Ravens edge 49ers 34-31 in electric Super Bowl

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — For a Super Bowl with so many story lines, this game came up with quite a twist.

Try a blackout that turned a blowout into a shootout — capped by a brilliant defensive stand.

The Baltimore Ravens survived a frenzied comeback by the San Francisco 49ers following a 34-minute delay in the third quarter for a power outage Sunday night, winning their second championship 34-31. Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco threw three first-half touchdown passes, Jacoby Jones ran back the second-half kickoff a record 108 yards for a score, and star linebacker Ray Lewis' last play fittingly was part of a defensive effort that saved the victory.

"To me, that was one of the most amazing goal-line stands I've ever been a part of in my career," said Lewis, who announced a month ago he would retire when the Ravens were done playing.

They are done now, with another Vince Lombardi Trophy headed for the display case.

"What better way to do it," Lewis said, "than on the Super Bowl stage?"

That stage already was loaded with plots:

—The coaching Harbaughs sibling rivalry, won by older brother John, who said the postgame greeting with Jim was "painful."

—Flacco's emergence as a top-level quarterback, and his impending free agency.

—Colin Kaepernick's rapid rise in the last two months as 49ers QB.

—The big game's return to the Big Easy for the first time in 11 years, and the first time since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city in 2005.

—Lewis' self-proclaimed "last ride."

But when the Superdome lost power, well, that wasn't in anyone's scenario.

Flacco and the Ravens (14-6) were turning the game into a rout, leading 28-6 when, without even a flicker of warning, several banks of lights and the scoreboards went dark. Players from both sides stretched and chatted with each other in as bizarre a scene as any Super Bowl has witnessed.

"The bad part was we started talking about it," said safety Ed Reed, who had the game's only interception. "That was mentioned. It was like they were trying to kill our momentum."

After power was restored, the 49ers began playing lights out.

San Francisco (13-5-1), in search of its sixth Lombardi Trophy in as many tries, got back in the game almost immediately.

Michael Crabtree's 31-yard touchdown reception, on which he broke two tackles, made it 28-13. A few minutes later, Frank Gore's 6-yard run followed a 32-yard punt return by Ted Ginn Jr., and the 49ers were within eight.

Ray Rice's fumble at his 24 led to David Akers' 34-yard field goal, but Baltimore woke up for a long drive leading to rookie Justin Tucker's 19-yard field goal.

San Francisco wasn't done challenging, though, and Kaepernick's 15-yard TD run, the longest for a quarterback in a Super Bowl, made it 31-29. A 2-point conversion pass failed when the Ravens blitzed.

Tucker added a 38-yarder with 4:19 remaining, setting up the frantic finish.

Kaepernick couldn't get the 49ers into the end zone on the final three plays. The last was a pass into the right corner of the end zone to Crabtree that involved some incidental bumping. Jim Harbaugh insisted a flag should have been thrown.

"There's no question in my mind that there was a pass interference and then a hold," Jim Harbaugh said.

Ravens punter Sam Koch took a safety for the final score with 4 seconds left. Koch's free kick was returned by Ginn to midfield as time ran out.

"How could it be any other way? It's never pretty. It's never perfect. But it's us," John Harbaugh said of his Ravens. "It was us today."


"Yeah, I think that last drive when we got the ball and had time to go down and score a touchdown," Kaepernick said, "we thought it was our game."

But the championship is Baltimore's.

As for the foul-up at America's biggest sporting event, officials revealed that an "abnormality" in the power system triggered an automatic shutdown, forcing backup systems to kick in. But no one was sure what caused the initial problem.

Everything changed after that until Lewis and Co. shut it down. But there were plenty of white-knuckle moments and the Ravens had to make four stops inside their 7 at the end.

"I think it speaks to our resolve, speaks to our determination, speaks to our mental toughness," John Harbaugh said. "That is what wins and loses games."

At 4 hours, 14 minutes, it was the longest Super Bowl ever.

Flacco's arrival as a championship quarterback — he had 11 postseason TD passes, tying a league mark, and no interceptions — coincides with Lewis' retirement. The win capped a sensational four games since Lewis announced he was leaving the game after 17 Hall of Fame-caliber years.

The Ravens will become Flacco's team now, provided he reaches agreement on a new contract.

Flacco's three TD passes in the opening half tied a Super Bowl record. They covered 13 yards to Anquan Boldin, 1 to Dennis Pitta and 56 to Jones.

That start boosted him to the MVP award.

"They have to give it to one guy and I'm not going to complain that I got it," Flacco said.

John Harbaugh had no complaints about getting that other trophy named after that Green Bay coach. But he struggled to balance it with the disappointment his brother was feeling.

"The meeting with Jim in the middle (of the field for the postgame handshake) was probably the most difficult thing I have ever been associated with in my life," the Ravens coach said.

The wild scoring made this the second championship in the NFL's 80-year title game history in which both teams scored at least 30 points. Pittsburgh's 35-31 win over Dallas in 1979 was the other.

The Ravens stumbled into the playoffs with four defeats in its last five regular-season games as Lewis recovered from a torn right triceps and Flacco struggled. Harbaugh even fired his offensive coordinator in December, a stunning move with the postseason so close.

But that — and every other move Harbaugh, Flacco and the Ravens made since — were right on target.

New Orleans native Jones, one of the stars in a double-overtime playoff win at Denver, seemed to put the game away with his record 108-yard sprint with the second-half kickoff.

Soon after, the lights went out — and when they came back on, the Ravens were almost powerless to slow the 49ers.

Until the final moments.

"The final series of Ray Lewis' career was a goal-line stand," Harbaugh said.

Lewis was sprawled on all fours, face-down on the turf, after the end zone incompletion.

