Wall Street Week Ahead: Bears hibernate as stocks near record highs

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks have been on a tear in January, moving major indexes within striking distance of all-time highs. The bearish case is a difficult one to make right now.

Earnings have exceeded expectations, the housing and labor markets have strengthened, lawmakers in Washington no longer seem to be the roadblock that they were for most of 2012, and money has returned to stock funds again.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> has gained 5.4 percent this year and closed above 1,500 - climbing to the spot where Wall Street strategists expected it to be by mid-year. The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> is 2.2 percent away from all-time highs reached in October 2007. The Dow ended Friday's session at 13,895.98, its highest close since October 31, 2007.

The S&P has risen for four straight weeks and eight consecutive sessions, the longest streak of days since 2004. On Friday, the benchmark S&P 500 ended at 1,502.96 - its first close above 1,500 in more than five years.

"Once we break above a resistance level at 1,510, we dramatically increase the probability that we break the highs of 2007," said Walter Zimmermann, technical analyst at United-ICAP, in Jersey City, New Jersey. "That may be the start of a rise that could take equities near 1,800 within the next few years."

The most recent Reuters poll of Wall Street strategists estimated the benchmark index would rise to 1,550 by year-end, a target that is 3.1 percent away from current levels. That would put the S&P 500 a stone's throw from the index's all-time intraday high of 1,576.09 reached on October 11, 2007.

The new year has brought a sharp increase in flows into U.S. equity mutual funds, and that has helped stocks rack up four straight weeks of gains, with strength in big- and small-caps alike.

That's not to say there aren't concerns. Economic growth has been steady, but not as strong as many had hoped. The household unemployment rate remains high at 7.8 percent. And more than 75 percent of the stocks in the S&P 500 are above their 26-week highs, suggesting the buying has come too far, too fast.


All 10 S&P 500 industry sectors are higher in 2013, in part because of new money flowing into equity funds. Investors in U.S.-based funds committed $3.66 billion to stock mutual funds in the latest week, the third straight week of big gains for the funds, data from Thomson Reuters' Lipper service showed on Thursday.

Energy shares <.5sp10> lead the way with a gain of 6.6 percent, followed by industrials <.5sp20>, up 6.3 percent. Telecom <.5sp50>, a defensive play that underperforms in periods of growth, is the weakest sector - up 0.1 percent for the year.

More than 350 stocks hit new highs on Friday alone on the New York Stock Exchange. The Dow Jones Transportation Average <.djt> recently climbed to an all-time high, with stocks in this sector and other economic bellwethers posting strong gains almost daily.

"If you peel back the onion a little bit, you start to look at companies like Precision Castparts , Honeywell , 3M Co and Illinois Tool Works - these are big, broad-based industrial companies in the U.S. and they are all hitting new highs, and doing very well. That is the real story," said Mike Binger, portfolio manager at Gradient Investments, in Shoreview, Minnesota.

The gains have run across asset sizes as well. The S&P small-cap index <.spcy> has jumped 6.7 percent and the S&P mid-cap index <.mid> has shot up 7.5 percent so far this year.

Exchange-traded funds have seen year-to-date inflows of $15.6 billion, with fairly even flows across the small-, mid- and large-cap categories, according to Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at the ConvergEx Group, in New York.

"Investors aren't really differentiating among asset sizes. They just want broad equity exposure," Colas said.

The market has shown resilience to weak news. On Thursday, the S&P 500 held steady despite a 12 percent slide in shares of Apple after the iPhone and iPad maker's results. The tech giant is heavily weighted in both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 <.ndx> and in the past, its drop has suffocated stocks' broader gains.


In the last few days, the ratio of stocks hitting new highs versus those hitting new lows on a daily basis has started to diminish - a potential sign that the rally is narrowing to fewer names - and could be running out of gas.

Investors have also cited sentiment surveys that indicate high levels of bullishness among newsletter writers, a contrarian indicator, and momentum indicators are starting to also suggest the rally has perhaps come too far.

The market's resilience could be tested next week with Friday's release of the January non-farm payrolls report. About 155,000 jobs are seen being added in the month and the unemployment rate is expected to hold steady at 7.8 percent.

