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President Obama

Daily reports here on President Obama's Martha's Vineyard vacation.

In this photo taken August 12 on the 18th green at Farm Neck Golf Club, President Obama took a moment to greet Fr. Augustine Bengali, a Holy Ghost Missionary from Sierra Leone, Africa, on-Island for his sixth summer to assist Fr. Michael Nagle. President Obama remembered meeting Father Bengali last year, and asked him about the Ebola health issue in Sierra Leone. Former Celtics player Ray Allen sits in the golf cart behind them.

Sunday, August 23: President Obama and family bid Martha’s Vineyard farewell

President Obama got in one more round of golf Sunday at Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs, his favored course, before he and his family and a retinue of friends and advisers departed Martha’s Vineyard Airport just after 5 pm for Air Station Cape Cod, where Air Force One was waiting on the tarmac to take them back to Washington, D.C.

POTUS made one last visit to the golf course on Sunday, his final day on the Vineyard. His golfing buddies for the day were Cyrus Walker and businessmen Glenn Hutchins and Robert Wolf.

Following the round, the motorcade departed Farm Neck at 3:19 pm, and returned home at 3:45 pm. Several small groups of people waved at the motorcade, who returned their gestures with a few honks along the way.

At 4:38 pm, POTUS departed the Chilmark rental for the last time. He boarded Marine One at 5 pm.

President Obama and family departed Martha's Vineyard just after 5 pm, Sunday flying over the outbound Martha's Vineyard ferry.
President Obama and family departed Martha’s Vineyard just after 5 pm, Sunday flying over the outbound Martha’s Vineyard ferry.

A group of about two dozen kids, adults, and airmen were on hand to greet the Obamas at Air Station Cape Cod, according to press pool reports.

The president was wearing gray slacks and a blue buttondown, sleeves rolled up. He looked relaxed, and his hair was a little longer than usual. The First Lady was wearing a black sleeveless dress.

“How you doing? So nice to see you,” Mr. Obama could be heard saying.

“We had a great time,” he also said. And it was back to work.

Saturday, August 22: A ride in the woods and dinner with friends in Edgartown

Amid a light drizzle, the Obamas left their vacation house at 10:57 am headed for the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest. At 11:23 am, the First Family, along with their security entourage, donned bike helmets and set off on one of the trails in the West Tisbury section of the forest.

Reporters got a very brief glimpse of the First Family as they whizzed past on bikes in slightly drizzly weather at around 11:42 pm, Michael D. Shear of The New York Times reported. “The four family members, all wearing helmets, were preceded and followed by Secret Service agents on bikes. Sasha came first, followed by FLOTUS, Malia, and then POTUS, who yelled out to the press: “Hello everybody. Having fun?”

FLOTUS and the girls were wearing short sleeve shirts and dark pants. POTUS wore a grey-colored long-sleeved shirt and black pants, with blue-and-black tennis shoes.

Prior to the first family passing by, a jogger and a couple of other bikers were stopped briefly by agents who quickly wanded them and let them proceed on their way along the path toward POTUS. There were also several bikers and joggers in the area who seemed unfazed by POTUS’s imminent arrival and simply headed on away from POTUS.

That night, their last on the Vineyard, the Obamas dined with the Heard family at their home in Edgartown.

Friday, August 21: Friday was golf and the rocket’s red glare

At 11:36 am, the motorcade headed east on North Road in Chilmark following a very familiar route to Farm Neck Golf Club. The President arrived at noon — 24 minutes, beating his earlier time by 3 minutes. His golf partners that day were regulars Cyrus Walker, Alonzo Mourning and Ray Allen.

Mr. Obama departed at 4:52 pm and arrived back at his rental home at 5:25 pm following what press reports described as a short spin around the Island.

At 7:25 pm, the motorcade departed for the rental home of presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett located on Seaview Avenue in Oak Bluffs overlooking the waterfront. The Obamas arrived at 7:58 pm. Ms. Jarrett’s house provided a grand vantage point to watch the annual Oak Bluffs fireworks, which went off without a hitch.

People cheered and waved as the motorcade pulled out of town. The president arrived back at his vacation home at 11:36 pm, after about three hours in Oak Bluffs, according to press pool reports.

Thursday, August 20: On Thursday the First Family went to Aquinnah

The Obamas traveled to Aquinnah Thursday for a day at the beach with the family of Caroline Kennedy, an early supporter of Mr. Obama. Ms. Kennedy is the U.S. ambassador to Japan.

The Kennedy estate is known as Red Gate Farm and is located in a secluded portion of the Island’s smallest town. The property is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Squibnocket Pond and features rolling dunes and a long stretch of sandy beach.

Wednesday, August 19: Golf and a trip to Beach Road restaurant

Wednesday the activity of choice was golf. The motorcade left Chilmark at 12:03 pm, and arrived at Farm Neck Golf Club at 12:30 pm. Alonzo Mourning, Ray Allen and businessman Cyrus Walker made up the foursome.

That evening the First Family dined out at Beach Road restaurant in Tisbury. Their arrival tied up traffic heading east on Beach Road, busier than usual as people converged on Oak Bluffs for Illumination Night.

Beach Road is the latest venture by Mary and Jackson Kenworth, operators of another Obama favorite, State Road in West Tisbury.

The president and the first family finished dinner, and the motorcade rolled at 10:06 pm, according to pool press reports.

About 200 people  — very rough estimate — lined the road, cell phones raised for the motorcade.

Tuesday, August 18: Tuesday was a day at the beach

On Tuesday, the motorcade left Chilmark at 11:30 am, according to pool reports. At 11:50 am, POTUS and his family arrived at the beach off of Pohoganut Road in Edgartown.

The First Family departed the beach at 4:25 pm, and arrived home at 4:44 pm after an uneventful ride.

Monday, August 17Back to the links on Monday with the NBA

On a hot, humid day with the temperature in the eighties, President Obama left his vacation home off North Road at 11:40 am, passing a field of Queen Anne’s Lace at the Captain Flanders Inn, and arrived at the Vineyard Golf Club off West Tisbury Road in Edgartown at 12:01 pm after an uneventful, ride across the Island.

