President Trump Targets Postal Service in Morning Tweet

WASHINGTON, DC – This morning, President Trump took to Twitter to voice concerns about the United States Postal Service.

He wrote, “Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer? Should be charging MUCH MORE!”

President Trump Tweet

It is unclear if Amazon is the source of the Postal Service’s financial troubles because the details of any deals between the Postal Service and retail giant are confidential, and the financial troubles of the Postal Service are often attributed to the requirement that it pre-fund its employee’s health insurance benefits and to the decreasing volume of first-class mail.

According to a Forbes article, shipping industry analyst David Vernon “estimated…that Amazon pays the USPS $2 per package, which is about half of what it would pay United Parcel Service and FedEx.”

The Forbes article noted that Postal Service chief financial officer Joseph Corbett “wrote in a post for PostalReporter.com in August that the [Postal Service] is required by law to charge retailers at least enough to cover its delivery costs.”

In 2013, the Postal Service made an agreement with Amazon to deliver packages on Sundays. The Postal Service also provides “last-mile” delivery for the retailer.

The Postal Service offered no comment in response to the tweet.

While Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) introduced postal reform legislation in January, Congress has made no recent moves to reform the Postal Service.

by Tasos Kalfas, @TasosKalfasWRGW

Celebrating Lunar New Year Stamp Series Continues with Year of the Dog

The U.S. Postal Service kicks off its 2018 stamp program in January with a Lunar New Year forever stamp celebrating the Year of the Dog.

The stamp will be formally issued January 11 at the Chinatown Cultural Plaza in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Year of the Dog begins February 16 and ends February 4, 2019.

This is the 11th of 12 stamps in the Celebrating Lunar New Year series, which features primary art from illustrator Kam Mak, a Hong Kong-born artist who grew up in New York City’s Chinatown and now lives in Brooklyn.

The stamps in the current series, designed by Ethel Kessler, also incorporate elements from a previous Lunar New Year series: Clarence Lee’s intricate cut-paper design of a dog, and the Chinese character for “dog,” drawn in grass-style calligraphy by Lau Bun. Those elements graced U.S. Lunar New Year stamps issued found in stamps issued from 1992 through 2004.

The Lunar New Year is the most important holiday of the year for many Asian communities around the world and is celebrated primarily by people of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tibetan and Mongolian heritage.

The U.S. Postal Service introduced its Celebrating Lunar New Year series, with stamps featuring artwork from Mak, in 2008. The series will continue through 2019 with a stamp for the Year of the Boar. Year of the Dog is being issued as a souvenir sheet of 12 self-adhesive Forever stamps.

The Year of the Dog illustration, originally created using oil paints on panel, depicts an arrangement of lucky bamboo (Dracaena braunii). To the right is a lozenge-shaped piece of red paper with the Chinese character “fu,” meaning good fortune, rendered in calligraphy — a common decoration on doors and entryways during Lunar New Year festivities.

Previous Years of the Dog started in January or February of 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994 and 2006.

USPS Releases “Sneak Peek” of 2018 New Issues

Yesterday, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) offered a sneak peek of their planned new issues for 2018. In a press release including images of the issues announced, the USPS highlighted “a portion of its 2018 stamp program.”

The new issues include Forever stamp designs honoring Mister Rogers, Lena Horne, John Lennon and Sally Ride. Additional stamps will include:

– American landscapes to commemorate the song, “America the Beautiful”;

– Frozen treats that depict various popsicles and frozen confections;

– Four designs celebrating the role of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education;

– a celebration of Illinois statehood;

– the American sacrifices in World War I, and;

– much more including bioluminescent creatures, magic tricks and mythical dragons.

No issuance dates or other detailed information was released and the Postal Service did state that the designs and details are subject to change until the actual release of the stamps.

You can find even more information about the announcement, including stamp images on the APS Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/american.philatelic.society

You can also ready the full release from the U.S. Postal Service at: http://bit.ly/2AAync9

Alzheimer’s Semipostal Will Be Issued November 30

The U.S. Postal Service will issue its next semipostal – the Alzheimer’s stamp – November 30 at the Johns Hopkins Asthma & Allergy Center Atrium, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, in Baltimore, Maryland.

