Massive blaze engulfs vacant Bridgeport warehouse









One-third of the Chicago Fire Department's on-duty personnel responded to a 5-11 alarm fire that engulfed a warehouse building, causing parts of it to collapse and endangering nearby buildings in the Bridgeport neighborhood Tuesday night.


A four-story building caught fire after 9 p.m., endangering another building, according to the Chicago Fire Department. Extra alarms, bringing more fire equipment, firefighters and paramedics were called soon after firefighters arrived. The fire in the former Harris Marcus Group building, 3757 S. Ashland Ave., was declared under control, though still burning, as of about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.


Firefighters had to contend with frozen hydrants and ice caused by overspray, Fire Department Commissioner Jose Santiago said. One firefighter suffered a back injury and was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in serious condition, said Chicago Firefighter Meg Ahlheim, a department spokeswoman.








The fire climbed into the sky and sent ashes down on cars below. The warmth from the blaze could be felt blocks away. A Chicago Fire Department helicopter was called into service to provide an "aerial visual," but after firefighters arrived, they were able to keep the blaze from spreading to nearby businesses, Santiago said.


Still, anyone who looked out an upper-floor window from buildings across the city could see the fire, with many sending photographs out over social media. Ashes fell far from the fire scene.


"You could see the embers from the highway," said Darcy Benedict, a 28-year-old UIC medical school student. "I could see blue flames rising up."


Benedict and her boyfriend saw the fire from Interstate 55 and got off to get a better look. 


A crowd of at least 40 adults and children stood behind police tape, bundled up in the freezing weather, taking videos with cellphones.


Several others at the scene expressed doubt that the fire could be contained, as dozens of hoses could be seen in the distance spraying high and low onto the enormous blaze.

The commander at Tuesday's fire used two 'special alarms' to call for additional equipment beyond what a 5-11 alarm calls for, calling in special equipment needed to fight the massive blaze, Santiago said.


“I’m looking at the south side of the main fire building and there’s a big portion of exterior wall and roof collapse,” said Chicago Firefighter Meg Ahlheim, a Chicago Fire Department spokeswoman.


There was “extreme fire” throughout the buildings. Nobody has been reported injured.


The fire in the second building was mostly extinguished as of about 10:25 p.m. but the first building is "still involved," Ahlheim said.


Special alarms are called beyond the fifth, though they are "extremely rare," according to the fire department.


Commissioner Santiago said it was the first time a 5-11 with two special alarms was called since 2006 - apparently fire a fire that gutted the historic Wirt Dexter Building in the South Loop. That fire broke out before 3 p.m. on a weekday, snarled downtown traffic and forced the CTA to stop service on Loop L tracks.


Santiago said a Fire Department chief was driving past the warehouse when he saw smoke, turned around and called the fire in, bringing the first response, which was quickly elevated to an extra-alarm.


The alarms normally escalate one at a time beyond a normal fire response up to a fifth alarm, though the scene commander skipped a fourth alarm once the fire jumped to another building.


There was also a 5-11 fire in 2012 - in Avondale on the Northwest Side. That burned for hours but didn't required the special alarms called for Tuesday night's fire. About 200 firefighters and paramedics responded to that fire.


Santiago described the warehouse as "old," with lots of timber throughout the building. Firefighters are expected to be at the blaze for several hours, he said. As the water poured on the fire starts to freeze, more portions of the timber-and-brick construction building are likely to collapse under the weight of the ice, he said.


Check back for more information.


lford@tribune.com
Twitter: @ltaford


pnickeas@tribune.com
Twitter: @peternickeas


ehirst@tribune.com
Twitter: @ellenjeanhirst



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Cameron promises Britons straight choice on EU exit


LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron promised on Wednesday to give Britons a straight referendum choice on whether to stay in the European Union or leave, provided he wins an election in 2015.


Cameron ended months of speculation by announcing in a speech the plan for a vote sometime between 2015 and 2018, shrugging off warnings that this could imperil Britain's diplomatic and economic prospects and alienate its allies.


Cameron said Britain did not want to pull up the drawbridge and retreat from the world but that public disillusionment with the EU is at "an all-time high".


"It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time for us to settle this question about Britain and Europe," Cameron said. His Conservative party would campaign for the 2015 election promising to renegotiate Britain's EU membership.


"When we have negotiated that new settlement, we will give the British people a referendum with a very simple in or out choice to stay in the European Union on these new terms; or come out altogether. It will be an in-out referendum."


