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January 31st, 2013
10:18 AM ET

Family mourns for teen shot after inauguration performance, suggest changes to gun laws


Chicago (CNN) - A teen who performed at events around President Barack Obama's inauguration was shot to death in Chicago this week, and now her story has become part of the debate in Washington over gun violence nationwide.

The shooting death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton came up in a U.S. Senate hearing and a White House press briefing Wednesday.

"She was an honor student and a majorette," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois. Performing at inaugural events last week "was the highlight of her young, 15-year-old life," he said.

Speaking at Wednesday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, Durbin mentioned Pendleton's death as he argued that more must be done to stop gun crimes.

"Yesterday, in a rainstorm after school, she raced to a shelter. A gunman came in and shot her dead," he said. "Just a matter of days after the happiest day of her life, she's gone."

The park shelter where she was shot is just a mile from Obama's home in Chicago.

This morning on "Early Start," Hadiya's dad Nathaniel and godfather Damon Stewart talk about her legacy, and changes they hope to see in gun control laws.

READ MORE: Teen who performed at Obama inaugural events shot dead in Chicago

Filed under: Gun control • Guns • Presidential Inauguration
January 23rd, 2013
06:20 AM ET

Did Beyoncé fake it at the inauguration? AlwaysAList's Jawn Murray weighs in


Washington (CNN) – Pop star Beyoncé opted to use a "pre-recording" of her rendition of the National Anthem during inaugural ceremonies in Washington Monday, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Marine Band told CNN Tuesday.

U.S. Marine Band spokeswoman Kristen DuBois said early Tuesday that "we know why the decision was made," adding that the pop star "did not actually sing," but instead lip-synched her own voice.

Later in the day, however, the Marine Corps said in a statement that no one in their organization "is in a position to assess whether [Beyoncé's vocal performance] was live or pre-recorded."

The conflicting reports from the Marines have yet to be clarified by a statement from Beyoncé or her representatives, who have not responded to CNN's requests for comment.

This morning on "Early Start," AlwaysAList.com's Jawn Murray on reports that singer Beyoncé lip synched the National Anthem at the inauguration.

READ MORE: Marine Band says Beyoncé 'did not actually sing' during inaugural, then backpedals

January 22nd, 2013
08:27 AM ET

All eyes on inauguration fashion as First Lady wows in red Jason Wu dress – Alina Cho reports

As expected, style and fashion at the inaugural ceremonies did not disappoint. The First Lady’s wardrobe was the talk of the town. All eyes were on Michelle Obama’s fashion forward choices and she may have outdone herself yet again. CNN’s resident fashionista Alina Cho has the details in the fabric.

Thom Browne was elected for the coat and dress the First Lady wore on inauguration morning, turning heads for choosing a designer known more widely for his menswear. Another surprise came at the grand inaugural ball. It shocked viewers and designer Jason Wu himself that the First Lady should choose a gown by him again. She went with Wu for the first inaugural ball four years ago. But Alina Cho sums it up rather simply. “At the end of the day, she’s a woman who wanted to feel and look great,” she says.

January 22nd, 2013
07:59 AM ET

CNN Trends: Sasha's yawn goes viral

Trending on the web this morning are memorable moments from the president's second inauguration ceremony. One tender moment was of young Sasha Obama yawning during her father's speech.

January 22nd, 2013
07:05 AM ET

President Obama inaugural speech's place in history – Nick Ragone weighs in

Presidential historian Nick Ragone on how President Obama's second inauguration speech will be viewed by history.

January 22nd, 2013
06:52 AM ET

Washington celebrates President Obama with parties galore – Brianna Keilar reports

Brianna Keilar reports on the numerous parties celebrating President Barack Obama's second inauguration.

January 21st, 2013
07:49 AM ET

Rep. Clyburn: Many lawmakers 'bothered' by controversial photo of Obama's cabinet

President Obama will take the oath of office in Washington today with his hand on two bibles– the bible that Abraham Lincoln used during his first inauguration and a bible that belonged to Dr. Martin Luther King.

In a video previewing today's events, Obama placed his presidency in the context of these two historic figures, saying that their actions and the movements they represent are the reason it's possible for him to be inaugurated.

South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn is a veteran of the civil rights movement and he joins Starting Point this morning to discuss Obama's agenda and King's legacy, explaining that "so much of what President Obama confronted was forecast by Martin Luther King Jr."

Rep. Clyburn also weighs in on the goals of the president's second term and the challenges faced by African Americans in the country, saying that recent Supreme Court decisions are going to force the government to find "creative ways to make the economy work for all citizens."

January 21st, 2013
07:41 AM ET

Rep. Schultz: 'My way or the highway politics need to be put aside'

Justice Sonia Sotomayor made history yesterday when she swore in Joe Biden to another four years as vice president, becoming the first Latina jurist to administer an inaugural oath.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was present at the ceremony, which she describes as "warm and intimate" on Starting Point this morning, saying that both Sotomayor and Biden appeared thrilled during the occasion.

Rep. Schultz, who is the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, also explains what she expects to hear later today during President Obama's inaugural address.

"I think what the president's goal will be is trying to use the inaugural address to unify the country," Rep. Schultz explains. "We should start this new term trying to put away the divisive fights... We all have to recognize that our challenges are significant and we can all give up a little and it’s okay."

January 21st, 2013
07:38 AM ET

Creating an historic moment: Presidential Inauguration Committee's Brent Colburn explains logistics

The focus all over the country today is on the inaugural ceremony and parade in Washington. Tonight it will be all about the parties. Big name artists including Katy Perry, Brad Paisley, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys and John Legend are all expected to perform. But the celebration is somewhat scaled back from four years ago. The presidential inaugural committee is hosting just two official inaugural balls this year compared to 10 official balls in 2009. Brent Colburn is Communications Director for the Presidential Inauguration Committee. With more on the logistics of the festivities, he joins us on “Early Start” this morning.

Colburn describes the differences between the first and second inauguration’s programming.  “Obviously second inaugurals are a little different than first inaugurals,” he says. “[They] tend to be a little bit smaller, but they’re a really important moment. It’s an important moment for the president to look back at where we've gone as a country, and for the country to look forward.”

January 21st, 2013
07:31 AM ET

Vision, unity should be themes in President Obama's inauguration speech – fmr. campaign messaging director Brett O'Donnell explains

In just a few hours, the country will watch as Barack Obama is inaugurated for a second term as President of the United States. Washington is abuzz in anticipation for the big ceremony and the president’s big speech as he embarks on the next four years in office.

Brett O'Donnell was the Messaging Director for John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. In the last election cycle, he worked for both the Michele Bachmann and Mitt Romney campaigns. This morning, O’Donnell offers his thoughts on what the president has to accomplish in speech today.

O’Donnell says inaugural addresses are about two things. “They're about vision and they're about unity,” he says. “The challenge for the president is really to bring the country together, to sound a vision for the country that is eloquent and that will inspire Americans to come together and get behind him and get behind our elected leaders to work for the good of the country.”

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