'ANGRY AND APPALLED'
Former USPS Official Says Treasury Secretary Sought to Make Postal Service a Political Weapon
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'
Exxon Knew Its Fuels Cause Climate Change Since 1977 & It Did Nothing
Internal documents from Exxon’s own scientists, produced from 1977 and 2002, accurately predicted just how much the company’s fossil fuels would warm the planet.
But instead of changing their behaviors to meet this challenge, they hid it while paid lobbyists and “climate skeptics” sowed doubt about man-made global warming, a new study has shown.
The study, published in Science, looked at 32 internal documents and 72 scientific papers published by ExxonMobil scientists during the aforementioned years. The researchers found that 63 to 83% of the company’s projections about global warming were accurate.
Despite this, the company didn’t make meaningful investments in wind and solar energy. Instead, it continued to contribute to its business as usual (and to air pollution and global warming as a result).
“Our findings demonstrate that ExxonMobil didn’t just know ‘something’ about global warming decades ago—they knew as much as academic and government scientists knew,” the study’s authors wrote in a January 12 Science article sharing their findings.
ExxonMobil has long said that any media investigation about their knowledge of climate change was “bought and paid for” by political interests that oppose them. They also made public statements, saying that the science around fossil fuels and climate change remained “uncertain” and that predictive models of global warming — ones that matched their own accurate ones — were unreliable.
However, the study’s lead author Geoffrey Supran, wrote in the article, “Our analysis shows that ExxonMobil’s own data contradicted its public statements, which included exaggerating uncertainties; criticizing climate models; mythologizing global cooling; and feigning ignorance about when—or if—human-caused global warming would be measurable, all while staying silent on the threat of stranded fossil fuel assets.”
NEW: In @ScienceMagazine today, our latest peer-reviewed research shows Exxon scientists predicted global warming with shocking skill & accuracy between 1977 & 2003, contradicting the company's decades of climate denial. THREAD.
📰No pay wall for 2 weeks: https://t.co/JDtT9nkbzC pic.twitter.com/fgIPKrl39V
— Geoffrey Supran (@GeoffreySupran) January 12, 2023
Exxon has recently tried to re-position itself as being “involved in the forefront of climate research, understanding and working with the world’s leading experts on climate,” according to its website. But critics have called this a form of “greenwashing” that does nothing to actually change the company’s environmental impact.
In 2022, The House Oversight and Reform Committee investigated climate disinformation pushed by ExxonMobil and other major gas companies. The company executives largely denied that they had ever pushed such disinformation.
Thanu Yakupitiyage, 350.org’s U.S. Communications-Digital Director, responded to the study, writing, “In the midst of deadly flooding in California and extreme weather across the world, we receive further proof that Exxon has known all along exactly how catastrophic their fossil fuel burning would be.”
“Exxon has deceived the public about the climate crisis for 50 years, and frontline communities are bearing the costs with hundreds of thousands of people losing their homes, lands, ability to grow food, and even their lives because of this treachery,” Yakupitiyage added. “Fossil fuel companies will continue trying to confuse and distract the public, but this fundamentally is a crime against humanity, and they must be held accountable.”
'ANGRY AND APPALLED'
Guns Have Injured or Killed Over 6,000 U.S. Kids in 2022 (So Far)
With only three days remaining in 2022, the Gun Violence Archive has counted 6,054 gun-related injuries and deaths among U.S. children aged 17 and younger this year so far. The count includes gun assault deaths, suicide deaths by firearm, deaths due to accidental firearm discharge, legal intervention leading to firearm death, and firearm deaths from undetermined causes.
As of Wednesday, 307 children under age 12 were killed by guns and 670 were injured nationwide this year. Among children ages 12-17, 1,331 were killed and 3,734 were injured this year.
The 6,054 kids harmed in 2022 represent a 5.7 percent increase over the 2021 total (5,708) and a 14.7 percent increase over the 2020 total (5,160).
In 2020, firearms became the leading cause of death among children ages 19 and below, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) wrote in an October 2022 report. Firearm-related death rates were highest amongst Black and American Indian and Alaska Native youth, KFF found. While school shootings account for only a small number of child injuries and death, the number of firearm-related suicides among youth has increased steadily since 2011, the report added.
A 2019 report from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security found that a majority of the guns used by young people come from the homes of parents or close relatives. Only 23 states and Washington, D.C., have laws requiring gun owners to lock their guns away, out of the reach of children.
It’s quite rare for parents to face criminal charges when their children harm themselves or others using their firearms. That’s because the laws aimed at preventing children from accessing guns aren’t always enforced by local prosecutors, legal experts told NPR.
President Joe Biden (D) signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in June 2022. The legislation strengthened background checks for young adults and reduced gun access for individuals with histories of domestic violence. The legislation also expanded school-based mental health services for providing trauma care to students in need.
However, it remains to be seen whether the Republican-led House will pass additional gun control measures when they take control of the lower congressional chamber in 2023.
'ANGRY AND APPALLED'
How Major Democrats, Republicans, and Organizations Are Reacting to Abortion Rights Being Struck Down
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.
🚨 BREAKING 🚨 Following the SCOTUS ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, Missouri has just become the first in the country to effectively end abortion with our AG opinion signed moments ago. This is a monumental day for the sanctity of life. pic.twitter.com/Jphy72R4rq
— Attorney General Eric Schmitt (@AGEricSchmitt) June 24, 2022
– 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.”
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.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 24, 2022
– 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.”
My thoughts on the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. pic.twitter.com/9ALSbapHDY
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) June 24, 2022
– 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.”
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.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 24, 2022
– 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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