Obama's Trip To Milan Sparks Controversy


Former President Barack Obama is facing some criticism for taking a private jet to fly out to a conference in Italy about food security and climate change.

Some media publications are pointing out the irony of Obama using a private jet to fly to Milan on May 9 to speak about climate change, the Daily Mail reported. The former president's detail also included a 14-car convoy and a helicopter providing security from the air.

The Independent Journal review likened Obama's trip to Milan to actor Leonardo DiCaprio's trip from Cannes to New York to pick up an environmental award. DiCaprio had also used a private jet to fly to and from New York, The Telegraph reported.

After the event, the Academy Award-winning actor then reportedly took another private jet back to Cannes. An associate of DiCaprio defended his actions, saying he merely "hitched a ride with someone already flying back and to Cannes."

"Hitching a ride was the only way he could make it in time for both events," the source told The Telegraph.

Obama delivered his speech on climate change at the annual Seeds and Chips conference in Milan, with nearly 3,500 people in attendance. The event cost about $923 per ticket, earning the former president more than $3.2 million for his Obama Foundation, The Times reported.

The foundation was set up to further Obama's project of "renewal and global progress."

Severals fans of the former president took to the streets with homemade banners as he made his way to the conference, escorted by 300 police officers and helicopters.

After taking care of business, Obama appeared to make the most of his two-day stay in Italy. He reportedly stayed at a lavish $20,000-a-night hilltop villa in Tuscany and at a five-star hotel in Milan.

Obama took over two floors of the Park Hyatt hotel -- where presidential suite rooms cost nearly $10,000 a night. He wore shades and left his tie at home as he stepped out of the hotel, waving and smiling at fans.

Obama also spoke at the Global Food Innovation Summit, AOL reported. During a Q&A session, he jokingly compared living in the White House to staying at a "very nice prison."

"In part, because of the security apparatus around a U.S. president, you live in what's called 'the bubble.' And it is a very nice prison," Obama explained when asked what he doesn't miss about the White House. "So you don't have the freedom of movement to be able to just take a walk or to sit in a cafe because there's always this security concern around you. I don't miss that."

The visit to Italy marks Obama's first public foreign appearance since leaving the Oval Office.

Sources: Daily Mail, Independent Journal Review, The TelegraphThe Times, AOL / Photo credit: Nick Knupffer/Flickr

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