With No Reason To Court Congress, Obama Can Do What He Wants
With the GOP-dominated Congress likely to keep their arms crossed as he counts down the days of his final year in office, expect President Obama to use his final prime-time State of the Union address on Tuesday night (Jan. 12) to count down his accomplishments over the past seven years, including passing health care reform, turning around a near-dead economy and paving the way for marriage equality. What he probably won't do is pass the baton to the likely Democratic presidential nominee, his former Sec. of State, Hillary Clinton. Among the guests at the speech will be Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who was jailed last year for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Other invitees include: Syrian refugee Refaai Hamo, the plaintiff in the landmark marriage equality case that gave same-sex couples the right to marry (Jim Obergefell), a former illegal Mexican immigrant who became a citizen and served in the Army in Afghanistan (Oscar Vazquez) and Spencer Stone, the Air Force sergeant who helped halt an attack on a Paris-bound train in August.
Rand Paul Says 'No Thanks' To Undercard Debate
Kentucky Sen. Paul has declined to appear on the undercard Republican debate on Fox Business on Thursday after being demoted from the main debate stage due to his poll numbers.
"I think they’ve made a mistake," Paul said. "I'm not willing to accept a designation as a minor campaign." Also demoted for Thursday's event is former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. In the meantime, one of Paul's top staffers, policy aide Elise Jordan, has left the campaign to take a job at NBC News as a political analyst.
Detroit Teachers Stage Sick-Out Over Gross Schools
Almost all of Detroit's public schools were closed on Monday after teachers staged a sickout to protest what they said is the lack of a plan to rescue buildings they claim are unsafe, rat-infested, moldy, unheated and not adequately staffed. The action -- the latest in a series of rolling strikes -- closed 64 of the district's 100 schools and put 31,000 students out of classes. It was intended to put pressure on the Lansing legislature to restructure the school system; the district is $1.7 billion in debut and could run out of cash by April. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan plans to tour the schools on Tuesday to assess the condition of the buildings.
Whales Wash Ashore On India's Coast
More than 80 short-finned pilot whales have washed up on India's southern coast over the past two days. Officials tried to return at least 36 of the whales to the ocean, but some seemed disoriented and returned to the beach.
"It's very strange and we are examining the whales. We found some of the whales are still alive and struggling for their lives," said local forest officer S.A. Raju.
Experts have been called in to figure out why the mass beaching took place; the last time such an event happened in the area was in 1973. Meanwhile, in Anchorage, Alaska, wildlife officials are trying to find out what killed around 8,000 common murres, one of North America's most abundant seabirds, who appear to be dying of starvation due to a changing ecosystem.
Smile... You're A Wanted Man: Donald "Chip" Pugh was on the run from the cops after being accused of failing to appear in court on a DUI charge, plus being a person of interest in cases involving vandalism and arson. The 45-year-old Lima, Ohio, native is also kind of a photography buff, so he sent the cops a selfie after deciding that the mugshot police posted online was unflattering.
"Here is a better photo that one is terrible," Pugh, who is still wanted by officials, wrote to the cops. He also went on a local radio show and complained that the cops' shot made him "look like I was Thundercat or something."