WASHINGTON

Senators reach bipartisan plan to aid postal service

Senators announced a bipartisan plan Wednesday to help keep the financially ailing Postal Service solvent and continue six-day mail delivery for at least two more years.

The proposal would lift the agency “from the brink of bankruptcy,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee. The Postal Service lost $8 billion last year and could report even larger losses when its 2011 budget year report comes out in mid-November.

“We’re not crying wolf here” about the agency, said Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the top Republican on the committee. “The Postal Service literally won’t survive without legislative and administrative reforms,” adding that in Maine, the mailing industry accounts for more than 37,000 jobs and more than $4.6 million in sales revenue.

HARTFORD, Conn.

Many in Northeast remain without power after storm

Frustrations grew Wednesday as more than a million northeastern homes and businesses went a fourth day without power after a freak weekend snowstorm, with many schoolchildren again staying home and some residents languishing in shelters that provided heat and meals.

Connecticut, the hardest-hit state, still had more than half-million customers without power by the afternoon, down from a peak of more than 800,000. Huge swaths of the state had also lost power for days to the remnants of Hurricane Irene in August, and residents were growing restless.

More than 3 million people lost power from Maryland to Maine lost power during the storm.

TOKYO

Signs of nuclear fission detected at crippled plant

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday it has detected signs of nuclear fission at its crippled Fukushima atomic power plant, raising the risk of increased radiation emissions. No increase in radiation was found at the site and the situation is under control, officials said.

Tepco began spraying boric acid on the No. 2 reactor at 2:48 a.m. Japan time to prevent accidental chain reactions, according to an emailed statement. The detection of xenon, which is associated with nuclear fission, was confirmed Wednesday by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, the country’s atomic regulator said.

PARIS

UNESCO pleads with U.S. for funding reinstatement

The head of UNESCO is pleading with the U.S. to reinstate funding cut off after the agency granted membership to Palestine.

Director-General Irina Bokova warned in a statement Wednesday that the move jeopardizes programs “in America’s core interests,” such as those fostering a free media in nascent Mideast democracies.

On Monday, the members of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization voted to welcome Palestine.

The United States typically funds about 20 percent of the agency’s budget.

– From news service reports