WASHINGTON -- Members of a Senate committee said Thursday that the U.S. Postal Service, which continues to struggle amid ongoing financial losses and mounting debt, needs to make massive changes if it hopes to thrive in the digital age.
The hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee came a day after the Postal Service said it would seek to raise postal rates by 5.9 percent -- including increasing a first-class stamp to 49 cents from 46 cents -- in order to cope with its financial difficulties.
Congress is considering legislation that would revamp the Postal Service's operations,modifying health care benefits and pensions for postal workers. It also would change postal delivery options, including the eventual discontinuation of Saturday delivery. Other measures would require centralized or curbside delivery for new addresses and the option for existing addresses to convert from door delivery to centralized or curbside delivery.
Leaders to discuss Detroit help
DETROIT -- Four of President Barack Obama's top advisers will converge on Detroit Friday to meet privately with state and local leaders about ways the federal government can help the bankrupt city short of a bailout.
The White House said Thursday that top economic adviser Gene Sperling will join U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan in the closed meeting.
The gathering follows a series of meetings with the White House to plot ways to pull Detroit from a fiscal pit that this summer made it the largest U.S. city to file for bankruptcy protection.
30-day jail term for rape
BILLINGS, Mont. -- A former high school teacher has been released from a Montana prison after completing a 30-day sentence for rape handed down by a judge under fire for both the sentence and his remarks about the 14-year-old victim.
Fifty-four-year-old Stacey Rambold returned Thursday to his hometown of Billings, where he was seen reporting to the local probation office after completing his term for the 2007 rape of Cherice Moralez.
Rambold will remain on probation until 2028, and has been registered as a low-risk sex offender.
He was convicted after violating terms of a deferred prosecution agreement he made after Moralez killed herself in 2010.
Utah beauty queen
SALT LAKE CITY -- A Utah beauty queen pleaded guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor involving a plot to toss homemade bottle bombs around a Salt Lake City suburb.
Kendra McKenzie Gill, 18, the former Miss Riverton, and three other 18-year-olds entered a plea in abeyance and accepted a misdemeanor charge of attempted possession of a chemical device. The charges will be dismissed after each defendant completes 200 hours of community service, pays a $500 fine and stays out of trouble for 12 months.
Ms. Gill and the other teens -- John Patrick Reagh, Shanna Marie Smith and Bryce Christopher Stone originally faced felony charges after driving around Riverton on the evening of Aug. 2 for what they maintained was a prank that involved tossing plastic bottles containing a mixture of aluminum foil and toilet bowl cleaner. No one was injured by the devices. Ms. Gill gave up her crown after the arrest.
Accountant in Madoff fraud
NEW YORK -- An accounting executive was arrested Thursday on charges he helped Bernard Madoff maintain his historic fraud with false bookkeeping meant to deceive some of the wealthiest victims, though his lawyer said his client was himself "a victim of a sociopath."
The executive, 77-year-old Paul Konigsberg, of Greenwich, Conn., was charged with five crimes in an indictment unsealed in federal court in Manhattan. Prosecutors said Mr. Konigsberg was a senior tax partner at the accounting firm Konigsberg Wolf & Co. when he directed others since at least the early 1990s to falsify records to conceal a fraud that cheated thousands of investors out of nearly $20 billion.
Mr. Konigsberg pleaded not guilty at an arraignment to charges carrying a potential penalty of up to 40 years in prison.
-- Compiled from news services