TIME

Morning Must Reads: January 21

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The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

How 7 Ideas From the State of the Union Will Affect You

President Barack Obama threw out a lot of big ideas during his State of the Union address, but how will they affect you? Here’s a look at seven proposals and how they could affect your life

France to Hire 2,600 Officers to Monitor 3,000 Terror Suspects

France will hire 2,600 new counter-terrorism officers and spend $490 million in response to the Paris attacks, the prime minister announced Wednesday

Netflix Goes ‘Full HBO’ in 2015

Television and online video are colliding, and 2015 could be the year Netflix-original shows transform from a novelty to an expectation among subscribers

NBC to Stream Super Bowl Online

NBC announced on Tuesday that it will stream all Super Bowl content for free on Feb. 1, including pregame coverage, the game and the halftime show. The Seattle Seahawks go up against the New England Patriots in Glendale, Ariz., for football’s top prize

Palestinian Stabs Passengers on Bus in Israel

A Palestinian man stabbed nine people, wounding some of them seriously, on a bus in central Tel Aviv before he was chased down, shot and arrested, Israeli police said on Wednesday. The Islamist militant Hamas group praised the stabbing

Benedict Cumberbatch Inspires Clothing Line

L.A. fashion brand Poprageous, which specializes in pop-culture apparel, has launched a “Cumberbitch” collection ranging from crop tops to leggings. Prints of Cumberbatch’s face are tiled on the fabric ad infinitum, leaving the actor within close gaze of his ardent fans

France Issues First Charges Against 4 in Terrorist Attacks

Four men with ties to one of the gunmen responsible for three days of terror in the Paris region are the first to be charged in connection with the attacks that left 20 people dead. The attacks started with the Jan. 7 massacre at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo

Movie Ticket Prices Hit All-Time High

The average price in 2014 was $8.17, an all-time yearly high, but only a slight increase from the 2013 average of $8.13, the National Association of Theater Owners said on Tuesday. That figure has steadily increased since the mid-1990s, when tickets were around $4

A Bad Childhood Can Literally Age You, Study Says

You’ve heard of people who go through trauma and get old before their time? Well, it can be literally true. Childhood adversity and certain psychiatric conditions may cause individuals to experience accelerated aging, according to research published last week

5 More Disney Workers Get Measles

More employees at Disneyland California have been diagnosed with measles, bringing the total number of cases up to 53. All staff who have come into contact with newly infected workers have been asked to show vaccination records or be tested

Pope Francis and Manila’s Vanishing Street Kids

Was the Philippine capital really purged of unsightly urchins for Pope Francis’ visit last week? In a word, yes, although only a small fraction of this was anything new. According to activists, street kids are constantly being rounded up across this sprawling city of 12 million

Lil Wayne Just Dropped His New Mixtape

After much anticipation, Lil Wayne has just released his new mixtape Sorry 4 the Wait 2. The new project is a sequel to his 2011 Sorry 4 the Wait, and features artists 2 Chainz, Drake, Christina Milian, iLoveMakonnen, Nicki Minaj, Mack Maine and more

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TIME State of the Union 2015

Barack Obama Warns Against Terrorist Fear Factor in State of the Union

Obama says he wants Americans to fight terrorists but not fear them

President Obama had a mixed message for Congress on terrorism in his State of the Union address Tuesday: don’t fear terrorists, but do authorize me to use military force against them.

Obama’s not the only one advancing that national security paradox. Leaders around the world face the same problem. Terrorists are scary—that’s their point. So how do you get support to fight them without freaking people out and handing them a win?

“We lead best,” Obama said in his speech, “When we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents.” And he implicitly attacked his predecessor, George W. Bush, for failing at the task. “Will we approach the world fearful and reactive, dragged into costly conflicts that strain our military and set back our standing?” Obama asked.

MORE How 7 ideas in the State of the Union would affect you

But Bush has been back in Texas for six years and Gallup reports that 40% of Americans are very or somewhat worried that they or someone in their family will become a victim of terrorism—a slightly higher percentage than when Obama became President in 2009. That’s particularly remarkable when you consider that an American is more likely to be struck by lightening than get hit by a terrorist.