"It's no greater way, as a champ, to go out on your last ride with the men that I went out with, with my teammates," Lewis said. "And you looked around this stadium and Baltimore! Baltimore! We coming home, baby! We did it!"

Jim Harbaugh, the coach who turned around the Niners in the last two years and brought them to their first Super Bowl in 18 years, had seen his team make a similarly stunning comeback in the NFC championship at Atlanta, but couldn't finish it off against Baltimore.

"Our guys battled back to get back in," the 49ers coach said. "I thought we battled right to the brink of winning."

The 49ers couldn't have been sloppier in the first half, damaging their chances with penalties — including one on their first play that negated a 20-yard gain — poor tackling and turnovers. Rookie LaMichael James fumbled at the Baltimore 25 to ruin an impressive drive, and the Ravens converted that with Flacco's 1-yard pass to Pitta for a 14-3 lead.

On San Francisco's next offensive play, Kaepernick threw behind Randy Moss and always dependable Reed picked it off. A huge scuffle followed that brought both Harbaughs onto the field and saw both sides penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness.

Reed, also a New Orleans native, tied the NFL record for postseason picks with his ninth.

Baltimore didn't pounce on that mistake for points. Instead, Tucker's fake field goal run on fourth-and-9 came up a yard short when Chris Culliver slammed him out of bounds.

The Ravens simply shrugged, forced a three-and-out, and then unleashed Jones deep. Just as he did to Denver, he flashed past the secondary and caught Flacco's fling. He had to wait for the ball, fell to the ground to grab it, but was untouched by a Niner. Up he sprang, cutting left and using his speed to outrun two defenders to the end zone.

Desperate for some points, the 49ers completed four passes and got a 15-yard roughing penalty against Haloti Ngata, who later left with a knee injury. But again they couldn't cross the goal line, Paul Kruger got his second sack of the half on third down, forcing a second field goal by Akers, from 27 yards.

When Jones began the second half by sprinting up the middle virtually untouched — he is the second player with two TDs of 50 yards or more in a Super Bowl, tying Washington's Ricky Sanders in 1988 — the rout was on.

Then it wasn't.

"Everybody had their hand on this game," 49ers All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis said. "We point the fingers at nobody. We win together and we lose together, and today we lost it."

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Beer will help power Alaska brewery

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Alaskan Brewing Co. is going green, but instead of looking to solar and wind energy, it has turned to a very familiar source: beer.

The Juneau-based beer maker has installed a unique boiler system in order to cut its fuel costs. It purchased a $ 1.8 million furnace that burns the company’s spent grain — the waste accumulated from the brewing process — into steam which powers the majority of the brewery’s operations.

Company officials now joke they are now serving “beer-powered beer.”

What to do with spent grain was seemingly solved decades ago by breweries operating in the Lower 48. Most send the used grain, a good source of protein, to nearby farms and ranches to be used as animal feed.

But there are only 37 farms in southeast Alaska and 680 in the entire state as of 2011, and the problem of what to do with the excess spent grain — made up of the residual malt and barley — became more problematic after the brewery expanded in 1995.

The Alaskan Brewing Co. had to resort to shipping its spent grain to buyers in the Lower 48. Shipping costs for Juneau businesses are especially high because there are no roads leading in or out of the city; everything has to be flown or shipped in. However, the grain is a relatively wet byproduct of the brewing process, so it needs to be dried before it is shipped — another heat intensive and expensive process.

“We had to be a little more innovative just so that we could do what we love to do, but do it where we’re located,” Alaskan Brewing co-founder Geoff Larson said.

But the company was barely turning a profit by selling its spent grain. Alaskan Brewery gets $ 60 for every ton of it sent to farms in the Lower 48, but it costs them $ 30 to ship each ton.

So four years ago, officials at the Alaskan Brewing Co. started looking at whether it could use spent grain as an in-house, renewable energy source and reduce costs at the same time.

While breweries around the world use spent grain as a co-fuel in energy recovery systems, “nobody was burning spent grain as a sole fuel source for an energy recovery system, for a steam boiler,” says Brandon Smith, the company’s brewing operations and engineering manager.

It contracted with a North Dakota company to build the special boiler system after the project was awarded nearly $ 500,000 in a grant from the federal Rural Energy for America Program.

The craft brewery is expecting big savings once the system is fully operational in about a month’s time. Smith estimates that the spent grain steam boiler will offset the company’s yearly energy costs by 70 percent, which amounts to about $ 450,000 a year.

Alaskan Brewing Co. makes about 150,000 barrels of beer a year. The beer is distributed in 14 states after recent entries into the Texas, Wisconsin and Minnesota markets. It brews several varieties of beer, but is best-known for its Alaskan Amber, an alt-style beer. The company is also known for its distinctive beer labels, including featuring a polar bear on its Alaskan White Belgian-style ale.

When asked which beer’s spent grain burns the best Smith joked “we’re still trying to figure that out. We have our suspicions.”

Smith said he hasn’t been contacted by other breweries regarding implementing the project, but “absolutely” believes the system could be applied at other, bigger breweries that dry their spent grain.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer, has been repurposing its spent grain for the past century, selling it to local farmers.

Mike Beck, director of utilities support at Anheuser-Busch InBev, told The Associated Press in an email that spent grains are not currently a viable energy source for its breweries. However, Beck noted that the company regularly investigates new technologies to see if they could be applicable to its operations.

Anheuser-Busch InBev does employ bio-energy recovery systems, which turn wastewater into biogas, in most of its U.S. breweries. This provides up to 9 percent of the fuel needed in its boilers, he said.

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Should we still fear al Qaeda?

