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Tour de France | Continental tires

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Continental sponsors the Tour de France - the biggest cycling race in the world - taking place in France annually since 1903. The international platform showcases the Continental tyres in a high-performance environment at the yearly pinnacle of cycling racing. Several participating World Tour teams in the race trust in the hand-made Continental bicycle tyres from Korbach, Germany. Continental also supplies tyres for the official vehicles of the tour.

After a successful first year as sponsor in 2018 Continental decided to upgrade their partnership to the main partner level and became the stage winner presenter. So, every stage winner receives an individual medal on the podium from the tyre company for his special achievement – as many pro cyclists have pointed out over the years: a life-changing moment never to be forgotten in their career.

The actual route is different every year. In some years iconic mountains such as Alp d’Huez, Tourmalet, Mont Ventoux or Galibier feature the race. Most certainly the cyclists pass through parts of the Alps and Pyrenees at some point and finish with a grand final on the famous Champs-Elysees in Paris. The Tour de France does not start in France every year: the so called “Grand Depart” took place in Brussels in 2019 and will take place in the Danish capital Copenhagen in 2021 to give an example.

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14 hours ago
New shoes? AAAND here we are <3
Space City, USA
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SpaceX Demo-2 mission ends with first splashdown in 45 years

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The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft Endeavour splashing down

History was made today as two NASA astronauts returned to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a privately built and operated spacecraft. At 2:48 pm EDT, the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule Endeavour splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard.

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14 hours ago
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GOP Senate candidate’s claims about his foundation for ‘inner city’ kids don’t add up - The Washington Post

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The Facts

The Messner Foundation was created to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Messner’s law firm, Messner Reeves LLP, according to an interview Messner gave to the Denver Business Journal in 2010. “The first scholarship winner will begin college in fall 2011,” the article said. “The foundation will combine the scholarships with mentoring and guidance programs.” Messner is quoted as saying that he “wanted to start a vehicle to help young people who are similarly situated as I was.”

Indeed, the foundation was originally funded by a $100,000 contribution by Messner Reeves, according to the 2009 tax form filed by the foundation. No other substantial contributor is listed, though Corky Messner is listed as the president of the foundation every year.

Then, oddly, the $100,000 just sat there — year after year. A few hundred dollars in interest was earned. But no funds were distributed, despite the announcement that scholarships would start in 2011.

Philip Hackney, an associate law professor at the University of Pittsburgh who examined the tax filings for The Fact Checker, said the tax law for private foundations requires that 5 percent of the assets be distributed every year. Otherwise, the foundation must pay a fine equal to 30 percent of the amount not distributed. “I’m troubled by the fact that they did nothing for the first four or five years,” he said. “That doesn’t pass muster.”

“The Messner Foundation has always been viewed by the IRS as being in good standing and we have adhered to the advice of our accountant in that regard,” said a campaign statement.

The 2013 tax form listed the assets as $100,374. “It’s a particularly small foundation,” Hackney noted.

Finally, in 2014, a disbursement was made. But it was not for a scholarship for a low-income student. Tax records show the foundation made a $50,000 contribution to the Colorado Academy, one of the state’s elite private schools, for “construction of athletic facilities.” (The campaign says the money funded a baseball field.)

The donation to Colorado Academy — which Messner’s sons attended from kindergarten through 12th grade — cut the foundation’s assets in half.

That contribution was among $700,000 in donations that Colorado Academy received that year. The school in 2014 had an endowment of $22 million, according to its tax filings, and on its website boasts that its “verdant 94-acre campus is delightful, whatever the season.”

The Messner campaign says the scholarship program had not started yet. “It was a discretionary donation that predated the creation of the Foundation’s scholarship program,” a campaign statement said. “Corky believed the gift [to Colorado Academy] was in keeping with the Foundation’s stated mission to cultivate the next generation of business and community leaders, and appropriate for a college-preparatory school that attracts gifted scholar-athletes.”

But the 2014 website of the Messner Foundation, showing photos of Black and Hispanic students, claimed: “The Messner Foundation identifies underprivileged high school students. … The Messner Foundation not only helps its Scholars financially, but provides life experiences as well.”