"Staying over 1,500 sends up a flag of profit taking," said Jerry Harris, president of asset management at Sterne Agee, in Birmingham, Alabama. "Since recent jobless claims have made us optimistic on payrolls, if that doesn't come through, it will be a real risk to the rally."

A number of marquee names will report earnings next week, including bellwether companies such as Caterpillar Inc , Amazon.com Inc , Ford Motor Co and Pfizer Inc .

On a historic basis, valuations remain relatively low - the S&P 500's current price-to-earnings ratio sits at 15.66, which is just a tad above the historic level of 15.

Worries about the U.S. stock market's recent strength do not mean the market is in a bubble. Investors clearly don't feel that way at the moment.

"We're seeing more interest in equities overall, and a lot of flows from bonds into stocks," said Paul Zemsky, who helps oversee $445 billion as the New York-based head of asset allocation at ING Investment Management. "We've been increasing our exposure to risky assets."

For the week, the Dow climbed 1.8 percent, the S&P 500 rose 1.1 percent and the Nasdaq advanced 0.5 percent.

(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Jan Paschal)

Read More..

Stan Musial remembered during funeral Mass

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Stan Musial was remembered during a funeral and memorial outside Busch Stadium on Saturday as a Hall of Famer and a St. Louis icon embraced by generations of fans who never had the privilege of watching him play.

Broadcaster Bob Costas, his voice cracking with emotion at times, pointed out during a two-hour Mass that in 92 years of life, Stan the Man never let anyone down.

Costas noted that even though Musial, who died Jan. 19, was a three-time NL MVP and seven-time batting champion, the pride of Donora, Pa., lacked a singular achievement. Joe DiMaggio had a 56-game hitting streak, Ted Williams was the last major leaguer to hit .400, and Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle soared to stardom in the New York spotlight. Musial didn't quite reach the 500-homer club — he finished with 475 — and played in his final World Series in 1946, "wouldn't you know it, the year before they started televising the Fall Classic!"

"What was the hook with Stan Musial other than the distinctive stance and the role of one of baseball's best hitters?" Costas said. "It seems that all Stan had going for him was more than two decades of sustained excellence as a ballplayer and more than nine decades as a thoroughly decent human being.

"Where is the single person to truthfully say a bad word about him?"

There was enough room in the large Roman Catholic church for a handful of fans. One of them wore a vintage, No. 6 Musial jersey. Another clapped softly as pallbearers carried the casket from the church to the hearse to the tune of bagpipes.

Among those in attendance were baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, former St. Louis standout Albert Pujols and Hall of Famers Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith, Bruce Sutter, Whitey Herzog and 90-year-old Red Schoendienst, who once roomed with Musial. Joe Torre, a former MVP and manager in St. Louis, and Tony La Russa, who became close with Musial during his 16 seasons managing the Cardinals, sat near the front along with current manager Mike Matheny.

Pujols, who had been on track to challenge many of Musial's franchise records before signing with the Angels 13 months ago, exchanged hugs with Fred Hanser, a member of the Cardinals ownership team, before taking his seat.

Jim Edmonds, a star center fielder for two World Series teams in the 2000s, has the same last name as one of Musial's sons-in-law. He said Musial informed him that they were distant relatives, and greeted him as "Hey, Cuz!"

"I thought he was kidding at first," Edmonds said. "That's pretty cool."

Jack Clark, a slugging first baseman for the Cardinals during the 1980s, said he perhaps respected Musial most for his decency during baseball's sometimes difficult period of integration in the 1940s and 1950s.

"Stan kind of crossed that color barrier. When people were getting on the African-American players, he stuck up for them. It was a time when you could kind of get your finger pointed at you for that stuff," Clark said. "People loved him, and he loved them right back."

Bishop Richard Stika, pastor at Musial's' church in suburban St. Louis for several years, speculated during the homily about why Musial was never ejected from a game during his career: "I think deep down, that was because he didn't want to go home and face Lil."

Musial's wife of nearly 72 years, Lillian, died last year.

Grandson Andrew Edmonds said the public Musial was no different from the private Musial, the grandpa who bought McDonalds for the family every Sunday. He recalled a fan telling him, "Your grandpa's best attribute is he made nobodies feel like somebodies."

