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Posts tagged ‘National Mall’

Activists End Immigration Fast as Thousands of Others Take Up the Cause.


 

Barack and Michelle Obama, Fast4Families
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama pose for a photo with fasters for immigration reform. (Courtesy of Fast4Families)

Sapped by three weeks of a water-only diet, three activists for immigration reform ended their fasts Tuesday with a morsel of bread blessed by a priest and “passed the fast on” to others who hope to keep attention focused on the issue.

“You have truly put your faith in action,” said retired Washington Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, one in a small crowd of political and clerical dignitaries who came to the National Mall to praise those who have gone without food in a bid to pressure Republican House leaders to pass an immigration reform bill.

Also seated alongside the quiet and wan fasters: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; the Rev. Bernice King, the daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.; Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

In recent weeks, the fasters have attracted high-profile visitors, including President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, to the heated tents where the fasters have been living on the National Mall.

Now the “Fast for Families,” organized by a broad coalition of labor, immigrant and Christian groups, enters a new phase as the original group of fasters begin to recover from the physical ordeal and a larger group—many of them political and pastoral celebrities—take up the cause.

It’s also a subtle acknowledgment that the movement is shifting into low gear for a long-term fight that will take more than four hunger strikers to overcome.

One by one, hand-fashioned wood crosses were removed from the necks of the initial fasters and placed around the necks of those who had just begun to deny themselves food. Unlike the fasters who lived in a tent without food for three weeks, most of the new fasters will keep their day jobs and decide for themselves what form the fast will take.

Some involved in the weeks-old movement said they were surprised that it drew so much interest—from the president to tourists visiting the capital. But others said that it is a natural response to the heartache suffered by immigrant families separated from loved ones, living in the shadow of the law and dying along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Fasting is an effective response to a dysfunctional government that refuses to help immigrants in need, said the Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of the progressive Christian group Sojourners, who began to fast Tuesday but does not know for how long he will go without food.

“Fasting is a weapon,” he said. “It is a weapon of spiritual warfare.”

Few of the new fasters plan or are expected to last as long as activists Eliseo Medina, Dae Joong Yoon and Cristian Avila, who went 22 days without food, or Lisa Sharon Harper, who drank only juice. All were checked by doctors Tuesday, who found they lost an average of 20 pounds each. According to “Fast For Families” organizers, more than 3,000 people nationwide have pledged to fast for at least a day in the name of immigration reform.

Immigration reform stalled in Congress after the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill in June. House Speaker John Boehner has refused to put the issue on the House’s schedule this year, and many activists worry that action is less likely next year as lawmakers set their sights on the midterm elections.

King likened the fasting movement to the boycott of segregated buses that kicked off the civil rights movement in 1955.

“Let’s continue to fast together,” she said, invoking her father’s words, “and not get weary.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

LAUREN MARKOE/RNS


Copyright 2013 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

Most Interesting Places in America: 10 Iconic U.S. Attractions (PHOTOS).


Trying to decide what’s interesting in America is like trying to determine your friend’s favorite wine. Everyone has different tastes, as diverse as history, nature, science, art, and entertainment. Fortunately, America offers iconic locales that have something for everyone.

Here are 10 of the most interesting places in America:

1. The National Mall, Washington, D.C.

A uniquely American creation, the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is lined with perhaps the greatest cultural institutions of our nation. Author Nathan Glazer called it “the most cherished tract of urban public land in the United States … it is the defining center of ceremonial and public Washington.” The original red sandstone Smithsonian Building, completed on the Mall in 1855 and known simply as “The Castle,” can be seen at right.

More than 24 million visitors a year swarm over these two miles from the U.S. Capitol at the east end to the Lincoln Memorial at the west end, almost on the bank of the Potomac River. The busiest section in all of Washington, the Mall is home to a stupendous array of 10 great museums administered by the Smithsonian Institution, including the National Air and Space Museum, the National Museum of Natural History, and the National Museum of American History. One can also find there the exquisite National Gallery of Art, government buildings, gardens, monuments, memorials, and parks. Indeed, the Mall itself is a national park, complete with landscaped gardens and lovely open spaces used for public events.

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Most popular time to visit: cherry blossom season and the National Cherry Blossom Festival in March.

2. Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida

A statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse in front of Cinderella’s Castle welcomes you to Walt Disney World, near Orlando, Fla. Known simply as Disney World, it has usurped the original Disneyland as the iconic American entertainment destination.

