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News Wrap: Postal Service Drops Plans to Close 3,700 Locations

May 9, 2012 at 12:00 AM EST
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KWAME HOLMAN: Greece remained at a political impasse today. The second-place finisher in Sunday’s election, a radical left party, was the latest to try building a governing coalition.

The group’s leader, Alexis Tsipras, tried and failed to hammer out a deal with other parties. He has rejected Greece’s international bailout and the resulting austerity measures. In response, European leaders urged Greece to keep its commitment to the bailout.

JOSE MANUEL BARROSO, president, European Commission: Greece has to respect its agreement, as the other countries have to respect its agreement. The question of credibility is not only for Greece, but for the euro area as a whole. And this is very important to understand, that if this agreement is not respected, it will be very negative for Greece.

KWAME HOLMAN: The continuing impasse in Greece roiled world markets again today, pushing stocks down in Europe and the U.S. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 97 points to close at 12,835. The Nasdaq fell 11 points to close at 2,934.

Mortgage giant Fannie Mae has posted its first profit since the government took it over in 2008. The company reported today that it earned $2.7 billion during the first three months of this year. It said it will not need additional federal aid. Fannie Mae already has received $116 billion from the Treasury, making it the costliest bailout of a single company.

The nation’s rural post offices won a reprieve today. The U.S. Postal Service abandoned a plan to shutter 3,700 sites, after running into strong community opposition. Under the new plan, no locations will close, but more than 13,000 rural mail facilities may have to cut back hours of operation.

Postmaster Gen. Patrick Donahoe spoke in Washington.

POSTMASTER GEN. PATRICK DONAHOE: The balance here between costs and services is an important issue, and we think we ended up with a win-win here for our rural communities, plus, at the same time, were able to take the necessary costs out of the Postal Service. We have listened to our customers, listened to the communities that we serve. And we’re going to keep listening.

KWAME HOLMAN: The Postal Service has said it expects to lose $14 billion this year. The new plan will save an estimated $500,000 a year once it’s implemented.

Nicholas Katzenbach, a key adviser to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, died overnight at his home in Skillman, New Jersey. In 1962, Katzenbach wrote a Justice Department brief justifying the naval blockade during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He also was point man for school desegregation, confronting Alabama Governor George Wallace on national television in 1963. Katzenbach became attorney general in 1965 and later served as undersecretary of state. He was 90 years old.

Another death of note, the hairstyling pioneer Vidal Sassoon passed away today at his home in Los Angeles. In the 1960s, Sassoon revolutionized haircuts for women with simple wash-and-wear styles, a major shift from the curled, piled, and hairsprayed look of the ’50s. His salons started in London, but expanded around the globe. He also sold a line of styling products with the advertising catchphrase “If you don’t look good, we don’t look good.” Vidal Sassoon was 84 years old.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.