70 years on the job for nation’s longest-serving letter carrier


Meet the nation’s senior letter carrier with the U.S. Postal Service. Johnnie Bell celebrated 70 years of service Friday. Bell has worked in Oklahoma City his entire career. His journey began when he was just 23. “Thanks so much for this recognition. This is just something I do because I enjoy doing it,” he said. Bell is humble, a man of few words. When he does speak, everyone listens. Said coworker Stephanie Fiordelisi: “He just loves everyone, and he has a way of just being magic and just drawing everyone together to where they just all felt like family.”As humble as Bell is, what he just accomplished is something to brag about. He has shown up for his job, day after day, for 70 years.“It’s been a great experience to work with him. Seventy years is a blessing,” coworker Willie Taft said.Back when Bell started with the Postal Service, pay was $1.81 an hour. “He is truly a public servant. He has an opportunity every day to interact with customers, which he thoroughly enjoys,” coworker Julie Gosdin said. Said coworker Willie Taffe: “For a guy that’s been here 70 years, he knows this job inside out. It’s clockwork for him.”That dedication means Bell is the longest-tenured Post Office employee in the nation.After some laughs and cake, Bell went back to what he has been doing for the last seven decades: sorting and delivering mail.When it comes to dedicated service and just being an overall good human being, it’s safe to say Bell always delivers. “If there were more Johnny Bells around, then the Postal Service would be a better place. The world would be a better place because that’s just who he is,” Fiodelisi said.

Meet the nation’s senior letter carrier with the U.S. Postal Service.

Johnnie Bell celebrated 70 years of service Friday. Bell has worked in Oklahoma City his entire career. His journey began when he was just 23.

“Thanks so much for this recognition. This is just something I do because I enjoy doing it,” he said.

Bell is humble, a man of few words. When he does speak, everyone listens.

Said coworker Stephanie Fiordelisi: “He just loves everyone, and he has a way of just being magic and just drawing everyone together to where they just all felt like family.”

As humble as Bell is, what he just accomplished is something to brag about. He has shown up for his job, day after day, for 70 years.

“It’s been a great experience to work with him. Seventy years is a blessing,” coworker Willie Taft said.

Back when Bell started with the Postal Service, pay was $1.81 an hour.

“He is truly a public servant. He has an opportunity every day to interact with customers, which he thoroughly enjoys,” coworker Julie Gosdin said.

Said coworker Willie Taffe: “For a guy that’s been here 70 years, he knows this job inside out. It’s clockwork for him.”

That dedication means Bell is the longest-tenured Post Office employee in the nation.

After some laughs and cake, Bell went back to what he has been doing for the last seven decades: sorting and delivering mail.

When it comes to dedicated service and just being an overall good human being, it’s safe to say Bell always delivers.

“If there were more Johnny Bells around, then the Postal Service would be a better place. The world would be a better place because that’s just who he is,” Fiodelisi said.



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Dutch cyclist Annemiek Van Vleuten Wins 2022 Tour De France Femmes 


The 39-year-old Movistar Team rider and Tour favorite bested compatriot Demi Vollering by 3 minutes and 48 seconds in the eight-stage bike race. Katarzyna “Kasia” Niewiadoma of Poland finished third.

Van Vleuten, ranked No. 1 in the world, won stages seven and eight. 

'An absolutely beautiful moment': How the inaugural Tour de France Femmes can change women's cycling
Her win comes despite starting the Tour with a stomach bug and dealing with no less than five bike changes during the final stage Sunday, according to cycling news publications VeloNews and Cycling Weekly.
Team Jumbo-Visma rider Marianne Vos, who won two stages and led most of the Tour, ultimately took the green jersey for winning the overall points classification, or sprinters’ competition, according to the final results.

Vollering, of Team SD Worx, secured the polka dot jersey for the Queen of the Mountains competition, while Shirin Van Anrooij, of Trek-Segafredowas best of the young riders, securing the white jersey for 2022.

Canyon-SRAM Racing was the top team overall, beating out FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope and Trek-Segafredo.

The race covered 1,029 kilometers (639 miles) in eastern France, finishing atop La Super Planche des Belles Filles. 

The was the first women’s Tour de France since 1989.



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Oh baby! Overland Park couple’s newborn baby delivered on side of road


OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A baby boy in Overland Park, Kansas, wasn’t waiting for the hospital to make his debut into the world.

