure its talc products do not contain detectable amounts of asbestos. (Associated Press)


Student’s report on Hitler’s ‘pretty great’ accomplishments prompts outrage

Residents in Tenafly, New Jersey expressed shock over a student-written biography of Adolf Hitler that hung in the Maugham Elementary School for weeks, stating “I was pretty popular” and asking, “Wasn’t I great?” The fifth-grade assignment also included the student dressing as Hitler, according to the parent of another student whose account was shared online. The one-page bio, written in the Nazi leader’s voice, was displayed in the elementary school’s hallway with similar assignments from other students starting in April. “My greatest accomplishment was uniting a great mass of German and Austrian people behind me,” the student wrote in pencil on a paper circle titled “Accomplishments.” In a letter posted on the district website, the schools Superintendent said that she learned of “a serious matter involving a school project completed recently on Adolf Hitler” The investigation will continue, the superintendent said, promising it would be “concluded as swiftly as possible.” (North Jersey)


Arizona man accused of using fireworks to destroy mailboxes

A 40-year-old man in Mesa, Arizona is accused of using fireworks to destroy five mailboxes during a three-day stretch in March, authorities said. According to the Mesa Police Department, four mailboxes in Mesa and one in Gilbert were destroyed between March 12 and March 15th. Police said the mailboxes were destroyed by “an unknown explosive device”. After his arrest, police said the man told authorities he apologized to the merchant who owned the first mailbox and paid him $30 as restitution. He later confessed to blowing up at least three mailboxes, according to police. He was arrested and charged with five counts of first-degree burglary for “entering a nonresidential structure while in possession of explosives,” five counts of disorderly conduct and possession of dangerous drugs. (AZ Family)


Florida sued over law to punish social media companies for blocking politicians

Two groups representing online companies sued Florida over a new law that seeks to punish large social media businesses like Facebook and Twitter if they remove content or ban politicians. Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill recently that will allow the state to fine large social media sites if they inactivate a statewide politician’s account and will let any Floridian sue those companies if they feel like they’ve been treated unfairly. NetChoice, a lobbying firm that represents Twitter, Facebook, and other online companies, and the Computer and Communications Industry Association sued, saying the law violates First Amendment rights. The suit filed in the U.S. District Court in Tallahassee says the law prevents companies from protecting users, advertisers and the public from “pornography, terrorist incitement, false propaganda created and spread by hostile foreign governments, calls for genocide or race-based violence, disinformation regarding COVID-19 vaccines, fraudulent schemes, egregious violations of personal privacy, counterfeit goods and other violations of intellectual property rights, bullying and harassment, conspiracy theories denying the Holocaust or 9/11, and dangerous computer viruses”. The governor’s office defended the new law, saying Big Tech companies discriminate on political and ideological line and the law protects Floridians constitutional rights. (Market Watch)


A guy has been asking Walmart to pick up its trash for 3 years, but when he did it himself, Walmart called the police

A man in Bethel, Maine, who said he’s been asking managers at Walmart to clean up trash behind their stores, was ordered to leave the property recently, after employees saw him picking up trash next to the Androscoggin River. The man said he’s advised managers at the store for the past three years that he’s had enough of the trash building up outside their store. He said when he saw hundreds of face masks, empty Walmart bags, Dunkin’ containers and used diapers spread out and obviously raked down the riverbank recently, he couldn’t stand it. He said he told the manager, “You’re the manager and you’re allowing this to happen in the River Valley? I said, ‘164 miles of the Androscoggin River, 3,530 miles of watershed and you’re allowing your store to disrespect us like this? And you’re not doing nothing about it?’” The man spent the morning picking up garbage behind the store, but after employees noticed him, managers told him to leave the property. When he didn’t, Police Officers arrived and the man left on his own. Store Manager said that the corporate office in Arkansas has contracted someone to clean up the trash but he didn’t know when it would be done. (Sun Journal)


American, Southwest put off plans to serve alcohol after passenger disruptions, assault on board

