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www. ace60. blogs. cnn. com

President Obama and his family head to Martha's Vineyard on Friday for a weeklong vacation, but don't expect it to be without controversy. It will be the president's second time on the island off the coast of Massachusetts. In 2009, Obama spent time golfing and hanging out with family and friends. Vacations are often considered political low-hanging fruit: Zing a president or first lady anytime they go away for some rest and relaxation. Critics have asked: Why did the Obamas go to Maine instead of the Gulf Coast as Obama had encouraged Americans to help bolster tourism there? Once in the Gulf, why only for 27 hours? Who footed the bill for Michelle Obama's glitzy trip to Spain? As for Martha's Vineyard, isn't that an elite playground? Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said some voters pay close attention to the message a destination sends - especially in tough economic times.

www. economist. com/blogs/banayan


Symbolic gestures come in all shapes and sizes, but few as imposing as that of the USS George Washington, a ship more than three football-pitches long, and capable of carrying 85 aircraft and more than 6, 200 people. But even symbols of such massive heft can be interpreted in various ways. The George Washington has just been in the South China Sea, off the coast of Danang, once home to one of the American army's biggest bases in Vietnam. Fifteen years after the opening of diplomatic relations, and 35 years since the end of the Vietnam war, the carrier's visit, and the joint naval exercises, striking tokens of reconciliation. But observers in China saw a different sort of gesture: not so much a handshake with a former enemy;more a brandished fist towards a potential one, their own country.

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