Mali military battles Islamist insurgents

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Mali military battles Islamist insurgents

Mali military battles Islamist insurgents

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Mali military battles Islamist insurgents

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  • Peter Bergen: U.K. politicians called North Africa terror an existential threat

  • Bergen says core al Qaeda has been greatly weakened, hasn't mounted serious operations

  • Terror groups loosely affiliated with al Qaeda have also lost ground, he says

  • Bergen: Jihadist violence does continue, but it does no good to overstate threat

Editor's note: Peter Bergen is CNN's national security analyst, the author of "Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden -- From 9/11 to Abbottabad", and a director at the New America Foundation.

Washington (CNN) -- The attack in January on a gas facility in Algeria by an al Qaeda-linked group that resulted in at least 37 dead hostages has sparked an outpouring of dire warnings from leading Western politicians.

British Prime Minister David Cameron described a "large and existential threat" emanating from North Africa. Tony Blair, his predecessor as prime minister, agreed saying, "David Cameron is right to warn that this is a battle for our values and way of life which will take years, even decades."

Hang on chaps! Before we all get our knickers in a tremendous twist: How exactly does an attack on an undefended gas facility in the remotest depths of the Algerian desert become an "existential threat" to our "way of life"?

Across the Atlantic, American politicians also got into sky-is-falling mode. Republican Congressman Mike Rogers, who heads the House Intelligence Committee, fulminated, "This is going to get worse. You cannot allow this to become a national security issue for the United States. And I argue it's already crossed that threshold."

Peter Bergen

Peter Bergen

Previous real U.S. national security threats and their manifestations include 9/11, the doctrine of mutually assured destruction (from the potential use of nuclear weapons) with the Soviets, Pearl Harbor and Hitler's armies taking over much of Europe.

A ragtag group of jihadists roaming the North African deserts is orders of magnitude less significant than those genuine threats to the West and is more comparable to the threats posed by the bands of pirates who continue to harass shipping off the coast of Somalia. They are surely a problem, but a localized and containable one.

Western politicians and commentators who claim that the al Qaeda linked groups in North Africa are a serious threat to the West unnecessarily alarm their publics and also feed the self-image of these terrorists who aspire to attack the West, but don't have the capacity to do so. Terrorism doesn't work if folks aren't terrorized.

North African group hasn't attacked in the West

Western politicians and commentators who claim that the al Qaeda linked groups in North Africa are a serious threat to the West unnecessarily alarm their publics...
Peter Bergen

Much has been written, for instance, in recent weeks about al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al Qaeda's North African affiliate, a splinter group of which carried out the attack on the Algerian gas facility. But according to Camille Tawil, who has authoritatively covered Islamist militant groups over the past two decades for the leading Arabic daily Al-Hayat and has written three books about al Qaeda, AQIM doesn't threaten the West: "To my knowledge no known attacks or aborted attacks in the West have been linked directly to AQIM."

AQIM was formed seven years ago so the group has had more than enough time to plot and carry out an attack in the West. By way of comparison, it took two years of serious plotting for al Qaeda to plan the 9/11 attacks.

So, what is the real level of threat now posed by al Qaeda and allied groups?

Let's start with "core al Qaeda" which attacked the United States on 9/11 and that is headquartered in Pakistan. This group hasn't, of course, been able to pull off an attack in the United States in twelve years. Nor has it been able to mount an attack anywhere in the West since the attacks on London's transportation system eight years ago.

Core al Qaeda on way to extinction

Osama bin Laden, the group's founder and charismatic leader, was buried at sea a year and half ago and despite concerns that his "martyrdom" would provoke a rash of attacks in the West or against Western interests in the Muslim world there has instead been.... nothing.

Meanwhile, CIA drone strikes in Pakistan during President Obama's tenure alone have killed 38 of al Qaeda's leaders in Pakistan, according to a count by the New America Foundation.

Those drone strikes were so effective that shortly before bin Laden died he was contemplating ordering what remained of al Qaeda to move to Kunar Province in the remote, heavily forested mountains of eastern Afghanistan, according to documents that were discovered following the SEAL assault on the compound where bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Core al Qaeda is going the way of the dodo.

Affiliates are no better off

And a number of the affiliates of core al Qaeda are in just as bad shape as the mother ship.

Jemaah Islamiah (JI), the virulent Southeast Asian al Qaeda affiliate that killed hundreds in the years after 9/11 is largely out of business. Why so? JI killed mostly Westerners in its first attacks on the tourist island of Bali in 2002, but the subsequent Bali attack three years later killed mostly Indonesians. So too did JI's attacks on the Marriott hotel in the capital Jakarta in 2003 and the Australian embassy in 2004. As a result, JI lost any shred of popular support it had once enjoyed.

At the same time the Indonesian government, which at one point had denied that JI even existed, mounted a sophisticated campaign to dismantle the group, capturing many of its leaders and putting them on trial.

In the Philippines, the Abu Sayyaf Group, a number of whose leaders had trained in Afghanistan in al Qaeda's camps, and which specialized in kidnapping Westerners in the years after 9/11, was effectively dismantled by the Philippine army working in tandem with a small contingent of U.S. Special Operations Forces.

In Pakistan, the Pakistani Taliban in 2009 took over the once-tranquil mountainous vacation destination of Swat, and destroyed some 180 schools and beheaded 70 policemen there. Suddenly, they were only 70 miles from the capital Islamabad and some warned that the Pakistani state was in danger. Today, the Pakistani Taliban have been rolled back to their bases along the Afghan border and 16 of their leaders have been killed by CIA drones since President Obama took office.

Al Qaeda militants based in Saudi Arabia mounted a terrorist campaign beginning in 2003 that killed dozens of Saudis, and they also attacked a number of the oil workers and oil facilities that lie at the heart of the Saudi economy. This prompted the Saudi government to mount such an effective crackdown that the few remaining al Qaeda leaders who were not killed or captured have in recent years fled south to Yemen where the remnants of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) are now based.