Southwest Airlines and American Airlines said they are holding off on resuming alcoholic beverage services, after a flight attendant was assaulted and the industry grapples with a surge of other passenger incidents on board.    A Southwest flight attendant suffered injuries to her face and lost two teeth after she was assaulted by a passenger, according to a May 24 letter from Southwest flight attendants’ union president to the CEO. Between April 8 to May 15, there were 477 passenger misconduct incidents on Southwest flights, Montgomery wrote. Airlines have been slowly bringing back some meal snack and beverage service that they had paused early in the pandemic. American Airlines said it won’t sell alcoholic beverages in the main cabin through September 13th, when the federal mask mandate is set to expire. It will still offer alcohol beverages in first and business class but only in flight. Dallas-based Southwest had planned to resume alcohol sales in June for Hawaii flights, and in July for longer domestic flights in the continental United States. A Southwest spokesman said there is currently “no timetable” for the alcohol sales to resume. (CNBC)


California cafe owner charges customers $5 fee for wearing masks

Diners are mostly free to speak their mind at a Northern California cafe, but doing so through the protective confines of a mask will cost a cover charge of $5. Fiddleheads Cafe in Mendocino, California put up a sign announcing the fee for customers who wear masks while ordering. In March, the cafe announced an ongoing 50 percent discount for those who throw their face coverings in the trash. “I don’t think $5 to charity is too much to ask from mask wearing customers who claim to care so much about the community they live in,” the owner said. Proceeds will go to Project Sanctuary, a local domestic abuse organization, for two weeks before a new nonprofit enters the rotation. “It’s about time that the proponents of these ineffective government measures start paying for the collateral damage they have collectively caused,” the owner said. The restaurant also planned to charge an additional $5 fee to those “caught bragging” about being vaccinated, according to a couple of the posted signs. (NBC News)


Georgia county tells residents to stop calling 911 over cicadas

A Georgia county is asking residents to stop calling 911 over the loud-as-a-lawnmower cicadas that have just emerged from a 17-year hibernation. Multiple reports are coming into Union County of “alarms” in the area, Union County Fire/Rescue and EMA said in a Facebook post. “More than likely these ‘alarms’ are not alarms at all but a bug, Brood X,” the post said. Trillions of the winged Brood X insects have come out of the ground in eastern states from New Jersey to Georgia for mating season. The half-inch bugs hum at level so loud that it is roughly the equivalent of a lawnmower, experts say. “It is often difficult to pinpoint where the sound is coming from and can sound like a vehicle or home alarm system,” the Facebook post said. “Their song can be loud enough to cause hearing loss as they can produce sounds up to 120 db.” (Union County Fire/Rescue & EMA)


Tuesday Crashed Down With:

  • Baby Boomers Recognition Day
  • CNN Day
  • Dare Day
  • Global Day of Parents
  • Go Barefoot Day
  • Hazelnut Cake Day
  • Heimlich Maneuver Day
  • Internati0onal IGBO Day
  • International Table Top Day
  • Nailpolish Day
  • Olive Day
  • Pen Pal Day
  • Oscar The Grouch Day
  • Say Something Nice Day
  • Stand For Children Day
  • Superman’s Birthday (Comic Book)
  • World Milk Day
  • World Narcissistic Abuse Day
  • World Reef Awareness Day


Historical Events

  • 193 – Roman Emperor Didius Julianus is assassinated.
  • 1204 – King Philip Augustus of France conquers Rouen.
  • 1679 – The Scottish Covenanters defeat John Graham of Claverhouse at the Battle of Drumclog.
  • 1813 – James Lawrence, the mortally-wounded commander of the USS Chesapeake, gives his final order: “Don’t give up the ship!”
  • 1868 – Treaty of Bosque Redondo is signed allowing the Navajos to return to their lands in Arizona and New Mexico.
  • 1941 – The Farhud, a pogrom of Iraqi Jews, takes place in Baghdad.
  • 1943 – British Overseas Airways Corporation Flight 777 is shot down over the Bay of Biscay by German Junkers Ju 88s, killing actor Leslie Howard and leading to speculation the downing was an attempt to kill British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
  • 1999 – American Airlines Flight 1420 slides and crashes while landing at Little Rock National Airport, killing 11 people on a flight from Dallas to Little Rock.
  • 2001 – Dolphinarium massacre: A Hamas suicide bomber kills 21 at a disco in Tel Aviv.
  • 2003 – The People’s Republic of China begins filling the reservoir behind the Three Gorges Dam.