Pallbearers included Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III, Musial grandsons Andrew Edmonds and Brian Schwarze, and the retired star's longtime business partner in Stan the Man Inc., Dick Zitzmann.

After the service, the hearse and vans filled with the Cardinals' delegation drove to Busch Stadium, where Musial's family laid flowers at the base of one of his statues — the one that made the move across the street from the old Busch — while being serenaded by "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." Color guards from the city's fire and police departments flanked the statue, along with more than a dozen ballpark ushers. A single Clydesdale walked slowly down the street.

Cardinals closer Jason Motte shook his head.

"This is nothing like I've ever seen," he said.

During a funeral that was almost entirely upbeat, son-in-law Martin Schwarze got the biggest laugh when he recounted a 1995 radio interview with Jack Buck during which Musial was asked how good of a hitter he'd have been had he played in the modern era. Musial, who finished with a .331 career batting average, replied he probably would have batted about .275, and Buck said "Whoa, whoa, whoa," that's way too low.

Then Musial added with a chuckle, "Hey, Jack, I'm 75!"

Thousands filed through the Cathedral Basilica at Musial's six-hour public visitation on Thursday, and hundreds more attended the service.

Hundreds more were waiting at the more prominent of the two Musial statues outside Busch Stadium, where fans have gathered since Musial died after several years of declining health. Next to the statues were flowers, balloons, teddy bears, helmets, autographed items and a homemade sign that read "Thanks for the memories. You live in our hearts, No. 6."

"He's been a hero to us for four generations," Kathy Noorman of Wentzville, Mo., said, speaking near the statue. "He was such a good man, somebody you can hold up to grandkids and your own kids as an example of who they should be."

Mark Springman, 57, of Alton, Ill., brought a bottle of champagne to the statue shrine. He saw Musial play in 1963, Stan the Man's final season, and has been a season-ticket holder for about 15 years.

"He was more than a ballplayer," Springman said. "He was the man."

Read More..

Canada’s Flaherty less optimistic on Keystone prospects

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama‘s emphasis in his inaugural address on fighting climate change may not bode well for the contentious project to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline, Canada’s finance minister said on Friday.

The Canadian government has been an enthusiastic supporter of TransCanada Corp‘s plan to build the $ 5.3 billion pipeline, which would open up a huge new market on the U.S. Gulf Coast for crude derived from oil sands in Alberta.

Washington faces a decision in the next few months on whether to approve the project, a possible cure for deeply discounted Canadian crude prices.

“I had reason for optimism before the election that the president would approve it, were he re-elected, but his speech the other day was not encouraging,” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told Reuters at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Obama promised in his address on Monday to combat climate change, citing recent fires, drought and storms, “knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations”. The United States had to be a leader in sustainable energy, Obama said, putting the issue as a matter of national security and economic opportunity.

Environmental groups oppose Keystone XL, saying it would encourage more carbon-intensive tar sands development.

Surging output and tight export pipeline capacity has pulled the price of Canadian heavy crude in recent months to less than half the value of international benchmark Brent crude. This is hurting the public finances in Alberta, which warned this week of a C$ 6 billion ($ 6 billion) shortfall in revenue for its 2013-14 fiscal year as a result.

The Canadian economy, which depends heavily on energy and commodity prices, is also suffering, according to the central bank.

Flaherty pointed out that the energy industry was putting together alternative plans to move Alberta crude to new markets.

Some include Enbridge Inc’s C$ 6 billion Northern gateway pipeline to the Pacific Coast, proposals to ship the oil to Quebec and further east, and even a scheme to build a railroad to Alaska, where the crude could be shipped to the oil port at Valdez.

“We will go wherever we have to go. We are going to create markets for Canadian commodities,” Flaherty said. Asked how fast such plans could be put in motion, he said: “We’ll do it quickly. We have major projects right now on our agenda and we will encourage them.”

TransCanada first applied to build Keystone XL in 2008. Obama rejected it last year, saying it needed a new route around the environmentally sensitive Sandhills region of Nebraska.

