World

On the way to inauguration

History is being made in Washington, D.C., with the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States, so we have bloggers onsite and other observations available from the U.S. capital.

Notes and thoughts as Barack Obama prepares to be sworn in as U.S. president

Two people watch as hundreds of thousands of revellers gather by the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall in Washington on Sunday for an inaugural concert. ((Showwei Chu/CBC))

History is being made in Washington, D.C., with the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday. Here are some observations from those in the U.S. capital and other CBC News sources:


Spotting the man of the moment
The motorcade carrying Barack Obama tears down 17th Street N.W. in Washington on Monday afternoon on its way to his temporary residence, the Hay-Adams Hotel. ((Showwei Chu/CBC))

Visitors to Washington's Corcoran Gallery of Art not only saw a stunning portrait of Barack Obama by the late photographer Richard Avedon on Monday; they also got to see the man of the moment himself as the president-elect's motorcade whizzed by the gallery's entrance on 17th Street N.W., heading to his temporary residence, the Hay-Adams Hotel.

The sighting of Obama prompted mobs of people on the sidewalks to run in the direction of his motorcade. They were held back at the north end of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building by metal barricades and police.

It would have been hard for Obama not to have heard the cheering and screaming as he emerged from his limousine to go inside.

Showwei Chu


Michelle Obama — the new Miley Cyrus?

Michelle Obama has as much star power as teen-sensation Miley Cyrus, it would appear. At an event Monday night in Washington, the wife of the president-elect drew as much applause, if not more, than the pop singer and television star.

Miley Cyrus and her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, perform in Washington on Monday. ((Matt Rourke/Associated Press))

Both appeared before thousands of cheering children at an event at the Verizon Center dubbed Kids' Inaugural: We Are the Future.

"You kids are the future of this great nation," Obama told the crowd. "We need every American to serve their community, including our young people."

She urged the children to volunteer in a homeless shelter, visit an elderly person or write letters to U.S. troops.

Cyrus performed her new song The Climb and then spoke directly to Obama's daughters, Malia and Sasha, who are fans of her television show, Hannah Montana.

"You girls must be awfully proud of your dad — and so am I," Cyrus said.

Also performing that evening were actor Jamie Foxx, singer Queen Latifah and basketball great Shaquille O'Neal.

— CBC News, with files from the Associated Press


Rubbing elbows with the leaders

On Saturday, Jassim Bangara flew to Washington from Toronto. The 21-year-old University of Western Ontario student was invited to a five-day University Presidential Inaugural Conference  — featuring former secretary of state Colin Powell and former vice-president Al Gore — as well as the Obama inauguration itself.

Like many others, Bangara, who's in his fourth year of accounting, has been inspired by Obama. But in his case, he's even thinking about extending his undergraduate degree to include political science.

Showwei Chu


'Times Square on New Year's Eve'

More than two million people are expected to gather at the National Mall on Tuesday to watch the swearing-in, news agencies reported on Sunday.

CNN's website describes the expected scene this way: "Imagine Times Square on New Year's Eve or a baseball stadium letting out after the World Series. Although the nation's capital has seen plenty of historic moments, officials are predicting that nearly two million spectators will come to Washington, D.C., for Barack Obama's inauguration, making this potentially the highest influx of people the city has ever seen."

CBC News


Slide show: The faces of inauguration

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Don't you dare dine

The Metrorail system, which extended its hours during the inauguration weekend, issued a commemorative guide and fare card with Barack Obama's portrait. Signs and recordings reminding riders not to eat or drink on the subway were reminiscent of Singapore's ban on gum.

My guidebook to Washington said a 45-year-old woman was handcuffed and jailed for chewing a candy bar on the Metro in 2004. Such strict rules do keep the subway cars spotless. The only thing that stood out were the ads by Chevron that monopolized at least one subway car and urged riders to "use less energy," "leave the car at home more," and "unplug stuff more."

