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Thread: Obama's Inauguration: Congrats President Obama!

  1. #16
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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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  2. #17
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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.

  3. #18
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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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    Artist Shepard Fairey stands with his artwork titled, 'Barack Obama,' a mixed media collage, during its unveiling at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, Saturday, Jan. 17, 2009. Fairey's large-scale, mixed-media stenciled collage was the central portrait image for the Obama campaign and was previously distributed as a limited-edition print and as a free download

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    This undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Secret Service shows the limousine that will make its debut at the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama on Jan. 20



    Barrack Obama may be getting a new set of wheels when he begins his term next year. No confirmation was given by Cadillac PR or the Secret Service, but spy photos showing a heavy-duty DTS-looking limo prototype rolling down the road have us thinking. After all, this has to be the most important part of the President-elect’s entourage.

    Analysis of the spy shot reveals some interesting tidbits. The tires and wheels appear to have come from GM’s medium-duty trucks, and the bodywork -- especially around the A-pillars -- has been stretched to the extreme. The New York Times reasons that the car is actually based on GM’s 2500 series trucks.

    It still has the Cadillac DTS appearance, but how much DNA remains is currently a mystery. And it will likely remain a mystery, given that construction priniciples of even retired presidential limousines are highly guarded, with the actual cars destroyed when their lifespan has come to an end. Considering the heavy-duty reinforcement and modification that goes into automobiles of the presidential flavor, we assume Obama's new ride will be nice, safe, and boring.


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    'Anything possible,' Obama tells joyous crowd




    WASHINGTON – Two days from the White House, President-elect Barack Obama joined a vast throng Sunday at a joyous pre-inauguration celebration staged among marble monuments to past heroes. "Anything is possible in America," declared the man who will confront economic crisis and two wars when he takes office.

    "Despite the enormity of the task that lies ahead, I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure — that it will prevail, that the dream of our founders will live on in our time," the president-elect said at the conclusion of a musical extravaganza that featured U2, Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen and a host of other stars.

    Obama and his family held the seats of honor at the event, and a crowd of tens of thousands spilled from the base of the Lincoln Memorial toward the Washington Monument several blocks away in the cold, gray afternoon of mid-January.

    It was the high point of a full day of pre-inaugural events that included a wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery and a morning church service where children recalled the life of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

    Obama's motorcade drew ever-larger crowds as the day wore on and he and his wife, Michelle, and their children Sasha and Malia crisscrossed the city.

    "Just another typical Sunday," deadpanned the Rev. Derrick Hawkins, pastor at the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, where the soon-to-be first family prayed.

    Of course it was anything but — a run-up, in fact, to the first inauguration of an African-American president in a nation founded by slave-owners.

    Obama's aides said he was readying an inaugural address that would stress twin themes of responsibility and accountability, and they predicted he would devote his first week in office to economic recovery, setting in motion a 16-month troop withdrawal from Iraq and decreeing a code of ethics for his administration.

    With the economy weak and growing weaker, banks in trouble and joblessness rising, Obama's team was careful to warn against any expectation that he would be a miracle worker once in office. "I think it's fair to say that it's going to take not months but years to really turn this around," said David Axelrod, a political strategist expected to have White House space mere paces from the Oval Office.

    Obama said as much in his own brief remarks. "I won't pretend that meeting any one of these challenges will be easy. It will take more than a month or a year, and it will likely take many," he said.

    He stood alone at the base of the steps before the statue of a seated Lincoln looking out at a crowd every bit as large as the one King addressed a generation earlier in his "I have a dream" speech that was a defining moment of the civil rights era.

    An even larger audience is forecast for the inauguration outside the Capitol on Tuesday, with estimates running into the millions. Agencies in charge of logistics and security said they would enforce a ban on personal auto traffic across the Potomac River bridges from Virginia into Washington and seal off a large portion of the downtown area. Access to buildings along the Inaugural parade route down Pennsylvania Avenue was limited to those who gained Secret Service approval in advance.