“The accident blessing,” Molly Kavanagh said. “He has had his own way since the very beginning.”

When Molly went into labor, her husband Justin Finn planned to drive the expecting mom to the hospital.

“My water broke, I said, ‘Let’s go, let’s get in the car.’ And he was speeding as fast as he could,” Kavanagh said.

Finn explained what was going through his mind at the time.

“You know a tone in your spouse’s voice when you’ve kind of pushed the limit, and so I knew that,” Finn said. “[On the] next tone, she said, ‘Pull over he’s coming.’ There was no wiggle room.”

Molly and Justin never made it to the hospital. Their baby boy was born along Mission Road near Interstate 435. They named him Jack.

“Within 30 minutes, basically it all happened so fast and I was not expecting it all,” Kavanagh said.

The couple said the experience of having two other children helped them remain calm during the earlier than expected delivery.

However, Molly and Justin were on guard for possible health issues with their newborn.

Their four-year-old daughter was born with heart issues and their two-year-old daughter was in the NICU to monitor her oxygen levels.

“You look for certain things and he was good,” Finn said. “He gave a little welp, yelp when he was in my arms. I put him in Molly’s chest and he started crying. It was really cool to see the motherly instinct takeover, because she looked at me with just the utmost confidence and said ‘He’s ok, he’s good.'”





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Nichelle Nichols, trailblazing ‘Star Trek’ actress, dies at 89


How 'Star Trek' legend Nichelle Nichols helped shape a diverse future for NASA
“Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration,” Johnson said in a statement shared to Nichols’ official site on Sunday. “Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.”

Nichols died from natural causes, he said.

Nichols portrayed communications officer Lt. Nyota Uhura in the “Star Trek” TV series and many of its film offshoots. When “Star Trek” began in 1966, Nichols was a television rarity: a Black woman in a notable role on a prime-time television series. There had been African-American women on TV before, but they often played domestic workers and had small roles; Nichols’ Uhura was an integral part of the multicultural “Star Trek” crew.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. called it “the first non-stereotypical role portrayed by a Black woman in television history.”



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Activists protest Chicago teen curfew, say exceptions for events like Lollapalooza are unfair


CHICAGO (CBS) — With Lollapalooza in full swing, the city’s teen curfew has been sparking controversy.

The music festival in Grant Park draws a young crowd. But as it stands, the 10 p.m. curfew for those under 18 does not apply during certain events – including ticketed concerts.

As CBS 2’s Marybel González reported Friday night, some youth activists say it is not fair that the curfew applies to some teens and not to others.

The city says the curfew is a way to crack down on crime. But the activists call it unconstitutional, and say they are ready to take it to court.

They used Lollapalooza itself as a venue to protest the city’s policy.

“If you have a ticket for Lollapalooza – general admission or otherwise – then you don’t have to abide by that curfew, which instantly struck me as really weird,” said youth activist Isaiah Pinzino of the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council.

On opening day of Lollapalooza, Pinzino – along with other activists from the GoodKids MadCity organization – stood outside the concert gates to denounce the city’s 10 p.m. curfew – as well as the executive order that bans unaccompanied minors from Millennium Park on weekend nights.

A clause in the ordinance does allow minors who are coming from a ticketed event like Lollapalooza to be out past the curfew.

“It also shows that they’re willing to circumvent the supposed safety reforms that that they’re inputting for concertgoers – which is absolutely ridiculous,” Pinzino said.

Back in May, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the measure as a way to combat crime, shootings, and rowdy crowds. Infamously, a 16-year-old boy named Seandell Holliday was shot and killed in front of the Cloud Gate sculpture during a chaotic gathering in Millennium Park in May.

But activists say the curfew and other restrictions on young people are not a solution.

A lawyer representing the activists sent a letter to the city asking them to do away with the curfew. They are calling the measure unconstitutional, and one that disproportionately affects Black and brown teens.

The city did not respond to our request for comment on the letter.

We also reached out to Chicago Police to ask what happens to teens who are attending the concert and stay out past curfew. The city said, “It is a defense for the minor to be participating in, or returning from, a ticketed event.”



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Hero saves grandmother and her relatives as their home is nearly swallowed by Kentucky floodwaters


Randy Polly was driving to get gas on Thursday morning when he encountered floodwaters that left him stranded on a patch of dry land in Whitesburg, Kentucky.

