August 9th, 2010
11:35 AM ET

Monday's intriguing people

Michelle Obama

Her mother-daughter jaunt to Spain is turning into a PR tangle for the White House. It began with a New York Daily News column written by a Republican consultant last Thursday. Columnist Andrea Tantaros called the First Lady a ‘Modern-Day Marie Antoinette.’

“While she's spent her time in the White House telling parents they should relieve their chubby kids' dependency on sugar and stressing the importance of an organic veggie garden,” Tantaros wrote, “hopping a jet to Europe to meet with Spanish royalty isn't the visual the White House probably wants to project. Perhaps they've forgotten the damning image of John Kerry, on the eve of the 2004 election, windsurfing off the coast of Nantucket?”

While Tantaros reported a travel entourage of 40 friends and family, the White House is downplaying those numbers. Additionally Mrs. Obama has covered her own expenses on the trip, a spokesman said. The federal government, however, does cover the Secret Service tab - a hefty sum, according to critics.

Right-wing blogs are repurposing the story, and now making video blogs asking Americans what they think of the trip. Possibly making matters worse might be the remainder of the Obama summer schedule: a family weekend in the Gulf, followed by ten days in Martha’s Vineyard, which isn't far from Nantucket.

CNN: Michelle Obama and daughter arrive in southern Spain

NY Daily News: Material girl Michelle Obama is a modern-day Marie Antoinette on a glitzy Spanish vacation

Mark David Chapman

The man who killed John Lennon in 1980 is scheduled to go before a parole board sometime this week. It will be the sixth time since 2000 that Chapman has pursued an early release.

Chapman, now 55, is serving a 20-years-to sentence at the maximum-security Attica Correctional Facility for the murder, which took place a close range in front of Lennon’s New York City apartment building.

A former mental patient, Chapman was holding a copy of J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye when he shot Lennon. He had penned “This is my statement” inside the book cover. In 1992 Chapman told ABC’s Barbara Walters that voices in his head told him ‘Do it! Do it! Do it!” “I thought by killing him, I would have his fame,” Chapman said.

According to reports, Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, is asking the parole board to deny release. At least four letters against Chapman's release have been received by the board, while two others have been submitted in favor of releasing him. An Attica spokesman has indicated that Chapman has been a model prisoner since 1994. He even has special conjugal visits with Gloria, his wife of 20 years.

CNN: Man who murdered John Lennon up for parole again

TIME: Yoko Ono: No Parole for Lennon's Killer

Layne Morris and Omar Khadr

Layne Morris, a former U.S. Special Forces officer, will testify this week in the Obama administration’s first full military commission hearing to be held at Guantanamo Bay. The trial will focus on Omar Khadr, accused of committing terrorist acts and killing a U.S. Special Forces soldier while he was a child soldier of Al Qaeda. Khadr has been held in the facility since he was 15 years old.

Morris told the Toronto Star this weekend that he will tell the military commission about the events that happened in a July 2002 attack on him and other Delta officers in Afghanistan. During the attack, Khadr allegedly threw the hand grenade that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer. Shrapnel during the attack hit Morris causing him to lose an eye.

CNN has reported that Khadr is suspected of spying for Al Qaeda, as well as making and planting roadside bombs during the early days of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Now 23, Khadr—through his military attorney—has said his testimony was coerced through torture.

Ironically the trial will bring some sort of resolution for both men, the Star reported. For Khadr, a Canadian citizen, it could mean being any place else after eight years besides Guantanamo. For Morris, who is now retired in Salt Lake City: “I have to finish it, but as far as emotion, or do I have anything invested in it? I can't say that I do. I don't need that to feel like I personally have been avenged or a wrong has been righted or anything like that. I guess it has just been too long.”

The Star: U.S. soldiers will tell their stories at Khadr's trial

CNN: First trial of Gitmo prisoner under Obama administration to begin

Tom Little

The volunteer aide worker and optometrist who had made Afghanistan his second home since as early as 1983 was among ten aide workers shot to death last week by the Taliban.

Little, 62, was leading a team of providing eyecare to Afghan citizens in remote areas of the country when a Taliban convoy stopped them in Badakhshan province. The group's Muslim driver, survived only after pleading for his life and reciting a verse from the Koran, according to an account in the Washington Post.

A British eye surgeon, Karen Woo, who’d given up her practice to treat people, in Afghanistan was killed. So was Cheryl Beckett, a 32-year-old aide worker, who is the daughter of a Knoxville, Tennessee-based minister. Four other Americans, two Afghan citizens, and a German were also executed.

The New York Daily News reported that during the 27 years that Little worked in Afghanistan, he learned the local language, mastered the diplomatic patience required to survive the region, and supervised three 40-bed hospitals in three large cities, and three 10-bed facilities in smaller outposts in the country.

