Mailing a letter is about to get a little more expensive.
Regulators this week approved a temporary price hike of 3 cents for a first-class stamp, bringing the charge to 49 cents a letter in an effort to help the Postal Service recover from severe mail decreases brought on by the 2008 economic downturn.
Many consumers won’t feel the price increase immediately. Forever stamps, good for first-class postage whatever the future rate, can be purchased at the lower price until the new rate is effective Jan. 26.
The higher rate will last no more than two years, allowing the Postal Service to recoup $2.8 billion in losses.
Obama signs 2 bills
Rounding out a tough and frustrating year, President Barack Obama signed a bipartisan budget deal Thursday easing spending cuts and a defense bill cracking down on sexual assault in the military, as the president and Congress began pivoting to the midterm election year ahead.
Obama put his signature on both hard-fought bills while vacationing in Hawaii, where he has been regrouping with his family since Saturday.
South Sudan talks
JUBA, South Sudan
African leaders tried Thursday to advance peace talks between South Sudan’s president and political rivals he accuses of attempting a coup to topple the government of the world’s newest country.
As fighting persisted in parts of South Sudan’s oil-producing region, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn had “a constructive dialogue” with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, according to Kiir’s foreign minister. But the fugitive former deputy president who now leads renegade troops was not represented, and no political breakthrough emerged.
A Roman Catholic church official who has been jailed for more than a year for his handling of priest sex-abuse complaints had his landmark conviction reversed and was ordered released Thursday.
A three-judge Superior Court panel unanimously rejected prosecution arguments that Monsignor William Lynn, the first U.S. church official ever charged or convicted for the handling of clergy-abuse complaints, was legally responsible for an abused boy’s welfare in the late 1990s.
Lynn, 62, is serving a three- to six-year prison sentence after his child-endangerment conviction last year. His lawyers hoped for his immediate release Thursday from the state prison in Waymart, but the appeals court denied the request, instead sending the bail issue back to the trial court.
Man jumps fence, runs toward plane
Two men were arrested Christmas Day on opposite sides of the country after they breached perimeters at major airports, raising questions about security measures and whether more needs to be done to protect the nation’s transit hubs.
Robert Edward Bump, 49, scaled a roughly 9-foot, barbed-wire-topped fence about 5:30 p.m. at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport before running out onto the tarmac and banging on the engine of an arriving Southwest Airlines plane.
He was arrested a few minutes later after another pilot spotted him and alerted the tower, Phoenix police spokesman Officer James Holmes said.
No injuries were reported, and Holmes said passengers never were in danger.
In New Jersey, a man was arrested Wednesday after authorities found him on the tarmac of Newark Liberty Airport. It’s not clear how Siyah Bryant, 24, of Jersey City, ended up on the tarmac.