Highway death toll is lowest in 48 years
Fewer people died on the nation's highways during the first three months of 2009, as motor vehicle fatalities continued to fall to levels not seen in nearly a half-century. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Thursday that about 7,689 motorists were killed in the months of January through March, a 9 percent decline from a year ago. Reporting ahead of the July 4 holiday, a busy period on the nation's roadways, the government estimated that 37,261 motorists died in 2008, the fewest since 1961. If the 2009 fatality trend continues, fewer than 31,000 people will die this year. Highway safety officials also reported a decline in the fatality rate, the number of deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. It fell to 1.27 in 2008, the lowest on record, from 1.36 in 2007. The rate dropped to 1.12 during the first three months of 2009. Experts have attributed the declines to the economic recession, record-high seat-belt use and fewer people driving.
Former Nixon aide Herbert Klein dies
Herbert G. Klein, Richard Nixon's White House director of communications and a former editor for Copley Newspapers, died Thursday. He was 91. Klein suffered cardiac arrest at his home in the San Diego suburb of La Jolla, family members told the Union-Tribune. Klein accompanied Vice President Nixon to Moscow in 1959 for historic meetings with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. The next year, he represented Nixon in setting the terms for his debate with John F. Kennedy — the first televised debates between presidential candidates. Klein was Nixon's press secretary in the unsuccessful 1960 run for the White House, the 1962 race for California's governorship and his second presidential bid in 1968. He resigned as Nixon's communications director in 1973, one year before the Watergate scandal forced the president to step down.
Paper ends plans for paid 'salons'
Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth on Thursday canceled plans for a series of policy dinners at her home after learning that marketing fliers offered lobbyists access to Obama administration officials, members of Congress and Washington Post journalists in exchange for payments. The fliers said participants would be charged $25,000 to sponsor a single salon and $250,000 for a series of 11 sessions. "The fliers got out and weren't vetted. … We're not going to do any dinners that would impugn the integrity of the newsroom," said Weymouth.
Judge is cleared over Web sex files
A federal judge who made sexually explicit material available on his Web site was cleared with an admonishment Thursday by fellow judges. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California was "judicially imprudent" in possessing the material and not safeguarding his files, the panel found, but said there was no need to discipline Kozinski because he recused himself from an obscenity trial when news broke last year about the explicit photos and videos. Kozinski says he thought the material — which included a video of a man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal and a picture of nude women on all fours painted to look like cows — couldn't be seen by the public. The judge has also said he didn't believe the images obscene.