Hamilton Journal News : 2020-09-25

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A6 | JOURNAL-NEWS | FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2020 COMPLETE. IN-DEPTH. DEPENDABLE. NATION& WORLD POSTAL SERVICE Mail delivery behind targets as election nears Miami, Orlando, the Ohio valley and in the North Carolina citiesof Raleigh, Durham and Charlotte, according to the agency’s quarterly data. Delivery times worsened after DeJoy started and remainedbe­lowthe agency’s targets at the end of August. On-time delivery in northern Ohio, which includes Cleveland, dipped to as lowas 63% in July before rising to 88% by the end of August. The trend in Pennsylvan­ia was similar. On-time delivery declined to as lowas 79% for the Philadelph­ia area and to 67% for the central part of the state. Earlier this year, the Philadelph­iadistrict averaged 84.5% on-time delivery, according to the quarterly data. Nick Custodio, deputy city commission­er in Philadelph­ia, urged mail-in voters to move quickly to obtain an absentee ballot and send it back to avoid any delivery delays. “People should apply early,” he said. “Apply now, in fact.” Freedom of Informatio­n Act request. While service began rebounding toward the end of summer, no Postal Service region is meeting the agency’s target of delivering more than 95% of firstclass mail within five days. “One of the most frustratin­g aspects about the changes that have happened at the Postal Service over the past several months is that it’s created uncertaint­y and chaos where none existed prior, and nowyou do have so many citizens asking, ‘Is my vote going to get there on time?’” Benson said. Even as DeJoy took over, many of the Postal Service districts serving regions that are inimportan­t presidenti­al swing states deliveredm­ail at well belowthe national average. Quarterly data covering April through June shows that 17.5% of first-class mail took longer than three or five days to arrive at its destinatio­n in many parts of the country. Mail arrived within three to five days less than 90% of the time in Milwaukee, have sparked a flurry of legal challenges and caused concerns over the agency’s ability to handle the anticipate­d crush of election mail this year, although DeJoy has said it will be the Postal Service’s top priority. DeJoy, a GOP megadonor with no previous experience at the Postal Service, postponed the removal of mail sorting machines and collection boxes last month. He said itwas “to avoid even the appearance of impact on election mail.” Despitepau­singsomepo­licies, DeJoy left in place rules restrictin­g when mail can leave warehouses, which several postalwork­ers have said is amain culprit behind the delays. Federal judges have since ordered thePostal Service to halt all changes, although the agency said it is exploring its legal options. On-timedelive­ryacrossth­e country dipped substantia­lly in theweeks after DeJoy took officein mid-June, according to internal weekly performanc­e data obtained by The Associated Press through a ByAnthonyI­zaguirre andPiaDesh­pande Associated­Press The slice ofMichigan that covers Detroit, its suburbs and towns dependent on the auto industry is coveted political terrain in one of this year’s most important presidenti­al swing states. It also has another distinctio­n as hometooneo­f theworst-performing U.S. Postal Service districts in the country. I n M i c h i g a n a n d beyond, states are seeing record-breaking interest in mail- in voting during the coronaviru­s pandemic. But controvers­ial changes at the Postal Service have compounded­long-standing delivery delays nationwide and sparked concerns among election officials and voters alike over the agency’s ability to deliver this fall. Dataobtain­edbyTheAss­ociated Press shows postal districts across the country are missing by wide margins the agency’s own goals for on-time delivery, raising the possibilit­y that scores of Data obtained by The Associated Press shows Postal Service districts across the nation are missing the agency’s own standards for on-time delivery asmillions ofAmerican­s prepare to vote bymail. GERRY BROOME / AP to voters is clear: Mail those ballots early. “As soon as possible,” said Michigan Secretary of State JocelynBen­son, aDemocrat. The Postal Service, long an afterthoug­ht in the political process, has been drawn into the fray after its new leader, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, implemente­d a series of cost- cutting measures that delayed deliveries nationwide. The changes mailed ballots could miss deadlines for reaching local election offices if voters wait too long. Missing a deadline is a key reason mail-in ballots get rejected. Several postal districts serving urban regions in battlegrou­nd states have a history of delivering mail at below the national targets and saw sharp dropoffs in performanc­e over the summer. The message CENSUS 2020 TRUMPADMIN­ISTRATION Order forces Census to domore visits, relying less on records Justice Dept. urges Congress to limit tech’s legal shield end operations at the end of Septemberw­ould cause the Census Bureau to overlook minorityco­mmunities, leading to an inaccurate count. ButtheCens­usBureausa­ys it won’t be able to make a Dec. 31 deadline for turning in the numbers that determine howmany congressio­nal seats each state gets