NASA’s older Mars rover notches another milestone

LOS ANGELES (AP) — All eyes are on the NASA rover Curiosity. It is poised to begin drilling into a Martian rock soon.

There’s less attention being paid to another Mars roverOpportunity. The older rover is quietly embarking on its tenth year of exploration.

Compared to Curiosity, Opportunity is smaller and doesn’t carry the same high-tech tools. But since landing in January 2004, it has made many discoveries including that Mars was once warmer and wetter than today.

Opportunity and its twin Spirit were only supposed to explore for three months, but both outlasted their original mission. Opportunity remains healthy and is studying interesting rocks in a massive crater. Spirit lost communication with Earth in 2010 shortly after getting stuck in Martian sand.

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Why Hollande must 'reset presidency'

John Gaffney says Francois Hollande, seen here at the Elysee Palace on January 11, 2013, needs to rethink his presidency.


  • French President Francois Hollande and the country's Socialists are in a strong position

  • Despite this, Hollande has made little progress since his election, says John Gaffney

  • Gaffney: Hollande "like a stunned bunny in the headlights" of economic reality

  • President must act now, and act decisively, to make France admired again, says Gaffney

Editor's note: John Gaffney is professor of politics and co-director of the Aston Centre for Europe, at the UK's Aston University.

(CNN) -- France is the fifth richest country in the world. It is the world's sixth largest exporter. It has the second largest diplomatic network in the world, after the US. It is a member of the UN Security Council. It is the most visited country in the world, welcoming 82 million visitors last year. It is a major nuclear power. It is the true founder of the European Union. And it is in a terrible mess.

Socialist Francois Hollande was elected president almost a year ago, ousting the deeply unpopular "Mr Bling," President Nicolas Sarkozy.

John Gaffney is professor of politics at Aston University in the UK.

John Gaffney is professor of politics at Aston University in the UK.

France's Socialist left have never been so strong politically: They control the presidency, the government, both houses of parliament, the regions, and all the big towns and cities. And in his first eight months in office, Hollande has done virtually nothing. He is like a stunned bunny in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle called "Harsh Economic Reality."

Hollande has three fundamental problems. The first is that he doesn't have a plan. Tens of thousands of people are losing their jobs each week, and it is going to get worse and worse.

France faces a huge public spending crisis - in health, pensions, and now welfare, and a government debt of 90% of GDP. Not one single adequate measure has been put forward, nor even proposed in his eight months in office.

The second problem is that he lacks the political will to break the log-jams in French society: Making industry more competitive, reducing government spending. He cannot do these things because one of the constituencies he needs to take on -- the huge public sector -- is made up of the people who voted him into power.

He could take on the equally irresponsible banks -- they didn't vote for him -- but he risks sending the economy into a tailspin if he does.

And not only does he need to address the structural issues in France's economy and society, but he made the mistake of telling everyone he could solve the country's problems painlessly, or by taxing the super-rich, and he is not managing to do that either, so he is just taxing everyone else.

Now he faces the worst situation possible because no one believes a word he says. He delivered a robust New Year's message last week, watched by millions; yet 75% don't believe he can deliver on its promise.

In fact, the New Year's Eve wishes everyone in France did believe were the Churchillian tones of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Her message was essentially the opposite of Hollande's bizarre optimism, which seems to involve little more than following the "Keep Calm and Carry On" mantra. But waiting for the upturn will find France unprepared and in a worse predicament than Spain or Italy, who are now busily restructuring their economies.

The third and fundamental problem Hollande has is that he does not understand the nature of the office he holds, the French Presidency of the Republic. If he did, he might find a way forward. In his New Year message he likened himself to a ship's captain. But he has to be one, not just say he is one. The office of French President is a highly complex mixture of the political and the symbolic. But it is fundamentally about leadership; that is leading not following, and taking the French with him.

Hollande urgently needs to reset his Presidency - and there are a few clear rules to do so:

He needs to take on the banks where necessary, take on the benefits system, the impediments to innovation and to setting up new businesses, take on the appalling situation of France's forgotten inner city misery; his need not be a hard-nosed liberal agenda.

No government in French history is in a better position to make France a more equal society while making it and its economy more efficient. He should focus on young people trying to set up their own business. Focus on small businesses generally. Drag France away from its drive to over regulate everything and throttle innovation. Tax the super-rich if necessary, as long as it contributes to the overall solution he is aiming for.

He also needs to get into step with Merkel and lead Europe with Germany, not pretend he is the spokesperson for the irresponsible spenders.

But above all, he should use the presidency in a more imaginative way: Begin an ongoing and exciting conversation with the French. No other office in the world, not even the presidency of the US, offers such scope for an intimacy between leader and population.

He should boldly use the referendum to build up and direct the conversation towards change and innovation. If the vested interests won't move, bring in the people. Use the referendum like de Gaulle did between 1958 and 1962, as a major political weapon to break the deadlocks in French political society.

