December 31st, 2010
02:57 PM ET

Hawaii's version of NY ball drop

HONOLULU, Hawaii (CNN) - It's hard to top the famous New Year's Eve Ball at Times Square but one Hawaiian hotel is going to try. Ed Henry interviews the man who is making someone's grand vision a reality at the Kahala Hotel and Resort. For the first time, an LED-illuminated eight-foot paper-mache pineapple, topped with a six-foot fabric crown, will descend from the top of the 10-story hotel at midnight Hawaiian time.

The Kahala Hotel and Resort will ring in the new year with the pineapple drop and a big bash around the pool with a breathtaking view of Kahala Bay.  Fourteen foot pineapple or not, one thing Hawaii's celebration almost certainly has over New York City this time of year is the weather.

CNN photojournalist Dave Catrett shot and edited this story.

Topics: Uncategorized
December 30th, 2010
08:37 PM ET

Feeding the president

HONOLULU, Hawaii (CNN) - President Obama and the first lady dined at Alan Wong's in Honolulu Wednesday night, a restaurant they always visit when they return to the island where Obama grew up.  Ed Henry interviewed chef Alan Wong and he shared some advice for chefs who might be so lucky to serve the president.

This story was shot and edited by senior photojournalist Peter Morris and produced by White House producer Xuan Thai.

Obama's 12 days of Christmas
December 29th, 2010
06:38 PM ET

Obama's 12 days of Christmas

HONOLULU, Hawaii (CNN) - President Obama is giving himself a little more time to recharge his batteries by extending his Hawaiian vacation another day, according to White House spokesperson Bill Burton.  He will now return to Washington on Tuesday, January 4, giving him 12 full days on the island of Oahu.

His vacation was initially delayed several days on the front end because of the lame duck session of Congress.  The first family arrived on Saturday, December 18, and the president joined them late Wednesday, December 22.

The first family is staying at a beachside vacation rental overlooking Kailua Bay.  Obama has worked out at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in nearby Kaneohe Bay every morning except for Christmas day.  So far he’s made a couple trips to the beach, gone snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, and played a few rounds of golf.  He also took daughters Sasha and Malia and friends for shave ice at Island Snow after bowling and playing basketball.

The president has managed to keep a relatively low profile with very little press coverage because most of his activities have taken place on the marine base or places that are closed to the public when he visits.


Topics: President Obama • The News
December 29th, 2010
06:30 PM ET

Obama makes six recess appointments

HONOLULU, Hawaii (CNN) - Taking time out from his Hawaiian vacation to assert some executive authority, President Obama used a series of recess appointments to override Republican objections to several nominees.

Obama used his Constitutional power to recess appoint six people who have had their nominations pending for an average of 147 days, according to White House officials.

White House officials said privately that the president acted because of Republican obstructionism on the nominees, which include the prestigious posts of deputy attorney general and ambassadors to Turkey, the Czech Republic, and the Syrian Arab Republic.

Senate Republican aides did not have any immediate comment on the recess appointments, which essentially allows these nominees to serve in their posts in a temporary capacity for about one year. If the nominees are not confirmed by the end of the next session of Congress, which is likely to end next November or December, the post will become vacant again.


Topics: President Obama • The News • Uncategorized
Threats follow White House to Hawaii
December 29th, 2010
04:47 PM ET

Threats follow White House to Hawaii

HONOLULU, Hawaii (CNN) - Every day before 8 a.m. Hawaiian time, President Obama gets an extensive briefing about all of the national security threats that have been bubbling around the world overnight while he's been vacationing.

An intelligence official heads over to Obama's vacation rental to deliver the Presidential Daily Brief, the very same classified briefing he receives every day back at the White House, and then a series of White House staffers provide him with extra information throughout the day via secure telephone, video and email lines.

"There's the PDB plus anything else the president needs to know about," Ben Rhodes, a senior National Security Council staffer who is traveling with Obama here in Hawaii, said in an interview.  It didn't quite go that smoothly last Christmas here in Hawaii.

White House aides confirmed a New York Times report that Obama was peeved in late 2009 when he had a hard time connecting securely with his top counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, after a Nigerian national tried to launch a Christmas Day terror attack on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

As a result, Brennan made sure that for this trip to Hawaii Obama got an upgrade to his communications equipment at the beach house his family rents in Kailua, a tiny town on the eastern side of Oahu about a 30-minute drive from Waikiki Beach.


Topics: John Brennan • President Obama • Terror • The News
December 29th, 2010
01:00 AM ET

Got game?

President Obama plays golf at the Mid-Pacific Country Club in Kailua, Hawaii, on Tuesday, Dec. 28.

December 28th, 2010
08:16 PM ET

Ed Henry's version of the hula dance

HONOLULU, Hawaii (CNN) - Ed Henry unveiled his, um, dance moves during CNN Newsroom's Stakeout segment today.  He joined other members of the White House press corps and some White House staffers who took part in a Hawaiian tradition at the Moana Surfrider on Waikiki Beach on Monday.  At least he had the presence of mind not to wear a hula skirt.

Topics: The Visuals
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser is Dead to Me
December 28th, 2010
07:04 PM ET

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser is Dead to Me

HONOLULU, Hawaii (CNN) - I thought it was funny when The Washington Post joined various CNN anchors in teasing me about creating "something of a brand covering [President] Obama's vacations."

In a tongue-in-cheek piece, the Post's Perry Bacon wrote that I've been trading the "traditional news correspondent garb of a suit and tie for a seemingly endless variety of multi-colored Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops."

OK fine, you've got to be able to laugh at yourself. And what's wrong with injecting a little fun into live reports?

That's why I used to scoop up big belt buckles in Texas to cover then-President Bush's vacations in the sleepy town of Crawford. Now that a new president has brought us to a more exotic locale, the last thing I want to do is look like Richard Nixon and wear dress pants and wing-tip shoes to the beach.

But then I stopped laughing this morning when one of my colleagues at another network asked me in a semi-serious tone, "Did you see that editorial about you in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser?"

I thought he was joking until he handed over the offending newspaper editorial with the headline, "Reporting live, in my Hawaiian shirt."

The short, kind-of-whimsical editorial wondered aloud whether there's a downside to Obama having his annual holiday vacation on the Hawaiian island of Oahu in the tiny town of Kailua, about a 30-minute drive from the tourist-friendly Waikiki Beach that you see in our live shots.


Topics: Hawaii
White House year in pictures
December 28th, 2010
06:43 PM ET

White House scenes from 2010

President Obama's second year in office has been a year of ups and downs, from getting health care passed to a "shellacking" in the midterms. White House producers and photojournalists share images from the year that capture the most memorable moments from 2010.

This gallery, as a well as this great story by John Helton, can be found on CNN Politics.

Topics: The Visuals • Uncategorized
December 27th, 2010
11:30 PM ET

Shave ice for Obamas

HONOLULU, Hawaii (CNN) - President Obama stops at Island Snow to treat his daughters and family friends to shave ice on Monday.  Obama ordered a mix of melona, lemon-lime and cherry and after tasting it for the first time he told the pool, "It is really good."  He posed for a picture with Island Snow employees and flashed a shaka.  The shave ice store is located in Kailua not far from the president's vacation rental.

Topics: President Obama • The Family • The Visuals