Obama heads into State of the Union on ratings uptick

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

AP News in Brief at 5:58 p.m. EST.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican lawmakers are already signaling they will do what they can to block President Barack Obama’s pitch for tax increases on the wealthiest Americans.This column is part of “The State of America,” an msnbc.com series leading up to President Barack Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address on Tuesday, Jan. 20. Obama is making that pitch to a huge television audience in hopes of putting the new Republican Congress in the position of defending top income earners over the middle class. That’s why he will deliver a political speech in order to spin up the liberal wing of his party and to define and marginalize the Republican Party as the country slowly heads toward the 2016 elections. “He will contrast his governing philosophy versus the GOP to remind Americans that Republicans now own potential gridlock on Capitol Hill and the solutions to America’s problems rests with their majorities in the House and Senate. “Obama will also try to put Republicans on the spot with Hispanic voters by bringing up his veto threat over Department of Homeland Security funding because of his immigration executive actions.

He’ll also make demands to act ‘reasonable’ over issues that he disagrees with, such as the Keystone pipeline. “Of course, Obama is likely to provide a laundry list of standard policy initiatives over everything from cutting methane emissions, education funding to space exploration. In 2014, the fossil fuel divestment movement kept spreading like wildfire, with more cities, religious groups, and universities signing up to the cause. However, there is also an 800-pound gorilla in the room: what people think of the president at the time — call it the mojo factor. “President Obama’s recent actions on immigration and Cuba bespeak a new boldness, that of a man who never has to busy himself with electioneering ever again, if he so chooses. But now some are questioning whether to use the congressional budget process to derail the 2010 law or save the special step for more traditional purposes like cutting spending or overhauling the tax code. In this and other matters, I expect to see Obama Unbound.” “The White House has taken a new approach already, with a policy rollout run-up instead of coming out of the speech.

I think that leads down the path to the impossible dream of most SOTU speechwriters — a shorter, more thematic speech, and that, given the innovations the White House continues to make in their communications shop, farther down the path toward the SOTU digital experience of the future! It’s the only filibuster-proof option available to Republicans, who control the Senate with 54 seats but must still muster 60 votes to pass other legislation. Senate precedents limit the number of reconciliation bills — one for taxes, one for spending and one to raise the government’s borrowing cap — and so a major debate has begun among Republicans over what to put in it. He’ll work to frame the next year with his usual construct: ‘I’ll work with anyone, from either party, as long as they give me exactly what I want without compromise or modification.’ He’ll declare the economy is awesome, take full credit for gas prices going down, talk tough on ISIS/AQAP, touch on the Ferguson issue in an attempt to blame it on the GOP and propose trillions in new spending on soft, focus-group-friendly giveaways and boondoggles. SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemen’s U.S.-backed leadership came under serious threat Monday as government troops clashed with Shiite rebels near the presidential palace and a key military base in what one official called “a step toward a coup.” The militants seized control of state media in fierce fighting that marked the biggest challenge yet to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi by the rebels, known as Houthis, who swept down from their northern strongholds last year and captured the capital in September.

The administration’s Clean Power Plan aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 40%, spelling the end of the dirty coal industry as we know it. Almost all of it will slip into obscurity and slow political death. “He knows very well that his laundry lists of ‘free’ goodies are already dead on arrival, but he’ll make the point anyway, trying to capture a day or two of ‘Good Obama/Bad Republican’ press.

The violence threatened to undermine efforts by the U.S. and its allies to battle al-Qaida’s Yemeni affiliate, which claimed responsibility for the attack on a Paris satirical magazine this month and which Washington has long viewed as the global network’s most dangerous branch. Expect a chilly reception from the GOP.” “I think the biggest possible surprise would be a carbon tax — he might say that energy will never be lower so now is the time to place a carbon tax with the proceeds going to Social Security and take advantage of the windfall for the good of all. Hadi, whose government has ceded control over nearly the entire capital, doesn’t live at the palace, and extra soldiers and tanks deployed around his private residence, which is nearby. Our voluntary target of reducing CO2 emissions 27% below 2005 levels by 2025 isn’t nearly enough to put us on a safe pathway to keeping global warming below 2°C, above which scientists say we risk utter catastrophe.

