Barack Obama | KUOW News and Information

Barack Obama

Few of us would want the love letters we wrote to our sweethearts at age 21 released to the public. But when you've been president everything in the past is ripe for perusal by historians, researchers and journalists.

And so it is with the love letters of former President Barack Obama — excerpts of which have been released by Emory University's Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, where the letters a young Obama wrote to then-girlfriend Alexandra McNear are now part of the collection.

Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET

The Trump administration will scuttle an Obama-era clean power plan aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, made the announcement in Hazard, Ky., on Monday, saying the rule hurt coal-fired plants.

"The EPA and no federal agency should ever use its authority to say to you we are going to declare war on any sector of our economy," Pruitt said, speaking at an event with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Former President Barack Obama on Monday gave his first public address since leaving office, moderating a panel with young people on community engagement while dancing around the turmoil surrounding his White House successor.

"So, uh, what's been going on while I've been gone?" Obama deadpanned at the beginning of his opening remarks at the University of Chicago.

President Obama's final press conference was one of both reflection and subtle rebuke toward incoming President-elect Donald Trump, defending voting rights and a free press, all while reassuring the American people that "at my core, I think we're going to be OK."

week in review ijeoma vance marcus radke
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

President Barack Obama gave his final address to the nation this week. We’ll take a look back at his legacy as the first African-American president of the United States.

An unverified dossier was released this week about President-elect Donald Trump and his relationship with Russia. Trump called the information “a disgrace” and said the events laid out in the dossier “didn’t happen.”


President Obama awarded outgoing Vice President Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday afternoon.

Calling the former longtime Delaware senator "the best vice president America's ever had" and a "lion of American history," Obama gave his White House partner the surprise award in an emotional ceremony, initially billed as a farewell.

The tiny village of Newtok near Alaska's western coast has been sliding into the Ninglick River for years. As temperatures increase — faster there than in the rest of the U.S. — the frozen permafrost underneath Newtok is thawing. About 70 feet of land a year erode away, putting the village's colorful buildings, some on stilts, ever closer to the water's edge.

When Barack Obama makes his farewell address Tuesday night, it will be one of the last times we'll hear from the president, while he's still actually the president.

But before his political career, Obama was a community organizer in Chicago, the first black president of the Harvard Law Review and the state director of Illinois Project Vote.

And it was back then — in the 1990s, when Obama was in his late 20s and early 30s — that he first appeared on NPR.

Here are highlights from some of those earliest appearances:

Seven years ago, the Navajo tribal council in southeastern Utah started mapping the secret sites where medicine men and women forage for healing plants and Native people source wild foods. They wanted to make a case for protecting the landscape known as Bears Ears, a place sacred not only to their tribe but to many other tribes in the region, going back thousands of years.

Michelle Obama used her last official White House speech to deliver a passionate pep talk to the nation's young people, especially immigrants, Muslims and others who might feel slighted by the incoming Trump administration.

"Do not ever let anyone make you feel like you don't matter," the first lady said, "or like you don't have a place in our American story, because you do."

As President Obama's tenure in the White House draws to a close, he's looking back on eight years of work — and ahead toward what he sees as a brighter future for the U.S.

In a letter to the American public, Obama says he's proud that the country is "stronger and more prosperous" than it was eight years ago — and hopeful that the country will build on the progress he sees.

Updated at 6:15 p.m.

The White House has announced new actions targeting Russia in response to what U.S. officials say were cyberattacks intended to interfere with the U.S. election.

President-elect Donald Trump and @realDonaldTrump are contradicting each other.

Wednesday afternoon, Trump emerged from his Mar-a-Lago resort to tell reporters that he and President Obama had spoken on the phone and had "a very nice conversation."

"I appreciate that he called me," Trump said.

The comment came hours after Trump blasted Obama on Twitter.

But asked by reporters Wednesday afternoon how that transition was going, Trump said, "I think very, very smoothly. Very good. You don't think so?" (A "not" was not forthcoming in real life.)

Updated at 6:50 p.m. ET

President Obama and Japanese Minister Shinzo Abe made a historic appearance at Pearl Harbor, 75 years after the surprise attack that prompted U.S. entry into World War II, praising the reconciliation and partnership between their respective nations.

In a somber ceremony Tuesday, the two leaders touted the U.S.-Japan alliance that arose in the aftermath of the bitter conflict and became a "cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region," Obama said.

In a wide-ranging exit interview, NPR's Steve Inskeep asks President Obama about Russian interference in the U.S. election, executive power, the future of the Democratic party and his future role.

