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. Taz

    LOL at some of the responses. Michelle Obama is NOT THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. The kids are on summer vacation and just because they can afford to go to Europe does not make them horrible people .... yes they have to have security with them, but so does every other previous president. Now that the press is literally everywhere (thanks to the internet) we (the people) have much easier access to every move they make. I think sometimes the press just makes a damn mountain out of a molehill just to spark ridiculous debate. Its a jealousy thing in the end because we waste more money daily on false Medicare claims, but hey, who cares about that stuff right, Medicare is not on vacation!
    /crazy talk

    August 9, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • manoutnumbrd

      Point is simple. They CAN afford to go on vacation but THEY didn't pay for it. You, Me, all of these tax payers paid for that trip. Even if Michelle paid for her trip...what about the other 41 family members and secret service. What about AF 2 crew and fuel? You can't be that stupid. NO ONE can be that stupid. Open your eyes. Actually SEE the condition that your country is in. People like you will never understand. The Obamas are foolish people and trust me, they aren't being foolish with their own money.

      August 9, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JM

    There are pros & cons. Who wants a 1st family who aren't educated, knowledgeable and well travelled? If you are the leader of the most powerful country in the world, you (and your family) should reflect to the world that you aren't isolated & ignorant. I was at first upset when I heard the figures about cost of the trip; however, I also didn't know that "Mrs. Obama has covered her own expenses on the trip". Of course she needs security. Of course she should be imparting to her daughters a love of knowledge (which includes knowing geography, history, etc.) We are sadly lacking as a nation in basic knowledge about the rest of the world. May she inspire other families to travel with their kids. The economy is bad; we need to create jobs; one way to do that (in the long run) is to better educate our kids so that they can compete in the world.

    August 9, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • benson

      how much of the real world do you think those children are actually seeing?

      August 9, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • manoutnumbrd

      Your less informed than Taz

      August 9, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Anne

    Man...[some of] you people are just outright ridiculous. The Obamas are "millionaires"....the trip was funded from THEIR pockets not OURS. I say if you haven't taken a vacation in ...what a year or more...then it seems like a personal choice.
    Heck, pack up the kids and drive to the country and have an overnight getaway. The choice is yours. Stop going out to eat and save that money towards that 'mini vacation. I say the Obamas have a RIGHT to a vacation and can afford to do so.
    What if they went to Utah....Secret Service would still have to go....duh...get a grip people...they are BLACK and they will always be BLACK!!! Bottom line that's what all this is about. No one complained when GWB was in office...and yes, it is necessary to refer back to go ask your 5 year old that question. It was GWB who got us into this mess. Remember Bill? As in Clinton? Remember the countries SURPLUS??? Uh??? Now how long did it take GWB to bankrupt this country? You have to spend money to clean up this mess GWB left us in. Get over it people, and if he runs again in can best believe that US...BLACK folk will come out in masses to support him.
    You people make me ill...

    August 9, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Technically, Barack is more white than black since his black dad bailed on him. Big surprise there!

      August 9, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lucy

      How quickly we've forgotten that it was the Democrats who took over Congress two years before Bush left office that got us into this mess - not Bush! And you're wrong about Michelle paying for her own trip - only partly as we're footing the bill for the plane and the Secret Service - a hefty sum. Fine, vote for him again and be part of the problem, instead of the solution!

      August 9, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lucy

      And enough with your racism - it's getting old.

      August 9, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • benson

      because obama has done so much good for black people amirite?

      August 9, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kris

      So Anne, This comes down to race. Instead of voting for what is right??? This is why we are in a mess. I personally did not vote for Obama because of all the lies surrounding him. He is rediculous- And the Mrs. wanting people to buy organic groceries... Have you priced organically grown items??? Now i buy as much organic stuff as I can, but I also shop at a closeout store in order to do so. We are laying off teachers, people losing jobs- You do not become president to take lavish vacations. I don't care how hard the job is. The Obama's need to get real, and so do you ANNE!!!!!

      August 9, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • American

      It is not about the color of his skin. Its the content of his character! Why do you think the color of his skin matters. Stop bringing it up! It is RACIST to define him that way! And OBTW Most of the economic disaster and the foreclosure mess can definitively be traced back to a policy to increase homeownership by lowering the qualifing requirements. Guess which president signed it? Bill "Slick Willy" Clinton. Check your facts. Whill GWB contributed to the mess, the problem was started under Clinton. GWOT also goes back to the inability of Presidents Carter and Clinton to act .