This week, Nebraska’s governor approved the reworked path that skirts the area, and 53 U.S. senators wrote to Obama urging him to approve the project, citing energy security and jobs benefits. The state department, which is handling the issue because the pipeline would cross the Canadian border, said it will not make a ruling until at least the end of March.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Writing by Jeffrey Jones; editing by David Stamp)

Weather News Headlines – Yahoo! News

Title Post: Canada’s Flaherty less optimistic on Keystone prospects
Url Post: http://www.news.fluser.com/canadas-flaherty-less-optimistic-on-keystone-prospects/
Link To Post : Canada’s Flaherty less optimistic on Keystone prospects

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..

Can sanctions deter North Korea?

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

























  • N. Korea said Thursday it plans to carry out new nuclear test and more long-range rocket launches

  • It said they are part of new phase of confrontation with United States

  • George A. Lopez says North Korea's aim is to be recognized as a 'new nuclear nation by fait accompli'

  • The Security Council sanctions aim to deteriorate and disrupt N. Korea's programs, says Lopez

Editor's note: George A. Lopez holds the Hesburgh Chair in Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute, University of Notre Dame. He is a former member, UN Panel of Experts on DPRK.

Indiana, U.S. (CNN) -- North Korea has responded to new Security Council sanctions condemning its December 12 rocket launch with a declaration that it plans a third nuclear test and more missile launches. Politically, it has made unambiguous that its "aim" is its enemy, the United States.

In this rapid reaction to U.N. sanctions, the young government of Kim Jong Un underscores what Security Council members have long known anticipated from the DPRK. Their end-game is to create a vibrant, integrated missile and nuclear weapons program that will result - as in the cases of Pakistan and India - in their being recognized as a new nuclear nation by fait accompli.

Read more: North Korea says new nuclear test will be part of fight against U.S.

In light of DPRK defiance - and a soon to occur nuclear test - the Security Council's first set of sanctions on North Korea since 2009 may seem absurd and irrelevant. These sanctions will certainly not prevent a new DPRK nuclear test. Rather, the new sanctions resolution mobilizes regional neighbors and global actors to enforce sanctions that can weaken future DPRK programs and actions.

Read more: U.N. Security Council slams North Korea, expands sanctions

The utility, if not the necessity, of these Security Council sanctions are to deteriorate and disrupt the networks that sustain North Korea's programs. Chances of this degradation of DPRK capabilities have increased as the new sanctions both embolden and empower the member states who regularly observe - but do nothing about - suspicious vessels in their adjacent waterways.

The resolution provides new guidance to states regarding ship interdiction, cargo inspections, and the seizure and disposal of prohibited materials. Regarding nuclear and missile development the sanctions expand the list of material banned for trade to DPRK, including high tech, dual-use goods which might aid missile industries.

Read more: South Korean officials: North Korean rocket could hit U.S. mainland

These new measures provide a better structure for more effective sanctions, by naming new entities, such as a bank and trading companies, as well as individuals involved in the illicit financing of prohibited materials, to the sanctions list. To the surprise of many in the diplomatic community - the Council authorizes states to expose and confiscate North Korea's rather mobile "bulk cash." Such currency stocks have been used in many regions to facilitate purchases of luxury goods and other banned items that sustain the DPRK elites.

Finally, the Security Council frees the Sanctions Committee to act more independently and in a timely manner to add entities to the list of sanctioned actors when evidence shows them to be sanctions violators. This is an extensive hunting license for states in the region that can multiply the costs of sanctions to the DPRK over time.

Read more: North Korea's rocket launches cost $1.3 billion

Whatever their initial limitations, the new round of U.N. sanctions serve as a springboard to more robust measures by various regional and global powers which may lead back to serious negotiations with DPRK.

Despite its bluster and short-term action plan, Pyongyang recognizes that the wide space of operation for its policies it assumed it had a week ago, is now closed considerably. To get this kind of slap-down via this Security Council resolution - when the launch was a month ago - predicts that any nuke test or missile launch from Pyongyang will bring a new round of stronger and more targeted sanctions.

Read more: North Korea silences doubters, raises fears with rocket launch

Although dangerous - a new game is on regarding DPRK. Tougher U.N. measures imposed on the North generated a predictable response and likely new, prohibited action. While DPRK may be enraged, these sanctions have the P5 nations, most notably China, newly engaged. A forthcoming test or launch will no doubt increase tensions on both sides.

But this may be precisely the shock needed to restart the Six Party Talks. Without this institutional framework there is little chance of influencing DPRK actions. And in the meantime, the chances of greater degrading of DPRK capabilities via sanctions, are a sensible next best action.