You can’t say that you have really experienced America unless you’ve been to the “worlds-within-worlds” of Disney World. It’s certainly the most-visited entertainment resort on Earth, with an annual attendance of about 47 million. It’s also the largest, covering 30,080 acres or 47 square miles, twice the size of Manhattan.

Four theme parks comprise Disney World: The Magic Kingdom, the most visited theme park in the world, with 17 million visitors annually; Epcot, the first big theme park dedicated to education, technological innovation, and international cultures and customs; Disney’s Hollywood Studios, celebrating both the golden age of Hollywood and modern entertainment; and Disney’s Animal Kingdom with its theme of animal conservation.

3. Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

Founded as “Middle Plantation” in 1632 and renamed Williamsburg in 1699, this town nestled on the Virginia Peninsula between the James and York rivers was Virginia’s second colonial capital after Jamestown.

The Historic Area of Williamsburg is today both a historical landmark and a living-history museum, a recreated 18th Century American town where tourists can visit authentic or recreated colonial homes and government buildings. Animals, horses, and actors go about their business as they did in the era of the American Revolution.

Talk to the “interpreters” (actors) and you’ll hear what the Colonists’ diction and grammar sounded like. Where can you discuss political ideas with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson? Or savor an 18th century recipe at a colonial tavern? Williamsburg, that’s where.

Williamsburg is one corner of Virginia’s Historic Triangle, which includes Jamestown and Yorktown. They are all linked by the scenic 23-mile Colonial Parkway.

4. The Summer ‘Cottages,’ Newport, Rhode Island

In the late 1800s, America’s wealthiest families made Newport their summer destination. The greatest artisans of the day labored on extraordinary residences there, constructing the world depicted in Edith Wharton’s novel, “The Age of Innocence.”

For the socially and financially preeminent Vanderbilt family, setting the pace in Newport by building opulent palaces for themselves was a passion. You can still see their magnificent, luxurious residences in Newport, such as Marble House, completed in 1892 for William K. Vanderbilt, grandson of the great family patriarch Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt.

William’s older brother, Cornelius II, built the grandest Newport mansion of them all, perhaps the ultimate symbol of the Gilded Age. Called The Breakers (pictured above), it’s a 65,000-square-foot (6,000 square meter), 70-room Italian Renaissance-style palazzo. Completed in 1895 at a cost of more than $12 million (about $335 million in today’s dollars), it is now Newport’s most popular attraction.

5. Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California

The 125-acre estate of publisher William Randolph Hearst was called “La Cuesta Encantada,” or “The Enchanted Hill,” for it sits high above the Pacific Ocean, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Upon this hill is the awesome, sprawling “La Casa Grande,” a 115-room main house (165 rooms including the guest houses), along with pools and eight acres of carefully cultivated gardens.

A fabulous pastiche of architectural styles by architect Julia Morgan and Hearst himself, the huge residence’s design was dictated by whatever treasures Hearst had collected from his travels in Europe — which were many, filling entire warehouses. Construction began in 1919 and took 28 years to complete.

Now known as the Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument, a variety of special tours are available, but tour reservations are recommended and should be made up to seven or eight weeks in advance.

6. Empire State Building, New York City

The Empire State Building has always been something special. Other skyscrapers are more beautiful, such as its uptown neighbor, the Chrysler Building. And more than 20 other buildings are taller. And yet, the Empire State Building remains the queen — or king if you prefer  of skyscrapers. It is, in short, a grand building, America’s iconic skyscraper.

The 102-story structure, 1,453 feet, 8 and 9⁄16th inches tall, the first structure ever to exceed 100 stories, held the record as the world’s tallest building from 1931 until 1972. It is the honorary lighthouse of New York, lit at night with 3,194,547 interior light bulbs and 208 10,000-watt floodlights with controllable colors on the 72nd and 81st floors, not to mention a few lights in the mooring mast.

Mooring mast? Yes, that’s right. A mooring mast for dirigibles sits atop the building. Ostensibly, giant transatlantic airships of the 1930s such as the Graf Zeppelin and (gasp!) Hindenburg would have docked at the top of the Empire State Building, and passengers would have disembarked down a gangplank from the airship’s nose to the 103rd floor, which today is inaccessible to the public.

7. The Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri

The tallest man-made monument in the U.S. (at 630 feet) is not a fuddy-duddy obelisk, pyramid, tower, or statue. It’s a unique, slender, 43,000-ton stainless steel arch, known as the Gateway Arch, or “Gateway to the West.” Designed by master architect Eero Saarinen and structural engineer Hannskarl Bandelin in 1947, it was not completed until 1965. As the centerpiece of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the Arch sits on the west bank of the Mississippi River in St. Louis in honor of those settlers who contributed to the westward expansion of the United States.

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Four million people a year visit the Arch. Some take the four-minute ride to an enclosed observatory at the Arch’s top in an amazing tram transportation system of egg-like capsules that can stay horizontal despite traveling below, to the side of, and above the track and cabling. It’s like riding a Ferris wheel and an elevator at the same time! Once at the top, 16 windows on each side offer 30-mile views of St. Louis, the Mississippi River, and Metro East. With expanded hours from between Memorial Day and Labor Day, some visitors make an additional night trip to the observatory to admire the city lights.

The Gateway Arch is just one part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. The Museum of Westward Expansion, completely underground beneath the legs of the Gateway Arch, is free and features exhibits on Lewis & Clark and 19th century pioneers who moved America’s borders westward. Considered innovative when it opened in 1976, the museum has no glass or plastic enclosures to prevent visitors from getting close to the displays.


8. The Parthenon, Nashville Tennessee



Nashville is probably the last place you’d expect to see a full-scale replica of the Parthenon of Athens, complete with a 41-foot, 10-inch statue of the Greek goddess Athena wearing eight and a half pounds of gold leaf (worth more than $200,000 today). But there it is in all its glory, an extraordinary architectural achievement that houses a permanent collection of 63 paintings by 19th and 20th century American artists donated by insurance executive James M. Cowan in the late 1920s.

If you visit, be sure to go inside the building, if only to see the magnificent statue of Athena, goddess of wisdom, completed in 1990 by Nashville sculptor Alan LeQuire. Casts of the Elgin Marbles from the original Parthenon are also on display and there’s a gift shop, too.

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9. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Few experiences rival gazing for the first time upon the Grand Canyon, the Earth’s largest gorge. Its sheer magnitude, delicate hues, and quiet dignity are unforgettable. More than 227 miles long and over 6,000 feet deep, it stretches from Lee’s Ferry, Ariz. — about 15 miles from where Glen Canyon Dam backs up the Colorado River to form Lake Powell — all the way down to Lake Mead, Nev., formed by the mighty Hoover Dam.

Though appearing desolate, the Canyon is the home of 1,500 species of plants, 90 species of mammals, 17 species of fish, 45 species of reptiles, nine species of amphibians and 350 species of birds. Nearly 5 million people visit the Grand Canyon each year.

The Canyon’s latest tourist attraction is the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a 65-foot wide, transparent horseshoe-shaped bridge that extends out into midair. Built by the Hualapai Indian tribe, it opened to tourists in 2007.

10. Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio

For amusement park aficionados, roller coaster fanatics, and other assorted thrill seekers, the destination of destinations is Cedar Point. The 364-acre park, merrily occupying a peninsula extending out into Lake Erie, has been entertaining visitors since its opening way back in 1870. It attracts about 3.14 million visitors a year.

Cedar Point offers a mind-boggling 72 rides, including 16 roller coasters. As the self-proclaimed “Roller Coaster Capital of the World,” it has the third most roller coasters of any park in the world, and is the world’s only amusement park having four coasters taller than 200 feet. When you think roller coaster, you think Cedar Point. The place is a veritable catalog of amusement park ride technology.

More Newsmax Photo Essays:

Presidents and Their Celebrity Pals: 15 Iconic Images

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Richard Grigonis

Immigration Reform Faces Uphill Battle After Shutdown.


Image: Immigration Reform Faces Uphill Battle After Shutdown

Immigration reform supporters rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 8.

By Audrey Hudson

Immigration activists are revving up their fight to pass reform legislation before Thanksgiving, fearing that politicians will back down from the battle if it rolls into the 2014 campaign season for midterm elections.

However, the Arizona Republic reported Sunday that the government shutdown damaged the reform efforts and “the profound lack of trust between House Republicans and the White House all but ensures the issue won’t proceed this year.”

“House Republicans will not do this if they see it as ‘the president just beat us and now he’s going to shove this down our throats,'” said Tamar Jacoby, president of ImmigrationWorks USA, a pro-immigration reform group.

“That is just not a way to get it done. What could potentially make it doable is if people see it as good for the country, good for the party and something that is basically framed as a conservative reform, which is the opposite of doing something because President Obama is muscling them,” Jacoby said.