A few hours later, he watched from a distance as a man saved an elderly woman and others who were trapped in a house as the water kept rising.

Polly told CNN he could hear people yelling across the flooded road, “Get me help, get help.” Polly called 911, but emergency services were overwhelmed and unresponsive to his calls, he said.

At around 9 a.m., he witnessed someone he described as a “hero” swim over to the house and start banging on a door and window.

How to help Kentucky flood victims

A series of dramatic videos taken by Polly and shared with CNN show the rescue. Polly said it took about 30 minutes from start to finish, as the man entered the house through the window and helped each of the three family members leave safely.

Missy Crovetti, who is based in Green Oaks, Illinois, told CNN that the family rescued consisted of her grandmother Mae Amburgey, uncle Larry Amburgey and her brother Gregory Amburgey. They are safe and doing well, she said.

Crovetti’s brother shared pictures that captured the flooding inside the house as the three waited to be rescued. In one of the pictures, you can see 98-year-old Mae sitting on her bed, which is nearly submerged in water.

Crovetti said she does not know the name of the man who rescued her family. Polly also said he does not know the man’s name.

Gregrory Amburgey is seen with his 98-year-old grandmother Mae as their house flooded in eastern Kentucky.
Crovetti set up a verified GoFundMe campaign to help support her grandmother and other family members as they recover from the devastating floods.
The flooding had claimed the lives of at least 26 people as of Sunday morning. The National Weather Service put a flood watch in effect through at least Monday morning for parts of southern and eastern Kentucky. There is a Level 3 of 4 moderate risk for excessive rainfall on Sunday across southeastern Kentucky, according to the Weather Prediction Center.
The heavy rains and flooding began overnight on Wednesday, sweeping some homes from their foundations and forcing residents to search for higher ground. Gov. Andy Beshear has said that he expects the death toll to rise as search crews enter areas that are currently inaccessible.



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PACT Act: VA secretary says Republican-backed amendments to burn pits legislation would lead to ‘rationing of care for vets’





CNN
 — 

Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough on Sunday pushed back against Senate Republicans blocking passage of the administration-backed PACT Act, warning that if the chamber passes GOP senators’ proposed amendment to the legislation aimed at providing care for veterans exposed to toxic burn pits, “we may have to ration care for veterans.”

McDonough told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that a proposed amendment from Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey would put “a year-on-year cap” on what the VA can spend to care for veterans suffering from exposure to burn pits and sunsets the fund after 10 years, telling Tapper, “I can’t, in good conscience, do that, because the outcome of that will be rationing of care for vets, which is something I just can’t sign on.”

“This has been the No. 1 priority for President Biden,” McDonough said, touting executive action steps the Biden administration has already taken to remove the burden of proof for veterans seeking care for toxic exposure. “I guess what I’d say is, these folks have waited long enough. Let’s just get it done, and also let’s not be for a proposal that places artificial caps on year by year, and then functionally, at the end of those 10 years, makes this fund go away. Let’s not sign up to that, because at the end of the day, the risk of that is going to be rationing of care to veterans.”

Earlier on “State of the Union,” Toomey had defended his decision to lead a group of Republican senators in delaying passage of the bill.

The Pennsylvania Republican accused Democrats of attempting to “sneak in something completely unrelated that they know could never pass on its own” while reiterating that he and his fellow Republicans are “not opposed” to the core provisions of the bill.

“[Democrats] know they’ll unleash their allies in the media and maybe a pseudo-celebrity to make up false accusations to try to get us to just swallow what shouldn’t be there,” Toomey said in an apparent reference to comedian Jon Stewart, a longtime advocate for victims of toxic burn pit exposure who has been vocal since the procedural vote failed.

Toomey’s opposition to the bill centers on the accounting categorization of certain spending in the bill, which he said would “allow our Democratic colleagues to go on an unrelated $400 billion spending spree.” He said he wants a vote on his amendment to change the spending categorization before he agrees to allow the bill to come to a vote.

“We are spending way too much money to use – to hide behind a veterans bill, the opportunity to go on an unrelated $400 billion spending spree is wrong,” Toomey said. “And we shouldn’t allow it.”

When pressed on the text of the legislation that indicates the allocated money has to be spent on health care for veterans who were injured from toxic burn pit exposure, Toomey dismissed that interpretation of the bill.

