Bush to Promote Liberty Abroad, Ownership at Home in Inauguration Speech

President Bush's inauguration speech Thursday will focus on themes of spreading liberty abroad and giving Americans more control over their own money.

U.S. presidents traditionally lay out a vision and top priorities for their term during their inaugural address.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal newspaper, President Bush said he will talk about his "deep desire" to spread freedom around the world.

He noted the speech comes in the same month when Iraqis and Palestinians hold national elections, and said the United States can make the world more peaceful by helping countries set up the institutions necessary to have a free society.

On the domestic front, President Bush will promote the concept of an "ownership society," in which more Americans own homes and businesses, and have personal control over their retirement accounts and health insurance.

The president is likely to discuss changes he has proposed to the government's Social Security retirement program. The changes would allow workers to divert a portion of taxes for the program into private investment accounts.

Mr. Bush will deliver his speech shortly after he takes the oath of office for a second term in the White House.

Presidential Inauguration Symbolizes Continuity of American Democracy

President Bush's inauguration will mark the 55th time in more than 200 years that a U.S. president has taken the constitutionally mandated oath of office.

The theme for Mr. Bush's second inauguration is "Celebrating Freedom, Honoring Service." Officials say that with the nation at war, they want to pay special tribute to U.S. military forces and their families.

More than 200,000 people are expected to observe the swearing-in ceremony on the steps of the U.S. capitol.

Following the 35-word oath administered by Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist at noon on Thursday, January 20, the president will outline his priorities for the next four years in his inaugural address.

Afterwards, the president and first lady Laura Bush will lead a parade up Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.

Nine special parties will be held the evening of the inauguration, including an invitation-only Commander-in-Chief ball for members of the military who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Wide Variety of Protests Planned for Bush Inauguration

Groups protesting President Bush's policies are planning a wide variety of demonstrations during his inauguration on January 20.

Demonstrators say they will mount nearly a dozen rallies and marches throughout Washington as Mr. Bush is sworn in for a second four-year term.

The anti-war group ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) plans to mount several large protests along the parade route from the U.S. Capitol to the White House.

A satirical group called Billionaires for Bush says it plans to criticize the president's policies by pretending to auction off the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Social Security program at a prominent Washington memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt memorial.

Protest leaders say the demonstrations are designed to draw attention to policies many Americans oppose, particularly the war in Iraq.

President Bush says he is not concerned about the protests during his inauguration, calling them a vital part of democracy.

Atheist Loses Bid to Ban Prayer at Bush Inauguration

A California atheist who gained public attention for trying to remove the phrase "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance has lost a bid to bar the saying of a prayer at President Bush's inauguration Thursday.

A U.S. District Judge, John Bates, said Michael Newdow's latest claim cannot be pursued. He says prohibiting the prayer would cause considerable disruption to a significant national event.

The judge added that clergy have been invited to deliver inaugural prayers for almost 70 years and that prayer has been a part of the ceremony since the inauguration of the first U.S. president, George Washington.

Mr. Newdow had argued that the saying of a prayer at the inauguration would violate the constitutional requirement of the separation of church and state.

Security Tightest in History for Inauguration

President Bush will be sworn in under the tightest security in U.S. inaugural history. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge says there is no specific terrorist threat facing the January 20 inauguration. But he says nothing will be left to chance. Mr. Ridge called the U.S. inauguration the most "visible" manifestation of U.S. democracy.

Security for the event will include thousands of police and security officials from more than 50 federal, state and local agencies. They will be linked by a state-of-the-art communication system.Sensors will scan the air for traces of chemical or biological agents, while jets will monitor the proceedings overhead.

Meanwhile, key inauguration facilities are under constant surveillance. Sharpshooters will be stationed throughout the parade site near the Capitol and along Pennsylvania Avenue.

Dozens of police dogs will sniff for explosives, while portable X-ray machines will scan packages and vehicles. Parts of downtown Washington will be cordoned off from traffic. The inauguration is expected to draw thousands of spectators, as well as many protesters.

Some information for these reports provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.