Obama's Inauguration: Congrats President Obama!

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Pro-Life Rick Warren to Give Invocation at Obama Inauguration



Pro-life pastor Rick Warren will give the invocation at President-Elect Barack Obama’s inauguration. It makes a whole lot of sense. Even though Warren and Obama disagree on the life issue, they do see eye to eye on many social justice issues. This move is also classic Obama because it is a signal to religious conservatives that he’s willing to bring in both sides to the faith discussion in this country. Obama has never shied away from that.

The benediction will be led by Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery. The Civil Rights leader seems to be the perfect pick on such an historic day in this nation’s history. Watch Reverend Lowery preach with Barack Obama watching here.

The full program is below: (by the way, The Brody File was not asked to take part in the ceremony. I wanted to read some of the "Best of The Brody File" blog entries but they said thanks but no thanks)

The order of the program will be as follows:

Musical Selections

The United States Marine Band

Musical Selections

The San Francisco Boys Chorus and the San Francisco Girls Chorus

Call to Order and Welcoming Remarks

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein

Invocation

Dr. Rick Warren, Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA

Musical Selection

Aretha Franklin

Oath of Office Administered to Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

By Associate Justice of the Supreme Court

The Honorable John Paul Stevens

Musical Selection, John Williams, composer/arranger

Itzhak Perlman, Violin

Yo-Yo Ma, Cello

Gabriela Montero, Piano

Anthony McGill, Clarinet

Oath of Office Administered to President-elect Barack H. Obama

By the Chief Justice of the United States

The Honorable John G. Roberts, Jr.

Inaugural Address

The President of the United States, The Honorable Barack H. Obama

Poem

Elizabeth Alexander

Benediction

The Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery

The National Anthem

The United States Navy Band “Sea Chanters”
 

belizean

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Military to be on high alert for inauguration

Military to be on high alert for inauguration
About 11,500 troops, including chemical attack experts, will join the security detail as Obama takes the oath of office.
By Julian E. Barnes

December 18, 2008

Reporting from Washington — The U.S. military will be on high alert during Barack Obama's inauguration, increasing air defenses and deploying chemical attack experts and medical units, a general said Wednesday.

Air Force Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., who heads the military command that oversees security for North America, said the Defense Department had not been told of specific Inauguration Day threats. Nonetheless, he said, the armed services must be ready.

"It would make news for a terrorist element or rogue element to interrupt that event," Renuart said. "So it is prudent to plan for the possibility of that event and to deter it or to respond to it."

The preparations come amid heightened security concerns during the presidential transition. The Bush administration is planning to provide the president-elect with a series of contingency plans for potential international emergencies, including terrorist strikes and electronic attacks, that could occur after Obama takes the oath of office.

The Secret Service is in charge of security for the inauguration. The agency is coordinating with local police departments, as well as with 4,000 law enforcement officers from 96 jurisdictions. About 11,500 military personnel will take part.

Secret Service officials have established 23 planning teams but have provided few details. Inauguration organizers are considering a loudspeaker system to broadcast evacuation instructions in the event of an attack.

Renuart said the military's preparations were meant to support civilian-led efforts.

After 2001, the U.S. Northern Command, frequently called Northcom, was given broad responsibility for assisting with domestic security. Renuart is also the commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which guards U.S. airspace.

The military response is not unprecedented. Northern Command officials said they provided security for inaugural activities in 2005, as well as for national political conventions and major athletic events such as the Super Bowl.

Some military personnel will be part of the inauguration, playing in bands, marching in parades and conducting honor ceremonies. But Renuart said much of the force would have a security role.

About 4,000 National Guard members will provide support to local law enforcement, boosting security on the National Mall and around Washington, where millions of people are expected. There also will be 7,500 troops under federal control, including emergency medical teams and experts in chemical attacks.

Air defenses around Washington are always tight, but Renuart said the number of patrols would increase.

The contingencies to be conveyed by the White House to the Obama team are separate from the inaugural preparations. They are meant to ensure that the new administration is as prepared as possible on Jan. 20.

The White House briefing, first reported by the New York Times, is part of a larger transition effort by the National Security Council to identify international trouble spots for the new administration.

Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said: "We want to provide them, especially in the first few weeks, the basis for which they can have some information to make their decisions. This is a menu of contingencies and possible options."

Obama is trying to fill key national security jobs, hoping the Senate will confirm many of his appointments on the day of the inauguration or soon after.

Johndroe said the Bush administration would make sure there were career officials ready to act should a crisis develop before Obama's appointees were confirmed.
 

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Obama's choice of evangelical pastor draws ire from gays


WASHINGTON – Gay rights advocates are criticizing President-elect Barack Obama's choice of a popular evangelical minister to deliver the invocation at his inauguration, saying it shows disrespect for a constituency that strongly supported his campaign.

Pastor Rick Warren, a best-selling author and leader of a Southern California megachurch, is one of a new breed of evangelicals who stress the need for action on social issues such as reducing poverty and protecting the environment, alongside traditional theological themes. But the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights organization, said Warren's opposition to gay marriage is a sign of intolerance.

