U.S. President Barack Obama will lay out a new go-it-alone approach in State of the Union address on Tuesday, in an effort to bypass congressional gridlock caused by political partisanship and the competition for voters’ approval.
Among the topics expected to be addressed by the president are expanding pre-kindergarten education, income inequality, unemployment, raising the minimum hourly wage of federal contracted employees, and immigration reform.
Reuters will have live video and blog with contributions from our Washington, DC bureau. You can watch the action starting in earnest at 8:00 p.m. ET, as lawmakers, family members, and other invited guests file in to take their seats and await the arrival of the president.
The SOTU address begins at 9:00 p.m. ET.
Photo: President Barack Obama gestures as he arrives to deliver his State of the Union Speech on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 12, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed
Critics say the closures of lanes onto the George Washington Bridge were engineered by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s staff for political retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee because the mayor declined to endorse Christie’s re-election effort in 2013.
Deputy chief of staff to New Jersey Christie, Bridget Anne Kelly, wrote an email to a Port Authority executive in August: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” The executive, David Wildstein, replied: “Got it.”
Christie said on Thursday that Kelly was terminated from her position. Shortly after a press conference Thursday morning (part of that conference is show in the above video), Wildstein appeared and refused to give testimony in front of a state assembly transportation committee hearing on Thursday. He was voted to be in contempt of that committee.
The U.S. attorney in New Jersey will open an inquiry into the closures.
An Arctic polar vortex brings sub-zero temperatures to parts of the U.S., putting health and city officials on high alert.
More than 400,000 people have been displaced in CAR since Seleka rebels - many who are Muslims from neighboring countries Chad and Sudan - seized political power in March 2013, ousting then-president Francois Bozize. Shortly after the transition, the majority Christian population was subject to increasing incidents of rapes, murders and looting. Michel Djotodia, rebel leader turned interim president, has largely lost control of his gunmen. Christians fled reprisals following a failed offensive on Bangui the first week of December. A French initiative to disarm all fighters on both sides has weakened Seleka’s influence in the capital, leading to counter-attacks by Christian militias.
President Francois Hollande visited CAR on his return trip to France from the funeral of Nelson Mandela in South Africa on Monday after two French soldiers were killed in fighting and shortly after France sent a 1,600-strong force into its former colony to neutralize the chaos and end the deadly fighting.
In the Fouh neighborhood on Tuesday, a Reuters correspondent saw civilians armed with wooden clubs and machetes attack a mosque and houses, and at least six people were lynched overnight mainly during violence targeting Muslims, according to residents. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the current French troop levels were sufficient to stabilize the country. CAR is roughly the size of France. The U.S. said it will fly African forces into the country: two U.S. military C-17 aircraft will fly 850 troops from Burundi, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Firman, a Pentagon spokesman, said. It was unclear what U.S. support might follow, but Firman said consultations were ongoing. The forces will help bolster the contingent from the African Union, due to be increased to 6,000 from about 3,500.
UN Refugee Agency reported that by Monday night, an estimated 108,000 people in Bangui have left their homes and staying in 30 locations across the capital, mainly in churches, mosques, public buildings and the airport. In addition, an unknown number of people have also moved to Kilometre 5, a mostly Muslim neighborhood in the northwest of Bangui, to stay with relatives or friends. In the capital Bangui, religious leaders met to distribute food to the more than 10,000 displaced people huddled at a gathering at a community center for protection. They urged an end to the violence.
David Rhode, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and Reuters columnist writes: Wealthy nations are funding a poorly-equipped regional peacekeeping force instead of authorizing more costly United Nations troops, and it is unclear whether the approach will work.
Top Photo: A Christian youth inside a burned-out car in Bangui on December 10, 2013. REUTERS/Emmanuel Braun
Live coverage: Janet Yellen sits before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee on Thursday as it vets her nomination to take the helm at the Federal Reserve System, a position for which — if confirmed — would make her one of the most powerful women in the financial world.
Reuters live blog: http://reut.rs/1icQ3Zc
But what does Janet Yellen think of the U.S. economy? Watch her speak live and read analysis and commentary from Reuters staff on what her plans are for boosting economic growth.
Photos: Janet Yellen, President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the U.S. Federal Reserve. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts