- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 29, 2009

WHITE HOUSE

Secret Service probes assassination poll

The U.S. Secret Service is investigating an online survey that asked whether people thought President Obama should be assassinated, officials said Monday.

The poll, posted Saturday on Facebook, was taken off the popular social-networking site quickly after company officials were alerted to its existence. But, like any threat against the president, Secret Service agents are taking no chances.

“We are aware of it, and we will take the appropriate investigative steps,” Secret Service spokesman Darrin Blackford said. “We take of these things seriously.”

The poll asked respondents “Should Obama be killed?” The choices: no, maybe, yes and yes if he cuts my health care.

The question was not created by Facebook, but by an independent person using an add-on application that has been suspended from the site.

“The third-party application that enabled an individual user to create the offensive poll was brought to our attention this morning,” said Barry Schnitt, Facebook’s spokesman for policy.

Because the application was disabled, the responses to the nonscientific polls are not available.

“We’re working with the U.S. Secret Service, but they’ll need to provide any details of their investigation,” Mr. Schnitt said.

SCANDAL

Bank of America ditches ACORN

Bank of America Corp. is suspending its work with the housing affiliate of embattled community organizing group ACORN.

The decision comes as three Republicans in Congress asked Bank of America and 13 other financial institutions to give Congress a complete accounting of their dealings with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now or its affiliates.

In a statement, Bank of America said it would not enter into any further agreements with ACORN Housing Corp. until the bank is satisfied all issues have been resolved. ACORN Housing Corp. and Bank of America have worked together for years on mortgage foreclosure issues.

“We completely understand why our lending partners like Bank of America want assurances that the recent allegations against us won’t happen again,” ACORN Housing Corp. said. “We are taking a number of steps to ensure this, including providing ethics training to all of our staff.”

GUANTANAMO

Gibbs hedges on date of closure

The White House on Monday sent fresh signals that it may miss President Obama’s self-imposed January deadline to close the U.S. camp for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“We’re not focused on whether or not the deadline will or won’t be met on a particular day,” said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, a day after Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said it would be “tough” to meet the target.

“We’re focused on ensuring that the facility is closed and doing all that has to be done between now and the 22nd of January,” Mr. Gibbs said.

On Sunday, Mr. Gates also played down the importance of meeting the deadline, set by Mr. Obama almost as soon as he took office.

“It’s going to be tough,” Mr. Gates said on ABC, referring to the detention facility at the U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, which has been condemned for years by human rights groups.

WHITE HOUSE

Mrs. Obama tells ‘what not to do’

First lady Michelle Obama says women should do what makes them happy, a lesson she says she learned after realizing her two children, her husband and her physical health feed off her good moods.

In an interview appearing in the November issue of Prevention magazine, Mrs. Obama discusses the meaning of good health, aging and her exercise, diet and beauty routines. She sat for the interview at the White House in late July.

Mrs. Obama said she learned “what not to do” from her mother, Marian Robinson, who lives at the White House.

“She’d say being a good mother isn’t all about sacrificing. It’s really investing and putting yourself higher on your priority list,” Mrs. Obama said. She said Mrs. Robinson put her own two children first, sometimes to the detriment of herself.

“She encouraged me not to do that,” Mrs. Obama said.

“Throughout my life, I’ve learned to make choices that make me happy and make sense for me. Even my husband is happier when I’m happy,” Mrs. Obama said.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Sanford probes university travel

COLUMBIA, S.C. | South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is reviewing how three state-funded universities use their airplanes even as he faces scrutiny for his own travel practices.

In response to a Sept. 1 request, Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina have provided records for flights officials took to meetings, conferences and sports events in recent years.

House Speaker Bobby Harrell, a Republican, says the inquiry is an attempt to distract from Mr. Sanford’s own problems. Those started in June, when the governor, a Republican, disappeared for five days and returned to confess an affair with a woman in Argentina whom he called his soul mate.

Mr. Sanford’s confession prompted inquiries into his travel. Investigations by the Associated Press found that Mr. Sanford used pricey seats on commercial planes despite a requirement that employees use economy seats; flew on state aircraft for personal and political purposes; and didn’t report private flights on ethics forms.

Mr. Sanford has said other governors have done the same thing.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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