In Europe and the wider world he has to make France admired again, as it once was. Inside France, he has to forget about not upsetting anyone. In fact, he should have a plan that upsets just about everybody. The French would love him for it.

So far it remains to be seen what impact his first major foreign policy challenge -- in Mali -- will have. As French forces, with the backing of the international community, go into the West African country to take on Islamist rebels, the coming weeks will tell us whether fate just gave to him the best or the worst opportunity to show the French, and the rest of the world, what he is made of.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Gaffney.

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Obama sworn in for second term in White House ceremony

Singers, musicians, vendors and a veteran parade planner tune up on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013, for President Obama's Monday inauguration. (Chris Walker, Chicago Tribune)

WASHINGTON -- Four years after making history by becoming the first African-American president, Barack Obama will kick off his second term on Monday with a scaled-back inauguration that reflects the tempered expectations for his next four years in office.

Lingering high unemployment, bitter political battles and a divisive re-election campaign have punctured the mood of optimism and hope that infused Obama's 2009 inauguration after a sweeping election win.

This time, Obama's inauguration will feature smaller crowds and a reduced slate of inaugural balls and parties to match the more subdued tenor of the times.

When Obama raises his right hand to be sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts outside the U.S. Capitol at 11.55 a.m. EST (1655 GMT), it will be his second time taking the oath in 24 hours.

He had a formal private swearing-in on Sunday at the White House because of a constitutional requirement that the president be sworn in on January 20.

Rather than stage the full inauguration on a Sunday, the main public events were put off until Monday.

Obama will take the oath again and deliver his inaugural address from the Capitol's west front overlooking the National Mall, where a crowd of up to 700,000 is expected to watch. That is down significantly from the record 1.8 million people who jammed Washington in 2009 for Obama's first inauguration.

The focal point will be Obama's inauguration address, which he will use to lay out in broad terms his vision for the next four years but will stay away from policy specifics.

David Plouffe, a senior adviser, said Obama would call on both parties to come together to resolve daunting second-term challenges like the budget, the need to raise the nation's borrowing limit and the Democrat's push for tighter gun laws and a legal path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

The president views the inauguration speech and the State of the Union speech to Congress on February 12 as "a package," Plouffe said, and would save details of his second-term agenda for the later speech.


"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 on CNN on Sunday.

After a bitter election fight against Republican Mitt Romney, the daunting challenges facing Obama and his political battles with congressional Republicans have split public opinion about the prospects for the next four years.

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll last week found 43 percent of Americans were optimistic about the next four years and 35 percent pessimistic, with 22 percent having a mixed opinion.

Obama's main political opponent in Congress, Republican House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, plans to attend a White House tea before the ceremony, as well as the inaugural speech and a post-event lunch at the Capitol with the president and lawmakers.

Public safety officials and workers closed Washington streets around the ceremony site on Sunday night in preparation for the inauguration, with security barriers going up and thousands of police and National Guard troops being deployed around the city.

The inauguration ceremony will include music - singers James Taylor and Kelly Clarkson will perform patriotic songs and Beyonce will sing the national anthem - and also feature Vice President Joe Biden taking the oath of office again after doing so already on Sunday.

Obama and his wife, Michelle, will join Biden and his wife, Jill, at the capital luncheon before the two couples take part in the inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House.

Obama could get out of his limousine and walk part of the way to interact with the crowd.

After watching the rest of the parade from a viewing stand in front of the White House, the Obamas will change and head to the two inaugural balls - an official ball and one for military personnel and their spouses.

That is a dramatic reduction in activities from 2009, when there were 10 official inaugural balls.

With the public ceremony falling on the national holiday honoring slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., Obama will be able to draw some historic parallels. While taking the oath, he will place his left hand on two Bibles - one once owned by Abraham Lincoln and the other by King.

(Editing by Alistair Bell and Christopher Wilson)

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Algeria hostage toll rises with report of Japanese deaths

ALGIERS, Algeria (Reuters) - The hostage death toll from a four-day siege at an Algerian gas plant deep in the Sahara has risen to almost 60, with at least nine Japanese nationals also reported killed in an attack claimed by a veteran Islamist fighter on behalf of al Qaeda.

Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal is expected to give details at a Monday news conference about one of the worst international hostage crises in decades, which left American, British, French, Japanese, Norwegian and Romanian workers dead or missing.

A security source said on Sunday Algerian troops had found the bodies of 25 hostages, raising the total number of hostages killed to 48 and the total number of deaths to at least 80. He said six militants were captured alive and troops were still searching for others.

That number climbed further on Monday when a Japanese government source said the Algerian government had informed Tokyo that nine Japanese had been killed, the biggest toll so far among foreigners at the plant.

One-eyed veteran Islamist fighter Mokhtar Belmokhtar claimed responsibility for the attack on behalf of al Qaeda.

"We in al Qaeda announce this blessed operation," he said in a video, according to Sahara Media, a regional website. He said about 40 attackers participated in the raid, roughly matching the government's figures for fighters killed and captured.

