Thursday, August 2, 2012


 I am posting to let all my loyal readers know that I will be away for about a week, I have to have some testing done.  Lucky me.  Also I want to let you all know that I have installed a translator on my web page at the bottom, and for my non English friends you can now translate my blog into your language.  I am so excited, wanted to find one that would be great, easy, and perfect for my readers. please if you use it let me know how it works for you.

Rafalca, Ebeling 13th After 1st Dressage Run - Equestrian Video | NBC Olympics

Man, 90, grabs his own Olympic record: He's been to 18 games

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Unlike the thousands of Olympic athletes hoping to publicly smash records this week, Harry Nelson has quietly spent his life setting his own.
For this 90-year-old, his reward won’t be a gold medal, but a spot in the Guinness World Records for attending the most summer Olympic games. London marks his 18th time as an Olympic spectator.
Nelson attended his first event as a child when the Summer Games came to his neighborhood.
“At age 10, something called the Olympics had come to Los Angeles where we lived. I didn’t know what that was but, of course, as time went by, we understood,” he told TODAY’s Al Roker and Natalie Morales.
Following those games, Nelson said he, his brother and cousins built their own “Olympic field” in a vacant lot next door to their home.
“We had a track, we had our pole vault with a little bamboo pole and a high jump,” he said. “We had a discus — we used a wagon wheel for our discus.”
In the decades since, Nelson has saved money in various ways for his trips — including collecting change in a mason jar and selling his car to his uncle when he was in college.
Nelson's company during most of the Olympic trips has included his wife, Delores “Dee” Nelson. The London trip is her 12th Summer Game. She made her first Olympic trip in 1956 to Melbourne in what ended up being a delayed honeymoon for the couple.
She told TODAY she doesn’t have a favorite sport although she and her husband favor the track and field events.
“That’s what attracted us together, because we started going to the Coliseum relays in L.A., and that led to the Olympics,” she said.
The Torrance, Calif., couple were among the few Americans who attended the 1980 Moscow Games, despite the U.S. boycott and a letter from then-President Carter discouraging them from going.
In 2008, Nelson self-published a book about his Olympic experiences, "Following the Flame: A 76-Year Olympic Journey."

Your Olympics Guide to Dressage: Ann Romney's Horse Ballet

Most Americans associate the Olympics with swimming and gymnastics and young, agile bodies, but at the Romney house, all the attention goes to a horse named Rafalca ridden by 53-year-old Ebeling wearing a top hat and tails.
She's part-owned by Ann Romney. And the sport is dressage.
"There will be sobbing and crying."


That's how foremost dressage expert Kenneth Braddick describes what the Olympic competition will be like for the 20,000-plus attendees. Those watching will be "awash in tears," he added, when they hear the patriotic music each rider dances to, and even "hard bitten guys in the horse business are literally sobbing away."
Although it is celebrating its 100th year as an Olympic sport, dressage, a.k.a. horse ballet, was until recently relatively unknown in the U.S. Not anymore. Stephen Colbert named dressage the "sport of the summer." The equestrian discipline gained more attention that any of its enthusiasts could have anticipated when Rafalca, made the Olympics cut in June.
It's rider Jan Ebeling's, as well as Rafalca's, first Olympics. Ebeling and Romney co-own the German-born 15-year-old Oldenburg mare with another woman, Beth Meyer. Ebeling, a German native, became a U.S. citizen in 1998. He is not letting anything shake his focus—not the campaign, not Mitt Romney's overseas trip gaffes, not the media attention.
Braddick says Team USA may be an underdog compared to Germany and Britain for the team medal, but says that the individual contest is wide open.
Keeping the Focus Off Politics and On Dressage
Braddick, a former war correspondent for UPI who now runs Dressage News, is impressed with how well Ebeling is handling the pressure. Braddick says Ebeling texts Ann Romney and the other owner, telling them, "I don't want to hear any stress, any emotion. I don't want anything to break my focus." They did not speak Thursday before the performance.
"Having that visibility is really adding something to the sport, and does it affect me? No," Ebeling said in an NBC News video. "Once I get into my zone, I don't see anything, I don't hear anything. Everything is shut out."
Braddick says this year's Team USA is "without a doubt one of the most close-knit, protective-of-themselves group I've ever seen." "They've had a lock down and nobody gets to go and interfere with their training camp. And it's worked," he added.
Dressage: The How-To Guide
Dressage is a series of intricate, detailed movements performed by the horse. The signature move is the piaffe, where the horse trots in place. A good performance means no forward movement during each move. Any irregularities will be marked down as well as any lack of symmetry or balance. Judges look for regularity, stability, and the placement of the movements. The horse and rider should end each move where he or she started.

