Convention Watch: Star Spangled Line-Up

The Ritz-Carlton is offering the “unconventional bath” package to its guests. Each night, they’ll also receive a different convention-themed amenity, from the jelly beans favored by former President Ronald Reagan to a white chocolate Lincoln Log pastry.

Hotel guests, who pay from $250 to $5,000 a night for a room, can even taste a bit of Texas by sampling Texas Governor’s Mansion Cowboy Cookies, based on a recipe by Laura Bush.

The Park Hyatt at the Bellevue is offering “politically incorrect” martinis, including the Honest Abe, a concoction of vodka, creme de menthe, amaretto and club soda.

Lee Schwartz, the owner of Cookies by Design in Philadelphia-suburb Merion, will be making cookies in the shape of elephants, the American flag and political buttons touting “Bush for President,” among others.

The convention has also given some of the city’s museums a chance to tie their collections to the festivities. Visitors at The Academy of Natural Sciences can learn more about the history of elephants and how they became the GOP’s symbol.

— The Associated Press

Let the Protests Begin

Protesters kicked off a week of demonstrations in Philadelphia Saturday to coincide with the upcoming Republican convention.

All over town, various groups organized rallies and displays to highlight issues like gun control, abortion, and animal rights.

At the Liberty Bell, 200 antigun protesters laid out nearly 30,000 shoes to represent victims of gun violence. The group, Silent March, has set up similar displays all across the country. Meanwhile, a group supporting gun owners gathered nearby to set up 1,000 American flags.

At a downtown Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, about 250 anti-abortion advocates held a prayer vigil. A block away, a handful of abortion rights advocates from the Women’s Radical Action Group held signs and sang songs outside a church where one anti-abortion group had attended service.

Also this morning, about 30 people in wheelchairs in a “Rolling for Justice” brigade assembled in front of Independence Mall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Not all of Saturday’s planned events came off without a hitch. A handful of animal rights advocates were arrested Saturday in South Philadelphia on their way to a protest where they planned to dump more than a ton of manure in front of the First Union Center, site of the convention.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals also planned to have activists wearing pig and cow costumes dancing in support of an excise tax on meat. The group says meat is harmful to humans and animals and so should be taxed in the same way cigarettes, liquor and luxury cars are taxed.

PETA member Bruce Friedrich says police officers detained at least five members of the group while they were at a gas station filling up the air in the truck’s tires. He says police also seized banners, signs, buttons and the costumes that were to be used in the demonstration.

Police could not confirm immediately whether anyone had been arrested or what the charges would be.

— The Associated Press

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