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400 disadvantaged Americans watch Obama inauguration

world Updated: Jan 21, 2009 11:24 IST

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Some 400 disadvantaged Americans watched the inauguration of Barrack Obama as US president, courtesy a black millionaire who arranged for their all-expense-paid trip to Washington.

They included disabled war veterans, the terminally ill and victims of hurricanes from 23 states across the US.

Put up in 335 rooms at the JW Marriott hotel near the White House, their expenses were picked by black businessman philanthropist Earl Stafford.

They had an unobstructed views of the inaugural parade from a heated, glass-enclosed 12th-floor terrace.

The gesture of goodwill is expected to cost Stafford about $2 million.

Stafford, who has instructed the hotel to ensure that no comfort is spared his guests, told USA Today: “When things are good, people don't need philanthropy as much. It's when the economy has a downturn that businesses have to step up. People are hurting, and no one is bailing out the people. We must become our brothers' keepers, indeed.”