Whether Cameron will ever hold the referendum remains as uncertain as the Conservatives' chances of winning the next election due in 2015.


They trail the opposition Labour party in opinion polls, and the coalition government is pushing through painful public spending cuts to try to reduce Britain's large budget deficit, likely to upset voters in the meantime.


Cameron's promise looks likely to satisfy much of his own party, which has been split on the issue, but may create uncertainty when events could put his preferred option - a looser version of full British membership - out of reach.


The move may also unsettle other EU states, such as France and Germany. European officials have already warned Cameron against treating the bloc as an "a la carte menu" from which he can pick and choose membership terms.


His speech in London is also likely to raise concerns in the United States, a close ally, which has said it wants Britain to remain inside the EU with "a strong voice".


Nor is it likely to help heal rifts with his pro-European Liberal Democrat junior coalition partners.


Cameron said he would prefer Britain, the world's sixth biggest economy, to remain inside the 27-nation EU but he also made clear he believes the EU must be radically reformed.


A new EU must be built upon five principles, he said: competitiveness, flexibility, power flowing back to - not just away from - member states, democratic accountability and fairness.


The euro zone debt crisis is a main reason why Britain must reassess its relationship with the wider EU, Cameron said, adding that ever closer union was not Britain's objective.


"WAFER THIN" CONSENT


Cameron said the EU faced three main problems: the debt crisis, competitiveness and faltering public support.


Democratic consent for the EU in Britain was now "wafer thin", reflecting the results of many opinion polls that have shown a slim majority would vote to leave the bloc and the rise of the UK Independence Party that favors complete withdrawal.


"Some people say that to point this out is irresponsible, creates uncertainty for business and puts a question mark over Britain's place in the European Union," said Cameron. "But the question mark is already there: ignoring it won't make it go away."


Avoiding a referendum would make an eventual British exit more likely, not less, he said. This would risk bottling up resentment towards the EU, compounding people's feeling that "the EU is heading in a direction that they never signed up to".


"Simply asking the British people to carry on accepting a European settlement over which they have had little choice is a path to ensuring that when the question is finally put - and at some stage it will have to be - it is much more likely that the British people will reject the European Union."


Many Britons resent the EU's interference in their daily lives and its "unnecessary rules and regulations", he added.


Cameron's speech has been marked by long delays, diplomatic rows and the postponement due to the Algerian hostage crisis.


"The Curse of TutanCameron's Europe speech" was how one political magazine summed up the repeated delays in a headline over a picture of a golden-faced Cameron superimposed on the death mask of ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen.


(Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Peter Graff)



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Shares hit 20-month high as Japan promises open-ended easing

LONDON (Reuters) - World shares hit a new 20-month high on Tuesday after Japan's central bank promised to pump unlimited stimulus into the country's economy to fight the threat of deflation and generate growth.


The Bank of Japan, which has been under intense political pressure to overcome deflation, hiked its inflation target to 2 percent and said that from 2014 it would adopt an open-ended commitment to buy assets.


The move surprised markets, which had expected another incremental increase in its 101 trillion yen ($1.12 trillion) asset-buying and lending program, though the delay until the easing measures kick in dulled the impact and saw the yen edge higher against the dollar.


"From 2014 onwards it's positive ... (but) from now until then, they are not doing anything more aggressive to weaken the yen," said Roy Teo, an FX strategist for ABN Amro.


Equity markets, particularly in Japan, have risen strongly in the run up to Tuesday's meeting, and the confirmation of the plans was enough to lift the MSCI world index <.miwd00000pus> 0.15 percent to a fresh 20-month high of 352.54.


European shares, which have been testing two-year highs in recent days, saw a more subdued start as investors awaited a cue from U.S. corporate earnings figures later in the day.


London's FTSE 100 <.ftse>, Paris's CAC-40 <.fchi> and Frankfurt's DAX <.gdaxi> opened between flat and down 0.1 percent, leaving the FTSEurofirst 300 <.fteu3> down 0.1 percent.


Brent crude rose 0.3 percent to $112.07 a barrel, and gold was up 0.2 percent as the BOJ's latest easing action added to recent positive data from the United States and China, while growing confidence in the strength of China's economic recovery pushed London copper up 0.7 percent to $8,111.75 a metric ton.


General market sentiment was also supported by signs of a compromise to avert a U.S. fiscal crisis.


Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives have scheduled a vote on Wednesday on a nearly four-month extension of U.S. borrowing capacity, aimed at avoiding a fight over the looming federal debt ceiling.


In the European bond market, Bund futures were steady as investors eyed a new 10-year Spanish bond and waited on the ZEW investor sentiment index due at 1000 GMT for the latest gauge on the health of the euro zone's largest economy, Germany.


(Reporting by Marc Jones; Editing by Will Waterman)



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Jim, John Harbaugh ready for rematch at Super Bowl


SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Jim and John Harbaugh have exchanged a handful of text messages, and plan to leave it at that. No phone conversations necessary while the season's still going. No time for pleasantries, even for the friendly siblings.


There is work to be done to prepare for the Super Bowl, prepare for each other, prepare for a history-making day already being widely hyped as "Harbowl" or "Superbaugh" depending which nickname you prefer.


"It doesn't matter who the coach is, what relationship you have with the person on the other side," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said so matter-of-factly Monday afternoon.


Their parents sure aren't picking sides for the Feb. 3 matchup in New Orleans.


These days, the Harbaughs' longtime coaching father, Jack, stays away from game-planning chatter or strategy sessions with his Super Bowl-bound coaching sons. Baltimore's John Harbaugh and little brother Jim have been doing this long enough now to no longer need dad's input.


Yet, they still regularly seek it. And, their father does offer one basic mantra: "Get ahead, stay ahead."


"Probably the greatest advice that I've ever been given and the only advice that I've ever found to be true in all of coaching, I think we mentioned it to both John and Jim ... the coaching advice is, 'Get ahead, stay ahead,'" Jack Harbaugh said.


"If I'm called upon, I'll repeat that same message."


His boys still call home regularly to check in with the man who turned both on to the coaching profession years ago, and the mother who has handled everything behind the scenes for decades in a highly competitive, sports-crazed family — with all the routine sports clich├ęs to show for it.


The Harbaugh brothers will become the first siblings to square off from opposite sidelines when their teams play for the NFL championship at the Superdome.


Not that they're too keen on playing up the storyline that has no chance of going away as hard as they try.


"Well, I think it's a blessing and a curse," Jim Harbaugh said Monday. "A blessing because that is my brother's team. And, also, personally I played for the Ravens. Great respect for their organization. ... The curse part would be the talk of two brothers playing in the Super Bowl and what that takes away from the players that are in the game. Every moment that you're talking about myself or John, that's less time that the players are going to be talked about."


Both men love history, just not the kind with them making it.


"I like reading a lot of history ... I guess it's pretty neat," John Harbaugh offered Monday. "But is it really going to be written about? It's not exactly like Churchill and Roosevelt or anything. It's pretty cool, but that's as far as it goes."


Nice try, guys.


John watched the end of Jim's game from the field in Foxborough, Mass., as Baltimore warmed up for the AFC championship game. Jim called his sister's family from the team plane before takeoff after a win at Atlanta and asked how his big brother's team was doing against New England.


The improbable Super Bowl features a set of brothers known around the NFL as fierce competitors unafraid to make a bold move during the season. Unafraid to upset anyone who stands in their way.


In fact, each one made a major change midseason to get this far — John fired his offensive coordinator, while Jim boosted his offense with a quarterback switch from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick.


Leading up to Sunday's games, parents Jack and Jackie said they would wait to decide whether to travel to New Orleans if both teams advanced or stick to what has been working so well — watching from the comfort of their couch in Mequon, Wis.


"We enjoy it very much. We get down in our basement, turn on the television and just have a fantastic day watching outstanding football," Jack said last week. "We share our misery with no one but ourselves. Not only the misery, but the ups and downs, the ins and outs of an outstanding professional game."


And, no, the Harbaughs weren't looking ahead to a potential big trip to the Big Easy.


Jack insists his wife is quick to pull out that old sports cliche: "It's one game at a time. I think it's very appropriate," he said.


Jim figures they won't possibly miss this history-making game.


"I think they'll be there," he said with a smile.


The brothers, separated in age by 15 months, have taken different paths to football's biggest stage — years after their intense games of knee football at the family home. They tried to beat each other at cards, or whatever other game it was at the time. Sometimes, they tried to beat each other up. Sister, Joani Crean, often got in on the fun, too.


