Top Stories: Worldwide

The following are the day's top general news stories:

1. Egyptian Protests Inspired by Tunisia Uprising Kill Policeman, Two Others 2. Obama Is Said to Call for Five-Year Freeze on U.S. Discretionary Spending 3. Financial-Crisis Commission Concludes Meltdown Was `Avoidable,' NYT Says 4. Medvedev Pitch to Davos Threatened by Moscow Blast Highlights Russia Risk 5. Budding Sharapovas Cost Parents $400,000 as Teen Tennis Champs Disappear

1. Egyptian Protests Inspired by Tunisia Uprising Kill Policeman, Two Others

Thousands of Egyptians protesting President Hosni Mubarak´s government clashed with police in Cairo and other cities, inspired by the revolt that toppled Tunisia´s President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Security forces and police broke up a rally in Cairo early this morning, firing tear gas and wading into the crowd with batons. Several people were arrested. A policeman in Cairo and two demonstrators in Suez died yesterday, state-run Nile TV reported, citing an interior ministry official. "The government is illegitimate, the president is illegitimate," the protesters chanted, denouncing Mubarak and other members of the government. Rocks were thrown back and forth, and some protesters walked around with bloodied faces. One group hijacked a fire truck. Protests have erupted in Arab nations including Algeria, Morocco and Yemen, which all face high unemployment and rising living costs. The demonstrations were organized on Facebook and some of those attending the Cairo rally waved Tunisian flags. There were smaller protests in Alexandria and other cities.

2. Obama Is Said to Call for Five-Year Freeze on U.S. Discretionary Spending

President Barack Obama will propose tonight a five-year freeze of non-security discretionary spending as a way to reduce the federal budget deficit. Obama plans to offer the freeze in his annual State of the Union address to Congress, Melody Barnes, director of the president´s domestic policy council, said in a Bloomberg Television interview. It would extend a three-year freeze Obama proposed last year by an additional two years. He also will endorse a proposal by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to cut $78 billion from the Pentagon budget over five years, Barnes said. At the same time, Obama will tell the nation that both parties must work together on accelerating the U.S. recovery and maintaining the nation´s competitiveness in the global economy, in part by investing in infrastructure and research. "At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else," Obama will say, according to excerpts released by the White House. He compared the challenges faced by the U.S. to when the Soviet Union launched the world´s first artificial satellite.

3. Financial-Crisis Commission Concludes Meltdown Was `Avoidable,' NYT Says

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4. Medvedev Pitch to Davos Threatened by Moscow Blast Highlights Russia Risk

The suicide bomb blast at Moscow´s busiest airport that killed 35 people is threatening Russian President Dmitry Medvedev´s drive to show the World Economic Forum how he can reshape the Russian economy. The terrorist attack, the second in less than a year targeting the Russian capital, struck 48 hours before his scheduled keynote address at the annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland today. Medvedev, 45, wanted to use the speech to persuade investors and executives he can end Russia´s "humiliating" reliance on energy exports. "It´s quite significant in terms of business and investor perceptions of Russia," Anthony Skinner, associate director at U.K.-based risk consultancy Maplecroft, said in an interview. "It ups the ante in terms of economic damage it´s looking to wreak, with Davos coming up and Russia working to promote itself as an investment destination." The attack marks a new tactic by Islamic militants to sabotage Russian efforts to attract foreign investment just weeks after Maplecroft classified Russia as the world´s 10th riskiest location for business. Medvedev, who wants to make Moscow an international financial capital, was forced to postpone his departure for Davos yesterday.

5. Budding Sharapovas Cost Parents $400,000 as Teen Tennis Champs Disappear

Mia Smith´s parents have bet their house on the 12-year-old´s tennis talent. Dawn and Chris Smith sold their home in Tunbridge Wells, 33 miles southeast of London, last year to enroll their daughter at the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida. After a sponsor dropped out at the last minute, the family decided it was the best option to help Mia become a top tennis player. `If we hadn´t given her this chance, we´d have always looked and said `What if?,´" Dawn Smith, 45, who moved to Bradenton, Florida, in August to accompany her daughter, said in an interview. "There is such a small window of opportunity in tennis. You can´t come back to it, whereas with education, you can." Nick Bollettieri had spotted Mia Smith and urged her to join his school, which has produced 10 top-ranked players, including former Wimbledon champions such as American Andre Agassi and Russia´s Maria Sharapova. Still, a stay at the $68,495-a-year academy he founded in 1978 and sold to IMG in 1987 is no guarantee of greatness.

-0- Jan/26/2011 00:35 GMT

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