National briefs

Lawmakers vow Walter Reed inquiry

WASHINGTON - Lawmakers promised a quick response and sought an independent commission as they expressed outrage Sunday over the poor conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I'm worried about if it's this bad at the outpatient facilities at Walter Reed, how is it in the rest of the country? Because Walter Reed is our crown jewel," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

In a letter Sunday to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Schumer asked for an independent commission, possibly headed by former Secretary of State Colin Powell, to investigate all post-combat medical facilities and recommend changes.

New York

NAACP leader quits after 19 months on job
NAACP President Bruce S. Gordon is quitting the civil rights organization, leaving after just 19 months at the helm, he told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Gordon cited growing strain with board members over the group's management style and future operations.

"I believe that any organization that's going to be effective will only be effective if the board and the CEO are aligned and I don't think we are aligned," Gordon said. "This compromises the ability of the board to be as effective as it can be."


Treasury secretary tries to soothe fears

WASHINGTON - After a week in which the Dow Jones industrials posted their worst weekly performance in more than four years, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says the economy is healthy, inflation seems under control and the U.S. should not perceive China as an economic enemy.

"Markets never move in any one direction forever in a straight line. And so I look at it and put it in perspective and say, over the last year, the Dow's up almost 11 percent, the S&P's (the Standard & Poor's 500 index) up 9 percent, and I'll take it," Paulson said.

U.S. stocks dropped 416 points on Tuesday after big declines in China and other countries.


Atlantis scheduled for checkup after storm

CAPE CANAVERAL - Back to the garage.

Space shuttle Atlantis on Sunday began a slow trek from the launch pad back to a hangar so technicians can inspect damage caused by an hail storm and determine what kind of repairs should be made.

The 3.4-mile journey aboard the massive crawler-transporter started at 5:47 a.m. PST. It was the 17th time in the 26-year-old shuttle program that one of the vehicles had to be moved back to the Vehicle Assembly Building from the launch pad.


WWII leader's son aims to move remains

LIBERTYVILLE - Yugoslavia's last monarch, exiled from his homeland during World War II, ended up in a tomb inside an ornately decorated church outside Chicago, a place that still attracts his loyal followers.

But while King Peter II personally chose St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Monastery as his final resting place, his son, Crown Prince Alexander, is upsetting some ­Serbian-Americans by planning to take his father's remains back to the land of his birth.

"The plan is - and that is a solid plan - that he'll be brought here," the prince said in a recent phone interview from his palace in Belgrade, the Serbian capital.

Etiquette authority Stewart dies at 82

KEWANEE - Proper manners authority Marjabelle Young Stewart, the author of more than 20 books and ruler of the "White Gloves" and "Blue Blazers" children's etiquette empires, has died. She was 82.

Stewart, who was also famous for the annual list of best-­mannered cities she began issuing in 1977, died Saturday night of pneumonia at a nursing home in Kewanee, said her daughter, Jacqueline Ramont, of Danville. Stewart had lived in Kewanee since moving there from Washington, D.C., in 1962.

Stewart's career took her to the White House to teach manners to the daughters of Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon and later made her a fixture on the talk-show circuit.