The fighters swooped out of the desert and seized the base on Wednesday, capturing a plant that produces 10 percent of Algeria's natural gas exports, and residential barracks nearby.

They demanded an end to French air strikes against Islamist fighters in neighboring Mali that had begun five days earlier. However, U.S. and European officials doubt such a complex raid could have been organized quickly enough to have been conceived as a direct response to the French military intervention.

The siege turned bloody on Thursday when the Algerian army opened fire saying fighters were trying to escape with their prisoners. Survivors said Algerian forces blasted several trucks in a convoy carrying both hostages and their captors.

Nearly 700 Algerian workers and more than 100 foreigners escaped, mainly on Thursday when the fighters were driven from the residential barracks. Some captors remained holed up in the industrial complex until Saturday when they were overrun.

The bloodshed has strained Algeria's relations with its Western allies, some of whom have complained about being left in the dark while the decision to storm the compound was being taken. Nevertheless, Britain and France both defended the Algerian military action.

"It's easy to say that this or that should have been done. The Algerian authorities took a decision and the toll is very high but I am a bit bothered ... when the impression is given that the Algerians are open to question," said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. "They had to deal with terrorists."

British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a televised statement: "Of course people will ask questions about the Algerian response to these events, but I would just say that the responsibility for these deaths lies squarely with the terrorists who launched this vicious and cowardly attack.

"We should recognize all that the Algerians have done to work with us and to help and coordinate with us. I'd like to thank them for that. We should also recognize that the Algerians too have seen lives lost among their soldiers."

Algeria had given a preliminary death toll of 55 - 23 hostages and 32 militants - on Saturday and said it would rise as more bodies were found.


The security source said that toll did not include the bodies of 25 hostages found on Sunday. The search was not over, and more could yet be found, he said.

Before Monday, the Japanese government and engineering firm JGC Corp, which had several dozen employees working at the plant, had said only that 10 Japanese were unaccounted for.

JGC is due to give an update regarding its staff in Algeria later on Monday.

Among other foreigners confirmed dead by their home countries were three Britons, one American and two Romanians. The missing include five Norwegians, three Britons and a British resident. The security source said at least one Frenchman was also among the dead.

Algeria is determined to press on with its energy industry. Oil Minister Youcef Yousfi visited the site and said physical damage was minor, state news service APS reported. The plant would start up again in two days, he said.

The Islamists' assault has tested Algeria's relations with the outside world and exposed the vulnerability of multinational oil operations in the Sahara.

Algeria, scarred by the civil war with Islamist insurgents in the 1990s which claimed 200,000 lives, insisted from the start of the crisis there would be no negotiation in the face of terrorism.

France especially needs close cooperation from Algeria to crush Islamist rebels in northern Mali.

(Additional reporting by Anton Slodkowski in Tokyo, Balazs Koranyi in Oslo, Estelle Shirbon and David Alexander in London, Brian Love in Paris and Daniel Flynn in Dakar; Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Paul Tait and Nick Macfie)

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Wall Street Week Ahead: Earnings, money flows to push stocks higher

NEW YORK (Reuters) - With earnings momentum on the rise, the S&P 500 seems to have few hurdles ahead as it continues to power higher, its all-time high a not-so-distant goal.

The U.S. equity benchmark closed the week at a fresh five-year high on strong housing and labor market data and a string of earnings that beat lowered expectations.

Sector indexes in transportation <.djt>, banks <.bkx> and housing <.hgx> this week hit historic or multiyear highs as well.

Michael Yoshikami, chief executive at Destination Wealth Management in Walnut Creek, California, said the key earnings to watch for next week will come from cyclical companies. United Technologies reports on Wednesday while Honeywell is due to report Friday.

"Those kind of numbers will tell you the trajectory the economy is taking," Yoshikami said.

Major technology companies also report next week, but the bar for the sector has been lowered even further.

Chipmakers like Advanced Micro Devices , which is due Tuesday, are expected to underperform as PC sales shrink. AMD shares fell more than 10 percent Friday after disappointing results from its larger competitor, Intel . Still, a chipmaker sector index <.sox> posted its highest weekly close since last April.

Following a recent underperformance, an upside surprise from Apple on Wednesday could trigger a return to the stock from many investors who had abandoned ship.

Other major companies reporting next week include Google , IBM , Johnson & Johnson and DuPont on Tuesday, Microsoft and 3M on Thursday and Procter & Gamble on Friday.


Perhaps the strongest support for equities will come from the flow of cash from fixed income funds to stocks.

The recent piling into stock funds -- $11.3 billion in the past two weeks, the most since 2000 -- indicates a riskier approach to investing from retail investors looking for yield.

"From a yield perspective, a lot of stocks still yield a great deal of money and so it is very easy to see why money is pouring into the stock market," said Stephen Massocca, managing director at Wedbush Morgan in San Francisco.

"You are just not going to see people put a lot of money to work in a 10-year Treasury that yields 1.8 percent."