From its new headquarters in Yemen AQAP has made serious efforts to attack the United States, sending the "underwear bomber" to blow up Northwest Flight 253 over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 and also smuggling bombs on to U.S.-bound cargo shipments in October 2010.

None of these attempts were successful.

Yemen militants decimated

As a result of the threat posed by AQAP, the United States has mounted a devastating campaign against the group over the past three years. There was one American drone strike in Yemen in 2009. In 2012 there were 46. That drone campaign has killed 28 prominent members of the group, according to a count by the New America Foundation. Among them was the No. 2 in AQAP, Said al-Shihri, who was confirmed to be dead last week.

In the chaos of the multiple civil wars that gripped Yemen in 2011, AQAP seized a number of towns in southern Yemen. But AQAP has now been pushed out of those towns because of effective joint operations between U.S. Special Operations Forces, the CIA and the Yemeni government.

The Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, even went to the United Nations General Assembly in September where he publicly endorsed the use of CIA drones in his country, something of a first.

A couple of years ago, al Qaeda's Somali affiliate, Al- Shabaab ("the youth" in Arabic) controlled much of southern Somalia including key cities such as the capital Mogadishu.

Once in a position of power, Shaabab inflicted Taliban-like rule on a reluctant Somali population, which eroded its popular legitimacy. Shabaab was also the target of effective military operations by the military of neighboring Kenya, troops of the African Union and U.S. Special Operation Forces.

As a result, today the group controls only some rural areas and for the first time in two decades the United States has formally recognized a Somali government.

Mali conflict shows weakness of jihadist militant groups

Similarly, groups with an al Qaeda-like agenda captured most of northern Mali last year, a vast desert region the size of France. Once in power they imposed Taliban-like strictures on the population, banning smoking and music and enforcing their interpretation of Sharia law with the amputation of hands. The militants also destroyed tombs in the ancient city of Timbuktu, a UNESCO World Heritage site, on the grounds that the tombs promoted "idol worship."

None of these measures endeared the jihadist militants to the population of Mali. In the past weeks, as a relatively small force of some 2,000 French soldiers has rolled through Mali putting the militants on the run, the French have been cheered on by dancing and singing Malians.

When French soldiers are greeted as an army of liberation in an area of the world that in the past century was part of a vast French empire, you can get a sense of how much the jihadist militants had alienated the locals.

Last week the French military took the city of Timbuktu. The defeat of the al Qaeda-linked groups as effective insurgent forces in Mali is now almost complete.

What has just happened in Mali gets to the central problem that jihadist militant groups invariably have. Wherever they begin to control territory and population they create self-styled Islamic "emirates" where they then rule like the Taliban.

Over time this doesn't go down too well with the locals, who usually practice a far less austere version of Islam, and they eventually rise up against the militants, or, if they are too weak to do so themselves, they will cheer on an outside intervention to turf out the militants.

The classical example of this happened in Iraq where al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) controlled Anbar Province, about a third of the country in 2006. AQI cadres ruled with an iron fist and imposed their ultrafundamentalist rule on their fellow Sunnis, who they killed if they felt they were deviating from their supposedly purist Islamic precepts.

This provoked the "Sunni Awakening" of Iraqi tribes that rose up against AQI. These tribes then allied with the U.S. military and by the end of 2007 AQI went from an insurgent group that controlled vast territories to a terrorist group that controlled little but was still able to pull off occasional spectacular terrorist attacks in Baghdad.

Jihadist violence still a threat

The collapse of core al Qaeda and a number of its key affiliates does not, of course, mean that jihadist violence is over. Such religiously motivated mayhem has been a feature of the Muslim world for many centuries. Recall the Assassins, a Shia sect that from its base in what is now Iran dispatched cutthroats armed with daggers to kill its enemies around the Middle East during the 12th and 13th centuries. In so doing the sect gave the world the useful noun "assassin."

And so while core al Qaeda and several of its affiliates and like-minded groups are in terrible shape, there are certainly groups with links to al Qaeda or animated by its ideology that are today enjoying something of a resurgence.

Most of these groups do not call themselves al Qaeda, which is a smart tactic, as even bin Laden himself was advising his Somali affiliate, Al Shabaab, not to use the al Qaeda name as it would turn off fundraisers because the shine had long gone off the al Qaeda brand, according to documents recovered at bin Laden's Abbottabad compound.

One such militant group is the Nigerian Boko Haram, which bombed the United Nations headquarters in Nigeria in 2011 and has also attacked a wide range of Christian targets in the country. However, the group has shown "no capability to attack the West and also has no known members outside of West Africa," according to Virginia Comolli of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies who tracks the group.

Ansar al-Sharia, "Supporters of Sharia," is the name taken by the militant group in Libya that carried out the attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in September in which four Americans were killed. Similarly, in Yemen militants that are aligned with al Qaeda have labeled themselves Ansar al-Sharia.

But this new branding hasn't done the militants much good in either country. In Libya, shortly after the attack on the U.S. consulate, an enraged mob stormed and took over Ansar al Sharia's headquarters in Benghazi. And, as we have seen, in Yemen the jihadists have now been forced out of the towns in the south that they had once held.

One strong foothold in Syria

The one country where jihadist militants have a serious foothold and are likely to play an important role for some period in the future is in Syria. That is because of a perfect storm there that favors them. The Sunni militants in Syria are fighting the regime of Bashir al Assad, a secular dictator who is also an Alawite, which many Muslims believe to be a heretical branch of Shiism.

