Oprah Winfrey is subject of new Kitty Kelley unauthorized biography

BY Gina Salamone

Saturday, January 23rd 2010, 4:00 AM

It’s one book guaranteed NOT to make Oprah’s Book Club.



From Chicago to Oslo: Michelle Obama’s First Year

Posted: 12/10/09 / Politics Daily
By Lynn Sweet

Michelle and Barack Obama in Oslo, Nobel Peace ceremony

First Lady Michelle Obama boarded Air Force One with her husband Wednesday night and flew to Oslo, Norway for her fifth overseas trip this year. She was in the audience when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on Thursday, an improbable award at this early stage of his presidency, but in line with the unlikely journey the couple has undertaken. It was three years ago this December that then-Sen. Barack Obama firmed up his self-described “audacious” bid to make history.

After two years of campaigning at her mate’s side, Mrs. Obama became first lady on Jan. 21, 2009, with a fierce desire not to repeat well-documented mistakes she made on the campaign trail. Once in the White House, she did not want to be a distraction: the campaign flap over her remark about loving America for the “first time” during her husband’s candidacy and being portrayed as an angry liberal taught her a lesson. She was determined to spend time with her young daughters, doing the soccer-mom thing — shielding them as best she could from the inherent un-normalcy of a childhood in the White House.

While President Obama has no choice but to take on a heaping agenda — two lengthy and difficult wars, the Great Recession, a historic legislative battle of attrition over health care, and the U.S. response to global warming — Mrs. Obama’s plate could be as full or light as she chose. So far, Mrs. Obama has charted a careful and calibrated course.

It took awhile for us to discern this. Partly this is because, when it comes to fashion, Mrs. Obama tosses caution aside and is aggressively, if tastefully, flamboyant. Entire blogs have sprung up devoted to charting Mrs. Obama’s iconic clothing. With her tall, thin figure and buff arms on display, whether she’s sporting designer gowns or wearing pedal pushers, Mrs. Obama has followed trends as much as set them. In this way, she reminds us of Jacqueline Kennedy — although her style is all her own. Mrs. Obama loves wide belts and stylish sneakers. In May, she was volunteering at a Washington food bank wearing a J. Crew cardigan and Capri pants, but her $540 tennis shoes became the story. In April, Mrs. Obama went up against Carla Sarkozy, the former model who is the wife of the French president, at the Palais Rohan in Strasbourg, France. It was a draw.

That’s as good as it gets for an American first lady and Mrs. Obama is winding up a successful first year.

Popular With the People
As she enters the stretch run of her first year in the White House, Mrs. Obama’s popularity ratings are higher in public opinion surveys than the president’s. In a Fox News poll conducted Nov. 17-18, some 63 percent of respondents said they had a favorable opinion of Mrs. Obama. That’s down from her high of 73 percent in another Fox News poll taken April 22-23, but it’s still more than 10 points higher than her husband’s rating. Moreover, it shows how that careful calibration is succeeding: a Fox News poll taken in June of 2008 — in the midst of a bruising political campaign — showed Mrs. Obama with only a 44 percent positive rating.

By way of comparison, Mrs. Obama’s favorables are higher than former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton — now the secretary of state — when she was in the White House. Between August 1996 and November 2000, Mrs. Clinton’s favorables ranged from a high of 63 percent in January 1999 (during President Clinton’s impeachment trial) to a low of 43 percent, in October 2000, according to the Fox News tracking polls. (Former First Lady Laura Bush’s favorables ranged from a low of 57 percent in February 2001 to a high of 78 percent in December 2002.)

Mrs. Obama only got out of her lane once, and she crashed. That’s when she took on the job of selling Chicago’s bid for the 2016 summer Olympics to the International Olympics Committee, recruiting her pal Oprah Winfrey to join her in Copenhagen. That occasioned the only press conference of her tenure as first lady, held at the White House prior to her departure with a small group of reporters writing about the Olympics. The president found time to join her in Denmark to help pitch Chicago to the IOC. There, she made a personal, emotional plea for the Summer Games, recounting her girlhood on the South Side of Chicago, not far from some of the proposed Olympic venues. But the Chicagoans were unceremoniously rejected by the IOC. In hindsight, the White House, including the first lady’s staff, were the victims of some very poor intelligence. In truth, Chicago’s bid never stood a chance. It was an embarrassing lesson, and one Mrs. Obama seems unwilling to risk happening again.