Immigration reform advocates marched on Washington during the government shutdown and hundreds were arrested for illegally blocking the street, while supporters in the business community are planning a “National Immigration Fly-In” to Washington on Oct. 28 to lobby lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle.

President Barack Obama pledged last week  to renew his efforts to get a Senate bill through the Republican-controlled House that would grant amnesty for 11 million illegal immigrants.

House Republican leaders say they will consider individual bills to shore up border protections, but legislation allowing amnesty has not yet been introduced.

Related stories: 

House Democrats Take Aim at Immigration Reform As Shutdown Battle Rages

Obama Blames Boehner for Stalled Progress on Immigration Reform

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Thousands Of Americans Storm National Mall To Protest Obama’s Treatment Of Veterans.


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WASHINGTON – Thousands of people converged on the World War II Memorial on the National Mall on Sunday morning and tore down the barricades blocking it off, protesting the closure of the memorial during the federal government shutdown.

Beginning at about 9:30 a.m., Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, as well as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, were among the luminaries in a crowd that chanted “Tear down these walls!” and sang “God Bless America” as well as other patriotic songs as they entered the memorial, which has been closed since the government shutdown that began Oct. 1.

Tractor-trailers headed down 17th Street toward the Mall, blaring their horns. The Metropolitan Police Department blocked off the street, prompting the crowd to head up the street, shouting at the police to move their vehicles.

Cruz said that President Obama was using veterans as political pawns in the shutdown.

By 11 a.m., the group had headed back to the memorial, and dozens congregated around World War II veterans, shaking their hands and thanking them for their service.

Later in the morning, veteran Mike Lauriente was accepting handshakes from demonstrators. He served in Sicily and French Morocco, and declared the memorial, which he was seeing for the first time, beautiful. “The spirit that I see here is overwhelming.” source – WTOP.

by NTEB News Desk

Americans Enter Closed National Parks in Civil Disobedience.


Image: Americans Enter Closed National Parks in Civil Disobedience

By Courtney Coren

Americans across the country are practicing civil disobedience by entering closed national parks and federally owned land in defiance of the government shutdown, some facing citations for their violations.

From Arizona to Washington, D.C., Americans — inspired by veterans who pushed through barricades around the national World War II Memorial in the nation’s capital on the first day of the shutdown — are moving barricades and orange cones aside in order to see some of the country’s most famous landmarks, The Washington Times reported.

For some, however, their actions have come at a cost. Nearly two dozen people who decided to go into Grand Canyon National Park were cited for entering while it was closed.

One area hotel is giving sightseers directions on how to see the Grand Canyon without going into the park.

“We have people that are outraged — people from other countries who have spent considerable time and money to get here, you know, the Grand Canyon is one of the wonders of the world,” said Matt Rich, one of the family which owns the nearby Jacob Lake Inn. “When we make them aware there are other views they can see from Forest Service land, they come back and hug us because we saved their vacation.”

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has offered to reopen the Grand Canyon park with state funds, but was told by the park superintendent that the government cannot accept her offer.

Some question the reasoning behind closing off open-air monuments such as those on the National Mall that have no formal entrances that need an employee to collect entrance fees and provide other necessary services.

“We’ve gone from ‘This land is your land, this land is my land,’ to the government saying this land is its land,” University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds told The Christian Science Monitor.  “President Obama said that government is just a word for the things we do together. Apparently that includes kicking WWII veterans off their memorial.”

Citations also have been issued by park rangers at other national parks, including the Valley Forge National Historical Park in Pennsylvania and Acadia National Park in Maine. However, according to the Monitor, several are asking if park rangers have the authority to remove, fine, or arrest trespassers.

Some of the efforts to keep people from entering or even seeing certain landmarks almost seem spiteful, Reynolds said.

At the famous Civil War battlefield in Gettysburg, pull-off areas along a public road were barricaded, preventing sightseers from viewing monuments without entering the park. And the decision to close the World War II Memorial came directly from the White House.

U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance sent a letter to President Barack Obama Tuesday protesting the closure of popular hunting grounds and fisheries just as the hunting season begins. USSA president Nick Pinizzoto said that these lands were not closed when the government shut in 1995.

“These lands are generally accessible to the public without special entrance fees, passage through gates, or access via controlled roads or waterways,” Pinnizzoto said in a statement.

