- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 10, 2009

HIGHWAYS

Highway deaths at record low

The government says deaths on U.S. highways have dropped to a record low during the first six months of 2009, continuing a recent trend of fewer people dying on roads.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says 16,626 people died in traffic crashes between January and the end of June, a 7 percent decline from the same period last year.

More than 37,000 motorists died in 2008, the fewest since 1961. But the government projects that even fewer people will die this year.

Safety experts have attributed the declines in highway deaths to the economic recession, record-high seat-belt use, vehicle safety advances and fewer people driving. Highway deaths have dropped steadily since 2005.

DIPLOMACY

Clinton settles TV ‘feud’

The nation’s top diplomat has defused the facetious feud between Conan O’Brien and the mayor of Newark, N.J.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sent a video message chiding Mr. O’Brien that was featured on Thursday’s episode of “The Tonight Show.”

The “feud” between the TV host and Mayor Cory Booker began last month when Mr. O’Brien joked that Mr. Booker’s new health care program consisted of a bus ticket out of gritty Newark. Mr. Booker replied, tongue in cheek, by banning Mr. O’Brien from the busy Newark airport.

Mrs. Clinton told them to return to their core duties. For Mr. Booker, she says that means “leading Newark toward a new era of growth and prosperity.”

She says that for Mr. O’Brien, it means “dancing around the stage and making lame jokes about my pantsuits.”

CANONIZATION

Obama praises Hawaiian priest

President Obama has expressed his admiration for Father Damien, a Hawaiian priest set to become a saint on Sunday when he is canonized in Rome by Pope Benedict XVI.

Mr. Obama was born and partly raised in Hawaii.

The president says he remembers stories about the Belgian-born priest’s work on the island caring for people suffering from leprosy and the stigma attached to it. With millions worldwide suffering from disease, especially HIV/AIDS, Mr. Obama called on the world to follow Father Damien’s example by “answering the urgent call to heal and care for the sick.”

Father Damien was born Jozef De Veuster. The Roman Catholic priest was beloved by the lepers he ministered to for 16 years before dying of the disease himself in 1889.

NAVY

Navy honors civil rights martyr

Slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers was honored Friday with a Navy supply ship named for him.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, a former governor of Mississippi, announced the honor during a speech at Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss. The nearly 700-foot-long vessel named for Evers will deliver food, ammunition and parts to other ships at sea.

During the civil rights movement Evers organized nonviolent protests, voter registration drives and boycotts in Mississippi, rising to the post of national field secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

In 1963, Evers was assassinated in the driveway of his home in Jackson after returning from a meeting with NAACP lawyers. His death prompted President John F. Kennedy to ask Congress for a comprehensive civil rights bill.

Evers was born in Decatur, Miss., in 1925 and served in the Army during World War II. He returned to Mississippi, earned a degree from Alcorn College in 1952 and became active in the NAACP and its civil rights work in his home state.

Thirty-seven when he was fatally shot by a white supremacist, Evers was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. His killer, Byron De La Beckwith, was not convicted until 1994.

AFGHANISTAN

U.S. offers support for U.N. envoy

The United States voiced its support on Friday for the U.N. envoy in Afghanistan in what one U.S. official said was a bid to show confidence in him despite charges he turned a blind eye to fraud in the Afghan election.

Ambassador Kai Eide, a veteran Norwegian diplomat, has been the object of scathing allegations by his former U.S. deputy, Peter Galbraith, that the United Nations effectively allowed the Aug. 20 election to be stolen.

In a brief statement issued late Friday, State Department spokesman Ian C. Kelly voiced support for Mr. Eide.

“The United States fully supports United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and Special Representative Kai Eide in UNAMA’s oversight of and support for Afghanistan’s election processes on behalf of the world community,” Mr. Kelly said.

“We are in close cooperation with UNAMA and Ambassador Eide, and believe that the agency and its leadership have shown sound judgment in the conduct of their mission,” he added.

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