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Michelle Obama and American Idol alum Kellie Pickler will guest star one episode of ABC’s Nashville.

FLOTUS and Kellie Pickler are to appear on the May 7 episode of the ABC drama, titled All or Nothing With Me.

Michelle Obama and American Idol alum Kellie Pickler will guest star one episode of ABC’s Nashville

Michelle Obama and American Idol alum Kellie Pickler will guest star one episode of ABC’s Nashville

They will play as themselves during a charity event held by Rayna (Connie Britton) at Fort Campbell after she finds out that Luke (Will Chase) has been injured in Afghanistan.

Michelle Obama has made numerous appearances on news and talk shows, but she’s only guested once before on a scripted show playing herself on Nickelodeon’s iCarly.

Kellie Pickler, a country singer who placed sixth on the fifth season of Fox’s American Idol and won the 16th season of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars, has appeared on a couple scripted shows, including the CW’s 90210 and the syndicated The Bonnie Hunt Show.

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First Lady Michelle Obama is visiting China for a week, with stops in Beijing and Chengdu.

Michelle Obama is accompanied by her mother and two daughters, Malia and Sasha. Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan will accompany her on part of her trip.

In a blog, Michelle Obama said she would focus on “the power and importance of education”.

Chinese media described the visit as “gentle diplomacy” and a chance to improve Sino-US ties.

“A strengthened personal bond between the first families of China and the United States will naturally help generate better understanding and more common ground between Beijing and Washington,” a Xinhua news agency commentary read.

Michelle Obama is in China for a week-long visit that includes stops in Beijing and Chengdu

Michelle Obama is in China for a week-long visit that includes stops in Beijing and Chengdu

Michelle Obama is expected to make stops at the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, the Terracotta Warriors Museum and the Chengdu Panda Base.

The first lady will also meet students and will deliver a speech at the Stanford Centre at Peking University.

The visit comes with a raft of issues testing China-US ties, such as the South China Sea dispute, Crimea and China’s relationship with North Korea.

The White House has stressed that Michelle Obama’s trip will be “non-political”.

She will focus on cultural exchange and avoid sensitive topics such as human rights and cyber security.

“Her visit and its agenda send a message that the relationship between the United States and China is not just between leaders, it’s a relationship between peoples,” said Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, earlier this week.

Michelle Obama’s visit has prompted discussion in Chinese media.

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President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden are taking part in First Lady Michelle Obama’s health campaign Let’s Move by making a film while jogging around the White House.

Michelle Obama’s initiative intends to fight childhood obesity by encouraging healthy eating and an active lifestyle.

President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden are taking part in First Lady Michelle Obama’s health campaign Let's Move by making a film while jogging around the White House

President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden are taking part in First Lady Michelle Obama’s health campaign Let’s Move by making a film while jogging around the White House

The first lady has unveiled new changes to US nutrition labels, the most sweeping overhaul in more than two decades.

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First Lady Michelle Obama will guest star in Parks and Recreation Season 6 finale, her White House office confirmed.

Michelle Obama’s appearance, in an episode titled Moving Up, will centre on her campaign against child obesity.

“Time to get real about Pawnee’s obesity… @FLOTUS is coming to town for our #ParksandRec season finale Thursday, April 24!,” the show tweeted.

FLOTUS is an acronym for First Lady Of The United States and Pawnee, Indiana is the fictional town where the show takes place – home to public servant Leslie Knope.

Michelle Obama will guest star in Parks and Recreation Season 6 finale

Michelle Obama will guest star in Parks and Recreation Season 6 finale

Amy Poehler – who plays Leslie Knope in the show – joined Michelle Obama’s campaign earlier this month when she appeared at a Let’s Move event in Miami.

Michelle Obama is not the first US politician to appear on the show – Vice President Joe Biden made a cameo on the show in 2012.

Three further senators, including presidential runner John McCain, have also guest starred in the show, which is currently in its sixth season.

Parks and Recreation executive producer Michael Schur told the Hollywood Reporter last month that he was still hoping to persuade Hillary Clinton to make an appearance on the show.

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France’s President Francois Hollande has been honored at a lavish White House state dinner, the first since 2011.

At the party, Francois Hollande and President Barack Obama toasted the nations’ centuries-old friendship.

They have suggested the bad feelings over US spying and French opposition to the Iraq War have been soothed.

Among the guests at Tuesday’s state dinner were diplomats and dignitaries from both governments, as well as leaders in the media and business.

Hollywood luminaries in attendance included Bradley Cooper, Mindy Kaling, Stephen Colbert, Julie Louis-Dreyfus and director JJ Abrams.

The roughly 300 guests dined on caviar, quail eggs and rib-eye steak, later listening to a performance from singer Mary J. Blige.

After being welcomed to the White House by Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, Francois Hollande was seated between the couple at the dinner table in a heated tent on the South Lawn.

The move was seen as a tactful way to handle the fact that Francois Hollande arrived alone after an ugly, widely publicized split from long-time partner Valerie Trierweiler following reports he had an affair with an actress.

The highlights of the evening were toasts given by the two presidents.

Francois Hollande has been honored at a lavish White House state dinner

Francois Hollande has been honored at a lavish White House state dinner

With a glass of white wine in his hand, Barack Obama opened by quoting French writer Alexis de Tocqueville’s impressions of 19th Century America, recalling to humorous effect his bafflement with American cuisine and his underwhelming impression of the White House.

“We Americans have grown to love all things French – the films, the food, the wine,” Barack Obama continued.

