Friday, January 20, 2017

Protests, police, performances: 10 things about the Jan 20 inauguration of President Donald Trump, United States News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Protests, police, performances: 10 things about the Jan 20 inauguration of President Donald Trump, United States News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Protests, police, performances: 10 things about the Jan 20 inauguration of President Donald Trump

The 45th President of the United States of America will be sworn in on Friday (Jan 20) during the inauguration ceremony, held at the US Capitol in Washington.

Mr Donald Trump, billionaire real estate tycoon and executive producer of reality TV show The Apprentice, will succeed President Barack Obama in the White House, in the 58th inauguration ceremony in the country's history.

Here are 10 things to know about the event:

1. The weekend

The President-elect and Vice President-elect Mike Pence will be at Arlington National Cemetery the day before the swearing-in, for a wreath-laying ceremony to honour the country's military veterans.

They will also appear at the Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebrations at the Lincoln Memorial. The concert signals the official start of inauguration events.

On Jan 20, they will attend the swearing-in ceremony, followed by an Inaugural Parade heading down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.

President Trump and First Lady Melania will then attend three official inaugural balls, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Centre and National Building Museum.

Inauguration weekend comes to a close with an interfaith National Prayer Service at Washington National Cathedral the next day, as the Trump Administration opens for business.

2. The slogan

During the campaign, Mr Trump's slogan was "Make America Great Again", which he often hashtags as #MAGA in his social media posts.

For the inauguration, it has been jazzed up with an exclamation mark - "Make America Great Again!" - to capture the festive and celebratory mood.

3. The transfer of power

Mr Trump will take the oath of office at noon on Friday, after which he officially becomes Commander-in-Chief. Even if the ceremony falls behind schedule and he has not recited the words at noon, Mr Trump will still already become President as of that moment.

The swearing-in ceremonies are traditionally always held on Jan 20. If it falls on a Sunday, it will be held privately, before a public event takes place the next day. The last time this happened was with President Obama in 2013.

4. The oath of office

With one hand on the bible and the utterance of 35 words - longer than Twitter's 140-character limit that he is used to - Mr Donald Trump will enter the highest office in the land and assume all the powers that come with it.

The oath is as follows: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

In 2009, President Obama retook the oath in the map room of the White House the day after the inauguration, out of "an abundance of caution" after Chief Justice John Roberts jumbled the sequence of the words while administering it.

5. The attendees

An estimated 800,000 people are expected to descend upon the National Mall.

A specially built 10,000 sq ft platform on the West front of the Capitol will seat 1,600 guests, including the families of Mr Trump and Mr Pence, members of Congress, the Supreme Court, diplomatic corps and other invited guests.

Former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter will be attending the ceremony. President Obama will also be present, naturally. The only former President who will be absent is 92-year-old George H.W. Bush, due to his health.

Also in attendance will be former First Ladies Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton. The Democratic nominee has kept a low public profile since the defeat by Mr Trump in November.

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who was instrumental in Britain's vote to leave the European Union last June and has a cosy relationship with Mr Trump, will be present too. However, civil rights icon John Lewis, a Democratic Representative of Georgia, will be boycotting it as he does not view Mr Trump's election victory as legitimate. At least 20 House Democrats have also announced they would not attend the event.

6. The performers

Mr Trump's team have struggled to find A-list stars to take part in the inauguration events.

The confirmed list for the Make American Great Again! Welcome Celebrations include country singers Lee Greenwood, known for the popular song God Bless The USA, and Toby Keith, alongside rock band 3 Doors Down, who sang the hit Here Without You.

America's Got Talent singer Jackie Evancho, 16, will be performing the national anthem at the swearing-in ceremony, a role filled by superstar Beyonce in 2013, while the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will lend their voices for a sixth time.

The leggy Radio City Rockettes, along with the Talladega College Marching Tornadoes band from the historically black college in Alabama, will be part of the Inaugural Parade.

Classical singer Charlotte Church had shot down the idea of performing at the inauguration, calling Mr Trump "a tyrant" in a Twitter post, while Sir Elton John, a vocal Hillary Clinton supporter, also said he would not be performing, in response to a Trump aide's claim.

Meanwhile, Broadway star Jennifer Holliday announced on Saturday (Jan 14) that she is backing out.

7. The First Lady

While a nude photo of her had appeared on New York Post's front page in August, Mrs Melania Trump will definitely be covered up at the inauguration, with renowned designers clamoring to dress the incoming First Lady.

First Ladies have conventionally been dressed by domestic designers for the inauguration weekend and their time in Washington.

Designers like Zac Posen, B Michael America, Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, have all expressed their interest so far.

This definitely erases any worries the Trump camp might have had, when big names denounced them, such as Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs and Sophie Theallet, who dresses Michelle Obama.

8. The security

Security spending for the inauguration is expected to surpass US$100 million (S$142.9 million).

Over 36 law enforcement agencies are collaborating in the effort, including the Metropolitan Police of Washington, National Park Service, National Guard, Secret Service and FBI.

Police officers from across the country, numbering over 3,200, will help with crowd and traffic control, together with about 8,000 National Guard members.

The emphasis on security is greater this time round, given the extremely bitter nature of the elections last year.

9. The protests

Mr Trump's big day risks being overshadowed by protests planned for the weekend.

The National Park Service, in charge of the majority of Washington's public land, has received over 30 permit applicants, with more coming in. In normal inauguration years, only a handful are received.

The largest one, the Women's March on Washington which is demanding equal rights for women, currently has at least 192,000 men and women indicating their attendance on the Facebook page.

It has become a rallying point for liberal causes opposing Mr Trump's agenda, such as immigrant rights and police killings of African-Americans. However, its organisers insist it is not anti-Trump.

While 200 permits to park tour buses have been requested for the actual day, over 1,200 have been submitted for the day after - the day the Women's March is happening.

10. The broken traditions

For the first time since 1957, Mr Charles Brotman, 89, will not be the Inaugural Parade announcer.

He had played that role in every inauguration since President Dwight Eisenhower's, but will be replaced this year by former Trump campaign volunteer Steve Ray, 58, an announcer who has worked with the Washington Nationals baseball team.

Mr Brotman, who was left "heartbroken" and "devastated", will instead be commentating for NBC4, NBC's affiliate station in the Washington region, after they offered him a job.

Also, clam chowder is off the menu at this year's inauguration festivities, breaking a tradition started by President Ronald Reagan.

Traditional supplier Legal Sea Foods says it has not been contacted this year and the Trump camp has also indicated that the dish will not be on the menu.

Legal Sea Foods had ran ads on Mr Trump's signature border wall proposal and his supposedly tiny hands.

Sent from my iPhone

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