For the jihadists, Assad's secularism makes him an apostate and his Alawi roots also make him a heretic, while his brutal tactics make him an international pariah. This trifecta makes funding the Sunni insurgency highly attractive for donors in the Gulf.

And for the Arabs who form the heart of al Qaeda the fight against Assad is in the heart of the Arab world, a contest that happens to border also on the hated state of Israel. Also Syria was for much of the past decade the entry point for many hundreds of foreign fighters who poured into Iraq to join Al Qaeda in Iraq following the American invasion of the country. As a result, al Qaeda has long had an infrastructure both in Syria and, of course, in neighboring Iraq.

The Al Nusra Front is the name of arguably the most effective fighting force in Syria. In December the State Department publicly said that Al Nusra, which is estimated to number in the low thousands and about 10% of the fighters arrayed against Assad, was a front for Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).

Al Nusra certainly seems to have learned from AQI's mistakes. For starters, it doesn't call itself al Qaeda. Secondly, it hasn't launched a campaign to crack down on social issues such as smoking or listening to music and so has not alienated the local Sunni population as AQI did in Iraq.

Barak Barfi, a journalist and fellow at the New America Foundation who has spent several months on the ground in Aleppo in northwestern Syria reporting on the opposition to Assad, says Nusra fighters stand out for their bravery and discipline: "They are winning over the hearts and minds of Aleppo residents who see them as straight shooters. There is a regimented recruiting process that weeds out the chaff. Their bases are highly organized with each person given specific responsibilities."

Arab Spring countries seen as an opportunity

The chaotic conditions of several of the countries of the "Arab Spring" are certainly something al Qaeda views as an opportunity. Ayman al-Zawahiri the leader of the group, has issued 27 audio and video statements since the death of bin Laden, 10 of which have focused on the Arab countries that have experienced the revolutions of the past two years.

But if history is a guide, the jihadist militants, whether in Syria or elsewhere, are likely to repeat the mistakes and failures that their fellow militants have experienced during the past decade in countries as disparate as Somalia, the Philippines, Yemen, Iraq, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and now, Mali.

That's because encoded in the DNA of al Qaeda and like-minded groups are the seeds of their own destruction because in power they rule like the Taliban, and they also attack fellow Muslims who don't follow their dictates to the letter. This doesn't mesh very well with these organizations' claims that they are the defenders of Muslims.

These groups also have no real plans for the multiple political and economic problems that beset much of the Islamic world. And they won't engage in normal politics such as elections believing them to be "un-Islamic."

This is invariably a recipe for irrelevance or defeat. In not one nation in the Muslim world since 9/11 has a jihadist militant group seized control of a country. And al Qaeda and its allies' record of effective attacks in the West has been non-existent since 2005.

With threats like these we can all sleep soundly at night.

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Overnight snow expected to snarl morning commute

Chilly Sunday on Montrose Harbor

Margaret Even of Rogers Park walks with her dog, Tilly, at Montrose Harbor on a chilly and sunny Sunday. Up to a half a foot of snow is expected to fall overnight, likely affecting Monday morning commuters.
(Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune / February 3, 2013)

With up to half a foot of snow expected to accumulate, morning road conditions could cause hazards and delays for Chicagoland commuters.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for the region that will remain in effect through noon today.

Forecasters expect the snow accumulation to range between two and five inches, with six inches possible in some places.

The city of Chicago deployed all 284 snowplows overnight, according to the Department of Streets and Sanitation. The plows will focus first on main streets before working to clear side streets.

Officials are urging drivers to use caution.

Check back for more information.


Twitter: @ChicagoBreaking

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Iran hedges on nuclear talks with six powers or U.S.

MUNICH (Reuters) - Iran said on Sunday it was open to a U.S. offer of direct talks on its nuclear program and that six world powers had suggested a new round of nuclear negotiations this month, but without committing itself to either proposal.

Diplomatic efforts to resolve a dispute over Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran says is peaceful but the West suspects is intended to give Iran the capability to build a nuclear bomb, have been all but deadlocked for years, while Iran has continued to announce advances in the program.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said a suggestion on Saturday by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden that Washington was ready for direct talks with Iran if Tehran was serious about negotiations was a "step forward".

"We take these statements with positive consideration. I think this is a step forward but ... each time we have come and negotiated it was the other side unfortunately who did not heed ... its commitment," Salehi said at the Munich Security Conference where Biden made his overture a day earlier.

He also complained to Iran's English-language Press TV of "other contradictory signals", pointing to the rhetoric of "keeping all options on the table" used by U.S. officials to indicate they are willing to use force to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

"This does not go along with this gesture (of talks) so we will have to wait a little bit longer and see if they are really faithful this time," Salehi said.

Iran is under a tightening web of sanctions. Israel has also hinted it may strike if diplomacy and international sanctions fail to curb Iran's nuclear drive.

In Washington, Army General Martin Dempsey, the top U.S. military officer, said in an interview broadcast on Sunday that the United States has the capability to stop any Iranian effort to build nuclear weapons, but Iranian "intentions have to be influenced through other means."

Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made his comments on NBC's program "Meet the Press," speaking alongside outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Panetta said current U.S. intelligence indicated that Iranian leaders have not made a decision to proceed with the development of a nuclear weapon.

"But every indication is they want to continue to increase their nuclear capability," he said. "And that's a concern. And that's what we're asking them to stop doing."

The new U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry, has said he will give diplomacy every chance of solving the Iran standoff.


With six-power talks making little progress, some experts say talks between Tehran and Washington could be the best chance, perhaps after Iran has elected a new president in June.

Negotiations between Iran and the six powers - Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France and Germany - have been deadlocked since a meeting last June.

EU officials have accused Iran of dragging its feet in weeks of haggling over the date and venue for new talks.

