Incentives offered to keep officers

WASHINGTON - The Army will offer incentives to keep midlevel officers as it faces another decade or so in combat around the world, its chief of staff, Gen. George Casey, said yesterday.

To stem a growing trend of critical future leaders leaving the service, Casey said the Army would announce a plan next week to give some captains $20,000 to stay on. He said the Army also would increase opportunities for officers to go to various graduate schools as another incentive to stay in the military.

According to the Army, the attrition rate for officers is higher than it has been in previous years, with graduates of West Point, the Officer Candidate School and ROTC leaving at a faster pace once they have finished their initial tour in the military.

- AP

Cost to send mail is rising Monday

WASHINGTON - The cost of mailing letters and parcels increases on Monday. A first-class letter will go up 2 cents to 41 cents.

While the new rates take effect Monday, most post offices are closed Sunday so officials say items dropped in a box that won't be collected until Monday should have the higher postage on them.

While the first-class rate will rise from 39 cents to 41 cents for the first ounce, people sending heavier letters - such as wedding invitations - will see a reduction in the price. That's because each additional ounce will cost just 17 cents, down from the current 24 cents.

People also will be able to buy "forever" stamps, which cost 41 cents and remain valid regardless of any future increase.

- AP

No charges against 2 in botched ads

BOSTON - Prosecutors said they would not pursue charges against two men who planted electronic devices around the city as part of a botched advertising campaign after the pair apologized yesterday for causing a bomb scare.

The two were accused of planting about three dozen battery-powered devices in Boston and Cambridge on Jan. 31. The devices, a promotion for Cartoon Network, had lights that created images of a cartoon character making an obscene gesture.

Fears of terrorism arose when the devices were discovered in a subway station and on a bridge, among other locations. Bomb squads were deployed, and highways, bridges and some transit stations were temporarily closed.

- AP

Elsewhere:

Two small planes collided yesterday over a Cincinnati suburb, raining debris onto roads and backyards and killing three people on board. No injuries were reported on the ground; several roads in Sharonville, Ohio, were closed because of debris.

President Bush signed a bill into law yesterday that overhauls the way the American Red Cross governs itself and streamlines its leadership in an effort to avoid the type of problems that beset its response to Hurricane Katrina.