Read more: Huge crowds gather in North Korean capital to celebrate rocket launch

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of George A. Lopez.

Read More..

Family friend: Man 4th sibling to be killed by gunfire

At the north end of the 1100 block of South Mozart Street in the Lawndale neighborhood, two people were shot. One also died there, police said. (Posted Jan. 26th, 2013)

A man slain on the West Side early this morning had two brothers and a sister who also were fatally gunned down in the city, according to a close family friend.

"He was the last one," said Laverne Smith, 30, who said his mother no longer has any children. "I know she's hurting."

Smith said it's unthinkable this could have happened again to the family.

"It's ridiculous," Smith said. "We need to get the guns off the street and build a good life for our babies. We need to really get together and stop fighting."

Smith heard loud gunfire about 2 a.m. and ran outside in the 1100 block of South Mozart Street to find her close friend Ronnie Chambers shot in the head. He died in her arms.

"All his siblings passed a long time ago," Smith said. "It was a hysterical thing."

Smith said she also knew Ronnie Chambers' sister, LaToya Chambers, and had grown up with them in the Cabrini Green neighborhood on the Near North Side. LaToya was a classmate of hers, about two years ahead, at the Edward Jenner school.

LaToya was killed at age 15 on April 26, 2000. Her brothers Carlos and Jerome also were gunshot victims, Carlos at age 18 shortly after Thanksgiving in 1995 and Jerome at age 23 on July 26, 2000.

Chambers' mother Shirley told the Tribune's Dawn Turner Trice in 2000 that "I have one child left, and I'm afraid that [the killing] won't stop until he's gone too."

According to that 2000 story, Ronnie has these tattoos on his forearms to remind him of his dead siblings: A crucifix with a ribbon draped across it commemorates Carlos; a tombstone with a crucifix and blood says R.I.P. for Jerome; and another tombstone with a cross is for LaToya.

"They say you can't outrun death, but I can try to dodge it," Ronnie said then. "I don't even try to live day by day anymore; it's more like second by second."

"He was my everything," Smith said of Ronnie's death. "I lost a part of me."

"Nothing that anyone can say can make me feel better," said Smith, who said Chambers was recently on the Ricki Lake show and was trying to help an aspiring rapper, YK.

Smith said Ronnie, whose nickname was "Scooby," had been "trying to change his life."

Ronnie Chambers had just returned from a promotion or listening party for YK when the shooting occurred.

Smith stood crying at one end of a vacant lot in the Lawndale neighborhood on the West Side early this morning while Chambers lay covered by a white sheet behind a maroon van at the other end.

Chambers, 33, of Chicago, had been in the driver's seat of the van, which had just arrived in the 1100 block of South Mozart Street when one person, probably two, opened fire, police said. Chambers was identified by family members at the scene and later by police. 

Smith wore a pink blood-stained shirt under a pink jacket, white pants dotted with drops of blood, and pink sandals. She paced the crime scene, at the north end of Mozart Drive where it ends at Fillmore Street, letting out occasional screams and leaning on her friend for support.

"I held him, they had to pry me from him," she said, crying. "He was breathing, gasping."

At least one other man, 21, was inside the van when the shooting started, police said. He had jumped from the front passenger seat to the back, quick thinking that police said probably saved his life. He was wounded in the thigh and taken to Mount Sinai Hospital. Police did not say how many people were inside the van. They also did not say exactly how many shooters there were, but did say seven shots were fired.

The shooting happened across the street from Safer Foundation North Lawndale, an Illinois Department of Corrections transitional facility for adults with criminal records, and half a block west of a fire station.

Family and friends, none of whom wanted to give their names, circled the north end of the scene, marked by yellow tape hung around trees, light poles and cop cars.

A young man at the scene who refused to give his name but said he saw the shooting called the gun used a "big boy."

"Look at that (bullet) hole," the young man said, motioning to the passenger side door on the van. "That's a full nickel."

An east-facing car sat abandoned in the T intersection formed by Mozart and Fillmore. Police weren't sure whether the people who abandoned the car were involved in the shooting or freaked out and fled the scene. Police found casings from two weapons – one a rifle – whose bullets had entered the van from both sides.

