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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Berman Likely to Lead Foreign Affairs Panel

Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.) is expected to become chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, succeeding Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), who died yesterday.

Officially, a House Democratic steering committee -- made up of elected leaders, other committee chairmen and regional representatives -- is expected to make a formal decision early next month on who will succeed Lantos.

But no other Democrat on the committee has stepped forward to challenge Berman, who indicated his interest in the post after Lantos announced last month his intention to retire because of ill health.

Berman declined to address the issue of the chairmanship in a statement that praised Lantos, a Holocaust survivor who focused on human rights issues. "Tom brought a unique moral perspective to his work, informed by his vast knowledge of world history. He was a true giant in advancing the cause of human rights around the world," Berman said.

Berman, 66, is a 13-term veteran from North Hollywood. He voted to approve the Iraq war resolution in 2002 but has been critical of the war in recent years.

First-Class Stamp's Cost To Increase by 1 Cent

Mailing a letter will soon cost a penny more.

The cost of a first-class stamp will rise to 42 cents on May 12, the U.S. Postal Service said.

The price of the "forever" stamp will go up at the same time, but those stamps can still be purchased for 41 cents and will remain good for first-class postage after the rate increase takes effect.

The post office has sold 5 billion forever stamps since they were introduced last April and plans to have 5 billion more in stock to meet the expected demand before the May price change, the agency said.

The charges for other services, such as advertising mail, periodicals, packages and special services will also change. Changes in the prices for Priority Mail and Express Mail will be announced later.

Postage rates last increased in May 2007, with a first-class stamp jumping 2 cents, to 41 cents.

-- From Staff Reports and News Services

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