Jan Ebeling from United States rides Rafalca in the equestrian dressage competition, at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012, in London. Rafalca is co-owned by Ann Romney, the wife of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Like a gymnast coming off the high beam or vault slightly off balance, a score will be marked down for the same. Scores will be deducted from 10 as irregularities in performance show up.
With a rider dressed in a top hat and tails on its back, the horse, which weighs around 1,200 to 1,500 lbs, lifts up its front legs to trot in place. We are not talking about a slight and svelte gymnast. Viewers watching should keep an eye on the horse's hind quarters to see if the animal stays in place.
"Also look for the horse's top line, the outline, the top between the ears…the plane of the horse's face should be vertical to the ground," Jim Wofford, an American equestrian and former Olympian, told ABC News. "Variations and paces are determined by the length of the horse's step or stride."
It's a discipline that jumper riders, polo players and other equestrians are in awe of because of the intricate movements.
The dressage test, says Braddick, is "about seven minutes of these unbelievable movements… [It's] the perfect harmony of human and horse completely, both mentally and physically."
Ebeling agrees. He told NBC News he knows Rafalca's "weaknesses and her fears. I think she knows my fears and—so we are like a couple, like an old married couple."
On Thursday and Friday, 10 teams plus the individuals will compete in the Grand Prix level. The top seven teams will continue on to the Grand Prix Special, the next phase, on Aug. 7. Team USA is expected to continue on and it will be a huge disappointment if they do not, Braddick notes. The individuals will perform again on Aug. 9. There are going to be 50 combinations of horses and riders in 10 teams and then about 20 individual riders.
"Even on a bad day the U.S. should finish certainly in the top six as a team," Braddick said.
It's a long break for Rafalca, Ebeling, and their teammates and opponents between the two competitions. One of the longer ones in modern Olympic history Braddick says, pointing out there is a good and a bad side to the wait time.
"There's more time to fix whatever mistakes might have been or improve up on them, but the bad side is it's never happened this way before," Braddick said, noting the competition is usually over two days and the "huge gap" there means plenty of time for "head games" and "sitting around getting tense." And just as Rafalca and Ebeling possibly try to improve over the gap, their competitors will as well.
"The worst thing you can do in a sport is overthink and this time they have a lot of time to think," Braddick says.

Jan Ebeling of the United States rides his horse Rafalca during a training session for the equestrian dressage competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics on Wednesday in London. Rafalca is co-owned by Ann Romney, the wife of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