    Obama's day began at the Tomb of he Unknowns at Arlington National cemetery, where he and Vice President-elect Joseph Biden laid a wreath in memory of fallen heroes. The two men placed their hands over their hearts as a uniformed bugler played taps in a somber opening to a festive day.

    The scene was quite different at the church a few miles away, where the congregation erupted in applause when Obama and his family walked to their seats.

    "Understand that God has prepared you, and God has placed you, and God will not forsake you," Harkins told the incoming president.

    Children sang and spoke selected readings that recalled King, killed in 1968.

    "Martin Luther King walked so that Barack Obama could run," said one boy. "Barack Obama ran so that all children could fly," added another, standing a few feet away from the first African-American ever elected president.

    At the Lincoln Memorial a few hours later, King's son, Martin Luther King III, had a brief speaking role.

    For the most part, the program was a festival of music, the songs chosen to make their points. Mary J. Blige sang, "Lean on Me," Springsteen performed "The Rising," and Obama mouthed the words as 89-year-old Pete Seeger pitched in with "This Land is Your Land."

    Many in the crowd sang along with Beyonce's soulful finale, "America the Beautiful."

    In film clips at earlier moments, Obama was cast as heir to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and even Lincoln, who the president-elect said was "the man who in so many ways made this day possible."

    As Obama moved around town in a pre-inaugural motorcade, his aides blanketed Sunday's interview programs.

    With the nation facing the most difficult economic crisis since the Great Depression, they all agreed that recovery was the principal challenge facing the new president.

    "What's important ... is ensuring that those that have had the short end of the stick for the last few years — make sure that they get the help that they need, that this administration begins to create the jobs and give some financial stability to families so that they can feel hopeful about going forward," said Robert Gibbs, who will serve as Obama's White House press secretary.

    "Three million, 4 million jobs is going to make a very big difference," said Lawrence Summers, a top economic adviser to the incoming president, referring to the goal Obama has set. "It all depends on psychology, but we are going to be leaning forward throughout this administration. The president's made it clear that our errors are not going to be of standing back."

    The Democratic-controlled Congress has already made a quick start on the president's recovery program, clearing the way for use of the second $350 billion for the financial industry bailout created last fall, and launching an $825 billion stimulus measure. Democratic leaders have pledged to have the legislation ready for Obama's signature by mid-February.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also endorsed Obama's call for a summit meeting to begin controlling spending on huge government benefit programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. She said even benefit cuts should be included as an option for discussion. "You put everything on the table. The only thing we didn't want to put on the table is eliminating" the programs, she added.

    The Senate appears ready to confirm several of Obama's Cabinet appointees as soon as he signs the formal nomination paperwork on Tuesday, although not everything has been smooth for Obama and his transition team.

    Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner's confirmation has been delayed for at least a few days because of his disclosure that he had failed to pay some federal taxes earlier in the decade. Bill Richardson withdrew as Obama's commerce secretary choice because of a grand jury investigation in New Mexico, where he is governor, and Obama himself was tripped up by controversy surrounding the appointment of his successor in the Senate.

    Sen. Roland Burris D-Ill., was sworn in on Thursday — and swiftly voted with Obama to release the bailout funds. The president-elect and Senate Democrats had initially balked at allowing him to take the seat, saying his appointment was tainted because Gov. Rod Blagojevich faces criminal charges that he sought something in return for appointing Obama's successor.

    Incoming White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said in a televised interview that in his conversations with the governor, Blagojevich did not seek anything improper.

    Pelosi and Gibbs appeared on Fox; Summers on CBS; Axelrod on ABC and Emanuel on NBC.

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    Obama celebratory, solemn as he nears inauguration


    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Barack Obama approached his inauguration as the 44th U.S. president with a mix of solemnity and celebration on Sunday, laying a wreath at a military grave and then swaying along at a concert featuring Bruce Springsteen and Beyonce.

