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Entries in Michelle Obama (9)

Friday
Jul272012

2012 Olympics: Michelle Obama Cheers on US Team in London

Adam Jacobs/Getty Images(LONDON) -- First lady Michelle Obama spoke to members of the U.S. Olympic team on Friday, telling the athletes that she's thrilled to be in London to cheer them on in person.

"I'm proud to have the chance to cheer you guys on in person for the very first time in my life -- in person!  At the Olympics!  In London!  And then I'm gonna be cheering back home too after they send me away," Mrs. Obama said.

The first lady told the Olympians everybody back home is watching and cheering them on.

"We're all proud of you all. We really are. You've got a country back home who is rooting for you every single second," she said, adding that they'll be inspiring millions of kids back home to get off the couch and take up a sport.

"Whatever happens here think of all that you're gonna be doing for millions of kids. Right this second. Just by the fact that you've worked so hard and got here yourselves," Mrs. Obama said.

Along with the encouragement, the first lady also had one piece of advice for the athletes: "This only happens every few years so, try to have fun, try to breathe a little bit, but also win right?  In the end, winning is good."

The 2012 Olympic Games officially kick off on Friday with an opening ceremony scheduled at 4 p.m. ET.  Earlier in the day, Britain's iconic clock tower chimed non-stop for three minutes to mark the event.  It was the first time Big Ben rang outside its normal schedule since 1952, when it rang for the funeral of King George the 6th.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar082012

Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama Honor 10 Female Heroes

Hawa Abdallah Mohammed Salih of Sudan embraces first lady Michelle Obama as Secretary Hillary Clinton (R) looks on. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- When Colombian investigative journalist Jineth Bedoya strode into a Colombian prison 12 years ago, she was on the brink of uncovering an extensive arms smuggling network where paramilitary prison officials were sneaking guns to their gang-affiliated inmates.

The local newspaper reporter was supposed to interview a key paramilitary member that day. Instead she was kidnapped, driven three hours away, bound and repeatedly gang-raped.

“Pay attention,” one of her assailants told her. “We are sending a message to the press in Colombia.”

On Thursday, more than a decade after that horrifying event, Bedoya stood beside Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama as a top investigative reporter for one of Colombia’s premier newspapers and an international leader in investigating and prosecuting crimes against women.

America’s top diplomat awarded her and nine other courageous women from some of the most dangerous and hostile countries in the world with the International Women of Courage Award for their fight for women’s equality.

“Whether pushing for change in the halls of government in the Maldives, the courts of Saudi Arabia, whether making sure women have a voice in Libya’s future and a role in Pakistan’s government, whether enduring imprisonment or abuse for trying to assist other women and girls at risk, these women...are all making a difference in the face of adversity often under the threat of violence,” Clinton told a crowd of female activists and dignitaries at the State Department Thursday in the sixth annual awards ceremony to commemorate International Women’s Day.

Other recipients included Maryam Durani, who has survived multiple assassination attempts as she fights for women’s equality in Afghanistan’s most conservative and hostile region of Kandahar Province; Pricilla de Oliviera Azevedo, a major in the Rio de Janeiro military; and Zin Mar Aung, a pro-democracy activist in Burma.

Hana El Hebshi was honored for passing information from Libya to the international media, helping to take down Moammar Gadhafi. Aneesa Ahmed was awarded for fighting for government intervention to prevent female genital mutilation in the Maldives. Shad Begum received the award for helping to empower Pakistani women to vote and run for office.

Award recipient Samar Badawi was the first Saudi Arabian woman to sue for her right to marry the person she chose and her right to vote in municipal elections. Her case prompted a royal decree allowing women to both vote and run for office.

Hawa Abdallah Mohammed Salih was honored for shining a light on the plight of women in Darfur refugee camps. And Safak Pavey, who lost her hand and leg, received the award for championing the rights of the disabled in Turkey.

“On behalf of my husband and our country I want you to know that you are never, ever alone,” Michelle Obama said at the ceremony. “The United States of America stands with you and we are so incredibly proud of everything you’ve achieved and will continue to fight with you [on] the causes to which you have devoted your lives.”

The 10 women who were honored Thursday flew in from their home countries for the ceremony and will visit 10 cities across the U.S. to spread their message of “justice, peace and freedom,” as award winner Zin Ma Aung said.

Aung, once a student activist, was jailed for 11 years for trying to promote democracy in Burma. She was honored Thursday for teaching and empowering civil rights activists and founding a non-profit to raise awareness of the plight of women in conflict areas.

The emotional ceremony was punctuated by enthusiastic applause and standing ovations.

But the most fervent and sustained uproar of support from the packed crowd came after Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee touched on women’s reproductive rights, a topic that has ignited fierce debate over women’s access to contraception on the floor of Congress and in the campaign rallies of the GOP primary.

“No woman should sit down and allow a man to speak about her reproductive rights,” Gbowee said to raucous applause. “Over time the woman’s movement of this world has mellowed. Our issues and our conversation have become issues of men. I get angry when I think about it.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun232011

Michelle Obama and Desmond Tutu Show Kids How to Stay Healthy

Michelly Rall/WireImage(CAPE TOWN, South Africa) -- First lady Michelle Obama did some push-ups and kicked around soccer balls alongside Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu as she closed out her visit to South Africa and prepared to leave for neighboring Botswana.

Tutu, who turns 80 this October, joined Obama at the new Cape Town Stadium, where the World Cup soccer tournament was held last year.

When Tutu introduced the first lady, he announced that she was a VIP, but then he also told each of the children in attendance that they were all VSPs, which the kids rightly guessed meant "very special persons."

The first lady said her co-host, a famed leader in the fight for racial equality in South Africa, was a special man.

"Well, Archbishop Tutu, I think you're a VSP, too," she said, laughing. "You guys are going to show us some soccer moves....Are you ready to? We might show you our moves."

Before the drills, the first lady urged the dozens of children to make safe, healthy choices.

"In order to be a VSP, you've got to be what? A VHP -- a 'very healthy person.' Right?" she asked. "Which means you've got to have the knowledge and the internal wisdom to make sure you're taking care of yourself."

"It's hard to have an impact if you're not in the best condition possible," she said.

Obama also spoke to a group of children at the University of Cape Town, where she told the youngsters that they, too, could go to college and make an impact.

"I wanted you to see that the students here are really not that different from all of you," she said. "I wanted you to realize that you can fit in here, too."

One child asked what the first lady's favorite food was.

"If I picked one favorite, favorite food, it's French fries, OK? It's French fries. I can't stop eating them," she said, admitting they are not the healthiest choice. "But eat your vegetables. And exercise."

Obama spent part of the day touring the District Six Museum in Cape Town -- a memorial recalling the forced segregation that once took place in the coastal city -- with her daughters Sasha and Malia, her mother, and her niece and nephew.

The museum trip replaced a planned visit to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. A ferry trip to the Atlantic Ocean island was cancelled because of dangerously high winds.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun222011

Michelle Obama Tells Young Africans 'Yes We Can'

The White House/Lawrence Jackson(JOHANNESBURG) -- The first lady received a standing ovation in South Africa Wednesday as she delivered the keynote address at the Young Women's Leadership Forum at the Regina Mundi Church in Soweto.

The church was a refuge from police bullets for students protesting apartheid 35 years ago.  

Michelle Obama spoke with emotion as she evoked both South Africa's and America's fraught racial histories, telling the crowd of 2,000 mostly young people that the sacrifices of the generation of freedom fighters before them have paved the way.

"It is because of them that we are able to gather here today.  It is because of them that so many of these young women leaders can now pursue their dreams," Mrs. Obama said.  "It is because of them that I stand before you as First Lady of the United States of America."

She challenged young Africans, and women especially, to realize that today's struggles -- poverty, gender inequality, and HIV/AIDS -- are just as pervasive as the oppression from apartheid and colonialism.  She referenced President Obama's background as a community organizer and her decision to give up a cushy job at a law firm to work in the public sector, as examples of how individuals can make small differences in their communities.  

"My husband and I didn't change any laws, or win any awards, or get our pictures in the newspaper.  But we were making a difference in people's lives.  We were part of something greater than ourselves.  And we knew that in our own small way, we were helping to build a better world," she told the audience.

Mrs. Obama ended the speech by leading the crowd with a spirited chant of Obama's campaign catchphrase "Yes We Can!"

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun212011

Michelle Obama and Family Meet with Nelson Mandela

Debbie Yazbek/ Nelson Mandela Foundation(JOHANNESBURG) -- First Lady Michelle Obama visited Nelson Mandela on the first day of her trip to South Africa Tuesday and told one greeter that her husband was "pouty" that he couldn't come along.

The first lady's weeklong trip to South Africa and Botswana began with a meeting with one of the three wives of South African President Jacob Zuma.  During her stop at the president's official residence in Pretoria, she was greeted by Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma.

Nic Dawes, the editor of South Africa's Mail & Guardian newspaper, tweeted that he shook the first lady's hand and wrote: "Michelle Obama certainly convinced the dignitaries she is excited to be here, and said her husband is 'pouty' that he isn't."

The president is in Washington where his schedule includes meetings with Treasury Secretary Geithner, Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates as he prepares for Wednesday's announcement on the size of troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.

Michelle Obama was accompanied by her daughters Malia and Sasha, her mother Marian Robinson, and the first lady's niece and nephew during a visit to the Mandela's home in Houghton.

Mandela, 92, met in 2006 with President Obama in 2006 when Obama was an Illinois Senator.  Now that he is the country's first black president, a cellphone photo of the meeting is framed in Mandela's office, aides to the first lady said.

Mrs. Obama and her family met with Mandela and his wife, Graca Machel, and then toured the apartheid museum.

During a visit earlier in the day to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg, Michelle Obama was given an advance copy of the soon to be released book Nelson Mandela By Himself: The Authorised Quotations Book.

Verne Harris, the the head of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, showed the first lady a display of archival items, including prison desk calendars, notebooks, and draft letters.