The 49-year-old Jim never reached a Super Bowl, falling a last-gasp pass short during a 15-year NFL career as a quarterback. The 50-year-old John never played in the NFL.


Still, both will tell you, "Who's got it better than us? No-body!" — one catchphrase they got from their dad.


"We can't put into words what it means to see John and Jim achieve this incredible milestone," their brother-in-law, Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean, said on Twitter. "We talked to Jim (before) his team plane left. All he wanted to know was how was John doing? How were they playing? One incredible family who puts the care, well-being and love for each other at the forefront like most families do. Again, we are very proud of them. Going to be exciting to watch it unfold."


John worked his way up from the bottom of the coaching ranks, while Jim was the star college quarterback at Michigan, a first-round draft pick and eventual Pro Bowler who made coaching his career once he retired.


John already has the one-up, while Jim's team is the early favorite. John's Ravens beat the 49ers 16-6 on Thanksgiving night 2011, in Jim's rookie season as an NFL coach — though both know that means nothing now.


"I just want everybody to know, that was a four-day deal and every story has been told," John said. "We're not that interesting. There's nothing more to learn. The tape across the middle of the room story, OK, you got it? It's OK. It was just like any other family, really. I really hope the focus is not so much on that. We get it, it's really cool and it's exciting and all that."


Said Jim, "Completely new business."


In spite of his efforts to avoid the topic, Jim did take the opportunity to express how proud he is of John.


"He's a great football coach, a real grasp of all phases — offense, defense, special teams. I think he could coordinate at least two of those phases and do it as well as anyone in the league," Jim said. "I've got half the amount of coaching experience he does. Again, it's not about us. I keep coming back to that. I'm really proud of my brother. I love him. That's the blessing part, that this is happening to him."


And, fittingly for the big brother, John feels the exact same way.


___


AP Sports Writer Dave Ginsburg in Baltimore contributed to this story.


___


Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL


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Environmentalists hail Obama climate change focus






WASHINGTON (AP) — Environmental groups hailed President Barack Obama’s warning Monday about climate change, but said the president’s words will soon be tested as he decides whether to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast.


Obama pledged in his inaugural speech to respond to what he called the threat of climate change, saying, “Failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”






By singling out climate change, Obama indicated a willingness to take on an issue that he acknowledges was often overlooked during his first term. He also was setting up a likely confrontation with congressional Republicans who have opposed legislative efforts to curb global warming.


Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, called Obama’s comments on climate change “exactly right.”


Andrew Hoffman, director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan, said Obama’s focus on climate showed political backbone.


“He finally had the courage to acknowledge the words ‘climate change,’” Hoffman said, adding that Obama and other administration officials have frequently used words such as green jobs or clean energy to describe energy policy, instead of the more politically charged term.


“I find it very interesting that in this second term he’s just coming right out and saying that climate change is exactly what we’re dealing with,” Hoffman said.


Obama, in his address, said some people “may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science” that global warming exists and has human causes, “but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.”


The president has pledged to boost renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, along with more traditional energy sources such as coal, oil and natural gas.


“The path toward sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition. We must lead it,” Obama said.


He said developing new energy technologies will lead to jobs and new industries. “That is how we will preserve our planet,” he said.


Environmental groups said the president’s first test on climate change could come early this year as he decides whether to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline that will carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to Texas.


Obama blocked the pipeline last year, citing uncertainty over the project’s route through environmentally sensitive land in Nebraska. The State Department has federal jurisdiction because the $ 7 billion pipeline begins in Canada.


Republicans and many business groups say the project would help achieve energy independence for North America and create thousands of jobs.


But environmental groups say the pipeline would transport “dirty oil” and produce heat-trapping gases that contribute to global warming. They also worry about a possible spill.


“Starting with rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline, the president must make fighting global warming a central priority,” said Margie Alt, executive director of Environment America.


Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said Obama’s “clarion call to action” on climate change “leaves no doubt this will be a priority in his second term.”


After Hurricane Sandy and other extreme weather events, there has been more political momentum than ever to address climate change, Meyer said.


“With presidential leadership, that shift will continue and deepen over the next four years, and meaningful progress on climate change will become an important part of Barack Obama’s legacy as president,” he said.


Alt and other environmental leaders said they are counting on Obama to set tough limits on carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants and to continue federal investments in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.


Obama tried and failed in his first term to get a climate change bill through Congress. Some Democratic lawmakers and environmentalists have pushed for a tax on carbon pollution, but White House officials say they have no plan to propose one.


