1. President Obama gives his State of the Union address to a divided Congress at 9 tonight, but the partisan response may be muted by the opposing legislators who have agreed to sit together in a show of civility. Expect the TV cameras to linger on two of the Senate's most photogenic members side by side -- New York Democrat Kirsten E. Gillibrand and South Dakota Republican John Thune. New York's other senator, Charles E. Schumer, has invited Karen Eckert, one of the leaders of the Flight 3407 families group, as his guest.
2. The second of two public meetings on a two-part plan to clean up toxic sediments from 6.2 miles of the Buffalo River and 1.4 miles of the City Ship Canal will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. in School 33, 157 Elk St. The first phase, which the Army Corps of Engineers will begin in the spring, involves dredging sediments from the commercial navigation channel. Work on phase two, which includes dredging, capping and habitat restoration in areas outside the commercial navigation channel, would start in spring 2012. Officials say comments from the public will be incorporated into the plans.
3. Converging on Albany today to advocate for their Second Amendment rights are hunters, recreational shooters, collectors and others who think having a gun handy is a good idea. SCOPE (Shooters Committee on Political Education) chapters across the state have chartered buses with the target of exceeding the total of 2,500 who attended last year's Sportsmen and Outdoor Recreation Legislative Awareness Day.
4. Plans are afoot to celebrate Father Nelson Baker's latest step toward sainthood. Bishop Edward U. Kmiec and Monsignor Paul J.E. Burkhard, vice postulator for Father Baker's Cause, will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. at the beloved priest's tomb in the magnificent church he built, Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna, to make an announcement.
5. Two groups alarmed about what state budget cutbacks might do to the schools -- the Alliance for Quality Education and Citizen Action of New York -- are holding meetings across the state to issue a report titled "Unequal Opportunity = Unequal Results" and launch a letter-writing campaign urging Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo not to hurt the schools in his budget proposal next week. In Buffalo, the session begins at 6 p.m. in the banquet hall of True Bethel Baptist Church, 907 E. Ferry St.
6. The Buffalo Sabres want to build up some playoff momentum as they head into the break for the NHL All-Star Game this weekend, and tonight is their last chance to get it as they lace up their skates in Scotiabank Place and take on the always challenging Ottawa Senators (7:30, MSG, 550 AM).
7. The ballots are counted. The wait is over. The nominees for this year's Academy Awards are revealed this morning. The announcement comes at 8:30, giving us the rest of the day to praise our favorites that made the list, bewail the worthy ones that were left out and debate whether Annette Bening or Natalie Portman will take home the Oscar for best actress when the envelopes are opened Feb. 27.
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