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Starting on May 9th, New York's main post office, which prides itself on being open 24 hours a day, will close its overnight window. Other post offices round the country may close down completely. This recession has been particularly cruel to the postal service, already battered by the popularity of e-mail. Last year saw the biggest decline in mail since the Depression: volume fell by 4.

Congress has encouraged the postal service, which is an independent agency under the control of the executive branch, not to rely on government money and to function more like a company. It has not given the agency a handout since the early s. So Mr Potter has been trying to cut costs.

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The country's third-largest employer, the postal service is reconfiguring delivery routes, reducing work hours and cutting staff through attrition. It is raising rates to try to bring in more revenue, and also planning a summer sale to entice businesses to send mail in bulk at discounted rates. Some of its biggest customers, the housing and financial industries, have sharply reduced their direct-mail budgets because of the recession. The postal service wants to lure them back. In Local nsa women scotch Fargo of these cost-cutting measures, Mr Potter knows that, without help, the service could run out of cash by the end of the year.

He has asked Congress to consider changing the law and allowing the postal service to cut deliveries from six days a week to five. A Gallup poll shows that most Americans would rather see a cut in services than an increase in stamp prices or a government bail-out. But not everyone agrees. Businesses, which send advertisements in bulk, will be fierce opponents of any reduction in delivery days. And fewer deliveries may give the impression that the mail is slower and less reliable than it was before the recession. Mr Potter has also asked Congress to modify a law that requires the service to pre-pay employees' future retirement benefits.

The timing of Mr Potter's call for help was inopportune, to say the least. He never asked Congress directly for a bail-out in his testimonies before the House and Senate, but he was in the company of CEOs from Local nsa women scotch Fargo car, insurance and financial-services sectors who did. Whatever action Congress takes to help the postal service weather the recession, a larger question looms. Will new technologies kill the mail? Letter-writers and advertisers are increasingly going online, and customers are paying their bills over the internet.

Postal services in other countries are experimenting with offering electronic mail services to customers; some have expanded into banking too. But the Postal ability and Enhancement Act of actually forbids America's postal service to do anything but handle the mail—in snow, rain, heat and gloom, and in the teeth of possibly mortal competition. THE class of will be almost the largest in America's history. More than 3m students are getting their high-school diplomas in late spring. Those who plan to go on to university have been told for years to expect a rough time: with so many students applying, winning admission to their college of choice will be a challenge.

But those who clear that hurdle will find that their problems are just beginning. College life is an enviable set-up given the job market at the moment. That was this year, and next year it will in most cases cost a bit more. That is ominous for students and the people who fund them. Parents have lost jobs, and seen their savings wither. But few universities are in a position to help. In more than 20 states, cash-strapped legislatures are talking about cutting funding or have already done so. Many public universities are therefore raising tuition fees. The private schools without big endowments are in a tight spot: they need tuition to pay their operating costs.

Top colleges with fat endowments are doing better, but they are still struggling. For years, Yale University's endowment fund posted double-digit returns.

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Institutional investors marvelled. The fund's manager wrote a book about it. That is not unusual. Students can borrow tuition money, but that has problems of its own. The danger is that they will end up like so many of their older siblings, saddled with loans. Cautionary tales abound. Three months later, it has more thanmembers. The Facebookers have a point. If the younger generation is crushed by debt too early they will not be able to pay for the baby-boomers in retirement. But Sandy Baum, a senior policy analyst at the College Board, says that cancelling all student debt would be arbitrary and irrational.

She prefers targeted loan relief: as of July 1st graduates who work in low-paying jobs can have their federal loan payments capped at a certain portion of their income. People who work in public-service jobs like teaching can have part of their federal loans forgiven altogether. Decision time looms. The college acceptance letters have been arriving during the past month, and in many cases students have to reply by May 1st. Another annoyance for the admitted students is that they have little bargaining power. If they threaten to take their money elsewhere, the college will seldom worry, let alone offer discounts or better loans.

There is always a waiting list, and an especially big one this year. But at least this year's crop of young things will find they have plenty of friends in the same boat. Real rogues are far more common.

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A new biography of Ivar Kreuger, who perpetrated perhaps the biggest financial scandal of the 20th century, provides a fascinating insight into how high society falls prey to such colourful characters. Kreuger's story is uncannily relevant today. When the dapper, year-old Swede sailed aboard a luxury liner into New York inhe could sense the mood of euphoria beginning to grip Wall Street.

But he didn't just take advantage of it like a fly-by-night Charles Ponzi. He helped define his era, accompanied by friends such as Greta Garbo and Herbert Hoover. The product on which he built his fortune, the Swedish safety match, kept cigarettes smouldering through the jazz age. Hence his sobriquet, the Match King. But that was just for starters. Frank Partnoy, a well-regarded academic and writer on contemporary white-collar crime, explains in detail how Kreuger used the laissez-faire spirit of the time to persuade cash-strapped European governments to grant him match monopolies, offering them loans financed by American investors in return.

He had a genius for financial innovation and an utter disregard for ing niceties, making him a forefather of some of the financial scandals of the 21st century. Investors didn't care much about the lack of transparency. That caused bitter consternation. The author can at times appear gushingly over-impressed by his subject. But in some ways he is setting the record straight. When Kreuger's suicide was reported inand he was discovered to have forged holdings of Italian treasury bills, his empire collapsed and he was vilified around the world.

It knocked the last shred of confidence out of the Depression era. Yet some of the businesses he founded or invested in, such as Swedish Match and Ericsson, are still standing, and his American investors could have recouped some of their losses if they had held out long enough.

Mr Partnoy is less convinced by the claims of Kreuger's long-standing champions in Sweden that he did not take his own life Local nsa women scotch Fargo was murdered. In defence of Kreuger, though, he makes a point worth remembering as people seek villains to blame for today's financial mayhem.

There is always a fine line between sharp business practices and being ethical. When times were good, they turned a blind eye to his foibles. When they wanted someone to blame, they turned on him. But there was and there usually is plenty of blame to go round. IT IS the new frontier for military and intelligence activity: cyberspace.

For years military experts and computer scientists have speculated about the possibility of a nation's infrastructure being attacked using computers, rather than bombs. In recent years such concerns have been heightened by the first real examples of large-scale cyber-attacks—on Estonia in and Georgia in In each case, government websites were brought down by a deluge of traffic, apparently from Russia. The actual damage done was minimal, but it has all added to the sense of urgency, in America in particular, about the need to Local nsa women scotch Fargo critical infrastructure from such an attack.

In the past few weeks there have been alarming reports that America's systems have already been infiltrated. And on April 21st the newspaper said foreign hackers had penetrated computers containing data about the F t Strike Fighter. Does this mean America is suddenly under attack, and that war has broken out in cyberspace? It is difficult to believe that America, Russia and China are not all probing each other's computer systems, and the picture is further complicated by the involvement of unofficial groups, such as those thought to have attacked Estonia and Georgia whether or not they are backed by governments is a murky matter.

But the most likely explanation for the sudden spate of scare stories is rather more mundane: a turf war between American government agencies over who should oversee the nation's cyber-security. At stake are tens of billions of dollars in funding promised for a multi-year cyber-security initiative. In February Barack Obama launched a review of America's cyber-security efforts.

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