Housing stocks <.hgx>, already at a 5-1/2 year high, could get a further bump next week as investors eye data expected to support the market's perception that housing is the sluggish U.S. economy's bright spot.

Home resales are expected to have risen 0.6 percent in December, data is expected to show on Tuesday. Pending home sales contracts, which lead actual sales by a month or two, hit a 2-1/2 year high in November.

The new home sales report on Friday is expected to show a 2.1 percent increase.

The federal debt ceiling negotiations, a nagging worry for investors, seemed to be stuck on the back burner after House Republicans signaled they might support a short-term extension.

Equity markets, which tumbled in 2011 after the last round of talks pushed the United States close to a default, seem not to care much this time around.

The CBOE volatility index <.vix>, a gauge of market anxiety, closed Friday at its lowest since April 2007.

"I think the market is getting somewhat desensitized from political drama given, this seems to be happening over and over," said Destination Wealth Management's Yoshikami.

"It's something to keep in mind, but I don't think it's what you want to base your investing decisions on."

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos, additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak and Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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Baseball reflects on HOF pair Weaver, Musial

One was born in St. Louis, the other became a star there.

Aside from that, Earl Weaver and Stan Musial were about as different as two Hall of Famers could be.

"Talk about your odd couple," said George Vecsey, the longtime sports columnist for The New York Times who wrote a recent biography of Musial.

Weaver was a 5-foot-6 rabble rouser whose penchant for quarreling with umpires belied a cerebral approach to managing that has stood the test of time. Musial was a humble slugger with a funky batting stance who was beloved by Cardinals fans and respected by pretty much everyone else.

Saturday began with news of Weaver's death at age 82, and by the end of the night Musial had died, too, leaving baseball to reflect on two distinguished careers rich in contrasts.

"Earl was well known for being one of the game's most colorful characters with a memorable wit, but he was also amongst its most loyal," Commissioner Bud Selig said.

Selig later released a statement after Musial's death at age 92.

"Stan's life embodies baseball's unparalleled history and why this game is the national pastime. As remarkable as 'Stan the Man' was on the field, he was a true gentleman in life," Selig said.

A three-time MVP and seven-time National League batting champion, Musial helped the Cardinals win three World Series championships in the 1940s. His popularity in St. Louis can be measured by the not one, but two statues that stand in his honor outside Busch Stadium. After his death Saturday, Cardinals of more recent vintage began offering condolences almost immediately.

"Sad to hear about Stan the Man, it's an honor to wear the same uniform," said a message posted on the Twitter account of Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday.

Albert Pujols, who led St. Louis to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011 before leaving as a free agent before last season, offered prayers for Musial's family via Twitter.

"I will cherish my friendship with Stan for as long as I live," said a message posted on Pujols' site. "Rest in Peace."

Weaver was born in St. Louis, but his greatest success came as a manager in Baltimore. He took the Orioles to the World Series four times, winning one title in 1970.

Never a fan of small-ball strategies like bunting and stealing bases, Weaver preferred to wait for a three-run homer, always hoping for a big inning that could break the game open.

"No one managed a ballclub or pitching staff better than Earl," said Davey Johnson, who played under Weaver with the Orioles.

Johnson now manages the Washington Nationals and ran the Orioles from 1996-97.

"He was decades ahead of his time," Johnson said. "Not a game goes by that I don't draw on something Earl did or said. I will miss him every day."

While Musial could let his bat do the talking, Weaver was more than willing to shout to be heard. His salty-tongued arguing with umpires will live on through YouTube, and Orioles programs sold at the old Memorial Stadium frequently featured photos of Weaver squabbling.

Former umpire Don Denkinger remembered a game in which the manager disputed a call with Larry McCoy at the plate.

"Earl tells us, 'Now I'm gonna show you how stupid you all are.' Earl goes down to first base and ejects the first base umpire. Then he goes to second base and ejects the second base umpire. I'm working third base and now he comes down and ejects me," Denkinger said.

Musial was a quieter type who spent his career far removed from the bright lights of places like New York and Boston. But his hitting exploits were certainly on par with contemporaries Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams.

"I knew Stan very well. He used to take care of me at All-Star games, 24 of them," Hall of Famer Willie Mays said. "He was a true gentleman who understood the race thing and did all he could. Again, a true gentleman on and off the field — I never heard anybody say a bad word about him, ever."

Dave Anderson of The New York Times recalled growing up in Brooklyn, rooting for Musial. Those Dodgers crowds helped give Musial his nickname, Stan the Man.

"I thought he was going to knock the fence down in Brooklyn, he'd hit it so often," Anderson said.

Musial did it despite an odd left-handed stance — with his legs and knees close together, he would cock the bat near his ear and twist his body away from the pitcher before uncoiling when the ball came.

If that was a lasting snapshot of Musial, the images of Weaver will stay just as fresh — the feisty manager, perhaps with his hat turned backward, looking up at an umpire and screaming at him before kicking dirt somewhere and finally leaving the field.

None of those histrionics should obscure the fact that in the end, Weaver often had the last laugh — to the tune of a .583 career winning percentage.

