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February 18th, 2010
02:37 PM ET

Iran silences journalists with jail

Protests after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed election victory in 2009 have led to protesters being arrested.

Protests after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed election victory in 2009 have led to protesters being arrested.

Jean Francois Julliard
Special to CNN

Early last week, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini reportedly said Iran's celebrations commemorating the Islamic revolution would stun the world. It is difficult to believe anything Iran could do at this point could surprise the world.

The protests after the June election led to an unprecedented campaign of intimidation and arrests. Freedom of expression had been seriously undermined by the regime even before Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election. Journalists and bloggers were regularly arrested and harassed for discussing topics like women's rights or issues involving ethnic minorities.

News organizations with ties to the reformist movement were fined, suspended or even shut down for criticizing government policies. But in spite of these measures, there remained a functioning press. If reformist publications were limited in their criticism of the government, conservative outlets were rarely the target of censorship or harassment.

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Filed under: Iran • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad • Michelle Obama
December 30th, 2009
04:52 PM ET

Most favorable: Michelle, Hillary win out over president

Paul Steinhauser
CNN Deputy Political Director

President Obama may be the most popular man in his administration, but according to a new national poll, he's not the most popular person.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday indicates that the president's poll numbers pale in comparison to the favorable ratings of two women: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama.

Fifty-eight percent of people questioned in the survey have a favorable view of Obama, with four in 10 holding an unfavorable view. But the president's favorable rating is 10 points below that of his wife and six points behind the secretary of state. According to the poll, 68 percent of the public have a positive opinion of the first lady, with 19 percent holding an unfavorable opinion. Sixty-four percent have a positive view of Clinton, with three in 10 holding an unfavorable view.

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October 30th, 2009
04:33 PM ET

The Obama Marriage

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama dancing their way at one of the 10 official inaugural balls

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama dancing their way at one of the 10 official inaugural balls

Jodi Kantor
New York Times

Another Washington dusk, another motorcade, another intimate evening played out in public view. On Oct. 3, just a day after their failed Olympics bid in Copenhagen, Barack and Michelle Obama slipped into a Georgetown restaurant for one of their now-familiar date nights: this time, to toast their 17th wedding anniversary. As with their previous outings, even the dark photographs taken by passers-by and posted on the Web looked glamorous: the president tieless, in a suit; the first lady in a backless sheath.

The Obama date-night tradition stretches back to the days when the president spent half his time in Springfield, Ill., reuniting at week’s close with his wife, who kept a regular Friday manicure and hair appointment for the occasion. But five days before he ventured out for his anniversary dinner, the president lamented what has happened to his nights out with his wife.

“I would say the one time during our stay here in the White House so far that has. . . .” He paused so long in choosing his words that Michelle Obama, sitting alongside him, prompted him. “Has what?”

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Filed under: 360° Radar • Barack Obama • Michelle Obama
October 23rd, 2009
04:17 PM ET

White House First Family portrait

(Photo Credit: Annie Leibovitz/Released by White House Photo Office)

The official first family portrait was unveiled Thursday on the White House Flickr page. The photo was snapped by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz on September 1, 2009 in the Green Room of the White House.

October 15th, 2009
02:30 PM ET

The Teacher as Leader

The Obamas enjoy their new family dog, Bo, at the White House.

The Obamas enjoy their new family dog, Bo, at the White House.

Michelle Obama
For U.S. News & World Report

This is a busy time of year in the Obama household. Like so many parents all across this country, I watch with a mixture of pride and anxiety as my daughters stuff their backpacks, kiss me goodbye, and move ahead in another school year without so much as a backwards glance.

My girls are now making new friends, tackling challenging new subjects, and moving closer to becoming the strong, confident women I know they can be. But when I see them come home, bursting with excitement about something they have learned or someone they have met, I can't help but think that some of the most influential people in my daughters' lives won't be the ones they socialize with on the playground or read about in the pages of a book—they will be the people who stand up every day in front of their classrooms.

We all remember the impact a special teacher had on us—a teacher who refused to let us fall through the cracks; who pushed us and believed in us when we doubted ourselves; who sparked in us a lifelong curiosity and passion for learning. Decades later, we remember the way they made us feel and the things they inspired us to do—how they challenged us and changed our lives. So it's not surprising that studies show that the single most important factor affecting students' achievement is the caliber of their teachers. And when we think about the qualities that make an outstanding teacher—boundless energy and endless patience; vision and a sense of purpose; the creativity to help us see the world in a different way; commitment to helping us discover and fulfill our potential—we realize: These are also the qualities of a great leader.

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Filed under: Michelle Obama • Women's Issues
October 14th, 2009
11:10 AM ET

Tracing Michelle Obama’s roots

A New York Times article reported last week that Michelle Obama's great-great-great grandmother was a slave.

A New York Times article reported last week that Michelle Obama's great-great-great grandmother was a slave.

Tony Burroughs
CNN

Last week a New York Times article reported that Michelle Obama's great-great-great grandparents were a white man and a slave whom he impregnated. This story highlights the growing importance of genealogy in America.

Some of the comments posted online were from people skeptical that the full story of Michelle Obama's ancestry will ever be known.

One said, "The concept that records simply don't exist beyond the mid-1800s for so much of her family is so telling about the legacy of slavery we'll never shed."

Another said, "Where in Africa did Michelle Obama's ancestors come from? What was their tribe? When were they enslaved, and what were their experiences as individuals? What happened to these human beings after they were brought in chains to America? These things will very likely never be known."