Starting in 2015, the Messner Foundation began to raise money by holding raffles of luxury cars. In an announcement pegged to the firm’s 20th anniversary, the law firm claimed it would “raise significant funds that will have a lasting and measurable impact on the lives of students selected as Messner Scholars.”

But it was an expensive proposition. The foundation in 2015 earned almost $210,000 in raffle ticket sales but had $113,000 in expenses, including $84,000 for the cost of the car, a Tesla. It ended the year with $146,000 in assets — but still had offered no scholarships.

The campaign, saying “it took several years to come up with a sustainable funding source and a process fair to applicants,” supplied to The Fact Checker a letter to the IRS in 2016 seeking approval for the scholarship program and a letter showing IRS approval in 2017.

The Messner Foundation in 2016 extended its first scholarship: about $5,500 to Majarlika Diane Villaruel-Mariano, a local high school student who attended the University of Denver. That same year, the foundation’s assets were boosted by another car raffle, this time for a $63,000 Jeep.

In 2017, Villaruel-Mariano was given about $17,500 by the foundation.

In 2018, the foundation gave Villaruel-Mariano almost $25,000. All told, she received about $48,000 over those three years. No car raffles were held by the foundation in 2017 or 2018, so with the last available tax filing, the foundation’s assets stood at about $148,000.

In other words, over the first 10 years, the foundation made grants to only one student.

Villaruel-Mariano would not discuss the scholarship or respond to emailed questions. “You should talk to them about that,” she said in a brief telephone conversation. The Messner campaign later provided a quote from Villaruel-Mariano: “Thanks to the support from the Messner Foundation, I will be the first in my family to graduate with a college degree. … I am grateful to Mr. Messner for his support and guidance.”

Colorado high schools listed the Messner Foundation as a possible source of scholarships, so presumably the law firm received applications from other students.

The Denver Scholarship Foundation, which promotes 500 different scholarships, at one time listed Messner as a potential source of funds. “One student will be selected from the pool of applicants and will have access to funding for up to four years for undergraduate studies,” the notice said. “Awards for subsequent years will be awarded based on reapplication.”

But now the organization no longer lists Messner. “We removed it in 2018 because we couldn’t verify that it was still an active scholarship,” said Latia C. Henderson, director of marketing at the Denver Scholarship Foundation. “We aim to only include verified scholarships in our directory so it’s been removed for now.”

By coincidence or not, the revival of the car raffles in 2019 came just as Messner was considering jumping into the Senate race. “He has spent a great deal of time and his own money working with an army of consultants as he considers his future,” said a May 28, 2019, email seeking financial support for the Messner NH Exploratory Committee from one of his law firm partners, Michelle Harden. The day after sending that email, Harden appeared in a television interview with Villaruel-Mariano to tout the 2019 car raffle.

The Messner campaign said Villaruel-Mariano has received additional funding from the foundation, not yet shown in public tax filings, so her total scholarship is about $78,000. “Arnold Acosta is the latest recipient, who has received $4,886 from 2019-20 and the Foundation intends to provide further support as his studies continue, as we have done for the first recipient,” a campaign statement said. “A third student was selected, but chose not to accept the scholarship.” (The campaign did not supply the tax forms that would verify these statements.)

Besides the initial $100,000 from the law firm, the only other contributions listed in tax filings are from raffle sales that also promote the law firm in the Denver area. But administration expenses (mainly the cost of cars that are raffled) are a significant percentage of revenue. Over its lifetime, it cost the Messner Foundation more than $45 to raise $100, according to the tax records. And just 32 percent of expenses was spent on charitable programs.

“The car raffles have not generated the hoped-for revenue, given the expense of car purchases, covering the winners’ tax liability, and raffle promotion,” the campaign statement said.

The law firm and Harden did not respond to requests for comment.

“Corky believes in supporting and mentoring young people from diverse backgrounds pursuing various careers. That’s why the Messner Foundation was established in 2009 with a generous $100,000 donation from Messner-Reeves, LLC, of which Corky Messner is Founding Partner and CEO,” Michael Biundo, senior adviser for Messner for Senate Campaign, said in an emailed statement. “While the Foundation’s scholarship program that started in 2016 is fairly new, it has already had a positive impact on the lives of young people and has fulfilled its stated purpose, to follow the student through their education life cycle.”