“But most of all, we love our French friends because we have stood together for our freedom for more than 200 years.

“Vive la France, God bless America, and long live the alliance between our great nations.”

Speaking first in English, Francois Hollande acknowledged the sacrifice of the US soldiers who fought in France during World War Two and said that France felt America’s pain at the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Continuing in French, Francois Hollande praised French-US diplomatic and military co-operation in the Middle East and Africa, and said the two countries would work jointly for economic growth and to combat climate change.

Francois Hollande said relations between the two countries had reached “an exceptional level of closeness and confidence” because they shared the “universal values” of freedom, democracy and respect for the law.

“We love Americans, although we don’t always say so and you love the French, but you are sometimes too shy to say so,” Francois Hollande said.

At a news conference after bilateral talks earlier on Tuesday, Francois Hollande said he and Barack Obama had resolved their issues over digital eavesdropping by the National Security Agency (NSA).

“Mutual trust has been restored,” he said.

Barack Obama also announced he had accepted Francois Hollande’s invitation to go to France in June to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy during World War Two.

Today, Francois Hollande will travel to San Francisco and meet chiefs of Silicon Valley giants including Facebook, Twitter and Google.

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First Lady Michelle Obama turned 50 on January 17, but the big celebration took place at a White House dance party Saturday night.

The White House has said nothing about the guest list or about who provided the entertainment.

But word has spread that President Barack Obama has told guests to come prepared to dance.

Michelle Obama turned 50 on January 17

Michelle Obama turned 50 on January 17

White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett was only saying that “people will move” at the party.

The buzz was that Beyonce, who’s friendly with the Obamas, will sing. Beyonce’s husband, rapper Jay Z, performed in Washington on Thursday night.

Michelle Obama spent her birthday largely out of sight, though there was a Twitter post in which she showed off her new AARP card.

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Michelle Obama’s second inaugural dress will be displayed at the Smithsonian Institution.

Before it’s stowed away for a future presidential library, Michelle Obama’s ruby-colored chiffon gown made by designer Jason Wu is being lent to the National Museum of American History for a year to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Smithsonian’s First Ladies exhibition.

The gown will be paired with Michelle Obama’s shoes designed by Jimmy Choo and will go on display beginning Tuesday.

While the Smithsonian traditionally collects each first lady’s first inaugural gown, second gowns are usually shown only in presidential libraries. This is the first time the museum has displayed a second inaugural gown.

Michelle Obama’s gown was transferred to the National Archives but is being lent to the Smithsonian with the White House’s blessing.

Michelle Obama’s ruby-colored chiffon gown made by designer Jason Wu is being lent to the National Museum of American History for a year

Michelle Obama’s ruby-colored chiffon gown made by designer Jason Wu is being lent to the National Museum of American History for a year

This dress drew headlines when Michelle Obama unveiled her selection one year ago. It was the second custom-made Jason Wu gown Michelle Obama had chosen, following the white gown Wu designed for the first lady when she arrived in Washington and on the fashion scene. Since then, Michelle Obama has become a trendsetter.

It’s unusual for a first lady to use the same designer twice, at least in recent decades. Jason Wu has said it’s been the experience of his life to help dress the first lady, taking him from fashion insider to a household name since the first inauguration in 2009. Michelle Obama also has turned to designer Thom Browne for special outfits, including her coat and dress for inauguration day in 2013.

The Jimmy Choo shoes paired with Michelle Obama’s second gown had a much shorter heel, seemingly more comfortable than her heels for the first inaugural.

Michelle Obama’s gown is a centerpiece for the exhibit that examines the role of the first lady, her political and cultural significance and what she wears. Michelle Obama’s first inaugural gown will return to display in January 2015. In future years, the exhibit may evolve to show the changing role of the first lady as it changes with the presidency.

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First Lady Michelle Obama, who turns 50 on Friday, isn’t ruling out using plastic surgery or Botox in the future.

Michelle Obama told People magazine: “Women should have the freedom to do whatever they need to do to feel good about themselves.”

The magazine’s next issue – including the interview – will hit newsstands on January 17, Michelle Obama’s birthday.

“Right now, I don’t imagine that I would go that route, but I’ve also learned to never say never.”

Michelle Obama’s message to women is to be healthy. The first lady says she has never missed a health checkup, including mammograms and Pap smears. She’s also had a colonoscopy.

“I don’t obsess about what I eat, but I do make sure that I’m eating vegetables and fruit,” added Michelle Obama.

Michelle Obama, who turns 50 on Friday, isn't ruling out using plastic surgery or Botox in the future

Michelle Obama, who turns 50 on Friday, isn’t ruling out using plastic surgery or Botox in the future

“And as everyone knows, I do exercise.”

Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign to reduce childhood obesity rates through the combination of exercise and healthier eating enters its fifth year next month.

Her workouts have also evolved from weight-bearing and cardio exercises to include things like yoga that she says will help keep her flexible.

Asked whether she has peaked at 50, Michelle Obama joked that being first lady is “pretty high up”.

She said she’s always felt that her life is “ever-evolving” and she doesn’t have the right to “just sit on my talents or blessings”.

“I’ve got to keep figuring out ways to have an impact, whether as a mother or as a professional or as a mentor to other kids,” the first lady said, noting that daughter Malia, now 15, will be in college when she and President Barack Obama leave the White House in January 2017. Daughter Sasha, 12, won’t be far behind.

“At that point in life, whoa, the sky is the limit,” Michelle Obama said.

