April 21st, 2009
07:47 PM ET
14 years ago

Shirtless Obama to appear on magazine cover

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/21/art.washington.gi.jpg caption="A shirtless Obama is on the cover of Washingtonian Magazine."](CNN) - It's not every day a President of the United States lands shirtless on a magazine cover.

But the May issue of Washingtonian Magazine, to hit newsstands Wednesday, is causing a bit of a sizzle inside the beltway. President Obama graces the cover, shirtless, in an issue that focuses on "26 Reasons to Love Living Here."

The number two reason: "Our new neighbor is hot."

The particular photo choice, taken while Obama was vacationing in Hawaii over Christmas last year, is certainly an unconventional pick to showcase the commander-in-chief.

But Garrett Gaffe, editor-at-large for the magazine, told CNN the picture is appropriate because, "our feeling was that this wasn't an ordinary presidency."

"The Obamas, through their involvement in Washington, are helping to showcase just how exciting it is to be in Washington right now" he said. "We use the word 'hot' tongue in cheek with the photo."

"He is a buff president that the paparazzi enjoy taking photos of," said Gaffe.

Contacted by CNN, the White House declined to comment on the magazine's cover.

Filed under: Extra • Popular Posts • President Obama
April 21st, 2009
07:45 PM ET
14 years ago

Harman: Alleged wiretap an 'abuse of power'

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A key Democrat who reportedly was overheard on a National Security Agency wiretap discussing a deal with a suspected Israeli agent has called the wiretap an "abuse of power."

Rep. Jane Harman, D-California, called on the Obama administration to release transcripts of the alleged conversations to her, saying she would make them public.

"I never had any idea that my government was wiretapping me at all," Harman said on CNN's "The Situation Room." "Three anonymous sources have told various media that this happened. And they are quoting snippets of allegedly taped conversations. So I don't know what these snippets mean. I don't know whether these intercepts were legal. And that's why I asked [Attorney General] Eric Holder to put it all out there in public."

Harman denied any wrongdoing and said she was outraged by news the National Security Agency had intercepted one of her conversations in 2005 or 2006.

"Many members of Congress talk to advocacy groups," she said. "My phone is ringing off the hook from worried members who think it could have happened to them. I think this is an abuse of power."

Allegations that Harman had made an inappropriate deal with a lobbyist for the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, first surfaced several years ago, but they were given fresh currency Sunday night when the Congressional Quarterly published new details on its Web site.

Sources told CNN this week the National Security Agency intercepted a conversation that Harman was participating in, but said Harman was not the intended target of the wiretap. The wiretap was lawful, the sources said.

Full story

Filed under: Jane Harman
April 21st, 2009
07:30 PM ET
14 years ago

Senate confirms Obama's Iraq ambassador

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/21/art.hill0421.gi.jpg caption="The Senate has confirmed Christopher Hill to be the new administration's ambassador to Iraq."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Senate confirmed veteran diplomat Christopher Hill as U.S. ambassador to Iraq on Tuesday, voting 73-23 to put Hill in chargeof the largest U.S. embassy in the world.

Hill, a career Foreign Service officer, was the lead U.S. negotiator in the now-stalled North Korean disarmament talks. He will take over the Baghdad post at a time when President Barack Obama is attempting to wind down the 6-year-old war in Iraq.

His nomination made it past a key Senate test Monday as opponents failed to block the nomination. All 23 votes against the nomination Tuesday came from Republicans, several of whom argued that the nominee has no hands-on experience in the Middle East and speaks no Arabic.

But Sen. John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Monday that Hill had great experience "in negotiating complex, high-stakes, multilateral deals in conflict zones."

"The entire resolution of Iraq as a success will revolve around the diplomacy that we apply to it and our ability to seek political reconciliation, which will be implemented by that diplomacy," said Kerry, D-Massachusetts. Hill replaces Ryan Crocker, who was the top American diplomat in Baghdad from March 2007 until February.

- CNN's Dana Bash contributed to this report.

Filed under: Iraq • Obama administration
April 21st, 2009
06:06 PM ET
9 years ago

Senior White House aide leaving for new post

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/21/art.bolocke0421.gi.jpg caption="President Obama's communications director is leaving her post to become the chief of staff for Commerce Secretary Gary Locke"]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The first 100 days are not even up yet, but President Obama is already losing a top White House aide.

White House aides revealed Tuesday that Ellen Moran, the President's communications director, is leaving to become chief of staff to new Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.

In a written statement, the President thanked Moran, who had previously served as a top official at the fundraising group EMILY's List, which is charged with electing more Democratic women who support abortion rights to office.

"I thank Ellen Moran for her leadership during these first critical months of my administration, and I am pleased she will serve as chief of staff at the Department of Commerce," the President said in the prepared statement. "Her management and strategic skills will ensure that Secretary Locke, an important member of my economic team, gets off to a fast start."

No word yet on a successor but the current deputy communications director, Dan Pfeiffer, would be a natural fit.

