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Obama celebrates milestone birthday

With the arduous debt talks behind him, President Barack Obama has celebrated his 50th birthday at the White House with a Rose Garden party, a toast from his senior staff and some good-natured ribbing from his wife.

After spending the morning of his milestone birthday working in the Oval Office, the president headed to the Blue Room of the White House for a celebration with top aides. White House chefs were spotted cooking chicken and burgers on outdoor grills.

Later, Mr Obama was celebrating with family and friends, including some who came from his home town of Chicago, in the Rose Garden. The president's oldest daughter, Malia, also made it home from summer camp in time to celebrate her father's 50th.

Even on her husband's birthday, Michelle Obama could not resist poking fun at his greying hair. In a campaign email - subject line "Gray Hairs" - the First Lady asked supporters to sign an electronic birthday card for the president, and said she knows the reason for his salt-and-pepper hair.

"I see Barack make choices he knows will affect every American family. That's no small task for anyone - and more proof that he's earning every last one of those gray hairs," Mrs Obama wrote.

The president himself has approached his big birthday with a sense of humour.

"By the time I wake up, I'll have an email from AARP asking me to call President Obama and tell him to protect Medicare," he said during a fundraiser in Chicago on the eve of his birthday. AARP is an organisation which advocates for people aged 50 and above.

During a video conference with some of the more than 1,000 birthday-theme house parties his supporters held coast-to-coast on Wednesday night, Mr Obama was serenaded from a group in North Carolina, while supporters in Ohio held up signs wishing the president a happy 50th.

The Obama family will cap their birthday celebrations with a weekend trip to Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.

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From Belfast Telegraph