So Who's Rafalca's Competition?
Braddick says the "biggest competition" for Rafalca, Ebeling, and Team USA is "pretty much anybody in the field particularly Great Britain, Germany, and Denmark."
He specifically points to Great Britain's Valegro and rider Charlotte Dujardin, and America's Ravel and rider Steffen Peters as well as some of the young riders on Austria's team.
Germany has won every team dressage Olympics from 1984 on and Britain has never won any medal of any kind in 100 years. But this year is different. Braddick puts his chances on Great Britain's winning gold, Germany's snagging silver. Then the United States, Denmark , Spain and Sweden will all battle for bronze. That's for the team victories. Braddick stresses the individual medal is wide open.
"The most exciting thing is this is totally wide open, completely wide open," Braddick said. "It's not like you have Michael Phelps and the rest of the world. You have the rest of the world go battle it out."
In 2009, Ebeling and Rafalca had a poor performance at the 2009 Dressage World Cup in Las Vegas. Rafalca got spooked, but Braddick says Ebeling got "sports psychology help" for Rafalca, which has helped. Ebeling, along with his wife Amy, rides and trains at his facility, The Acres in Moorpark, California. It's also where he often trains Ann Romney, an amateur dressage rider.
Dressage's Most Famous Fan
The presumptive GOP nominee's wife has been vocal throughout the campaign about her love of riding and how it's helped relieve her of some of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, which she was diagnosed with in 1998.
In June at a therapeutic horse riding facility in Ocala, Romney explained why it helps, saying the "four step gait" of the horse mimics the crawling of a baby and is why it helps build core strength in patients weakened from MS.
Her husband jokes that her love of horses sometimes competes with the attention she pays to him. One Christmas their five sons gave him a box with the words, "Wear this and Mom will pay more attention to you" written on it. It was a horse mask.
They Get There How? And Veepstakes Watchers Turn to Dressage Ebeling has taken to Twitter to share details of his life with Rafalca while they prepare for the competition, everything from making vegetarian risotto for Team USA to the interesting way his now-famous horse got to London (Rafalca ate watermelons on the way).
"@JanEbeling @USEquestrian team packed up and horses are shipping out tonight on 0300 Fedex flight to London! Safe travels @RafalcaRomney#TeamUSA"

Published on Jun 11, 2012 by 
Rafalca and Jan Ebeling scored a 72.022 in the first Grand Prix test at the 2012 USEF Festival of Champions, National Grand Prix Dressage Championship held in Gladstone, New Jersey in June. Rafalca is a 15 year old Oldenberg mare owned by Amy Roberts Ebeling, wife of the rider, Beth Myers and Ann Romney. Ms. Romney is the wife of 2012 Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Mr.Ebeling, 53, owns The Acres, a training facility in Moorpark, California.

They have been flying horses since 1956, but the carriers, whether it be FedEx or another airline, does change.
Ann Romney will be on hand for all of Ebeling and Rafalca's performances for as long as they are competing. And as long as Mrs. Romney is in England, there is little chance the campaign will reveal their vice presidential pick. The image of Ann and Mitt Romney alongside his new number two, their spouse, and their family is a must-have photograph. And right now Ann only has eyes for Rafalca.
High Pricetag, Big Laughs
There's been some mild ridicule and teasing around Rafalca, most notably the great expense the sport costs. Both care and cost comes with a high price tag. Dressage horses cost in the six and seven figures, and that's before care and housing. In 2010, the Romneys reported a $77,000 loss on their tax returns. Ebeling has said he welcomes the media scrutiny of the sport because it shows it's not just for the extremely wealthy. There's also been humor. The entire team got a kick out of Colbert's naming dressage the "sport of the summer," and Ebeling enjoys it as well and says he thinks the man running for president finds it just as funny.
"These are tough times and we have to laugh," Ebeling told NBC News. "Knowing Mitt, he's probably the one who laughs the most."

Jed Jacobsohn for The New York Times
Equestrian dressage at Greenwich Park on Thursday.

Rafalca's Performance:

Watch Ann Romney's Horse "Dance" In The Olympics

Watch Ann Romney's Horse "Dance" In The Olympics
Watch Ann Romney's Horse "Dance" In The Olympics
Watch Ann Romney's Horse "Dance" In The Olympics
Watch Ann Romney's Horse "Dance" In The Olympics  


Published on Aug 2, 2012 by 
Just in time for the Olympics, Political Action is releasing this ad that calls out Mitt Romney for wanting many Americans to receive worse treatment than a horse. We want Rafalca, and all our Olympic athletes, to bring home the gold, but we won't stand for Mitt Romney shipping jobs overseas. And it's great that Rafalca gets excellent care, but Mitt Romney trying to cut Americans' health care? Well, that's a horse of a different color.