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Filed under: Michelle Obama
October 2nd, 2009
11:03 AM ET

Michelle Obama steals the show in Copenhagen

Michelle Obama's speech in Copenhagen focused on her roots in Chicago and her father's battle with MS.

Michelle Obama's speech in Copenhagen focused on her roots in Chicago and her father's battle with MS.

Ed Henry
CNN Senior White House Correspondent

After flying through the night for seven hours aboard Air Force One, nobody would blame President Obama for being at least slightly groggy when he arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark, for a quick four hours to make the final pitch for Chicago to host the 2016 Olympics.

Maybe that explains why the president seemed to snag the silver medal while first lady Michelle Obama, who's been in Copenhagen a couple of days, clearly took the gold with an emotional speech focused on her family's roots in the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, and her late father's battle with multiple sclerosis.

"Sports were a gift I shared with my dad, especially the Olympic Games," Obama said in her portion of the U.S. delegation's final presentation to the International Olympic Committee. "Some of my best memories are sitting on my dad's lap, cheering on Olga and Nadia, Carl Lewis and others for their brilliance and perfection.

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Filed under: Michelle Obama • Olympics
October 1st, 2009
08:49 PM ET

Interactive: Olympic-worthy cities to see, win or lose


Jessica Ravitz
CNN

From hot dogs in the American heartland to the sexy samba on South American beaches, from traditional Kabuki theater amid high-tech modernity to European culture and sophistication, four international cities hope to showcase what they have to offer the world on the Olympic stage.

The countdown clocks are ticking for Chicago, Illinois; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Tokyo, Japan; and Madrid, Spain. The International Olympic Committee, now gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark, will vote Friday to determine the winning host city for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Go here to see an interactive of profiles of all of the cities making a bid.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Michelle Obama • Olympics
October 1st, 2009
03:23 PM ET

Chicago-Rio Battle "Close As Hell"

The Obamas hope an appearance in Copenhagen will boost their chances of bringing the Olympics to Chicago.

The Obamas hope an appearance in Copenhagen will boost their chances of bringing the Olympics to Chicago.

Ed Henry
CNN

As First Lady Michelle Obama and talk show host Oprah Winfrey wrapped up a day of furious behind-the-scenes lobbying of International Olympic Committee members here, two sources close to the process tell CNN that the battle between Chicago and Rio is privately heating up over who will host the 2016 Summer Games.

Madrid and Tokyo are also in the running, but the sources close the process said that Chicago and Rio have emerged as the clear front-runners and are in a neck-and-neck battle ahead of President Obama's arrival early Friday for a presentation to the IOC's 105 members who will be voting later in the day.

After a flurry of private conversations among IOC officials here, one of the sources close to the process said bluntly it's "close as hell" between Chicago and Rio as both Obama and Brazilian President Lula da Silva plan to make personal appeals to the voters on behalf of their cities on Friday morning. FULL POST


Filed under: Barack Obama • Michelle Obama • Olympics • Oprah Winfrey
September 29th, 2009
11:59 AM ET

Michelle Obama Vows to "Take No Prisoners" in Olympic Bid

First lady's attitude about the effort to secure Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics: 'Take no prisoners.'

First lady's attitude about the effort to secure Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics: 'Take no prisoners.'

Ed Henry
CNN Senior White House Correspondent

First Lady Michelle Obama vowed Monday to "take no prisoners" as she and her husband launch an unprecedented bid for Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid, comparing the intense lobbying effort to the 2008 presidential campaign.

"It's a battle - we're going to win - take no prisoners," Mrs. Obama said with a smile at a roundtable discussion with reporters in the State Dining Room.
Mrs. Obama noted that in the campaign a lot of voters made their decision in the final days, and members of the International Olympic Committee may do the same.

"And our view is, we're not taking a chance," she said. "We're just not going to assume that the bids - that the decisions are made, and so that no matter what the outcome is, we'll feel as a country, as a team, that we've done everything that we can to bring it home."

Along those lines the White House confirmed that on Thursday night President Obama will fly to Copenhagen, where the International Olympic Committee will be reviewing bids from several countries on Friday, the first time that an American president will personally lobby the IOC in this manner for a U.S. victory. Mrs. Obama arrives on Wednesday with White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and other top aides.

"What a dynamic duo they will be," said Jarrett. "I think it will be high impact, I think their presentation will be both very personal, given that they know and love Chicago so well."

Mrs. Obama added that she and Vice President Joe Biden have also been lobbying IOC members by telephone in recent days in order to try and land the Olympics for her home city, and she plans a packed schedule once she lands in Denmark. "I think I'm talking to everybody," she said of the dozens of IOC members who will decide the victor.

Mrs. Obama will also make a formal presentation to the IOC, before the President makes his own pitch on Friday. "We're each going to do our own proposal," said Mrs. Obama. "I think we have as good a chance as any country."

She joked, however, that there are limits to how far they will work together. "We're not going to do a joint poem together," Mrs. Obama said with a laugh.
But she also revealed a story that suggests she's taking the lobbying very seriously by noting that at the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh she sat next to the First Lady of Brazil, one of the nations submitting a rival bid.

"I adore her but I said, 'You know, I'm going to hug you now and then I'm going after you in Copenhagen,'" Mrs. Obama recalled with a laugh. "And she said, 'You too.' So gloves are off."


Filed under: 360° Radar • Michelle Obama • Olympics
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