    The events reflected popular excitement about his choice as the first black U.S. president tempered by anxiety about the fact that United States is fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and faces its worst economic crisis since the Depression.

    Walking side by side, Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden placed a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery's Tomb of the Unknowns before braving a cold winter's day to take in a concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the neoclassical temple that honors the 16th U.S. president.

    The president-elect, an Illinois Democrat, often echoes Republican Abraham Lincoln, who led the country during the Civil War, ended slavery in the United States and who, Obama said on Sunday, "in so many ways made this day possible."

    Accompanied by his wife, Michelle, and their daughters Malia and Sasha, Obama nodded, clapped and rocked along to the music at the concert, which included Stevie Wonder singing "Higher Ground" and U2 paying tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr with "Pride (In the Name of Love)."

    Obama sang along as folk singer Pete Seeger led the crowd in Woody Guthrie's patriotic anthem "This Land is Your Land."

    Spliced between the songs, actors Denzel Washington, Laura Linney and Tom Hanks gave speeches that evoked past crises in U.S. history, including the Civil War, the Depression and the Cold War.

    As Obama prepared to be sworn in on Tuesday he stressed the depth of the challenges that he faces, including the recession and the unfinished wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but said he was optimistic about the country's ability to face them.

    'ENORMITY OF THE TASK'

    "There is no doubt that our road will be long, that our climb will be steep. But never forget that the true character of our nation is revealed not during times of comfort and ease, but by the right we do when the moment is hard," he said.

    "Despite the enormity of the task that lies ahead, I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure, that it will prevail, that the dream of our founders will live on."

    The U.S. unemployment rate rose to 7.2 percent in December, its highest level in nearly 16 years, and 2.6 million people in the United States have lost their jobs in the last year, the largest employment slump since 1945.

    Obama has vowed to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to jolt the country out of a deepening recession. A New York Times/CBS News poll published on Saturday showed Americans were confident he could turn the economy around and were prepared to give him years to deal with the crush of problems he faces.

    Obama has said he wants to bring U.S. combat forces out of Iraq within 16 months of taking office, but his ability to do so hinges on violence in the country continuing to decline and on the capabilities of Iraqi security forces.

    He has also has committed to sending more U.S. forces to Afghanistan to tackle insurgent violence that has risen in recent years.

    Becky Kusar, 29, a Democrat who voted for Obama and was visiting Washington with her husband and 3-year-old daughter, expressed both enthusiasm about Obama's election as well as anxiety about the economy and the war in Iraq.

    "It's been scary," she said of the economic downturn as she stood in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House. "I am really hoping that he has the actions to back up what he is saying."

    Her husband, Carl, a Republican who did not vote for Obama was grudgingly willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. "You've got to give everybody a chance, is what I say."

  10. #25
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    Obama honors King on final pre-presidency day

    WASHINGTON – Fresh off a rollicking celebration in the shadow of Abraham Lincoln, President-elect Barack Obama is shaping the final day of his pre-presidential life around another giant figure, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

    Even before Obama ventured from Blair House to join a community renovation project in honor of King, crowds started forming on the streets of the capital Monday morning. The attraction: remote broadcasts by television networks and local affiliates, and throngs of onlookers braved the cold to watch the live broadcasts.

    Monday is the federal holiday commemorating the birthday of King, who advocated peaceful resistance and equality among all races. He blazed a trail for Obama, soon to be the nation's first black president.

    The vice president-elect, Joe Biden, is also taking part in volunteer service. His wife, Jill, and Obama's wife, Michelle, are helping with a service project, too.

    Transition aides declined to name the locations or details of the projects.

    The run-up to Obama's inauguration on Tuesday has, like his election itself, been defined by enormous public enthusiasm, carefully choreographed events and a lofty spirit of unity. What awaits, as Obama often reminds the nation, is many months, if not years, of tough work.

