Saturday, October 25, 2014

Monday Roundup: First Class Gets Slower

12/05/2011

Daily Yonder Isabella Dujka never misses a dance where her father (Mark) and Uncle John (above, on accordion) play as the Dujka Brothers. Sunday, she was resting comfortably in Uncle John's electric piano case at a Christmas dance in Ellinger, Texas.

The Postal Service is announcing cuts today that will essentially end next day delivery for first class mail. 

The Washington Post reports that postal officials will close 250 of its 460 mail processing facilities. That will lengthen the distance mail must travel from pickup to processing to delivery. First class delivery will get slower.

About 42 percent of first class mail is now delivered the following day; 27 percent arrives in two days and 31 percent in three days. After these changes, only 51 percent of first class mail is expected to arrive within two days.

First class mail is declining about 7 percent annually, which is a major problem. The Postal Service hopes that by closing the processing centers it will save $3 billion a year. 

In return, customers will receive worse service.

The Postal Service still wants to close at least 3,700 small post offices and to eliminate up to 120,000 positions.

Oh, if you want your mail to get there the next day, the Post Service tells you to pay extra for Priority or Express mail.

• Westerns are back.

They were big in the '50s and '60s, according to the L.A. Times, with Bonanza, Maverick and Rawhide. Then, in the 1970s, Hollywood went through what was apparently called a "rural purge," when television was made more urban.

Now there are all kinds of Western or rural (Justified) shows on. Or so says the Times. 

• There is an increasing demand for doctors and medical schools are struggling to keep up. 

There is a particular shortage in primary care physicians. 

• A Georgia plant that was making ethanol from wood chips closed late last week, defaulting on $156 million in federal loans granted during the George W. Bush administration. 

The plant had technical problems that limited it to production rates that were half its scheduled output.

• ABC News is reporting that suicide "is on the increase in rural America -- nowhere so much as in western mountain states like Idaho, Wyoming and New Mexico." Mental health people in the region say the increase is due to cutbacks in Medicaid funding, the recession and the culture of the West. 

• McClatchy Newspapers has found that the area around London, Kentucky, is heavily populated with wounded veterans. Chris Adams writes

War and the consequences of war run deep here. At one church, five members are overseas now. At the veterans' halls, the talk by former Iraq and Afghanistan war vets is just beginning. American flags fly up and down Main Street. Patriotism is at the surface.

Matt Jackson was from Corbin, just down the road from London, and when he died his body was flown into London's tiny airport for his final journey home. His casket was ushered along roads lined with the grateful families of London, Corbin, Keavy and the area's other small towns. Matt's body rests today in the unfinished grave in a private cemetery next to the unincorporated community of Keavy.

"I meet all these people who don't have a clue how the war affects all of us," Timothy Jackson said on that Veterans Day visit; he tended to the collection of decorations and trinkets that had been laid on his boy's grave alongside flowers, the U.S. flag and the Marine Corps flag.

"I can tell you that until my son got killed, I didn't have a clue how it affects us," he said. "Even when I was in the service, I didn't have a clue."

The war on terror has been different than previous wars, with an all-volunteer force cycling through deployment after deployment. Certain families and certain regions have been impacted more. The dynamic is affected by income and culture, and there are large swaths of the American public that don't directly know soldiers serving overseas.

John McChesney finds that North Dakotans are wanting to "hit the brakes" on the rapid development in that oil boom state.  He explains that the boom is especially strong now because most of the oil leases in western part of the state were signed between 2006 and 2008. They run, generally, for five years.

Companies are having to drill now or lose their rights.

• The government's estimates of corn production have been way off over the last two years, and that has contributed to wild swings in the price of the crop, according to the Wall Street Journal

For instance, in late September, the US. Department of Agriculture reported that corn stockpiles were actually 23 percent higher than they had estimated just a few weeks earlier. Corn future prices fell 6.3 percent that day.

• Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin is backing Bo Muller-Moore

Muller-Moore is in a pitched battle with Chik-Fil-A, the place that tells you to "Eat Mor Chikin." He has a business with the moniker "Eat More Kale." Chik-Fil-A is trying to stop Muller-Moore from trademarking his kale slogan and Muller-Moore is fighting back. 

Okay, fine, but it still seems to us that the person really harmed here is whoever made all those "Eat More Possum" bumper stickers from decades ago.