Salehi said he had "good news", having heard that the six powers would meet in Kazakhstan on February 25.

A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who coordinates the efforts of the six powers, confirmed that she had proposed talks in the week of February 25 but noted that Iran had not yet accepted.

Kazakhstan said it was ready to host the talks in either Astana or Almaty.

Salehi said Iran had "never pulled back" from the stuttering negotiations with the six powers. "We still are very hopeful. There are two packages, one package from Iran with five steps and the other package from the (six powers) with three steps."

Iran raised international concern last week by announcing plans to install and operate advanced uranium enrichment machines. The EU said the move, potentially shortening the path to weapons-grade material, could deepen doubts about the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel's mission to stop its arch-enemy from acquiring nuclear weapons was "becoming more complex, since the Iranians are equipping themselves with cutting-edge centrifuges that shorten the time of (uranium) enrichment".

"We must not accept this process," said Netanyahu, who is trying to form a new government after winning an election last month. Israel is generally believed to be the only country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons.

(Additional reporting by Myra MacDonald and Stephen Brown in Munich, Dmitry Solovyov in Almaty, Yeganeh Torbati in Dubai and Jim Wolf in Washington; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Will Dunham)

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Peterson double winner of AP NFL awards

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Adrian Peterson called it a blessing in disguise.

Strange way to describe career-threatening major knee surgery.

The Minnesota Vikings' star came back better than ever, just missing Eric Dickerson's longstanding rushing record and closing out the season with two of the top NFL awards from The Associated Press: Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year.

As sort of an added bonus, he beat Peyton Manning for both of them Saturday night.

"My career could have easily been over, just like that," the sensational running back said. "Oh man. The things I've been through throughout my lifetime has made me mentally tough.

" I'm kind of speechless. This is amazing, " he said in accepting his awards, along with five others at the "2nd Annual NFL Honors" show on CBS saluting the NFL's best players, performances and plays from the 2012 season. The awards are based on balloting from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL.

Manning's own sensational recovery, from four neck surgeries, earned him Comeback Player honors.

"This injury was unlike any other," said the only four-time league MVP. "There really was no bar or standard, there were no notes to copy. We were coming up with a rehab plan as we went."

Before sitting out 2011, Manning had never missed a start in his first 13 seasons with Indianapolis. But he was released by the Colts last winter because of his neck issues, signed with Denver and guided the Broncos to the AFC's best record, 13-3.

"Certainly you have double variables of coming off injury, not playing for over year and joining a new team. That certainly added a lot to my plate, so it was hard to really know what to expect," Manning said. "I can't tell you how grateful and thankful I am. I can't tell you how happy I am to be playing the game of football we all love so much."

Also honored were:

—Washington's Robert Griffin III, who beat out a strong crop of quarterbacks for the top offensive rookie award.

— Houston end J.J. Watt, who took Defensive Player of the Year, getting 49 of 50 votes.

Bruce Arians, the first interim coach to win Coach of the Year after leading Indianapolis to a 9-3 record while head man Chuck Pagano was being treated for leukemia. Arians became Arizona's head coach last month.

—Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly, the league's leader in tackles with 164, who won the top defensive rookie award.

Peterson returned better than ever from the left knee surgery, rushing for 2,097 yards, 9 short of breaking Dickerson's record. He also sparked the Vikings' turnaround from 3-13 to 10-6 and a wild-card playoff berth.

He received 30 1-2 votes to 19 1-2 for Manning.

"I played my heart out, every opportunity I had," Peterson said. "The result of that is not what I wanted, which is being in the Super Bowl game. But I have a couple of good pieces of hardware to bring back and (put) in my statue area. So it feels good."

Was the knee injury the toughest thing he'd ever overcome?

"Losing my brother at 7, seeing him get hit by a car right in front of me, that was the toughest," he said. "But as far as injuries, yes."

New England QB Tom Brady was the last winner of MVP and Offensive Player in 2010.

"Trying to get two or three like Peyton, trying to get to your level," Peterson said of his first MVP award. "But I won't be there to accept it because I'll be winning with my coach, the most important award, the team award, the Super Bowl."

Dickerson predicted Peterson could get back to 2,000 yards.

"I hope he does have a chance to do it again," Dickerson said, adding with a laugh, "but do I want him to break it? No, I do not."

Wearing a burgundy and gold tie in honor of his Redskins, Griffin said his goal is to be ready for the season opener.

"It's truly a blessing to be up there — to be able to stand, first and foremost," said Griffin, who underwent knee surgery last month. He added that next season "you'll see a better Robert Griffin."

Arians moved up from offensive coordinator and helped Indianapolis make the playoffs at 10-6, making him an easy winner in the balloting.

"It's hard to put into words the feelings of this past year," he said. "This was kind of the cherry on the top, whipped cream and everything else you put on top."

Watt swatted the competition as Denver's Von Miller got the only other vote in the most lopsided balloting of all the awards.

"It sets the bar for me," Watt said. He led the NFL with 20 1-2 sacks and also blocked an astounding 16 passes. "I want to go out and do even better. I want to do even bigger things."


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

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Exxon’s 2012 profit of $44.9B just misses record

Exxon Mobil Corp. nearly set a record for annual profit. The oil giant reported Friday that 2012 net income was $ 44.88 billion, just $ 340 million — less than 1 percent — short of the company’s record set in 2008, when crude oil prices hit an all-time high. Exxon‘s profit for the last 10 years totals $ 343.4 billion.

— $ 44.88 billion in 2012

— $ 41.06 billion in 2011

— $ 30.46 billion in 2010

— $ 19.28 billion in 2009

— $ 45.22 billion in 2008

— $ 40.61 billion in 2007

— $ 39.50 billion in 2006

— $ 36.13 billion in 2005

— $ 25.33 billion in 2004

— $ 20.96 billion in 2003

Source: Exxon Mobil annual reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

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Hillary: Secretary of empowerment

Girls hug U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a 2010 tour of a shelter run for sex trafficking victims in Cambodia.


