• Politics
    The Week

    Postal workers are sounding the alarm as mail sorting machines are removed from processing facilities

    It's not just business as usual at the United States Postal Service.While President Trump is publicly saying he plans to block funding for the USPS so that Democrats can't achieve their goal of expanding mail-in voting across all states ahead of the November election, the Postal Service is also facing some internal changes.Vice News' Motherboard reported Thursday that USPS is quietly removing mail sorting machines — the very machines that are responsible for sorting ballots. There's no official explanation for the changes, and it's unclear why the machines would be removed rather than simply not used when not needed. The removals and planned removals are reportedly affecting several processing facilities across the U.S."It'll force the mail to be worked by human hands in sorting. Guarantees to STOP productivity," a Post Office source told The Washington Post's Jacqueline Alemany. "On top of cutting the overtime needed to run the machines, can you imagine the [overtime] needed to do this [the] old hard way?"Postal workers say equipment is often moved around or replaced, but not usually at such a rate, and not in such a way that would affect workers' ability to quickly process large quantities of mail. Local union officials have no idea what's going on. "I'm not sure you're going to find an answer for why," one union president told Vice, "because we haven't figured that out either."A USPS spokesperson said the move is routine. "Package volume is up, but mail volume continues to decline," said the spokesperson. "Adapting our processing infrastructure to the current volumes will ensure more efficient, cost effective operations." Since there is an expected influx of mail as Americans begin sending in ballots, postal workers urged voters not to wait until the last moment to avoid overwhelming the dwindling number of sorting machines. Read more at Vice News.More stories from theweek.com Are bread riots coming to America? Gretchen Whitmer is America's most incompetent politician USPS warns delays could prevent mail-in votes from being counted in nearly every state

    Thanks for your feedback!
  • U.S.
    USA TODAY

    Coronavirus updates: Sturgis bike rally enters final weekend; more good news for blood plasma treatment; travel restrictions in Europe

    Sturgis Motorcycle rally enters its final weekend. Study hints, can’t prove, survivor plasma fights COVID-19. Latest news.

    Thanks for your feedback!
  • U.S.
    USA TODAY Opinion

    Privileged parents form COVID pandemic pods that widen education gaps. We can do better.

    The coronavirus pandemic and privileged parents have broken an already unequal education system. What do we build in its place?

    Thanks for your feedback!
  • Celebrity
    E!

    Inside Jennifer Lawrence's Happily Ever After With Husband Cooke Maroney

    Just five years ago, Jennifer Lawrence wasn't sure if she would ever get married. Then she was set up with art gallery director Cooke Maroney--"The best person I've ever met"--and everything changed.

    Thanks for your feedback!
  • Thanks for your feedback!
  • U.S.
    Bloomberg

    Two Million Californians Go Dark and the Heat Is Just Beginning

    (Bloomberg) -- As many as two million Californians were plunged into darkness over the course of four hours late Friday in the first rolling blackouts to hit the state since the 2001 energy crisis.And that was only Day One. A relentless heat wave is expected to blanket California through the middle of next week, sending temperatures soaring past 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) in some parts. People blasting their air conditioners and fans to keep cool are straining the region’s power system and raising the specter of a repeat of Friday’s sudden and largely unannounced outages.It started at about 6:30 p.m. local time on Friday, when California’s grid operator determined through a complex calculation that the state’s power reserves had fallen below a critical threshold and called a Stage 3 grid emergency, which triggers what it describes as “load interruption.” The last time such a declaration was made during the 2000 and 2001 electricity crisis, hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses took turns being plunged into darkness, power prices surged to a record and the state’s largest utility was forced into bankruptcy.“We had an energy shortfall,” Anne Gonzales, a spokeswoman for grid manager California Independent System Operator, said in a phone interview late Friday. The agency put the call out to the state’s utilities to cut demand by about 1,000 megawatts. That’s enough to power about 750,000 homes, by California ISO’s estimates, affecting well over 2 million people based on the average household size.The heat and the blackouts are hitting at an especially vulnerable time for the region with the pandemic forcing people to remain at home. They’re also coming less than a year after utilities in the region deliberately cut off power to millions of customers in an effort to prevent their power lines from igniting wildfires amid unusually strong winds -- another consequence of increasingly extreme weather brought on in part by climate change.Widespread HeatRegions around the world have been grappling with extreme heat in recent weeks. What was forecast as one of the worst heat waves in more than a century gripped parts of Europe in August. The eastern U.S. is just emerging from July temperatures that were expected to topple daily records in Manhattan and Boston dating to the 19th century. But few, if any, have had to resort to the rotating outages that California orchestrated late Friday.The bulk of the shutoffs came from PG&E Corp. The state’s biggest utility said it expected as many as 250,000 customers to be shut off in rolling outages, with power to be fully restored by 11 p.m. “Unfortunately, because of the emergency nature of this, we weren’t able to notify customers in advance,” Jeff Smith, a company spokesman, said in a telephone interview. The outages occurred for 60 to 90 minutes on a rotating basis through the utility’s Northern and Central California service territory, he said.Edison International’s Southern California Edison utility began shutting off customers shortly before 7 p.m., with about 132,000 powerless as of 7:45 p.m. “It’s happening pretty fast,” said spokesman David Song. Sempra Energy’s San Diego Gas & Electric utility said shutoffs were “widespread” across its territory in San Diego and southern Orange counties.Temperatures climbed to a record in parts of the Bay Area on Friday, according to the National Weather Service, with San Francisco reaching 95 degrees Fahrenheit and San Jose at 103.California won’t see a respite from the high temperatures until later next week, based on National Weather Service forecasts. The weather agency had posted excessive heat warnings for much of California from Friday through Wednesday.Electricity prices have already hit two-year highs as weather forecasters called for extreme temperatures. Spot power prices surged past $1,000 a megawatt-hour across California on Friday evening. Natural gas prices in Southern California more than doubled on the increased need for the fuel for power production, according to report from BloombergNEF.Grid operators will continue to monitor the situation throughout the weekend and into next week, Gonzales said. The odds of rolling outages on Saturday and Sunday might prove lower as demand is typically weaker outside of work hours. Asked whether the California ISO will need to call for additional power shutoffs, she said: “We don’t expect one, but we are prepared for one.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Thanks for your feedback!