Scott Segal, an energy lobbyist who represents utilities and natural gas drillers, said Obama “missed the opportunity to remind listeners that climate change is an international phenomenon” that will require international solutions.


By imposing “inflexible” national policies to curb climate change, Obama could restrain the U.S. economy without delivering promised solutions, Segal said.


___


Follow Matthew Daly on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MatthewDaly


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How Obama made opportunity real






STORY HIGHLIGHTS


  • LZ Granderson: Specifics of Obama's first term may not be remembered

  • He says his ability to win presidency twice is unforgettable

  • Granderson: Obama, the first black president, makes opportunity real for many

  • He says it makes presidency a possibility for people of all backgrounds




Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs.


(CNN) -- In his first term, President Barack Obama signed 654 bills into law, the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased by about 70% and the national debt by $5.8 trillion.


And in 10 years -- maybe less -- few outside of the Beltway will remember any of that. That's not to suggest those details are not important. But even if all of his actions are forgotten, Obama's legacy as the first black president will endure.


And even though this is his second term and fewer people are expected to travel to Washington this time to witness the inauguration, know that this moment is not any less important.



LZ Granderson

LZ Granderson



Obama's address: Full text


For had Obama not been re-elected, his barrier-breaking election in 2008 could have easily been characterized as a charismatic politician capturing lightning in a bottle. But by becoming the first president since Dwight Eisenhower to win at least 51% of the vote twice, Obama proved his administration was successful.


And not by chance, but by change.


A change, to paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr., that was not inevitable but a result of our collective and continuous struggle to be that shining city on a hill of which President Ronald Reagan spoke so often.



For much of this country's history, being a white male was a legal prerequisite to being president. Then it was accepted as a cultural norm. Because of that, we could not be the country we set out to be.


But today, somewhere in the Midwest, there is a little Asian-American girl with the crazy idea she could be president one day, and because of Obama, she knows that idea is not very crazy at all.


That's power -- the kind of power that can fade urgent numbers and debates of the day into the background of history.


Gergen: Obama 2.0 version is smarter, tougher


Few remember the number of steps Neil Armstrong took when he landed on the moon, but they remember he was the first human being who stepped on the moon. Few can tell you how many hits Jackie Robinson had in his first Major League Baseball game, but they know he broke baseball's color barrier. Paying homage to a person being first at something significant does not diminish his or her other accomplishments. It adds texture to the arc of their story.








I understand the desire not to talk about race as a way of looking progressive.


But progress isn't pretending to be color blind, it's not being blinded by the person's color.


Or gender.


Or religion.


Or sexual orientation.


Somewhere in the South, there is an openly gay high schooler who loves student government and wants to be president someday. And because of Obama, he knows if he does run, he won't have to hide.


That does not represent a shift in demographics, but a shift in thought inspired by a new reality. A reality in which the president who follows Obama could be a white woman from Arkansas by way of Illinois; a Cuban-American from Florida; or a tough white guy from Jersey. Or someone from an entirely different background. We don't know. Four years is a long time away, and no one knows how any of this will play out -- which I think is a good thing.


'Obama: We are made for this moment'


For a long time, we've conceived of America as the land of opportunity. Eight years ago, when it came to the presidency, that notion was rhetoric. Four years ago, it became a once in a lifetime moment. Today, it is simply a fact of life.


Ten years from now, we may not remember what the unemployment rate was when Obama was sworn in a second time, but we'll never forget how he forever changed the limits of possibility for generations to come.


Somewhere out West, there is an 80-year-old black woman who never thought she'd see the day when a black man would be elected president. Somehow I doubt Obama's second inauguration is less important to her.


Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.


Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.


The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.






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Body of cyanide-poisoned lottery winner is reburied

Mohammed Zaman on the exhumation of his brother-in-law, poisoned lottery winner Urooj Khan. (Posted on: Jan. 21, 2013.)









The body of a West Rogers Park man who died of cyanide poisoning last summer after winning a million-dollar lottery was laid to rest again Monday, three days after his remains were exhumed for an autopsy as part of a homicide investigation.


The scene at Rosehill Cemetery on Monday afternoon was in sharp contrast to Friday morning, when a throng of reporters and TV cameramen had massed outside an entrance gate as numerous Chicago police, Cook County medical examiner officials and cemetery workers surrounded the gravesite while Urooj Khan's remains were unearthed.