Obama and Bush may not be entirely to blame. The public’s fear of terrorists and its expectations that government will aggressively defend against them are not necessarily the fault of political leaders, says Daniel Byman, co-author of a recent Brookings Institution analysis of the threat posed by foreign fighters returning to the West, “Be Afraid. Be a Little Afraid.”

“It’s very difficult for people to think rationally about low probability events that are high publicity,” Byman says. Furthermore, Byman says, “There are certain things we expect our government to do and one of them is to keep us safe, especially from foreign terrorists—it’s a core government function.”

MORE: Obama made history by using this word during the State of the Union

Which doesn’t make it any less costly to over-react to terrorist threats. Western fear is very specifically what the terrorists are after, as a recruiting tool, as a means of inspiring the troops they have, and as a way of getting opponents to make costly mistakes, Byman says. Some U.S. intelligence officials look at the long-term strategic challenges posed by China, Russia and European economic weakness and think ISIS and the chaos Middle East amounts at best to a diversion and at worst to a trap.

Obama suggested Tuesday that he wants to avoid such a trap. “Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group.” Yet his administration has sought broad powers from Congress to go after ISIS, including the authority to put troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria, where the group is principally operating, and to pursue it in other countries as well.

Republicans have the terrorist threat on their mind, too, of course. In her response from the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing room, Iowa GOP Sen. Joni Ernst said, “This is where we’ll debate strategies to confront terrorism and the threats posed by Al Qaeda, ISIL, and those radicalized by them,” Ernst said. “We know threats like these can’t just be wished away. We’ve been reminded of terrorism’s reach both at home and abroad; most recently in France and Nigeria, but also in places like Canada and Australia. Our hearts go out to all the innocent victims of terrorism and their loved ones. We can only imagine the depth of their grief.”

In the end, one of the most effective tools against terrorists is domestic resilience, especially an acceptance that some level of violence from terrorists, while extremely undesirable, is probably inevitable. “You have to accept that this is a part of modern life,” says Byman. “We need to resource security services, but you don’t want to make it the focus of foreign policy.”

TIME

How a High Schooler Made it to the State of the Union

On Tuesday night, Michelle Obama was joined by a handful of people to watch the President’s State of the Union address in person. From astronaut Scott Kelly to Alan Gross, the foreign aid worker who was recently released after five years of imprisonment in Cuba, each of the White House’s guests personifies a story the President would like to tell about America.

In 2014, Estiven Rodriguez was the author of one of those stories. Then a high-school senior from New York City, Rodriguez was recognized by Obama in the State of the Union address for arriving in United States, the son of a Dominican factory worker, unable to speak a word of English and going on to become a first-generation college student.

“Imagine not being able to speak up for yourself, communicate and truly make the right choices,” Rodriguez wrote in an essay that helped him earn a spot at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. “I was that middle-schooler who easily could have fallen into the wrong path.”

In the video above, TIME followed Rodriguez on his journey to the State of the Union.

TIME State of the Union 2015

One State of the Union, Two Barack Obamas

For his sixth State of the Union, Barack Obama sent two Presidents to stand before the nation and its Congress, both wearing the same powder-blue tie and speaking with the same familiar voice.

One was victorious, the other knee-deep in the fight. One declared the economy recovered, while the other described the ongoing suffering of America’s workers. One promised an end to politics and partisanship, the other aimed to lay the groundwork for the destruction of his Republican foes.

The night progressed less as a monologue than a tag team between the two faces of a term-limited President working to cement his legacy. It had been “a breakthrough year for the economy,” he said in one breath, just moments before describing the plight of a couple who could not go on vacations because of their student loans, and whose child care cost more than their mortgage. “The shadow of crisis has passed,” he said, before adding that it would “take time” to defeat the Islamic State in Syria and close vulnerabilities exploited by North Korean hackers.

