By Steve Holland and Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will challenge a skeptical Republican-led Congress on Tuesday to back tax increases on the wealthy to help lift up middle-class Americans, saying in a State of the Union speech it is time to "turn the page" from recession and war. On foreign policy, Obama will call on lawmakers to pass a new authorization of military force against Islamic State militants to replace powers that were given to President George W. Bush to prosecute the Iraq war. Obama's appeal for a new force authorization for Washington's five-month campaign of air strikes in Iraq and Syria may be one of the few items he proposes on Tuesday that will gain congressional approval, as Republicans cast a dim view on his call for tax hikes. Obama will credit his "middle-class economics" for a surge in the U.S. economy and say it is time to "turn the page" from recession and war and to focus on growth for the middle class, according to excerpts of his 9 p.m. EST (0200 GMT Wednesday) televised speech released by the White House.
U.S. President Barack Obama will visit Selma, Alabama, in March to recognize the 50th anniversary of historic marches led by activists fighting against segregation and seeking to ensure African Americans' right to vote, a White House official said on Tuesday. Obama will visit the small southern town on March 7 as part of his administration's efforts to highlight the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the official said. The law, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson 50 years ago this August, banned literacy tests and other tactics used in the U.S. South to block racial minorities from voting. The White House official said more details of Obama's trip would be announced later.
A man suspected of shooting a doctor at a major Boston hospital on Tuesday later died of a "self-inflicted" gunshot wound, the city's Police Commissioner William Evans said, adding that the incident was over. The victim in the shooting at Brigham & Women's hospital, a male doctor, sustained "life threatening" injuries, police said. Police have yet to identify the shooter or the victim, who Evans said is being treated in the emergency room at Brigham & Women's. Brigham & Women's, located in downtown Boston amid a cluster of major healthcare facilities, is a teaching hospital for Harvard Medical School.
By Barani Krishnan NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil fell as much as 5 percent on Tuesday after the International Monetary Fund cut its 2015 global economic forecast on lower fuel demand and key producer Iran hinted prices could drop to $25 a barrel without supportive OPEC action. Genscape, an analytics firm that monitors U.S. oil stocks, reported a 2.6 million-barrel build last week in Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for the U.S. crude futures contract, adding to the market's bearish sentiment, traders said. Trade group American Petroleum Institute will issue its data on U.S. crude inventories for last week on Wednesday while the government's Energy Information Administration will release its stockpile tally on Thursday, both delayed a day by a holiday on Monday. Benchmark Brent crude was down 39 cents at $48.45 a barrel by 1656 GMT, after touching a session low at $47.78.
By Edith Honan NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenyan officials on Tuesday rushed to condemn the use of teargas against children at a Nairobi primary school who were protesting at the loss of their playground. Police were seen firing at least three canisters of tear gas just outside the Langata Primary School as several hundred tried to knock down a wall surrounding the playground in protest at what they called an illegal "land grab" to turn it into a car park. Children wearing green school uniforms were seen scampering away from the clouds of gas, coughing and choking. President Uhuru Kenyatta said he had censured the Ministry of Lands and the National Land Commission for failing to address the dispute sooner.
The fate of Colorado theater shooter James Holmes ultimately hangs on whether the jury thinks he was sane or insane at the time of the rampage. The process to decide who those dozen jurors will be begins Tuesday afternoon when the first wave of an unprecedented 9,000 prospective jurors reports to the Arapahoe County Justice Center.
It may only draw half the viewers it once did, but for staffers at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday night’s annual State of the Union address by the president is their Super Bowl. It is the single most complex logistical undertaking held each year in the United States’ more than 200-year-old central legislative building. Months of work by press gallery staff, the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms and Capitol Police are required to stage the event properly for television cameras around the world.
The militant Islamic State group released an online video on Tuesday purporting to show two Japanese captives and threatening to kill them unless it received $200 million in ransom. A black-clad figure with a knife, standing in a barren landscape along with two kneeling men wearing orange clothing, said the Japanese public had 72 hours to pressure their government to stop its "foolish" support for the U.S.-led coalition waging a military campaign against Islamic State. The footage named the men as Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto. The video was not dated, but on a visit to Cairo on Jan. 17, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged around $200 million in non-military assistance for countries battling Islamic State.
By Keith Coffman and Daniel Wallis CENTENNIAL, Co. (Reuters) - The first of some 9,000 potential jurors will report to court in Colorado on Tuesday as selection begins for the trial of James Holmes, the former neuroscience graduate student who killed 12 people in July 2012 at a midnight screening of a Batman movie. Jury selection may take up to four months as Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour seeks to narrow the large field to a panel of 12 jurors and 12 alternates.