Nun, 82, Allegedly Splashed Human Blood on Nuke Plant

PHOTO: Anti-nuclear weapons activists Greg Boertje-Obed of Washington, D.C., and Sister Megan Rice of Nevada are pictured.

Two men and an 82-year-old nun who allegedly broke into the U.S. government's only storage facility for weapons-grade enriched uranium and splashed it with human blood may face additional charges, the U.S. Attorney for Eastern Tennessee told ABC News Thursday.
The peace activists, Sister Megan Rice, 82, of Nevada; Michael Walli, 63, of Washington, D.C.; and Greg Boertje-Obed, 57, of Duluth, Minn., were charged with trespassing after allegedly breaking into the Y-12 national security complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee at 4:30 a.m. Saturday.
U.S. Attorney Bill Killian said more charges would be filed against the defendants, but did not say what the charges would be.
"Some of the defendants here have prior records involving various facilities through the country," said Killian. "This is a matter of national security and it is a significant case."
The protestors, who are members of the "Transform Now Plowshares" movement, allegedly cut through four fences to gain access to the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, which holds enriched uranium. According to Wyatt, they spray-painted the building and splashed human blood on it, according to Y-12 spokesman Steven Wyatt. They also left banners and read from the Bible.
Josh McConaha, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration, said the alleged intruders had "no access" to any nuclear material -- "not even close."
PHOTO: Anti-nuclear weapons activists Greg Boertje-Obed of Washington, D.C., and Sister Megan Rice of Nevada are pictured.
U.S. Marshals Service/AP
Anti-nuclear weapons activists Greg... View Full Size
Anti-Nuke Nun, Protesters Enter Tennessee Complex Watch Video

The use of blood was meant to "[remind] us of the horrific spilling of blood by nuclear weapons," Plowshares said in statement released via its website Monday.
"We come to the Y-12 facility because our very humanity rejects the designs of nuclearism, empire and war," the statement said. "Our faith in love and nonviolence encourages us to believe that our activity here is necessary; that we come to invite transformation, undo the past and present work of Y-12; disarm and end any further efforts to increase the Y-12 capacity for an economy and social structure based upon war-making and empire-building."
Before being taken to the Blount County jail, where they're currently being held, Walli, Rice and Boertje-Obed gave bread to the Y-12 security officers.
The three were arraigned on federal trespassing charges in district federal court in Knoxville Monday. If convicted, the activists could face up to $100,000 fine and up to a year in pson.
Following the break-in, B&W, the management and operating contractor for Y-12, ordered a temporary security stand-down, which is expected to end next week. All nuclear operations will stop during the stand-down and security personnel will undergo training and refresher instruction.
"We've just got to do this to make sure we get the answers we need to address what happened and move forward," Wyatt told ABC News.
The Department of Energy Inspector General is investigating how the trio broke in. "There's never been anything quite like this before," Wyatt said.
The targeted facility was built in 2010, Wyatt said. It is longer than a football field and was built with security in mind. Additionally, Y-12 employs more than 500 security officers.
Walli was one of ten activists who were convicted last year of trespassing after they intentionally crossed a blue line separating state and federal property at the Y-12 complex in 2010, Knoxville ABC affiliate WATE reported.
"When we spoke with them from jail on Saturday, they were, I have described it as elated, because they did what they wanted to do, they came back," Ellen Barfield, a friend of the activists, told WATE.

Who are the Syrian rebels?

By Ghazi Balkiz, NBC News Producer:  Farmers, barbers, bakers, policemen. These are just a few of the professions of the men who call themselves the "Free Syrian Army" or simply, "the rebels" in Syria’s mountainous northwestern Jabal al-Zawiya area.
An NBC News team made up of chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel, cameraman John Kooistra and myself recently entered Syria to report on the conflict there. In the course of our reporting we came across many people who were involved in the struggle against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's regime. 
The rebels who we met came from various backgrounds, all walks of life and all ages. They opened their homes to us and welcomed us with open arms. We had no choice but to trust them as our guides as we traveled with them around the war-torn region. We had come to report on their side of the conflict.