      August 9, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • manoutnumbrd

      Thats too bad. Now you've gone and tried to make this a racial thing. It's not. Has nothing to do with black, white, yellow or purple. Has to do with common sense. Our 1st family has none. The one thing that Obama said that I agree with was "THIS COUNTRY IS READY FOR CHANGE". Hillary would have done a much better job.

      August 9, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boney

      I get so tickled.....all these racist blacks that be lovin them some bama forget he's half white HAHAHAHAHA

      August 9, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jake153

    I love how CNN throws in "a REPUBLICAN consultant". As if because he's republican their opinion doesn't matter. Elitist pigs.

    August 9, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Matthew

    I can't believe how slow some of the people from the right wing are. Does no one remember the huge lengthy vacations that Bush took to the ranch?

    August 9, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cyclone01

      Bush spent vacations on the ranch..big deal. It was his home away from the white house. He didnt go to SPAIN and spend Taxpayers dollars. His money was spent in Texas..back into the economy...wake up!!

      August 9, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. lis

    To everybody complaining about not being able to go on vacation: Perhaps you should have put a little more effort into your own education. Both Mr. and Mrs. Obama spent extra time getting advanced degrees, this has put them ahead. I put in the extra time as well and am still enjoying twice yearly vacations to Europe. The problem isn't that there aren't enough jobs, the problem is how poorly educated the American public has become. Can't find a job? Go back to University.

    August 9, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tina

      Thank you, Lis, nice to see some common sense among the many acidic comments here. Your comment re education is spot-on. The downward slide in education (and pride of it in many) in this country is alarming. But the envy is certainly predictable.

      August 9, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lucy

      And many of us with university degrees cannot find a job! Not to mention owing loans that gave us what? THEY DON'T TEACH WISDOM OR CHARACTER AT THE UNIVERSITY!

      August 9, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • benson

      too bad most of his degrees are honorary.

      August 9, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kris

      Lis- Advanced degrees .. Good for them. We are talking about the tax payers paying for lavish vacations- Advanced degrees or not.. WE the tax payers are flipping the bill for this trip... If the Obamas are so advanced.... They can pay for their own vacations..Like everyone does...

      August 9, 2010 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rockstar

    Duplicity and Lila Rose-Really?? I thought people were waking up, I guess not. Is this the absolute best koolaid you've ever tasted or WAHT?!?!?!?!

    August 9, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • benson

      duplicity and lila are probably sasha and malia...

      August 9, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Cyclone01

    I'm disappointed. An enteroge of 40 people including Michelle and her Daughter on Tax-payers money. I cant afford to take a vacation or take off from work. The money spent for her vacation could be better spent here in the USA? If your gonna spend tax payers dollars why not do it at home and stimulate the economy? This country is a mess, we have a useless president (Unless your looking for a motivational speaker) who I beleive is not even a US Citizen and has his own agenda, useless house of representatives (Nancy Pelosi should donate the money she spends on Botox or better yet, give some botox to Harry Reid!) and Congress is well..they dont even know. The government is corrupt folks, face it. The country is going broke and America has you and or your parents knew it is a thing of the past. I recently purchased the "Obama Diaries" by Laura Ingram. I know I know shes a conservative republican. But the book would open your eyes, scare you really. If these things arent true, how did they come to print? Isnt everything supposed to be checked out first?

    August 9, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Quilla Garner

    Nancy, Hillary, Laura all took vacations so why can't Michelle take one. I wonder – maybe if Sarah palin would spend time with her daughters they wouldn't be having babies at 16 years old.
    Maybe if y'all would take vacations with your children, you wouldn't have time to be watching every move Michelle makes with hers.
    Go Michelle – do your thankg girl. She is an well educated "LAWYER". I am sure she can afford to take her daughter on vacation at her own expense. Haters get a life. I will be so happy when y'all get this broke country back so that you can continue to break it more. By the way, the Mexixan were here FIRST – they are the ones that names it: America! Give it back to them – this ain;t y'all country to TAKE BACK! Give it back to the Mexicans and Indians who you stole it from.

    August 9, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • tom

      get a life and you should be the 1st to be deported

      August 9, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kris

      Get a life..

      August 9, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |

      Wow, there are so many things wrong about this comment I dont know where to begin. First off, Bristol was 18 when she had her child. Second America is named after Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian explorer who set forth the then revolutionary concept that the lands that Christopher Columbus sailed to in 1492 were part of a separate continent. Learn a little history and current events before you start spouting off.