"We feel a deep level of disrespect when one of the architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda is given the prominence and the pulpit of your historic nomination," the group said in a letter to Obama, asking him to reconsider.

Obama's selection of Warren is seen as a signal to religious conservatives that the president-elect will listen to their views. During the campaign, Warren interviewed Obama and Republican John McCain in a widely watched television program that focused on religious concerns.

Gay rights advocates say they are troubled by Warren's support for a California ballot initiative banning gay marriage, approved by voters last month. "By inviting Rick Warren to your inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table," the letter said.
 

belizean

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Take God out the oath?

Lawsuit seeks to take 'so help me God' out of inaugural

Atheists want references to religion removed from inaugural ceremony

Groups object to "so help me God" at end of oath, benediction by pastor

"I have no doubt I'll lose," says California lawyer who filed lawsuit

By Carol Cratty
CNN
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A number of atheists and non-religious organizations want Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony to leave out all references to God and religion.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Washington, the plaintiffs demand that the words "so help me God" not be added to the end of the president's oath of office.

In addition, the lawsuit objects to plans for ministers to deliver an invocation and a benediction in which they may discuss God and religion.

An advance copy of the lawsuit was posted online by Michael Newdow, a California doctor and lawyer who has filed similar and unsuccessful suits over inauguration ceremonies in 2001 and 2005.

Joining Newdow in the suit are groups advocating religious freedom or atheism, including the American Humanist Association, the Freedom from Religion Foundation and atheist groups from Minnesota; Seattle, Washington; and Florida.

The new lawsuit says in part, "There can be no purpose for placing 'so help me God' in an oath or sponsoring prayers to God, other than promoting the particular point of view that God exists."

Newdow said references to God during inauguration ceremonies violate the Constitution's ban on the establishment of religion.

Newdow and other plaintiffs say they want to watch the inaugural either in person or on television. As atheists, they contend, having to watch a ceremony with religious components will make them feel excluded and stigmatized.

"Plaintiffs are placed in the untenable position of having to choose between not watching the presidential inauguration or being forced to countenance endorsements of purely religious notions that they expressly deny," according to the lawsuit.

Among those named in the lawsuit are Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts, who is expected to swear in the new president; the Presidential Inauguration Committee; the Joint Congressional Committee on Inauguration Ceremonies and its chairwoman, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California; and the Armed Forces Inaugural Committee and its commander, Maj. Gen. Richard Rowe Jr.

The two ministers scheduled to participate in the ceremony also are named: the Rev. Rick Warren and the Rev. Joseph Lowery. The document includes a quotation from Warren on atheists: "I could not vote for an atheist because an atheist says, 'I don't need God.' "

Newdow told CNN that he didn't name President-elect Barack Obama in the suit because in addition to participating as a government official at the ceremony, he possesses rights as an individual that allow him to express religious beliefs.

"If he chooses to ask for God's help, I'm not going to challenge him," Newdow said. "I think it's unwise."

Newdow said that as a member of a racial minority, Obama should have respect for atheists, who also are members of a minority.

Newdow said religious references in the inauguration ceremony send a message to non-believers.

"The message here is, we who believe in God are the righteous, the real Americans," he said.

Newdow said it's unconstitutional to imply that atheists and others are not as good.

He acknowledged that his suit is unlikely to be successful.

"I have no doubt I'll lose," he said, adding that he hoped to eventually succeed through appeals and hoped future inauguration ceremonies would exclude religious references.
 

Dr Buzzard

Deceased
Lawsuit seeks to take 'so help me God' out of inaugural



"I have no doubt I'll lose," says California lawyer who filed lawsuit



He acknowledged that his suit is unlikely to be successful.

"I have no doubt I'll lose," he said, adding that he hoped to eventually succeed through appeals and hoped future inauguration ceremonies would exclude religious references.

This r******* should have to pay for all the costs of the frivolous lawsuits he files. Phucking azz costs us taxpayers lots of money and he knows his case is so stupid. Peeps trying to legislate via the courts should be fed to sharks. You too rodentnpoke!
 

belizean

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Good luck getting around D.C. on Inauguration Day

WASHINGTON – On a typical weekday, hundreds of thousands of people commute to the nation's capital, snarling roads and packing subway trains and buses during peak hours.

Imagine multiplying that several times for Barack Obama's inauguration Jan. 20.

"I don't want in any way to discourage anyone," said the District of Columbia's city administrator, Dan Tangherlini. "I just don't want them to come and be completely shocked by what they find."

It won't be pleasant, Tangherlini and other officials say.

The Washington area's transit system is telling passengers to expect extraordinarily long lines for trains and buses. Airports will be bustling with extra flights. Traffic could be at a standstill as motorists cope with street and bridge closings. Those who do manage to arrive in Washington will find limited parking.

"Pack your patience" is the advice from Corinne Geller, a Virginia State Police spokeswoman.

Amtrak is expanding service between Boston and Washington on Inauguration Day. Southwest Airlines is adding 26 flights to and from the region between Jan. 17 and Jan. 23. Delta Air Lines and its subsidiary, Northwest Airlines, are adding more than 5,000 seats Jan. 16 and Jan. 21 by using larger aircraft on existing flights. Airport officials say they will add staff to help guide travelers.

