Price hike. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) plans to raise the price of a first class stamp to 49 cents starting in January. The 3-cent hike is necessary to help the cash-strapped quasi-government agency raise $2 billion. During the second quarter of this year, the USPS lost $740 million. During the same period last year, it lost $5.2 billion. The Postal Regulatory Commission will have to approve the price increase, but that hasn’t been a problem in the past. The USPS was less successful in persuading regulators to allow it to end Saturday delivery, a move agency officials projected would save $2 billion annually. But lawmakers, especially from rural communities, balked at the proposal, saying it would create too much of a hardship for people who rely on the mail for their connection to the outside world.
New state? Two northern California counties have voted to secede from their state in hopes of forming what would be the nation’s 51st member of the union. Siskiyou County and Modoc County are leading the effort to create the State of Jefferson, and at least one other rural community—Shasta County—could follow suit. Advocates hope to pull in support from southern Oregon as well. The mayor of Redding, Calif., in Shasta County, told a local newspaper the area’s leaders were tired of being ignored by California’s politicians: “If the largest city north of Sacramento makes this statement, then they will have to pay attention. The mood is right now. We can't truly be free if we're being hooked up to Sacramento any longer. We're just too different.”
Debating history. An amateur historian is causing a stir among Civil War buffs with his claims about a photo of President Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg. The grainy black-and-white image, which first came to light in 2006, purports to show Lincoln on horseback, saluting the troops as he arrived to give his famous speech. Christopher Oakley agrees that Lincoln is in the photo but says he’s not the rider John Richter initially identified as the former president. Oakley’s find has divided scholars, although the dispute has so far been “mostly friendly.”
‘Papa Smurf’ dies. A man made famous by taking large doses of colloidal silver that turned his skin blue has died. Paul Karason began taking the dietary supplement in the late 1990s for its promised health benefits. During a 2008 interview, he claimed it cured his acid reflux and arthritis. But it also had the unfortunate side effect of causing argyria—silver poisoning. Karason was not the only person suffering from the condition or other syndromes that turn the skin blue. But his television interviews and his remarkable resemblance to a favorite cartoon character made him one of the best known.