“Not only are these closures unnecessary, they run contrary to law. This is ‘political theatre’ at its very worst.”

Related Stories:
U.S. Loses $1.6 Billion From Shutdown, Costing $160 Million a Day
Veterans Monument Shutdown Beyond Petty

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Obama Opens Mall For Illegal Immigrant Rally, But Arrests Vets At War Memorial.


Sending a message

What you see happening here in our story today illustrates a larger principle. By doing this, Obama was showing two things, and they are:

  1. His desire to make 11,000,000 illegal immigrants citizens, thereby swamping the entitlement systemuntil it snaps in half. Cloward-Piven 101.
  2. His utter contempt for America, our way of life, and for our service men and women. What better way to show that then to publicly arrest war veterans as they visit war memorials?

Fox News: A pro immigration reform rally was underway Tuesday on the National Mall despite the fact that national memorials have been closed during the government shutdown. The development comes in the wake of outrage over the fact that several groups of World War II veterans had to resort to breaking down barriers to gain access to the monument built in their honor.

obama-opens-national-mall-to-illegal-immigrants-but-arrests-vets-at-war-memorials

Even though the National Mall is closed to “everyone”, Obama gave the order to allow a rally for illegal immigrants.

It wasn’t immediately clear why the rally was allowed to be held during the shutdown but David Bossie of conservative non-profit group Citizens United speculated that it was being claimed as a “First Amendment issue.”

obama-opens-national-mall-to-illegal-immigrants-but-arrests-vets-at-war-memorials-vietnam

Here we see America’s war vets being arrested for the crime of visiting a war memorial. This is life in Obama’s America 2013.

The park police told Camerota in an email that their officers are “at full capacity during the shutdown to protect life and property.” source – Fox News

obama-opens-national-mall-to-illegal-immigrants-but-arrests-vets-at-war-memorials-vietnam-police

Feds Back Down to Allow Vets Access to World War II Memorial.


Hours after a feud looked certain to blow up over access to Washington‘s World War II Memorial the federal government backed down and said veterans would be allowed in.

The news came in a Twitter message from Carol Johnson, the National Mall‘s public information officer.

The climbdown was the result of a groundswell of complaints joined by a growing contingent of lawmakers who stepped up to meet the vets at the memorial site Wednesday morning to ensure a dignified visit. There the scene was emotional as one veteran played Taps and most stood in rapt attention, BuzzFeed‘s Benny Johnson tweeted

Hundreds of veterans are due to fly to Washington to visit the memorial, which was barricaded Tuesday due to the government shutdown. Some 90 veterans who turned up Tuesday only got access after Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi helped to cut police tape and move concrete barriers.

The scene was expected to be repeated Wednesday, before the Parks Service climbdown.

Palazzo, a Gulf War Marine veteran, had planned to sponsor legislation that would have allowed access during the shutdown, saying the Obama administration is using politics against men who deserve to be honored, not pushed aside.

“At first I thought it was a huge bureaucratic oversight, but having talked with officials, I can’t help but think it was politically motivated,” Palazzo told the Daily Caller.

“Honor Flights, which bring WWII veterans to the nation’s memorials are planned a year in advance and can cost anywhere between $80,000 to $100,000. How low can you get with playing politics over our nation’s veterans?”

Palazzo added, “This is an open-air memorial that the public has 24-7 access to under normal circumstances – even when Park Service personnel are present. It actually requires more effort and expense to shut out these veterans from their memorial than it would to simply let them through. My office has been in touch with NPS officials and the Administration to try to resolve this issue.”

Reps Vicky Hartzler of Missouri and Mike Pompeo of Kansas were among a growing contingent of lawmakers on site at the memorial Wednesday morning. Pompeo put his thoughts on Twitter.

Honor Flight‘s board chairman Jim McLaughlin told Newsmax on Tuesday that about 3,500 vets are slated to take free flights to Washington in October alone creating scheduling concerns as lawmakers seek compromise to end a government shutdown that has shuttered national parks nationwide.

For many, he said, the trips mark their last chance to see the monuments and they deserve proper dignity on their trips.

The Lincoln Memorial is also closed to public visitors, even as some have argued that it costs the Park Service more to close it than keep it open, given that it is an open-air monument and not a site to be toured, legalinsurrection.com reports.

Related Articles:

Rand Paul: ‘Goons’ Set Up Barricades Around Monuments
WWII Vets Lose Chance to See Memorial After $100,000 Goes Missing

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Andrea Billups

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