Analysis: Obama in campaign form in final State of the Union
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama opened his State of the Union speech saying he’d keep it short, in what must have seemed music to the ears of some in the chamber antsy to get to Iowa to campaign for president.
At times, Obama looked like he was one of them, eager to challenge biting criticism from Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and other Republicans.
Obama was at turns boastful and biting, confident and sarcastic.
Anyone who says the economy is declining is “peddling fiction,” he argued. Obama characterized skepticism about science and reluctance to adopt technology as absurd. “When the Russians beat us into space, we didn’t deny Sputnik was up there,” he said. Claims that U.S. stature in the world is shrinking, he virtually shouted, is “political hot air.”
“The United States of America is the most powerful nation on earth. Period. It’s not even close. It’s not even close!” the president declared.
US Navy sailors held by Iran are released with their boats
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — All 10 U.S. Navy sailors detained by Iran after drifting into its territorial waters a day earlier have been freed, the U.S. and Iran said Wednesday.
The Navy said the American crewmembers returned safely and there were no indications they had been harmed while in custody.
The nine men and one woman were held at an Iranian base on Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf after they were detained nearby on Tuesday. The tiny outpost has been used as a base for Revolutionary Guard speedboats as far back as the 1980s.
The sailors departed the island at 0843 GMT aboard the boats they were detained with, the Navy said. They were picked up by Navy aircraft and other sailors took control of their boats for the return voyage to Bahrain, where the U.S. 5th Fleet is based.
The Navy added that it “will investigate the circumstances that led to the sailors’ presence in Iran.”
10 Things to Know for Today
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1. IRAN SAYS ALL 10 DETAINED AMERICAN SAILORS FREED
The U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet had no immediate comment or confirmation of the release.
2. OBAMA IN CAMPAIGN FORM IN FINAL STATE OF THE UNION
The president looked at times like he was still campaigning during his address, eager to challenge biting criticism from GOP presidential hopefuls.
1 person detained in connection with Istanbul suicide attack
ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish police have arrested one person in connection with the deadly suicide bombing in Istanbul that killed 10 Germans, officials said Wednesday.
The suspect was detained in Istanbul late Tuesday, Interior Minister Efkan Ala said during a news conference with his visiting German counterpart. He didn’t provide further details. Turkish media reports said police had raided a home in an affluent neighborhood of Istanbul, detaining one woman suspected of having links to the Islamic State group, although it wasn’t clear if she was the suspect Ala was referring to.
On Wednesday, Turkish police also arrested 13 suspected IS militants, including three Russian nationals, a day after the bombing in Istanbul’s historic Sultanahmet district. The attack, which also wounded 15 other people, including Germans, a Norwegian man and a Peruvian woman, was the latest in a string of attacks by Islamic extremists targeting Westerners.
Turkish authorities identified the bomber as a Syrian born in 1988, who had recently entered Turkey. Turkish media, including newspapers close to the government, identified him as Nabil Fadli, and said he was born in Saudi Arabia. Ala said the suicide bomber wasn’t on any Turkish or international watch lists for IS militants.
Officials initially said that at least eight Germans were among the dead in Tuesday’s explosion. On Wednesday, German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Sawsan Chebli said the number had risen to 10.
Mexico moving recaptured drug lord Guzman from cell to cell
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s government is moving Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman constantly from cell to cell inside the maximum security prison where he is being held, the same lockup the elusive drug lord escaped from through a tunnel six months ago.
Government spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said Guzman has been moved eight times at the Altiplano prison after he was recaptured Friday. The prison also now has 24-hour video surveillance of Guzman including all parts of his cell. The cell from which he escaped in July had a blind spot around the shower, which officials at the time was intended to protect inmates’ privacy.
“He is being changed from cell to cell without a pattern… he is only spending hours or a couple of days in the same cell,” Sanchez said late Tuesday night.
July’s escape was Guzman’s second from a maximum security prison and it deeply embarrassed the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto. It also created friction with Washington, which had sought his extradition to the United States. This time around, Mexican officials have said they are willing to extradite Guzman but warn the process could take a year. In the meantime, they appear to be taking extraordinary measure to prevent a third escape.
“Since he arrived, he has been in eight different cells,” Sanchez said of Guzman’s time in prison.
Sanders ad burst coincides with upward movement in polls
WASHINGTON (AP) — Bernie Sanders has been putting up major advertising cash to seize momentum heading into the Democratic presidential primaries — outspending his rival Hillary Clinton just as voters are beginning to pay attention to the race.