The Pinocchio Test

Messner claims that the foundation selects worthy students for scholarships every year, that the goal of the foundation is to help low-income students and that the foundation was mostly funded by his own money.

But in the first 10 years of the foundation’s existence, only one student received a scholarship from Messner’s foundation — and even more money was given to an elite private school that Messner’s sons were attending at the time. The foundation was essentially dormant after being founded, despite Messner’s claim nine years ago that scholarships would start. The law firm is listed as the source of the original $100,000, while tax forms show the only other funds have been raised with car raffles that, incidentally, also promote the law firm. There are no records of personal contributions from Messner, though, to be sure, he is the founding partner of the law firm.

The campaign now says that a second student has begun to receive scholarship funds and that the scholarship program only started in 2016. That may be the case. But for years Messner and the foundation have suggested that many students had been the recipients of funds.

Messner earns Four Pinocchios.

Four Pinocchios

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16 hours ago
Elite will do elite things. I rad the first paragraph and knew it was total bullshit because lawyers were involved.
Space City, USA
1 day ago
Washington, DC
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GOP Convention Bars Journalists For The First Time Ever

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The vote to renominate President Donald Trump is set to be conducted in private later this month, without members of the press present, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Convention, citing the coronavirus.

While Trump called off the public components of the convention in Florida last month, citing spiking cases of the virus across the country, 336 delegates are scheduled to gather in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Aug. 24 to formally vote to make Trump the GOP standard-bearer once more.

Nominating conventions are traditionally meant to be media bonanzas, as political parties seek to leverage the attention the events draw to spread their message to as many voters as possible. If the GOP decision stands, it will mark the first party nominating convention in modern history to be closed to reporters.

“Given the health restrictions and limitations in place within the state of North Carolina, we are planning for the Charlotte activities to be closed press Friday, August 21 – Monday, August 24,” a convention spokeswoman said. “We are happy to let you know if this changes, but we are working within the parameters set before us by state and local guidelines regarding the number of people who can attend events.”

The decision was first reported by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Privately some GOP delegations have raised logistical issues with traveling to either city, citing the increasing number of jurisdictions imposing mandatory quarantine orders on travelers returning from states experiencing surges in the virus.

The subset of delegates in Charlotte will be casting proxy votes on behalf of the more than 2,500 official delegates to the convention. Alternate delegates and guests have already been prohibited.

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16 hours ago
Inconvenient truth much? It’s no conspiracy however, you’ll hear the same talking points from Dems (and press restrictions possibly), they are two sides of the same cancer coin after all. End incumbency. Fire everyone in the capitol. Let’s have a big, fun election and watch dinosaurs try to defend their positions against young, vibrant upstarts.

That’s my hope anyway. I don’t expect it to happen but it should. The system is too broken and it favors the cancer.
Space City, USA
23 hours ago
Washington, DC
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D.C. Department of Employment Services delays put coronavirus unemployed close to financial ruin - The Washington Post

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'Survivor mode'

The pandemic crept up on Lakeisha Rollins one text at a time.

When the coronavirus hit the District in March, the 30-year-old was working at the Whole Foods Market on P Street NW, pulling items off shelves to fill online orders. Rollins, who is studying to become a nursing assistant, got a message that one of her co-workers had tested positive. The next day, another text alerted her about another positive employee. By April, six workers at the store had contracted the virus.

For Rollins — who has a 10-year-old and a baby arriving in August — the health risk was too much. A fan of “The Walking Dead,” she left her job and decided to wall her son and herself off from the outside like survivors barricading against zombies.

That meant a tough decision. She had about $500 in the bank and was eligible for pandemic assistance because she left her job over a health concern.

Until those benefits kicked in, should she buy food or pay the rent?

Rollins decided to use her savings on food, buying groceries in bulk and scanning Pinterest for recipes that would last.

She called it “survivor mode.”