  • Donna Brazile: Clinton stepping down as Secretary of State. Maybe she'll run for president

  • She says as secretary she expanded foreign policy to include effect on regular people

  • She says she was first secretary of state to focus on empowering women and girls

  • Brazile: Clinton has fought for education and inclusion in politics for women and girls

Editor's note: Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor and a Democratic strategist, is vice chairwoman for voter registration and participation at the Democratic National Committee. She is a nationally syndicated columnist, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and author of "Cooking with Grease." She was manager for the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign in 2000.

(CNN) -- As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton steps down from her job Friday, many are assuming she will run for president. And she may. In fact, five of the first eight presidents first served their predecessors as secretary of state.

It hasn't happened in more than a century, though that may change should Clinton decide to run. After all, she has been a game changer her entire life.

But before we look ahead, I think we should appreciate what she's done as secretary of state; it's a high profile, high pressure job. You have to deal with the routine as if it is critical and with crisis as if it's routine. You have to manage egos, protocols, customs and Congress. You have to be rhetorical and blunt, diplomatic and direct.

CNN Contributor Donna Brazile

CNN Contributor Donna Brazile

As secretary of state you are dealing with heads of state and with we the people. And the president of the United States has to trust you -- implicitly.

On the road with Hillary Clinton

Of all Clinton's accomplishments -- and I will mention just a few -- this may be the most underappreciated. During the election, pundits were puzzled and amazed not only at how much energy former President Bill Clinton poured into Obama's campaign, but even more at how genuine and close the friendship was.

Obama was given a lot of well-deserved credit for reaching out to the Clintons by appointing then-Sen. Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state in the first place. But trust is a two-way street and has to be earned. We should not underestimate or forget how much Clinton did and how hard she worked. She deserved that trust, as she deserved to be in the war room when Osama bin Laden was killed.

By the way, is there any other leader in the last 50 years whom we routinely refer to by a first name, and do so more out of respect than familiarity? The last person I can think of was Ike -- the elder family member who we revere with affection. Hillary is Hillary.

It's not surprising that we feel we know her. She has been part of our public life for more than 20 years. She's been a model of dignity, diplomacy, empathy and toughness. She also has done something no other secretary of state has done -- including the two women who preceded her in the Cabinet post.

Rothkopf: President Hillary Clinton? If she wants it

Hillary has transformed our understanding -- no, our definition -- of foreign affairs. Diplomacy is no longer just the skill of managing relations with other countries. The big issues -- war and peace, terror, economic stability, etc. -- remain, and she has handled them with firmness and authority, with poise and confidence, and with good will, when appropriate.

But it is not the praise of diplomats or dictators that will be her legacy. She dealt with plenipotentiaries, but her focus was on people. Foreign affairs isn't just about treaties, she taught us, it's about the suffering and aspirations of those affected by the treaties, made or unmade.

Most of all, diplomacy should refocus attention on the powerless.

Of course, Hillary wasn't the first secretary of state to advocate for human rights or use the post to raise awareness of abuses or negotiate humanitarian relief or pressure oppressors. But she was the first to focus on empowerment, particularly of women and girls.

She created the first Office of Global Women's Issues. That office fought to highlight the plight of women around the world. Rape of women has been a weapon of war for centuries. Though civilized countries condemn it, the fight against it has in a sense only really begun.

Ghitis: Hillary Clinton's global legacy on gay rights

The office has worked to hold governments accountable for the systematic oppression of girls and women and fought for their education in emerging countries. As Hillary said when the office was established: "When the Security Council passed Resolution 1325, we tried to make a very clear statement, that women are still largely shut out of the negotiations that seek to end conflicts, even though women and children are the primary victims of 21st century conflict."

Hillary also included the United States in the Trafficking in Person report. Human Trafficking, a form of modern, mainly sexual, slavery, victimizes mostly women and girls. The annual report reviews the state of global efforts to eliminate the practice. "We believe it is important to keep the spotlight on ourselves," she said. "Human trafficking is not someone else's problem. Involuntary servitude is not something we can ignore or hope doesn't exist in our own communities."

She also created the office of Global Partnerships. And there is much more.

She has held her own in palaces and held the hands of hungry children in mud-hut villages, pursuing an agenda that empowers women, children, the poor and helpless.

We shouldn't have been surprised. Her book "It Takes a Village" focused on the impact that those outside the family have, for better or worse, on a child's well-being.

As secretary of state, she did all she could to make sure our impact as a nation would be for the better.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Donna Brazile.

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More 911 calls won't get in-person response starting Sunday

The Chicago Police Department hopes to free up the equivalent of 44 officers a day by no longer dispatching cops for certain crimes, like burglaries and car thefts in which the offender is no longer at the scene and no one is in immediate danger.

Police confirmed the change, which takes effect Sunday. Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy told aldermen last year he was considering a move in that direction.

The change is not related to plans by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and McCarthy to shift what they indicated was as many as 200 officers from administrative duties to beats so more officers can be assigned to teams that saturate crime hotspots, city spokesman Bill McCaffrey said.

The 911 dispatch changes and redeployment of officers come in the wake of the city’s most deadly January since 2002. A total of 42 people were murdered in Chicago last month, including 15-year-old band majorette Hadiya Pendleton, an innocent victim whose South Side slaying drew national attention.

Crimes that will no longer result in the dispatch of an officer to the crime scene include vehicle theft, theft, garage burglaries, criminal damage to property, the passing of bad checks, lewd or obscene phone calls, threatening phone calls that don’t pose an immediate danger and animal bites, McCaffrey said.

