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Obama takes an island break from the pressures of office

With Washington struggling to come to an agreement on the "fiscal cliff", President Barack Obama arrived in Hawaii at the weekend for a Christmas break with his family.

The vacation promises to be a brief one, with lawmakers due to travel back to the capital later this week for make-or-break talks to stave off, or at least reduce, the impact of the more than $500bn of spending cuts and tax rises that are due to kick in on 1 January.

Taking a break from budget negotiations and the debate on gun control, the President is expected to spend the remainder of his break with his family – First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia – in a quiet Hawaiian beach community on the island where he was born and raised.