In the past three weeks, Sanders’ campaign has spent about $4.7 million on ads to Clinton’s $3.7 million, an investment that so far has meant 1,000 more Sanders commercials than Clinton ads on broadcast TV, according to advertising tracker Kantar Media’s CMAG.
The Sanders ad burst is coinciding with his rise in preference polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states where voters will weigh in on the 2016 election. The Democratic contest appears to be tightening.
Two recent surveys suggest Sanders has gained on Clinton in Iowa. In New Hampshire, one poll showed the Vermont senator ahead of the former first lady and secretary of state by double digits, while another pointed to a tighter race. Iowa votes Feb. 1; New Hampshire, Feb. 9.
Clinton began advertising in August, three months ahead of Sanders, and over the entire contest has outspent him by about $3 million, the CMAG data show. The ad buy data includes all broadcast, cable and satellite television, as well as some radio. It does not include digital ads.
S. Korea fires warning shots after North Korean drone seen
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea on Wednesday fired 20 machine gun warning shots after a North Korean drone briefly crossed the rivals’ border, officials said, the first shots fired in a Cold War-style standoff between the Koreas in the wake of the North’s nuclear test last week.
The North Korean drone was flying dozens of meters (yards) south of the border and turned back to the North after the South fired the shots, South Korean defense and military officials said, requesting anonymity because of office rules. The shots did not hit the drone.
North Korean drone flights across the world’s most heavily armed border are rare, but have happened before.
North Korea has in recent years touted its drone program, a relatively new addition to its arsenal. In 2013, state media said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had watched a drone attack drill on a simulated South Korean target.
In 2014, Seoul officials discovered what they called several North Korean drones that had flown across the border. Those drones were crude and decidedly low-tech, but were still considered a potential new security threat.
Ocean search for Malaysian airliner finds 2nd shipwreck
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The undersea search for the Malaysian airliner that vanished almost two years ago has found a second 19th century shipwreck deep in the Indian Ocean off the west Australian coast, officials said Wednesday.
A sonar search for the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 found what appeared to be a man-made object on Dec. 19, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said in a statement.
A follow-up investigation using an underwater drone captured high-resolution sonar images on Jan. 2 that confirmed that the find was a shipwreck, said the bureau, which is running the search for the Boeing 777 which vanished on March 8, 2014.
The Shipwreck Galleries of the Western Australian Museum conducted a preliminary review of the images and advised that the wreck was likely to be a steel or iron ship dating from the turn of the 19th century, the bureau said.
The wreck was found under water 3.7 kilometers (12,100 feet) deep, 2,600 kilometers (1,600 miles) southwest of the Australian port of Fremantle where the three search vessels are based, the bureau said.
Nevadans long for lotto, the bit of gambling they can’t have
NIPTON, Calif. (AP) — Waiting in the longest line ever outside what officials call the busiest lottery store in the nation, 74-year-old William Burke had three hours to think about what he’ll do if he wins a multi-state Powerball jackpot estimated at $1.5 billion.
“I’d certainly take care of my family,” the Nevada resident said as he emerged from the store in Nipton, California, just over the state line, 40 miles south of Las Vegas. “But I would also set up a charity to help as many kids go to college as I could.”
The Primm Valley Lotto Store where Burke bought tickets Monday swarmed with hundreds of dreamers — many of them refugees from the lottery-less Nevada. The state that features slots in almost every grocery store, airport and bar is one of six that shuns the lottery, fearing it would undercut the dominant casino industry.
“We have a lot of problems in this state. We’re high on a lot of the bad lists,” said Democratic Assemblyman James Ohrenschall, who co-sponsored the latest failed attempt to repeal Nevada’s constitutional lottery ban. “We can’t afford to be exporting money that could be used to address these issues.”
But Nevada’s political climate makes a lottery a tough sell. The state’s casino-based tourism industry accounts for 28 percent of Nevada’s total workforce, pays taxes that make up 45 percent of state general fund revenues, and is a major contributor to political campaigns.
With Rams returning to LA, challenges abound for 3 NFL teams
HOUSTON (AP) — The Rams belong to Los Angeles once again.
The Chargers might be headed there, as well.
What about the Raiders? Who knows at this point.
What is certain is that all three franchises face serious challenges over the next few years now that the NFL has approved the relocation of the Rams from St. Louis, and given the Chargers a one-year option to join them in the nation’s second-largest media market.
Should the Chargers stay in San Diego, seemingly a long shot, the Raiders could then step in and move from Oakland to L.A.
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