State of the Union: Barack Obama wants economy "built to last", takes on inequality; Analysis: Speech begins Obama's re-election campaign and how Washington is broken; Japan reports rare trade deficit for 2011; Egyptians return to Tahrir for first anniversary of anti-Mubarak uprising; US Navy Seals op in Somalia rescues aid workers, kills pirates; At least two dead in China-Tibet clash; and more
Top of the Agenda: Obama's Address Focuses on the Economy
In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama focused on what he called "a blueprint for the economy built to last," and took on the issue of economic inequality (WashPost). Obama pledged to create new initiatives, such as a new Trade Enforcement Unit, to investigate unfair trade practices by countries like China, and a new Financial Crime Unit to tackle large-scale fraud. Obama also touted his foreign policy successes, especially ending the war in Iraq and killing Osama bin Laden. The speech will likely become a blueprint for his presidential reelection campaign (CBS)in the coming months as it largely highlighted the philosophical differences over the economy between the country's two major parties.
"In our economic stagnation and indebtedness, we are only a short distance behind Greece, Spain, and other European countries now facing economic catastrophe. But ours is a fortunate land. Because the world uses our dollar for trade, we have a short grace period to deal with our dangers. But time is running out, if we are to avoid the fate of Europe," said Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana in the official Republican response.
"This State of the Union address was never intended to be a policy speech. It was instead the opening salvo in his 2012 presidential campaign. And Obama's message to his Republican opponents was that he has no intention of running away from his foreign policy record. He is instead going to run on it,'" says CFR's James M. Lindsay.
"Dealing with the big challenges would require both parties to stop fighting long enough to provide each other cover as they make difficult decisions to cut popular spending programs, overhaul the tax code, and channel more of the money that the government does spend into long-term investments, as opposed to living subsidies. That's a sure path to improving the state of the union, but not one the nation's political culture is yet willing to accept," notes a USA Today editorial.
Japan Posts Rare Trade Deficit
Japan announced a $32 billion trade deficit (Japan Times) for last year, its first annual shortfall since 1980, a setback for a country known for its exports including cars and electronics. The deficit was attributed to a surge in fuel imports in the wake of last year's nuclear crisis, a historic rise in the yen, and a decline in global demand stemming from the eurozone financial crisis.
CHINA: Deadly clashes between Chinese security forces and Tibetans (Telegraph) in the western Sichuan province spread to a second town on Tuesday, killing at least two people and injuring many more, outside advocacy groups reported.
Tensions have been building across Tibetan regions since March 2011 as at least sixteen self-immolations by Tibetans have cast a grim spotlight on their continued oppression by the Chinese government, writes Hannah Beech on TIME.com.
Unfinished business as Egyptian rallies mark anniversary
Davos 2012 opens under cloud of eurozone crisis
Navy SEALS rescue aid workers in Somalia, kill pirates
This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org.