Dec 29

Inbetween Rounds Of Golf Obama Sends His Condolences After Deadly Winter Storms Slam US:

What was until a few days a gorgeous, balmy (and GDP boosting, pre-triple seasonal adjustment) winter, rapidly turned into something ugly, violent and deadly, with the sudden arrival of winter weather over the past week killing at least 43 people this weekend, leading to the first winter storm of the season which has also threatened to unleash more flooding in the Midwest and icy conditions in parts of the Northeast.

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The storm caused widespread damage across parts of Texas and Oklahoma over the weekend, spawning tornadoes with record-high winds. Then it began to drag precipitation from the Gulf of Mexico toward the Great Lakes, creating deadly floods. According to the WSJ, more than 2,500 flights were canceled and thousands more delayed Monday due to bad weather, which included high winds and a wintry precipitation mix in Chicago.

On Monday, residents in the Dallas suburbs of Garland and Rowlett continued to dig out debris and assess the destruction after tornadoes swirled through Saturday night, damaging hundreds of homes.

Eleven people died in North Texas. In Garland, a city of about 233,000 where eight were killed, field meteorologists with the weather service estimated that the tornado that struck was in the EF4 category, with winds between 166 and 200 miles an hour.

It was only the second EF4 tornado in the Dallas region since 1950. Roughly 600 structures were damaged, most of them single-family homes, according to Garland officials.

In Oklahoma, where freezing rain and ice left nearly 200,000 homes without power and flooding closed highways, Gov. Mary Fallin extended a state of emergency for the state’s 77 counties.

By Tuesday, cold air descending from the Northeast was forecast to cause rain to freeze, creating dangerous road conditions and the chance of power outages in parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut and down into Pennsylvania. Officials in Michigan and other Midwestern states also braced for ice as well as more flooding.

“It will be a very icy, dangerous kind of storm,” said Glenn Field, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass.

In short: a dazed and confused nation, which is need of leadership. Unfortunately, it won’t get it.

Here, courtesy of the AP’s ever watchful eye, is the latest hourly update of Obama’s Hawaiian vacation, now in its 10th day, in which we read that the president – inbetween rounds of golf – “offered condolences for those who lost their lives and for those who lost their homes in the tornadoes.

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This is day 10 of Obama’s annual holiday vacation with his family in Hawaii.

* * *

9:05 p.m.

President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama wound up Monday dining with friends in Honolulu.

They’re at Alan Wong’s Honolulu, a restaurant that Obama frequents each year during his annual holiday vacation with his family in Hawaii.

Wong was one of the founders of Hawaii Regional Cuisine, a culinary movement that began in the 1990s, blending Hawaii’s diverse ethnic flavors with the cuisines of the world while using local food sources.

* * *

4:35 p.m.

President Barack Obama was all smiles as he wound up a round of golf on Monday afternoon with friends in Kailua on the island of Oahu.

Obama spent nearly six hours playing golf with Mike Ramos, Greg Orme and Bobby Titcomb at the Mid Pacific Country Club. A small crowd gathered nearby, excited to see the president. Obama was wearing a white golf shirt, tan khaki shorts and a tan baseball cap.

The crowd cheered as Obama chipped it on to the green and then made a short putt on the 18th. The president took off his cap and tipped it to the crowd, and smiled and waved.

Earlier, Obama cheered on Titcomb and gave him a high five after he made a shot.

The president’s motorcade later passed by scenic Lanikai Beach, with a view of the Mokulua Islands, as it made its way back to his Kailua vacation rental.

* * *

12:30 p.m.

The White House says President Obama has called Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to get an update on the severe weather there and to offer federal support for recovery efforts.

At least 11 people died and dozens were hurt in the tornadoes that swept through the Dallas area on Saturday and caused substantial damage. Other states in the Midwest and South also were hit by severe weather in the past week.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz says Obama offered condolences for those who lost their lives and for those who lost their homes in the tornadoes.

Obama made the call from Hawaii, where he is vacationing during the holidays. Schultz says the president made clear he has directed his team to work closely with the governor’s staff to provide whatever assistance may be needed.

* * *

11:35 a.m.

President Barack Obama is playing golf in Kailua. On the way to the golf course Monday morning from his vacation home, Obama’s motorcade passed by scenic Kailua Beach, where some onlookers waved and took pictures of the motorcade with their cellphones.

The White House says Obama is playing golf with some of his longtime friends including Mike Ramos, Greg Orme and Bobby Titcomb.

* * *

10:40 a.m.

The White House says President Obama has been updated on progress made by Iraqi force against the Islamic State group in Ramadi.

Ramadi fell to IS in May, marking a major setback for Iraq and the U.S. The White House is describing the progress in retaking Ramadi as a testament to the “courage and determination” of the Iraqi security forces.

Iraqi military leaders say security forces have seized the main government complex there, though parts of the city remained under IS control.

The White House says the United States and the broader coalition have supported the Ramadi operation with more than 630 air strikes, and training and equipment.

A White House readout of Monday’s briefing says the U.S. will continue to “support our partners fighting against ISIL on the ground until it is defeated.”

Obama is vacationing with his family in Hawaii.

* * *

8:15 a.m.

President Barack Obama started off Monday morning by working out at the gym at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe.

As the president’s motorcade entered the base, a colorful Hawaiian sunrise broke through the clouds. Temperatures are in the mid-70s.

* * *

And then this happened:

A recreational drone briefly flew alongside the presidential motorcade in Hawaii, highlighting a growing security challenge posed by the popular toy. The incident, which took place Monday around 4 p.m. local time, only lasted a matter of seconds and the operator landed the craft next to him as Secret Service agents approached.

“The Secret Service is aware of this incident,” U.S. Secret Service spokeswoman Nicole Mainor wrote in an email. “The subject was completely unaware that the Presidential motorcade would be transiting the area of operation and immediately complied with law enforcement requests to cease and desist. No charges were filed. The motorcade proceeded without further incident.”

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