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Top of the News

Top of the News

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The latest headlines.

BILL WOLFF (Announcer): This is NPR.

RACHEL MARTIN: Thanks, Rico.

Good morning, everyone. This was, indeed, President Bush's last State of the Union address. And as such, President Bush took the chance to offer up thoughts on what will be in large part of his legacy: the war in Iraq. He credited his surge strategy and the new partnerships between the U.S. military and Sunni groups willing to fight al-Qaida for a decline in violence over the past year in Iraq.

But in the Democratic response to his speech, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius says the war has taken a high toll for the nation.

Governor KATHLEEN SEBELIUS (Democrat, Kansas): The last five years have cost us dearly - in lives lost, in thousands of wounded warriors whose futures may never be the same, in challenges not met here at home because our resources were committed elsewhere.

MARTIN: Sebelius also called on Bush to help restore the nation's battered image abroad. But the speech was also a chance for the president to talk about his plans to bail out the economy. And he urged Congress to pass the stimulus package he came up with along with House leaders last week.

But that could be derailed by the Senate, which has crafted its own economic plan. The Senate package would pay $500 to most individual tax filers and 1,000 bucks to couples, with an additional $300 a child per families. The Senate package would cost more than the plan approved by President Bush and House leaders. It's not clear, though, just how much more.

The bill goes before the House for a vote today, and the Senate will debate its plan on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is considering yet another interest rate cut. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues are scheduled to open a two-day meeting today to plot out their next move. The meeting comes about a week after the dramatic three-quarter percent rate cut last week, designed to give the U.S. economy a much needed boost in consumer spending and to avert a possible recession.

Unless you think the only stuff worth reporting today is about the questionable State of the Union or economic stimuli, let's talk Grammys. In case you had fears that the ongoing writers' strike may threaten the awards ceremony, rest assured the Grammys will go on. Here is NPR's Skye Rohde.

SKYE ROHDE: The striking writers' guild issued a statement, saying its decision was made in support of union musicians and was, in their words, in the interest of advancing our goal of achieving a fair contract. This means the Grammys will not end up in the same boat as the Golden Globes. Striking writers refused to write for the Globes' ceremony earlier this month with the support of the Screen Actors Guild. The red carpet-less awards ceremony was downsized to a press conference.

The Writers Guild and some studio heads began informal talks last week over how to resolve the nearly three-month-old strike. The sticking point continues to be payment for work distributed online and in other new media.

MARTIN: NPR's Skye Rohde reporting. That is the news. You can find it always online at npr.org.

WOLFF: This is NPR.

MARTIN: Alison and - I had a mind blank.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Rico.

STEWART: There you go.

GALLIANO: And I feel loved.

MARTIN: I like that you didn't help me at all. You're, like, we're just going to let her boil.

STEWART: Well, I'm just trying to think of something that rhymed with Rico.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GALLIANO: There's a lot.

MARTIN: Rico. I will never forget you, Rico, ever again.

GALLIANO: No, it's really no problem. And if you want to call me Freako, that's okay.

MARTIN: That might help me. That might help me remember. No. Thanks. Rico and Alison, back to you.

STEWART: Thanks, Rachel Martin.

GALLIANO: Thanks, Rachel. Seriously.

STEWART: Yes.

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