Virginia State Police plan to bring troopers from across the state to monitor expected gridlock outside Washington, Geller said. Maryland transportation officials are urging truck drivers and other commercial drivers to avoid the area.

Major bridges into the city, such as the Roosevelt, Memorial and inbound Key bridges, will be open only to buses and official inaugural traffic, Tangherlini said. A complete list of road closures will be released early this week, according to the Secret Service.

Prepare for the unexpected, authorities and inaugural organizers say.

"We also recommend developing backup plans in case your original travel plans need to be changed at the last minute," the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies said in a recent advisory.

Given the impending headaches, some would-be revelers are staying home.

Larry Froneyberger of Atlanta planned to pick up his 68-year-old grandmother, Francine, from High Point, N.C., on his way to the inauguration. They were going to stay in Baltimore and take the train into Washington.

She was excited about the prospect of witnessing the first black president, especially because she grew up during a time when that seemed impossible, Froneyberger said. But with her slow stride due to foot surgery last year, the transportation situation was too overwhelming.

"It's going to be a lot of waiting and she was like, 'I just can't do it,'" Froneyberger said.

Even cab drivers are thinking twice about working that day, said William J. Wright, president of the Taxicab Industry Group in Washington.

Wright said he has driven his cab during past inaugurations — including John F. Kennedy's — but based on what he's hearing, he expects gridlock for this one to be the worst.

"I don't see how a cab driver can make any money, to be honest with you, because he can't go anywhere," he said.

Others are willing to brave it, despite the many inconveniences.

Tony Vincent of northeast Washington said he will take the subway into Union Station, where he shines shoes. Depending on how many people step on his shoes on the packed train, he may need a polish of his own, he said.

"I know it's going to be crazy," he said. "It might be a little uncomfortable."

While government workers are off that day, some sectors are requiring employees to show up.

Nicholas Ramfos, who heads Commuter Connections, a nonprofit group that coordinates commuter programs in Washington, is recommending that employers allow workers to telecommute or shift their hours outside of peak inaugural travel time.

Besides biking or public transport, he suggests people take a look at his group's car pool list to find others who work or live near them.

For some people, leaving the city isn't an option.

Emily Durso, president of the Hotel Association of Washington, D.C., said hotels will be fully staffed, with many people working multiple shifts. Her group represents 97 hotels in Washington, and she said a number of them plan to set up cots for employees at the hotels or in empty apartments.

"We've never had anything like this," she said. "It's just a whole different animal in many ways."
 

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FREE HBO!!!!

Beyonce, Wonder, Springsteen at inaugural event


NEW YORK – Judging by the lineup, Sunday's inaugural celebration for Barack Obama at the Lincoln Memorial is a coveted gig for music's top names.

Beyonce, Bono, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Usher, Shakira, Sheryl Crow, Josh Groban and James Taylor are among the musicians scheduled to perform Sunday afternoon. The president-elect and his family are expected to attend.

HBO will televise the show at 7 p.m. EST on Sunday on an open feed, meaning the pay cable network will offer the telecast for free to cable and satellite customers.

Other performers include Stevie Wonder, Renee Fleming, Garth Brooks, Mary J. Blige, Herbie Hancock, Heather Headley, John Legend and Jennifer Nettles. Historical passages will be read by Jamie Foxx, Martin Luther King III, Queen Latifah and Denzel Washington.
 

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Grandson of slaves: Obama is our Moses


SLEDGE, Mississippi (CNN) -- James Presley stands amid chopped cotton, the thick Mississippi mud caked on his well-worn boots. A smile spreads across his face when he talks about voting for Barack Obama and what that might mean for generations to come. His voice picks up a notch. He holds his head up a bit higher.

"There's a heap of pride in voting for a black man," he says.

At 78, Presley is a legend of the past living in the present and now hopeful for the future. A grandson of slaves, he's one of the few men left in America so closely tied to his slave past, still farming cotton on the same land as his ancestors. He's picked cotton since he was just 6 years old.

He and his wife of 57 years, Eva May, raised 13 children and six grandchildren in a cypress-sided house in the middle of cotton fields in northwestern Mississippi. He was a sharecropper most his life, but rarely qualified for food stamps. Watch "Obama, he come up like" »

His father died in 1935 when he was 5, and he had to step up and be the "Little Man" of the house, a nickname that has stuck seven decades later.

He's lived a raw-knuckled life where hope moved at a molasses-slow pace. The last time he had hope for a better future was four decades ago -- first with President John F. Kennedy and then with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Obama has changed everything to the poor in these parts. iReport.com: What does Obama's presidency mean to you?

"I'm a church man," he says. "And I kind of figured this here is about like it was with Moses with the children of Israel. On that day, when he gets to be president, we're all going to be rejoicing."

Does he have plans to celebrate on Inauguration Day?

"Oh man, it's gonna be nice. I believe we're gonna have a good time," he says. "I never thought one would get there." See photos of the weather-beaten home where Little Man raised so many children »

As the nation prepares for Obama's inauguration on January 20, CNN.com traveled to Sledge, Mississippi, a forgotten town of about 500 people in the heart of the Mississippi Delta that some consider to be the birthplace of blues in America.

