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The State of the Union: New York Times: "President Obama will challenge a divided Congress on Tuesday night to embrace a second-term agenda that includes new government investments, limits on guns, a revamped immigration system and a plan to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan, White House officials said. ... Mr. Obama’s first State of the Union address since winning re-election will focus on new initiatives to kick-start the economy for middle-class Americans, aides said. The president will propose government action in education, manufacturing, infrastructure and clean energy. ... Obama’s speech—his seventh to a joint session of Congress—is designed to set in motion one of the most intensive legislative years in his presidency as the White House moves to take advantage of his victory in the fall. Aides are keenly aware that the momentum will soon fade."
Cheat Sheet: Your Guide To Not Watching the State of the Union
The Slatest: Obama To Announce Major Afghan Troop Withdrawal
The Focus: Associated Press: "But it's the economy at center stage, as it has been each time Obama has stood before lawmakers and a national TV audience for the annual address. Despite marked improvements since he took office four years ago, the unemployment rate is still hovering around 8 percent and consumer confidence has slipped. White House officials said Obama would offer the public an outline for job creation, though much of his blueprint will include elements Americans have heard before, including spending more money to boost manufacturing and improve infrastructure."
Moneybox: The President Can't Actually Do Things
Change You Can See: New York Times: "[M]any will watch as well for signs of the state of Barack Obama. Inside the White House and out, advisers and associates have noted subtle but palpable changes in Mr. Obama since his re-election. ... He is relaxed, more voluble and even more confident than usual, these people say, freer to drop profanities or dismiss others’ ideas — enough that even some supporters fear the potential for hubris. ... As the president prepares to outline his second-term agenda, it is clear from these personal accounts as well as his public acts, like his bold Inaugural Address, that he has shown an assertiveness, self-possession, even cockiness that contrasts with the caution, compromise and reserve that he showed for much of his first term."
Rubio's Two-Pronged Response: Wall Street Journal: "Sen. Marco Rubio plans to follow his prime-time response to the president's State of the Union address with his own legislative push on education funding and help for small businesses—all part of a larger effort to build his image as a conservative leader with a bipartisan bent. The Florida senator's star turn as GOP spokesman Tuesday night, when he will give his party's official response to the president, comes as Republicans increasingly look to the 41-year-old lawmaker to be a flag-carrier for the party after its election setbacks last year. ... Rubio advisers say the first-term senator will use his most prominent national perch to date to critique Mr. Obama's reliance on government solutions but also to lay out proposals to simplify the tax code and help the middle class, themes he has promoted in recent speeches. The senator will then begin rolling out a series of bills in coming weeks, including one to create a new tax credit to help less-affluent families pay for private-school tuition and expenses, his advisers say."
The North Korea Nuclear Test: Reuters: "The U.N. Security Council strongly condemned North Korea's third nuclear test on Tuesday and vowed to take action against Pyongyang for an act that all major world powers, including traditional ally China, have denounced. ... The non-binding statement was approved by all 15 council members. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said that Washington and its allies want the Security Council to pass a resolution that would 'augment the sanctions regime' already in place due to Pyongyang's 2006 and 2009 atomic tests. The council statement was agreed at an emergency closed-door session convened by South Korea. Diplomats say negotiations on new sanctions could take weeks since China is likely to resist tough new measures for fear that new sanctions could lead to further retaliation by the North Korean leadership."
Senate Passes Violence Against Women Act: The Hill: "The Senate voted 78-22 to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) on Tuesday. The Senate action now sends the bill to the House. Both the House and Senate passed their own versions during the 112th Congress, but neither chamber took up the other's version. ... Democrats, including President Obama, said they preferred the Senate bill because it would give tribal authorities jurisdiction over non-Indians in some domestic violence cases on tribal land, but Republicans say that issue has raised questions about possible violations of constitutional rights of U.S. citizens."
"She Was Just There" Chicago Tribune: "The gunman in the slaying of Hadiya Pendleton told police he was in the middle of a three-year battle with a rival gang when he opened fire at a South Side park and hit the 15-year-old who 'had nothing to do' with the feud, according to prosecutors. 'She was just there,' Michael Ward, 18, told police after he was arrested with Kenneth Williams, 20, prosecutors said during a hearing where both were denied bail. Williams told witnesses he and Ward were driving around on Jan. 29, looking for members of a rival gang that had killed one of Ward's friends, according to prosecutors. Williams had also been wounded by a rival gang member last summer, police said. ... David Smith, a close friend of the Pendleton family, said after the court hearing that the family was keeping tabs on developments from Washington. Hadiya’s parents are guests of First Lady Michelle Obama at the president’s State of the Union address tonight." Pendleton performed with her high school band during the D.C. festivities surrounding Obama's second inauguration.
France Moves To Legalize Gay Marriage: Associated Press: "France’s lower house of parliament approved a sweeping bill on Tuesday to legalize gay marriage and allow same-sex couples to adopt children, handing a major legislative victory to President Francois Hollande’s Socialists on a divisive social issue. The measure, approved in the National Assembly in a 329-to-229 vote, puts France on track to join about a dozen mostly European nations that allow gay marriage and comes despite a string of recent demonstrations by opponents of the so-called 'marriage for all' bill."
The Pope's Secret Surgery: Bloomberg: "Pope Benedict XVI had heart surgery to replace his pacemaker three months ago at Rome’s Pio XI clinic, Il Sole 24 Ore reported, without saying where it got the information. The surgery was performed by Luigi Chiariello, a cardiologist who teaches at Rome’s Tor Vergata university and who inserted the pope’s original pacemaker 10 years ago, the newspaper said. Chiariello declined to comment on the matter, Il Sole said. The operation was a success and the pope maintained his regular schedule, Il Sole said. A Vatican spokesman couldn’t immediately be reached by phone for comment."
Getting Paid To Apologize: Poynter: "At a talk this afternoon in Miami, Jonah Lehrer acknowledged his plagiarism and fabrications and talked about how he hopes to redeem his reputation. Lehrer read prepared remarks and answered questions from Knight Foundation President and CEO Alberto Ibargüen and the gathering at the closing lunch for the 2013 'Media Learning Seminar.' ... Lehrer was paid handsomely for the appearance. 'Like most outside speakers at Knight events, he was paid an honorarium. In this case, it was $20,000,' says Knight spokesperson Marika Lynch by email."
A Few More Quick Hits From Slate—
Brow Beat: “Where Is Matt Damon?”
Moneybox: In Defense of Securitization
Brow Beat: The Dead Have Oscar Campaigns, Too
Bad Astronomy: AMAZING Footage of a Satellite Deployment in Space
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