Obama accuses Trump of trying to “kneecap” the Postal Service

Former President Barack Obama criticized President Donald Trump in an interview released on Friday, accusing him of attempting to “kneecap” the US Postal Service to prevent people from voting.

Obama’s remarks represented an unusually sharp intervention in contemporary politics for the former president, whose post-presidency has often been taciturn and politically understated.

“What we’ve seen, in a way that is unique to modern political history, is a president who is explicit in trying to discourage people from voting,” Obama said on Cadence13’s Campaign HQ podcast in a discussion with his former campaign manager David Plouffe. “What we’ve never seen before …

California’s heat wave caused rolling blackouts for millions

Soaring temperatures in California spurred an overwhelming surge in electricity use that the state’s grid operator had to cut off power to up to four million people Friday evening.

California Independent System Operator, the body that runs the electric grid for most of the state, initially asked customers to reduce electricity use between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. by doing things like turning off lights and raising their thermostats to 78 degrees or higher.

But after power reserves fell below a critical threshold, the grid operator then shifted to a “Stage 3” emergency, and triggered “load interruptions” across the …

Why boredom can be good for you

It’s been a long summer on the Island of Explained, and we haven’t been able to do a lot of our usual go-to summer activities. The pools are closed, Camp Chrysalis shut down, and we’re getting very, very tired of talking to our friends over screens. So while we’ve been doing our best to fight off the blahs, we’ve got to admit that we’re pretty darn bored.

That’s why, in the third of four summer episodes of Today, Explained to Kids, Vox’s explainer podcast series for kids, we decided to fight boredom by actually learning about it. In this …

The Postal Service says tens of millions of mail-in ballots are at risk of not being counted

The US Postal Service warned 46 states and Washington, DC, in July that tens of millions of voters could effectively be disenfranchised because their mail-in ballots might not be processed speedily enough for November’s elections — even if voters follow all their state’s election rules.

The Postal Service’s notice, first reported on by the Washington Post on Friday, is the latest warning that sweeping cost-cutting measures and organizational overhauls at the agency, combined with increased demand for absentee voting during the pandemic, are undermining the United States’s capacity to conduct a fair election. Some states could be receiving 10 …

What America can learn from the fall of the Roman republic

If you were a Roman citizen around, say, 200 BC, you probably would have assumed Rome was going to last forever.

At the time, Rome was the greatest republic in human history, and its institutions had proven resilient through invasions and all kinds of disasters. But the foundations of Rome started to weaken less than a century later, and by 27 BC the republic had collapsed entirely.

The story of Rome’s fall is both complicated and relatively straightforward: The state became too big and chaotic; the influence of money and private interests corrupted public institutions; and social and economic inequalities …