Barack Obama is planning a big birthday dance party for his wife at the White House on Saturday night. Aides are keeping a tight lid on details to maintain the element of surprise for Michelle Obama. Guests have been told to come prepared to dance and to eat before they come.

“There’s one thing I can tell you for sure … people will move,” Valerie Jarrett, a senior White House adviser who is close to the Obamas, told The Associated Press.

She wouldn’t comment on reports that Beyonce, who also is close to the Obama family, will sing at Michelle Obama’s party.

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President Barack Obama urged Americans to remember troops serving far from home and embrace the spirit of the season and give back in his annual Christmas message.

“Our extraordinary men and women in uniform are serving so that the rest of us can enjoy the blessings we cherish during the holidays,” Barack Obama said in a pre-recorded message with first lady Michelle Obama by his side.

“But that means many of our troops are far from home and far from family.”

President Barack Obama urged Americans to remember troops serving far from home and embrace the spirit of the season and give back in his annual Christmas message

President Barack Obama urged Americans to remember troops serving far from home and embrace the spirit of the season and give back in his annual Christmas message

Barack Obama urged people to celebrate Christmas with service by volunteering at a soup kitchen, buying gifts for kids in need or organizing food and clothing drives.

“For families like ours, that service is a chance to celebrate the birth of Christ and live out what He taught us – to love our neighbors as we would ourselves; to feed the hungry and look after the sick; to be our brother’s keeper and our sister’s keeper,” the president said.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Barack Obama says the values Jesus taught can spur Americans of all faiths to be better parents, friends, neighbors and citizens.

First Lady Michelle Obama echoed the message, saying: “So as we look to the New Year, let’s pledge ourselves to living out those values by reaching out and lifting up those in our communities who could use a hand up.”

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President Barack Obama and his family opened their annual Hawaii vacation on Saturday.

Every year, Barack Obama and his family prepare to return to his birth state on the sun-scorched shores of Oahu. And every year congressional squabbling has forced the Obamas to delay their trip.

This year, Barack Obama was cleared for an on-time departure by Congress, which defied pessimistic expectations last week by passing a bipartisan budget deal, all but ensuring the government won’t shut down over the next two years. It was a far cry from presaging a new era of cooperation, to be sure, but a silver lining for Barack Obama a day earlier as he acknowledged a year of frustrating “ups and downs” in an end-of-year news conference.

President Barack Obama and his family opened their annual Hawaii vacation

President Barack Obama and his family opened their annual Hawaii vacation

President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia, and first dogs Sunny and Bo hopped an overnight flight Friday aboard Air Force One to Honolulu, where they were whisked by motorcade to a beachside home in Kailua, a sleepy suburb with a five-mile stretch of beach popular among windsurfers and tourists.

On Saturday afternoon, Barack Obama headed to the golf course at a nearby Marine Corps base. Joining the president for the round of golf were Sam Kass, the White House chef; Marvin Nicholson, Obama’s trip director; and presidential friend Bobby Titcomb, the White House said.

President Barack Obama has no public events scheduled during his vacation, which is expected to last through January 5.

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President Barack Obama was caught smiling and taking a selfie with his seat-mates, Denmark’s PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Britain’s David Cameron during Nelson Mandela’s massive memorial service in Johannesburg.

As the three of them smile for the camera, a stern-looking Michelle Obama can be seen staring straight ahead, hands clasped.

Michelle Obama’s reaction – not just to the “selfie” but to her husband’s chatting and joking with the young Danish prime minister – was priceless. In one picture, Michelle Obama could be seen glaring over at Barack Obama while he put his hand on Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s shoulder.

In another, it appeared the first lady and the president switched seats, putting Michelle Obama squarely between him and Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

Barack Obama was caught smiling and taking a selfie with Helle Thorning-Schmidt and David Cameron during Nelson Mandela's massive memorial service

Barack Obama was caught smiling and taking a selfie with Helle Thorning-Schmidt and David Cameron during Nelson Mandela’s massive memorial service

The photographer behind the “selfie” pic of the three dignitaries, though, later claimed that the first lady herself was “joking with those around her” a few seconds earlier.

“The stern look was captured by chance,” he wrote.

After the images surged through social media, the White House on Wednesday released its own set of photos of Barack Obama’s South Africa visit and among them was a picture of Obama, the first lady and the Danish prime minister.

But in this one, Barack Obama was talking to his wife, while Helle Thorning-Schmidt seemed preoccupied with her phone.

The “selfie” incident was the second unexpected controversy stirred up by the president in South Africa. Earlier, Cuban-American lawmakers publicly objected after Barack Obama – on his way to deliver his tribute to Nelson Mandela – shook the hand of Cuba’s President Raul Castro.

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First Lady Michelle Obama and military children decorated Christmas cookie ornaments, made tissue-paper flowers and used dried fruit to make tiny wreaths into the State Dining Room at the White House.

Two life-sized replicas of the Obamas’ Portuguese water dogs – Bo and his little sister Sunny – made from black satin ribbon, are one of the first things people will see this month as an expected 70,000 visitors stream in to the White House for tours and holiday functions. Both dogs wag their tails and Bo gives a high-five. They are surrounded by Christmas trees made of books.

Sunny and Bo, dark chocolate miniature versions, are also part of the annual gingerbread White House display. Both dogs hang out near a functioning replica of the fountain on the North Lawn. The illuminated, edible White House sits on top of a life-sized fireplace fashioned from more than 1,200 Springerle cookies. The entire display weighs about 300 pounds and is trashed after the holidays due to its prolonged exposure to so many people.