As the weeks ticked by, and her unemployment check did not appear, she pushed aside thoughts about what might be ahead, helping her son with his school work and learning to make soap — a new hobby, something to keep her busy.

The notices she got from her landlord noted that due to special protections put in place by the District during the pandemic, she could not be issued a summons for lack of payment for now. But they were keeping track of each $1,297 payment she missed.

“I could not fathom the idea of what was coming next. I couldn’t look in that direction,” she said. “I don’t want to be in no shelter, so I tried not to think about it.”

A few miles away, Thomas Kennerly was sleeping on a relative’s sofa and starting to despair of ever finding another place of his own. He and his wife had sold the rowhouse they’d owned in Southeast Washington for nearly 20 years just before the pandemic set in, a last-ditch effort to avoid foreclosure.

Kennerly’s wife moved in with her mother. Kennerly — a former D.C. police officer who left law enforcement in 2001 after being shot in the line of duty — packed up for his brother-in-law’s one-bedroom apartment in Naylor Gardens.

They planned to save for a few months and get another place.

Then Kennerly, 48, lost his job as a seasonal delivery man at the Amazon Hub Locker on Alabama Avenue SE because of the coronavirus.

In April, he applied for benefits. He didn’t have a computer. The job center where he usually could hop on a desktop was closed. He applied on his phone. For weeks, there was no word — and no money coming in.

“It’s impossible to get an apartment without funds,” he said. “You don’t want to be depending on other people. It’s hard. You’d rather have your own.”

Clogged pipelines of assistance

Kennerly, Rollins and Vought all needed help from the government to steady lives shaken by the first global pandemic in a century, a plague that has contracted the economy at a record pace and put close to 50 million out of work across the country.

But the social services infrastructure designed to deliver that help in the District stalled at the very moment its services were most critical.

The federal government added additional benefits to what the city offered, creating a new alphabet soup of options for struggling workers. According to activists, attorneys and applicants, however, the quickly assembled system led to a paralyzed tumult.

“We have had around 200 calls from people looking for help accessing their benefits, and many are facing delays, if not all of them,” Nicole Dooley, a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, said in July. “It’s just an overwhelming number that are applying, and [the city] can’t handle this huge wave of applications.”

There are two main public assistance pipelines for District workers set adrift by the pandemic. Unemployment insurance benefits are the traditional source of aid, and that has been bolstered with additional payments through the federal Cares Act, the legislation passed this spring to support workers sidelined by the pandemic.

That same legislation set in motion the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for those who don’t qualify for traditional unemployment insurance — people like gig workers, independent contractors and owners of small businesses. The money was supposed to become available in April.

But in the District, those seeking pandemic assistance must first apply for — and be denied — traditional benefits. That application can be submitted over the phone or online. But pandemic assistance can only be applied for online — and, until recently, only in English. Further complicating matters, the city’s employment website, built in the early 2000s, struggled at the start of the pandemic with mobile phone traffic and pageview surges.

Many of the logistical knots could be sorted out in a phone conversation with a city staffer. But connecting with the employment services agency is another battle.

In May, a group of George Washington University law students spent a week calling the agency’s hotline. According to testimony presented before the D.C. Council’s Committee on Labor and Workforce Development later that month, of the 643 calls made between May 11 and May 15, only 20 percent connected.

Calls made between 9 a.m. and noon connected just 9 percent of the time.

D.C. officials say the department has since hired emergency support staff and moved employees from other agencies to help staff the phones, bringing the connection rate to 64 percent by late July.

But the average call time is still one to two hours, and the agency still receives an average of 5,000 calls daily.

Somewhere in that daily logjam of phone traffic was Kennerly, dial­ing and getting hours of classical music, as May rolled into June and his benefits did not come and no one could tell him why.

“Every time I would stay on the phone for three hours,” he said.

Rollins, too, called the Department of Employment Services (DOES) regularly, as her pantry dwindled.

“I’m just swimming and hoping I don’t drown,” she said at one point. “These are concerns people have in Third World countries. I started thinking we might not survive this.”

Vought started each day trying DOES on the phone, then yelling into a pillow or putting his hand through the wall when another attempt ended in frustration and brought him a day closer to homelessness.