The private club boasts one of the Island’s finest restaurants and is open only to members and their guests.

POTUS golfed with NBA stars Alonzo Mourning and Ray Allen, and Boston Celtic’s owner and private equity investor Glenn Hutchins.

At 4:45 pm the motorcade left the Vineyard Golf Club.

At 5:05 pm POTUS’ motorcade turned into the driveway to his Chilmark rental after another uneventful ride.

Twenty minutes club to door, not bad by Island summer traffic standards. By comparison, the ride to Farm Neck Golf Club is 27 motorcade minutes.

Sunday, August 16: Sunday was a quiet day at the vacation home

On Sunday, the First Family remained in their Chilmark vacation home. President Obama and Malia Obama took a short walk on a trail on the property that overlooks Vineyard Sound.

The one official bit of business was a statement on the death of Julian Bond at the age of 75.

From Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz: “This afternoon, the President had the opportunity to phone Mrs. Pamela Horowitz to express condolences on behalf of himself and the First Lady on the passing of her husband, Julian Bond. The President offered gratitude for Julian’s lifetime of accomplishment, and prayers and sympathies to Pamela and her entire family.”

Saturday, August 15: A walk, more golf and a star studded party

POTUS and FLOTUS (that’s president of the United States and First Lady of the United States for the uninitiated) began their day with a walk on a nearby trail, according to pool reports. They likely hiked on the adjacent Menemsha Hills Reservation, a property owned and managed by The Trustees of Reservations, Massachusetts oldest private conservation organization.

Just before noon, President Obama headed to Farm Neck Golf Club. His foursome that day included former President Bill Clinton, longtime seasonal visitor and Washington lawyer Vernon Jordan, and Ambassador Ron Kirk.

In keeping with the vacation theme all week, the press pool was afforded a bare glimpse of the action. Tom Rowley of the Washington Post documented the action at the first hole.

Vernon Jordan, in white hat, coral shirt and shorts, was preparing a shot while President Obama, in baseball cap, white sports shirt and grey pants, and former president Clinton appeared to be talking. When Jordan apparently succeeded, Obama fished the ball for him and handed it back to him. Then Obama crouched down to line up his own shot, taking a couple of practice swings before appearing to successfully putt the ball into the hole. Finally, Clinton, in light blue pants, dark blue polo shirt but no hat, stepped forward, taking three practice swings before apparently also succeeding in putting the ball into the hole. Mr. Obama collected the ball for him.

POTUS departed the golf club at 4:36 pm. Back at the house at 5:03 pm. That is 27 minutes from Farm Neck to Prospect Hill.

At 6:51 pm POTUS and FLOTUS left the house for Vernon Jordan’s 80th birthday party at the Farm Neck Golf Club. The couple stayed until 10:14 pm, an early night even by Island standards, and returned to Chilmark at 10:41 pm. That is 27 minutes from Farm Neck to home, exactly the same drive time as the earlier trip. Of course, it helps to have State Police on motorcycles at every intersection stop traffic.

The White House issued the following press release: “Tonight, the First Family attended the 80th birthday celebration for Vernon Jordan at the Farm Neck Golf Club. There were approximately 200 guests in attendance.

“The President and First Lady have known the Jordans for over twenty years, and were grateful to have sat with Ann and other guests this evening.

“Toasts were offered between courses. Ann Jordan offered the first toast, welcoming guests and honoring her husband. President Obama then toasted Vernon extolling his kindness and generosity. The President told attendees that Vernon’s wisdom and enthusiasm are rare qualities.

“Third and fourth toasts were offered by President Clinton and Vickee Jordan, respectively.

“Other guests tonight included Morgan Freeman, Brian Roberts, Henry Louis Gates, Ken Chenault, Valerie Jarrett, and Capricia Marshall. Tonight’s menu included salad, surf and turf, and birthday cake.”

Friday, August 14: Golf with hoop stars

After a one day hiatus, President Obama returned to the golf course Friday afternoon. It was a beautiful day to walk the 18-hole course that affords views of Nantucket Sound and Sengekontacket Pond.

According to the White House, his foursome Friday included Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, retired NBA star Dell Curry and free agent Ray Allen.

Farm Neck Golf Club was created in 1979 in support of a conservation effort to protect 500 acres of land along the shores of Sengekontacket from over-development, according to a history on the club’s website.

Fifty Places to Play Golf Before You Die,” described it this way: “All the serenity and New England seacoast beauty are revealed to you as you make your way around Farm Neck. “

Thursday, August 13: A day at the beach

It was a day at the beach for the Obamas. The family spent the afternoon on the south shore, likely on secluded Oyster-Watcha beach in Edgartown.

From a White House official, we have the president’s summer reading list: All That Is, James Salter; All The Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr; The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert; The Lowland, Jhumpa Lahiri; Between The World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates; Washington: A Life, Ron Chernow

Wednesday, August 12: Golf and dinnertime magic

Wednesday was a beautiful, sunny day. Just before 1 pm, Mr. Obama headed for the Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs. His golfing buddies that day included Cyrus Walker, retired NBA player Alonzo Mourning, and current NBA free agent Ray Allen.

In the evening the Obamas went out to dinner at Alchemy in Edgartown. They dined with Ron Kirk and his wife, Eric Holder and his wife, Susan Rice and her husband. The couple returned to Chilmark just after 11 pm.

Tuesday, August 11: A stay at home day

It was damp and rainy Tuesday. Island intersections and roadways were tied up in knots for those without the juice to clear traffic — a good day to stay at home with a good book or a pile of DVDs. We do not know exactly what the First family did but there are no outings to report.

Monday, August 10: Golf

If it is a sunny day it is a golf day. On Monday, President Obama left the house about 1 pm headed for the private Vineyard Golf Club where memberships sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

He was joined Monday by World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, private equity financier Glenn Hutchins, and frequent golfing companion Cyrus Walker. Mr. Obama returned home about 6 pm.

