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Obama Uses State of the Union Address to Focus on Economy


OBAMA - STATE OF THE UNION: U.S. President Barack Obama has delivered his first State of the Union address, urging Americans to overcome a "deficit of trust" in the government and work together to solve a damaged economy. Speaking to both houses of Congress Wednesday night, Mr. Obama said he knows that the country faces serious challenges and that some of his decisions have not been politically popular. But he stressed that change is not easy and he will continue to pursue it. Mr. Obama urged Congress to send him a jobs bill "without delay" and said lawmakers must address the economic problems that Americans have faced for years.

OBAMA SDBR - REPUBLICAN RESPONSE: In the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said the federal government is trying to do too much and is racking up America's debt in the process. The newly inaugurated governor said the federal government should not pile on more taxation and litigation that hurts the middle class. He said that without reform, excessive government growth threatens the nation's freedom and prosperity. Addressing Mr. Obama's top priority, health care, McDonnell said all Americans agree on the need for affordable, accessible health care.

AFGHANISTAN: Top ministers from around 70 countries are meeting Thursday in London for talks on stabilizing Afghanistan and developing a strategy to bring about an end to the Afghan war. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is expected to address conference delegates as he seeks to maintain international support for Afghanistan after more than eight years of fighting. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and NATO chief Anders Fogh Rsamussen will join in the talks. The conference is expected to set targets to transfer security control of several Afghan provinces to local police by the end of the year.

NOKOR - US - DETAINEES: North Korea says it has detained a U.S. citizen who illegally entered it territory from China. The North's official Korean Central News Agency said the unidentified man was detained Monday after crossing the border. The agency says he is now under investigation. U.S. diplomats say they have no knowledge of the case. North Korea is already holding another U.S. citizen for illegally crossing its borders. The man is believed to be Robert Park, a missionary who was detained on December 25th (Christmas Day) while on a crusade to encourage leader Kim Jong-Il to close concentration camps, and allow impoverished North Koreans access to outside aid.

THAILAND - TIGER - CONFERENCE: Officials of 13 southeast Asian countries and the World Bank are calling for a concerted effort to save wild tigers from extinction. Thailand is hosting a three-day conference in the coastal town of Hua Hin aimed at convincing governments to spend more on tiger conservation and set targets for boosting tiger populations. Ahead of the conference, which started Wednesday, the World Wildlife Fund warned that the wild tiger population had dwindled over the last 100 years from an estimated 100,000 to an estimated 3,200.

MALAYSIA - TERRORISM: A report in a Malaysian newspaper Thursday says 10 men detained as suspected terrorists have ties to the Nigerian man who tried to destroy a U.S. jetliner last month.The New Straits Times says the suspected terrorists were members of a religious group linked to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who attempted to detonate explosives hidden in his underwear during the final leg of a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on December 25th (Christmas Day). The newspaper did not say how it obtained the information.

HONDURAS: Deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya has headed into exile in the Dominican Republic, seven months after his ouster in a military-backed coup sparked a political crisis in Honduras. The ousted president arrived in Santo Domingo Wednesday, hours after a large crowd gathered at the airport in Tegucigalpa to see him leave. Mr. Zelaya left for exile shortly after Porfirio Lobo was inaugurated as the new Honduran president, vowing to move past the turmoil. Mr. Lobo had said one of his first acts as president would be to escort Mr. Zelaya to the airport.

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