Sunny and Bo, dark chocolate miniature versions, are part of the annual gingerbread White House display

Sunny and Bo, dark chocolate miniature versions, are part of the annual gingerbread White House display

Michelle Obama, who has emphasized support for military families, gave some of them a first look at the decked-out White House halls on Wednesday. She asked Americans gathering with friends and family for the holidays to also remember the men and women in uniform.

“During this holiday season, as we gather with our loved ones, I’d ask every American to remember what our military families and service members often experience during this time of year,” Michelle Obama said.

“Let us all remember the sacrifices they make to proudly serve all of us.”

An annual highlight of the decorations is the official White House Christmas Tree. This year it’s a towering 18 ½-foot Douglas fir from Lehighton, Pennsylvania, that fills the oval-shaped Blue Room. It honors military families, a holiday tradition of Michelle Obama’s, and among its trimmings are photos of their joyous homecomings.

This year’s White House Christmas theme is “Gather Around: Stories of the Season” and is focused on stories behind American holiday traditions.

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The White House has unveiled this year’s Christmas card featuring Obamas’ dog Bo, as well as the latest addition to the family, Sunny.

“As we gather around this season, may the warmth and joy of the holidays fill your home,” the card read.

The White House has unveiled this year’s Christmas card featuring dogs Bo and Sunny

The White House has unveiled this year’s Christmas card featuring dogs Bo and Sunny

The White House Christmas card is signed by President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, their daughters Sasha and Malia and the two presidential dogs, Sunny and Bo.

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Ghastly webs with giant black spiders adorned an orange-hued White House on Thursday, slithering down from the Truman Balcony along the South Portico, where haystacks and nearly 200 pumpkins dotted the lawn for the annual White House Halloween event.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, clad in orange and black, emerged in the evening to greet the zombies, wizards and superheroes waiting diligently to hear the president’s response to an eerie query: Trick or treat?

It was treats – thousands of packages of jelly beans, dried fruit and White House Sweet Dough Butter Cookies – that Barack and Michelle Obama handed children as they walked across the South Lawn, past stilt-walkers, jugglers and a giant, transparent bubble housing Glinda the Good Witch, who brandished her magic wand in true Wizard-of-Oz fashion.

Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, clad in orange and black, emerged in the evening to greet the zombies, wizards and superheroes

Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, clad in orange and black, emerged in the evening to greet the zombies, wizards and superheroes

Fog billowed across the lawn, obscuring the Washington Monument in the distance as children and their parents mingled with White House staffers dressed as football players, vampires and princesses. A brass band of white-faced skeletons set the mood with creepy Halloween tunes, dancing as they played alongside a family of ghosts camped out near the area where the president’s helicopter normally lifts off.

Even Barack Obama’s dogs donned costumes — no, not the real Sunny and Bo, but topiaries carved from ribbons and pipe cleaners and dressed up, Bo as a pirate and Sunny as a sunflower.

The festivities marked the return of a favorite annual tradition at the White House that had to be scrapped last year. After three straight years of passing out goodies, rain or shine, Obama and the first lady canceled the event last year because of Superstorm Sandy, which had walloped the East Coast earlier in the week.

More than 5,000 people took part in this year’s Halloween event, the White House said.

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Pakistani schoolgirl campaigner Malala Yousafzai has met President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House in the Oval Office.

The First Family thanked Malala Yousafzai, 16, who was shot in the head last year by the Taliban, for her “inspiring and passionate work” for girls’ education.

Malia Obama, 15, also attended the meeting.

The White House said the US celebrated Malala Yousafzai’s courage and determination to promote girls’ right to attend school.

Malala Yousafzai has met President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House in the Oval Office

Malala Yousafzai has met President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House in the Oval Office

“As the First Lady has said, <<Investing in girls’ education is the very best thing we can do, not just for our daughters and granddaughters, but for their families, their communities, and their countries>>,” the White House said in a statement.

On Thursday, Malala Yousafzai was awarded the EU’s Sakharov human rights prize. Although she had been tipped for the Nobel Peace Prize, on Friday that went to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the body overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical arsenal.

A native of Pakistan’s mountainous Swat Valley, Malala Yousafzai rose to prominence in 2009 after writing an anonymous blog for the BBC Urdu service about her life under Taliban rule and the lack of education for girls.

Malala Yousafzai’s name became internationally known after the Pakistan army pushed the Taliban out of the area in 2009.

The Taliban’s Islamist doctrine puts harsh restrictions on women’s rights and one of the militants shot her last year as she was riding in a bus with school friends.

After the attack, Malala Yousafzai was flown to the UK for medical treatment and now lives in Birmingham, where she is going to school.

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President Barack Obama conquered a long-term smoking habit because he was afraid of his wife, he has joked with a UN official.

The jesting admission, which Barack Obama made apparently unaware he was on camera, came at the UN General Assembly in New York on Monday.

Barack Obama privately told a human rights campaigner that he had not had a cigarette in roughly six years.

“That’s because I’m scared of my wife,” the president said with a smile.

Barack Obama revealed he conquered a long-term smoking habit because he was afraid of his wife

Barack Obama revealed he conquered a long-term smoking habit because he was afraid of his wife

The conversation between Barack Obama and Maina Kiai, the UN special rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, occurred near an open microphone and was later broadcast by CNN.

“I hope you’ve quit smoking,” Barack Obama said to Maina Kiai, a Kenyan.