Sunday, August 9: Dining out at State Road

It was a quiet day at the vacation rental Sunday. President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama did not venture out until just before 7 pm when they departed for State Road Restaurant in West Tisbury, a past favorite. The pair returned to Chilmark just after 9 pm, according to pool press reports.

Saturday, August 8: Vacation begins with a round of golf

President Obama’s vacation kicked off, not surprisingly, with a round of golf. The motorcade departed Chilmark Saturday afternoon and arrived at Farm Neck Golf Club at 1:11 pm, according to Michael Shear from the New York Times, one of the wretched scribes encased in the bus that follows the presidential party.

The White House said Mr. Obama’s golf partners are financier Robert Wolf, businessman and frequent golfing buddy Cyrus Walker and seasonal Vineyard resident, author and producer, Larry David.

In the one glimpse of the game afforded reporters, Larry David was in a sand trap, trying to hit his apparently errant ball back onto the green. After the swing, which brought a bunch of sand along with the ball, Mr. David let out a yell of disappointment, perhaps because it didn’t come close to the hole, Mr. Shear reported.

POTUS, who appeared to be wearing light colored pants, a white or beige golf shirt, and a beige baseball cap, took his turn next. His ball was sitting at the edge of the green. After a couple of practice swings, POTUS hit the ball with his putter and as it approached the hole, POTUS leaned back on one leg, raising the other leg up as if to will the ball to fall in. It did not.

After more than four hours on the golf course POTUS returned home at 6:20 pm where he is expected to spend the evening.

Friday August 7: President Obama arrives on Martha’s Vineyard

At 6:25 pm on Friday, President Obama and his family landed on Martha’s Vineyard in Marine One, and officially began their two-week Island vacation.

POTUS,  as the president is known among the press (President of the United States), left Andrews Air Force before 5 pm today, headed for Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod. President Obama, dressed in a dark suit, traveled with his wife, First Lady (FLOTUS) Michelle Obama, their daughter Sasha, Susan Rice and Valerie Jarrett.

White House pets Bo and Sunny were already on the plane when the White House pool reporter watched the family leave Washington, D.C.

At shortly after 6 pm, the first family boarded Marine One at Otis, bound for Martha’s Vineyard Airport.

If past Martha’s Vineyard vacations (and there have been six) are any indicator, the Commander-in-Chief will golf, do some bicycling, golf some more, and eat at some favorite Island restaurants.

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Secret Service visits and air base preparations suggest the Obama family will once again return to the Island in August.

President Barack Obama and daughter Malia ride through the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest in West Tisbury in 2014. – File press pool photo by Ivy Ashe/The Vineyard Gazette

Updated 5 pm, Friday

President Obama and his family will likely return to Martha’s Vineyard this summer, as they have all but one year of his presidency. While there has been no official confirmation yet, months ago the White House began making reservations to accommodate the large entourage of Secret Service agents, White House staffers, and support personnel that are responsible for the safety and success of the president’s vacation, according to reliable sources.

A view of President Obama's vacation getaway at Gosnold's Way in Chilmark. – File photo by Nathaniel Horwitz
A view of President Obama’s vacation getaway at Gosnold’s Way in Chilmark. – File photo by Nathaniel Horwitz

In a presentation last week before the Mashpee board of selectmen, Air National Guard Col. James LeFavor indicated that the commander-in-chief would be flying into Joint Base Cape Cod again this summer, according to a report published in the Cape Cod Times Friday.

“This summer again, we’re still having a visitor to the Cape down on Martha’s Vineyard as we have for a long time, and we will have some sort of fighter alert presence, whether it’s F-15s from the 104th or someone else, so there might be a little bit of air activity that you might hear,” Colonel LeFavor, commander of the 102nd Intelligence Wing at the base, said.

The Cape Cod Times was unable to confirm a presidential visit with base officials or the White House.

At a meeting of the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission Thursday, a discussion of the fiscal year 2016 operating budget, which begins July 1, included a reference to the upcoming presidential visit.

Airport manager Sean Flynn said planning is underway for a presidential visit this summer, which will include dedicating staff time and hours in July and August to maintenance around the terminal. “We’re still planning for the presidential visit this summer and we will obviously dedicate a lot of our staff time to that in July and August,” Mr. Flynn said.

An aerial view of 72 Gosnold's Way in Chilmark, where neighbors say President Obama will stay in August. – Photo courtesy of Google Earth.
An aerial view of 72 Gosnold’s Way in Chilmark, where neighbors say President Obama will stay in August. – Photo courtesy of Google Earth.

Last year, the Obamas stayed at the home of Joanne Hubschman on Gosnold’s Way off Prospect Hill Road, which overlooks the north shore and Vineyard Sound. The seven-bedroom, nine-bath, 8,100-square-foot house, sits on a 10-acre lot and features 17 rooms in total, expansive water views of Vineyard Sound, an infinity pool and hot tub, and a dual tennis-basketball court.

Ray and Lillian Kellman, who live in the house next door, said they suspect the Obamas will return to the neighborhood this summer.

“We’ve heard that they’re coming back,” said Mr. Kellman. “They’ve rented houses around here, and they wanted to rent this house for the purpose of the Secret Service. I presume if they rented houses around that they’re going to be here.”

Although he hasn’t heard anything official yet, Mr. Kellman said he was contacted by a real estate agent who told him that his house was one of several being considered for rental to the Secret Service. He said the Hubschman house is the perfect spot for the president and his family, as it is surrounded by conservation land.

“It’s completely private — it’s all reservation down here — which is why it’s so great for him,” Mr. Kellman said. “It’s a very secure area. It has a swimming pool, it has tennis courts, it has everything that you could want right there. And it’s got a rather staggering view.”

After living in their home in Chilmark for 40 years, the Kellmans never thought they would be sharing the neighborhood with a president. They said that besides a few road stops for car checks, the biggest inconvenience was having to provide a list of all their house guests. Last year they forgot to include their gardener and best friends on the list. But by and large, they said, having the Obamas next door didn’t really affect them.

