Canada: Arson, arrests in Ottawa amid ‘Freedom Convoy’ chaos – National & International News – WED 9Feb2022



Canada: Arrests, arson in Ottawa amid ‘Freedom Convoy’ chaos. Congress finally moves to remedy poison pill that nearly killed the US Postal Service.




Congress finally moves to remedy poison pill that nearly killed the U.S. Postal Service

It has been called “one of the most insane laws Congress ever enacted”. In the final months of 2006, Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. The bill mandated that the U.S. Postal Service deliver six days a week and prohibited rate hikes that outpaced inflation. But the Bush administration also insisted on a provision that required the USPS to fully fund employee health and retirement funds at least 50 years in advance- a requirement faced by no other institution, public or private. The addition was made under the guise of controlling the federal deficit. But the effect has been a slow starvation of the USPS and a deterioration of service.

Between 2007 and 2016, the Postal Service lost $62.4 billion, $54.8 billion of that due to advance benefit obligations. The agency began defaulting on these advance payments in 2012, adding $63 billion to the agency’s debt. By the end of 2019, the USPS was $160 billion in debt.

Now the House has passed a bill that will withdraw the advance benefit payment obligation and forgive much of the $63 billion accrued in related debt. The bill passed the House with broad bipartisan support and there is also strong bipartisan support in the Senate.

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Canada: Arrests, arson in Ottawa amid ‘Freedom Convoy’ chaos.

Canada’s capital city Ottawa remains at a standstill due to disruption by the Freedom Convoy protest, which is entering its second week. Hundreds of big rigs continue to block many city streets near Parliament. The protesters remain firmly entrenched despite efforts by city authorities and police to dislodge them. The protest began over a new rule requiring truckers crossing the U.S.-Canada border to show proof of vaccination. But the protest has also become a magnet for more extreme fringe elements, including militant right-wing and white supremacy groups.

On Monday, Ottawa police were seeking tips on the identity and whereabouts of two men in connection with an arson attempt at a downtown apartment building. The two men can be seen in surveillance video entering the building’s lobby and igniting a whole bag of fire starter bricks before attempting to seal the doors. Fortunately, the resulting fire in the old wood-paneled building only caused “minor damage”. The building is at the epicenter of the protests and tenants say the arson attempt followed a confrontation between residents and some of the protesters.

The arson attempt is just a symptom of the prevailing atmosphere of lawlessness in the city. Ottawa police have initiated at least 60 criminal complaint investigations linked to the protests had have made 23 arrests. The city’s mayor has asked for an additional 1800 police officers, but it’s unclear whether that help is forthcoming.

Meanwhile, on the U.S.-Canada border, truckers are blocking the Ambassador Bridge that links Detroit with Windsor, Ontario. Normally, at least 8000 trucks pass over the bridge each day, facilitating about 27% of trade volume between the U.S. and Canada.

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