"He was gangsta with his (expletive)," the man said of the individual or individuals who did the shooting. "He knew what he was doing."

Despite his apparent proximity to the attack, he explained to a detective that he could not help police do their jobs. He later complained to a supervisor about their response time – he said 27 minutes but police said 3. Police said that they received one 911 call about shots being fired in the area.

A 16-year-old boy who said he was with the victims when the shooting happened wandered around the lot, looking toward the ground most of the time. He looked emotionally spent after being held by police for a short time at the scene.

"I just want to go home," he said, though he had no ride home. "It just happened so fast. I'm tired of explaining myself."

In another fatal overnight shooting, three men were shot about 4 a.m. outside of a diner at the corner of Wallace Street and Pershing Road in the Bridgeport neighborhood on the South Side, police said. Two men died at the scene.


Twitter: @PeterNickeas

Read More..

Riots over Egyptian death sentences kill at least 32

PORT SAID, Egypt/CAIRO (Reuters) - At least 32 people were killed on Saturday when Egyptians rampaged in protest at the sentencing of 21 people to death over a soccer stadium disaster, violence that compounds a political crisis facing Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.

Armored vehicles and military police fanned through the streets of Port Said, where gunshots rang out and protesters burned tires in anger that people from their city had been blamed for the deaths of 74 people at a match last year.

The rioting in Port Said, one of the most deadly spasms of violence since Hosni Mubarak's ouster two years ago, followed a day of anti-Mursi demonstrations on Friday, when nine people were killed. The toll over the past two days stands at 41.

The flare-ups make it even tougher for Mursi, who drew fire last year for expanding his powers and pushing through an Islamist-tinged constitution, to fix the creaking economy and cool tempers enough to ensure a smooth parliamentary election.

That vote is expected in the next few months and is meant to cement a democratic transition that has been blighted from the outset by political rows and street clashes.

The National Defense Council, which is led by Mursi and includes the defense minister who commands the army, called for "a broad national dialogue that would be attended by independent national characters" to discuss political differences and ensure a "fair and transparent" parliamentary poll.

The National Salvation Front of liberal-minded groups and other Mursi opponents cautiously welcomed the call.


Clashes in Port Said erupted after a judge sentenced 21 men to die for involvement in the deaths at the soccer match on February 1, 2012. Many were fans of the visiting team, Cairo's Al Ahly.

Al Ahly fans had threatened violence if the court had not meted out the death penalty. They cheered outside their Cairo club when the verdict was announced. But in Port Said, residents were furious that people from their city were held responsible.

Protesters ran wildly through the streets of the Mediterranean port, lighting tires in the street and storming two police stations, witnesses said. Gunshots were reported near the prison where most of the defendants were being held.

A security source in Port Said said 32 people were killed there, many dying from gunshot wounds. He said 312 were wounded and the ministry of defense had allocated a military plane to transfer the injured to military hospitals.

Inside the court in Cairo, families of victims danced, applauded and some broke down in tears of joy when they heard Judge Sobhy Abdel Maguid declare that the 21 men would be "referred to the Mufti", a phrase used to denote execution, as all death sentences must be reviewed by Egypt's top religious authority.

There were 73 defendants on trial. Those not sentenced on Saturday would face a verdict on March 9, the judge said.

At the Port Said soccer stadium a year ago, many spectators were crushed and witnesses saw some thrown off balconies after the match between Al Ahly and local team al-Masri. Al Ahly fans accused the police of being complicit in the deaths.

Among those killed on Saturday were a former player for al-Masri and a soccer player in another Port Said team, the website of the state broadcaster reported.


On Friday, protesters angry at Mursi's rule had taken to the streets for the second anniversary of the uprising that erupted on January 25, 2011 and brought Mubarak down 18 days later.

Police fired teargas and protesters hurled stones and petrol bombs. Nine people were killed, mainly in the port city of Suez, and hundreds more were injured across the nation.

Reflecting international concern at the two days of clashes, British Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt said: "This cannot help the process of dialogue which we encourage as vital for Egypt today, and we must condemn the violence in the strongest terms."

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urged the Egyptian authorities to restore calm and order and called on all sides to show restraint, her spokesperson said.