“This is why they do this sort of thing,” said Toomey, who is not running for reelection this year. “Because it gets very deep in the weeds and very confusing for people very quickly. It’s not really about veteran spending. It’s about what category of government bookkeeping they put the veteran spending in.”



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Joe Manchin says Republicans in ‘normal times’ would be supporting energy, health care bill


“I think it’s a great piece of legislation and on normal times, my Republican colleagues would be for something such as this. We’ve basically paid down debt, (which) is what they want. We’ve accelerated permitting, which is what they want. And we’ve increased production of energy, which is what they want. We’ve done things that we should be doing together,” Manchin, who represents West Virginia, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

Manchin said the bill he negotiated with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is not “inflammatory” despite some reports promoted by Republicans that show it could add to inflation and raise taxes.
How secret negotiations revived Joe Biden's agenda and shocked Washington

“Well, we found that they were wrong. And people can be wrong, but how in the world can it be inflammatory?” Manchin told Tapper. “How can it add flames to inflation fires right now if you’re paying down debt?”

He added: “We’re doing everything we can to make sure we attack the problem. And these are solutions to the problems we have. So I know the ones playing politics with it.”

Manchin was asked about getting fellow moderate Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s support for the legislation.

“Sen. Sinema is my dear friend. We work very close together on so many things, and she has so much in this piece of legislation. She’s formed quite a bit of and worked on it very hard. And with that, she’s brought down drug prices, she’s been very instrumental in letting Medicare go ahead and negotiate for lower drug prices,” Manchin said of the Arizona senator.

He added: “I think that basically when she looks at the bill and sees the whole spectrum of what we’re doing … hopefully she will be positive about it, but she’ll make her decision and I respect that.”

Manchiin also said he hopes the legislation passes before the August recess, which is what Democratic leadership is hoping for.

This story has been updated to include additional information from the interview.



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Climate crisis: This nation is scorching in a heat wave and wildfires, yet it’s returning to planet-baking coal


Mitsaris, whose father also worked in coal mining, bought 44 acres of vineyard. But he’s now wondering if he made the right choice — coal here is refusing to quit.

“I’m afraid about the future,” he said. “I have two young daughters to bring up.”

Just a year ago, Greece was confident it could close all existing coal-burning plants by 2023. It planned to build one last coal plant this year in the wider region where Mitsaris lives, Western Macedonia, which generates more than half the nation’s electricity. The new plant, Ptolemaida 5, would in 2025 then run on natural gas, another polluting fossil fuel, but one that is generally less carbon-intensive than the lignite, or brown coal, found in this part of Greece.

That whole timeline is now up in smoke.

Greece battles fire that forced hundreds to evacuate on island of Lesbos
The deadline to end the use of coal in all existing plants has been delayed from 2023 to 2025, and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis recently suggested the new Ptolemaida plant will realistically need to burn coal until at least 2028. And Greece is planning to hike its coal mining output by 50% over the next two years to make up for the dearth of natural gas, as Vladimir Putin tightens the taps flowing to the EU.

Already the changes are glaring. In June 2021, coal generated 253.9 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity. This June, coal was responsible for 468.1 GWh, nearly twice as much.

And this is while the country has been battling wildfires on the mainland and its islands, fueled by a scorching heat wave supercharged by climate change — which comes mostly from humans’ burning of fossil fuels like coal. The fires have left homes in ashes, people have been rescued from beaches and business owners on islands like Lesbos are facing an economically painful holiday season.

Dimitris Matisaris' father, a retired PPC worker, fills a bottle of wine at his son's winery.

Major life choices, like where to live and work, are difficult to make when the government’s plans keep changing. For Mitsaris, leaving his village where he was born and raised isn’t an option right now.

“My wife used to work in a dairy factory, which also closed few years ago. They offered her a job in Athens but back then my salary was enough to support the whole family, so we decided to stay,” he said. “If I knew that we would end up in the situation we are now, I would have gone to Athens back then.”

The Greek government is trying to convince people that its return to coal is only temporary. But coal’s resurgence is tempting people in Western Macedonia back into the industry.

The PPC energy company has offered steady employment to thousands of people in Western Macedonia, where almost 1 in 5 are jobless.

Here — where everyone refers to coal as a “blessing and a curse” — a return to the fossil fuel can make all the difference between staying and leaving.

Already, so many have left for bigger cities, or even moved abroad, to find new lives.