Nearly 20 percent of residents over the age of 60 live below the poverty line, according to the 2000 census. That number nearly doubles, to 37.5 percent, for residents under the age of 19. About three-quarters of the population are black. Two-thirds of the people here make less than $35,000 a year.

Presley says the fact the nation will have a black president will have a ripple effect in poor communities like his. For the first time ever, he says, black parents and grandparents can tell youngsters in rural America that through education, anything is possible -- that the White House isn't just for white folks.

Three of his children graduated from college. Two have died -- one as a youth, one as an adult. It never gets easier, he says, no matter what age they die. Obama has already brought inspiration to future generations of his own family.

"I might be dead and gone, but it's going to be a good thing to me, because I know that they ain't gotta go through what I went through. They'll have a better time, a more joyous time, than what I had when I come along. It is gonna be grand to them and to me, too."

After Presley's father died, he was raised by his mother, and he finds comfort that Obama was raised by a "single mother, like me." Read: My great-granddaddy hired Little Man as a boy

"He knows what it is to come up without a father and what it is to come up for what you work for," Presley says. "Me and the poor man coming up, we had to work for what bread I got."

Presley shifts back and forth on his feet as he speaks. His flannel shirt and oil-stained jeans seem befitting of his life on the farm. He peers out from a camouflage hat, the fuzzy ear flaps pulled up over his head. He speaks in an accent as thick as the mud on his boots.

His hands speak to decades of hard labor. His fingers appear swollen with overworked muscles. The skin seems about a quarter-inch thick. If his hands could speak, he says, "They'd be crying, instead of talking, for what they've been through."

"You see how rusty and rough they are. They've been through something, ain't they?"

At 6-foot, 2-inches and 214 pounds, Presley has what seems an odd nickname. "They call me Little Man," he says.

He wears the nickname with pride. The youngest of three sisters and four brothers, he says that after his father died in 1935, he became the "Little Man" of the house. "I was tall, but I was small. So they called me Little Man," he says.

He doesn't remember much about his father. He can't recall the day he died or the sound of his voice. He was too young. He never met his slave grandparents either. They died long before he was born. But the fact they were slaves still stings.

"That doesn't make you feel too good, you know, to be sold like a cow. But back then, they couldn't help it. So I reckon I'm just glad that things come out better like it is now."

A thick fog hangs over the fields on this day. Presley pauses. He scans the fields and says, "I think about the good times and the hard times."

"When I started farming, we planted with hands ... and hauled it to the gin by wagon, a mule and a wagon. One bale at a time," he says.

He worked the fields when he was 6, the age of a typical kindergartner these days. "I was making 50 cents a day, from sunup to sundown."

"Back then, you know, I didn't get no schooling. I had to get out, come home and break the land, cut the stalks, plow the land and get it ready for the crop."

Presley has a total of four years of education, classes that he took in between growing seasons. His mother taught him to read and write, but he admits even to this day he struggles with both.

When it comes to life as a black man -- a sharecropper -- in Mississippi, he says it's tough to explain how difficult it was. He points to a nearby bluff and says that when he was just a boy, a black man was lynched from a tree. "I never saw him hanging up there," he says. "All I seen was the tree."

Blacks were segregated from whites. They couldn't go to the same schools. They had separate water fountains. Blacks couldn't go in the front doors of businesses. And just about everywhere you went, he says, racism was rampant.

"You go into a place, and they say, '******, get outta here.' You don't want nobody telling you that. You're a citizen around town. If you're a citizen, I'm a citizen like you," he says. "It makes you feel mighty bad."

"When I was a young boy, they was bad about that, calling you that."

He registered to vote for the first time in 1959 and cast his first presidential ballot for Kennedy. He says he's voted in every presidential election ever since.

"We felt like we were moving on up when we voted for him," he says. When Kennedy was assassinated, "everybody was kind of sad on that day, because he looked like the first president that had come in and was trying to help the poor folks."

King brought hope, too. "He was the only hope that we were looking for -- to bring us out," Presley says. But when King was killed on April 4, 1968, he says, it "put us right back where we was."

"It was pitiful that day," he says. "Everybody around here was in mourning."

He says Obama has brought inspiration to blacks in these parts, the likes of which hasn't been seen since 1968.

"With Obama coming in, it's gonna be another Martin Luther King helping us," he says. "Maybe in the next 40 years, we'll be better off."

He says Americans should never take their voting rights for granted. He was 30 years old before he first voted. "It means a lot to me, because I can put in for who I want to be president and who not to be president," he says. "So I just feel proud that I can vote."

Before parting on this day, Presley gives a tour of the weather-beaten, four-bedroom house where he raised his 13 children and six grandkids. The wood-framed house was the first home he ever lived in with running water, a bathroom and electric stove. The now-abandoned house is dilapidated, many of its windows broken, its doors barely hanging on hinges.

"I've had a good life, despite the hard times. I sure did," says Presley, who is retiring after 72 years of working the fields.

What's his message to the world?

"The important thing in life is to try to live and do the best you can," he says. "We done had it bad. Let us help give our children a better life, our grandchildren, our great-grandchildren. Let's try to give them a better life than we had. But anyway, just keep the good work going, is all I say."
 

