10 Things to Know: This Week's Takeaways

Print
Email
|

Associated Press

Posted on January 31, 2014 at 10:30 PM

Looking back at the stories to remember from the past week:

1. OBAMA DELIVERS STATE OF THE UNION

President Obama sought to use his State of the Union address on Tuesday to re-energize his sluggish second term, declaring that he would sidestep Congress "whenever and wherever" necessary to narrow the gap between rich and poor. The president's proposals included increasing the minimum wage for some federal contract workers and making it easier for millions of low-income Americans to save for retirement. Said Obama: "America does not stand still and neither do I." The speech was the opening salvo in a midterm election fight for control of Congress.

2. WINTER WEATHER SOCKS THE SOUTH

A winter storm that would have been a mere inconvenience in the North wreaked havoc across much of the South. A few inches of snow and ice paralyzed Atlanta, forcing students to spend the night at schools and creating miles-long traffic jams that led many commuters to abandon their vehicles. The mayor said the city should have directed schools, businesses and government offices to stagger their closings as the storm began, rather than dismissing everyone at the same time.

3. BERNANKE LEAVES FEDERAL RESERVE

Ben Bernanke left his job as chairman of the Federal Reserve after eight years. When he took office in 2006, Bernanke was more the shy Princeton professor than a figure in Washington political culture. On his watch, the U.S. economy and financial system fell into their gravest crisis since the Great Depression. The quiet academic, who had spent years studying the Fed's mistakes in the 1930s, was suddenly responsible for helping save the economy from free fall.

4. CENTRAL BANK REDUCES STIMULUS

On Bernanke's final days in office, the Federal Reserve pushed ahead with a plan to shrink its bond-buying program, even though the prospect of reduced stimulus and higher interest rates rattled global markets. The central bank said it will cut its monthly bond purchases starting in February by $10 billion, to $65 billion. It also reaffirmed a plan to keep short-term rates at record lows to try to reassure investors that it will keep supporting the economy.

5. WORLD MARKETS IN TURMOIL

The Fed action contributed to a steep decline in world markets on concerns about developing economies, many of which have seen their currencies slide sharply. Investors, who sent the Dow down about 150 points Friday, are worried that growth will slow and money will flow elsewhere as the U.S. tightens its monetary policy, draining global liquidity. Central banks in India, Turkey and South Africa moved quickly to try to contain the damage by raising interest rates.

6. UKRAINE TRIES TO DEFUSE POLITICAL CRISIS

In the midst of Ukraine's political crisis, the government made significant concessions to protesters who have fought sporadically with police after two months of peaceful around-the-clock demonstrations. The prime minister resigned, and parliament repealed anti-protest laws. The parliament also offered protesters amnesty if they free buildings. Then embattled President Viktor Yanukovych went on a mysterious sick leave.

7. EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT BACK IN COURT

Ousted President Mohammed Morsi returned to court Tuesday locked inside a soundproof glass cell with a microphone controlled by a judge. An agitated Morsi paced in the courtroom cage and angrily questioned why he was in court. "Who are you? Tell me!" he shouted at the judge. The session was carefully managed by authorities as the military-backed interim government and allied media sought to control the narrative of Egypt's political turmoil following the Arab Spring.

8. SYRIA PEACE TALKS

After more than a week of peace talks aimed at ending its civil war, the Syrian government refused to commit to a date for the next round of negotiations and roundly dismissed the opposition's demand to transfer power away from President Bashar Assad. The two sides blame each other for the three-year civil war that has killed more than 130,000 people and forced millions to flee their homes. They also remain deeply divided over how to end the conflict and if Syria's future government should include Assad.

9. SUPER BOWL DRAWS NEAR

Football fans eagerly awaited Sunday's championship game between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks. This year's matchup was special because it put the Seahawks, which have the NFL's best defense, against Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who runs the league's top offense. Manning will try to become the first starting QB to win titles with two franchises.

10. PETE SEEGER DIES

Seeger, the banjo-picking troubadour who sang for migrant workers, college students and star-struck presidents in a career that introduced generations of Americans to their folk music heritage, died Monday at age 94. Seeger — with his a lanky frame, banjo and full white beard — was an iconic figure in folk music. He wrote or co-wrote "If I Had a Hammer," ''Turn, Turn, Turn," ''Where Have All the Flowers Gone" and "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine."

Print
Email
|