President Donald Trump has personally asked the Postmaster General Megan Brennan to double the rate the US Postal Service charges companies like Amazon to use its services, according to a report from The Washington Post today. The move is just the latest, and perhaps most dramatic, turn in the ongoing feud between the sitting president and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world and owner of The Washington Post. Trump has often criticized the newspaper for its coverage of his administration.
Brennan has managed to keep Trump at bay, fearful the request could massively complicate existing contracts between the USPS and companies like Amazon, many of which are reportedly reviewed by a regulatory commission, The Post reports. Yet last month, Trump ordered a Postal Service review via executive order so that a task force can evaluate the finances of the organization, presumably to help back up his claim that it loses billions a year due to poor deals struck with Amazon and others.
Trump has also criticized Amazon in the past for not paying an adequate amount of taxes and for using The Post as an idealogical arm of Bezos to criticize Republicans and the White House, a charge Trump has been making for years prior to his winning the 2016 US election.
Bezos, in response, has offered to shoot Trump into space using a Blue Origin rocket, though he made the joke back in 2015 when it would likely garner a less polarized response.
Brennan, who has spent 32 years at the Postal Service and became Postmaster General in 2014, has met with Trump multiple times in the past 18 months to discuss the Amazon matter, according to The Post. Reportedly, the debate over how much Amazon should be paying the Postal Service has divided top administration officials, with Trump calling on and receiving conflicting opinions from members of his cabinet and staff like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and former National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, who left the White House in March over a major rift with Trump on proposed steel and aluminum tariffs.
Amazon’s relationship to the Postal Service is a complicated one. The Post reports that Amazon, like many other retailers, uses the USPS for so-called last-mile deliveries, meaning Amazon brings the package to the post office closest to a customer’s home so a mail worker can then bring it to the door. Amazon reportedly uses the USPS for 40 percent of its last-mile deliveries, according to some analysts, and paid £21.7 billion in 2017 in shipping costs.
The Postal Service, though it’s lost money for the last 11 years, reported a 11.8 percent year-over-year increase in revenue to £19.5 billion last year, some of which is likely attributable to Amazon’s increased spending in the area.
The nature of Amazon and the Postal Service’s deal remains secret.
On the morning of March 15th, YouTube influencer Casey Neistat received a text from a co-worker: a stranger had shown up at 368, his co-working space for YouTube creators, and refused to leave. Cellphone footage captured from the incident shows vlogger Dan Mace and former Verge employee Sam Sheffer repeatedly asking the man to leave. “Ultimately, the police did have to come,” Neistat says in a vlog uploaded later. “We did file a proper police report here. The crime is criminal trespassing.”
Internet personalities have long had to balance being authentic with viewers and their own safety.
In February 2018 alone, an armed gunman targeted social media stars Meg Turney and Gavin Free, and a fan broke into YouTuber Logan Paul’s home. Twitch streamers have had fans show up at their homes or even swat them live on air for years. On his channel, Neistat (who appeared on The Vergecast previously) expressed his frustrations with fans who cross boundaries. “Look, I don’t know if this guy wanted to hurt me, if he wanted a selfie with me,” he says. “I have no idea what he wanted.
But when he was confronted by three people who clearly know me, he refused to leave. Showing up at my office — as public as I make the address — showing up here is just not appropriate.”
He encourages fans to say hi if they see him on the street, but there are limits to what’s appropriate. “This was kind of a scary situation, but just in general, please be respectful of my office space.”
While the location of Neistat’s office is not a secret, the space is in no way open to the public. It appears that the trespasser snuck in behind someone else entering the building. “We were able to find his social media handles and we have been contacted by people claiming to know him who say that he is an unstable individual,” Neistat tells The Verge via email.
He’s dealt with overzealous fans before, including some who’ve made trips to his home in search of selfies.
While there’s nothing new about the risks associated with the spotlight, he says, it’s the climate itself that’s changed. “Events like the attack and shooting at YouTube a little over a month ago and the home invasion of Gavin Free and Meg Turney,” he says. “This against the backdrop of Parkland, Las Vegas’ Harvest Festival and the countless other atrocities involving disturbed individuals that have happened in recent years makes brushing off minor interactions like Tuesday a little harder.”
The Verge confirmed details of the trespassing with the NYPD. Neistat says he will not be pressing charges, and this trespassing incident has not changed how he views boundaries and safety regarding fans and his internet presence. “The NYPD was called as a precaution and to have record of what transpired should there be future incidents,” he says, “not to have him arrested. There was never an intention to have him arrested.”
Neistat hopes to eventually build out a storefront that will be open to the public in some way, with a security presence. “There is so much positivity that has come with my YouTube channel and its broad reach,” he says. “The ups vastly outweigh the downs.
When sharing the way I share with the audience that YouTube enables the work will always reach some bad actors.
Me being thoughtful and considerate about safety and privacy is a concern that comes with the territory.”
Primera Air has cancelled its maiden flight from Stansted to Toronto, 15 days before it was due to take off. If the budget carrier had cancelled one day later, passengers would each have been entitled to EUR600 compensation. The route is one of a number of new, ultra-cheap transatlantic flights that the Icelandic carrier has launched in recent months.
As well as routes to Spain, it already flies from Stansted and Birmingham to Boston and New York. The maiden flight from Stansted to Toronto was due to take off on 31 May, but this has now been pushed back to 2 June. Flights will begin from Birmingham on 23 June.
A report in the May issue of Which? Travel found one Primera Air flight from London to New York cost just GBP376 for the most basic ticket, while rival Virgin Atlantic charged GBP630. Even adding on the expensive extras that Primera Air offer to passengers (a ‘standard chicken meal’, for example, costs GBP30) its ticket still only came to GBP512.
Airline without planes?
Travel has received a complaint from member Linda Beviss, whose flight home from New York was delayed by seven hours. She says she was told by a member of staff at the airport that Primera Air’s aircraft were not ready and therefore it was ‘borrowing from other airlines.’ In a comment to The Independent, Primera Air blamed ‘delay of aircraft delivery from the manufacturer’ for the problems it has experienced. ‘It seems amazing to me that an airline can start operating when it has no planes,’ Linda commented.
She is in the process of claiming compensation for her delayed flight, which should be EUR600.
Cheap transatlantic flights
Primera Air is due to launch new routes this summer from Stansted to Crete (27 July), Palma de Mallorca (28 July) and Washington (22 Aug). New routes are also being launched from Birmingham to Toronto (23 June), Crete (30 July), Barcelona (1 Oct), Alicante (6 Dec), Gran Canaria (7 Dec) Tenerife (8 Dec) and Reykjavik (9 Dec). A planned route from Birmingham to Boston was cancelled due to ‘changing passenger flow trends,’ while flights from Birmingham to New York have been reduced from daily to four a week.
Primera Air has not yet responded to Which?
Travel’s request to confirm that all its new routes will launch on time as planned.