WASHINGTON (AP) - Millions of Americans would no longer get mail delivered to their door but would go to communal or curbside boxes instead, under a proposed law. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform debated Wednesday a bill to direct the U.S. Postal Service to convert 1.5 million addresses annually over the next decade to the less costly but less convenient delivery method. Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts called it "a lousy idea." Other lawmakers said it wouldn't work in urban areas where there's no place on city streets to put so-called "cluster boxes" that serve multiple homes. It's far short of the comprehensive reform needed to solve the agency's financial problems, but Republican committee chairman Darrell Issa of California says it's a common-sense, interim measure to save money.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - BP PLC says it will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether businesses must prove they were directly harmed by the 2010 Gulf Of Mexico oil spill to collect payments from a 2012 settlement. On Monday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reconsider its earlier decision that businesses did not need to prove direct harm. BP said Wednesday that it will ask the 5th Circuit to take steps that would keep the current freeze on claims payments in place until the Supreme Court considers the issue. BP initially estimated it would pay roughly $7.8 billion to resolve spill claims. The company later said the claims administrator was misinterpreting the settlement and it could no longer estimate the deal's ultimate cost.
PARADISE, Mich. (AP) - A popular hiking trail at Tahquamenon Falls State Park has been closed temporarily because of high water on the Tahquamenon River. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said Wednesday the 5-mile-long River Trail connecting the park's upper and lower falls is impassable. Park supervisor Craig Krepps says sections are underwater and some bridges are washed out. He says it won't reopen until the water recedes and staffers repair damage and deal with safety hazards. Some of the park's other trails are partially submerged as well, including the Giant Pines, Wilderness, and Clark Lake trails. The U.S. Geological Survey says the Tahquamenon River is running three times higher than its average level for May. The Upper Falls is measuring a flow of approximately 40,000 gallons per second.
DETROIT (AP) - JPMorgan Chase is planning a five-year, $100 million investment in bankrupt Detroit that will include home mortgage loans and money for job training. Columnist Daniel Howes of The Detroit News on Tuesday reported plans for the investment. The Detroit Free Press reports loans and grants are planned. Chase plans to put $40 million into two entities that currently loan to Detroit development projects. Another $25 million will help with blight removal, including $5 million for families buying homes through a city property auction. JPMorgan Chase Chair and Chief Executive Jamie Dimon told the Free Press that the bank already does business in the city and "when you're in a town, you try to be a great citizen there and we happen to be a big player in Detroit."
WASHINGTON (AP) - You just might want to pay attention to the latest health insurance jargon. It could mean thousands of dollars out of your pocket. The Obama administration has given the go-ahead for a new cost-control strategy called "reference pricing." It lets insurers and employers put a dollar limit on what health plans pay for some expensive procedures, such as knee and hip replacements. Some experts worry that patients could be surprised with big medical bills they must pay themselves, undercutting financial protections in the new health care law. That would happen if patients picked a more expensive hospital - even if it's part of the insurer's network. The administration's decision affects most job-based plans as well as the new insurance exchanges. Other experts say it will help check rising premiums.
NEW YORK (AP) - U.S. airlines are expecting more travelers will take to the skies this summer. According to the trade and lobbying group Airlines for America, about 210 million passengers - or 2.28 million a day- are expected to fly on U.S. carriers between June 1 and Aug. 31. That's up 1.5 percent from last summer and the highest level in six years. The forecast includes 29.9 million travelers - or 325,000 a day - flying U.S. airlines to international destinations, an all-time high. Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan are the top five nonstop international destinations, based on published schedules.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages declined this week for a third straight week. The low rates could give a boost to the spring home-buying season, which has gotten off to a slow start. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate for the 30-year loan eased to 4.20 percent from 4.21 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage fell to 3.29 percent from 3.32 percent. Mortgage rates have risen nearly a full percentage point since hitting record lows about a year ago. Warmer weather has yet to boost home-buying as it normally does. Rising prices and higher rates have made affordability a problem for would-be buyers. And many homeowners are reluctant to list their properties for sale.
WASHINGTON (AP) - A Senate report says new rules may be needed unless leading Internet companies better protect consumers from hackers. Executives from Google and Yahoo are on Capitol Hill on Thursday testifying before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations about the growing threats from Web advertisements. The Senate's investigation said hackers in some cases are infecting computers using software or programming commands hidden inside online advertisements. It said technology companies must do a better job protecting computer users on their own, or face new federal regulations.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The prices U.S. companies receive for their goods and services rose by the most in seven months in April, led by more expensive food and higher retail and wholesale profit margins. The Labor Department says the producer price index rose 0.6 percent last month, after a 0.5 percent increase in March. The gains suggest that inflation is picking up from very low levels: In the past 12 months, producer prices have increased 2.1 percent, the biggest 12-month gain in more than two years. That figure is just above the Federal Reserve's 2 percent inflation target. The producer price index measures price changes before they reach the consumer. Food costs jumped 2.7 percent, the highest in more than three years, driven by an 8.4 percent increase in meat prices.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Google is once again selling its Internet-connected eyewear to anyone in the U.S. as the company fine tunes a device that has sparked intrigue and disdain for its potential to change the way people interact with technology. The latest release of Google Glass comes a month after a one-day sale gave U.S. residents their first chance to buy the hottest accessory in geek fashion. Google Inc. isn't setting a time limit for people to buy Glass this time, although the company is emphasizing that the product remains in its test, or "Explorer," phase. As has been the case since Google began selling Glass to a select group in 2012, the device costs $1,500. It's only available on Google's website for now.