The stamp, priced at 60 cents, will be available nationwide that day. The price includes the first-class single-piece postage rate in effect at the time of purchase plus an amount to fund Alzheimer’s research. By law, revenue from sales of the Alzheimer’s semipostal — minus the postage paid and the reimbursement of reasonable costs incurred by the Postal Service — will be distributed to the National Institutes of Health, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

2008 42-cent Alzheimer’s Awareness stampIf the stamp looks familiar, you’re correct. The artwork is an illustration that first appeared on the 2008 42-cent Alzheimer’s Awareness stamp. It shows an older woman in profile with a caring hand on her shoulder with the suggestion of sunlight behind her and clouds in front of and below her. On the 2008 stamp, she was facing left; the artwork for this stamp shows her facing right to help differentiate between the two stamps.

Stamp artist Matt Mahurin, of Topanga Canyon, California, created the stamp with the direction of art director Ethel Kessler of Bethesda, Maryland.

President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in 1983. At the time, fewer than 2 million Americans were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; today, that number has soared to nearly 5.4 million.

The first-day event will be free admission and open to the public, though an RSVP is required to attend the ceremony. Those interested can RSVP at usps.com/alzheimers.

Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer Megan J. Brennan will dedicate the stamp. In attendance will be Kathy Siggins of Mount Airy, Maryland, who followed the discretionary semipostal program criteria for submitting the stamp suggestion. Siggins’ husband succumbed to the disease in 1999.

Customers may pre-order the stamps at usps.com/shop in early November for delivery shortly after the Nov. 30 issuance.

Semipostal Stamps

The U.S. Postal Service has issued four previous semipostals, starting with the Breast Cancer Research in 1998, which was reissued in 2014. Subsequent semipostals have been the Heroes of 2001 (2002), Stop Family Violence (2003) and Save Vanishing Species (2011).

The Semipostal Authorization Act grants the U.S. Postal Service discretionary authority to issue and sell semipostal fundraising stamps to advance such causes as it considers to be ‘‘in the national public interest and appropriate.’’ Under the program, the Postal Service intends to issue five semipostal fundraising stamps over a 10-year period, with each stamp to be sold for no more than two years.

The Alzheimer’s semipostal stamp will be followed by a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) semipostal in 2019. The next three discretionary semipostal stamps have not yet been determined.

Under the Act, the Postal Service will consider proposals for future semipostals until May 20, 2023.

USPS Board of Governors Gets First Nominations After Being Vacant for a Year

WASHINGTON, DC – On Monday, President Donald Trump made his first nominations to the United States Postal Service Board of Governors, which has been vacant since December 2016.

Nominees Robert Duncan, Calvin Tucker, and David Williams hope to join the Board, which is responsible for implementing an array of postal policies, including the USPS budget and long-term planning, according to the USPS website. Governors serve seven-year terms and cannot serve more than two terms.

Robert Duncan, a Republican from Kentucky, is a former chairman of the Republican National Committee (2007-2009) and currently serves as chairman of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships. Calvin Tucker is from Pennsylvania, and David Williams is from Illinois.

To take office, the three nominees have to be confirmed by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and then by the entire Senate. Their confirmation hearings are not yet scheduled.

Postmaster General Megan Brennan welcomed the nominations in a statement saying, “The public interest and the Postal Service are best served by a fully constituted Board made up of well-qualified individuals with diverse perspectives and experience.

USPS contractors have also expressed delight at the new nominations. BCC Software, which builds software for the USPS, said on their website, “…we are hoping for a quick Senate confirmation. It is also worth noting that there are open positions on the Postal Regulatory Commission as well and the potential implications that could have.” The Commission is responsible for overseeing postal rate changes and has one vacant seat.

Six nominations are still needed to complete the Board of Governors, which has historically been comprised of nine members, the Postmaster General, and the Deputy Postmaster General.

It is unclear when further nominations will be made.

by Tasos Kalfas, @TasosKalfasWRGW