In No Rush
While the West Wing got off to a fast start after the inauguration, Mrs. Obama was in no hurry. She wanted to settle daughters Malia and Sasha in their new school, the private and exclusive Sidwell Friends. Her mother, Marian Robinson, moved into the White House to help out. It was billed as temporary at first, but she settled in with the rest of the family and is now a fixture; the day before Thanksgiving, Mrs. Robinson was at a Washington food pantry with the rest of the family handing out groceries.

Mrs. Obama has kept her issue portfolio small, focused on substantive but safe topics. Some of these are cosmic, some are what George W. Bush used to call “small ball.” Mrs. Obama has stressed opening the White House to Washington-area students. She has been making the rounds of federal agencies, giving a pep talk at each visit and giving her props to federal workers. She has also promoted the notions of community service, balancing work and family, and helping veterans and military families, an agenda item she shares with Second Lady Jill Biden. She has hosted a White House music series and, in recent months, added a White House mentoring project for high school girls, taking her act on the road to spread the project to Denver. There, she told girls that, as a kid, she was nervous and anxious when she took tests.
Healthy eating is major piece of Mrs. Obama’s portfolio, with its subsidiary policy elements — childhood obesity and exercise. By now, millions of Americans have heard about Mrs. Obama’s kitchen garden on the South Lawn, a project that let her neatly tie together a variety of her agendas against a photogenic backdrop. The garden provided grist for a variety of storylines, ranging from inviting elementary students over to the White House to championing locally produced food. Mrs. Obama has noted wryly that when she has traveled overseas people invariably inquired about the garden — unless they asked about the family dog, Bo.
She has spoken out in support of the Obama health care proposals, but kept away from any of the controversial elements. For a woman who came out of progressive politics, Michelle Obama has yet to say a word about some of the potential abortion coverage curbs in the pending legislation. That’s because she knows — as does the three-woman press staff that guards her image — that if she said something, it would be news, and news is not what they want to make, unless it is something very safe. She appeared, for example, with Elmo and Big Bird on “Sesame Street.”
Mrs. Obama is so averse to controversy that she goes to what seem to be awkward extremes. Last month, after the murders at Fort Hood, Tex., her comments in response simply did not mention the shooting spree, allegedly carried out by an Army psychiatrist.

In these past months, we’ve gotten to know Mrs. Obama a little bit better. She can be fun — a heck of a hula-hooper, we learned at a White House health fair. She dressed up as a cat lady during Halloween. She took her girls to France and England for a grand summer vacation. She learned, as we did, through a newspaper account about some of her roots. In a much-read interview, the first couple opened up, albeit a bit-guardedly, about some strains in their marriage. Some things have been beyond Mrs. Obama’s control, including a racist picture of her on a Google page (since removed) and unauthorized dolls in her likeness.

One controversy I unwittingly caused. In July on Politics Daily I put together a list of Mrs. Obama’s East Wing staffers and their salaries, triggering a debate in the blogosphere about the size of her staff.

Mrs. Obama’s East Wing oversees social events; the first state dinner last month was crashed by a publicity-hungry couple, throwing a cloud over her friend, Social Secretary Desiree Rogers. I think that will pass.

Mrs. Obama has gotten a few breaks even when she flirted with controversy. When she met the Queen of England, she put her arm around her, a supposed breach of protocol. But the queen warmed to her embrace, as have a majority of Americans — even if that embrace is given with eyes wide open, and a bit guardedly.


PhD reveals secret life as famed prostitute-turned-blogger

Meet the Real Belle de Jour

Araminta Wordsworth, National Post; With Files From News Services Published: Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Handout Billie Piper, pictured, starred in the Secret Diary of a Call Girl TV series, which was based on the blog and book by Dr. Brooke Magnanti.

For years she titillated Britons with her witty and erotic despatches from the front lines of the sex trade — but the upmarket call girl, known only by the classy pseudonym of Belle de Jour, was also a canny businesswoman, parlaying her blog into a book deal and a hit TV series starring U.K. actress Billie Piper.

All the while, her true identity remained unknown. Not even her literary agent or her publishers knew.

