- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 20, 2009

EDUCATION

Obama TV special to address students

President Obama is scheduled to appear in a back-to-school television special with singer Kelly Clarkson and basketball star LeBron James next month.

The 30-minute documentary will air at 8 p.m. Sept. 8 on BET, MTV, VH1, CMT, Comedy Central, Spike TV and Nickelodeon, all of them Viacom networks. Mr. Obama also plans to deliver a back-to-school speech to the nation’s students on the same day.

In the program, the president says education is the key to people living out their dreams.

“So as this new school year begins, I urge you to set goals for your own education: to study hard and get involved in your school, to try new things and find something you’re passionate about,” Mr. Obama says, according to a release issued Wednesday.

SENATE

Ensign: Clinton’s affair was different

FERNLEY, Nev. | Sen. John Ensign of Nevada told the Associated Press on Wednesday that his affair with a friend’s wife was different from former President Bill Clinton’s affair in the White House because Mr. Clinton committed a felony when he lied about it to a grand jury.

“I haven’t done anything legally wrong,” the Nevada Republican said.

“President Clinton stood right before the American people and he lied to the American people,” Mr. Ensign said. “You remember that famous day he lied to the American people, plus the fact I thought he committed perjury. That’s why I voted for the articles of impeachment.”

Mr. Ensign made the remarks before being introduced to a standing ovation from about 100 people at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon in rural Fernley, about 40 miles east of Reno.

TRANSPORTATION

Women up share of drunken driving

The number of women arrested for drunken driving has jumped nearly 30 percent in the past decade, a dangerous trend that was all too evident when a wrong-way crash involving a woman in New York killed eight people.

The Transportation Department said the number of women arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs increased 28.8 percent between 1998 and 2007. The number of men arrested under the influence fell 7.5 percent during the same period.

“If you’re over the limit, you’re under arrest. This is a matter of life and death,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Despite the new trend, drunken-driving arrests remain dominated by men. In 1998, 676,911 men were arrested for being under the influence, compared with 626,371 arrests in 2007. More than 126,000 women were arrested for DUI in 1998, a number which increased to 162,493 in 2007.

HEALTH

Baby boomers use more illicit drugs

Forty years after Woodstock, some baby boomers haven’t let go of one part of the 1960s: getting high on illicit drugs.

The percentage of Americans age 50-59 who reported use of illicit drugs within a year nearly doubled between 2002 and 2007, from 5.1 percent to 9.4 percent, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported Wednesday.

The agency said that percentage rose because baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 continued to use drugs as they got older.

SAMHSA Acting Administrator Eric Broderick said the continued drug use “is likely to put further strains on the nation’s health care system.”

The rates of illicit drug use among all other age groups stayed the same or decreased over the five-year period, the agency said.

STUDY

Mercury found in every fish

A federal study of mercury contamination released Wednesday found the toxic substance in every fish tested at nearly 300 streams across the country, a finding that underscores how widespread mercury pollution has become.

The study by the U.S. Geological Survey is the most comprehensive look to date at mercury in the nation’s streams.

From 1998 to 2005, scientists collected and tested more than a thousand fish from 291 streams nationwide. While all fish had traces of mercury contamination, only about a quarter had levels exceeding what the Environmental Protection Agency says is safe for people eating average amounts of fish.

“This science sends a clear message that our country must continue to confront pollution, restore our nation’s waterways, and protect the public from potential health dangers,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said.

COMMERCE

Poverty rate expected to rise

The numbers of poor and uninsured Americans are likely rising - with more than 38.8 million thought to be in poverty.

Rebecca Blank, the Commerce Department’s undersecretary of economic affairs, spoke to the Associated Press in advance of next month’s closely watched release of 2008 census data. Noting the figures are not yet final, Ms. Blank said the numbers will likely show a “statistically significant” increase in the poverty rate, to at least 12.7 percent. That would represent a jump of more than 1.5 million poor people last year.

“There’s no question that 2008 economically was a much worse year than 2007,” she said Wednesday. “The question is how much and how bad.”

The number of uninsured is also expected to notably increase due largely to rising unemployment and the erosion of private coverage paid for by employers and individuals, but Ms. Blank declined to say by how much. In 2007, the number of uninsured fell by more than 1 million mostly because government programs such as Medicaid for the poor picked up the slack.

ARMY

Judge OKs plan to burn weapons

The U.S. Army on Wednesday won a court challenge to its plan to incinerate chemical weapons at storage sites across the country, over objections from a watchdog group that says the practice releases toxic pollution.

A federal judge threw out the suit aimed at stopping the plan to destroy the stockpiles dating back as far as World War II, required under an international treaty, the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. More than half the nation’s aging cache of 31,500 tons of nerve agents and mustard gas has been destroyed so far, with a 2017 congressional deadline for completion.

The Army conducted several environmental impact studies comparing different methods of destruction and concluded that incineration was the most safe and effective when explosive munitions are involved.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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