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



Read More..

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)



Read More..

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)



Read More..

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


Read More..

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


Weather News Headlines – Yahoo! News





Title Post: Environmentalists hail Obama climate change focus
Url Post: http://www.news.fluser.com/environmentalists-hail-obama-climate-change-focus/
Link To Post : Environmentalists hail Obama climate change focus
Rating:
100%

based on 99998 ratings.
5 user reviews.
Author: Fluser SeoLink
Thanks for visiting the blog, If any criticism and suggestions please leave a comment




Read More..

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.






Read More..

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



Read More..

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)



Read More..

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)



Read More..

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


Read More..