About half a dozen people — two in light blue coveralls — wheeled a gurney carrying Khan's body Monday from the back of an unmarked white minivan to under a tent at his gravesite in the Far North Side cemetery. The body was then lowered into the ground while two of Khan's relatives stood at the gravesite in the bitter cold.








Haroon Firdausi, a funeral director and imam, gave a brief prayer during the reburial.


The entire reburial took about 20 minutes.


Shortly before the reburial, one of Khan's relatives, Mohammed Zaman, talked briefly at the cemetery about the family's discomfort with his body being exhumed for the police investigation.


"The sad part is that he wasn't resting in peace," Zaman said of the exhumation. "... Now we have to bury him back again. For any religion, it's hard."


As the Tribune first revealed earlier this month, the medical examiner's office initially ruled that Khan's death in July was from hardening of the arteries, after no signs of trauma were found on the body and a preliminary blood test did not raise any questions. But the investigation was reopened about a week later after a relative raised concerns that Khan may have been poisoned.


Chicago police were notified in September after tests showed cyanide in Khan's blood. By late November, more comprehensive testing showed lethal levels of the toxic chemical, leading the medical examiner's office to declare the death a homicide.


After Khan's body was exhumed Friday, an autopsy was performed for evidence that could aid in the homicide investigation. At the time, Chief Medical Examiner Stephen Cina said it could take several weeks for the tests to be completed. The medical examiner's office hopes samples taken from Khan's organs will show whether he ingested or inhaled the cyanide.


Although a motive has not been determined, police have not ruled out that Khan was killed because of his lottery win a few weeks before his death, a law enforcement source has told the Tribune. At the time of his death, he hadn't collected his winnings — a lump-sum payment of about $425,000 after taxes.


Zaman said he hopes the autopsy sheds more light on his brother-in-law's death.


"It's very hard for the family," Zaman said of the exhumation and reburial. "But it's the only way to find out what happened to him."


jgorner@tribune.com



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Israel goes to polls, set to re-elect Netanyahu


JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israelis voted on Tuesday in an election widely expected to win Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a third term in office, pushing the Jewish State further to the right, away from peace with Palestinians and towards a showdown with Iran.


Netanyahu has vowed to pursue the settlement of lands seized during the 1967 Middle East war if he stays in power, a policy that would put him at odds with his international partners and worsen already tense ties with U.S. President Barack Obama.


Polls predict Netanyahu's Likud party, which has forged an electoral pact with the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu group, will take the most seats in the parliamentary election, albeit considerably fewer than they had originally hoped.


"We want Israel to succeed, we vote Likud-Beitenu ... The bigger it is, the more Israel will succeed," Netanyahu said after casting his ballot alongside his wife and two sons.


Some 5.66 million Israelis are eligible to vote, with polling stations staying open until 10 p.m. Full results are due by Wednesday morning, opening the way for coalition talks that could take several weeks to wrap up.


No Israeli party has ever secured an absolute majority, meaning that Netanyahu, who says that dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions is his top priority, will have to bring various allies onboard to control the 120-seat Knesset.


The former commando has traditionally looked to religious, conservative parties for backing and is widely expected to reach out to the surprise star of the campaign, self-made millionaire Naftali Bennett who heads the far-right Jewish Home party.


Bennett's youthful dynamism has struck a chord amongst Israelis, most of whom no longer believe in the possibility of a Palestinian peace deal, and has eroded Netanyahu's support base.


Surveys suggest he may take up to 14 seats, many at the expense of Likud-Beitenu, which was projected to win 32 in the last round of opinion polls published on Friday -- 10 less than the two parties won in 2009 when they ran separate lists.


Such a result might embarrass Netanyahu, but would still leave him in pole position to form the next government. Acknowledging the threat, Netanyahu's son Yair urged young Israelis not to abandon the old, established Likud.


"Even if there more trendy parties, there is one party that has a proven record," he said on Tuesday after voting.


Portraying himself as a natural partner for the prime minister, Bennett has alarmed those who want to see an independent Palestinian state created alongside Israel, by calling for the annexation of chunks of the occupied West Bank.


"I pray to God to give me the power to unite all of Israel and to restore Israel's Jewish soul," Bennett said on Monday at a final campaign appearance before Jerusalem's Western Wall.