Editor's note: Many of the rebels identified themselves by the common Arab custom of 'Abu' and their eldest son's (or daughter's) name. For example 'Abu Abdo' means 'Father of Abdo.'

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Syrian Ali Bakran, an air conditioning repair man by trade, has turned into a militia commander to fight against the leader of his home country, Bashar al-Assad. After being fired upon while peacefully protesting, Bakran left his job and formed a citizen's militia. NBC News' Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel journeys inside Syria.

Behind Syrian rebel lines

Rebels’ Russian-made AK-47s looted from Syrian Army checkpoints hang on the wall in their command center.

Rebels share a meal of “fateh,” chickpeas, bread and yogurt topped with herbs and tomatoes. The rebels have popular support in the area, so food is often cooked and delivered to them by locals.

Syrian children raise the victory sign in a village in the mountainous Jabal al-Zawiya area. Children have not been able to go to school in most of the villages in the area since the fighting began.

The Uprising: Syrian man leads militia against Assad

Syrian Ali Bakran, an air conditioning repair man by trade, has turned into a militia commander to fight against the leader of his home country, Bashar al-Assad. After being fired upon while peacefully protesting, Bakran left his job and formed a citizen’s militia. NBC News’ Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel journeys inside Syria.

Abu Khalid, a member of the “Justice Brigade” in Jabal al-Zawya, plays with his 1-year-old daughter as fellow rebels look on

An NBC News team recently traveled to Syria to report on the conflict there. To learn more about the rebels struggle against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, they followed a group of men who call themselves the "Free Syrian Army" in the country's mountainous northwestern Jabal al-Zawiya area. The following photos give a glimpse into the daily lives of the rebels.

In this photo rebel commander Ahmad Bakran points out a Syrian Army checkpoint to NBC News’ chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel in the village of Marayan.

Umm Ahmad at age 105 is the oldest woman in the newly liberated town of Marayan in northern Syria. During the siege of her town by the Syrian army, she and other town elders did not leave. Umm Ahmad's house was hit by mortar fire three times. She was wounded in her leg in one of the attacks. One of her sons was killed by Syrian forces while another son was held and tortured, resulting in the amputation of one of his legs.

A boy holds anti-aircraft rounds up to the camera and smiles in the newly liberated town of Marayan in northern Syria. At night time in the town the loud sounds of bombardment and explosions can still be heard as the Syrian army continues to shell this and other villages in Jabal Al-Zawya. Mothers told me that their children are very frightened of explosions' sounds and that they suffer from nightmares.

A rebel holds a gas mask left behind by the Syrian army in the newly liberated town of Marayan in northern Syria. Rebels tell us that what they fear the most is a chemical attack by President Bashar al-Assad's regime. The fact that Syrian forces had gas masks with them increases this fear.

A boy stands in the courtyard of his house next to a room that was damaged in a mortar attack in a northern Syrian city. His father was seriously wounded and the boy received slight wounds when the shell struck the house as the family was eating.

NBC Producer Ghazi Balkiz traveled with NBC Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel through northern Syria, where they met with rebels resisting the army forces of President Bashar al- Assad. Rebels only travel at night in rebel-held areas away from the Syrian army's prying eyes. They tell us if they travel by day they would get shot at. Here we traveled with the rebels at night on what they call "Rebel Roads" to reach a town that the army has just pulled out of. The way it works is that when rebels travel in an area that is not theirs, in every town they go through they stop and talk to the local rebels and the town residents. Locals usually send a rebel escort who knows the area well until the next town is reached and the process gets repeated.

Rebels in Jabal al-Zawiya area use motorbike parts to jerry-rig this heavy machine gun so they can operate it manually. The rebels say a weapons shortage is the main reason why they have not toppled the Assad regime yet.

