1. State of the What? On a night in which President Obama’s State of the Union would normally have captured headlines, the California standoff involving fugitive Christopher Dorner dominated network news coverage. Major network news outlets covered the Dorner story for the hour leading up to the speech, rather than previewing SOTU as they had originally planned.
2. Dorner dead or alive? After a dramatic standoff with police in which Christopher Dorner and police were involved in a shootout in Big Bear forest near Los Angeles, he is now believed to be dead. The body has yet to be identified, but he reportedly died while inside a cabin which was engulfed in flames. Details are still emerging, follow live updates here.
3. Read Christopher Dorner’s chilling 6-page manifesto which he posted before committing spree killings which resulted in the deaths of at least four people.
4. The most powerful moment of the State of the Union. Meanwhile, President Obama delivered an emotional State of the Union address in which he moved the crowd to tears when he said victims of gun violence “deserve a vote” in Congress on gun control to thunderous applause. “Gabby Giffords deserves a vote,” he said.
The highlights. Obama rolled out a series of new proposals seeking a higher minimum wage, as well as action on immigration, climate change, and guns. Obama called on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour, from $7.25. He vowed to bring 34,000 troops home from Afghanistan this year. He unveiled an ambitious plan to expand public preschool education to all kids. He also called for the resurrection of climate change legislation and the reintroduction of a $50 billion infrastructure plan.
5. Rubio delivers the Republican response. Sen. Marco Rubio gave the GOP response to President Obama’s speech, an address which was intended to reset the Republican Party’s image. Rubio’s message: The GOP isn’t a party of only rich white men.
Watergate. But rather than his policy prescriptions, Rubio made headlines because of an awkward moment in which he reached for a bottle of water off camera in the middle of the speech. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer could be heard off-camera gasping “Uh-oh!” Twitter hastags for #waterbreak exploded. This gif of the weird moment is going viral.
6. Pope delivers Ash Wednesday address. In his first public appearance since announcing his resignation, Pope Benedict XVI told thousands who gathered for his weekly catechism lesson that he is resigning “for the good of the church.” After more than a minute-long standing ovation when he entered the hall, he said he simply doesn’t have the strength to continue.
7. Peter Turkson reveals his vision for the Church. Cardinal Peter Turkson is the bookmarker’s early favorite to succeed Pope Benedict XVI, and told The Daily Telegraph that his biggest challenge would be to maintain an orthodox Catholic doctrine while “at the same time knowing how to apply it so that you do not become irrelevant in a world that has continuous changes.” He said the Church needs to “evangelize” those who have embraced “alternative lifestyles, trends or gender issues.” Turkson has caused controversy in the past both by screening a video claiming that Europe is being overrun by Muslims and by insisting that condoms are not the solution to preventing HIV.
8. Valentine’s Day vote. The Illinois State Senate will vote on Valentine's Day whether to legalize same-sex marriage. The measure is expected to be approved by the Senate, after which it will go to the House. Gov. Pat Quinn has indicated he would sign the bill. If approved, Illinois would be the 10th state, plus the District of Columbia, to legalize same-sex marriage.
9. Senate expands VAWA. The Senate has voted to expand the scope of the Violence Against Women Act, granting domestic violence protections to 30 million undocumented immigrants, LGBT people, and Native American women. Twenty-two Republicans voted against the measure, including Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky.
10. Jack Lew faces the Senate. President Obama’s nominee to become the next Treasury Secretary, Jacob “Jack” Lew, faced the Senate Finance Committee for his confirmation hearing this morning. Watch it here.