“Sometimes,” Maina Kiai responded, as the two smiled and shook hands.

Both Barack Obama and Maina Kiai attended Harvard University Law School.

Barack Obama has publicly acknowledged his struggles to quit smoking in the past. In 2011, Michelle Obama said her husband had finally overcome the habit.

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Michelle Obama has debuted a new haircut with caramel colored highlights.

Michelle Obama showed off her brand new look yesterday while speaking at a film screening in Washington, DC.

The new face-framing hairdo is significantly less drastic and more flattering than the blunt bangs she had cut in January, which she admitted were “irritating” after a while.

Placed mostly around the edges of her face, the highlights are subtle and warm, in a soft honey color.

Michelle Obama showed off her brand new look yesterday while speaking at a film screening in Washington, DC

Michelle Obama showed off her brand new look yesterday while speaking at a film screening in Washington, DC

Reactions to the style have been mostly positive, with People.com comparing it to Olivia Pope’s hairstyle in ABC series Scandal.

And the beauty editor at New York Magazine suggested that the highlights are an indication that Michelle Obama is going grey, because lighter pigments work better than dark dye on greying hair.

The First Lady never fails to make waves with her fashion and hairstyle choices.

After initially debuting her bangs in January, Michelle Obama sent the social media world into a frenzy, even causing one fan to create a Twitter account called MichellesBangs in the hairstyle’s honor.

Today, Michelle Obama is accompanying Presiden Barack Obama to the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington.

In a photo from the event, Michelle is escorted by her husband down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, wearing a stunning black Tracy Reese dress adorned bright red flowers.

The First Family departed The Disabled American Veteran National Convention in Florida for their annual eight-day vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, where they are staying at a $7.6 million vacation home with views of the Atlantic.

Getting on the plane from Orlando the family sported a smart look with the President Barack Obama donning a suit and Michelle Obama meticulously attired with pearls and a belt around her sun dress.

However, when the first couple disembarked in Martha’s Vineyard they were ready for their vacation to start, as Barack Obama had changed into a pair of chinos and Michelle ditched the pearls and belt.

The First Family have been vacationing on the Vineyard for years, but this is the first time they will stay at the luxury four-bedroom Chilmark House designed by architect Rick Sundberg.

With wall-to-ceiling windows, the 5,000sq ft home has stunning views over the ocean, as well as an infinity pool, tennis courts and a half basketball court.

The First Family departed The Disabled American Veteran National Convention in Florida for their annual eight-day vacation on Martha's Vineyard

The First Family departed The Disabled American Veteran National Convention in Florida for their annual eight-day vacation on Martha’s Vineyard

Half the cost of the President’s holiday is met by the taxpayer, and the Obamas pay for the remainder, although they have met the full cost of the vacation home, which is owned by private equity expert David Schulte, according to Bloomberg.

David Schulte contributed to both of Barack Obama’s election campaigns and his run for the Senate.

It is not known how much the Obamas paid to stay at the house, which was found for them by their broker who specializes in finding vacation homes for prominent politicians and royalty who have specific security needs.

He has previously found rentals for the Clintons and also found the Blue Heron Farm where the Obamas previously stayed for years, until it was sold to a British architect for $22.4 million.

According to a property expert in the town of Vineyard Haven, Chilmark House would “likely run in the $40,000 to $60,000 range for the eight-day stay”.

It is estimated the cost of the entire vacation, including the 75 rooms booked at a nearby hotel for staff and security, could reach $2 million.

The Obamas’ vacation home is on the south coast of the Massachusetts elite playground, which is favored for visitors who need extra security.

At the entrance of the home, which was built in 1961 and renovated in 2006, is a giant bolder left by a retreating glacier in the Ice Age, according to Sundberg Kennedy Ly-Au Young Architects.

A guest house set in its nine and a half acres of gardens could be used by secret service agents, who will accompany the family.

With Barack Obama’s approval rating at 46%, according to Gallup, there has been criticism that his decision to vacation in such an elite spot is insensitive, according to the Huffington Post.

When he was seeking reelection last year, Barack Obama skipped the family’s usual vacation, but this year he plans to play golf with friends and relax with Michelle and his daughters.

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President Barack Obama has declared on Wednesday that his favorite food is broccoli after nearly 25 years since President George H. W. Bush divided the nation saying that he hated the nutritious green veggie.

One Republican commenter went so far as to say the comment shows that President Barack Obama is elitist.

Comedy Central‘s political blog mocked the answer and said the president must be lying.

“Obama tells kid journalist his favorite food is broccoli. And his favorite activity is lying to children,” tweeted “Indecision”.

Barack Obama made the comment as he addressed student reporters at the White House Kids’ State Dinner on Tuesday.

The White House event was part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s push to get kids to eat healthier.

Twitter and the Beltway gossip crowd almost immediately began to froth at the mouth.

President Barack Obama has declared that his favorite food is broccoli after nearly 25 years since President George H. W. Bush said that he hated the nutritious green veggie

President Barack Obama has declared that his favorite food is broccoli after nearly 25 years since President George H. W. Bush said that he hated the nutritious green veggie

“What kind of POTUS says his fav food is Broccoli?” CNN commentator Ari Fleischer, who worked as George W. Bush’s press secretary, tweeted.

“Same one who in 2008 complained about the price of arugula at Whole Foods.”

Numerous serious journalists chimed in on the scandal, which was quickly deemed “broccoli-gate”.

“Everyone CALM DOWN! We have charts about broccoli,” Ezra Klein of the Washington Post tweeted.