Now the elusive and seductive Belle has been unmasked as Dr. Brooke Magnanti, 34, a research scientist in a hospital in Bristol, western England, where she specializes in developmental neurotoxicology and cancer epidemiology.

The American-born woman went public over the weekend out of fear a jealous former boyfriend was about to leak the secret. Her bombshell has provoked soul-searching and outrage among many who thought they knew her.

They include the British Army officer who was her boyfriend for seven years. Known as “The Boy” in diary entries about their sex life, he is now having to tell his family and friends the woman he hoped to marry was an escort girl who charged £300 an hour.

“I can’t believe she has done this,” the man, identified only as Owen, told The Daily Telegraph.

“Brooke has outed me to my family and friends without giving me any warning.

“She never asked if she could write about our life together and I feel humiliated.”

Dr. Magnanti, who went to Britain to study for a doctorate at Sheffield University, has said she turned to prostitution after moving to London to finish her studies and finding she did not have enough money to pay the rent.

The woman, who was brought up a Roman Catholic and convent-educated, signed up with an agency and began being paid to have sex.

Explaining her decision to go public, she said she found “keeping up a double life … just too difficult to do long-term.”

“I suppose I always thought that the part of my life I wrote about would fade away, that I could stick it in a box and move on. Totally separate it from the ‘real me,’ ” she wrote.

She said it had taken her years to realize that while her life had moved on, Belle would “always be a part of me.”

“Belle and the person who wrote her had been apart too long. I had to bring them back together.

“So a perfect storm of feelings

and circumstances drew me out of hiding. And do you know what? It feels so much better on this side. Not to have to tell lies, hide things from the people I care about.

“It became important to acknowledge that aspect of my life and my personality to the world at large.

“I am a woman. I lived in London. I was a call girl.

“The people, the places, the actions and feelings are as true now as they were then, and I stand behind every word with pride.”

Nonetheless, her estranged father Paul Magnanti, 61, is appalled.

“This is a complete shock to me. I had no idea, I found out through the press today,” Mr. Magnanti said from Holiday, Fla., where he runs a gardening business.

“It’s broken my heart. No parent wants to hear that. I was very proud when she got her PhD. She is a very intelligent girl and I wish she had become well-known under different circumstances.

I would rather things had worked out differently but it’s her life to live,” added the father, who admitted to using prostitutes after his marriage to Dr. Magnanti’s mother broke up and even introducing some of the women to his daughter.Her mother has reportedly been “fully supportive,” telling her daughter she was “not the one to judge.”

Similarly, the all-women team at Dr. Magnanti’s employer, the British Initiative for Child Health,

have rallied round since being told the news about a month ago.

“She’s a researcher. She’s just a member of staff here and what happened in the past doesn’t really bear relevance to what she’s doing now,” said a spokesman.

Rowan Pelling, editor of the erotic magazine Erotic Review, helped Dr. Magnanti get published and said people should not be surprised at a research scientist being a call girl.

“For the past couple of days, interviewers have been asking me breathily what I thought of Belle when I met her, as if my eyes must have been out on stalks at the idea of a PhD student turning tricks,” Ms. Pelling wrote in The Daily Telegraph.

“But the truth is I wasn’t startled at all. Throughout my eight years running the Erotic Review, I met people leading all kinds of extraordinary double lives, most of them outwardly respectable pillars of their middle-class communities.”

Some in the media have been less supportive of Dr. Magnanti’s description of call-girl life.

“Hers was an extraordinary experience of prostitution; she was lucky, because prostitution ordinarily is, simply put, a condition that kills women,” wrote Tanya Gold in Britain’s Guardian.

“I am glad you were not battered, Belle, but prostitution is a poisoned solution; a solution to nothing.”

Bel Mooney, in the Daily Mail, said the worst aspect of the “whole sorry story” is that such an intelligent woman, with all the privileges of a good background and education, should make “such a low-down choice.”

The use of the moniker Belle de Jour might have given a clue that Dr. Magnanti was above the usual run of sex-trade workers.

It refers to the classic Luis Bunuel movie in which Catherine Deneuve (clothed enviably by Yves St. Laurent) plays a bored housewife who turns to sadomasochistic sessions in a brothel to liven up her afternoons.