“Where am I supposed to go?” he said. “Be on Mayor Bowser’s steps screaming?”

A downward spiral

It was Saturday morning. Four days left before Vought had to move. He sat on the porch, a bummed Marlboro Red in one hand, counting the bills in his wallet. Two. Three . . . Six. Seven. He was down to $7 in cash.

He now had a place to stay — 230 miles away. Vought’s father, a 68-year-old maintenance man at a Manhattan skyscraper, had offered the couch in his one-bedroom Bronx apartment, and sent $100 through Western Union to help with travel expenses.

“It’s the street or my dad’s,” Vought said. “There’s nothing else.”

But was $100 even enough to get to New York City? His cellphone bill was due: $50. If he paid, was the rest enough for travel? Were buses even still running between the District and New York?

“When you’re poor everything is a 10-step process that ends up costing way more than if you actually have resources,” Vought said before starting his walk to Western Union, a mile and a half away at a Safeway on Georgia Avenue.

He had loved working at the bar in Georgetown, a fancy cocktail joint called L’Annexe.

Vought wasn’t a big drinker, but he enjoyed the intricacy of the elegant drink recipes.

Music was his true love — specifically punk. He had tattooed arms and a nose piercing to prove it.

But a few years of touring had punctured his rock star aspirations. He started imagining himself in hospitality long-term. Until Bowser shut down bars and restaurants on March 16.

He couldn’t find other work. His dad wired $50 or $100 when he could, small lifelines that brought a mix of relief and shame.

“That’s another 100 bucks that’s now not in my dad’s pocket,” he would think.

Vought had come close to homelessness before. When he was 17, after his sister was killed in a car accident, his relationship with his mother got ugly, and he left their house in Alexandria. He bounced between friends, he said, but spent a few nights curled under a playground’s slide. Two years ago, he was couch surfing, and sleeping in his car sometimes. Until the car was totaled.

But now he felt like he was fighting against a different kind of downward pull. As screwed up as his personal or family life had been in the past, he still sensed there were opportunities out there he could reach for.

“At least before, I could get a job, try to work or do something,” he said as the Safeway swung into view two blocks ahead.

Now, he just felt hopeless — and ashamed.

“Nobody wants to date a guy who doesn’t know where he’s going to be living next. Nobody wants to hang out with somebody that smells . . . because they haven’t had a shower in three days,” he said.

“The economic differences are becoming so stark in such a small area like here that I can’t even relate to people anymore that I meet. They look at me like I’m crazy. I look at them like they’re stupid.”

There was no way he could know, but across the Anacostia River, Rollins was trying to untangle similar thoughts. She felt alone. It seemed like every day another friend was sending her a message saying their own unemployment had arrived.

When she learned that one of the holdups on her claim was due to mistakes on the 2019 tax form she had filled out by hand before the pandemic, Rollins was so embarrassed that she didn’t tell anyone — or ask for help from friends and family.

“I see everyone else is thriving but what about me?” she said. “I was unraveling.”

She hoped her coping skills — meditation, making soap — would keep her occupied.

Kennerly’s frustrations centered on his lack of a computer.

His benefits were held up, a city worker finally told him, because he’d provided incorrect information when trying to fill out the form on his phone. In June, the department promised to expedite his claim, but an important email ended up in his spam folder, costing him another month without aid.

“I don’t have a computer,” he explained. “It’s sort of embarrassing to tell people that you don’t, but I just don’t.”

Vought made it to the Western Union, and soon was placing five $20 bills into his wallet. He hadn’t eaten a full meal in days, so he thought about buying some breakfast. At the very least, a bottled water for the hot walk home.

The cellphone bill — there was probably a Metro PCS store close by. Would they let him pay the bill with cash? Or should he try to get an emergency extension and pay later?

And then there was New York. And getting his boxes there. How would all that work?

But now he had $107 in his wallet.

'A whole box' of ice cream

One hot Thursday morning, Rollins’s son Amari asked her if they could go to the corner store for ice cream. Rollins guessed there was only $3 left in her bank account. But meditation and soap-making didn’t prepare you for disappointing a little boy. So she checked the balance.

