- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 24, 2009


Leibovitz snaps first family photo

A smiling President Obama and his family, arms around one another, are featured in a new official photo shot by Annie Leibovitz, the renowned celebrity photographer.

The picture, posted by the administration on its Web site Friday, shows a smiling and relaxed first family in the Green Room of the White House. Mr. Obama’s daughter Sasha, 8, has an arm on the president’s shoulder, while her sister, Malia, 11, sits perched on first lady Michelle Obama’s chair. The photograph was taken on Sept. 1.

Ms. Leibovitz, who has spent months staving off serious financial problems, is frequently spotted around the White House with special access for a project for Vanity Fair magazine.

The photographer last month won a reprieve from possible bankruptcy after her creditors agreed to an extension of a $24 million loan.


Obama to address Jewish conference

President Obama is scheduled to make his first major address to the Jewish community since taking office.

Mr. Obama will speak Nov. 9 in Washington at the annual conference of the United Jewish Communities and the Jewish Federations of North America.

Conference organizers say the gathering is one of the largest meetings of the Jewish community in the U.S. Top Israeli government officials are also expected to attend.

Despite criticism from some in the Jewish community, Mr. Obama has long maintained that he is an ardent supporter of Israel.


Countrywide to get subpoena over loans

A lawmaker said Friday he issued a subpoena to Countrywide Financial, now part of Bank of America Corp., as part of a probe into whether the lender gave favored terms to lawmakers and other VIPs.

At the same time, the lawmaker, Rep. Edolphus Towns, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, wrote letters to Wells Fargo & Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., U.S. Bank Home Mortgage and GMAC, seeking information for his panel’s wider mortgage probe.

The New York lawmaker said he issued the legal demand because Countrywide failed to cooperate. He is seeking information “about how that program worked and whether it provided special benefits to government officials.”

Mr. Towns says he is prepared to subpoena other companies if they do not comply with requests.

In a letter dated Oct. 23 to the banks, Mr. Towns asked for data on VIP-type programs, foreclosures, marketing strategies, and potential anti-trust behavior.

Bank of America bought Countrywide, which has come to symbolize the excesses of the lending industry, for a fire-sale price of $2.5 billion last year. It had collapsed under the weight of bad mortgages and defaults.


Court filings tie Young to corruption

ANCHORAGE, Alaska | Documents filed in federal court directly link U.S. Rep. Don Young to a wide-ranging investigation of corruption in Alaska for the first time.

The state’s only representative in the House is identified as “United States Representative A” in the documents filed in connection with the sentencing next week of Bill Allen, a key figure in the corruption probes of state lawmakers and former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens.

The filing alleges that Mr. Young, a Republican, illegally received gifts totaling nearly $200,000 over 13 years from Allen’s now-defunct oil field services company.

It also says corporate funds paid up to $15,000 a year for expenses associated with Mr. Young’s annual pig roast fundraiser.

Mr. Young’s office and attorney did not return calls seeking comment Friday.


Michelle Obama on Leno’s show

BURBANK, Calif. | What’s President Obama’s most annoying habit? First lady Michelle Obama says she doesn’t have enough time to list them all.

Well, she was just joking.

The first lady was on NBC-TV’s “The Jay Leno Show” Friday and earned some laughs at the president’s expense. The program, on which she appeared via satellite from the White House, was taped for airing later Friday evening.

Pushed by Mr. Leno to talk about her husband’s flaws, she sarcastically said he has none. Then she let it out: It’s his tennis game that gets her peeved.

“He beats me quite often,” she said. “That gets to be pretty annoying.”

The first lady also told Mr. Leno there are White House secrets she will never reveal: She refused to divulge what daughters Malia and Sasha are wearing for Halloween. She says you need security clearance for that.

Mr. Leno also wanted to know what Mrs. Obama whispers to her husband after his speeches.

“I usually ask him, did he take out the garbage?” she said.

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