"When you discuss our game's motivational masters, Earl is a part of that conversation," Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson said. "He was a proven leader in the dugout and loved being a Hall of Famer. Though small in stature, he was a giant as a manager."

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Latest Inaugural Forecast: Bit Warmer Than in 2009

Consider it the first fact check of a Barack Obama campaign pledge for his second term: Will he, or Mother Nature, deliver on promised warmer Inauguration Day weather?

It’s shaping up as a close call.

In September, while campaigning in Colorado, Obama was talking to a potential voter who mentioned he had been one of the hundreds of thousands of people outdoors at Obama‘s bone-chilling first inaugural in 2009, when the noontime temperature was 28 degrees. Obama promised: “This one is going to be warmer.”

Scientifically, the president doesn’t have control of day-to-day weather. While his policies can lessen or worsen future projected global warming on a large scale, they cannot do anything about Washington‘s daily temperature on Jan. 21.

Still, it’s a promise that for a long time looked close to a sure thing. The history of local weather was on Obama’s side.

On average, the normal high is 43 degrees and the normal low is 28, but that’s just around dawn. There have been 19 traditional January inaugurations and only two were colder. Ronald Reagan‘s second in 1985 was a frigid 7 with subzero wind chills and John F. Kennedy‘s in 1961 was a snow-covered 22. Jimmy Carter’s 1977 inauguration also was 28.

Then there was the general warming trend Washington had been stuck in. The last time the nation’s capital stayed below freezing all day was Jan. 22, 2011. The city has gone a record 700-plus days since it had 2 inches or more of snow.

An Arctic cold front looks to be racing toward the mid-Atlantic, so it will be cooler than normal on Monday, but probably not cooler than 2009, said Nikole Listemaa, a senior forecaster at the National Weather Service office in Sterling, Va., that oversees forecasts for the capital area.

Look for highs around 40 degrees with noon temperatures in the mid- to upper 30s, Listemaa said Saturday. That would keep Obama’s pledge.

There’s also a 30 percent chance of light snow showers for Monday. But the Arctic cold front won’t arrive until Monday night into Tuesday, Listemaa added.

Extreme cold on Inauguration Day, folklore says, can be a killer.

In 1841, newly elected president William Henry Harrison stood outside without a coat or hat as he spoke for an hour and 40 minutes. He caught a cold that day and it became pneumonia and he died one month after being sworn in.

Twelve years later, outgoing first lady Abigail Fillmore got sick from sitting outside on a cold wet platform as Franklin Pierce was inaugurated and she died of pneumonia at the end of the month. Doctors now know that pneumonia is caused by germs, but prolonged exposure to extreme cold weather may hurt the airways and make someone more susceptible to getting sick.

There’s one thing Washington‘s history shows. Bad weather generally creates bad traffic jams.

Kennedy found that out in his 1961 inauguration when 8 inches of snow fell overnight and crippled the city for what at that time was Washington‘s worst traffic jam. Thousands of cars were abandoned in the snow.


Seth Borenstein can be followed at

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Why conservatives call MLK their hero

A growing number of conservatives say MLK was a conservative. Many cite five words from King's "I Have a Dream" speech.


  • Conservatives claim that MLK's conservative legacy is ignored

  • MLK opposed affirmative action, they say

  • His self-help message was conservative, one historian says

  • MLK aide: They are trying to "hoodwink" people

(CNN) -- The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was called a communist, an outside agitator and a drum major for righteousness.

But now a growing number of people are calling King something else: A conservative icon.

As the nation celebrates King's national holiday Monday, a new battle has erupted over his legacy. Some conservatives are saying it's time for them to reclaim the legacy of King, whose message of self-help, patriotism and a colorblind America, they say, was "fundamentally conservative."

But those who marched with King and studied his work say that notion is absurd. The political class that once opposed King, they argue, is now trying to distort his message.

King's most famous words are the crux of the disagreement.

"He was against all policies based on race," says Peter Schramm, a conservative historian. "The basis of his attack on segregation was 'judge us by the content of our character, not by the color of our skin.' That's a profound moral argument."

Taylor Branch, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of a trilogy on King, says some conservatives are invoking a phantom version of King to avoid dealing with contemporary racial issues.

He was against all policies based on race. The basis of his attack on segregation was to judge us by the content of our character, not by the color of our skin.
Peter Schramm, a conservative historian and former Reagan Administration official

"They want to claim they understand Dr. King better than Dr. King did," says Branch, author of "Parting the Waters."

A quick look at King's books and speeches, Branch and others argue, reveals that his message was not conservative but radical.

A life celebrated through service

The man who started calling King a conservative

Even when King was alive, his opponents distorted his words, Branch says. They would publicly agree with some of his message while undercutting the parts they didn't like.

"Most people who were uncomfortable with his message did not take it head-on and say Dr. King was wrong because his message was so powerful, and near the heart of patriotism. They would say, 'I agree with you except you shouldn't break the law,' or 'you shouldn't mix church and state' or 'stop corrupting the lives of youth,' " says Branch, who just released "The King Years," a book that looks at 18 pivotal events in the civil rights movement.