NY Daily News: New York optometrist, Tom Little, 62, one of six American aid workers killed in Afghanistan

Washington Post: Devastated Christian aid group pledges to continue work in Afghanistan

WBIR: Daughter of Knoxville minister among those found dead in Afghanistan

soundoff (181 Responses)
  1. Europeandesigner

    The timing of this lavish European vacation could not have come at a worse moment, when unemployment in America stands at 10 percent, and large numbers of Americans are fighting to survive financially in the wake of the global economic downturn. It sends a message of indifference, even contempt, for the millions of Americans who are struggling just to feed their families on a daily basis and pay the mortgage, while the size of the national debt balloons to Greek-style proportions.
    The Obama administration’s mantra may well be “let them eat cake”, as it continues to gorge itself on taxpayers’ money, but it will be looking nervously over its shoulder as public unease mounts. and November inches ever closer..

    August 9, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Europeandesigner

    For those who post silly comments, i.e. let them have a vacations, etc.. NO one begrudges them A vacation.. but – they're off in different directions every other week while the rest of the Nations suffers, lose homes, jobs..
    I am certain Americans might care less EXCEPT that they're the fools footing the bills for a party of 60, livin' it up in the most exquisite location..
    Are you really THAT DUMB and don't understand? And the MOST important part - the Obama's are NOT LEGAL occupants of your WH!
    You people might be quite shocked what will come out VERY soon! Wikileaks may have the BIGGEST surprise of your life – YET!! We in Europe can hardly wait to see these criminals in handcuffs!

    August 9, 2010 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Boney

    Well, Bush used to spend his vacation on his own property in Texas (where it's hot as hades). I don't care if she goes using her own money to fund the trip, however, I don't even want to try and guess about the expenses that go with it (secret service, airforce 2 etc.) That comes out of MY pocket.

    August 9, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Europeandesigner

    Well Boney, figure in excess of a cool million dollars plus the petrol for Air Force 2 and you might come close.. "Obama" is well aware that he is a 'one timer' he even admitted.. they'll get as much as they possibly can out of you taxpayers while at the same time destroying America..

    August 9, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. financeman

    So much hate..... So much that you forget the lessons of the past. The evil right has always been chasing there tails for over a decade now. The right wing bucketheads are so delusional of the past that they make all of their problems as well as the country's problems a fault of this administration but not understanding the causes and the effects of the past administration. If you want all of your problems to go away within 18 months, you should have elected David Cooperfield. Keep spreading you hate towards this administration, you might reap what you sow.

    August 9, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ella01

      financeman – not sure how you picked your screen name, but if you were a true finance man you would understand the economic policies of this administration are a true disaster. EVIL right? Right wing bucketheads? You make a grave mistake in painting all of us with that broad brush. Why on earth would you assume that everyone who does not support Obama gave George W Bush a blank check to do with as he pleased? Each administration causes their own problems. The issue here is to man up and take responsibility for what's going on now. It is laughable, and totally in character for Obama to continually blame Bush. Sorry BO, its your problem now. Crying "he started it" won't get him very far, and it would be helpful if you pinheads would finally admit you elected the wrong Democrat. Then maybe we could get somewhere...I think you guys thought you elected David Copperfield. Wasn't BO the one promising he would make it all go away?

      August 10, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Europeandesigner

    financeman, people have legitimate concerns absolutely NOTHING to do with color, hate.. etc, yet, it's always a great excuse.. don't like "Obama" is not even an American Citizen, hey, you're just a racist.. don't like he squanders away your money? Simple, it's because you hate him..
    This gets pretty old, don't you think so?
    How long ARE you going to blame it on Bush? America is the laughing stock in the world.. NO, people WERE willing to give Obama a chance, he is a charming persona.. unfortunately also as crooked as they come, but that took a while to figure out..
    All we can say is give it until Novembre and watch out for what information Wikileaks brings you as far as Soetoro, which is his REAL name..

    August 9, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Kornelia

    it was completely unnecessary for Michelle Obama to go on this for us taxpayers expensive trip. obama is a one term president, she could not wait for another two years and then go? this is an arrogant gesture, this is not what we voted for. I am deeply disappointed in her. I am disapppointed in the Obamas period. !!! it is true, it does not matter what political views they ahve, in the end it comes to power and taking advantage off.

    August 9, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. financeman

    Europeandesigner why do you bring up color? Color was never mentioned in my post. Maybe it came from your own subconscience. Maybe you were raised with this notion. Nevertheless your post has no factual backing supporting anything you have spewed on this post. President Obama has been in office for one 18 months while it took Bush 8 years to almost cause a complete collapse of the American Economy. Why would you expect for the wounds to be healed in 18 months when Bush took 8 long years of failed policies and ran a muck of America and now you are just now waking up to add your 2 cents worth of what wrong with America after the fact. Go back to sleep Europeandesigner.

    August 9, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Christina

    As Obama’s solicitor general, Elena Kagan, the criminal Justice recently making it to the highest court, repeatedly argued in FAVOR of government secrecy which contradicts the administration’s promise of TRANSPARENCY. In four of five cases involving the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Kagan DEFENDED government SECRECY with the Supreme Court taking her side in those four cases, allowing lower court rulings in the government's favor to stand.
    You really think this Kenyan can be trusted financeman?

    August 9, 2010 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Europeandesigner

    "subconscience" isn't in the dictionary, it's "subconscious"..

    August 9, 2010 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
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