Last Day Hike

10 months 2 weeks ago

The Obamas are spending their final day of vacation hiking in Chilmark with friends. This year the Obamas have stayed in a rented home off North Road in an area with rolling hills and hiking trails that lead to the rocky shoreline overlooking the Elizabeth islands. The weather Sunday is sunny and summery with a cool breeze off the water. Perfect day for a hike. The First Family leaves tonight to fly back to Washington, D.C.

Vacation Comes to a Quiet Close

10 months 2 weeks ago

President Obama's two-week vacation is coming to a quiet end.

On a day of changeable weather and a hint of fall in the air, President Obama headed back to Farm Neck Golf Course, where he has spent a lot of time over the last two weeks. He spent a little more than five hours on the course, joined by former basketball player Alonzo Mourning, friend Cyrus Walker and aide Joe Paulsen.

It appears the President will spend the rest of his last full day on the Vineyard at the Chilmark home where he and the First Family are staying. The Obamas are scheduled to depart from the Island Sunday.

Obamas Enjoy Oak Bluffs Fireworks

10 months 2 weeks ago

It always seems like the entire Island comes to Oak Bluffs for the annual August fireworks display. This year that included the Obamas.

The President and First Family joined the crowds that watched the pyrotechnic display above Nantucket Sound Friday night. The Obamas watched the show with senior advisor Valerie Jarrett at the North Bluff home where she is staying.

The additional security for the President blended in with the crowds, street closures and police presence that always accompany the well-attended show.

The fireworks lasted just short of 30 minutes. The annual display is somewhat of a tradition for the First Family, as they have watched the fireworks in past years as well.

The Obamas arrived in Oak Bluffs around 7:45 p.m. and left just before 1 a.m.

Ben Rhodes.

Addressing Issues, Defending Golf

10 months 2 weeks ago

White House officials continued to condemn the recent murder of American journalist James Foley and defended the President's trips to the golf course during a press briefing Friday afternoon.

Speaking at the Edgartown school cafeteria, which has served as the press filing center during President Obama's visit to the Island, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said the murder of Mr. Foley was a terrorist attack and "an affront, an attack, not just on him...but our country."

Mr. Rhodes said the United States has done everything possible to bring home hostages and that as a matter of policy, the U.S. does not provide ransom or any funding for terror organizations.

He and Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz fielded questions on a number of other issues, including about the Ukraine, civil unrest in Feguson, Mo., and the Ebola outbreak.

Mr. Schultz addressed questions about the time the President has spent playing golf during his vacation, and whether there was concern about the juxtaposition of the President speaking about grave situations and then going to the golf course.

"Generally speaking, sports and leisure activities are a good way for release and clearing of the mind for a lot of us," the deputy press secretary said.

"First and foremost, he's doing his job," Mr. Schultz said of the President. "Just because the President is in a different location doesn't mean he's not doing his job...nobody can deny he's been deeply engaged." He said that the issues facing the country have "absolutely captured" the President's attention.

The President and his family are expected to depart on Sunday.

Earlier today, the Obamas took a hike around the Chilmark home where they are staying.


Dinner with the Governor

10 months 2 weeks ago

After spending about four hours on the links at Farm Neck, President Obama is back at his rented Chilmark home.

According to the White House, the President and First Lady are dining at the house tonight with Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who is a longtime friend of the Obamas. Gazette photographer Timothy Johnson captured Governor Patrick, his wife Diane and Cape Air pilot Dave O'Connor just after landing at the Vineyard airport prior to the dinner engagement.

Thursday Afternoon at Farm Neck

10 months 2 weeks ago

President Obama is back on the golf course for the eighth time during his Vineyard vacation. Farm Neck seems to be his golf course of choice — he is hitting the links at the Oak Bluffs golf club for the fifth time this summer.

According to the White House, the President is joined on the course today by retired NBA player Alonzo Mourning, Cyrus Walker and Preston Heard.

Back on the Island, Back to the Golf Course

10 months 2 weeks ago

After delivering a statement early Wednesday afternoon in Edgartown, President Obama headed to Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown, spending about five hours on the links on a sunny afternoon.

This was the President's seventh round of golf during his Vineyard vacation. He was joined on the golf course Wednesday by Cyrus Walker, who is a cousin of Valerie Jarrett, retired basketball player Alonzo Mourning and investor Glenn Hutchins.

Speaking in Edgartown, President Obama condemns murder of jouranlist Jams Foley

President Condemns Murder of Journalist James Foley

10 months 2 weeks ago

Speaking at the Edgartown School early Wednesday afternoon, President Obama condemned the execution of Jim Foley, an American journalist who was abducted in northwest Syria in 2012.

“Today the entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley,” the president said during a short statement. “Jim was a journalist, son, brother, and a friend who reported from difficult and dangerous places, bearing witness to the lives of people a world away.”

A video released by the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Tuesday depicts Mr. Foley's beheading. The video was accompanied by the threat of further violence against freelance journalist Steven Sotloff, who has been missing since 2013.

Mr. Obama said he spoke on the phone earlier Wednesday morning with Mr. Foley’s parents, who live in New Hampshire.

“Jim Foley’s life stands in stark contrast to his killers,” Mr. Obama said, condemning ISIL’s attacks on cities and villages, and its killing and brutal treatment of innocent civilians. He pointed out that ISIL targets Christians and other religious minorities, and that the majority of its victims are Muslims.

“So ISIL speaks for no religion,” he said. “No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day.”

“People like this ultimately fail,” he said. “They fail because the future is won by those who build and not destroy, and the world is shaped by people like Jim Foley and the overwhelming majority of humanity who are appalled by those who killed him.”

He called on the Iraqi people to “continue coming together to expel these terrorists from their communities,” and pledged to continue supporting the people of Syria “in their pursuit of a future rooted in dignity.”

“Friends and allies around the world, we share a common security and a common set of values that are rooted in the opposite of what we saw yesterday,” Mr. Obama said. “And we will continue to confront this hateful terrorism, and replace it with a sense of hope and civility.”

After Brief Washington Trip, President Back on the Vineyard to Finish Vacation

10 months 2 weeks ago

After two days of meetings in Washington, President Obama arrived back on the Vineyard Tuesday evening.

Marine One touched down at Martha's Vineyard Airport at 6:10 p.m. President Obama, wearing a white shirt and blue jeans, traveled from Washington, D.C., with daughter Malia, who departed the Island with him late Sunday night.

First Lady Michelle Obama apparently remained on the Island, and daughter Sasha was to be joining the family on vacation sometime this week, the White House has said.

The Obamas are renting a home off North Road in Chilmark. The First Family's vacation will continue until Sunday, August 24. There are no public events scheduled.

During his time in Washington, the President met with Attorney General Eric Holder about the situation in Ferguson, Mo.

On Monday, the President also made remarks about the latest developments in Iraq and Ferguson.

On Tuesday, he and Vice President Biden met at the White House with senior advisors and the President's economic team.




Excitement in Edgartown Over President's Visit

10 months 2 weeks ago

Taking the unusual step of interrupting his vacation, President Obama is back at the White House Monday for a series of meetings about issues including Iraq and civil unrest in Ferguson, Mo. He is expected to return to the Vineyard Tuesday.

Before the President left on Marine One late Sunday night, he and the First Lady had an evening out, including a stop at Featherstone Center for the Arts for some outdoor jazz. The couple then went to Atria for dinner, making the first presidential visit to the Edgartown restaurant.

“It was very cool to have them,” Atria owner Christian Thornton told the Gazette Monday. He said that at first he was concerned about whether the visit would be a hardship to his customers, with Secret Service coming through the restaurant, extra security and a portion of Upper Main street closed to traffic. But everyone was excited to be a part of it, he said.

“There’s always a great buzz and excitement,” Mr. Thornton said. “The customers are excited once they figure out what’s going on.”

“It was not terribly disruptive, they come in and they bring a lot of security, the bomb-sniffing dogs come in," he said. "The motorcade was just an amazing amount of vehicles out front.”

The President was with a large party including his family, Mr. Thornton said. President Obama had lobster and Mrs. Obama had striped bass.

They did not order dessert, as the President left immediately after dinner to depart with daughter Malia for Washington, D.C. Mrs. Obama stayed at the restaurant awhile, Mr. Thornton said.
“He was very gracious and said hello to a number of the staff,” Mr. Thornton said, adding that the President seemed happy to be there and posed for a picture. “It was nice to see him with his family, relaxed.”

“It was very exciting for the guests and the staff, and I hope for Edgartown,” he said.