The first lady and her family will be in Botswana on Friday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun202011

Michelle Obama Arrives in South Africa

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(GAUTENG, South Africa) -- The first lady has arrived in Pretoria for a weeklong trip in South Africa and Botswana focused on youth leadership, education and the political and cultural heritages of the two countries.
 
Mrs. Obama, dressed in a bright orange-and-black Duro Olowu sweater, a designer of African descent, was greeted at the Waterkloof Air Force base in Pretoria by U.S. Ambassador Donald Gips and his family and the South African Chief of Protocol Grace Mason, according to media.
 
First daughters Sasha and Malia are accompanying their mother on the trip, along with the first lady’s mother, Marian Robinson, and her niece and nephew, Leslie and Avery Robinson. Upon their arrival, the Obama daughters were given South African blankets in the colors of the nation’s flag as a gift, a welcomed accessory in the chilly 51-degree weather.
 
This is the first lady’s fourth trip to the continent of Africa and her first to South Africa. Tuesday, Mrs. Obama will meet with the first lady of South Africa, Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma, at the official residence of the president, before attending a reception with South African leaders organized by the U.S. Embassy. In the afternoon, the first lady and her family will spend time with Nelson Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, who will give them a tour of the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg. Later, they will also visit the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg.
 
The trip, which is the first lady’s second solo official visit, is a continuation of her work to engage young people and encourage them to excel academically and serve their communities, a message she has shared on previous trips to Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, India, Mexico and the UK.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun172011

First Lady Heads to Africa Next Week to Engage Young Leaders 

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- During a weeklong trip to South Africa and Botswana next week, first lady Michelle Obama will focus largely on youth leadership, education and the important political histories and cultural heritages of the two countries.

Mrs. Obama will meet with key figures in the anti-apartheid movement as she highlights the countries’ political struggles.

In Pretoria, her first stop, the first lady will meet with South African President Jacob Zuma before heading to Johannesburg, where she will spend time with Nelson Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel. She also will also visit Soweto, where she will speak at a Young African Women Leaders forum, tour Robben’s Island, where Mandela was imprisoned and spend time with Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

In neighboring Botswana, the first lady will meet with teen girls and participate in a community service project before heading off on safari with her family.

First daughters Sasha and Malia will also be along for the trip, making Africa the opening act of their “what did you do on your summer vacation” essays. Also accompanying the first lady will be her mother, Marian Robinson and her niece and nephew, Leslie and Avery Robinson.

The trip is a continuation of the first lady’s work to engage young people, particularly women and girls, and encourage them to excel academically and serve their communities, a message she has shared on previous trips to Brazil, Chile, India, Mexico and the U.K.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May242011

MacBooks for Charity Among Gifts Obama Gives Royal Family

Toby Melville - WPA Pool/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Newlyweds Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, received a present from President Obama and the first lady Tuesday: six donated MacBook Notebook computers to Peace Players International in Belfast Ireland, a charity of the Duke and Duchess' choosing.

The White House said that the president and Mrs. Obama gave Queen Elizabeth II a collection of rare memorabilia and photographs in a handmade leather-bound album that chronologically tells the tale of the Queen's  parents' visit to the United States in 1939.  That trip by King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth, was the first to the U.S. by a reigning British monarch.

As for Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the Obamas gifted him a custom-made set of Fell Pony bits and shanks, as well as original horseshoes worn by recently retired champion carriage horse Jamaica.

Prince Philip has a keen interest in equestrian sports and specifically in carriage driving.  Designed in Colorado and made in Ohio, the set includes several interchangeable bits and each shank is engraved with the Presidential Seal.  A slaughterhouse rescue horse, Jamaica rose to the top of carriage horse competition and was named the 2008 United States Equestrian Federation Horse of the Year.

The president and first lady also gave the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall a special selection of plants, seedlings, and seeds from the gardens of Mount Vernon, Monticello, and the South Lawn of the White House, as well as jars of honey from the White House beehive.

This one-of-a-kind collection was presented in a specially handcrafted wooden box made from a Magnolia tree that fell on the grounds of the White House during the snowstorm of February 2009.  Magnolia trees have been a fixture on the South Lawn of the White House since the mid-nineteenth century.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar082011

International Women of Courage Honored at US State Dept.

YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At the State Department Tuesday morning, on the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and first lady Michelle Obama presented the annual International Women of Courage awards to 10 women from around the world.

Since 2007, the State Department has honored 38 women activists from 27 countries with this award.
 
Women from Cuba and Belarus were unable to attend in person because their governments would not allow them to travel to Washington for the ceremony, Clinton said.

Clinton took the opportunity to urge leaders of reform and democracy movements in the Middle East to include women in the process.

“We have seen similar tales of courage from women across the Middle East in recent weeks.  They have insisted their voices be heard.  And in the coming months and years, the women in Egypt and Tunisia and other nations have just as much right as the men to remake their governments to make them responsive, accountable, transparent,” Clinton said, drawing applause from the audience. “We will certainly be watching, and the world will watch.  And it's not just the rest of the world but the women themselves who deserve to be at that table, making those choices that will affect their lives and the lives of their daughters and their sons, no matter what government emerges,” she said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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