The final three months of the calendar year is traditionally the busiest time of year for the U.S. Postal Service, but its financial reports “paint a bleak picture. Overall postal revenues from the first quarter of fiscal 2020 declined $363 million from” the same quarter in fiscal 2019, breaking from a trend of increasing total postal revenues in recent years.” Operations revenue decreased $350 million, and less letters, marketing mailers, and magazines were sent. “Despite an economic boom and continued growth in e-commerce deliveries, the agency has been unable to leverage its network and brand to reliably increase the number of packages it moves.” Additionally, the state of the USPS’s retirement funding “continues to darken” as the unfunded liability reaches $55 billion. On the bright side, the agency’s loss narrowed as its operating costs declined $1.1 billion from the same time the previous year. Together, the postal service lost $748 million this quarter, just under half the amount it lost in” the same quarter of 2018, helped in part by $100 million less in payroll. Robert Klitzman, writing for STAT News

Currently, 10 states allow the practice of gestational surrogacy, which differs from traditional surrogacy in that it implants another woman’s egg into the carrier. “Several of the 40 states with real or potential legal” hurdles “require that couples be married and heterosexual, or allow surrogates to choose at any point to keep the baby.” There are strong arguments for it to be legalized and to allow the surrogates to be paid, but such a law would require protections “to avoid the problems” highlighted in the 2019 effort to legalize it in New York, namely that it could lead to women being trafficked into the state to be surrogates and that “poorer women of color would disproportionately serve as gestational carriers. … State and federal government agencies can reduce risks to women by setting clear guidelines regarding informed consent and establishing surrogacy as a job with adequate payment and protections, instituting strict state residency requirements of at least a year (to avoid human trafficking), and mandating the collection of socioeconomic data about surrogates to provide evidence regarding whether women of certain ethnic and racial backgrounds are being disproportionately hired.” Priyanka Motaparthy, writing for Just Security

Civilians living in military conflict zones often have no idea who to turn to when their family members and neighbors are killed. While the U.S. military emphasizes the need for thorough investigations of civilian casualties, research from Center for Civilians in Conflict and the Columbia Human Rights Institute shows the U.S. “military’s record over 18 years is inconsistent, and from the perspective of many involved, inadequate.” The investigations tended to exclusively rely on internal records and military witnesses, and civilian interviews were conducted in “only 21.5 percent of the incidents we reviewed, despite the fact that civilians often have both important factual details, and contextual information relevant to assessing an attack.” The U.S. military also rarely publicizes investigation results. While the Defense Department is currently working on a new policy on handling civilian casualties, “until new policies are implemented, civilians impacted by U.S. operations-often with no way to contact those responsible-will continue to suffer terrible losses without any accounting for their harm.”

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