Officers will be dispatched if a suspect is still at the scene or is expected to return immediately, the victim is not considered safe or needs medical attention, an officer could make an immediate arrest or an officer is needed for an immediate investigation, McCaffrey added.

When no officer is sent to the crime scene, a report will be taken by phone by cops assigned to light duty. Last year, 74,000 reports were taken that way. The new rules are expected to more than double that number.

It’s hoped that the changes will free up the equivalent of 44 officers each day to respond to more serious crimes and work at crime prevention, McCaffrey said.

Ald. Howard Brookins, 21st, said he thought the change will be good, “especially if it results in a quicker response time to more serious crimes when they are happening in real time.”

Brookins said he often hears from residents who complain that response is tardy or even non-existent when they call 911 to report drug sales, fights or burglaries in progress. He said he also hopes that it results in more officers on visible patrol, which he said serves as a deterrent to crime.

During budget hearings last year, McCarthy said dispatch changes needed to be made, saying officers in Chicago responded to half of 911 calls, compared to about 30 percent in most other jurisdictions.

“I’m not joking when I tell you that we’ve handled calls that say my children are fighting over the remote control,” McCarthy told aldermen. “My daughter does not want to go to school, my son does not want to eat his mashed potatoes.

“Those are the types of calls for service quite frankly where I don’t know why we would tie up a police officer when that officer can be on patrol doing something affirmative, preventing something from happening.”

Police officers contacted by the Tribune concur that not having to respond to every call could help cops on the street respond to more serious crimes. "It's almost like you increase your manpower when you reduce the number of calls," one police supervisor said.

But he gave an example of one potential drawback, in the case of a garage burglary, saying there could be a delay in the investigation if a detective doesn’t immediately canvass the area.

Still, said one rank-and-file officer, by not responding to all the less-serious crimes, cops on the street will be able to become more "proactive," instead of running around the district and bouncing from call to call.

"It's really a drain on resources to go to every nonsense call like the dog's barking or the music's too loud," the officer said.


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Turkey says tests confirm leftist bombed U.S. embassy

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A member of a Turkish leftist group that accuses Washington of using Turkey as its "slave" carried out a suicide bomb attack on the U.S. embassy, the Ankara governor's office cited DNA tests as showing on Saturday.

Ecevit Sanli, a member of the leftist Revolutionary People's Liberation Army-Front (DHKP-C), blew himself up in a perimeter gatehouse on Friday as he tried to enter the embassy, also killing a Turkish security guard.

The DHKP-C, virulently anti-American and listed as a terrorist organization by the United States and Turkey, claimed responsibility in a statement on the internet in which it said Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was a U.S. "puppet".

"Murderer America! You will not run away from people's rage," the statement on "The People's Cry" website said, next to a picture of Sanli wearing a black beret and military-style clothes and with an explosives belt around his waist.

It warned Erdogan that he too was a target.

Turkey is an important U.S. ally in the Middle East with common interests ranging from energy security to counter-terrorism. Leftist groups including the DHKP-C strongly oppose what they see as imperialist U.S. influence over their nation.

DNA tests confirmed that Sanli was the bomber, the Ankara governor's office said. It said he had fled Turkey a decade ago and was wanted by the authorities.

Born in 1973 in the Black Sea port city of Ordu, Sanli was jailed in 1997 for attacks on a police station and a military staff college in Istanbul, but his sentence was deferred after he fell sick during a hunger strike. He was never re-jailed.

Condemned to life in prison in 2002, he fled the country a year later, officials said. Interior Minister Muammer Guler said he had re-entered Turkey using false documents.

Erdogan, who said hours after the attack that the DHKP-C were responsible, met his interior and foreign ministers as well as the head of the army and state security service in Istanbul on Saturday to discuss the bombing.

Three people were detained in Istanbul and Ankara in connection with the attack, state broadcaster TRT said.

The White House condemned the bombing as an "act of terror", while the U.N. Security Council described it as a heinous act. U.S. officials said on Friday the DHKP-C were the main suspects but did not exclude other possibilities.

Islamist radicals, extreme left-wing groups, ultra-nationalists and Kurdish militants have all carried out attacks in Turkey in the past.


The DHKP-C statement called on Washington to remove Patriot missiles, due to go operational on Monday as part of a NATO defense system, from Turkish soil.

The missiles are being deployed alongside systems from Germany and the Netherlands to guard Turkey, a NATO member, against a spillover of the war in neighboring Syria.

"Our action is for the independence of our country, which has become a new slave of America," the statement said.

Turkey has been one of the leading advocates of foreign intervention to end the civil war in Syria and has become one of President Bashar al-Assad's harshest critics, a stance groups such as the DHKP-C view as submission to an imperialist agenda.

"Organizations of the sectarian sort like the DHKP-C have been gaining ground as a result of circumstances surrounding the Syrian civil war," security analyst Nihat Ali Ozcan wrote in a column in Turkey's Daily News.

The Ankara attack was the second on a U.S. mission in four months. On September 11, 2012, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three American personnel were killed in an Islamist militant attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The DHKP-C was responsible for the assassination of two U.S. military contractors in the early 1990s in protest against the first Gulf War, and it fired rockets at the U.S. consulate in Istanbul in 1992, according to the U.S. State Department.

It has been blamed for previous suicide attacks, including one in 2001 that killed two police officers and a tourist in Istanbul's central Taksim Square. It has carried out a series of deadly attacks on police stations in the last six months.

Friday's attack may have come in retaliation for an operation against the DHKP-C last month in which Turkish police detained 85 people. A court subsequently remanded 38 of them in custody over links to the group.

(Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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