    The weekend celebrations began Saturday with Obama's whistle-stop tour, from Philadelphia to Washington, along the path Abraham Lincoln took in 1861. Then came a roaring celebrity-filled concert at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday, where several hundred thousand people flanked the reflecting pool, hearing actors, singers and then Obama himself rally for national renewal.

    Now Obama is asking the nation to honor King's legacy by making a renewed commitment to service. That has long been the goal of the King holiday, even if many see it as a day off.

    The Presidential Inaugural Committee has launched a Web site, USAService.org, to help people find volunteer opportunities close to their homes.

    "I am asking you to make a lasting commitment to make better the lives of your fellow Americans — a commitment that must endure beyond one day, or even one presidency," Obama said in a YouTube appeal last week. "At this moment of great challenge and great change, I am asking you to play your part; to roll up your sleeves and join in the work of remaking this nation."

    The president-elect has a busy Monday evening, too.

    He is to attend three private dinners to honor the public service of former Secretary of State Colin Powell; Biden, a longtime senator from Delaware; and Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee. Those dinners will be held at the Hilton Washington, National Building Museum and Union Station.

    Michelle Obama, the future first lady, is hosting a children's evening concert.

    Meanwhile, with the nation's transition of power now just more than a day away, a new hero has been invited to join the inauguration.

    US Airways Capt. Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger, who safely crash-landed a failing jetliner in the Hudson River on Thursday, has been invited by the president-elect to attend Tuesday's inauguration. So has Sullenberger's crew and his family.

    An aide to Obama said the inaugural committee is working on the details.

  11. #26
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    I enjoyed the performances from the "We Are One" celebration yesterday.
    Success is Journey... not a Destination

  12. #27
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    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President-elect Barack Obama's inaugural address is one of the most anticipated speeches in decades, with many expecting his words to be chiseled into marble some day.


    Many expect Barack Obama's inauguration speech to compare to those given by Roosevelt and Kennedy.

    Obama has said he has been studying previous inaugural addresses -- including President Abraham Lincoln's and the speeches President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave as he took office amid the Great Depression.

    Given the nation's current economic crisis, Errol Lewis, a columnist for the New York Daily News, was looking for Obama to echo Roosevelt's famous 1933 inauguration address when he said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

    "He's got to calm the nation. I think he's got to reassure the nation and let people know that we are in it for the long haul. If you look at that 1933 speech, that is pretty much what FDR did," Lewis said. Watch a preview of inauguration events »

    "He wants to lift us up ... and all the aspirations we have, all the hope," Lewis said. "But at the same time, he has some very practical problems that start at 12:01 p.m., and he starts to own them at high noon. There are no easy answers."

    Obama has already demonstrated his ability as a master orator, and many observers are looking for the new president's address to equal the great speeches by presidents Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

    "He's got to give that great, soaring speech." CNN contributor David Gergen said. "I think the pressure is really on because of the historic nature of this presidency and also because of the extraordinary moment in which we find ourselves with this terrible recession." Watch what is expected from Obama's speech »

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    "That is a lot to do in a single speech but, you know, because he has such a high reputation for giving excellent speeches ... the expectations for this one are just -- well, they're soaring," Gergen added.

    But beyond the nation's immediate economic concerns, Obama's inauguration speech with also mark a national milestone: the inauguration of the first African-American president.

    In his previous speeches, Obama has referred to another great African-American orator: the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who made a historic speech on the other end of the Mall. Obama is likely to refer to King and the dramatic struggles African-Americans have fought as they emerged from slavery and fought for full civil rights. Watch what Obama's presidency means to African-Americans »

    "If you think about the journey that this country has made, then it can't help but stir your heart," Obama told CNN's John King during an interview Friday. "The notion that I now will be standing there and sworn in as the 44th president, I think, is something that, hopefully, our children take for granted, but our grandparents, I think, are still stunned by, and it's a remarkable moment."


    The pressure on Obama to produce a speech for the ages not is limited to the public, Obama said.