BuzzFeed‘s Andrew Kaczynski soon after tweeted a Photoshopped picture of Obama as a head of broccoli.

The mostly-humorous debate threatened to turn serious when Breitbart.com wrote that Andrew Kaczynski was an “Obama-sycophant”.

The site claimed the story was actually an Obama spin machine attempt to make liberal news outlets look like they were criticizing the president.

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush famously denounced the veggie and banned it from being served at White House dinners.

“I do not like broccoli, and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m president of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli!” he said.

Furious broccoli farmers sent truckloads of their produce to Washington to protest the denigration of their beloved crop.

Barack Obama could be on the winning side of history with this answer – whether it is to be believed or not.

It is prized as a healthy food – one cup of steamed broccoli contains just 51 calories, one gram of fat and 5 grams of fiber, as well as high levels of vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, iron and protein.

The vegetable’s popularity has soared since President H.W. Bush maligned it in 1990. Consumption of broccoli has more than tripled in the last 30 years to nearly 5 and a half pounds per person per year in America.

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Troubled actress Amanda Bynes has moved on from judging her fellow celebrities to insulting President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Amanda Bynes, 27, took to Twitter on Monday with a post slamming Barack and Michelle Obama as “ugly”.

The new tweet comes after three months of erratic and often offensive behavior on the social media site.

Amanda Bynes has moved on from judging her fellow celebrities to insulting President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama

Amanda Bynes has moved on from judging her fellow celebrities to insulting President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama

Amanda Bynes wrote, in what appeared to be a plea for attention: “Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are ugly!”

The verbal jab is consistent with her erratic insults, often directed at some of Hollywood’s most attractive stars.

The Obamas are widely regarded to be the most attractive first family in American history with Michelle Obama gracing the covers of some of the nation’s most glamorous magazines.

Amanda Bynes did also declare herself less than perfect on Monday once again tweeting she needed more plastic surgery.

But the insult is par for the course for the Hollywood actress, who has self-destructed in the last three months.

Previously, Amanda Bynes has taken to Twitter to criticize celebrities including Drake, Rihanna and even her own mother and sister Jillian.

First Ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush attended the African First Ladies Summit in Tanzania where they complained about how the White House can feel like a prison.

“There are prison elements to it. But it’s a really nice prison,” Michelle Obama said at the Tuesday panel in Tanzania.

Her predecessor, Laura Bush, then added that the chef is an addition unlike other prisons, and Michelle Obama brought it back to the point, saying: “You can’t complain.  But there is definitely elements that are confining.”

The conversation came up as Michelle Obama and Laura Bush were interviewed by an American journalist about how African first ladies can take a public stand and use their spotlight for good.

The Democrat and Republican said that they both grow frustrated at how the public focuses on trivial aspects of their appearance- like Michelle Obama’s famous bangs- rather than the causes that are close to their heart.

“We take our bangs and we stand in front of important things that the world needs to see. And eventually, people stop looking at the bangs and they start looking at what we’re standing in front of,” Michelle Obama said.

Laura Bush, whose hairstyle has largely stayed the same since she and her husband first entered the White House in 2000, added: “Our daughter, Barbara, cut bangs at the same time Michelle did. They commiserated.”

First Ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush attended the African First Ladies Summit in Tanzania where they complained about how the White House can feel like a prison

First Ladies Michelle Obama and Laura Bush attended the African First Ladies Summit in Tanzania where they complained about how the White House can feel like a prison

“I was doing what Barbara was doing. I was just following her lead,” Michelle Obama joked.

The Tuesday panel was a very public display of mutual affection between the two first ladies, moderated by journalist Cokie Roberts- who works for ABC but was also appointed onto President George W. Bush’s Council on Service and Civic Participation.

Michelle Obama said that she made a point of spending some time with Laura Bush during their overlapping trips to Africa because: “I like this woman.”

“It’s sort of a club, a sorority, I guess,” Laura Bush said.

Michelle Obama praised Laura Bush and her staff for helping with their transition into the White House, but both women complained about the steep learning curve they faced.

“Nothing prepares you for this role. I mean, it is so startling that the transition of power in the United States happens so quickly that you don’t have access to the house until the President takes the oath of office,” Michelle Obama said.

“I remember walking into that house and I didn’t even know where the bathrooms were. But I had to get ready for a ball. It was like, and I’ve got to look nice? It’s like, what door is this, and you’re opening up all these doors, and you can’t find your toothpaste, you don’t know where your kids are.”

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President Barack Obama has praised Nelson Mandela as “an inspiration to the world”, during his visit to South Africa.

Barack Obama was speaking in the executive capital, Pretoria, after talks with President Jacob Zuma.

Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, has been critically ill for nearly a week.

Earlier, Barack Obama said he would not visit the 94-year-old in hospital, but would meet his family in private.

The White House said the decision had been made “out of deference to Nelson Mandela’s peace and comfort and the family’s wishes”, but that Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama would offer the Mandela family “their thoughts and prayers at this difficult time”.

President Jacob Zuma said the former leader remained “stable but critical”, but said he had “every hope that he will be out of hospital soon”.

In Pretoria, Barack Obama said Nelson Mandela’s example of “the power of principle, of people standing up for what’s right continues to shine as a beacon”.

“The outpouring of love that we’ve seen in recent days shows that the triumph of Nelson Mandela and his nation speaks to something very deep in the human spirit; the yearning for justice and dignity that transcends boundaries of race and class and faith and country,” he said.