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$5.5 billion Postal Service default won't stop the mail

Erik S. Lesser / EPA
Letter carrier Letonya Lawson makes her deliveries in Avondale Estates, Ga., this week. Despite a default, no interruption in postal service is expected.
Neither rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night -- nor, apparently, a $5.5 billion default -- will keep the U.S. Postal Service from moving the mail.
The agency confirmed Wednesday that it has defaulted on a payment, mandated by Congress, to a health benefit trust fund managed by the Treasury. The agency said it will miss a similar payment due Sept. 30.
The default will have “no material effect” on its operations, according to a Postal Service spokesman.
“We will continue to deliver the mail, pay our employees and suppliers and meet our other financialobligations,” the spokesman said.
Those losses are almost entirely the result of the now-defaulted “pre-funding” requirement for retiree health insurance and other accounting charges, according to Ron Bloom, an investment adviser at Lazard who has advised the Postal Service on restructuring.The default is a milestone in the long-running political dance between Congress and Postal Service managers over how to finance the delivery of mail to 151 million addresses, nearly 40 percent of the world's "snail mail" volume. Though its Capitol Hill critics complain that Postal Service should be made to operate “more like a business,” Congress has created a set of rules that all but guarantee billion-dollar losses.
“No other company in America, public or private, has that obligation,” he said. “The Postal Service is losing about $75 million a month from delivering the mail. That's a problem, but a different problem than the billions we hear about. If we raise the price of a stamp by half a penny, they would be breaking even.”
The Postal Service faces other constraints. It is banned from setting up retail outlets, for example, that could generate profits to help subsidize delivery costs.  Worse, it is barred by Congress from charging the full cost of providing the service it is required to deliver.
“On the one side, (Congress) says, ‘We want to you deliver a letter from the corner of Alaska to the far corner of Hawaii and we want to you do it for 45 cents,' which has nothing to do with the price of what it takes to get there,” said Bloom. “On the other hand, (Congress) says, ‘We want to you break even.’”
Beyond the crushing burden of prefunding benefits, the Postal Service is grappling with a long-term decline in the volume of first-class mail -- 4 to 5 percent year -- as more communication shifts to the Internet.  It’s not unlike a transition in the 1970s, when the decline of railroads forced the Postal Service to develop a new infrastructure of sorting facilities, part of the reason Congress chose to establish the service as an independently funded agency, according to Robert John, a Columbia Journalism School professor who has written about the history of the service.
“They built these large sorting centers that made it possible to distribute first-class mail in a day or two,” he said. “That’s one of the ways they could save money. They could no longer use all the facilities that they built out.  Do we, as a matter of policy, need to get catalogs, advertising -- so-called junk mail -- in one day? Could we get it in three days? But then what about Social Security checks?”
That means looming Postal Service cutbacks could create economic hardships for those carriers -- and the thousands of small  businesses that depend on them.  As revenues from first-class letters have declined, the volume of package deliveries has grown. Though it competes with private delivery services like UPS and FedEx, those carriers don't deliver to remote areas that are less profitable. So they contract with the Postal Service to get the job done.
“If I were at Fed Ex, I would be extremely worried about the situation,” said John. “It’s bad news for small business and it's bad news to the American economy."
More recently, Congress has sidelined the Postal Service's efforts to cut costs. The agency this year unveiled a five-year plan to reach profitability that, in addition to closing low-volume facilities, would cut Saturday delivery and eliminate the requirement to prefund employee benefits.
In April, the Senate approved an $11 billion cash infusion to avert a default, but delayed many of the proposed cuts for at least a year. The House is deadlocked on a bill calling for deeper cuts, in part due to opposition from lawmakers from rural districts where the cuts would hit hardest.
Congress has come to the financial rescue repeatedly in the past, said John, and he thinks it's likely that lawmakers will do so again. The political fallout from inconveniencing millions of voters in sparsely populated areas will likely override philosophical opposition to what the agency's critics see as a "bailout."   
"I would think that congressmen, who for principled reasons are opposed to government intervention and who happen to represent rural districts, are going to be like a Christian Scientist with appendicitis when it comes to privatizing the post office."
Even if Congress acts this year, which isn’t expected, the projected annual savings of $2.1 billion wouldn't kick in until late 2014. The Postal Service has projected a record $14.1 billion loss for this year. 
While some cuts seem inevitable, Bloom cautions that they could end up doing more harm than good.
"Clearly, you've got to right-size the network because first-class is in long-term decline," he said. "But the problem with all network companies is if you cut the network too fast, you accelerate the very problem you're trying to fix."
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As U.S. Postal Service Faces Default, Critics See Manufactured Crisis to Speed Up Privatization   123