Showwei Chu


President-elect Barack Obama speaks at the Lincoln Memorial during an inaugural concert in Washington on Sunday. ((Charles Dharapak, Associated Press))

'Greatest hope of all'

Barack Obama    addressed the huge crowd early on Sunday evening at the pre-inauguration concert. Here is some of what he said:

"As I stand here tonight, what gives me the greatest hope of all is not the stone and marble that surrounds us today, but what fills the spaces in between.

"It is you — Americans of every race and region and station who came here because you believe in what this country can be and because you want to help us get there."

— CBC News


On the road again

CBC reporter Nil Köksal left early Monday on a bus from Toronto to Washington, D.C., as Canadians travelled south to take in the inauguration. Those on the bus had just finished an Obama trivia contest, which included prizes for the winners. "It has been a non-stop buzz since we got on this bus," said Köksal.

People told Köksal they were making the journey to Washington for various reasons — because Obama was inspiring and he signals a change.

 The buzz on the bus (Via Skype, runs 3:48)


Care packages for the troops

Incoming first lady Michelle Obama hands out products to volunteers during an event to assemble care packages for troops on Monday in Washington. ((Evan Vucci/Associated Press))

Michelle Obama on Monday went to RFK Stadium, the home of the Washington Redskins, and helped prepare care packages for American troops who are serving overseas. Organizers of the event said they hoped to create some 70,000 packages with help from 15,000 people.

Obama's daughters, Malia and Sasha, were also there to lend a hand.

Barack Obama made a visit to a military hospital and an emergency homeless shelter for teens in Washington on Monday, which is Martin Luther King Day in the U.S. At the shelter, he pitched in to help with painting, saying, "We can't allow any idle hands. Everybody's got to be involved. I think the American people are ready to do that."

On that note, the presidential inaugural committee has launched a website, USAService.org, listing volunteer opportunities across the U.S.

It was revealed earlier in the day that Chesley Sullenberger, the pilot who safely landed a US Airways jet  in the Hudson River last week, and his crew and family were invited by Obama to attend the inauguration. Many are applauding Sullenberger's service to his passengers.

CBC News


A chill in the air?

The National Weather Service is calling for temperatures to be in the –1 C range on Tuesday in Washington, making for a pleasant day (at least by Canadian standards). It could be windy, however, as gusts are expected to reach 40 km/h, as they come from the north.

There was a chance of snow in the area on Monday.

CBC News


'T.O. supports Obama'

Gavin Sheppard is travelling with 168 people in a three-bus caravan from Toronto to D.C. He writes:

In terms of the demographics here, there are a couple youngsters and a couple elders from the community, but mostly we seem to be a group of 20-somethings. There are people I recognize from rallies and radical grassroots political movements, there are club promoters and nightlife hounds, university students, and some young cats that have been working hard to exit a gangster and criminal lifestyle.

Tyrone Edwards, the organizer of the "Get On The Bus: T.O. Supports Obama" trip, is also a program leader and instructor of the Art of Business program at Toronto's award winning social programThe Remix Project. Tyrone, popularly known as t-rexxx (and affectionately on this trip as Malcolm Rexxx) is the father and co-founder of the city-unifying "I Love T.O. Movement", Concrete Hoops basketball camp, as well as being one of the most successful nightlife and lifestyle promoters in the city of Toronto.

For Tyrone, the Obama inauguration is "not just American history, not just black history ... it's world history." And so his next natural thought was "how important it is for Toronto to be a part of it."


Made it to Delaware

Nil Köksal, on a bus full of Canadians travelling from Toronto to Washington, D.C., said they've been 16 hours on the road and were approaching Delaware, the first stop in the journey before inauguration day. People are "pumped" and singing songs and have been "full of energy" all day, said Köksal.

The 50 or so people were to leave Delaware for Washington at 3 a.m. Tuesday morning but now have decided to go at 2 a.m. in a bid to get to a good location for Barack Obama's inauguration.

The plan takes shape (Via Skype, runs 2:33).