However, some political analysts have speculated that Netanyahu might seek to project a more moderate image for Israel on the world stage and look to share power with centrist parties, such as Yesh Atid (There is a Future) - a newly formed group led by former TV host Yair Lapid.


ARAB UPRISING


Israel's main opposition party, Labour, which is seen capturing up to 17 seats, has already ruled out a repeat of 2009, when it initially entered Netanyahu's cabinet, promising to promote peace negotiations with the Palestinians.


U.S.-brokered talks collapsed just a month after they started in 2010 following a row over settlement building, and have laid in ruins ever since. Netanyahu blamed the Palestinians for the failure and says his door remains open to discussions.


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he won't return to the table unless there is a halt to settlement construction.


That looks unlikely, with Netanyahu approving some 11,000 settler homes in December alone, causing further strains to his already notoriously difficult relations with U.S. President Barack Obama, who was sworn in for a second term on Monday.


Tuesday's vote is the first in Israel since Arab uprisings swept the region two years ago, reshaping the Middle East.


Netanyahu has said the turbulence - which has brought Islamist governments to power in several countries long ruled by secularist autocrats, including neighboring Egypt - shows the importance of strengthening national security.


If he wins on Tuesday, he will seek to put Iran back to the top of the global agenda. Netanyahu has said he will not let Tehran enrich enough uranium to make a single nuclear bomb - a threshold Israeli experts say could arrive as early as mid-2013.


Iran denies it is planning to build the bomb, and says Israel, widely believed to have the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, is the biggest threat to the region.


The issue has barely registered during the election campaign, with a poll in Haaretz newspaper on Friday saying 47 percent of Israelis thought social and economic issues were the most pressing concern, against just 10 percent who cited Iran.


One of the first problems to face the next government, which is unlikely to take power before the middle of next month at the earliest, is the stuttering economy.


Data last week showed the budget deficit rose to 4.2 percent of gross domestic product in 2012, double the original estimate, meaning spending cuts and tax hikes look certain.


(This story has been corrected to add dropped word in paragraph four)


(Additional reporting by Ori Lewis, Editing by Peter Graff)



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European shares test two-year highs, yen volatile before BOJ

LONDON (Reuters) - European shares inched towards two-year highs and German Bund futures dipped on Monday, as a political attempt to break a budget impasse in the United States revived appetite for shares and dented appetite for safe-haven assets.


U.S. House Republican leaders said on Friday they would seek to pass a three-month extension of federal borrowing authority in the coming days to buy time for the Democrat-controlled Senate to pass a plan to shrink budget deficits.


European shares <.fteu3> were supported by the news <.eu>, but with no clear response from the Democrats and a thin session expected due to a market holiday in the United States, the impact on other assets such as Bunds is likely to be limited.


London's FTSE 100 <.ftse>, Paris's CAC-40 <.fchi> and Frankfurt's DAX <.gdaxi> opened between 0.4 and 0.5 percent higher, lifting the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 0.3 percent and MSCI's world index 0.1 percent. <.l><.eu/>


"There's a bit of encouragement coming out of the U.S.," said Toby Campbell-Gray, head of trading at Tavira Securities in Monaco.


He added that equity markets had remained resilient in the face of an uncertain economic outlook as many investors had stepped in to buy "on the dip" on days when shares had fallen.


Ahead of the region's first finance ministers' meeting of the year the euro was steady against the dollar, while the yen firmed after touching a new low, ahead of a Bank of Japan decision expected to deliver bold monetary easing.


The dollar slipped back to a low of 89.42 yen and was last trading at 89.57 yen, while the euro also fell to a low of 119.08 and last traded at 119.27 yen.


With little in the way of economic data or debt issuance and U.S. markets shut for the Martin Luther King Jr. public holiday, it was expected to be a fairly quite market day.


Oil prices took their cues from a report in the United States at the end of last week that showed consumer sentiment at its weakest in a year as a result of the uncertainty surrounding the country's debt crisis.


Concerns about demand overshadowed supply disruption fears reinforced by the Islamist militant attack and hostage-taking at a gas plant in Algeria, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.


U.S. crude futures fell 0.5 percent to $95.08 a barrel, while Brent fell 0.3 percent to $111.55 early on Monday but had recovered to almost flat as European trading gathered pace.


(Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Will Waterman)



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Harbaugh brothers take 49ers, Ravens to Super Bowl


Preparing to coach the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship game Sunday night, John Harbaugh watched on the stadium's big video screen as Jim Harbaugh's San Francisco 49ers wrapped up their victory in the NFC championship game.


