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Jan. 21, 2013 at 8:27 AM   |   Comments

Obama to give 'hopeful' inaugural address

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama was to deliver a "hopeful" inaugural address, a senior White House adviser said ahead of Monday's ceremonial swearing-in and public pomp.

"I think it's going to be a hopeful speech," David Plouffe told CNN's "State of the Union." "I will let the president speak for himself, obviously. But what he is going to do is, I think, remind the country that our founding principles and values still can guide us in a changing -- a modern world."

Plouffe, who became Obama's senior adviser in 2011 after David Axelrod resigned to start Obama's re-election campaign, said he believed the president would "talk about the fact that our political system doesn't require us to resolve all of our disputes or settle all of our differences, but it does compel us to act where there ... is common ground. He is going to make that point very clearly."

He said people should look at Obama's inaugural address and his State of the Union speech in three weeks as "a package."

"In the inaugural address he is really going to lay out his vision for his second term and where he thinks the country needs to go in the years ahead, the values undergirding that, and then obviously a detailed agenda and blueprint in the State of the Union," Plouffe said.

Obama's ceremonial swearing-in, on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day federal holiday, comes a day after he took the oath in a private White House ceremony, opening his second term.


Warlord claims credit for Algeria attack

ALGIERS, Algeria, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- An Algerian warlord linked to al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the Algerian gas-plant attack and siege that left at least 81 hostages and captors dead.

"We in al-Qaida announce this blessed operation," Mokhtar Belmokhtar is quoted by Mauritania's Sahara Media as saying in a video the West African news website did not immediately post online.

"We are ready to negotiate with Western countries and the Algerian regime, provided they stop their aggression and bombing of Mali's Muslims, especially in the Azawad territory," Sahara Media, monitored by United Press International, quoted Belmokhtar as saying.

The warfare in Mali involves several insurgent groups fighting for independence or greater autonomy for the northern Mali territory known as Azawad. The rebellious National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad declared Azawad independent of Mali last April.

France and some African countries are helping Mali try to stop the Islamic militants' advance.

Belmokhtar's remarks indicated he wanted to make clear his Islamist al-Mulatahemeen, or the Masked Brigade, organization -- also known as al-Muaqioon Biddam, or Those Who Sign With Blood Brigade -- was linked to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, where he was once a commander, the news website said.

AQIM, based in Mali, a landlocked West African country south of Algeria that was a French colony, started out seeking to overthrow the Algerian government and institute an Islamic state.


Police: Teen killer wanted more victims

ALBUQUERQUE, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- A teenager charged with shooting his parents and siblings to death in their Albuquerque home apparently planned to kill more people at a Walmart, police said.

Nehemiah Griego, 15, was in the Bernalillo County Juvenile Detention Center, charged with two counts of murder and three counts of child abuse resulting in death.

The victims were identified as Greg Griego, 51, a former pastor at megachurch Calvary Chapel; his wife, Sarah Griego, 40; Zephania Griego, 9; Jael Griego, 5; and Angelina Griego, 2.

The Griegos had 10 children, but only the three youngest and Nehemiah were at home during the shootings early Saturday.

"I've never seen a scene quite like this," Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston said during a news conference Sunday.

The Journal said sheriff's investigators found a number of weapons at the Griego home, including an AR-15 semiautomatic assault-style rifle and a .22 caliber pistol.

The Journal said it appeared Nehemiah had a minor argument with his mother Friday night, then waited for her to go to sleep. About 1 a.m. Saturday, he went into his mother's room and shot her multiple times, then shot his siblings multiple times, investigators said.

Police said they believe the teen waited until his father came home and then shot him muyltiple times.

After the killings, the youth put a loaded AR-15 rifle and a loaded shotgun into the family's van and drove off, planning to go to the nearest Walmart, where he would kill more people, police said.


China criticizes H. Clinton comments

BEIJING, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- China's official Xinhua News Agency Monday attacked U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's comments on Japan's administration of the Senkaku Islands.

The uninhabited islands in the East China Sea have become a source of serious territorial contention between Japan and China, and tensions have worsened since Japan nationalized the islands last September. China calls the islands Diaoyu Islands.

Speaking to the media last Friday following her meeting with visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Clinton said she "reiterated longstanding American policy on the Senkaku Islands and our treaty obligations."

She said although the United States does not take a position on the ultimate sovereignty of the islands, "we acknowledge they are under the administration of Japan and we oppose any unilateral actions that would seek to undermine Japanese administration and we urge all parties to take steps to prevent incidents and manage disagreements through peaceful means."

A Xinhua commentary said Clinton's remarks meant the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty applied to the islands.

"Her words showed explicit U.S. endorsement of Japan over the Diaoyu Islands issue, sending a mixed and wrong signal and adding fuel to the matter," Xinhua said, adding: "It was exceedingly wrong for Clinton, a senior U.S. governmental official in charge of American foreign affairs, to make such comments," which were "ignorant of essential historical facts and international law ... ."

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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