“As far as I was concerned, we were just sorry not to catch a glimpse of him,” Ms. Kellman said.

Mr. Obama and his family have vacationed on the Island every year since his 2008 election, with the exception of 2012, when he was campaigning for re-election. Chilmark is their favored vacation spot.

In 2009, 2010, and 2011, the first family rented Blue Heron Farm in Chilmark, a 28.5-acre compound on Tisbury Great Pond. In 2013, the first family rented a house in Chilmark just off South Road. The location necessitated a road closure that left some Island residents grumbling about the inconvenience.


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The Obamas returned to the Island for a fifth vacation respite, which included lots of golf, social gatherings with close associates and a fundraiser.

President Barack Obama and daughter Malia ride through the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest in what would be a rare public sighting. (Ivy Ashe for the Vineyard Gazette) — Ivy Ashe for the Vineyard Gazette

President Barack Obama, his family, and the presidential entourage departed Martha’s Vineyard Sunday evening. The clatter of helicopters and osprey aircraft just after dinner time punctuated the end of a 15-day summer vacation that underscored Mr. Obama’s love of golf and was notable for a lower profile and more limited public sightings of the first family than in past visits.

According to White House pool reports, there were no sightings of the president or the first lady, planned or spontaneous, in the final five days of their Vineyard vacation. Photographers assigned to the press pool had little to show for the long days in tow.

On Thursday, August 21, the president spent the afternoon on the links at Farm Neck Golf Club. Later that evening, he and Ms. Obama dined at their vacation home with Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and his wife, Diane.

On Friday, August 22, the president and first lady began the day with a walk near their Chilmark vacation home, and ended it at the annual Oak Bluffs fireworks display. The first family watched from Seaview Avenue Extension, where White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett rents a vacation home. The motorcade did not return to Chilmark until after 1 am, according to pool reports.

On Saturday, August 23, the president returned to Farm Neck Golf Club for his final round of golf of the vacation. Over the 15-day vacation, Mr. Obama played six rounds of golf at Farm Neck in Oak Bluffs, and three rounds at the Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown. He skipped Mink Meadows, a course he has played at least once on each previous vacation.

On the links, the president spent time with a tight circle of friends. They included NBA stars past and present Alonzo Mourning and Ray Allen, along with former NFL star and sportscaster Ahmad Rashad. Other frequent foursome partners were Cyrus Walker, a cousin of Ms. Jarrett; White House trip director Marvin Nicholson, and former White House chef and policy advisor Sam Kass.

The first family’s final day on the Island featured a hike along trails near their vacation home off North Road in Chilmark, and a quiet afternoon at home.

The president broke from his vacation schedule three times to address world events, including the civil strife in Iraq, the shooting of an unarmed African-American teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, and the gruesome killing of journalist James Foley by the militant group that calls itself Islamic State.

Immediately after condemning the killing of Mr. Foley, Mr. Obama played a round of golf at the Vineyard Golf Club, which drew criticism from political friends and foes alike.

Ms. Obama enjoyed lunch in Edgartown with friends, hiking in Chilmark, and a stroll from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown along State Beach.

The vacation included three dinners out with friends, at the Sweet Live Cafe in Oak Bluffs, State Road Restaurant in West Tisbury, and Atria in Edgartown.

It also included a fundraiser for Democratic Senate candidates, and a birthday party for the wife of political power broker Vernon Jordan, attended by former president Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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Obama’s visit gives local scribes a behind-the-scenes look at covering the commander-in-chief.

Inside the big yellow bus during a long "hold," two reporters file stories while most of the pool soaks in the glorious summer day. — Photo by Michael Cummo

The arrival of a visiting president on Martha’s Vineyard is an exciting prospect for a reporter at a local Island weekly. It provides the opportunity to join some of the nation’s top journalists and photographers and to ride in the motorcade with the President of the United States — POTUS in reporter parlance. And there’s always the possibility, however remote, that a local reporter will get the chance to ask the most powerful man in the world a probing question — a question that could possibly give the president pause for reflection.

The Presidential press pool passes a long holding period at Flanders, where AFP photographer Nicholas Kamm passes the time photographing horses and veteran pooler Rick Friedman jokes with the AP's Jacquelyn Martin.
The Presidential press pool passes a long holding period at Flanders, where AFP photographer Nicholas Kamm passes the time photographing horses and veteran pooler Rick Friedman jokes with the AP’s Jacquelyn Martin.

But past experience covering President Obama as a member of the White House pool has been akin to press purgatory — long hours sitting in vans and buses, and maybe, just maybe, getting a telescopic view of the president’s facility with an 8 iron. This vacation, the president has been even more cloistered than usual, and a Sasquatch sighting on Farm Neck seems much more likely than any contact with the commander-in-chief.

With a mandate to get something out of the money The Times ponied up for the costs to get this local reporter in the White House pool, I decided to interview some of these top-shelf journos, to get a window into the life with the president when something actually happens, to get their impressions of our Island, and to find out what movies they show on Air Force One.

A summer day in the pool

The White House pool reporters were welcoming and collegial when a Times reporter and photographer joined their coterie. It was not long before a photographer from a major wire service shared a moving story about a picture she took last winter that went viral and eventually reunited a mentally ill man with his searching family. When The Times asked her to tell her heartwarming tale on the record so Islanders could share in it too, her tone took a decidedly sour turn. “Aw man, I thought we were just hanging out,” she said, uttering the last words she would speak to The Times for the rest of the 13-hour day on the bus.

Journalists, it turns out, do not like to be interviewed. This irony stems mainly from corporate policy. Given the amount of print journalists who are blogging for less than minimum wage, they can’t be blamed for protecting their livelihood.

The big yellow bus, aka "The Mothership," where the White House press pool spends a good part of the president's vacation.
The big yellow bus, aka “The Mothership,” where the White House press pool spends a good part of the president’s vacation.

But over the course of a long day spent in cramped vans and pacing around holding sites, some reporters and photographers, who asked to remain nameless, eventually shared stories about life on the Obama beat. While President Obama sometimes visits with pool reporters on long flights abroad, the conversations tend to be short and measured, as opposed to the gregarious President Clinton, who loved talking politics so much that one now-retired reporter feigned sleep when he saw the president coming to the back of the plane.