One of the first leaders to invoke King's message in support of conservative ideas was Ronald Reagan, according to Stephen Prothero, who spotlights that moment in his book "The American Bible," which examines the most famous speeches and texts in American history.

In June of 1985, Reagan cited King's "content of our character" line from the "I Have a Dream" speech to argue in a speech opposing affirmative action that King's vision of a colorblind society would not include racial hiring quotas.

Reagan, who opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, said in a radio address on civil rights:

Ronald Reagan was one of the first conservatives to invoke the words of MLK to support conservative policies.

"The truth is, quotas deny jobs to many who would have gotten them otherwise but who weren't born a specified race or sex. That's discrimination pure and simple and is exactly what the civil rights laws were designed to stop."

Prothero says King's "I Have a Dream" speech has since been invoked by conservative leaders such as William Bennett and Rush Limbaugh to argue that affirmative action equals reverse discrimination.

Recommitting to Dr. King's nonviolent teachings

King a defender of traditional values?

The arguments for King's conservative legacy, however, have acquired deeper layers over the years.

In a 2006 essay entitled "Martin Luther King's Conservative Legacy," Carolyn. G. Raney argues that King's message was "fundamentally conservative" on other levels.

In that essay, published by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, she writes: "King's primary aim was not to change laws, but to change people, to make neighbors of enemies and a nation out of divided races. King led with love, not racial hatred."

Raney says King's message was conservative because he believed in a fixed moral law. She quotes from King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail," in which King says a just law was "a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God."

"Conservatives tend to be more deeply religious, to hold to fundamental truths appealing to higher principles and appealing to the founding of America," Raney says in an interview. "More liberals seem to embrace the idea of moral relativism."

Those who argue for King's conservative credentials include a member of the civil rights leader's family.

They want to claim they understand Dr. King better than Dr. King did.
Taylor Branch, Pulitzer Prize winning author of "Parting the Waters."

Alveda King, a niece of King, is an author and activist who has talked often about her uncle's message at conservative rallies. She says he was a believer in traditional values who went on record criticizing homosexuality, defending the traditional family and opposing abortion.

Memphis finally names street after King

"Martin Luther king Jr. was a preacher and a liberator," she says. "It's natural for what's called conservative values to align with who he was because he was a pastor. He was not so much a fiscal conservative, but more so a moral conservative."

King's original civil rights message was also conservative because he preached self-help to beleaguered black communities, argues Joel Schwartz, an author of an essay entitled "Where Dr. King Went Wrong."

Schwartz says King grew up in a household where his father taught hard work and self-discipline. King championed these virtues, he says. He even criticized black schoolteachers who couldn't speak proper English.

In his last book, "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community," King said if blacks practiced thrift and wise investment, "the Negro will be doing his share to grapple with his problem of economic deprivation."

King preached self-help so much because blacks didn't have other options in the early stages of the movement, says Schwartz, author of "Fighting Poverty with Virtue: Moral Reform and America's Urban Poor, 1825-2000."

"He was not in a position to say to blacks, 'Vote the scoundrels out of office, and elect people who benefit you' because blacks couldn't vote," Schwartz says. "The only thing they could possibly control was their own behavior and the ability to take advantage of the opportunities available to them."

King "went wrong" when he abandoned his self-help message during the last years of his life as he took the civil rights movement North, Schwartz says. He and some of his aides were so disheartened by the dysfunction of the black underclass in the North that they had to look for another solution.

"How could self-help be the road to success for people who," King and his aides had concluded, "seemed bent on destroying themselves," Schwartz writes.

"The only answer the later King could see to these economic and social problems was for government to step in and make things better."

What did MLK think about gay people?

King talks about redistribution of wealth

King took the movement to the North starting in 1966 when he led a campaign against urban poverty in Chicago. The evolution of his message is evident in his books and speeches.

Most historians think King was getting more radical, not conservative, at the end of his life.

King concluded that racism wasn't the only problem: War and poverty were the others. He came out against the Vietnam War. He called for the nationalization of some industries and a guaranteed annual wage.

His most audacious plan was a forerunner of today's Occupy Movement. By 1968, King was preparing to lead a "Poor People's Campaign" to Washington. A coalition of poor blacks, Native Americas, Latinos and whites from Appalachia would occupy Washington and force the government to take money spent on Vietnam and use it instead to combat poverty. The campaign muddled on after King's assassination, but quickly fell apart without his leadership.

In a documentary entitled "Citizen King," the leader is shown speaking to a church audience, as he prepared his nonviolent army of poor people for Washington.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a preacher and a liberator. It's natural for what's called conservative values to align with who he was because he was a pastor.
Alveda King, niece of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

"It didn't cost the nation a penny to open lunch counters. It didn't cost the nation a penny to give us the right to vote," he said. "But it will cost the nation billions to feed and house all of its citizens. The country needs a radical redistribution of wealth."

