In brief: Rates increasing for postal services
Washington – The cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service is raising rates for its more profitable express mail and priority mail shipping next year.
The new prices, which take effect Jan. 22, include the introduction of a new flat rate of $39.95 for overnight express mail boxes weighing up to 70 pounds that are sent domestically; the flat rate for express letters is being increased separately to $18.95. Previously, prices for the overnight service were $13.25 or higher based on package weight and distance.
The prices for priority mail, which promises two-to-three-day delivery, also will increase by an average of 3.1 percent.
U.N. committee condemns Syria
United Nations – A key U.N. committee voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to condemn human rights violations by President Bashar Assad’s government and call for an immediate end to all violence.
The nonbinding resolution adopted by the General Assembly’s human rights committee calls on Syrian authorities to implement an Arab League peace plan, agreed to earlier this month, “without further delay.” It urges the withdrawal of government tanks from the streets, the release of political prisoners, a halt to attacks on civilians, and allowing observers into the country.
The resolution must now be approved at a plenary session of the 193-member world body, where its adoption is virtually certain.
Italians reluctant to forgo benefits
Rome – Few Italians are willing to make personal sacrifices – like retiring at age 67 instead of 65, or even earlier – though they believe cutting the country’s public debt is a top priority, according to an AP-GfK poll released Tuesday.
A full 93 percent of Italians said reducing the public debt was either an “extremely” or “very important” goal for the government to tackle.
Yet, only about a quarter of Italians favor reforming labor laws to make it easier to fire workers, or raising the retirement age – considered critical to curb Italy’s public spending and boost economic growth.
Italy has been engulfed in financial turmoil for weeks as markets woke up to the enormous size of its debt – $2.6 trillion, a eurozone high at 120 percent of gross domestic product. The market turmoil and a loss of confidence in Italy’s ability to repay its debt forced Premier Silvio Berlusconi to resign Nov. 12.