    After a family visit to the Lincoln Memorial, which has Lincoln's second inaugural address inscribed on its walls, Obama's 10-year-old daughter, Malia, turned her father and said, "First African-American president -- better be good."
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  13. #28
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    Obama cool and calm on eve of his presidency

    WASHINGTON – If Barack Obama felt nervous about becoming president in a few hours, he didn't show it Monday, as he cracked jokes and breezed through a series of volunteerism events and bipartisan dinners. "I don't sweat," said the 47-year-old man about to inherit responsibility for two wars, an economy in crisis and the helm of the world's lone superpower. "You ever see me sweat?"

    It was vintage no-drama Obama, who seemed determined to carry his not-too-high, not-too-low demeanor to the Capitol steps for his swearing-in Tuesday.

    Aides said Obama felt fully prepared. He had practiced and polished his inaugural address, they said, and he was ready for a string of White House meetings Wednesday on the economy, Iraq and other issues that will dominate his first year in office.

    Obama spent the day moving around Washington to celebrate public service and Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, switching easily from self-deprecation to faux cockiness to calls for action.

    "Make sure I do something simple," he told volunteers sprucing up Sasha Bruce House, a shelter for homeless teens in one of Washington's poorer neighborhoods. "Don't give me plumbing or electrical work."

    He took a roller on an extension pole and began painting a dorm wall blue as reporters, photographers, volunteers and Secret Service agents jostled for space.

    "That's a good stroke there, what do you think?" Obama said, admiring the smooth blue coat. "This is good practice because I'm moving to a new house tomorrow."

    He quoted King as saying, "Everybody can be great because everybody can serve."

    "Right?" he asked the late civil rights leader's eldest son, Martin Luther King III, who was almost overlooked while painting nearby.

    "Right," King assured the president-elect.

    Obama made a pitch for community service, his theme of the day.

    "Given the crisis that we're in and the hardships that so many people are going through," he said, "we can't allow any idle hands."

    But when onlookers pushed the earnestness too far, praising Obama's painting skills even more so than he had, he gently punctured the balloon.

    "It's not rocket science," he said. "You take the pole and the roller, then you roll."

    The day's most somber note came early, away from cameras. Obama spent about 80 minutes visiting 14 wounded veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where journalists were kept away.

    At lunchtime, he and his wife, Michelle, greeted several hundred people writing letters to U.S. troops and undertaking other volunteer tasks at a Washington high school. He kept his speech short, vowing to save "the best lines for tomorrow."

    A few miles away, thousands of people streamed into downtown Washington and the National Mall, a prelude to the massive crowds expected Tuesday despite the cold, cloudy weather. They represented every age, race and region of the country, but Obama, celebrating King's birthday on the eve of becoming the first black president, spent much of Monday in some of Washington's most heavily black neighborhoods.

    Hundreds of people who may be too young, too old or too wary of crushing crowds to brave Tuesday's ceremonies stood on their sidewalks and front porches Monday to wave and shout as his black limousine whizzed through streets north of the Capitol.

    As he did throughout his campaign, Obama made little or no overt references to race, emphasizing instead the ties that bind all Americans.

    "This country is great because of its people," he said at Sasha Bruce House. "Don't underestimate the power for people to pull together and to accomplish amazing things."

    After an afternoon break at Blair House, the official residence where he is staying just across the street from the White House, Obama was to attend three private dinners honoring Vice President-elect Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the Republican he defeated in November to win the White House.
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  14. #29
    bushman Guest
    In sandhill there was an up-side down american flag drapped over the balcony of a nice house.

  15. #30
    mac g Guest

    Mellowman ......

    Quote Originally Posted by bushman View Post
    In sandhill there was an up-side down american flag drapped over the balcony of a nice house.

    Reply: Thanks for looking out bushman, feel free to send me the exact address of that house. We would certainly appreciate who these enemy among us are! THANKS IN ADVANCE.....

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