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'ANGRY AND APPALLED'

Former USPS Official Says Treasury Secretary Sought to Make Postal Service a Political Weapon

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In congressional testimony on Thursday, David Williams — former U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Inspector General and former Vice Chair of the USPS Board of Governors — said that U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has long sought to use the USPS for political purposes in ways that hurt both customers and employees.

Additionally, on Friday, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said that the USPS will not replace the mail-sorting machines that have recently been deactivated even though the USPS is expecting an unprecedented wave of mail-in ballots in the November presidential elections as voters avoid in-person polling stations to reduce possible COVID-19 exposure.

At the very least the USPS announced on Friday that it had launched a new website to help Americans navigate mail-in voting for the upcoming elections. Congressional Democrats have also pledged to block recent USPS service changes before the election, though it’s unsure what all changes have already occurred.

Williams told the Congressional Progressive Caucus on Thursday that he resigned “when it became clear to me that the administration was politicizing the Postal Service with the treasury secretary as the lead figure for the White House in that effort,” according to CBS News

Mnuchin’s position is tasked with giving the USPS the line of credit it needs to operate. Williams said Mnuchin required all of the newly installed USPS board and regulatory commission members hand-picked by Trump to come into Mnuchin’s office to “kiss the ring” before their confirmation.

Williams also said he illegally demanded information about USPS’ labor agreements, postage pricing, volume discounts, contracts and contacts with Amazon, UPS and FedEx. Mnuchin ignored USPS officials’ warnings that his requests were illegal.

“Clearly the president was determined that the Postal Service should inflict harm on Amazon delivery by sharply raising parcel shipping prices on everyone by 400% or more,” Williams told Congress. “On the way to attacking a political foe (Trump has long railed against Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos), I was concerned that American citizens would feel the shock of the price increase and that American supply chains would lose much of their value, harming businesses and our competitive position globally.”

The USPS has been in financial trouble for a while because of a 2006 law requiring it to pre-fund 75 years worth of retirement benefits — a $110 billion cost. Like many U.S. businesses, the epidemic significantly harmed the USPS too. Many workers fell ill or began quarantining, causing USPS leaders to spend millions on personal protective equipment, plexiglass and social distancing equipment for offices while its reduced workforce began working overtime at increased pay to help continue services.

On Friday, DeJoy said that the USPS mail-sorting machines which have recently been deactivated won’t be returned for use before the November presidential elections. The machines can sort 36,000 pieces of mail per hour. The deactivation of the machines has contributed to a mail delivery slowdown along with other so-called “cost-cutting measures” including limiting employees overtime and their ability to make extra trips.

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'ANGRY AND APPALLED'

How Major Democrats, Republicans, and Organizations Are Reacting to Abortion Rights Being Struck Down

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Now that the Supreme Court has voted to overturn abortion rights nationwide, reproductive rights rest in the hands of individual states. Here are the most essential reactions to the court’s decision that people should know about, from the biggest names in politics and business:

– In the dissent authored by liberal Justices Stephen Breyers, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, they wrote, “[The ruling] says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs… And because, as the Court has often stated, protecting fetal life is rational, States will feel free to enact all manner of restrictions.”

– Shortly after the court issued its decision, Missouri state Attorney General Eric Schmitt that his state has outlawed abortion.

– Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin also said that his state’s legislators will prepare anti-abortion legislation once they reconvene in January 2023.

– It’s worth noting that 13 states currently have trigger laws that could ban abortions very soon. Some even forbid rape in exceptional cases of rape, incest, or danger to the gestational parent’s life. More states are expected to ban the prescription of medication abortion pills via telemedicine, even though the Food and Drug Administration formally approved of such prescriptions last December.

Insider noted that Walmart, Exxon, and Citigroup each gave about $300,000 to politicians backing abortion bans. AT&T gave over $1 million to politicians behind abortion “trigger laws.”

– The publication also noted that the healthcare corporations Pfizer and UnitedHealthcare are some of the biggest funders of anti-abortion lawmakers. Also, pharmaceutical companies that make abortion drugs have additionally funded similar efforts by lawmakers.

– The following companies have promised to reimburse employees who travel out of state to legally access abortions: Amazon, Apple, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, Levi Strauss & Co., Lyft, Mastercard, Microsoft, Netflix, Starbucks, Tesla, and Yelp.

– Shortly after the court’s decision was released, the Democratic National Committee launched an online hub to fundraise for coordinated campaigns for candidates in competitive races across the country.

– President Joe Biden said of the decision, “It was three justices named by one president, Donald Trump, who were the core of today’s decision to upend the scales of justice and eliminate a fundamental right for women in this country.”

He added, “Justice Thomas … explicitly called to reconsider the right to marriage equality, the right of couples to make their choice on contraception. This is an extreme and dangerous path the Court is now taking us on.”

He continued, “My administration will also protect a woman’s access to medications that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA. Like contraception which is essential for preventative health care [and] mifepristone, which the FDA approved 20 years ago to safely end early pregnancies and is commonly used to treat miscarriages. “If any state or local official, high or low, tries to interfere with a woman exercising her basic right to travel, I will do everything in my power to fight that deeply un-American attack,” said Biden.

– Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the court’s decision “courageous and correct,” adding, “This is a historic victory for the Constitution and for the most vulnerable in our society.”

– Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “Today is one of the darkest days our country has ever seen. Millions upon millions of American women are having their rights taken from them by five unelected Justices on the extremist MAGA court.”

– Democratic Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin said his panel will hold a July 12 hearing that will examine life in a post-Roe America.

– Former President Barack Obama wrote, “Today, the Supreme Court not only reversed nearly 50 years of precedent, it relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues—attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans.”

Obama also lamented the decision, writing on Twitter that the court had “relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues—attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans.”

– Former First Lady Michele Obama wrote in a statement, “I am heartbroken that we may now be destined to learn the painful lessons of the time before Roe was made law of the land — a time when women risked losing their lives getting illegal abortions.”

She told younger generations, “I know this is not the future you chose for your generation — but if you give up now, you will inherit a country that does not resemble you or any of the values you believe in.”

– Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton celebrated the ruling, announcing, “June 24th will be an annual Office of the Attorney General holiday in recognition of this momentous decision. Today I am closing all my offices as a memorial to the millions of lives lost due to abortion.”

– Democratic New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote, “Overturning Roe and outlawing abortions will never make them go away. It only makes them more dangerous, especially for the poor + marginalized. People will die because of this decision. And we will never stop until abortion rights are restored in the United States of America.”

– Numerous LGBTQ groups — like the Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Transgender Law Center, and The Trevor Project — have also lamented the ruling.

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'ANGRY AND APPALLED'

Hakeem Jeffries Slams GOP Rep. Burgess Owens’s Hypocritical Call for “Unity” After He Voted to Overturn Election

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Democratic New York Representative Hakeem Jeffries figuratively set fire to freshman Republican Utah Representative Burgess Owens in a recent speech that called out Owens for daring to criticize Democrats for not being patriotic while Owens himself voted, one day after the January 6 insurrection, to overturn the results of a fair election in favor of now-former President Donald Trump.

On one of his first days in the chamber, Owens lectured House Democrats on needing to show national unity by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance alongside Republican counterparts. Owens did this even though he himself voted on January 7 to challenge the Electoral College’s votes declaring Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 elections, thus attempting to overturn millions of non-white Americans’ legal votes and destroy the very notion of Democracy itself.

Owens said, “Tonight [people] will not stand for the flag because they’ve been taught by their adults not to love our nation. What can we do here as leaders? Guys, let’s put aside the partisanship and appreciate the fact we have a body here of every color under the rainbow, every background… I’m gonna follow up with what Congressman Lee (Zeldin) says: ‘It’s not about words. It is about actions.’ Fifteen seconds to show our kids that we are adults, that we can agree to disagree, where we love our country enough to at least stand up and recognize our flag.”

In response, Jeffries said, “He sat here lecturing us about patriotism, and I was just going to ask him how he voted after a violent mob
attacked the Capitol, to hunt down members of Congress, to hang Mike Pence, to assassinate Nancy Pelosi, to stop us from undertaking our constitutional responsibilities as part of the peaceful transfer of power. More than 100 officers seriously injured: brain injuries, head trauma. Ine officer lost three fingers. Another officer, because of an assault on him, is likely to be blind. Officers Sisnik died, blood was spilled, two other officers are no longer with us.

“And you want to sit here and lecture us about patriotism?!?” Jeffries continued. “When you voted to object to an election that you know Joe Biden won, and perpetrated the big lie. But the notion of you come in here lecturing us on your first day before this committee… it’s not about words, it’s about actions. You know what? Explain your actions on January 7 when you supported an insurrection.”

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'ANGRY AND APPALLED'

Tennessee Officials Give COVID Vaccine to Family and Friends After Denying It to 75-Year-Olds

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Officials in Hamilton County, Tennessee have been caught giving the COVID-19 vaccination to “close friends and family” after turning away elderly people by claiming they had run out of the vaccine.

When a journalist questioned a car of seven younger people who had been vaccinated, the people in the car laughed and said, “We got contacts,” as in, they’re connected to people who could give them the vaccination over older people who need it far more.

WRCB reports that on Thursday, the Hamilton County Health Department began offering vaccines to people 75 and older at 9 a.m., quickly causing a traffic jam and causing the department to start turning away cars by 1 p.m., including cars filled with old people who had been waiting over four hours.

Acting on a tip, WRCB reporters returned to the site after dark “to find cars leaving the property,” the news station reports. “The people in those vehicles told Channel 3 family members or friends who were helping to administer the vaccines called to tell them there were extra doses and they should come to receive a dose.”

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger told the news station that the vaccination team mistakenly told the cars that had arrived earlier to leave, thinking they would run out of doses. When the team realized it had enough doses thawed that needed to be used quickly before going bad, they hen called others to come and get vaccinated.

“They wanted to make sure that none of it would go to waste,” Coppinger said, adding, “I understand the frustration of those who waited in line and did not get the vaccine (Thursday), and I can assure you we will learn from this experience. We will explore better ways to get the job done, and we appreciate the patience of the public as we move forward in performing this unprecedented service.”

The screw-up merely illustrates problems with the national vaccine roll-out. One commenter in Oklahoma said that the state has no vaccination roll-out plan, and is allowing people to sign up for vaccinations using an unverified SignUpGenius web page that requires no verification nor screening based on age or whether one is a frontline worker.

 

 

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