Barack Obama was speaking in the executive capital, Pretoria, after talks with President Jacob Zuma

Barack Obama was speaking in the executive capital, Pretoria, after talks with President Jacob Zuma

Jacob Zuma said that as the first black leaders of their respective countries, Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela were “bound by history” and so “carry the dreams of millions of people in Africa and in the diaspora who were previously oppressed”.

The two leaders addressed a wide range of issues in their conversations, including trade and industry, conflicts in the region, efforts to tackle HIV/Aids and foreign affairs.

Jacob Zuma said Barack Obama’s visit was “well timed” to take advantage of a growing market in South Africa, and called for greater US investment.

He also said he believed the Africa National Congress (ANC), which he leads and which was founded by Nelson Mandela, was still “moving in the footsteps” of the former leader.

“I have no doubt that what we have been doing is part of what Mandela would be doing if he was here,” he said.

When asked whether the US felt threatened by the increasing influence of other countries, particularly China, in Africa, Barack Obama said he believed it was a good thing for the development of the continent, but cautioned South Africa to ensure that foreign companies were employing local workers and investing back into the country.

Barack Obama, who is travelling with his family, arrived in South Africa from Senegal on Friday evening.

During his weekend trip, the US president will visit Robben Island off Cape Town, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years. On Monday, he will continue his African tour in Tanzania.

Nelson Mandela is revered for leading the fight against white minority rule in South Africa and then preaching reconciliation despite being imprisoned for 27 years.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and was elected president the following year. He left office in 1999 after a single term.

Nelson Mandela retired from public life in 2004 and has rarely been seen at official events since.

He has a long history of lung problems, and was diagnosed with tuberculosis in the 1980s while he was a prisoner on Robben Island.

After his release, Nelson Mandela said that the tuberculosis was probably caused by dampness in his prison cell.

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Michelle Obama snubbed China’s First Lady Peng Liyuan after she announced that she would not be attending the summit with the Chinese leading couple when they meet with President Barack Obama.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan are on a tour of the Americas, which is capped off with a meeting with President Barack Obama in California before they head back to China.

Peng Liyuan, however, will likely be making very few public appearances because Michelle Obama opted out of attending, saying that she needs to be in Washington as her daughters finish up the school year.

The move comes as a slight in the eyes of the Chinese, who are reportedly big fans of Michelle Obama and feel her presence would have given more significance to the visit.

Cheng Li, a Chinese policy expert at the Washington-based Brookings Institute, told The New York Times that Michelle Obama’s decision to stay at home will leave the Chinese “disappointed”.

“They certainly have very high expectations for this meeting…There will be more coverage in China than in the United States.”

Part of that comes as the US and China are at odds on a number of issues over accusations of cyber-hacking, disputes over intellectual property and mounting regional tensions over North Korea and the South China Sea.

As a result of the tense relationship, the meeting is being held in California at Sunnylands, a sprawling desert estate built by billionaire philanthropists Walter and Leonore Annenberg is a place where political powerbrokers once discussed critical issues of the day and where royalty – real and Hollywood – soaked up sun and golfed on a private, nine-hole course.

Michelle Obama snubbed China's First Lady Peng Liyuan after she announced that she would not be attending the summit with the Chinese leading couple when they meet with President Barack Obama

Michelle Obama snubbed China’s First Lady Peng Liyuan after she announced that she would not be attending the summit with the Chinese leading couple when they meet with President Barack Obama

Even though it was meant as a cushioning factor, the location selection apparently backfired by preventing Michelle Obama from attending.

“First lady diplomacy is also very important and the US side has failed to cooperate,” Chinese political scientist Zhang Ming told The Telegraph.

“According to normal diplomatic etiquette this is very strange. It shouldn’t be like this.”

More than one expert has called for Michelle Obama to provide more of an explanation- and justification- for missing the meeting aside from just pointing to her duties as self-proclaimed “Mom-in-Chief”.

Aside from the slight from the Americans, Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan has received seemingly glowing reviews from the other world leaders that she met during her tour of Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico and Costa Rica.

“She’s a very beautiful person, very warm, and to chat with her in English was very wonderful,” said Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago.

Though this visit gained her a wider international audience, Peng Liyuan is used to greeting screaming throngs of crowds.

Prior to her 1987 marriage to the man who is now the Chinese president, Peng Liyuan made a name for herself as a folk singer.

Her music is very popular in the country and she spent years performing for the state’s military during her youth.

Peng Liyuan also regularly appears on a broadcast New Year’s program .

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The video of the moment when activist Ellen Sturtz heckled First Lady Michelle Obama was caught on tape and has now been released to show the tense exchange.

After she was interrupted, Michelle Obama threatened to leave the Democratic National Committee fundraiser unless Ellen Sturtz was removed.

“It felt like she was within a few inches – in my face,” Ellen Sturtz told ABC News, in an account that several witnesses have corroborated.

The video, obtained by CNN, shows how Michelle Obama got down from her platform and went directly over to the heckler and told her to stop or else she was going to leave and allow her to finish.

The crowd cheered for Michelle Obama and told the heckler to stop talking.

The First Lady then walked aside, going over to talk to other supporters briefly- as if to shake off the incident- before returning to the lectern.

Moments before the confrontation, Ellen Sturtz had interrupted Michelle Obama to demand that her husband sign an executive order barring discrimination by federal contractors based on s**ual orientation.

“One of the things I don’t do well is this,” Michelle Obama replied to loud applause, according to a pool report.

“Listen to me or you can take the mic, but I’m leaving. You all decide. You have one choice.”