John looked into a nearby TV camera, smiled broadly and said: "Hey, Jim, congratulations. You did it. You're a great coach. Love you."


Less than four hours later, the Ravens won, too. Some siblings try to beat each other in backyard games. These guys will do it in the biggest game of all. Yes, get ready for the Brother Bowl.


It'll be Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh when Big Bro John's Ravens play Little Bro Jim's 49ers in the Super Bowl at New Orleans in two weeks.


As much chatter as there will be about the players involved — from Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and his impending retirement to 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's sudden emergence — the Harbaugh family angle will make this coaching matchup the most scrutinized in the nearly half-century of Super Sundays.


The Harbaughs' sister, Joani Crean, wrote in a text to The Associated Press: "Overwhelmed with pride for John, Jim and their families! They deserve all that has come their way! Team Harbaugh!"


Who's a parent to cheer for?


During the 2011 regular season, the Harbaughs became the only brothers to coach against each other in any NFL game (the Ravens beat the 49ers 16-6 on Thanksgiving Day that year).


Now they'll be squaring off with a championship at stake in a Super Bowl filled with firsts — and one truly significant last.


It will be the first one between coaching brothers, of course. First one for Joe Flacco, the oft-doubted Ravens quarterback with the superb touch on deep balls and a QB-record six postseason road wins. First one for Kaepernick, the second-year player with the tattooed arms, the sprinter's speed, and a shoulder that zips throws like the high school baseball pitcher he used to be.


And it will be the last game for 17-year veteran Lewis, Baltimore's emotional leader and this postseason's top tackler with 44 so far.


"This is our time," Lewis pronounced.


He appeared to be on the verge of tears before and after helping Baltimore become the only team in 68 tries to overcome a halftime deficit against Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in Foxborough, Mass.


The NFC West champion 49ers (13-4-1) open as 5-point favorites, seeking a record-tying sixth Super Bowl title but first since 1995. The franchise of Hall of Fame quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young is 5-0 in Super Bowls.


The AFC South champion Ravens (13-6) are headed to their second Super Bowl; Lewis was the MVP when Baltimore beat the New York Giants in 2001.


With Kaepernick's terrific passing — he was 16 of 21 for 233 yards and a touchdown in only his ninth career NFL start — and two TD runs by Frank Gore, San Francisco erased a 17-point deficit to beat the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 Sunday.


Baltimore then fashioned a comeback of its own by scoring the last 21 points to defeat the New England Patriots 28-13, thanks in large part to Flacco's three second-half touchdown tosses, two to Anquan Boldin.


In the often risk-averse NFL, each Harbaugh made a critical change late in the regular season in a bid to boost his team's postseason chances. Clearly, both moves worked.


After 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, the starter in last season's overtime NFC title game loss to the New York Giants, got a concussion, Jim switched to Kaepernick for Week 11 — and never switched back. Now San Francisco has its first three-game winning streak of the season, at precisely the right time.


Baltimore, meanwhile, was in the midst of a three-game losing streak when John fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and promoted quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell to replace him.


The 50-year-old John is 15 months older than Jim and generally the less demonstrative of the pair, although John certainly did not lack intensity while making his case with officials a couple of times Sunday.


The ever-excitable Jim — who was treated for an irregular heartbeat in November — was up to his usual sideline antics in Atlanta.


He spun around and sent his headset flying when the original call stood after he threw his red challenge flag on a catch by the Falcons. He hopped and yelled at his defense to get off the field after their key fourth-down stop with less than 1½ minutes left. He made an emphatic-as-can-be timeout signal with 13 seconds remaining.


Expect CBS to fill plenty of time during its Super Bowl broadcast with shots of Jim, that trademark red pen dangling in front of his chest, and John, who usually wears a black Ravens hat. Yes, that is sure to be a focal point, until they meet for a postgame handshake.


___


Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich


___


AP sports writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report from San Francisco.


___


Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL


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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.


Space and Astronomy News Headlines – Yahoo! News





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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.




STORY HIGHLIGHTS


  • 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.

'LAY OUT HIS VISION'

"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.


STAFF MISSING


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.


CASH POURING IN, HOUSING DATA COULD HELP


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 http://twitter.com/borenbears


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Weather News Headlines – Yahoo! News





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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.




STORY HIGHLIGHTS


  • 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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