The President’s bet was that both visions could exist at the same time, and that the American people, hungry for good news and happy with recent economic progress, would forgive the contradictions. Obama is not ready to give up on the vision he first presented to the country in 2004, as the fresh-faced state senator who believed not in a blue or red America, but a United States of America. “I still think the cynics are wrong,” he said. “I still believe that we are one people.”

MORE: How 7 ideas in the State of the Union would affect you

But at the same time, he could not deny the knife fighter he had become as the President of a nation where so many viewed his ideas with hostility. “Imagine if we broke out of these tired old patterns,” said the optimist Obama about the partisanship around him, while the partisan Obama laid out a policy agenda, including steep increases in taxes for the wealthy, new regulations and new government benefits for poor workers that Republicans had already vowed to block.

“I have no more campaigns to run,” said the optimist, while the partisan taunted applauding Republicans — “I know because I won both of them” — with a gloating grin. “A better politics isn’t one where Democrats abandon their agenda or Republicans simply embrace mine,” the first continued, while the other declared that the “verdict is clear” on the past five years of partisan fights over the economy and that Democrats had been right.

A few hours before his split-screen identity took over the nation’s televisions, a senior administration official scoffed at the notion that the speech had been written to influence the next presidential election in 2016. “Why would he be focused on an election that he’s not in?” the official said.

MORE: The full text of the State of the Union

In fact, the President was focused not only on 2016, but also 2018, 2020 and many elections beyond. “It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next 15 years, and for decades to come,” he said. In politics, choose means vote. And Obama, like all politicians before him, wanted to keep winning.

Legacy matters because the White House knows a simple truth: last fall’s Republican sweep put an end to President Obama’s big-ticket domestic legislative agenda. His work, in other words, is all but done in Congress — no big tax reform, no entitlement fix or comprehensive immigration solution will come while he still has flying rights on Air Force One. What remains for the next two years is regulatory tinkering, budget fights, a long-shot chance of corporate-tax reform and high hopes for some new trade deals sure to upset his party’s base.

MORE: Obama made history by using this word during the State of the Union

But the State of the Union address, the most watched annual public-policy wish list in human history, has never been about new legislative proposals. It is about setting the terms of debate, and all the annual speeches to a joint session of Congress, Obama has only ever really had one thematic frame: the American middle class is struggling. I can help, if my political foes stop playing politics. So let’s do this, America.

The speeches have been good, as a rule, and Tuesday was no exception, but the words have still missed their mark as often as not, because the economic foundation they landed upon was in tatters. Now that it is firming up again, his luck might turn around. Though it is far from certain which Obama history will ultimately remember: The one calling the country to join hands, or the one telling voters to pick a side.

TIME state of the union

The State of the Union Brought Out the Troll in Everyone

Troll on, Twitter.

The State of the Union is becoming a huge night for social media. In 2014, 2.1 million tweets were sent out during the live telecast and in the hour before the 2015 address Twitter was already abuzz. And the trolls (and non-trolls masquerading as such) were out to play.

Check out some of the most trolly tweets of the night.

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana takes a swipe at the President, but spoils it with a grammar mistake.

Former Congressman John Dingell shared his plans for his night away from the Capitol.

Rep. Steve King of Iowa took a dig at one of the First Lady’s guests

White House Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer brings back memories of Obama-suits-past. The Internet let out a collective shudder.

Sen. Rand Paul on Obama’s free community college proposal

 

 

TIME State of the Union 2015

Here’s Where Obama Went Off-Script to Troll Republicans

The State of the Union is carefully scripted, prepared and tweaked for months in advance to make sure the President uses the exact right words for every topic.

But tonight, President Obama couldn’t resist a quick off-book jab at the Republicans cheering on his exit from office.

“I have no more campaigns to run,” Obama says at one point, which prompted laughs and applause from the Republican lawmakers in the audience. Breaking into a sly smile, Obama then added, “I know because I won both of them.”

His unscripted joke elicited some of the loudest cheers of the evening and was the “most social moment” of the speech, according to statistics compiled by Facebook.