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NAACP criticizes use of 'plantation-like' Trail Maids in Inaugural Parade...
 

belizean

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They're going to party like it's 1861!



In what will be a Lincoln-themed inauguration from top to bottom, Obama won't only follow in the footsteps of the former president - he'll also eat like him, it was announced yesterday.



Obama's jampacked Abe-apalooza moved into high gear with an announcement from the Congressional Inaugural Committee that it will hold a luncheon next Tuesday following the swearing-in ceremony that's modeled after foods Lincoln enjoyed.

The lunch menu is only the latest in a slew of references and tributes to Lincoln that will be folded into Obama's big day.

Part of the meal will even be served on replicas of the china picked out by First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln at the beginning of her husband's first term in office in 1861.

The appetizer will feature a seafood stew in puff pastry - including scallops, shrimp and lobster - in honor of Lincoln's love of seafood.

The main course of a "Brace of American Birds (pheasant and duck)" with sour-cherry chutney will be served with molasses sweet potatoes - a nod to the root vegetables and wild game that Honest Abe ate as a child in Indiana.

The Lincoln-fest luncheon at Statuary Hall, a chamber of the Capitol building, will serve some 200 guests, including members of the Supreme Court, the incoming Cabinet and congressional leaders.

"It's always good to model yourself after a great president," said Eric Foner, a professor of American history at Columbia University. "The proof will be in the pudding."

The guests will enjoy an apple cinnamon sponge cake for dessert, which recalls Lincoln's love of apples.

Guests will wash it down with several California wines, since Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is the chairwoman of the planning committee.

Design Cuisine, a Virginia-based caterer, has been hired to make the meal.

The backdrop for the luncheon will be Lincoln-esque as well - the painting "View of the Yosemite Valley" by Thomas Hill, borrowed from the New-York Historical Society.

The painting, which will hang behind Obama, is a landscape of Yosemite Valley at dawn - representing Lincoln's signing of the 1864 Yosemite Grant that set aside the land as a public reserve.

Just to make sure everyone gets it, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, which handles much of the inaugural planning, has deemed that "A New Birth of Freedom" will be the official inaugural theme.

The phrase, from the Gettysburg Address, expresses Lincoln's hope that the sacrifice of those who died to preserve the nation would lead to "a new birth of freedom" for our nation.

And at his swearing-in ceremony, Obama will place his hand on the same Bible that Lincoln used at his first inauguration.

On Saturday, Obama will travel by train from Philadelphia to Washington, DC - part of the route taken by Lincoln during an 1861 trip.

Obama also has said his essential reading in the Oval Office would include "Team of Rivals," Doris Kearns Goodwin's 2005 best seller, which recounts how Lincoln surrounded himself with advisers who were better educated and more experienced than he was and who could be rivals for his job.
 

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Wil Smit to play Obama

Smith has staked his claim to play the role, even before Barack Obama has been inaugurated as president.

Speaking at the premiere of his new film Seven Pounds at the Empire, Leicester Square, in London, Smith laughed about reports that the US President-elect had indicated that he would like the actor to play him if his life story were ever to be made into a movie.

“If I am ordered by my commander in chief to star in a film about him, I will do my duty as an American," he said, beaming.

Smith, best known for the Men in Black films and Independence Day, says however that he had no desire to move into the White House for real.

"If we were in the White House I don't know if that would exactly be a good thing. The Obamas are much more prepared to be in the White House than the Smiths.

"It's a whole lot more fun to be a movie star. That's a difficult job being President with a whole lot of lives on the line with every decision you make. In my job I just bring joy. I don't bring bad news. I think I'll stay in my position for quite some time." Smith said the “world had changed forever” with the election of Barack Obama.

He said he would be an "eyewitness to history" when he attends the impending inauguration of US President-elect Barack Obama.

Seven Pounds charts Smith's character Ben Thomas's attempts at redemption following a horrific accident. It also stars Rosario Dawson.

The actor added that he also has plans to do a Bollywood film with Danny Boyle following the success of Slumdog Millionaire.

He said: "I talked to Danny Boyle just a couple of weeks ago. When we find something it will be fantastic. I'm trying to expand as an actor and as an artist to bring stories to the screen that add to people's lives that work in service to humanity."
 

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White supremacists watched in lead up to Obama

Racists angry, frustrated over prospect of black president, experts say

No organized effort to oppose Obama known to exist, law enforcers say

Racist talk is protected; harmful acts are not, FBI official says



WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Hate crimes experts and law enforcement officials are closely watching white supremacists across the country as Barack Obama prepares next week to be sworn in as the first black president of the United States.


U.S. Capitol Police check observation positions in advance of Tuesday's presidential inauguration.

So far, there is no known organized effort to express opposition to Obama's rise to the presidency other than a call by the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan for its members to wear black armbands as well as fly the U.S. flag upside down on Inauguration Day and Obama's first full day in office.

As Tuesday approaches, when Obama stands outside the Capitol to take the oath of office, experts expect anger about the new president to spike. But they don't expect it to go away.