Neither the pool reporters nor the president get frequent flier miles on “Air Force One” and the movie “Air Force One” has not been shown on Air Force One. Additionally, the M&M’s and even the tiny tabasco bottles have “Air Force One” stamped on them, and make great gifts at the holidays.

On that day we spent five hours holding at the end of the entrance to the Vineyard Golf Club off the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road. The Times took an informal poll to see if these journalists, who are some of the best in the world at unearthing the truth, still saw the Island as an “affluent, exclusive enclave,” as so many of them describe it, after spending some time here. The unanimous response was, “Yes.” They were informed that locals bristle at these descriptions, that the average wage on the Island is 70 percent of the state average, that there’s a critical shortage of affordable housing, and that many Islanders are barely making ends meet.

“Really? Where are they?” one reporter asked genuinely. People who see the Vineyard from the point of view of the president can’t be expected to see the full spectrum of Vineyard life, especially when they spend long days wedged in vans and pacing around holding sites.

Hurry up and wait

After the president finished his round of golf, the “Men in Black” convoy sped up Island, and the press promptly went into hold mode again — this time at the Flanders property, a 65-acre former estate of a prosperous whaling captain who was coincidentally also named Flanders. The photographers took photos of horses from every possible angle, while some Secret Service huntsmen looked longingly at the abundant deer and turkey frolicking in the verdant meadows.

After POTUS got cleaned up for dinner, the convoy, this time including a bomb squad truck manned by men with permanent scowls, sped back down Island. After a circuitous route to Oak Bluffs, the president, the first lady, aka FLOTUS, and a few select friends had dinner at The Sweet Life, where the Obamas have often dined.

While the president ate, the pool was escorted to Giordano’s via Kennebec Ave., which required an explanation of the long line at Back Door Donuts and the wonder of a warm apple fritter. The pool members, who have dined at restaurants all over the world, were unanimous in their praise for Gio’s cuisine, especially the meatball parmesan pizza and the lobster ravioli.

The day ended with the pool gathering with hundreds of locals outside The Sweet Life. Just before POTUS and FLOTUS emerged, the bomb squad truck, per security protocol, pulled in front of the crowd gathered on a spit of land between Pequot Ave. and Massasoit Ave. POTUS and FLOTUS left the restaurant to applause, flashing cell phone cameras and about 100 people chanting “Move that truck! Move that truck!”

The press was warned ahead of time that we had to dash to our vans as soon as POTUS got into his car, or risk missing the motorcade. Despite being impaled by a charging soundman brandishing his boom mike like a lance, this reporter managed to make it back to the van in time.

The day ended with the press getting one fleeting glimpse of POTUS and FLOTUS. From a journalistic standpoint, it was a dud. But maybe, just maybe, a reporter will think twice before describing the Vineyard as a playground for the rich and famous.

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In a collaboration among artists and local tech pros.

Ken Vincent and Traeger di Pietro painted together, and Chris Mara projected the process onto the Edgartown Lighthouse. — Photo by Geoff Parkhurst

On the evening of August 17, two Island artists celebrated the Commander and Chief and the first lady using acrylics and a $7,000 telescopic projector. Working side by side at the edge of Edgartown Harbor, Kenneth Vincent and Traeger di Pietro painted a romantic portrait of the Obamas on an easel-mounted canvas. As they did so, their brush strokes were projected over the sand onto the Edgartown Lighthouse thanks to a Sony 5000 lumen telescopic projector loaned by Thomas Bena and Brian Ditchfield, the executive and managing directors of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival. Local film technology pro Chris Mara operated the device while Vineyard photographer Geoffrey Parkhurst captured the painting’s progress toward completion in a time-lapse sequence using a Nikon d800e camera. Mr. Mara also operated a Sony XDCAM loaned by Tisbury resident Len Morris, editorial director of Media Voices for Children.

Ken Vincent  at the easel.
Ken Vincent at the easel.

The giant painting projection could easily be seen from the Harbor View Hotel and along North Water Street between 8 and 10 that night. The completed painting was subsequently brought to the Granary Gallery in West Tisbury where it is currently for sale, with the proceeds going to charity.

“Traeger thought it was the perfect subject matter to help us draw attention to our Projected Painting Project and raise money for the causes we were looking to support,” said Mr. Vincent. “Traeger had personal reasons to support the National Breast Cancer Foundation and I was motivated to help raise funds to support the art program at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School where I teach middle school and high school art.”

Originally the two artists hoped to paint on the brick side of an Edgartown tavern.

_DSC1860.jpg“We were both trying to find a project to collaborate on and we initially thought of asking the Port Hunter to do a mural on their exterior wall,” said Mr. Vincent. “The problem was that the town wouldn’t allow them [the Port Hunter] or us to do that and when we started brainstorming how to get around the town restrictions I suggested using a projector with a live feed camera to project onto the wall. We both realized the potential of the idea and thought if we could do that why not the lighthouse?”

Traeger di Pietro considers the work.
Traeger di Pietro considers the work.

After town administrator Pam Dolby relayed okays from various Edgartown departments and Martha’s Vineyard Museum executive director David Nathan gave his blessing, the artistic duo ran a test projection against the side of Chris Mara’s house. Then they were set to paint large.

“I have always admired Kenneth as a person and as an artist,” Mr. di Pietro said. “We work really great together. He’s more subtle, calm, and technical and I’m more animated, sloppy, and goofy.  We have a blast together and are constantly laughing and making jokes.”

Mr. di Pietro sees bold things ahead for him and Mr. Vincent. “Most definitely we will paint and or create together again,” he said. “Hopefully our next project is the Steamship ferry. We are going to paint the whole Island. Ideally things you would never think were possible.”

The final product.
The final product.