But in fact Belle’s antecedents are closer to the courtesans of Georgian and Regency England, women such as Dorothea Jordan or Harriette Wilson, whose racy memoirs were a best-seller — among her lovers were the Prince of Wales, later George IV, and four prime ministers, including the Duke of Wellington.


Reconsidering the Miracle on the Hudson

By Randy James Monday, Nov. 16, 2009 / Time.com

Journalist and author William Langewiesche speaks during a seminar at the Holden School in Turin, Italy Marco Di Lauro / Getty

By now, the story of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 is practically an American folktale: a miraculous emergency landing into the Hudson river, with Captain Chesley Sullenberger the hero in the cockpit. But journalist William Langewiesche takes a different view of the aborted Jan. 15 flight, which Sullenberger guided safely into the water after the Airbus 320 struck a flock of geese near LaGuardia Airport and lost all power. A Vanity Fair correspondent and former professional pilot, Langewiesche has written the most detailed account yet of the short flight, Fly by Wire: The Geese, the Glide, the Miracle on the Hudson. He spoke with TIME about the near disaster, the media’s role in shaping perceptions of the incident and the forgotten star of the fateful flight.

From the start, the popular shorthand for the safe landing of Flight 1549 has been “the miracle on the Hudson.” But that’s not the way you see it.
Miracle? Absolutely not. It’s a catchy, superficial media term. It’s almost an insult to Sullenberger: God was not his co-pilot, [First Officer Jeffrey] Skiles was. These were two very competent pilots who did a great job of flying, and they were flying an extremely capable airplane. Sullenberger and Skiles did not in any sense think of this as a miracle. They thought of this as a job they did.

(Read Chuck Yeager’s tribute to Chesley Sullenberger, one of this year’s TIME 100.)

O.K., but even if it wasn’t a miracle, surely it was still extraordinary?
In some ways it was extraordinary simply because of positioning: the airplane happened to be above a smooth river — an unlimited landing space — in good weather. It wasn’t in some nightmarish situation one can easily imagine: over the mountains at night, [for instance]. This could have been beyond the possibility of recovery.

The other exceptional thing was Sullenberger’s power of concentration during the descent. He was flying largely instinctively: a highly experienced pilot completely in tune with his airplane. It wasn’t just what he did, it’s what he chose not to do — when he chose not to talk on the radio, [for example]. He wasn’t bothering with formalities.

Right, though you also say other pilots could have pulled off that landing as well.
I think the general feeling in flying circles is that most airline pilots who live and breathe airplanes would have been able, more or less, to do the same thing. To think this was way out of the ordinary would be kind of an insult to other airline pilots. I know that Skiles and Sullenberger believe the same.

So the idea of Sullenberger being a hero …
Please. I think we’re “heroed out” right now in the United States. Hero is a term that is almost always misapplied in modern America. I don’t know if there’s a genuine demand in the public [for heroes], or if it’s a creation of headline writers and television people.

You write about aviation in more detail than almost anyone in the country. Did anything about this event really surprise you as you conducted your research?
I was deeply impressed by the Airbus 320 and its flight-control system. What Bernard Ziegler did is still surprising to me. [Ziegler, a French engineer, developed the plane’s fly-by-wire technology that uses computers to help stabilize and guide the aircraft.] I don’t want to imply that the pilots would not have been able to land successfully if the plane didn’t have [that technology.] They probably would have pulled off the same success. But this was a particularly easy airplane to fly — it stays where you put it, automatically, in terms of attitude and bank. They were in a magic-carpet machine.

It seemed odd to you that, in all their public appearances, the crew never acknowledged Ziegler or the plane’s design.
Having been around aviation all my life, I was struck by that. After a close call, the normal reaction is to say, “God, what a machine!” It didn’t happen in this case. I know the people at Airbus were very aware of this and were peeved by it. [The lack of credit] did not happen in a void; it happened in a historical context of the advent of fly by wire and … the larger decline of the airline profession. That’s why the airplane was controversial — it represented a threat to the myth that flying requires some kind of heroic intervention by pilots to keep an airplane in the air. This was deeply threatening to pilots.

