News You Should Read Today – January 12 – 2016

Obama’s seventh and last State of the UnionObama’s seventh and last State of the Union

For the seventh and final time of his presidency, Barack Obama will stand before Congress and the American public to lay out his vision not only for his remaining months in office, but for the future of the United States.

“Not just the remarkable progress we have made, not just what I want to get done in the year ahead, but what we all need to do together in the years to come. The big things that will guarantee an even stronger, better, more prosperous America for our kids,” Obama said in an Oval Office video previewing his address.

Obama says he has never been more optimistic about the path the United States is on. It’s this optimism – not just for 2016 but also for the years ahead – that White House officials say will be showcased when the president addresses the nation for his last State of the Union on Tuesday.

Unlike last year, when Obama laid out specific proposals, including initiatives to provide free community college tuition and bolster cyber security, Earnest says the president this year will focus on his long-term outlook for the country, while countering some of the pessimism seen both in public opinion polls and presidential campaigns.

While will Obama likely will not lay out specific legislative proposals for Congress, he is expected to call on lawmakers to take care of unfinished business before he leaves office, including approving the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and take steps to close the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. On the global front, Obama likely will showcase his recent diplomatic successes in normalizing ties with Cuba, securing a nuclear agreement with Iran, and working to secure an international climate agreement in Paris.

Republican lawmakers have offered their own criticism of Obama’s Middle East policy. Despite the negativity, White House officials say the president has never been more confident in the country’s capability to confront such challenges – a message Obama will deliver to the American people in his last State of the Union address Tuesday. VOA



ISIS burns fighters alive for letting Ramadi fall ( burns fighters alive for letting Ramadi fall

ISIS fighters who fled to the terror group’s Iraqi stronghold of Mosul after being defeated in Ramadi were burned alive in the town square, sources told, in an unmistakable message to fighters who may soon be defending the northern city from government forces.

Several residents of Mosul recounted the grisly story for stateside relatives, describing the deadly reception black clad jihadists got when they made it to Mosul, some 250 miles north of the city retaken by Iraqi forces operating with cover from U.S. air power.

“They were grouped together and made to stand in a circle,” a former resident of northern Iraq now living in the U.S. but in touch with family back home told “And set on fire to die.” Several Iraqi-Americans and recent refugees with close relatives in Mosul told of ISIS fighters fresh off defeat in Ramadi being shunned – and executed – for not fighting to the death in Ramadi.

Michael Pregent, a terrorism expert and former intelligence adviser to Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq, said such an act isn’t new for the callous terror group. A similar fate was meted out to fighters who lost Saddam’s hometown to Kurdish forces last year. Fox News



Rand Paul to boycott GOP debateRand Paul to boycott GOP debate

Fox Business Network on Monday announced the candidate lineup for the Jan. 14 Republican presidential debates – and already Rand Paul has said he will not participate after not qualifying for the prime-time event.

The participants qualifying for the prime-time, 9 p.m. ET debate are: Billionaire businessman Donald Trump; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio; retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

The participants qualifying for the earlier, 6 p.m. ET debate are: Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul; former HP CEO Carly Fiorina; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. However, the Paul campaign said Monday night it does not plan to participate.

This is the first time Paul has not qualified for a prime-time debate and his campaign, within minutes of the announcement, issued a statement complaining about the criteria. Fox news



Aung San Suu Kyi takes center stage at Myanmar peace talksAung San Suu Kyi takes center stage at Myanmar peace talks

Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is calling for all factions to be included in the newest round of peace talks between armed ethnic groups and the country’s outgoing quasi-civilian government.

“In this time, based on the mandate, it is right to do what the people want us to do, we are ready to take the responsibility of building forever peace [within the country]. I hope everybody will help us,” she said.

The Nobel Peace laureate made the remarks Tuesday on the opening day of negotiations in the capital Naypyitaw. Her speech marked her first involvement in the ongoing peace process, and could lay the groundwork for an eventual deal when her National League for Democracy takes power in March, four months after the party won a massive landslide in the country’s first free elections in a quarter-century. VOA

Explosion in tourist area of Istanbul kills 10 ( in tourist area of Istanbul kills 10

At least 10 people were killed and 15 injured Tuesday after an explosion occurred in a tourist area of Istanbul, the city’s governor’s office said. A suicide bomber linked to Syria is believed to be behind the explosion, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in televised comments. He said Turks and foreigners were killed.

Hurriyet Daily News said the blast took place in Sultanahmet Square in Istanbul’s Fatih district, a neighborhood popular with foreign visitors. The area is home to the historic Blue Mosque, the Topkapi Palace and the Haghia Sophia museum.

At least six Germans, one Norwegian and one Peruvian are among the injured. The explosion was strong enough to be heard in other areas of the city. There were no immediate claims of responsibility. USA Today

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