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Beach, dinner and Edgartown antics

Martha's Vineyard artists Traeger di Pietro and Ken Vincent executed this painting of President Barack and Michelle Obama while an assembled crowd watched. Film and video specialist Chris Mara then projected the image onto the Edgartown LIghthouse. — Photo by Chris Mara

And on Saturday, there was no golf. The President and First Lady, referred to by the White House press pool at least, as POTUS (president of the United States) and FLOTUS, went to a private beach on Martha’s Vineyard’s south shore.

The President and First Lady  then returned to their Chilmark rental home to rest and, presumably, rinse the sand off.

The press pool had  a lovely dinner respite at the Homeport Restaurant in Menemsha, reported MV Times staff reporter Steve Myrick, where Chef Josh Aronie got seafood orders out for hungry poolers on a tight deadline.

The first couple moved on to State Road restaurant in West Tisbury, a frequent stop during their Vineyard vacations, where they dined with friends.

Meanwhile, in Edgartown, there were antics afoot at the lighthouse, where, according to Times correspondent Rich Saltzberg, well-known Island artists Ken Vincent and Traeger di Pietro collaborated on a portrait of President and Michelle Obama. During the entire process, film and video specialist Chris Mara projected the work in progress onto the lighthouse, to the cheers of the assembled.


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A perfect day for a bike ride in the State Forest.

President Barack Obama and daughter Malia ride through the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest in what would be a rare public sighting. (Ivy Ashe for the Vineyard Gazette) — Ivy Ashe for the Vineyard Gazette

On another gorgeous Martha’s Vineyard summer day, President Obama, Michelle and daughter Malia behaved like any other vacationing family — the difference being a train of SUVs, reporters and Secret Service agents —  and went for a bike ride in the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest.

President Barack Obama rides through the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest.
President Barack Obama rides through the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest.

President Obama departed his vacation home in Chilmark at 11:18 am for West Tisbury, according to pool press reports. The motorcade arrived at a bike path in West Tisbury at 11:38 am and the Obamas and their security contingent pedaled away.

The traveling press pool traveled by van a few miles to a scenic spot on the bike path and waited for a fleeting sighting of the bicycle-riding Obama family. Mr. Obama, the First Lady and Malia passed by, pedaling at a leisurely pace. “Hey guys, nice day, huh?” Mr. Obama said to the pool.

All three were decked out in athletic wear, with Michelle Obama in gray spandex capri pants and a short-sleeved top. Malia wore running shorts and a black T-shirt.

The president wore a black athletic shirt, dark gray pants, white socks and black Nikes. All donned bike helmets. A phalanx of Secret Service agents followed closely behind.

The press pool saw the president and family for only seconds as they continued to make their way down the path.

President Obama’s motorcade departed at 12:33 pm, a little less than an hour after arriving at the bike path.

First Lady Michelle Obama.
First Lady Michelle Obama.

Ten minutes later, the president arrived at Farm Neck Golf Club, his third trip since Saturday to the popular Oak Bluffs Course. Today’s golf partners, according to the White House are: Glenn Hutchins, Cyrus Walker and Robert Wolf.

The State Forest was created in 1908 in an effort to save a dwindling population population of heath hens. Only 45 remained on Earth at the time. The State Forest has since expanded to 5,343 acres and the heath hen is extinct.


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The commander-in-chief racked up 72 holes of golf in his first four days on Island and the family spent some time at the beach.

President Obama is all smiles as golfing partner Ahmad Rashad congratulates him on sinking a putt at Farm Neck golf course. — The Boston Globe

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughter Malia, along with first dogs Bo and Sunny, arrived by helicopter at Martha’s Vineyard Airport Saturday for the start of a two-week vacation. The Obamas’ youngest daughter, Sasha, was not on Air Force One, but a White House spokesperson said she would be joining the family later.

Waitresses wave out the window of Bangkok Cuisine at people trying to spot President Obama, who dined at The Sweet Life Cafe just next door.
Waitresses wave out the window of Bangkok Cuisine at people trying to spot President Obama, who dined at The Sweet Life Cafe just next door.

Mr. Obama and his family have vacationed on the Island every year since his 2008 election, with the exception of 2012, when he was campaigning for re-election. Past presidential vacation activities have included golf, bike trips with the family, golf, dinners with friends, and golf. A White House pool reporter from a major wire service told a reporter from the Times that when he is in Washington, the president plays golf at least once every weekend.

The public was not allowed to welcome the Obamas at the airport, but well-wishers were frequent along the motorcade route to the president’s rented Chilmark estate. The commander-in-chief quickly changed into his golf clothes and was on the first tee at Farm Neck golf course in Oak Bluffs within an hour of his arrival. The president’s foursome that day included former football star and broadcaster Ahmad Rashad, Cyrus Walker, a cousin of White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, and Ray Allen, the longtime Boston Celtics star who later took his talents to Miami. After the round, the president did not disclose his score, citing executive privilege.

On Sunday, the president played a second round of golf at Farm Neck. His foursome included Mr. Walker, Mr. Rashad, and financier friend Robert Wolf. After the round, the president stayed in for the night.

President Obama waves to the throng of onlookers after leaving The Sweet Life Cafe, where he dined with his wife Michelle, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Attorney General Eric Holder, Former Ambassador Ron Kirk and their spouses.
President Obama waves to the throng of onlookers after leaving The Sweet Life Cafe, where he dined with his wife Michelle, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Attorney General Eric Holder, Former Ambassador Ron Kirk and their spouses.

As with all presidential movements, security is everywhere. Earlier that day, Island fisherman in search of bonito by boat off the brickyard were shooed away by a crew from a Coast Guard cutter stationed off the Island’s north shore, just east of the Obama’s vacation house. Fortunately for the fishermen, bonito have been scarce this year, or the situation could have ended badly.

On Monday, the president began the day with a phone call to Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko about the ongoing crisis in eastern Ukraine. Mr. Obama expressed his strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The President also spoke with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi about the latest developments in Iraq, Libya, and Ukraine, as well as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, according to White House reports.