Across the country, millions of people, especially in low-income communities, are living with the daily injustices that come from a pollution based economy: high asthma rates, a lack of quality infrastructure, manifold threats to drinking water or other critical natural resources. ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) — Pope Francis is firmly upholding church teaching banning contraception, but said Monday that Catholics don’t have to breed “like rabbits” and should instead practice “responsible parenting.” Speaking to reporters en route home from the Philippines, Francis said there are plenty of church-approved ways to regulate births. But he said most importantly, no outside institution should impose its views on regulating family size, blasting what he called the “ideological colonization” of the developing world.

His comments, taken together with his defense of the Catholic Church’s ban on artificial contraception during the trip, signal that he is increasingly showing his more conservative bent, which has largely been ignored by public opinion or obscured by a media narrative that has tended to highlight his populist persona. NEW YORK (AP) — Conservative distrust of Pope Francis, which has been building in the U.S. throughout his pontificate, is reaching a boiling point over his plan to urge action on climate change — and to do so through a document traditionally used for the most important papal teachings. Other renewable technologies are just as promising: there were days last November when 100% of Norway’s electricity consumption was provided by the wind.

And he said he wanted his encyclical out in plenty of time to be absorbed before the next round of U.N. climate change talks in Paris in November after the last round in Lima, Peru, failed to reach an agreement. “I don’t know if it (human activity) is the only cause, but mostly, in great part, it is man who has slapped nature in the face,” Francis said. “We have in a sense taken over nature.” Even before these remarks, several conservative U.S. commentators had been pre-emptively attacking the encyclical. He’s pledged to quit smoking, and then sucked down an entire pack on the sly. “All of the above,” may make for a good soundbite, but it’s not going to solve global warming. Monday at his spiritual home in Atlanta repeated the same message: We’ve come a long way, but there’s still a lot left to be done to fulfill King’s dream. A study published in Nature concluded that over 90% of Australian and U.S. coal, and nearly all of the Canadian tar sands, would have to remain unburned. He taught us that we still have a choice to make: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation,” she said. “I challenge you to work with us as we help this nation choose nonviolence.” The courage and sacrifice of those who participated in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s provides a model for those who want to act to effect change today, Bernice King said.

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) — The drama surrounding two teenage sweethearts on the run from the law ended quietly and unceremoniously in a Florida beach town. Dalton Hayes, an 18-year-old suspected of committing a string of crimes with his 13-year-old girlfriend, agreed during a quick Monday morning court hearing to return to his home state of Kentucky to face charges. He can direct the Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen their regulations on fracking, mountaintop removal coal mining, and other dangerous fossil fuel extraction.

And he can certainly say no to efforts by climate deniers in Congress to roll back the environmental initiatives the administration has already put into place. Though many still choose to remove their sons’ foreskins at the suggestion of a doctor, for religious or cultural reasons, or out of habit, opponents have been bolstered by the overall waning popularity of circumcision, and the fact this fight has gone on so long the boy at its center is now 4 years old. “I couldn’t speak when I was cut, but I can speak now,” said Thomas Frederiksen, a 39-year-old machinist who traveled from Orlando to protest, wearing a red beret and “I (Heart) My Foreskin” T-shirt and speaking breathlessly about the issue. Volumes of court filings tell the story: Hironimus and Nebus had a six-month relationship that resulted in a pregnancy, the birth of a boy named Chase, and a fight over nearly everything since.

Nebus sued to prove his paternity and to get partial custody of the boy and the couple whittled out a parenting plan outlining everything from his surname to his legal address, to whom he calls mommy or daddy and, notably, what becomes of his penis. The 2013 AL Cy Young Award winner will become the highest-paid right-handed pitcher in major league history after agreeing to a $210 million, seven-year contract with the Washington Nationals that includes a record $50 million signing bonus. A person familiar with the negotiations outlined the terms to The Associated Press on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the deal hadn’t been announced.

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