"The level of vitriol, I expect, will go up a bit more around inauguration time," said Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino.

There "is concern" about white supremacist groups during the inauguration, said Joe Persichini, the assistant FBI director who is helping to oversee security during the inauguration. What might the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. have said? »

The inauguration of the nation's first minority president increases any potential threat, "particularly stemming from individuals on the extremist fringe of the white supremacist movement," said a recent intelligence assessment by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.

But law enforcement has the appropriate resources to respond if needed, Persichini said.

"We have seen a lot of chatter," Persichini said. "We have seen a lot of discussions. We have seen some information via the Internet. But those are discussions. We look at the vulnerabilities and whether or not the groups are taking action.

"You have freedom of speech," he added. "Anyone in this nation can have a discussion about their beliefs, but we are concerned about whether or not they take that freedom of speech and exercise some act that is against the law."


Three New York men were indicted on charges of conspiracy to interfere with voting rights -- accused of targeting and attacking African-Americans in a brutal crime spree soon after Obama was declared the winner on November 4.

And interest in racist ideology was so high right after the election that computer servers for two White supremacist Web sites crashed, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups.

But the violence and interest soon subsided. Leaders within the white supremacist movement are now seeking to capitalize on Obama's presidency by using his election to help grow their organizations.

"President-elect Obama is going to be the spark that arouses the 'white movement,' " reads a posting on the National Socialist Movement Web site. "Obama's win is our win. We should all be happy of this event."

In an interview posted on his Web site on election night, former Louisiana state Rep. David Duke said Obama's election "is good in one sense -- that it is making white people clear of the fact that that government in Washington, D.C., is not our government."

"We are beginning to learn and realize our positioning," Duke, a prominent white supremacist, later said in the election night recording. "And our position is that we have got to stand up and fight now."

Mark Potok, director of the SPLC's Intelligence Project, said the leaders of these groups are frustrated by Obama's win.

"I think the hate groups are desperately looking for a silver lining in a very dark cloud for them," Potok said.

While experts said it is difficult to determine how many people belong to hate groups, they do agree with an SPLC estimate that claims there are about 900 operating now, a 40 percent increase from 2000. The vast majority of these groups promote white supremacist beliefs, and range from skinheads living in urban areas to the KKK ,which is based largely in rural settings.

It is difficult to pinpoint how many people subscribe to white supremacist views, because the Internet allows people to follow the movement under the cloak of anonymity. Leaders of the white supremacist movement are able to use their Web sites to reach a new subset of potential followers and push their racist rhetoric to the limit without outright calling for violence.

Levin said one challenge in protecting Obama is that the identity of a potential attacker would likely be unknown -- a person who believes in white supremacist ideology, but decides to act as a lone wolf.

Threats of violence are more likely to be found on Web sites that allow posters to remain anonymous.

Most white supremacist leaders have been careful in what is posted on their Web sites, "hyper-aware that they are being watched," Potok said.

But not all white supremacist leaders are mindful of their actions or care to be. Two months before the election, American National Socialist Workers Party head Bill White posted a magazine cover on his Web site featuring a picture of Obama in the cross hairs of a rifle scope with a headline "Kill This N-----?"

White is now in jail on unrelated charges that he "threatened use of force against" a juror who had helped convict another white supremacist as well as several other charges of making threats to unrelated victims.

Racism in the U.S. "remains a real problem" even though Obama won the White House, Potok said, and he predicted that hate groups will continue to grow during Obama's presidency.

"I think we are in a very worrisome moment historically," Potok said. "I say that because there are several things converging that could foster the continued growth of these groups: continuing high levels of nonwhite immigration, the prediction by the Census Bureau that whites will lose their majority in 2042, the tanking economy, and what is seen as the final insult, the election of a black man to the White House."


Levin noted that it is common knowledge the U.S. Secret Service is taking great measures to protect Obama (who began receiving coverage in May 2007, the earliest point ever for a candidate in a presidential campaign), and emphasized it is a great challenge.

"President-elect Obama is so used to a public presence, and being among people poses some real difficulties for his protection," Levin said.
 

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Networks prepare for inauguration
Marathon coverage plans in the works


Come Sunday, the cable news networks -- and plenty of other outlets -- will kick off a 72-hour marathon of Barack Obama coverage and programming tied to Tuesday's inauguration of the nation's 44th commander-in-chief.
From channels around the world to such Internet vidcasters as Hulu to the blogger brigade, the inaugural and related events will generate more video footage and reportage than ever before.

"This year, the inaugural (schedule) is bigger and more complex and vast than I've ever seen it," said David Bohrman, CNN's Washington bureau chief and a 30-year vet of presidential pomp and circumstance.

Of course, that's partly because there are more purveyors of media than ever before -- outlets like Hulu and Twitter didn't exist four years ago -- but it's also fueled by the historic and undeniably charismatic nature of the president-elect. That same "it" factor made Obama's candidacy such a boon for TV news ratings last year.

"You've got something that the public is really interested in: the first African-American president, a president coming in at a time of economic distress, a president coming in at a time of war," said Don Rieck, executive director of the D.C.-based Center for Media and Public Affairs research org.

"There is something of a Camelot-y feel about the Obamas," Rieck said.

MSNBC prexy Phil Griffin noted that the all-news cablers are under pressure to outdo one another's coverage. It's a challenge made more complicated by the fact that there are so many events and angles to capture this time around.

"This event helps build the next six months (of political coverage). We've got to do a good job," Griffin said.

Now that the time has come for Obama's official coronation, everyone wants a bit of his stardust to rub off on their brand, their cause or their network. The number of events taking place around the Beltway on Tuesday alone is staggering. CNN's Bohrman said the cabler will juggle feeds from up to 50 remote locations on Inauguration Day.

Indeed, the opportunity to showcase the telegenic Obama family dressed in finery and surrounded by celebs and dignitaries is too tempting for many non-news outlets to pass up.

HBO swooped in to nab the rights to Sunday night's star-packed inaugural weekend kickoff event at the Lincoln Memorial.

National Public Radio has the exclusive radio rights to the "We Are One" Lincoln Memorial concert, which will air live on its affiliate stations from 2 p.m.-5 p.m. ET. It will also be available as live audio stream on NPR affils' websites.

Disney Channel is bringing the kids along Monday night with the "Kids Inaugural: We Are the Future" concert special hosted by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden. It's designed as a tribute to military families, but it doesn't hurt Disney's cause that the special will be a prestigious showcase for its stars Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato, among others. (The Obama daughters, Sasha and Malia, might've had a hand in picking the talent for this one.)

Gary Marsh, prexy of entertainment for Disney Channel Worldwide, noted that Cyrus, the Jonas siblings and other Disney talent were eager to participate in the event.

"They are keenly aware of and fascinated by this historic presidency," he said.

MTV has the exclusive TV rights to Tuesday night's official Youth Inaugural Ball, sanctioned by the Presidential Inauguration Committee. The telecast will tubthump the efforts of the volunteer org ServiceNation, in keeping with Obama's emphasis on enlisting youth in community service projects.

BET is throwing its own Tuesday night inaugural ball in partnership with Colin Powell's America's Promise Alliance, which will be heavily featured in the cabler's primetime coverage that night. For both BET and MTV, the events will yield a trove of video clips for their websites.

ABC is the TV home for Tuesday night's "Neighborhood Ball," which boasts Obama as its host (though certainly he'll be the belle of numerous other balls that night).

The event -- to feature performances by Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys and others -- has been heavily promoted by the Presidential Inauguration Committee as a means of allowing "everyday Americans" to take part through locally hosted viewing parties. The two-hour spesh will be archived as a webcast that will include clips from various viewing parties across the country.

Even QVC is getting in on the action. Never one to miss a hard-sell opportunity, the home shopping channel will broadcast live from Washington throughout the day Tuesday to help move an array of commemorative Obama merchandise (while supplies last). QVC cut a deal with the Creative Coalition for exclusive TV rights to its inaugural ball on Tuesday.

The cable news networks will be wall-to-wall Washington on Tuesday, starting at dawn and running through primetime with blanket coverage of the myriad balls and related events. The Big Three nets will bump regular daytime programming for coverage of the swearing-in ceremony to begin at 11:30 a.m. ET through the inaugural parade expected to kick off around 2:30 p.m. ET; ABC, CBS and NBC will also carry primetime news specials that night.

The swearing-in ceremony will include a perf from Aretha Franklin and the invocation by the Rev. Rick Warren, the megachurch pastor who has been a controversial choice for the gig among some Obama supporters.

Hulu, the Webcaster jointly owned by News Corp. and NBC Universal, will carry a two-hour stream of Fox Broadcasting's live coverage of the swearing-in ceremony from noon to 2 p.m. ET.

MSNBC has cut a deal with the Screenvision theater ad network to have its live coverage carried as a free, closed-circuit offering in selected theaters in 27 major cities from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET. The cabler's live coverage will also be simulcast in 650 Starbucks outlets in New York, San Francisco and Seattle from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET.

"In 2009, the word (for all-news outlets) is ubiquity," MSNBC's Griffin said. "We're in places where you don't normally see us."
 

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Tiger Woods to Take Part in Obama Inauguration


Tiger Woods, who has tried to stay out of politics during his ascent to one of the world's most famous athletes, has accepted an invitation to speak at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday as part of President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration festivities.


Woods posted a short statement on his Web site to say he would speak at "We Are One," a concert and celebration that will be broadcast live on HBO and feature entertainers such as Beyonce, U2, Stevie Wonder and Garth Brooks, along with appearances by Denzel Washington and Martin Luther King III.


"I am honored that I was invited to this historic event and look forward to participating in Sunday's festivities," Woods said.


Organizers of "We Are One" did not say what Woods would do at the Lincoln Memorial celebration.


Woods rarely gets involved in political discussions and festivities. He was criticized in 1997 after his watershed victory in the Masters when he turned down an invitation from former President Bill Clinton to travel to Shea Stadium in New York to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's color barrier.


A year ago in Dubai, when a reporter began to ask about Obama, Woods smiled and said, "Oh, God, here we go." He then said he was impressed with how Obama and all politicians were so quick on their feet, especially in debates.


