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Barney Frank Hit Over Boyfriend's Fannie Mae Role

By    |   Sunday, 12 October 2008 09:44 PM EDT

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Barney Frank Hit Over Boyfriend’s Fannie Mae Role
2. Obama Enlisted Black Congressmen to Back Bailout
3. Sheldon Adelson Lost $4 Billion in September
4. Variety: New Bush Biopic Lacks Hard Edge
5. Falwell’s Liberty University Seeks to Swing Vote in Virginia
6. Mel Karmazin: Howard Stern Worth His $500 Million
7. We Heard: Solar Power, Lebanon


1. Barney Frank Hit Over Boyfriend’s Fannie Mae Role

Critics are crying “conflict of interest” over Democratic Rep. Barney Frank’s live-in relationship with Fannie Mae executive Herb Moses while Frank was on the House Banking Committee.

Moses was Fannie Mae’s assistant director for product initiatives from 1991 to 1998.

He was also openly gay Frank’s live-in boyfriend during that time, while the Massachusetts lawmaker was on the committee that had jurisdiction over government-sponsored Fannie Mae, Fox News’ Bill Sammon reported.

Now that Fannie Mae is at the center of the recent financial meltdown, the relationship is coming under increased scrutiny.

“It’s absolutely a conflict,” said Dan Gainor, vice president of the Business & Media Institute.

“He was voting on Fannie Mae at a time when he was involved with a Fannie Mae executive. How is that not germane?

“But everyone wants to avoid it because he’s gay. It’s the quintessential double standard.”

A top Republican House aide told Fox News: “He writes housing and banking laws and his boyfriend is a top exec at a firm that stands to gain from those laws? No media ever take note?”

Frank and Moses met in 1987 and lived together in Washington, D.C., until they split up in 1998.

National Mortgage News disclosed that Moses “helped develop many of Fannie Mae’s affordable housing and home improvement lending programs.”

Critics charge that such programs led to the mortgage meltdown and the recent government takeover of Fannie Mae, according to Fox News, which noted that Fannie Mae and its financial cousin Freddie Mac “are blamed for spreading bad mortgages throughout the private financial sector.”

In 1994, Frank thwarted efforts by President Clinton’s Department of Housing and Urban Development to impose new regulations on Fannie Mae.

Editor's Note:

2. Obama Enlisted Black Congressmen to Back Bailout

Barack Obama made calls to members of the House Black Caucus and convinced them to switch their votes and support the Senate-passed $700 billion bailout bill.

Several lawmakers told The Associated Press about receiving calls from Obama, who told them that if elected he would help hard-pressed homeowners keep their houses.

Obama originally kept the bailout measure at arm’s length when House leaders began their all-out push to convert members who had voted "no" on Monday, Sept 29. But he called several wavering Democrats who ended up voting "yes" the following Friday.

Obama "made numerous calls" and "helped us gather the votes on the Democratic side to pass this legislation," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., chairman of his party's House caucus.

In all, 33 House Democrats switched to the "yes" side, along with 25 Republicans.

Obama said in a statement after the House vote that the nation "is facing one of the greatest financial crises in history." The bill's passage, he said, "was absolutely necessary to prevent an economic catastrophe that could have cost millions of jobs and forced businesses across the country into bankruptcy."

In the first vote Monday, 13 members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) voted “no,” helping to defeat the measure. It lost in a 228-205 vote. Had the CBC members voted “yes,” the measure would have gotten the 218 votes needed for passage.

Obama keyed in on five of the CBC members: Reps. Elijah Cummings and Donna Edwards of Maryland, John Yarmuth of Kentucky, and Mike Thompson and Barbara Lee of California. All five switched their votes to support the bill after hearing from Obama, Newsmax correspondent Phil Brennan reported.

According to Cummings, Obama told him that if he won in November he would order an official of the Treasury Department to work with homeowners facing foreclosure to restructure their loans. He added that Obama promised he would try to make changes in bankruptcy laws allowing judges to reduce the amount of the mortgages borrowers owe.

