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Mail

US: Postal Service posts $3.3 billion loss

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© United States Postal Service (USPS)The United States Postal Service stamp showing the face of Liberty from the New York NY Casino in Vegas.
The U.S. Postal Service reported quarterly losses of $3.3 billion, and says that at the rate it's going, it will run out of money by October.

The agency was hurt by declining mail volume and mounting costs for future retiree health benefits.

From October through December of 2011, losses were $3 billion more than during the same period in 2010 - even though the final quarter is typically the strongest, due to increased holiday shipping.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe is warning of a possible suspension in postal operations this fall unless Congress acts to address long-term money problems.

He wants new leeway to eliminate Saturday mail delivery, raise stamp prices and reduce health and other labor costs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Comment: A reflection of the United States economy? Or, US: Surprised? Twisted government accounting behind Postal Service woes


People

US: Fewer Young Adults Hold Jobs Than Ever Before

youth job interview
© Thinkstock
The share of young adults with jobs has hit its lowest level since the government started keeping records just after World War II.

By the end of 2011, only 54.3% of those between the ages of 18 and 24 were employed, according to a Pew Research Center report released Thursday. And the gap in employment between the young and all working-age adults is roughly 15 percentage points -- the widest on record.

The Great Recession hurt the young more than most other age groups. Their employment decline has been steeper and their median weekly earnings fell by 6%, while holding steady for others, Pew found.

Only part of this can be explained by the growth in college attendance. While a greater share of 18- to 24-year-olds are in school than ever before, the employment rate has fallen regardless of enrollment.

Dollar

Hungary's Central Bank Burns Old Currency Notes to Help Needy in Cold Snap

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© Agency France Presse/Getty ImagesThousands of old Hungarian banknotes are processed at a logistics center at the Central Bank in Budapest.
Hungary's central bank is burning old monetary notes to help the needy in Europe's deadly cold snap.

The bank is pulping wads of old notes into briquettes to help heat humanitarian organisations.

"It's a very useful charitable act, a vital aid for our foundation because we can save part of our heating costs," said Krisztina Haraszti, the head of a centre for autistic children in the impoverished northeastern town of Miskolc.

It helped the centre, which also provides aid to autistic adults, save between 50,000 and 60,000 forints (£200) a month, which is a "considerable sum in this time of crisis," she told AFP.

Since the briquettes have a high calorific value, "one only needs to add a few bits of wood and the rooms are really warm," said Haraszti.

Bizarro Earth

Martians Landing or Putin's New Bomb? Mysterious Flash in the Sky Sparks Conspiracy Theories in Moscow

The Russian web was ablaze with bizarre theories today at an extraordinary explosion seen by thousands of commuters in St Petersburg.

It must have seemed like the end of the world was nigh when motorists driving along this busy motorway saw a huge flash light up the night sky on the horizon.

So far, conspiracy theories of martians and bomb-testing have emerged to explain the astonishing sight. However, the reality was far less exciting.

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© Russia TodayThe calm before the electric storm: Unsuspecting motorists were driving along this motorway when the huge flash appeared on the horizon in front of them.

Dollar

US, California: Los Angeles County OKs $1,000 Fine For Throwing Football, Frisbee On Beaches


When you head down to the beach for a little fun this summer, county officials want you to leave the pigskin at home.

The Board of Supervisors this week agreed to raise fines to up to $1,000 for anyone who throws a football or a Frisbee on any beach in Los Angeles County.

In passing the 37-page ordinance on Tuesday, officials sought to outline responsibilities for law enforcement and other public agencies while also providing clarification on beach-goer activities that could potentially disrupt or even injure the public.

Laptop

US, Washington: Seattle Library Lets Man Watch Porn in View of Children

xxx, porn
© unknown
A Seattle librarian refused to force a man watching hardcore porn on a computer to move to a more discreet location, even after a woman with two children complained, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The Lake City librarian reportedly could see the screen, and sympathized with the woman's position, but maintained that the library "doesn't censor content" and could not "be in the business of monitoring what their patrons are doing at any given computer."

According to newspaper, the woman isn't the first person to speak up. Several parents and teachers have complained about library patrons watching graphic pornography while children are present, the paper said.

"Now I don't let my kids wander the aisles at our branch," one mother told the newspaper.

This isn't the first time this issue of whether porn and other obscene materials should be allowed in public libraries has come up. In 1998, a U.S. District Court ruled that a Virginia county library could not force website-blocking software on their adult patrons.

Green Light

US: New Illinois Law Allows Motorcyclists to Drive Through Red Lights

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© CBC News
Have you ever sat at a red light, watching the seconds tick by wondering if the light will ever turn?

Well, motorcyclists and bicycle riders in Illinois no longer have that problem. A new law now allows them to ride through red lights if the light doesn't turn green within a "reasonable period of time." But, according to the Chicago Daily Herald, not everyone thinks it's a good idea.

The law was changed because proponents said motorcycles and bicycles aren't heavy enough to activate the road sensors that make lights change.

Brian Wenholt, a legislative officer for Will County ABATE, said riders have wanted this law for a while.

"It's something I've been complaining about, and a lot of members have too, for years and years," he said to the Orland Park Patch. ABATE stands for A Brotherhood Aimed Toward Education and tries to "preserve the universal right to a safe, unrestricted motorcycling environment," reads their website.

Laptop

Facebook Photos Still Viewable After Users Delete Them, Website Finds

facebook
© dpa
Three years after the issue first came to light, it appears photos on Facebook that users have deleted aren't actually off the server, a website has learned.

Writers at the technology blog Ars Technica found that even when they deleted photos, the image file stayed on Facebook's server and was still available, if another user had a direct URL to the image. In effect, all that deleting a photo had accomplished was removing it from Facebook's main interface.

Since Ars Technica first learned of this flaw in Facebook's system back in 2009, the social networking giant has responded to say that it is working with its content delivery network (CDN) partner to resolve the issue and reduce the amount of time it takes for a photo to be deleted.

Heart - Black

New Poll Suggests Majority of Canadians Support the Death Penalty

The death penalty debate in Canada resurfaced last week, when Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu suggested that murderers be given a rope in their cells "to make a decision about his or her life."

It turns out, the majority of Canadians have the same sentiments as Boisvenu.


Attention

1 in 10 Doctors Admit Lying in the Past Year

Doctor + Patient
© MyHealthNewsDaily

Everybody lies - even doctors.

A new study finds 11 percent of doctors say that they have told a patient or a child's guardian something that was not true in the past year, and about 20 percent say they have not fully disclosed a mistake to a patient because they were afraid of being sued.

The results also show 34 percent of doctors surveyed did not "completely agree" that physicians should disclose all significant medical errors to affected patients. Instead, these doctors said they only somewhat agreed, or disagreed.

"Our findings raise concerns that some patients might not receive complete and accurate information from their physicians," the researchers write in the February issue of the journal Health Affairs. The findings also question whether patient-centered care - which is a philosophy of medicine that respects the preferences, needs and values of patients - is possible without more openness and honesty, the researchers from Harvard Medical School said.

While the ultimate effect of such untruths is not known, they could make patients "less able to make health care decisions that reflect their values and goals," the researchers said.

To be fair, the researchers acknowledged not knowing the circumstances under which physicians lied, and communication regarding health issues can be complex. Physicians must often wade through conflicting and confusing information as a case goes on. Telling a patient something that turns out to be wrong might not be helpful, the researchers said.

More research is needed to better understand when and why physicians feel justified in a lapse of honesty.