TIME State of the Union 2015

Obama Made History By Using This Word in the State of the Union

There were over 6,000 words in President Obama’s State of the Union address, but he made history Tuesday night when he used just one of them: transgender.

In a section of the speech in which he noted that Americans “respect human dignity,” Obama included the word along with lesbians, gays and bisexuals:

“That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer.”

People immediately took to Twitter to note that Obama was the first President ever to use this word his State of the Union. His mention of transgender people in the widely-watched annual address comes at the end of a year that raised unprecedented awareness, leading TIME’s Katy Steinmetz to wonder if American culture has arrived at the “transgender tipping point.”

Obama’s use of the words “lesbian” and “bisexual” were also firsts.

This is not the first time Obama has made history with the words in a major speech. He was the first president to address gay rights during an inauguration during his second inaugural address and the first to support same-sex marriage.

Read next: Here’s the Full Text of President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union

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TIME fashion

White House Teases Twitter With Obama’s Tan Suit

Critics slammed Obama when he wore the summer suit last August

The White House decided to have a little fun ahead of Tuesday night’s State of the Union speech.

An hour before President Barack Obama began his annual address on major topics like energy, the economy and foreign policy, the official account indicated the President would wear the tan suit that ignited a bit of controversy in August. Some loved it then, but others seemed to hate it.

Turns out, it was a fake-out, as Obama was spotted leaving the White House for the Capitol in a trademark blue suit.

When the tan suit made an appearance last year, social media users and politicians slammed the President’s color choice for its discord with the seriousness of his press briefing’s topic: the threat of the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.

Many also rushed to his defense, saying Obama has been particularly prone to sartorial bullying, shaming critics for paying more attention to his style than substance.

TIME State of the Union 2015

Why 3 Supreme Court Justices Didn’t Attend the State of the Union

The wording in the Constitution is simple and straightforward: the President “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union.” There’s nothing in there about the Supreme Court justices and, accordingly, there’s nothing simple and straightforward about their attendance.

This year, six justices were in attendance, while three of the most conservative members of the court, Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, were noticeably absent. In the modern era, custom has held that the justices would show up in their official robes and sit impassively. But in recent years, they’ve become more resistant to the tradition.

Justice Antonin Scalia’s absence is no surprise. It was the 19th State of the Union in a row that he’s skipped since he considers the speech a “childish spectacle.”

Justice Clarence Thomas’s empty seat was also unsurprising. In 2012, Thomas said he doesn’t attend the annual event because “it has become so partisan and it’s very uncomfortable for a judge to sit there.”

Thomas’s remark gets to the heart of why the State of the Union has become a painful event for the justices: the address has become a “political pep rally,” according to Chief Justice John Roberts (who still attends nonetheless), as the justices are forced to sit calmly while the President and members of government around them cheer and crow about the politics of the moment.

For years, attendance among the justices has been declining: From 1965 through 1980, the attendance rate was 84 percent. Over the next two decades, the number dropped to 53 percent. Since 2000, the rate has fallen to 32 percent, according to a study by Todd Peppers of Roanoke College and Michael Giles of Emory University.

This tension between the speech and the highest court in the land came to a head in 2010, when President Obama directly criticized a conservative Supreme Court decision.

“With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that, I believe, will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections,” he said of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which allowed corporations to donate to political candidates. Justice Samuel Alito then shook his head and whispered, “not true.”

This was a clear breaking point in the years of simmering discontent between the justices and the annual speech. After the 2010 State of the Union, Alito said the speeches have become too awkward and that the justices have to sit there “like the proverbial potted plant”and he hasn’t been to a State of the Union since.

Justice Stephen Breyer, a liberal, is the only justice that attends every year (in fact, three times in recent history he has been the only justice in attendance), but his defense was hardly inspiring: “People attend if they wish to attend. I do wish to attend, so I go,” he said in 2005.

Tonight there probably won’t be any public controversy between between the President and the justices in the vein of 2010’s “not true.” But the grim faces of the six in attendance speak volumes.

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