"It's not too often you get the future president telling you that his priority matches your priority," Cummings told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Rep. Yarmuth said Obama had described the bill as "just patching up a hole in the boat to get it to port."

Editor's Note:

3. Sheldon Adelson Lost $4 Billion in September

Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has been a frequent contributor to Republican candidates and causes, but he’s basically remained on the sidelines during the current presidential race.

One likely reason: He lost $4 billion during the September financial meltdown.

The loss was the steepest drop among Americans who lost $1 billion or more from Aug. 29 to Oct. 1, according to Forbes magazine.

Worse yet for Adelson, he lost a whopping $13 billion in the year beginning Sept. 20, 2007, when Forbes listed his fortune at $28 billion.

The loss resulted largely from a 75-percent drop in the value of his Las Vegas Sands Corp. stock since its October 2007 high.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chairman Warren Buffett actually posted an $8 billion gain to $58 billion during the recent 33-day period to become the richest American, overtaking Microsoft’s Bill Gates who fell to $55.5 billion after losing $1.5 billion.

Editor's Note:

4. Variety: New Bush Biopic Lacks Hard Edge

Oliver Stone’s new biopic about George W. Bush, “W,” has drawn an overall tepid review from the show business trade publication Variety.

The movie from the director of “Nixon,” “JFK,” and “Primary Colors” features Josh Brolin as Bush, Richard Dreyfuss as Dick Cheney, Scott Glenn as Donald Rumsfeld, James Cromwell as George H.W. Bush, and Toby Jones as Karl Rove.

“What may surprise some people is that, given all the buildup, ‘W’ is not an altogether unflattering portrait of the 43rd president,” wrote a Variety reviewer who attended a preview of the film, which opens in theaters on Oct. 17.

“It’s blistering in the decision to go to war in Iraq, yet sympathetic in that Bush himself did not have nefarious intentions.”

But the “overall premise” of “W” is that Bush’s presidency has been a failure, the reviewer states, complaining: “Even with the liberties it takes, I expected the movie to have a harder edge . . . 

“Far from setting off fireworks, the worst thing that could happen is that the film won’t create much of a stir at all.”

The movie’s Bush is “in a lifelong effort to prove himself to his father, a rather detached patrician who saw Jeb as the family’s chosen one. W spends his youth as a screw-up, a misdirected soul who can’t quite get his act together until he finds a spiritual conversion to give up liquor and lands the guidance of a dweebish whiz named Karl Rove.”

In another Variety review, Todd McCarthy called Stone’s film “unusual and inescapably interesting,” but added, “It’s questionable how wide a public will pony up to immerse itself in a story that still lacks an ending.”

John McCain appears in the movie once, in a brief shot during Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address. Barack Obama is nowhere to be seen.

Editor's Note:

5. Falwell’s Liberty University Seeks to Swing Vote in Virginia

Liberty University, the Virginia school founded by the late evangelical leader Jerry Falwell, has launched a drive to register its mostly conservative students in hopes of swinging the state to John McCain in November.

Virginia has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964. But recent polls show McCain only slightly ahead of Barack Obama, and Democrats won the last two statewide races, for governor and U.S. senator.

So Jerry Falwell Jr., chancellor of the university, is promoting a drive to register all 10,500 eligible students, including those from out of state, at the fundamentalist Baptist school in Lynchburg.

“Liberty students [from out of state] have never been permitted to register locally in the past,” Falwell said in an e-mail to faculty and staff.

“The recent change in election law is giving Liberty University the chance to make history. Liberty University’s students and 4,000 faculty and staff could cause Liberty to become known as the university that elected a president!”

Falwell told National Public Radio: “We never told them how to vote. We never even talked about the issues. We just talked about the fact that Virginia was right on the fence and could go either way.”

One student, Jonathan Woods, a junior at Liberty, said: “The majority of Liberty students want McCain to win. If you have a few thousand people voting for one candidate who weren’t [initially] voting in Virginia, it could possibly make a difference.”

Falwell also announced that classes will be canceled on Election Day, and buses will be available to take students to the polls, Shea Connelly of the University of Virginia’s Cavalier Daily reported.

The school’s curfew will be lifted so students can watch the election results on a giant-screen TV.

College Democrats of American President Katie Naranjo said she is not concerned about the voter registration drive. “I feel very comfortable that young people will sway the vote in Virginia,” she told Connelly, “and it will be a victory for Senator Obama.”

But when asked by NPR if there were any Democrats at Liberty, student Danielle Fierro said: “I knew one, but he transferred.”

Editor's Note:

6. Mel Karmazin: Howard Stern Is Worth $500 Million

Observers were skeptical when satellite radio honcho Mel Karmazin gave Howard Stern a $500 million contract in 2004, but Karmazin now says the deal was a “steal” for his company.

Karmazin, CEO of the newly merged Sirius XM Radio, was asked in an interview with Advertising Age what he would say to those who claimed he overpaid by offering shock jock Stern the $500 million contract with Sirius and another $83 million bonus in 2007.

“Let’s remember when the Howard Stern announcement came in October of 2004, Sirius had 600,000 subscribers. XM was by far the dominant satellite radio company,” he answered.

“[Stern’s contract] was $100 million a year, so in order to pay for that $100 million, Sirius would need to get [to] 1 million subscribers in 12 months.

“So let’s assume 1 million subscribers gets you $120 million, you pay Howard $100 million, and therefore he’s paid for himself.”

Karmazin added: “We have about 9 million subscribers now . . . We only needed 1 million. [Howard] got us 8 million more, so, boy what a steal that was.”

Editor's Note:

7. We Heard . . .

THAT a little-discussed earmark in the $700 billion bailout bill recently passed by Congress could put thousands of dollars in the pockets of taxpayers who install solar power systems in their homes.

Tax credits for solar or wind power systems were set to expire at the end of this year. But the earmark in the bailout package extended and enhanced them.

Currently taxpayers receive a 30-percent tax credit, with a cap of $2,000, for installing those power systems. Beginning next year, taxpayers will receive a 30-percent credit with no cap, the Miami Herald reported.

That means taxpayers who install a $30,000 solar power system in their home will receive a hefty $9,000 tax credit.

“This is huge,” said Julia Hamm, executive director of the Solar Electric Power Association.

Not so huge, perhaps, are tax breaks for makers of wooden arrows for children and rum sold in the Virgin Islands.

THAT Lebanon is attacking Israel — over Falafel.

Lebanon plans to file an international lawsuit charging Israel with violating a food copyright by marketing falafel, hummus, tabbouleh and other “Lebanese” dishes as Israeli.

Fadi Abboud, the president of the Lebanese Industrialists Association, said Israel is “taking the identity of some Lebanese foods.

“In a way, the Jewish state is trying to claim ownership of traditional Lebanese delicacies like falafel, tabbouleh, and hummus.”

Hummus is a dip made from chick peas, sesame paste, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. Tabbouleh is a salad consisting of parsley, bulgur wheat, onions, and tomatoes, while falafel is a mixture of ground vegetables, usually chick peas, formed into balls and fried.

Abboud said Lebanese are losing “tens of millions of dollars annually” because Israel is selling traditional Lebanese dishes, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

“We are working on registering all the foods and ingredients which will be submitted to the Lebanese government so it can appeal to the international courts against Israel.”

Lebanon’s case will likely rely on the “feta cheese precedent,” Abboud said.

Six years ago, Greece won a monopoly on the production of feta cheese from the European Union by showing that the cheese had been produced in Greece under that name for several thousand years.

Editor's Note:

Editor's Notes:

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):1. Barney Frank Hit Over Boyfriend s Fannie Mae Role2. Obama Enlisted Black Congressmen to Back Bailout3. Sheldon Adelson Lost $4 Billion in September4. Variety: New Bush Biopic Lacks Hard Edge5. Falwell s Liberty University...
Sunday, 12 October 2008 09:44 PM
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