A village in decay

In terms of the transition away from coal, Greece had been something of a success story. Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Greece only relied on coal for around 9% of its energy supply, down from 25% just six years ago. It was the first country in the coal-dependent Balkans to announce a near-term target to end use of the fossil fuel.

But the transition has always had its challenges — mainly, what opportunities can the country offer to former workers in coal towns?

In Western Macedonia — which provides 80% of Greece’s coal — the PPC has expropriated dozens of villages so that it can mine the coal beneath them, moving entire communities to the peripheries. And they were the lucky ones.

A general view of the village of Akrini covered by the snow during winter.

During this awkward in-between phase — when coal is still being mined but its years are numbered — residents in the village of Akrini find themselves unable to move, even as everything around them crumbles.

Residents here have been in a dispute for more than a decade with the PPC, saying they are entitled to compensation that will help them relocate from the village, which has for years been exposed to high levels of ash from the coal operations that surround them. They successfully lobbied for the right to be relocated, which is now enshrined in a 2011 law.

The PPC told CNN in an email that it was not responsible for the people in the village, and did not answer follow up questions when presented with the law that states they are entitled to relocation assistance by 2021.

Charalambos Mouratidis, 26, doesn’t really know what to do next.

Like Mitsaris, he has sought to make a new life after leaving a job with the PPC at a coal mine, where his father also worked. But Mouratidis never had the same kind of job security as his dad. He worked shifts for eight months on a short-term contract cleaning the ash from the machinery inside the mine. The instability, low pay and the heavy impact of the toxic ash on his health pushed him out of the industry.

A general view of the hill where Charalambos Mouratidis' farm is located in Akrini, with a coal plant in the background.

He now runs a cattle farm, which sits on a hill overlooking Akrini as plumes of smoke and steam rise from the chimneys and cooling towers of the coal plants all around it in the background.

On top of his cattle farming, he works a second job for a solar panel company, typically putting in 13 hours a day between them to make ends meet.

Working for the solar panel company is a green job that provides Mouratidis with some extra income. But solar expansion is also taking up more and more land, leaving less for cultivation or grazing, so getting permission to expand farmland in Akrini is near impossible, he said.

Besides the solar farms, all other infrastructure projects in Akrini have been canceled. The village is being left to slowly die.

“I started farming, hoping to have some kind of a more stable future, and now even that effort is at stake,” Mouratidis said. “Everyone has reached a dead end in this village.”

What comes next

The Greek government has devised a 7.5 billion euro ($7.9 billion) plan to help the country transform from a fossil fuel-based economy to a green innovative nation. Its Just Transition Development Plan, as these are known across the European Union, has received 1.63 billon euros in EU funding.

Western Macedonia is a focus in the plan and should receive plenty of the money, partly to become a center for renewables in the country. And while the plan is welcomed by a lot of people here, many doubt it can all be achieved in the six years before the last coal plant is to go offline.

Mouratidis is skeptical the money will help him at all.

The exterior of Charalambos Mouratidis' farm in Akrini.

“I’m not sure that much of it will reach people like me, who run small businesses. Some money will end up with the ones who openly support the current government and the majority of it will stay with those who manage these funds,” he said. “This is what history has shown us. Even during Covid-19, the support given to big companies and businesses was much higher than the support we got.”

But not all hope is lost. As many workers turn from coal to agriculture, some EU support is trickling through. Just a few kilometers from Akrini, Nikos Koltsidas and Stathis Paschalidis are trying to create sustainable solutions for those who have lost their jobs in the green transition, and who are willing to get involved with sheep and goat farming.

Through their “Proud Farm” initiative, they act as incubators for Greeks who want to farm in sustainable ways, offering them access to training and knowledge around the newest technologies available to them.
Nikos Koltsidas and Stathis Paschalidis, founders of "Proud Farm Group of Farmers" initiative.

“We want to create a network of self-sustainable farms, with respect to the environment and the animals, which will demand very low capital from new farmers,” Paschalidis said, his sheep bleating in the background.

Koltsidas said he wanted to spread the word to the local population that farming isn’t what it used to be, and can provide a stable future. “It doesn’t require the effort it did in the past, where the farmer had to be on the farm the whole day, grazing the animals or milking them with their hands,” he said.

“To those thinking about going back to working in coal, they should look at all the regions that are thriving without it,” he said. “There’s no need to stay stuck in these outdated models of the PPC.”



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