Opinion: 48 years after MLK march, voting rights still vulnerable

King's aides defend leader's record

Some of King's closest aides are baffled at the argument that King opposed affirmative action policies. They say the public record is clear: King openly supported such policies.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the group he led, created a program called Operation Breadbasket that called for companies to hire a certain number of blacks. In King's book "Why We Can't Wait," he recounts his travels to India where he expressed approval for that government's attempts to remedy the historical discrimination of "the untouchables" through compensatory programs.

King also argued that just as the nation had given preferential treatment to soldiers returning from World War II through the GI Bill, it should do the same for blacks in the realms of jobs and education.

"A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro," King wrote in "Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community."

Conservatives don't like to talk about that version of King, say those who knew the civil rights leader.

"This is just an attempt to hoodwink people about who Martin Luther King Jr. was," says the Rev. Joseph Lowery, part of King's inner-circle at the SCLC.

"He would have never advocated that people should be judged by their color," Lowery says. "He never advocated that. What he advocated was that people should not be discriminated against because of their color. That's entirely different."

The notion that self-help and liberal politics can't co-exist is wrong as well, Lowery says. They've existed for years in the black church, the institution that spawned King.

"We always encouraged folks to help themselves," Lowery says of black pastors. "The more we help ourselves, the more we prove our worth. The church said the Lord helps those who help themselves. I've heard that all my life."

Clarence Jones, who was a speechwriter and attorney for King, says King's position on affirmative action would have evolved. He says he believes that King would support affirmative action policies that help poor people, not one particular race.

He was already headed that way with the "Poor People's Campaign," says Jones, author of "Behind the Dream," which offers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of King's dream speech.

King had already decided during the last year of his life to push for the congressional passage of an economic bill of rights for the poor, Jones says. The SCLC debated whether to include nonblacks in the bills of rights but King insisted that they do so.

"We came to the conclusion that the economic circumstances of poor people transcended the issue of color and race," Jones says.

Conservatives who insist that King's primary aim was to change people, not laws, don't understand King or American history, others say.

If King's primary aim was to change hearts, not laws, the movement would not have had as many victories, says Clayborne Carson, who was chosen by King's widow, Coretta Scott King, to edit her husband's papers.

Conservatives say MLK's primary goal was to change hearts, not law. Here King shakes hands with President Lyndon Johnson after the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

"People who gain privileges because of race or status don't readily give up those privileges and they don't see them as wrong," Carson says. "We know for a fact that the South would have never voted out slavery or Jim Crow."

Rare MLk interview tape found

Two visions of King

Carson says those who distort King's legacy aren't confined to conservatives. Some of King's biggest supporters subtract vital parts of King's message.

"At the King Memorial in Washington, you won't see a single quote about poverty," says Carson, author of "Martin's Dream." "You have a lot of quotes about love and abstract ideas, but translating love to let's take care of the poor, that's a step that most people aren't willing to take."

What's happening to King's message is part of a larger trend in American history: a deliberate attempt to "misremember" race, says Branch, the civil rights author.

"That is the temptation of American history, to say we don't need to deal with race anymore. We misremembered the Civil War for a 100 years, thinking that it had nothing to do with slavery and that the glorious old wonderful South was like 'Gone with the Wind,' " Branch says.

What Branch calls "misremembering" others call recapturing King's conservative legacy.

Raney, who wrote the Heritage Foundation article about King's conservative values, says she did so because she wanted to "reclaim" King for conservatives.

Still, she says as much as she's read about King, he remains elusive.

"It seems like there are almost two Kings, the earlier one and the later one," she says.

Both versions of King will be on display this Monday. Forty-five years after his death, one thing has not changed: King's message is still dividing America.

Opinion: MLK, born at just the right time

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House collapses on South Side; none hurt

A house in the 6300 block of South Evans Avenue was vacant when it collapsed Saturday night, according to the Chicago Fire Department.

A house in the 6300 block of South Evans Avenue was vacant when it collapsed Saturday night, according to the Chicago Fire Department.
(Adam Sege, Chicago Tribune / January 20, 2013)

No one was injured when a vacant house collapsed Saturday night in the Grand Crossing neighborhood on the South Side, authorities said.

The two-and-a-half story building collapsed shortly about 11 p.m. in the 6300 block of South Evans Avenue, Deputy Fire Cmsr. John McNicholas said.

By interviewing neighbors and using body-sensing technology, firefighters determined the home had been unoccupied when it collapsed, McNicholas said. Firefighters searched the rubble as a precaution and found no one.

The building showed signs of renovations, McNicholas said, but officials are still working to determine what triggered the collapse.

Twitter: @AdamSege

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Algeria ends desert siege with 23 hostages dead

ALGIERS/IN AMENAS, Algeria (Reuters) - Algerian troops ended a siege by Islamist militants at a gas plant in the Sahara desert where 23 hostages died, with a final assault which killed all the remaining hostage-takers.