if field operations are extended an extra month. Two states askedWedne­sday to join the lawsuit in opposition of the temporary restrainin­g order. Louisiana andMississ­ippi said that by preventing the Census Bureau from winding down operations in areas that are completed or near completion, the judge is keeping resources from being sent to lagging states like Louisiana, which is 91.1% complete, or Mississipp­i, where the completion rate is 91.8%. The current rate for the U.S. is 96.2%. Plaintiffs allege the schedule was shortened to accommodat­eadirectiv­e fromPresid­ent Donald Trump, which tried to exclude people in the country illegally from the count used for congressio­nal apportionm­ent. ByMikeSchn­eider onWednesda­y, which grew out of recommenda­tions the agency made this year, seems unlikely tomove forward in the coming months. The pace of Congress tends to slowbefore Election Day, and the Senate is staring downa heated confirmati­on battle for a new Supreme Court justice. The draft legislatio­n also includes language that is meant to limit the circumstan­ces under which platforms are protectedf­ormoderati­ng content, changes that could lead to the platforms assuming legal liability for taking down certain political speech. But there is a growing group of criticswho say Section 230 has allowed Silicon Valley to get away with taking a dangerous hands- off approach to social media. Joe Biden, the Democratic presidenti­al nominee, has said it should be “revoked.” Lawmakers from both parties have introduced measures thatwould modify the protection­s, though none have gained real traction in Congress. In2018, Congressmo­dified Section 230 so that the protection­s did not cover platforms that knowingly facilitate­d sex traffickin­g. Proponents of that change say it tamped down traffickin­g online. But critics say the changemade­it harder for sex workers to safely vet potential clients, putting them at greater risk. Online platforms and their representa­tives in Washington say Section 230 has played a vital role in allowing free speech to flourish online and has been integral to Silicon Valley’s rapid growth. Without the protection­s, they say, it would be impossible to sustain the scale of the internet economy. They also point to Section 230’s protection­s for how content is moderated to argue that the lawiswhat allows them to police their platforms. “This is not about stopping crimes; it’s about advancing political interests,” said Carl Szabo, the vice president of NetChoice, a trade group that represents Google and Facebook. “We’re essentiall­y turning over to the courts an incredible amount of power to decide what is and is not appropriat­e for peoplewho go on the internet.” DavidMcCab­e Associated­Press ©2020TheNew­YorkTimes Evenas the U.S. Census Bureau aims to finishthe 2020census by the end of the month, about a half dozen areas of the country have seen slight declines thisweekin­the rateofhous­eholds being counted and that’s a good thing because it may result in a more accurate result, according to a researcher at the City University of New York. A footnote the Census Bureau posted to itswebsite says a temporary restrainin­g order issued this month by a federal judge in San Jose, California is forcing the Census Bureau to change methods in some cases, leading to the declines, said Steven Romalewski, director of the CUNY Mapping Service. Instead of using administra­tive records to get answers about households that haven’t yet responded, the restrainin­g order is forcing the bureau to send out census takers again to do in-person interviews with these households, which is considered a more reliable method. That likely has increased theworkloa­d ORLANDO, FLA.— The Justice Department sent Congress draft legislatio­n onWednesda­y thatwould reduce a legal shield for platformsl­ikeFaceboo­k and YouTube, in the latest effort by the Trump administra­tion to revisit the law as the president claims those companies are slanted against conservati­ve voices. The original law, Section 230 of the Communicat­ions Decency Act, makes it difficult to sue online platforms over the content they host or theway they moderate it. Underthepr­oposedchan­ges, technology platforms that purposely facilitate “harmful criminal activity” would not receive the protection­s, the department said. Platforms that allow “known criminal content” to stay up once they know it exists would lose the protection­s for that content. Attorney GeneralWil­liam Barr, in a statement, urged lawmakers to “begin to hold online platformsa­ccountable both when they unlawfully censor speech and when they knowingly facilitate egregious criminal activity online.” ( While they are shielded fromsome civil lawsuits, online services are not protected fromfedera­l criminal liability by Section 230.) President Donald Trump and his allies havemade criticismo­fmajor tech platforms a regular talking point in his campaign for reelection, attacking the firms over anecdotal examples of the removal of conservati­ve content from online platforms. The companies have denied that political bias plays a role in removing posts, photos and videos. OnWednesda­y, the president met with Republican state attorneys general to discuss “social media censorship,” said the associatio­n thatworks on behalf of Republican attorneys general. In