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Speaking last night to a Congress controlled by Republicans, President Obama sounded to some as if the Democrats won last November’s elections. He proposed legislation and issued veto threats. Can he dominate the agenda for the next two years?

Also, American and Cuban officials commence talks in Havana, and how government corruption threatens global security.

Photo: Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and Energy Secretary Earnest Moniz applaud as President Barack Obama enters the House Chamber to deliver the State of the Union address in on January 20, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Claire Martin, Producer, To the Point/Which Way LA?, @clairecmartin
Jenny Hamel, KCRW, @HamelKCRW
Benjamin Gottlieb, Afternoon News Producer, @benjamin_max

US and Cuba Officials Commence Talks in Havana 6 MIN, 29 SEC

An American delegation arrived in Havana today, continuing an initiative the President described last night, ending with a call to Congress. "Our shift in Cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere, removes a phony excuse for restrictions in Cuba, stands up for democratic values, and extends the hand of friendship to the Cuban people. And this year, Congress should begin the work of ending the embargo."

There's no indication that Congress will do that any time soon. The US delegation comprises the highest level diplomatic visit in 35 years. Randal Archibold, New York Times bureau chief for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, joins us from Havana.

Randal Archibold, New York Times (@randyNYT)

A Fast Start to the President's "Fourth Quarter" 36 MIN, 39 SEC

Last night, the President told Congress the State of the Union is "strong." He provided a list of positive changes over the past five years: 11 million new jobs, lower prices for gasoline, increased economic growth, decreased deficits — with the stock market up and health coverage for ten million uninsured people.

President Obama told Congress what every Democrat wanted to hear, but that's not the way Republicans describe the state of the union and — just last November -- they won control of Capitol Hill. The President isn't conceding. Last night, he threatened to veto four potential GOP challenges to his policies and actions. He also made the case for "middle class economics." Did he set the stage for bipartisanship — or next year's presidential campaign?

George Condon, National Journal (@georgecondon)
David Leonhardt, New York Times (@DLeonhardt)
Peter Morici, University of Maryland (@pmorici1)
David Cay Johnston, Daily Beast / Investipedia / DC Report (@DavidCayJ)

Senator Joni Ernst Delivers the Republican Address to the Nation
Obama's Knox College speech
Condon on 'the incredible shrinking State of the Union'
James Oliphant on the nation turning the corner – or not
Leonardt's 'Here's the Deal: How Washington Can Solve the Deficit and Spur Growth' (e-book)
Morici on Obama's 'soak the rich' schemes
Johnston's 'Divided: The Perils of Our Growing Inequality'
David Cay Johnston on Obama's tax ploy against the GOP
Speaker John Boehner on the SOTU and 'the people's priorities'

Why Corruption Threatens Global Security 8 MIN, 44 SEC

Many of the world's conflicts raging today seem to originate with religion. But there's another side to that story: governmental corruption that sparks outrage and creates support for dangerous ideologies. As an NPR correspondent, Sarah Chayes covered Algeria's civil war and the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan. But she left journalism to try to make a difference in that country. She helped Afghan women make soap — and then became an advisor to the US military. What she saw there, and then in other countries as well, is the devastation caused by political and governmental corruption. She describes it in the new book, Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security.

Sarah Chayes, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (@CarnegieEndow)

Thieves of State

Sarah Chayes


Warren Olney

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