Steve Inskeep: Thanks for joining us one more time; I really appreciate it.

President Obama: Great to be with you, Steve.

President Obama said Friday he is leaving behind a more prosperous and safe country than the one he inherited from his predecessor.

"Almost every country on Earth sees America as stronger and more respected today than it was eight years ago," the president said at a White House news conference on Friday before the Obama family's departure to Hawaii for its annual holiday vacation.

The world is entering a new cyber era — one with no ground rules, and with the potential for traditional espionage to be "turbocharged" by the Internet, President Obama told NPR in an exclusive interview.

President Obama has ordered the intelligence community to conduct a "full review" of "malicious cyber activity" timed to U.S. elections, the White House said Friday.

The review will go all the way back to the 2008 campaign when China was found to have hacked both the Obama and McCain campaigns, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said at a Friday press briefing.

The Obama administration is challenging a federal judge's decision last month to block the implementation of a new rule that would have made 4 million more Americans eligible for overtime pay.

The Department of Labor and its co-defendants filed a notice of appeal at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas on Thursday, the same day that the rule was set to take effect before the temporary injunction was issued.

The annual turkey pardon is a silly tradition, and President Obama knows it. On Wednesday, before pardoning turkeys named Tater and Tot, Obama summed up his feelings about this particular duty.

"It is my great privilege — well, it's my privilege — actually, let's just say it's my job to grant them clemency this afternoon," Obama said.

Iesha Gray, 20, resigned from her job at the U.S. Postal Service because she felt she wasn't given time or space she found acceptable to pump.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

Iesha Gray called it the drought.

One month back from maternity leave, her breasts were empty. No more milk. Her baby girl at home was drinking her way through the freezer stash.

President Obama has announced the last group of people to whom he will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

The group of 21 luminaries includes athletes Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, musicians Diana Ross and Bruce Springsteen and actors Robert De Niro, Tom Hanks, Robert Redford and Cicely Tyson.

The group also honors inspiring people who may not be household names, such as Native American community leader and advocate Elouise Cobell and computer code pioneer Grace Hopper, both of whom are deceased.

Millennials might have been Hillary Clinton's Achilles' heel on Tuesday night.

Obama won 60 percent of the millennial vote. Clinton got only about 55 percent. (We're using "millennials" as shorthand for voters between the ages of 18 and 29, but some millennials are in their 30s).

But it's not that young voters across the country were necessarily flocking to the Republican Party this year.

It was perhaps the unthinkable: President Obama meeting with his successor at the White House in the first step to carry out the peaceful transition of power in the American republic — and that successor is Donald Trump.

But that's exactly what happened Thursday morning in what amounts to one of the more surreal moments in American political history.

The U.S. and the Philippines are long-standing allies, but you would never know it from the way President Rodrigo Duterte is talking these days.

Since his election in June, Duterte has been unleashing anti-American rhetoric, which has included demands that the U.S. withdraw special operations forces helping to fight Islamists in the southern Philippines. He has also threatened to cancel joint naval patrols and warns this will be the last year the two countries will hold joint military exercises, saying they haven't benefited the Philippines.

Updated at 3:22 p.m. ET with House vote

Congress approved the first successful override of a presidential veto from President Obama on Wednesday when the House joined the Senate in voting against Obama's objection to a bill that would allow family members to sue Saudi Arabia over the Sept. 11 attacks.

During the Our Ocean conference in Washington, D.C., President Obama announced the creation of the first national marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean.

President Obama has announced that the U.S. is ready to lift economic sanctions against Myanmar in light of political reforms in the Southeast Asian nation.

It's going to happen "soon," Obama said, but he did not indicate a specific timeline during a joint news conference Wednesday at the White House with Myanmar's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Lifting sanctions "is the right thing to do in order to ensure that the people of Burma see the rewards from a new way of doing business, and a new government," Obama said. (The country is also known as Burma.)

Recently inaugurated Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is "expressing regret" for his comments at a fiery press conference, in which he called President Obama a "son of a bitch" or "son of a whore" (depending on how you translate the Tagalog) and threatened to swear at him in a planned bilateral meeting.

The White House canceled the meeting shortly after Duterte's comments.

"We ... regret [the remarks] came across as a personal attack on the U.S. president," Duterte's office said in a statement issued Tuesday.

President Obama shortened the prison sentences of 111 inmates Tuesday, including 35 people who had expected to spend the rest of their lives in federal custody, authorities told NPR.

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