Filed under: Gary Locke • Obama administration
April 21st, 2009
06:04 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama signs national service legislation

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/21/obama.service/art.obamaservice.gi.jpg caption="Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy, left, introduces President Obama at the bill signing on Tuesday."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama signed into law Tuesday a measure designed to strengthen national community service efforts by boosting federal funding for thousands of volunteers in fields ranging from clean energy to health care and education.

The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, recently renamed to honor the Massachusetts senator's sponsorship of the measure, will more than triple the number of positions in the AmeriCorps program, from 75,000 to 250,000, by 2017.

"Our government can help to rebuild our economy ... [but] we need Americans willing to mentor our eager young children, or care for the sick, or ease the strains of deployment on our military families," Obama said.

"All that's required on your part is a willingness to make a difference. And that is, after all, the beauty of service. Anybody can do it."

Kennedy, his niece Caroline Kennedy, former President Bill Clinton, and former first lady Rosalynn Carter were in attendance when Obama signed the measure into law at a Washington-area school that encourages volunteerism as part of its curriculum.

Full story

April 21st, 2009
06:00 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama condemns Iranian leader's comments about Israel

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama said Tuesday that Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent characterization of the Israeli government as "racist" was part of a disappointing pattern that threatens to undermine the prospect of warmer relations between Washington and Tehran.

"Sadly, [that kind of] rhetoric is not new," Obama said during a White House meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah.

"This is the kind of rhetoric that we've come to expect from President Ahmadinejad. ... Many of the statements that [he has] made, particularly those directed at Israel, [are] appalling and objectionable."

Obama said that Ahmadinejad's remarks were harmful "not just with respect to the possibility of U.S.-Iranian relations, but [to] Iran's position in the world."

Full story

Filed under: Iran • Israel • President Obama
April 21st, 2009
03:39 PM ET
14 years ago

McCain demands White House apology

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/21/art.mccain1.gi.jpg caption="McCain said a recent DHS report is 'insulting' to veterans."]

(CNN) - A recent report from the Department of Homeland Security is downright "insulting" to veterans, Arizona Sen. John McCain said Monday.

In an interview on FOX News, the Vietnam veteran and former Republican presidential candidate said the Obama administration owes veterans an apology after releasing a report last week suggesting that members of the military returning from Iraq and Afghanistan could fall victim to "right-wing extremism."

Specifically, the report - "Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment" - said right-wing extremist groups may be using the recession and the election of the nation's first African-American president to recruit members.

"The last people on earth we need to worry about are our veterans," McCain said. "And by the
way, after the Vietnam War, for years there was this portrayal of the Vietnam veteran as crazed and committing - having committed war crimes. There were all of these problems they were going to have. Studies years later have proven that it's totally false."

Related:  Napolitano defends report

McCain also took issue with the report's suggestion that Timothy McVeigh's military background made him more susceptible to committing terrorist acts.

"Timothy McVeigh didn't learn to make that huge bomb while he was in the military," McCain said. "He learned it afterwards. So to point out one veteran who committed an act of atrocity I think is outrageous. And as a veteran and having thousands and thousands of friends of mine who are fellow veterans, I think a real apology is owed throughout the administration.


Filed under: John McCain
April 21st, 2009
03:30 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama to head to Missouri to mark 100 days

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/21/art.stlouis.gi.jpg caption="Obama will return to St. Louis later this month."](CNN) –The president is set to mark his first 100 days in office with a trip to the the bellwether state of Missouri.

While White House officials always try to downplay the importance of such things as an administration's first 100 days, President Obama will be travelling to the perennial swing state on the 100th day - next Wednesday, April 29th.

Missouri, always considered a bellwether, went for his election opponent John McCain by a narrow margin.

Obama will be holding a town hall in suburban St. Louis "where he will give a progress report on the administration and take questions from Missourians about the administration's agenda, looking forward," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced Tuesday.


Filed under: President Obama
April 21st, 2009
03:20 PM ET
14 years ago

Franken lies low as he takes high road in Senate race

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/04/21/franken.senate/art.franken.gi.jpg caption="Democrat Al Franken has started hiring staff members for a Senate office."]
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (CNN) - While he waits to see whether the latest court ruling will allow him to take Minnesota's open seat in the Senate, Al Franken has been lying low.

Five months after a loss on Election Day, four months after he won in a recount, a week after prevailing in a tedious trial, the comedian and author might well be on his way to becoming the 59th Democrat in the United States Senate.

Even though that seat's incumbent, Republican Norm Coleman - now referred to as "former senator" - has appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, Franken's campaign has done what it can to give the appearance that he's getting ready to take the seat when Coleman exhausts his challenges.

Since winning the recount, Franken has made a handful of visits to Washington and has met with majority leader Harry Reid to discuss Senate business, according to Franken aides.

And on Monday, he began hiring staff for a Senate office.

Full story

Filed under: Al Franken • Minnesota • Norm Coleman • Senate
April 21st, 2009
03:01 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama invites Mideast leaders to White House

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama has invited key leaders in the Middle East to Washington in the coming weeks for consultations on the peace process, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Tuesday.

Obama wants to meet separately with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Gibbs told reporters.

Dates for the visits are still being worked out, he said.

Obama met with Jordan's King Abdullah II Tuesday.

Filed under: Middle East • President Obama
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