For months, Americans have heard dire warnings about the impending collapse of the United States Postal Service due to fiscal insolvency. As Republicans push to privatize the post office, the agency is now bracing for its first-ever default today. Unlike every other governmental agency, the Postal Service is required to fund 75 years of retiree health benefits over just a 10-year span. We discuss the fight over the Postal Service with Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and Chuck Zlatkin of the New York Metro Area Postal Union. "The American people have to wake up here about what’s happening with the Postal Service," Kucinich says. "The whole concept of the Postal Service, embedded in that is the idea of universal service, that if you’re poor, you live in a rural area, you’re going to get served just like someone who lives in a city and who may be wealthy." [includes rush transcript]

Postal Service could run out of cash in October

 @CNNMoney August 2, 2012: 8:11 AM ETThe Postal Service could run out of cash in October.
The Postal Service could run out of cash in October.
WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) -- Without help from Congress, the Postal Service will not only default on payments for retiree health care benefits, but it could lack cash for operations by mid-October.
As of midnight Wednesday, the Postal Service was in default -- for the first time in its history -- on a $5.5 billion payment owed the federal government to prepay health care benefits for retirees.1223
While the Postal Service is in big financial trouble due to fewer people sending mail and the mandate to prepay retiree benefits, the default is largely symbolic. The agency will skip that payment and another $5.6 billion payment due Sept. 30, while continuing to pay employees and contractors to deliver the mail on time.
However, by Oct. 15, the agency's cash crunch could result in a $100 million shortfall, according to David C. Williams, the service's inspector general.
"We concur with the Postal Service's projections that it might not have sufficient cash to fund its operations in October 2012 and at other times during Fiscal Year 2013," Williams wrote in a July 25 memo.
The timing is significant, because experts don't expect Congress to make much headway on saving the Postal Service until after the November election. While the Senate passed a bill in April, the House has yet to take up its version.
If the Postal Service runs out of money in October, it may be brief, according to the service and the inspector general's office. The service is expecting an uptick in mail volume and revenue thanks to the 2012 presidential election and the holiday season to help make ends meet.
But if election and holiday mail don't come through, financial shortfalls could be worse, the inspector general warns.
The Postal Service has a back-up plan to conserve cash so it'll be able to deliver mail on time and keep the lights on at post offices. It would skip paying into the federal retirement system and would skimp on workers compensation payments due to the Department of Labor.
Stiffing the retirement system wouldn't be so bad, since the Postal Service has overpaid that program to the tune of $11.4 billion. Both bills in Congress would allow the service to recoup that money in order to pay off other debts, including a $12.7 billion loan from Treasury.

But short-changing the workers' compensation payments could have consequences, the inspector general warned. The Department of Labor may not have enough in reserve for its program, which compensates federal employees who have been injured on the job.
Postal Service Chief Financial Officer Stephen J. Masse said officials hadn't made a decision about whether to take any "extraordinary cash preservation measures" and would monitor the cash situation.
Postal watchers expect the House to take up a bill authored by Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican, after Nov. 6. If the bill passes, then the two chambers would meet to resolve differences between the bills.
"They're not going to be doing anything other than posturing before the election," said Anthony Conway, executive director of the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers. "While I think Issa has the votes, it's a tough vote to take right before the election."
Conway says he expects Congress will eventually step up and rescue the Postal Service before the agency is forced to contemplate the kind of insolvency that would prevent workers from being paid. To top of page