The account contained over $1,000. Some of her benefits had arrived. She started to cry.

“Forget one ice cream,” Rollins told her son. “We’re going to buy a whole box.”

Over the next week, the rest of the money she was owed flowed in, filling her account to around $7,000. For the moment, she could handle both rent and food.

Kennerly was not as lucky. Rounds of phone calls eventually got him to an employment services supervisor, who looked over his application and said everything was in the proper place.

The delay now was just about processing the payment.

“It gives you some relief, knowing it should be coming soon,” said Kennerly, who is still living separately from his wife and relying on their relatives’ goodwill. “But it doesn’t give you all the relief you need. You are still waiting for that cash.”

Vought and his plastic crates got to the Bronx late on a Monday night. An uncle visiting the D.C. area had offered him a lift on his way back to New York.

The day before Vought left, he heard from the employment services office, who said he had been rejected for one type of benefits but now could apply for another. The case worker explained his initial rejection had been for traditional unemployment insurance. His situation should line him up for pandemic assistance, the case worker said.

Three and a half months after losing his job, Vought spent his last day in town applying for unemployment all over again.

By now the cycle was familiar: He was hopeful the money he needed was close; then angry with himself for being stupid enough to be hopeful; then depressed about waiting.

He had a place to stay in New York, he was not on the streets. But it was just a change of scenery, not a change in situation.

He arrived in New York with $1 in his wallet.

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16 hours ago
Some unemployment divisions are overloaded to the point that people are calling -weeks- after losing a job or suffering a reduction in hours. Why the extra stimulus wasn’t extended is beyond my pay grade (lol?)
Space City, USA
1 day ago
Washington, DC
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Postal Service backlog sparks worries that ballot delivery could be delayed in November

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As Trump ramps up his unfounded attacks on mail balloting, postal employees say the changes implemented by Trump fundraiser-turned-postmaster general Louis DeJoy are the result of a political effort to undermine absentee voting.

Cash, who works in Lancaster, N.Y., said her post office is about two days behind its normal processing time. "The cardinal rule is, 'don't delay the mail,' and we're in a 180-degree switch where we're delaying mail every day," she said, adding that if the system is not fixed before election season, "it's going to be a catastrophe at the post office." [...]

The current backlogs are becoming so dire that if the new procedures remain in place, workers may not be able to locate all the ballots in time for them to be processed, they said.

"If they keep this up until the election, there's no telling how many days-worth of delays there could be. I mean, we'll be delivering political mail days after the election," a postal worker from California said. [...]

Election officials across the country are warning voters to send their general-election ballots as early as possible to avoid potential delays. The Postal Service recommends voters request their ballots at least 15 days before Election Day and mail their completed ballots at least one week before the due date.

"Don't wait for covid numbers to start rising and go like, 'Oh my gosh, I'm not going to the polls, I'm going to vote from home,' " Kerns said. "Just anticipate now that we'll probably see an upsurge as people come closer together, the weather gets colder, so you might as well just plan now to vote by mail."

In a functioning democracy with a functioning postal service, you might assume that what matters for your absentee ballot is the postmark date. NOPE. In most states it must be received by the end of election day.

Also, politicians have a bad habit of declaring defeat before the outstanding ballots are counted. So one good election fraud strategy is to make in-person voting proportionally more difficult for your political enemies... like by closing polling places in counties that won't vote for you. Gee, good thing that's not happening. Oh wait.

As one datapoint in the ongoing shivving of USPS, I ordered a t-shirt recently. It entered a USPS facility near LA on July 7. It made it to the first SF facility on July 9, and to the third SF facility on... July 28.

On the other hand, the big-titty drag furry stamps I ordered arrived in less than a week!

Oh and "save the post office by buying stamps" doesn't work for the same reason that "clean up the BP oil spill by sorting your trash better" doesn't work.

Also, USPS has to treat stamps as "deferred revenue" until they are used, so buying stamps for collection doesn't give them usable income. Which is weird.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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16 hours ago
I just got over 3 weeks of mail in my mailbox. Suddenly. This is fucked up.
Space City, USA
1 day ago
Washington, DC
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