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Obama fills 2-week vacation with golf, reading and hanging out with family and friends

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CHILMARK, Massachusetts — Lots of golf, a family outing on a private beach and a stack of books. President Barack Obama's two-week vacation on Martha's Vineyard is shaping up as a pretty low-key retreat.

What a difference a year makes. At this point last year, domestic and foreign affairs forced Obama to interrupt the vacation and make separate appearances before the news media to react to developments in Iraq and in Ferguson, Missouri, after the fatal shooting of an 18-year-old unarmed black man by a white police officer.

Obama also returned to the White House halfway through his 2014 vacation to attend some meetings and appeared in the White House press briefing room to comment further on the Missouri unrest before returning to Martha's Vineyard.

This year, the reporters who accompanied Obama on the trip have barely seen him.

And that's just how the president likes it.


AT HIS LEISURE

Obama arrived late on Aug. 7 and has had six golf outings in 10 full days on the pricey Massachusetts island.

His partners have ranged from former President Bill Clinton, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and Democratic adviser Vernon Jordan to past and present NBA players Alonzo Mourning and the father-son team of Dell Curry and Steph Curry, the latter of the 2015 championship Golden State Warriors.

Obama spent a day with his family at a private beach and has taken his wife, Michelle, and daughter Malia on separate walks on a trail near his secluded vacation rental.

The president is also getting in some of the socializing he's often criticized for doing so little of in Washington.

He followed a solo dinner out with the first lady with a couples' dinner with national security adviser Susan Rice, former Attorney General Eric Holder and former U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and their spouses at an Edgartown restaurant.

Heavy rain last Tuesday kept Obama at his rental home for the day.


PARTY HEARTY

Except for the walk with Malia, Obama also spent Sunday at his rental home after jamming at Jordan's 80th birthday party the previous night.

The Obama family spent about three hours at the party, mingling among the 200 or so guests that included actor Morgan Freeman, American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault and Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates. Reporters were kept outside but could hear strains of the dance hit "Uptown Funk" from inside the venue.

Obama offered a toast praising Jordan for his wisdom, kindness and generosity, the White House said, adding that the couples have been friends for more than 20 years.

The Jordans spend summers on the island. Obama attended a party for Jordan's wife, Ann, last year.


HOME AWAY FROM HOME

PHOTO: FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2015 file photo, President Barack Obama smiles as he sits in a cart while golfing at Farm Neck Golf Club, in Oak Bluffs, Mass., on the island of Martha's Vineyard. So far, one rainy day is the only thing that has dampened President Barack Obama’s two-week summer vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. Chunky text look at vacation. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2015 file photo, President Barack Obama smiles as he sits in a cart while golfing at Farm Neck Golf Club, in Oak Bluffs, Mass., on the island of Martha's Vineyard. So far, one rainy day is the only thing that has dampened President Barack Obama’s two-week summer vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. Chunky text look at vacation. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Obama is staying at the same secluded vacation property he rented last year, way up a lengthy dirt road in Chilmark, on the western part of the island.

The sprawling home has seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms, according to The Martha's Vineyard Times, plenty of space for the Obama family of four and dogs Bo and Sunny to hang out.

The 8,100-square-foot house sits on a 10-acre lot and features a total of 17 rooms, some of which offer sweeping views of Vineyard Sound. There's also an infinity pool, hot tub and a dual tennis-basketball court.


READING LISTS

It isn't exactly quick beach reading.

The White House said Obama brought six books, including "Between the World and Me," a New York Times best-seller by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a national correspondent for The Atlantic. The Times described Coates' book as a "searing meditation on what it means to be black in America today."

The other titles in Obama's summer book bag are:

— "Washington: A Life," a biography of America's first president, by Ron Chernow.

— "The Lowland," a family saga set in India and the U.S., by Jhumpa Lahiri.

— "All That Is" by James Salter, about a life unfolding in a world on the brink of change.

— "All the Light We Cannot See," an intimate World War II novel that won author Anthony Doerr this year's Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

— "The Sixth Extinction," an exploration by New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert of human behavior's impact on the natural world that won this year's Pulitzer for general nonfiction.

Obama also released his summer playlists on the popular music streaming service Spotify.


OFFICIAL BUSINESS

Because a president is on vacation in name only, Obama is still handling business from the island.

He flew in with a small group of aides, including national security staff, a deputy White House chief of staff and several press aides. Scores of Secret Service agents, who provide security for Obama's family, also invaded the roughly 100-square-mile island.

Obama gets a national security briefing daily.

He returns to Washington on Aug. 23.


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