Trump administration gave a $700M bailout to a $70M truck company after it allegedly defrauded the Pentagon

The Washington Post reports:

The Treasury Department announced Wednesday that it will loan $700 million to a trucking firm that ships military equipment, in exchange for having U.S. taxpayers acquire an almost 30 percent stake in the company.

Under the unusual arrangement, the Treasury Department will provide the emergency loan to YRC Worldwide, while taking a 29.6 percent equity stake in the company. The U.S. government does not typically take ownership stakes in companies but was given permission to do so by Congress as a way to ensure taxpayer funds are not misspent.

That lede alone should be enough to raise an eyebrow. But it gets even more suspicious: YRC Worldwide's stock had already plunged 27 percent this year, and was down 85 percent over the last five years. The day before the deal was finalized, the company was only valued at $70 million.

Yet somehow, the company finagled a rare deal for a government loan worth 10 times more than the company itself. To hear Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tell it, that's because the company is very, very important:

YRC is a leading provider of critical military transportation and other hauling services to the U.S. government and provides 68% of less-than-truckload services to the Department of Defense. This loan will enable YRC to maintain approximately 30,000 trucking jobs and continue to support essential military supply chain operations and the transport of industrial, commercial, and retail goods to more than 200,000 corporate customers across North America.

That argument might make sense on the surface, until you factor the part where YRC Worldwide is also being sued by the federal government for defrauding the Department of Defense out of millions of dollars. Read the rest

Who will rescue the U.S. Postal Service?

Maybe this coalition of 1200 tech, business, and news organizations

They're never going to get rid of the Postal Service because then who would deliver the scorpions?

The White House reportedly rejected a recent funding request from the US Postal Service, which predicted that it would soon run out of cash flow, thanks in part to coronavirus. Based on a quick glance at my Twitter feed, there are lots of people who are understandably concerned that this is all part of a larger GOP plot to destroy USPS, along with all other public institutions.

Considering that the Post Office would actually be a successful business if not for the GOP-sponsored Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, sometimes known as "one of the most insane laws Congress ever enacted," this is a valid concern. When people say that USPS is not a profitable business, it's specifically because of that law, which legally forbids them from making a profit, and also requires the Postal Service to fully refund its retirees' benefits 75 years in advance. No other company or organization — public or private — has ever done something that absurd. And it was clearly a deliberate move.

But here's the thing: they're never going to get rid of the Postal Service, not entirely. Because USPS is the only entity that will ship live scorpions. And that's an important public service. (Yes, they technically say that it has to be "for the purposes of medical research use or the manufacture of antivenin" but that's easy to get around.)

There's also the fact that FedEx and UPS rely on the US Postal Service for about a third of their services — particularly for "last mile" deliveries. Read the rest

US Customs seized a human brain on its way from Toronto to Wisconsin

US Customs and Border Protection seized a human brain that was part of an international mail shipment from Canada to the United States. They discovered the brain during an inspection at Blue Water Bridge between Port Huron, Michigan, US and Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. The brain was on its way from Toronto to Kenosha, Wisconsin. From Fox5NY:

During the routine mail operation, they say they came across a shipment manifested as an "Antique Teaching Specimen..."

The brain specimen is being investigated by the CDC for any potential infectious biological agents, infectious substances, and a decision on what to do with the specimen.

Read the rest

Couple accidentally received 25,000 tabs of Ecstasy in the mail

A woman in Austria was expecting a package of dresses she had ordered from a Dutch retailer. Two boxes from the Netherlands showed up at her door and while one of them contained her clothing, the other was packed with 25,000 tabs of MDMA worth a few hundred thousand dollars. From CNN:

The unnamed Austrian woman, 58, mistook the purple pills for decorative stones, police said, but on closer inspection her husband, 59, realized they were probably stimulants and returned the package to their local post office in Linz, Upper Austria...

"The (post) office was equally astonished, which is why the police, and subsequently the narcotics department of the City Police Command Linz, was informed."

Following an investigation by Linz's drugs squad it transpired that the package was intended for Scotland. Police Scotland and the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) are jointly investigating the matter.

Read the rest

USPS says Amazon should pay 9-12% more for shipping, after Trump criticizes USPS for not charging Amazon more

The United States Postal Service (USPS) wants to raise the fees it charges Amazon.com and other internet commerce shippers by 9 to 12 percent. This comes just months after President Donald Trump criticized the USPS, saying it gives Amazon too good of a deal. Read the rest

Gary Gulman's hilarious history of postal abbreviations for states

Gary Gulman does a meandering six-minute set on how the post office came up with the two-letter abbreviations for each state. The trivia and asides get increasingly absurd as the bit continues. Read the rest

Anthrax letters now on display

In Smithsonian, read about the new National Postal Museum exhibition where you can see the anthrax-laden letters that were sent to media outlets and two Democratic senators in 2001 and the mailbox into which they were dropped. Read the rest