- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 26, 2009

COST-CUTTING

Postal Service offers $15,000 buyouts

The Postal Service is offering $15,000 buyouts to employees in an effort to cut costs at a time when the agency is being buffeted by the recession and the popularity of e-mail and electronic bill payment.

Up to 30,000 employees could take the offer. The agency said it could save as much as $500 million over the next two years.

The offer is open to those eligible for retirement and early retirement. It also includes employees in select positions, such as retail clerks, distributors and mail handlers who are willing to resign voluntarily.

Letter carriers are not eligible.

The workers have to decide by Sept. 25.

The Postal Service expects to be $7 billion in the red by the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30.

SAFETY

Pilots seek ban of lithium batteries

The world’s largest pilots union wants the federal government to ban the shipment of lithium batteries on passenger and cargo planes.

The Air Line Pilots Association said in a statement Tuesday that there have been three incidents in the past two months in which lithium-battery shipments caused fires aboard U.S. airliners. It said the incidents took place in Minneapolis, Honolulu and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.

John Prater, the union’s president, said there is clear evidence the danger is increasing and that an immediate ban is warranted to protect airline passengers, crew and cargo. If the batteries short-circuit, they can produce intense heat and even explode.

POLITICS

Prosecutor quits in N.J. brouhaha

RINGWOOD, N.J. | A federal prosecutor who received a loan from her boss - now the Republican candidate for New Jersey governor - has resigned.

In her resignation letter submitted Tuesday, Michele Brown said she doesn’t want to be a distraction for the office.

Republican candidate Chris Christie was U.S. attorney for New Jersey when Mrs. Brown received the loan in 2007.

Mrs. Brown’s resignation was first reported by the Star-Ledger of Newark on its Web site.

Democrats had questioned the ongoing financial relationship between Mr. Christie and Mrs. Brown - now the state’s No. 2 federal prosecutor. But Mr. Christie said earlier Tuesday that he saw no problem and planned to continue the arrangement.

Mr. Christie said he and his wife loaned Mrs. Brown the money after Mrs. Brown’s husband lost his job.

SENATE

5 Democrats to go on ‘climate tour’

ANCHORAGE, Alaska | Sen. Mark Begich, Alaska Democrat, said he’ll host four other senators on a “climate change” tour this weekend in Alaska.

The senators will see retreating glaciers, forests damaged by invasive species, and drying wetlands, he said. They’ll also visit the North Slope to see the Prudhoe Bay oil field.

Sens. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat; Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent; Frank R. Lautenberg, New Jersey Democrat; and Debbie Stabenow, Michigan Democrat, will join him. Mrs. Boxer, Mr. Sanders and Mr. Lautenberg are members of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, and Mrs. Boxer is the chairman.

Mr. Begich recently introduced a package of seven bills dealing with the effects of climate change in America’s Arctic.

REPORT

Tobacco projected to kill 6 million

Tobacco use will kill 6 million people next year from cancer, heart disease, emphysema and a range of other ills, the American Cancer Society said in a report issued Tuesday.

The society’s new Tobacco Atlas estimates that tobacco use costs the global economy $500 billion a year in direct medical expenses, lost productivity and environmental harm.

“Tobacco’s total economic costs reduce national wealth in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) by as much as 3.6 percent,” the report reads.

“Tobacco accounts for one out of every 10 deaths worldwide and will claim 5.5 million lives this year alone,” the report said. If current trends hold, by 2020, the number will have increased to an estimated 7 million and top 8 million by 2030.

Over the past four decades, smoking rates have declined in rich countries such as the United States, Britain and Japan while rising in much of the developing world, according to the nonprofit research and advocacy organization.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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