Believed to be among the 32 dead militants was their leader, Abdul Rahman al-Nigeri, a Nigerien close to al Qaeda-linked commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar, presumed mastermind of the raid.

An Algerian interior ministry statement on the death toll gave no breakdown of the number of foreigners among hostages killed since the plant was seized before dawn on Wednesday.

Details are only slowly emerging on what happened during the siege, which marked a serious escalation of unrest in northwestern Africa, where French forces are ratcheting up a war against Islamist militants in neighboring Mali.

Algeria's interior ministry said on Saturday that 107 foreign hostages and 685 Algerian hostages had survived, but did not give a detailed breakdown of those who died.

"We feel a deep and growing unease ... we fear that over the next few days we will receive bad news," said Helge Lund, Chief Executive of Norway's Statoil, which ran the plant along with Britain's BP and Algeria's state oil company.

"People we have spoken to describe unbelievable, horrible experiences," he said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said he feared for the lives of five British citizens unaccounted for at the gas plant near the town of In Amenas, which was also home to expatriate workers from Japanese engineering firm JGC Corp and others.

One American and one British citizen have been confirmed dead. Statoil said five of its workers, all Norwegian nationals, were still missing. Japanese and American workers are also unaccounted for.

The Islamists' attack has tested Algeria's relations with the outside world, exposed the vulnerability of multinational oil operations in the Sahara and pushed Islamist radicalism in northern Africa to center stage.

Some Western governments expressed frustration at not being informed of the Algerian authorities' plans to storm the complex. Algeria, scarred by a civil war with Islamist insurgents in the 1990s which claimed 200,000 lives, had insisted there would be no negotiation in the face of terrorism.

President Barack Obama said on Saturday the United States was seeking from Algerian authorities a fuller understanding of what took place, but said "the blame for this tragedy rests with the terrorists who carried it out."

Official sources had no immediate confirmation of newspaper reports suggesting some of the hostages may have been executed by their captors as the Algerian army closed in for the final assault on Saturday.

One source close to the crisis said 16 foreign hostages were freed, including two Americans and one Portuguese.

BP's chief executive Bob Dudley said on Saturday four of its 18 workers at the site were missing. The remaining 14 were safe.


The attack on the heavily fortified gas compound was one of the most audacious in recent years and almost certainly planned long before French troops launched a military operation in Mali this month to stem an advance by Islamist fighters.

Hundreds of hostages escaped on Thursday when the army launched a rescue operation, but many hostages were killed.

Before the interior ministry released its provisional death toll, an Algerian security source said eight Algerians and at least seven foreigners were among the victims, including two Japanese, two Britons and a French national. One British citizen was killed when the gunmen seized the hostages on Wednesday.

The U.S. State Department said on Friday one American, Frederick Buttaccio, had died but gave no further details.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said nobody was going to attack the United States and get away with it.

"We have made a commitment that we're going to go after al Qaeda wherever they are and wherever they try to hide," he said during a visit to London. "We have done that obviously in Afghanistan, Pakistan, we've done it in Somalia, in Yemen and we will do it in North Africa as well."

Earlier on Saturday, Algerian special forces found 15 unidentified burned bodies at the plant, a source told Reuters.

Mauritanian news agencies identified the field commander of the group that attacked the plant as Nigeri, a fighter from one of the Arab tribes in Niger who had joined the Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) in early-2005.

That group eventually joined up with al Qaeda to become Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). It and allied groups are the targets of the French military operation in Mali.

The news agencies described him as "one of the closest people" to Belmokhtar, who fought in Afghanistan and then in Algeria's civil war of the 1990s. Nigeri was known as a man for "difficult missions", having carried out attacks in Mauritania, Mali and Niger.


Britain, Japan and other countries have expressed irritation that the Algerian army assault was ordered without consultation.

But French President Francois Hollande said the Algerian military's response seemed to have been the best option given that negotiation was not possible.

"When you have people taken hostage in such large number by terrorists with such cold determination and ready to kill those hostages - as they did - Algeria has an approach which to me, as I see it, is the most appropriate because there could be no negotiation," Hollande said.

The apparent ease with which the fighters swooped in from the dunes to take control of an important energy facility, which produces some 10 percent of the natural gas on which Algeria depends for its export income, has raised questions over the country's outwardly tough security measures.

Algerian officials said the attackers may have had inside help from among the hundreds of Algerians employed at the site.

Security in the half-dozen countries around the Sahara desert has long been a preoccupation of the West. Smugglers and militants have earned millions in ransom from kidnappings.

The most powerful Islamist groups operating in the Sahara were severely weakened by Algeria's secularist military in the civil war in the 1990s. But in the past two years the regional wing of al Qaeda gained fighters and arms as a result of the civil war in Libya, when arsenals were looted from Muammar Gaddafi's army.

(Additional reporting by Balazs Koranyi in Oslo, Estelle Shirbon and David Alexander in London, Brian Love in Paris; Writing by Giles Elgood and Myra MacDonald)

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