You also take issue with Sullenbeger’s testimony to Congress that air safety may decline unless pilots are better paid.
His presumption is that if you don’t pay pilots well you’re going to get lower-caliber people coming in. I doubt that very much. What drives people to fly airplanes doesn’t have much to do with money: they’ll do it at a low price, they’ll do it at a high price. And despite the terrible loss of income and prestige that pilots have suffered over the last 30 years, they are still making a middle-class income.

You detail some other harrowing encounters between airplanes and birds, though you note that most bird strikes don’t cause serious damage. How concerned should the flying public be?
Pick your worries in life. They will continue to happen, but it’s very rare. This U.S. Airways flight swallowed a lot of geese. It’s just not within our technological ability to design engines that can handle that.

There seems to be a lot of fear about flying out there these days. Recently the news media devoted a lot of coverage to the Northwest flight that overshot Minneapolis and the United pilot accused of being drunk in London. Is the danger being overstated?
Of course it’s being overstated. People are not as afraid of things as they’re said to be by the superficialities of the media. People know what it’s like to die; everyone is prepared for it. We’re not such cowards as one might believe from all the hysteria on television.

Read a brief history of black boxes.


10 Questions for Jane Goodall

By Jane Goodall Thursday, Sep. 10, 2009 / Time.com


Jane Goodall Attila Kisbenedek / AFP / Getty












What characteristics make chimpanzees seem most like human beings? Chip Clark, ST. JOHN’S, NFLD.



Dr. Jane Goodall today

How can you be so empathetic with chimps? Kantesh Guttal, PUNE, INDIA

We are all part of the animal kingdom. The kind of empathy that I feel for people is the kind of empathy I feel for chimpanzees. Do they have a dark, brutal side to their nature? Yes. So do people.

How do you work with so many animals and not get overly attached to them? Specialist McKinzie Baker CAMP TAJI, IRAQ

I’ve always been very attached to the animals I work with, and although a scientist is supposed to be subjective and lack empathy, I’ve always thought this is wrong. It’s the empathy you feel with a living, individual being that really helps you understand. Then you can use your scientific training to find out if your intuition is correct.

Which do you like better, chimps or humans? Michael Boshears PALMER, ALASKA

I like some chimpanzees much better than some humans and some humans much better than some chimpanzees.

What’s your position on people who have chimps as pets? Siobhan Laurino, LYNN, MASS.

When they are little, they are cute, but by the time they reach early adolescence, they are already as strong as a human, and you cannot predict what will trigger a sudden anger or rage. The Jane Goodall Institute is fighting very hard for legislation that will prohibit people from owning other primates as pets. Very rarely can they give them a good life.

I’m conflicted about the use of primates in research for human illnesses. What’s your opinion? Idalia Roberts, ATLANTA


Primatologist Jane Goodall

The more that we learn about these animals, the more we realize that from the animals’ point of view, such experiments amount to torture. In many instances, it’s immoral to be thinking about animals as living test tubes. So let’s get our brilliant brains together and come up with alternatives as quickly as we can.

Why don’t you approve of zoos? Don’t they educate the public about the environment and endangered species? Hari Venkatesh CHENNAI, INDIA

Some zoos are O.K. The problem is, there are so many zoos where animals don’t have a proper social group. They don’t have things to do, and an animal like that can’t educate anyone, because it’s not behaving normally at all. You might just as well look at a photo or a stuffed example in a museum, because you won’t see any natural behavior.

I would like to work with orangutans when I grow up. Any tips about how to get started? Lauren Webb, LAYTON, UTAH

I would urge you to look up our Roots and Shoots programs for young people who have the same kind of passion as you. If we don’t protect these orangutans, there won’t be any left for you to study.

Do you feel that in your lifetime you will have achieved what is necessary for the permanent protection of chimpanzees? Dan Quigley HOPKINTON, MASS.

Unfortunately not. We’ve got an awful long way to go.

Do you think there is still hope for this planet despite all the bad things we have done to our environment? Elsie Wong, HONG KONG

When I was doing the research for this book, I met so many extraordinary people who rescued species from the brink of extinction when everybody else laughed at them. One example is the California condor. At one time, there were just 12 of these birds left in the wild and one in captivity. Now there are 300. This bird would have gone but for a small group of people who would not give up. As long as we have people like that, there’s hope for the future.


Ivanka Trump: Air-less heiress

I like people who break stereotypes.  ~ZoomZoom