USPS Goes Batty Over Lithium Batteries for Overseas Shipment

Via Stars and Stripes

If you’re a service member overseas planning to order the latest smartphone or laptop from the United States, take a second look at your options.

Effective May 16 [Wednesday], new U.S. Postal Service restrictions will ban air shipping of any electronics containing lithium batteries — such as iPads, smartphones and digital cameras — between the United States and overseas locations.

The ban affects hundreds of thousands of service members, foreign service officers and their families who rely on military and diplomatic post office addresses to receive packages.

Consumer electronics affected under new restrictions (via Stars and Stripes):

  •      Digital cameras
  •      Video cameras
  •      Laptop computers
  •      Tablets
  •      MP3 players
  •      Scanners
  •      Cell phones/smart phones
  •      GPS devices
  •      Radio-controlled toys
  •      Blue-tooth headsets
  •      Walkie-talkies/two-way radios
  •      Power drills
  •      Portable DVD players
  •      Electric shavers
  •      Electric health measuring devices, such as a blood-pressure monitor

Read in full here from the Stars and Stripes.

Lithium Battery1

Lithium Battery1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is part of the notice from the US Postal Service:

Starting May 16, lithium batteries and electronic devices containing lithium batteries will be prohibited from being mailed internationally. They also will not be allowed in shipments to or from Army Post Offices, Fleet Post Offices and Diplomatic Post Offices.

Lithium batteries already are prohibited in mail shipments on international commercial air transportation under International Civil Aviation Organization and Universal Postal Union regulations.

Shippers and mailers are advised that:

  • Lithium batteries must be removed from electronic devices to be shipped in international or overseas military mail before the package is submitted for mailing.
  • Electronic equipment with non-removable lithium batteries may not be shipped using international or overseas military mail.
  • USPS retail associates will begin asking Post Office customers whether lithium batteries are in any international shipments that have batteries or electronic equipment declared as contents on customs labels.

The new regulation will not/not apply to packages containing lithium batteries or electronic devices mailed within the U.S. on domestic commercial air or ground transportation.

According to the Postal Service, international standards have recently been the subject of discussion by the International Civil Aviation Organiza­tion (ICAO) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU), and the Postal Service anticipates that on January 1, 2013, cus­tomers will be able to mail specific quantities of lithium bat­teries internationally (including to and from an APO, FPO, or DPO location) when the batteries are properly installed in the personal electronic devices they are intended to operate.

“Until such time that a less restrictive policy can be implemented consistent with international standards, and in accordance with UPU Convention, lithium batteries are not permitted in international mail.”
Domani Spero

US Embassy Barbados: Death of RSO George Gaines “Unnatural,” Investigation Ongoing

On May 13, we posted here about the reported death of George Gaines, the Regional Security Officer at the US Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados.  Over the weekend, we have also sent an email to the Public Affairs Officer of US Embassy Barbados and to the Royal Barbados Police Force. As of this writing, the embassy has not acknowledged nor responded to our query.  Neither the embassy nor the State Department has released an official statement on Mr. Gaines’ death.

The Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) did confirm to us via email on May 14 that it is investigating the death of Mr. Gaines.  RBPF says that under Barbados laws, this death is being treated as unnatural and a Coroner’s Inquest will be held in the future to determine whether or not it was a suicide.  The Police also confirmed that a firearm was found at the scene and the body had a wound to the head.

Below is one of the last official photos we can locate of George Gaines, as one of the crew members of the Lancelot II during the Round Barbados Race in January 2012:

Crew of the Lancelot II included: Victor Henken, Brian Greaney, Mike Biggins, George Gaines, Bill Hobbs, Jerry Aylward, Kit Rosenstein, Fred Melton, Joe Cowan, Mark McHugh, and Stephanie Palisek.
(Photo from US Embassy Barbados website)

Via US Embassy blog and press statement, January 2012:

The Round Barbados Race dates back to the 19th century and is based upon bragging rights for the fastest “trading schooner” – a prize worth its weight in gold to captains in an era where boats competed for cargo business and the fastest cargo won a hefty premium.  The slowest boat won a consolation prize of a barrel of Mount Gay Rum, a practice discontinued after two boats remained out at sea for days, stalling to win the rum!

The modern event is held on January 21, a day celebrating Errol Barrow, Barbados’s first Prime Minister and an avid sailor.  It’s sponsored by Mount Gay Rum, and the prize for a new record in any existing class is the skipper’s weight in Mount Gay Rum Extra Old.

This year, the Embassy’s Charlie Hillyer took up the challenge from the Barbados Cruising Club’s Commodore to find a boat and a U.S. crew.  Captain Charlie found two Beneteau 40s and Shanghaied 22 sailors who, while courageous and willing, had varying degrees of sailing expertise.


Team USA, on board Lancelot II met the challenge of the open sea’s and 29 other seasoned sailing vessels, crewed by seasoned sailors in the Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race 2012 on Saturday January 21, to take first place in Class 60′ and under.

They bore the brunt of gusting 25 knot winds, 12 foot rollers from the North Atlantic, slippery decks and vessels that seemed to go every way but straight !!!!Even under these extreme conditions they prevailed and made a lasting mark on the sailing community of Barbados and other boats from foreign ports.

Crew of the Lancelot II included: Victor Henken, Brian Greaney, Mike Biggins, George Gaines, Bill Hobbs, Jerry Aylward, Kit Rosenstein, Fred Melton, Joe Cowan, Mark McHugh, and Stephanie Palisek.

US Embassy Barbados is a medium sized-post with approximately 60 direct hire Americans. The grief from this tragic event will be deep and painful especially for a small community like the embassy.

Photo of the Day: In Afghanistan – Why Am I Here, Again?

Via RC-East/Flickr

GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A Polish soldier reads the instructions on the chest decompression needle during the combat lifesaving class being taught by Texas Army National Guard Sgt. Ty Wenglar, Provincial Reconstruction Team Ghazni training medic May 5. This combat lifesaving class taught Polish PRT members how to treat casualties with open chest wounds. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. April Quintanilla).