In the surprise story of the day, the president did not play golf. Instead, he went to the beach with the First Lady and Malia. The first family went to one of the private beaches only accessible by Pohoganot Road, in Edgartown, where property owners include the Flynn family, for generations the largest landowners of Pohoganot Farm and surrounding property at Edgartown Great Pond, Andrew and Pamela Kohlberg, children of Jerome Kohlberg who owns the Vineyard Gazette, Robert Levine, and Richard L. Friedman, an investor who hosted President Bill Clinton when he vacationed on the Vineyard.

That evening the president attended a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee event hosted by Berklee College of Music President Roger Brown and his wife, Linda Mason at their home in Tisbury. Tickets to the fundraiser ranged from $15,000 to $32,400. President Obama entered the event to a singer belting out “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”

Mr. Obama told the crowd of approximately 50 donors that he had called new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi to offer his support and congratulations on his election. He reiterated that there is no American military solution to the problem and that Iraq must form an inclusive government. He said the day’s developments were a “promising step forward” in a “critical effort.”

Reuters photographer Kevin Lamarque lets paramedic Traci Monteith experiment with his camera during downtime in the Presidential press pool.
Reuters photographer Kevin Lamarque lets paramedic Traci Monteith experiment with his camera during downtime in the Presidential press pool.

The president began his day on Tuesday by declaring a major disaster in Washington state in response to recent wildfires. The president then played a four and a half round of golf at the very exclusive Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown. That evening, he and Michelle Obama dined at The Sweet Life restaurant in Oak Bluffs, one of his favorite stops on the Vineyard. The first couple were joined by National Security Advisor Susan Rice, Attorney General Eric Holder, and former Ambassador Ron Kirk, and their respective spouses.

The Obamas’ presence electrified Circuit Ave. and a crowd of several hundred people gathered outside the restaurant as they ate. The Obamas were greeted by loud cheers as they left the restaurant. There was also a crowd chanting “Move that truck!” to the Secret Service bomb squad, which had blocked their view upon the president’s exit from the restaurant, per security protocol.

Rainy, stormy weather on Wednesday kept Mr. Obama indoors and apparently on the phone. The White House reported that he spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and discussed by phone the ongoing negotiations in Cairo to achieve a sustainable ceasefire agreement. The President reaffirmed United States support for Egypt’s mediation efforts and underscored the importance of achieving a sustainable outcome that ensures Israel’s security and addresses Gaza’s humanitarian crisis, according to a news release.

Mr. Obama chose not to attend an afternoon book signing by Hillary Clinton at the Bunch of Grapes in Vineyard Haven. Ms. Clinton’s sharp criticism of the president’s foreign policy earlier this week in The Atlantic magazine made their expected attendance Wednesday night a topic of much conversation by political pundits. President Obama and his former Secretary of State are on the guest list for an 80th birthday party tonight thrown by Vernon Jordan, the longtime Clinton pal and Washington insider, at the Farm Neck Golf Club for his wife, Ann Jordan.

According to a White House press release, the president will travel back to Washington on Sunday, August 17. He is tentatively scheduled to return to the Island on Tuesday, August 19.

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Iraq caps a day at the beach

President Obama delivered a statement on Iraq from his vacation home in Chilmark Monday. — Mark Alan Lovewell for the Vineyard Gazette

Late this afternoon, President Obama, dressed in a navy blazer, dark grey pants and a blue collared shirt with no tie, issued a brief statement on Iraq. Standing in a small clearing, flanked by trees and sweeping water views on the other side, Mr. Obama said he called new Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi to offer his support and congratulations, according to press pool reports.

Mr. Obama reiterated that there is no American military solution to the problem and that Iraq must form an inclusive government. Today’s developments are a “promising step forward” in what he called a “critical effort.”

​President Obama said over the past few days American forces have successfully completed targeted airstrikes to “prevent terrorist forces from advancing on the city of Irbil.” Mr. Obama said humanitarian efforts have continued to members of a minority sect trapped on a mountain and that a USAID disaster response team is now involved in the mission.

Mr. Obama said aircraft remain “positioned to strike terrorist forces” around the mountain that threaten the safety of the people on it.

Mr. Obama said the new leadership has a “difficult task” and must regain the trust of its people. He said the United States “stands ready to support” a government that addresses the needs of all Iraqi people.

Mr. Obama said these have been “difficult days” in Iraq and that the U.S. will remain vigilant to the threat posed by ISIS.

At 5:30 pm, President Obama left his vacation house to attend a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee event hosted by Berklee College of Music President Roger Brown and his wife, Linda Mason, in Tisbury. The DSCC said tickets to the fundraiser ranged from $15,000 to $32,400.

Mr. Brown and Ms. Mason founded Bright Horizons, a child-care provider. Ms. Mason is also a chairman of MercyCorps.

President Obama walked under a white tent to a singer belting out “Signed, Sealed Delivered.” Guests including Sen. Ed Markey and Sen. Michael Bennett sat around round tables with green tablecloths and centerpieces of yellow and white flowers.

Mr. Obama told the assembled guests that with the help of a strong Democratic Senate, “We were able to right the ship.”
He said, “When I first came into office, we were then losing 800,000 jobs a month. We now are seeing the lowest unemployment claim since 2006 — the largest drop this past year in unemployment in 30 years. We’ve seen the deficit cut by more than half. We’ve seen the stock market rise so that people fully recovered their 401(k)s. We’ve seen corporate profits booming. Our energy production at unprecedented levels. Solar production 10 times what it was when I came into office; wind power three times what it was when I came into office. We’ve reduced our carbon by more than any nation on Earth. The housing market has recovered. And it’s worth noting that we also have several million people who didn’t have health care before that now have affordable care that they can count on,” according to a White House transcript of his remarks.

Mr. Obama said we are seeing around the world incredible challenges, “many of them all coming to a head at the same time.”
But he added, “I do want to point out, though, at a time when the news seems filled with news of Ukraine and Gaza and Ebola and you name it, that in every instance people are constantly interested in finding out how can America help solve these problems. And there’s a reason for that. Because despite the complaints and the second-guessing, and the anti-American sentiment that you hear sometimes on television around the globe, when there’s an actual problem they all recognize we’re the one indispensable nation. They all recognize that our leadership is absolutely critical. And that’s true both for challenges and opportunities.”

