- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Obama daughters visit new home

Malia and Sasha Obama got to see their new rooms at the White House on Tuesday, capping a busy few days looking into their new life in the nation’s capital that also involved visits to potential new schools.

At the invitation of first lady Laura Bush, the daughters of President-elect Barack Obama toured the White House with their mother and grandmother.

Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, along with their mother, Michelle, were expected to spend a short time touring the first family’s residential rooms at the White House, said Mrs. Obama’s spokeswoman, Katie McCormick Lelyveld. Mrs. Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, was also with the group.

“The first lady graciously invited Mrs. Obama, her mother and the girls to visit what will be their new home,” Mrs. Lelyveld said. “Of course, Mrs. Obama greatly appreciated this invitation to provide an opportunity for the girls to feel at home and become comfortable in this transition process.”

The visit was private, with no media coverage or photos.

Earlier in the day, the family visited their top choices for schools “to make sure we find the right fit,” Mrs. Lelyveld said. She would not name the schools. “Their move to Washington is her top priority,” she said.

A small motorcade was parked outside the Sidwell Friends school on Tuesday for about 40 minutes, and a similar motorcade was at the back entrance of Georgetown Day School on Monday. The Georgetown Day motorcade left after a group of people emerged, but Mrs. Obama was not seen among them.

The soon-to-be first lady visited both elite schools last week, without her daughters, when she also toured the White House with Mrs. Bush.

Georgetown Day, founded in 1945, was an early pioneer in integration and prides itself on its diversity. A report posted on the school’s Web site, www.gds.org, says about 35 percent of its estimated 1,000 students are of color.

Sidwell Friends is a private, Quaker school, which Chelsea Clinton attended.


Chief justice’s father dies after illness

The father of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. died Tuesday after a long illness, the Supreme Court said.

John Glover “Jack” Roberts Sr. was an executive of Bethlehem Steel Corp. and later worked for CSC Industries and taught at the University of South Carolina’s Graduate School of Business, the court said in a brief statement.

The court did not give Mr. Roberts’ exact age or where he died. He was born in Johnstown, Pa., in 1928. In 1952, he married Rosemary Podrasky, who survives him. Survivors also include four children and six grandchildren.


New GI Bill system tough but doable

The government sought Tuesday to dismiss concerns that it might try to delay rollout of the new GI Bill, pledging to be ready to handle growing claims in veterans education benefits after abandoning plans to hire a contractor.

Testifying before a House panel, officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs acknowledged the potential for glitches as they scramble to upgrade government IT systems before the new legislation providing millions of dollars in new GI benefits takes effect next August.

But the VA contended that it was on track to implement an IT system “in-house” just one month after abruptly scrapping plans to hire an IT contractor that the government previously contended was critical to get a system up and running on time.

Under the old measure, veterans can receive $1,321 monthly to cover all college expenses. Now, the new GI Bill will cover tuition and fees of any in-state public university. It also provides a monthly housing allowance and a $1,000 yearly stipend for books and supplies.

At least 520,000 veterans are expected to take advantage come next fall, up from about 250,000 who are currently attending colleges and universities on the GI Bill.


McCain to seek 5th Senate term

Sen. John McCain, whose presidential bid was snuffed out two weeks ago by President-elect Barack Obama, is setting up a political action committee as a first step in running for a fifth term in the Senate.

A McCain confidant said the 72-year-old senator decided with his senior advisers Tuesday night to set up the fundraising PAC. The source spoke anonymously because the decision had not yet been made public.

Mr. McCain’s term ends in 2010. He was greeted Tuesday by fellow Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, who lost his presidential bid in 2004, as both been returned to Capitol Hill.

Only 24 hours earlier, Mr. McCain had been seated awkwardly next to his former Democratic rival in Chicago, looking out again from a bubble of presidential-level security, surrounded by trappings of a life that would have been his with victory.


Bond to step aside as board chairman

BALTIMORE | Veteran civil rights activist Julian Bond will not seek another term as chairman of the NAACP’s national board, saying the time is right to “let a new generation of leaders” take over the century-old organization.

Mr. Bond, 68, has served as chairman since 1998. He announced Tuesday that his current one-year chairman’s term, which expires in February, will be his last, although he plans to remain on the board.

“This is a time for renewal. We have dynamic new leadership. The country has a new president in Barack Obama; the organization has a new CEO in Benjamin Jealous; and we’ll soon have a new chairman of the NAACP board,” Mr. Bond said. “The NAACP and the country are in good hands.”

Mr. Bond said he had long planned to serve as chairman until the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s centennial, which will be under way when his term ends.

Mr. Bond, a professor at American University and the University of Virginia, was teaching classes Tuesday and was unavailable for interviews, an NAACP spokeswoman said.

From wire reports and combined dispatches

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