World News

Obama's State of the Union Speech to Focus on Economy

U.S. President Barack Obama is appearing before a joint session of Congress at this hour, giving his annual State of the Union address expected to focus on jobs and the nation's fragile economy.

The president is expected to say that it is the time to reignite the "true engine of America's economic growth -- a rising, thriving middle class."

In excerpts as prepared for delivery, the president says it is the unfinished task to restore the idea that if Americans work hard and meet their responsibilities, that they can get ahead, no matter where they come from, what they look like, or who they love.

Mr. Obama is expected to say that a "smarter government" is needed -- not a bigger one. He is expected to announce additional proposals to move the country forward.

Senior administration aides say Mr. Obama will urge lawmakers to approve legislation to invest in projects to boost the economy, including infrastructure, research and education. The president also is expected to link the economy with the issue of climate change with a call for increased spending on clean energy projects.

On Afghanistan, President Obama is expected to announce that about half of the U.S. forces currently serving there -- roughly 34,000 -- will be home within a year. At its peak in the decade-long war, the United States had about 100,000 troops in Afghanistan. A full transfer of security control from NATO to the Afghan forces is scheduled for 2014.

Mr. Obama also will urge Congress to pass legislation on two issues currently under debate on Capitol Hill: gun control and immigration reform.



On trade, sources close to the administration say the president will announce the start on negotiations on a free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union. The 27-nation EU is the United States' largest trading partner.

The New York Times reports Mr. Obama will also propose dramatic cuts in the world's nuclear arsenals. The newspaper says the president will build upon an agreement he has reached with the Pentagon to reduce the number of U.S. nuclear weapons from 1,700 to slightly more than 1,000.

For the Republican response, Senator Marco Rubio is expected to say that a "free enterprise economy" is the source of middle-class prosperity, while accusing President Obama of believing it is the cause of the country's economic woes.

Under the U.S. Constitution, the president is required "from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs