National editor's pick of the top news stories in the nation and world at this hour:
You won't have any junk mail to throw away on Saturdays anymore after the U.S. Postal Service cuts delivery to five days a week in August. Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe said on Wednesday that research indicates 7 in 10 Americans support canceling Saturday mail delivery to cut costs -- and officials say it could save $2 billion a year. The Postal Service claims it has the authority to cut service on its own, though some lawmakers say Congress has the final word. The cutback announcement, which was expected, is seen as an attempt to force Congress to deal with the post office's financial troubles. Under the plan, packages would still be home-delivered on Saturdays, and mail would still be delivered to post office boxes. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said the issue should be decided by Congress. "The Postal Service's declining mail volume poses a significant challenge, and the enactment of comprehensive postal reform legislation must be an urgent priority for the current Congress," Cummings said. "However, the issue of service delivery frequency should be addressed in that legislation rather than through arbitrary action by the Postal Service."
She's worked for banks and oil companies, she's CEO of outdoor gear seller REI, she has solid conservationist credentials and now she's being tapped for interior secretary. President Barack Obama on Wednesday introduced Sally Jewell, 56, as his nominee to replace the departing Ken Salazar. Calling Jewell an "expert on the energy and climate issues that are going to shape our future," Obama said, "Sally has helped turn a stalling outdoor retailer into one of America's most successful and environmentally conscious companies." Jewell would be leaving a job that paid $2 million in 2011 at Washington-based Recreational Equipment Inc., a $2-billion-a-year company. Before joining REI in 2005, she worked in commercial banking and was an engineer for Mobil Oil. Jewell's nomination was hailed by conservation and business interests alike. She is the first female Cabinet member Obama has named for his second term.
A Tunisian opposition leader was assassinated by gunmen as he left his home Wednesday, prompting furious riots reminiscent of the Arab Springs protests that toppled the government in 2011. Chokri Belaid, a 48-year-old lawyer, was a leading member of a leftist alliance known as the Popular Front who had been critical of the new Islamist-led government. His killing -- the first assassination in Tunisia since the Arab Spring -- prompted thousands of people to gather downtown, shouting antigovernment slogans. Police dispersed them with tear gas, leaving the city center deserted, littered with stones and guarded by armored vehicles.
A federal prison guard is carrying the child of an incarcerated double cop killer after having sex with him at a Brooklyn prison, the government charges. Nancy Gonzalez, 29, was charged Tuesday with unlawful sexual abuse of a ward, and she could be facing 15 years in prison. "I took a chance because I was so vulnerable and wanted to be loved and now I am carrying his child," Gonzalez said, according to court papers. Her attorney, Anthony Rico, said, "She's had a very tragic life. She has long-term issues that affected her life and judgment." The purported father of the child, Ronell Wilson, 30, was convicted in the point-blank shooting of two undercover police officers in a 2006 gun sting gone awry. According to court papers, Gonzalez was seen by other inmates going in and out of Wilson's cell starting in March, and meeting him in a vacant activity room next to his cell when other inmates were supposed to be sleeping.
When you played Monopoly as a kid, you know you never wanted to be the iron. You weren't the only one. Hasbro asked fans of the property-trading game to vote on which token they should lose and which one they should add, and the lowly iron was the loser (chosen over the shoe and the wheelbarrow). The most popular, with 29 percent of the vote, was the Scottie Dog. But he has new competition: The new token voted in, with 31 percent in favor, is a cat.
The Wire, a summary of top national and world news stories from the Associated Press and other wire services, moves weekdays. Contact Karl Kahler at 408-920-5023; follow him at twitter.com/karl_kahler.