Delving into the homefront he said, “And I think it’s fair to say that the one area where we haven’t seen as much improvement as I would have liked is getting a Congress that is focused not on the next election, but on the next generation; that is serious about how do we grow an economy so that middle-class folks and folks who want to get into the middle class have opportunity.”

“What’s preventing us from getting things done right now is you’ve got a faction within the Republican Party that thinks solely in terms of their own ideological purposes and solely in terms of how do they hang on to power. And that’s a problem. And that’s why I need a Democratic Senate. Not to mention the fact that we’re going to have Supreme Court appointments, and there are going to be a whole host of issues that many people here care about that are going to be determined by whether or not Democrats retain the Senate.”

Mr. Obama urged democrats to get excited about the midterms elections. “We get real excited about presidential elections. We lose sight of the importance of elections in the midterm,” he said.

Mr. Obama returned to his Chilmark house early in the evening.

Earlier, on a perfect summer beach day, after another late start, President Obama decided to go to the beach.

The press pool reported that the motorcade departed the Chilmark vacation house off North Road at 12:40 pm bound for Edgartown. The uneventful 21-minute ride took the motorcade past verdant fields, clapboard houses and one animated woman who threw the motorcade the Shaka sign, a Hawaiian hand signal – the ultimate symbol of aloha and local culture in Hawaii and interpreted to mean “hang loose” or “right on,” according to a website that specializes in Hawaiian culture.

The motorcade turned down Pohoganut Road in Edgartown at about 1:02 p.m. for the beach, leaving the press pool in its dust and parked by a state forest fire lane on Edgartown-West Tisbury road.

Pohoganut Road leads to a series of roads that provide access to private beaches that stretch between Edgartown Great Pond and Oyster Pond. Property owners include the Flynn family, for generations the largest landowners of Pohogonot Farm and surrounding property at Jobs Neck and Edgartown Great Pond, Andrew and Pamela Kohlberg, children of Jerome Kohlberg, owner of the Vineyard Gazette, Robert Levine, and Richard L. Friedman, the real estate investor and former host of President Bill Clinton when he vacationed on the Vineyard.

President Obama left the beach at 3:30 pm. The pool reported it was unclear if the rest of the family stayed behind to enjoy the beach a bit longer.

This morning, the White House reported, the President spoke with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko about the ongoing crisis in eastern Ukraine. President Obama expressed his strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, according to a press statement. The two leaders agreed that any Russian intervention in Ukraine without the formal, express consent and authorization of the Ukraine government would be unacceptable and a violation of international law. President Poroshenko also noted the continued shelling of Ukraine’s territory from Russia. President Poroshenko updated the President on his engagement with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on the effort to deliver multilateral humanitarian aid to the distressed populations in eastern Ukraine. The President noted the urgency of such humanitarian efforts and encouraged President Poroshenko to continue to exercise restraint and caution in military operations in order to avoid civilian casualties. In light of the ongoing violence and instability, the President and President Poroshenko agreed that all parties should prioritize diplomatic efforts toward finding a political resolution to the crisis.

The President also spoke this morning with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi about the latest developments in Iraq, Libya, and Ukraine, as well as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the White House reported. On Iraq, the two leaders agreed on the need to ensure humanitarian assistance is reaching vulnerable Iraqis, continue to seek the safety of the civilians on Mount Sinjar, and work together to develop options that will secure the safety of the civilians on Mount Sinjar. Renzi expressed his support for the United States’ efforts in Iraq. Both leaders noted the urgency of efforts to counter the threat ISIL poses against all Iraqis and discussed the latest developments in Iraq’s political transition.

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The President and First Lady arrive at Martha's Vineyard Airport and head up-Island.

President Obama, and First Lady Michelle Obama arrived at Martha's Vineyard Airport about 12:45 PM on Saturday. — Michael Cummo

Updated, 12:55 pm, Saturday, August 9.

The President has arrived with his wife, Michelle Obama, and daughter Malia. The motorcade that will accompany them to their vacation home on Prospect Hill in Chilmark has 21 vehicles, including two press vans, an ambulance and State Police vehicles and one Osprey helicopter carrying about a dozen security people wearing bullet proof vests. Marine One and Marine Two were also present.
According to pool reports, by 12:50 the first family was on their way up-Island to Chilmark.

Posted 12:30 pm, Saturday, August 9.

The helicopter holding the White House Traveling Press Corps arrives at MV Airport.
The helicopter holding the White House Traveling Press Corps arrives at MV Airport.

At 11:24 am on Saturday, President Obama’s family vacation began when Air Force One rolled off down the runway at Andrews Air Force Base, bound for Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod, according to White House Press Pool reporter Colleen Nelson of the Wall Street Journal.

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama boarded and joined The First Dogs, Sunny and Bo, who had boarded earlier, and will be enjoying the Martha’s Vineyard vacation along with the First Family.

A gorgeous day awaits the family on Martha’s Vineyard. At midday, the temperature was 78 degrees and sunny, with low humidity. The next few days look to be much of the same, with no prospect of rain until Wednesday, August 13. The Island at this time of year is full of things to do: Book signings (Hillary Clinton at Bunch of Grapes Bookstore on Wednesday, August 13), the Islanders Write Event on Monday the 11th at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury, Farmers Markets, Artisans Fairs, The Moth Event…There’s even a lot of opportunity to do nothing, or barely: Great Island Walks (Islanders’ favorite walks, here), bike rides (Local favorites here), fishing,   golf  and reading (Local Writers favorite books, and their latest published books).

The local press pool, awaiting the President and first Lady’s arrival at MV Airport.

After landing at Otis, the First Family and dogs boarded Marine One for the helicopter flight to Martha’s Vineyard. Expected arrival is about 12:45 PM. Waiting to greet them are about eight pool reporters and photographers, including MVTimes Photo Editor Michael Cummo.

Times staff reporter Steve Myrick has written about how the pool works, here.

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