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Fall 2017 Semiannual Report to Congress

USPS OIG Report - “The Office of Inspector General is tasked with ensuring efficiency, accountability, and integrity in the U.S. Postal Service. We also> have the distinct mission of helping to maintain confidence in the mail and postal system, as well as to improve the Postal Service's bottom line. We use audits and investigations to help protect the integrity of the Postal Service. Our Semiannual Report to Congress presents a snapshot of the work we did to fulfill our mission for the six-month period ending Spetember 30, 2017. Our dynamic report format provides readers with easy access to facts and information, as well as succinct summaries of the work by area. Links are provided to the full reports featured in this report, as well as to the appendices.”

USPS' regulatory body proposes long-term financial fixes

FederalNewsRadio.com - “The U.S. Postal Service’s regulatory body announced Friday that it would allow some additional flexibility to increase the price of postal products, but would keep a price cap in place for any future rate hikes. After nearly a year of deliberations and lobbying from USPS, the postal unions and the mailing industry, the Postal Regulatory Commission completed its review of the rate-setting system that the Postal Service has operated under for the past decade. While the PRC found the current system hadn’t kept the USPS on a firm financial footing, the commission determined that it would still anchor any future rate hikes to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).”

Postal Regulator Allows Higher Rates, but Denies USPS Autonomy in Setting Prices

Government Executive - “The U.S. Postal Service will continue to face a cap restricting its annual price increases, the agency’s regulators ruled on Friday, dealing a blow to the cash-strapped agency looking to boost its revenue as customer demand for traditional mailing services declines. The news was not all bad for the Postal Service, as the Postal Regulatory Commission acknowledged the existing inflation-based cap structure failed to bring “increased pricing efficiency” and “has not maintained the financial health of the Postal Service.” PRC proposed to allow USPS to increase its prices in each of its offerings by up to 2 percent more than inflation over the next five years, with an additional 1 percent increase allowable only if the agency meets its operational efficiency and service goals.”        

Lihue Post Office to close on Kauai

KHON2 - “After nearly a year of deliberation, public comments, and community meetings, the U.S. Postal Service has decided to close the Lihue Post Office on Rice Street. Postal officials say all services will be relocated to the Carrier Annex facility near the airport, which is a little over a mile away. The decision, they say, is final.” See also: Coconut campaign to save the Lihue Post Office ends unsuccessfully

USPS investigating after 3rd suspicious device found in Bay Area mail

KGO-TV - “A mail carrier in Oakland found a suspicious device inside a blue outgoing mailbox Saturday afternoon during a routine run. The device was found inside a box at San Pablo Avenue and Stanford Street in Oakland. It was not mailed - presumably just dropped into the box. Oakland fire and police officials and federal inspectors responded, evacuating two blocks around the box. The Alameda County Bomb Squad deployed a robot.”

USPS Contractor Beam Brothers Sentenced on Federal Conspiracy Charges

Postalnews.com - “A Mount Crawford based trucking company that formerly hauled United States mail and it holding company, as well as four of its most senior officers, the President, Vice-President, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer, were all sentenced this week in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Harrisonburg for conspiring to commit Federal crimes, United States Attorney Rick A. Mountcastle announced. Beam Bros. Trucking, Inc. (Beam Trucking) and Beam Bros. Holding Corporation (Beam Holding) were jointly sentenced by the court to forfeit to the government $2,000,000 of fraudulently obtained proceeds. They were also sentenced to pay approximately $1,000,000 in restitution to drivers who were defrauded of their pay. In addition, these companies were sentenced to serve 3 years of corporate probation and to pay a fine of $250,000 to the government.” See also: Beam Bros. Trucking, Inc., Holding Company, and Executives Sentenced on Federal Conspiracy Charges

USPS semitrailer crashes, catches fire in Florida

WPXI Pittsburgh - “Mail might be delayed for north Florida customers -- or not come at all -- since a semitrailer carrying mail from the U.S. Postal Service caught fire in Alachua County…The crash happened at about 3:30 a.m. Friday along I-75, the Florida Highway Patrol said.”

Trump's Labor Law Enforcer Freezes Worker-Friendly Reforms Made Under Obama

Huffington Post - “During the Barack Obama years, the National Labor Relations Board took a broad view of worker rights, expanding protections for employees who try to join a union or come together to improve their working conditions. Under the Trump administration, those rights are being reined in to help out employers. In a memo dated Friday and obtained by HuffPost, the NLRB’s new general counsel, Peter B. Robb, orders board officials around the country to consult his office on cases that involve precedents set on worker rights during the last eight years. The move effectively strips away the discretion of regional board officers to pursue cases against employers based upon Obama-era rulings and policies. Put simply, the rights that were expanded under Obama are pretty much on hold. The NLRB is the independent federal agency responsible for refereeing disputes between employers, workers and their unions. The general counsel plays a critical role at the board and functions as a quasi-prosecutor, deciding which major cases to investigate and pursue when workers claim their rights have been violated. Robb was nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Senate on Nov. 8.”

Living in cars, working for Amazon: meet America's new nomads

The Guardian - “Millions of Americans are wrestling with the impossibility of a traditional middle-class existence. In homes across the country, kitchen tables are strewn with unpaid bills. Lights burn late into the night. The same calculations get performed again and again, through exhaustion and sometimes tears. Wages minus grocery receipts. Minus medical bills. Minus credit card debt. Minus utility fees. Minus student loan and car payments. Minus the biggest expense of all: rent. In the widening gap between credits and debits hangs a question: which bits of this life are you willing to give up, so you can keep on living? During three years of research for my book, Nomadland: Surviving America in The Twenty-First Century, I spent time with hundreds of people who had arrived at the same answer. They gave up traditional housing and moved into “wheel estate”: RVs, travel trailers, vans, pickup campers, even a salvaged Prius and other sedans. For many, sacrificing some material comforts had allowed them to survive, while reclaiming a small measure of freedom and autonomy. But that didn’t mean life on the road was easy.”

Automation Could Displace 800 Million Workers Worldwide By 2030, Study Says

NPR -“A coming wave of job automation could force between 400 million and 800 million people worldwide out of a job in the next 13 years, according to a new study. A report released this week from the research arm of the consulting firm McKinsey & Company forecasts scenarios in which 3 percent to 14 percent of workers around the world — in 75 million to 375 million jobs — will have to acquire new skills and switch occupations by 2030.”