President Bush in his final State of the Union address has called on lawmakers to approve a stimulus plan to boost the U.S. economy. He also urged the American public to support his policies for Iraq. Mr. Bush said the economy is undergoing a period of uncertainty. He said a recently announced bipartisan economic stimulus plan is a "good agreement" that will keep the economy growing and Americans working. On international issues, Mr. Bush acknowledged that challenges remain in Iraq. But he said the surge of U.S. and Iraqi troops has achieved results that were not imaginable a year ago, helping to decrease violence.
U.S. Republican presidential hopefuls face off today (Tuesday) in a key primary in (the southeastern state of) Florida. Polls indicate a tight race between former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Arizona Senator John McCain. Florida is considered a critical test ahead of February fifth -- "Super Tuesday" -- when more than 20 states hold primaries or caucuses. Trailing behind are former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has focused most of his attention on Florida, and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who won the Iowa Republican caucus on January third.
WORLD ECONOMY: European and most Asian stock markets bounced back (today/Tuesday) after Monday's sharp drop. The key indexes in London, Paris and Frankfurt are all up more than one percent at midday. Tokyo's Nikkei index closed three percent higher, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong and the Shanghai Composite index rose one percent. Analysts say markets rose on expectations the U.S. central bank will cut interest rates this week, cut uncertainty about the size of the possible rate cut kept gains in check.
EU envoy Piero Fassino made the appeal after talks in Bangkok today (Tuesday) with Thai Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsonggram. Fassino said it is necessary for the Burmese government to open a new phase of more constructive and more concise dialogue with the opposition and all sectors of Burmese society. The Italian diplomat said United Nations envoy Ibrahim Gambari should focus on achieving concrete results, such as the release of Aung San Suu Kyi.
SUHARTO CORRUPTION: As Indonesians buried former President Suharto Monday, Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda said it was not appropriate to talk about legal proceedings against him on the day of his funeral. Transparency International's Indonesian director, lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis, told Reuters Monday that authorities should still investigate corruption allegations against Mr. Suharto.
Audio in Lao.