"I think that he's really inspired a bunch of people in our country, and we'll see what happens down the road," Woods said at the time.


After Obama's landslide victory, Woods said on CNBC he was hopeful that a black man would be elected president in his lifetime.


"I think it's absolutely incredible," he told the cable network. "He represents America. He's multiracial. I was hoping it would happen in my lifetime. My father was hoping it would happen in his lifetime, but he didn't get to see it. I'm lucky enough to have seen a person of color in the White House."
 

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Obama rides rails to capital, as onlookers cheer



PHILADELPHIA – President-elect Barack Obama, cheered by onlookers along the train route Abraham Lincoln took nearly a century and a half earlier, undertook the final leg of his inaugural journey to the nation's capital Saturday, pledging to reclaim America's spirit but also warning of steep challenges facing the country.

Hundreds of excited people screamed and cheered as Obama waved from the back of his inaugural train when it rolled slowly through the station in little Claymont, Del., on the way to larger crowds at stops in Wilmington, Del., and Baltimore on the route to Washington.

Unfazed by frigid temperatures, scattered groups stood waving at crossroads along the way.

"Starting now, let's take up in our own lives the work of perfecting our union," Obama told several hundred people gathered for the sendoff inside a hall at Philadelphia's historic 30th Street train station. "Let's build a government that is responsible to the people and accept our own responsibilities as citizens to hold our government accountable. ... Let's make sure this election is not the end of what we do to change America, but the beginning and the hope for the future."

While talking about the future, Obama reflected on the past, echoing the words of the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln and President John F. Kennedy. He cited the founding fathers who risked everything with no assurance of success in Philadelphia in the summer of 1776:

"They were willing to put all they were and all they had on the line — their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor — for a set of ideals that continue to light the world: That we are equal. That our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness come not from our laws, but from our maker. And that a government of, by, and for the people can endure."

Vice President-elect Joe Biden, who hopped aboard the train in Wilmington, said the train ride marked the beginning of a journey that would change America.

"Our economy is struggling. We are a nation at war," Biden said. "Sometimes, just sometimes, it's hard to believe that we'll see the spring again. But I tell you spring is on the way with this new administration."

This is a momentous time for the Obamas. And for Michelle Obama, it was also her 45th birthday. The crowd in Wilmington sang "Happy Birthday" to her, forcing the president-elect to briefly delay the start of his second speech of the day in which he pledged a revival of the middle class.

"When we Americans get knocked down, we always, always get back up on our feet," Obama said.

"We've heard your stories on the campaign trail," he said. "We have been touched by your dreams, and we will fight for you every single day that we're in Washington because Joe and I are committed to leading a government that is accountable not just to the wealthy or to the well-connected, but to you."

The president-elect's triumphant day — heralded along the 137-mile rail route — started in Philadelphia with a sober discussion of the country's future with 41 people he met during his long quest for the White House.

He told the crowd in Philadelphia that the same perseverance and idealism displayed by the nation's founders are needed to tackle the difficulties of today.

"We recognize that such enormous challenges will not be solved quickly," Obama said. "There will be false starts and setbacks, frustrations and disappointments. And we will be called to show patience even as we act with fierce urgency."

He cited the faltering economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — "one that needs to be ended responsibly, one that needs to be waged wisely" — the threat of global warming and U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

"We are here today not simply to pay tribute to our first patriots but to take up the work that they began," he said. "The trials we face are very different now, but severe in their own right. Only a handful of times in our history has a generation been confronted with challenges so vast."

Preparing to board the train, Obama said that "what's required is a new declaration of independence — from ideology and small thinking."

Obama's vintage rail car, known as Georgia 300, was tacked onto the back of a 10-car train made up of Amtrak cars filled with hundreds of guests, reporters and staff along for the ride.

The train was due at Washington's Union Station after nightfall.

At Union Station, as Obama set out from Philadelphia, the vanguard of perhaps the greatest crowd in Washington history was beginning to arrive.

Bursting with enthusiasm, Toni Mateo arrived from Atlanta, where he works at a public relations firm.

"It's going to be life-affirming for me," said Mateo. "It was really important that I come here to represent the family and to take the energy back with me." He said his train car was crowded but quiet — until "I just screamed out `Obama,' and the whole crowd erupted."

Elsewhere in Washington, members of his administration stayed focused on policy.

Addressing the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Valerie Jarrett, a senior Obama adviser, asked for help keeping the momentum going for passage, and implementation, of a measure to jump-start the economy.

House Democrats this week unveiled their version of the bill, an $825 billion package of tax cuts and spending.

Although his path tracked Lincoln's and took on the same overtone of high security, it wasn't the journey of virtual secrecy that the 16th president-elect took so long ago on the eve of the Civil War. Lincoln was smuggled under cover of darkness from one train station to another to avoid a feared assassination attempt.

This year, the FBI has been planning its inauguration mission since June. Large trucks, a bomb-detecting robot, canisters with hundreds of gallons of water to disrupt a car bomb and other emergency response equipment stretch down a block near the FBI's Washington Field Office.

John Perren, a special agent in charge of counterterrorism, said there was no credible intelligence warning of any attack.
 
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