      August 9, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Diana

    I sure that the millions of UNEMPLOYED Americans are just thrilled about this!

    August 9, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Lucy

    Michelle Obama is a disgrace. The AUDACITY of her and her husband is just unbelievable. It seems like they're always on vacation, and to spend their/our money in Europe instead of the USA is hypocritical. At least when Bush went on vacation, he went to Texas, to a ranch he owned, and on which he worked (the ranch and the presidency).

    August 9, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Overby

    This is as gross a situation as it was watching the Obama's grooving and swaying and grinning at their private Paul McCartney concert while the oil spill problem was at it's worst, with millions of people fearful for their life and livelihoods. Talk about out of touch.

    August 9, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Vernis

    Who ever wrote article is just jealous, racist and a little ignorant.

    August 9, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • benson

      get back to your golf and latte Obama we all know thats you.

      August 9, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ella01

    If the Obama's wanted to "set an example" for the rest of America, they would pick up ALL the expenses related to the trip themselves, especially the ones generally paid for by the taxpayers (secret service, AF One). It is reported the trip cost $75K per day. How many people here make that in a year? Who cares what GWB did? That was THEN, this is NOW. We have a major wealth distribution going on under this administration, and they don't even pretend to care about the plight of working families. When are you people going to wake up? We have a ruling class of elitists that don't have the slightest clue or care what hard working, middle America needs or wants. We are looked at as a piggy bank they can just keep delving into. I don't care which political party you are talking about. For the "east wing" to say 'Well, a friend's husband just passed away...' HELLO! If we can't afford it, we can't afford it. Don't go, simple as that. A card will suffice. Isn't that what everyone else has to do when the money's tight?? I am tired of the hypocrisy from D.C. To preach responsible spending and then allow such a luxury – Modern day Marie Antionette indeed. Thank you also for helping out Spain's economy. If you were going to blow that much money on a vacation, you could have at least done it in the US.

    August 9, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      from an earlier post, it seems that all the money their spending is to buy stuff from here like gas and stuff.

      also... doesn't the secret service get an annual salary? so won't they get paid regardless?

      the one knock I have about this vacation is that there are too many people... an entourage that big is too hard and expensive to cover... if they had taken just a few friends I have no problem with it

      they did supposedly cover all their personal expenses themselves... and so did the friends...

      lets also keep in mind.... she is the first lady.. i want my first lady to be sophisticated and cultured.

      August 9, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Hope

    President Obama will be called the greatest president of all time. He kept our country from going into a depression. Kept teachers and policeman on their jobs and gave hope to a dying ecomony, that is just to name a few. White folk and republicans have a difficult time having a black man telling them the truth, or tell them anything for that fact. We were always and even now told to shut up, sit by the door, stand in the corner and keep you opinnion to yourself. Closed hearted Republican's cheated and stole from america and cause businesses to fail and cost taxpayers a great sum. We will never be great nation with such hate in the heart of America. The President sets the tone and I like the one our President has choosen, hope over hate. Hate if you will for Michelle going on a vacation your hearts tell the truth, it is that she (a black women and her black child has something that you did not give her) Hope and Love and Family. Your true heart is showing America, hate and horders go together.

    August 9, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lucy

      More racism - blah blah blah. And you're joking about the greatest president - he's a communist/socialist. Remember they've always been our enemies!! Guess history will tell the tale, won't it?

      August 9, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diana

      The problem with OBAMA is NOT that he is Black....... The problem is that he is a Habitual Liar, and just thinks that we can SPEND our way out of Debt. If he has so much integrity, WHY doesn't he provide his Birth Certificate, College Records and publish his record as a Senator....... His roots are NOT American, He is NOT a Christian as he once proclaimed and he is pushing the United States rapidly into the toilet!!! What I want to know is WHO exacly funded his campaign and WHO is pulling his strings?

      August 9, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Europeandesigner

      "Diana, an enlightened lady: What I want to know is WHO exactly funded his campaign and WHO is pulling his strings?"

      George Soros et al mostly funded Obama and the terrorist William Ayers and their ilk.. you can thank the same bunch for writing your outrageous 'health-care bill' the 'elite' is pulling the strings.. Obama is a puppet, the entire world is aware except the America..well, not all, many have caught on.. ask your "free" and open society..
      America has the most censored media, unfortunately many don't know it because they refuse to see and make fun of those that try to expose the truth..

      August 9, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
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