The crowd urged the first lady to stay, and she returned to the podium to continue speaking. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney later said that Michelle Obama handled the interruption “brilliantly”.

Ellen Sturtz described herself to ABC News as an “old, grey-haired lesbian” and said she felt compelled to interrupt Michelle Obama because she doesn’t feel she has the time to wait around for action on gay rights.

“I’m too old to wait for it,” she said.

“I don’t want to see us continue to be second-class citizens.”

Ellen Sturtz is an activist for the pro-LGBT rights group GetEQUAL and she was one of four protestors at the event.

The moment when activist Ellen Sturtz heckled First Lady Michelle Obama

The moment when activist Ellen Sturtz heckled First Lady Michelle Obama

But when the White House’s transcript arrived, The Daily Caller reported Tuesday night, it didn’t include any indication of an acrimonious exchange – and was missing Michelle Obama’s threat to leave the event.

The only indication in that transcript that anything was amiss is a note about an “(Inaudible audience interruption.)”

“I lived and worked in the closet, hiding who I was in order to earn a living,” Ellen Sturtz said in a statement late Tuesday night.

“I had planned to speak tonight with DNC officials but, as the First Lady was talking about our children’s future and ensuring that they have everything they need to live happy and productive lives, I simply couldn’t stay silent any longer.”

“I’m looking ahead at a generation of young people who could live full, honest, and open lives with the stroke of the President’s pen,” Ellen Sturtz insisted.

The home where the heckling happened belongs to power couple Karen Dixon and Nan Schaffer, formerly of Chicago, who have hosted fundraisers for the Obamas in the past, including one that raised $1.4 million for the president’s reelection campaign in February 2012.

Karen Dixon is an attorney who serves on the national board of Lambda Legal, an organization working for LGBT rights.

Her spouse, Nan Schaffer, is a veterinarian who works to preserve the rhino population through artificial insemination.

She is also a minority shareholder in Windy City Media Group and founded Outlines, a Chicago newspaper, in 1987.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney took an oddly coincidental question earlier in the day during his regularly scheduled briefing about the same discrimination issue that had Ellen Sturtz shouting at the top of her lungs.

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Michelle Obama’s speech at a Washington, D.C. political fundraiser was interrupted by a protester on Tuesday night, and she threatened to leave the event if the gay rights activist wasn’t forced to leave.

However, the official White House transcript doesn’t indicate anything about the heckler or Michelle Obama’s audible reaction.

While Michelle Obama was speaking to approximately 200 Democratic Party loyalists who paid up to $10,000 to attend the event at the swanky Washington home of a wealthy lesbian couple, the protester interrupted with demands that the president issue an executive order forcing federal contractors to stop discriminating against gay and transgendered job applicants.

Amanda Terkel, a Huffington Post scribe who served as the night’s “pool reporter”, wrote that the “[m]ost notable part of the event was an interruption from a protester about 12 minutes into the 20-minute speech. A pro-LGBT rights individual standing at the front began shouting for an executive order on gay rights”.

“<<One of the things I don’t do well is this>>, replied FLOTUS to loud applause,” according to Amanda Terkel.

“She left the lectern and moved over to the protester, saying they could <<listen to me or you can take the mic, but I’m leaving. You all decide. You have one choice>>.”

The crowd, the pool report continued, “started shouting that they wanted FLOTUS to stay”.

Amanda Terkel reported that when the protester was escorted out, she shouted about being a “lesbian looking for federal equality before I die”.

In a later report, she added that “Heather Cronk, co-director of the pro-LGBT rights group GetEQUAL, … identified the protester as one of their activists, Ellen Sturtz”.

Amanda Terkel advised her fellow reporters to “[p]lease check quotes with [the] official transcript”.

Michelle Obama's speech at a Washington, D.C. political fundraiser was interrupted by protester Ellen Sturtz

Michelle Obama’s speech at a Washington, D.C. political fundraiser was interrupted by protester Ellen Sturtz

But when the White House’s transcript arrived, The Daily Caller reported Tuesday night, it didn’t include any indication of an acrimonious exchange – and was missing Michelle Obama’s threat to leave the event.

The only indication in that transcript that anything was amiss is a note about an “(Inaudible audience interruption.)”

“I lived and worked in the closet, hiding who I was in order to earn a living,” Ellen Sturtz said in a statement late Tuesday night.

“I had planned to speak tonight with DNC officials but, as the First Lady was talking about our children’s future and ensuring that they have everything they need to live happy and productive lives, I simply couldn’t stay silent any longer.”

“I’m looking ahead at a generation of young people who could live full, honest, and open lives with the stroke of the President’s pen,” she insisted.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney took an oddly coincidental question earlier in the day during his regularly scheduled briefing about the same discrimination issue that had Ellen Sturtz shouting at the top of her lungs.

A reporter asked Jay Carney for a progress report on “a study of LGBT workplace discrimination possibly led by the Council of Economic Advisors”, which was commissioned in 2012 after the president declined to sign an executive order banning the practice.

“I don’t have any updated status on that for you,” Jay Carney said.

“I can tell you that the president has long supported, as you know, an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act. … And his administration will continue to work to build support for it.”

“The president’s record on support for LGBT rights is significant and well known,” Barack Obama’s chief spokesman added.

Michelle Obama, he said, “believes that the right approach to this problem is an inclusive piece of legislation, and that’s the approach that we’re taking. It was the approach that we took with repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” And we continue to support this effort”.

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