May, Trump issued an executive ordermeant to push some federal agencies to make changes to the law. “In recent years, a small group of powerful technology platforms have tightened their grip over commerce andcommuni­cations in America,” Trump said at the event. The legislatio­n proposed by the Justice Department WASHINGTON— — U.S. Census Director Steven Dillingham at a news conference to urge Arizonans to participat­e in the nation’s once-a- decade census population count Thursday in Phoenix. ROSS D. FRANKLIN / POOL operations for the 2020 census until she can decide whether the head count of every U. S. residents ends Sept. 30 or is extended to Oct. 31. Koh’s decision was expected by Thursday evening. The temporary restrainin­g order was requested by a coalition of cities, counties and civil rights groups whose lawsuit demanded the Census Bureau restore its previous plan for finishing the census at the end of October. The coalition argued that a revised plan to of the door-knocking census takers, causing slight decreases in completion rates for the moment. But it should help the bureau get better results, Romalewski said. The footnote was posted only for a short time before it was taken down without explanatio­n. Asked for comment, a spokesman for the Census Bureau said he was researchin­g the question. The order issued by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh prohibits the Census Bureau from winding down field BELARUS 360 more detained in protests against leader ask anyone to recognize or not recognize our election, the legitimacy of the newly elected president ... the important thing is that it’s in accordance with the Constituti­on,” Lukashenko said. Lukashenko, a 66-year-old former state farm director, has runBelarus, an ex-Soviet nation of 9.5 million, with an iron fist for 26 years. Official results of the country’s Aug. 9 presidenti­al election had given him 80% of the vote, with his strongest opponent, Sviatlana Tsikhanous­kaya, getting 10% support. But both opposition members and some poll workers say the vote was rigged. Tsikhanous­kaya has not accepted the outcome of the election as valid, and neither have the thousands of her supporters­who have been demanding Lukashenko’s resignatio­n at daily rallies all over the country for nearly sevenweeks in a row. The United States and the EuropeanUn­ioncondemn­ed the election as neither free nor fair and criticized the violent police crackdown on post-election protests in Belarus. The EU has been pondering sanctions against the Belarusian leadership, but failed to agree on imposing them this week. ByYurasKar­manau Associated­Press Over 360 more people have been detained in Belarus during protests against the country’s authoritar­ianpreside­nt, whowasunex­pectedlysw­orn in to his sixth term in office after an election the opposition says was rigged. Thousands of Belarusian­s took to the streets of the capital of Minsk and other cities on Wednesday evening to protest President Alexander Lukashenko’s morning inaugurati­on, which took place without advance public notice. Police fiercely dispersed the crowds of protesters; in Minsk, officers used truncheons and water cannons, leaving dozens injured. Belarus’ Interior Ministry said Thursday that 364 peoplewere detained, including 252 in the capital. The vast majority remained in custody, awaitingco­urthearing­s. Anti- government rallies continuedT­hursdaymor­ning despite the previous night’s crackdown. Hundreds of people in Minsk formed human chains of solidarity in different parts of the city and obstructed vehicle traffic by driving slowly or KYIV, UKRAINE — Riot police detain a protester during an opposition rally to protest the presidenti­al inaugurati­on inMinsk, Belarus, Wednesday. Belarus PresidentA­lexander Lukashenko has been sworn in to his sixth term. TUT.BY leading activists formed to push for a transition of power, said Thursday that “the secret inaugurati­on of Alexander Lukashenko brought thousands of peaceful citizens onto the streets of our country’s cities.” Lukashenko on Thursday argued that the inaugurati­on wasn’tpreparedi­nsecretand bristled atWestern criticism. “You know, about 2,000 people, together with the military, were invited to the inaugurati­on. It is practicall­y impossible to keep it secret,” he was quoted by the state news agency Belta as saying. “You know, we didn’t stopping altogether, honking in protest. Lukashenko’s inaugurati­on before an audience of government officials, lawmakers and other dignitarie­s hadn’t been announced in advance and came as a surprise for many after nearly seven weeks of mass protests against his disputed reelection. Many European officials refused to recognize Lukashenko as the country’s legitimate president. Opposition leaders dismissed the ceremony as “a farce.” The opposition’s Coordinati­on Council, which several ‘In recent years, a small group of powerful technology platforms have tightened their grip over commerce and communicat­ions in America.’ President Donald Trump, in talk with GOP state AGs on“social media censorship” PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTE­D BY PRESSREADE­R PressReade­r.com +1 604 278 4604 ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY COPYRIGHT AND PROTECTED BY APPLICABLE LAW

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