On Saturday, some protesters again clashed and scuffled with police in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities. In the capital, youths pelted police lines with rocks near Tahrir Square.

In Suez, police fired teargas when protesters angry at Friday's deaths hurled petrol bombs and stormed a police post and other governmental buildings including the agriculture and social solidarity units.

Around 18 prisoners in Suez police stations managed to escape during the violence, a security source there said, and some 30 police weapons were stolen.

"We want to change the president and the government. We are tired of this regime. Nothing has changed," said Mahmoud Suleiman, 22, in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the cauldron of the 2011 anti-Mubarak revolt.

Mursi's opponents say he has failed to deliver on economic pledges or to be a president representing the full political and communal diversity of Egyptians, as he promised.

"Egypt will not regain its balance except by a political solution that is transparent and credible, by a government of national salvation to restore order and heal the economy and with a constitution for all Egyptians," prominent opposition politician Mohamed ElBaradei wrote on Twitter.

The opposition National Salvation Front, responding to the Defense Council's call for dialogue, said there must be a clear agenda and guarantees that any deal would be implemented, spokesman Khaled Dawoud told Reuters.

The Front earlier on Saturday threatened an election boycott and to call for more protests on Friday if demands were not met. Its demands included picking a national unity government to restore order and holding an early presidential poll.

Mursi's supporters say the opposition does not respect the democracy that has given Egypt its first freely elected leader.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which propelled Mursi to office, said in a statement that "corrupt people" and media who were biased against the president had stirred up fury on the streets.

The frequent violence and political schism between Islamists and secular Egyptians have hurt Mursi's efforts to revive an economy in crisis as investors and tourists have stayed away, taking a heavy toll on Egypt's currency.

(Additional reporting by Omar Fahmy, Peter Griffiths in London and Claire Davenport in Brussels; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

Read More..

S&P 500 vaults 1,500 as Wall Street extends rally

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed above 1,500 for the first time in more than five years on Friday as strong U.S. earnings reports, including Procter & Gamble's, helped the benchmark extend its rally to eight days.

The winning streak is the longest in eight years and left the S&P 500 about 4.1 percent away from its all-time closing high of 1,565.15 on October 9, 2007.

The equity market's strong start this year has been attributed to solid corporate results, an agreement in Washington to extend the government's borrowing power, encouraging signs from the global economy and seasonal inflows into stocks.

Procter & Gamble shares led the Dow and S&P higher with a 4 percent gain to $73.25 after the world's top household products maker's quarterly profit soared past expectations. The company also raised its sales and earnings outlook for the fiscal year.

Sales of new U.S. single-family homes fell in December but rose in 2012 to the highest level since 2009, a sign the U.S. housing market turned a corner last year.

"Economic data in the U.S. has been trending higher, albeit modestly. Things are incrementally better," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> rose 70.65 points or 0.51 percent, to close at 13,895.98. The S&P 500 <.spx> gained 8.14 points or 0.54 percent, to 1,502.96. The Nasdaq Composite <.ixic> added 19.33 points or 0.62 percent, to end at 3,149.71.

The S&P 500 closed at its highest since December 10, 2007, and the Dow ended at its highest since October 31, 2007.

Apple shares dropped 2.4 percent to $439.88, and the iPhone maker lost its coveted title as the largest U.S. company by market capitalization to Exxon Mobil Corp .

Apple's market cap fell to $413 billion, down roughly $250 billion from its September peak. Apple's fall is about equal to the entire value of Google Inc .

"The market was able to move forward despite deterioration in Apple and that's also a positive," Prudential Financial's Krosby said.

There was heavy volume in Apple shares as it hit its session low shortly before the closing bell. The stock dropped by as much as $7, to $435 from $442, within the span of one second during the last minute of trading.

More than 50 orders were executed on NYSE Arca at $435 a share, according to Thomson Reuters time-and-sales data, in blocks as small as 100 shares and as large as 10,494 shares.

Adding to the overall bullish tone in the market, German business morale improved for a third consecutive month in January to its highest in more than six months. In addition, European banks said they will repay the European Central Bank much more than expected of the loans the bank gave them during the crisis.

"Good news in credit markets helps set the stage for (more investment in) riskier assets," Krosby said.

For the week, the Dow rose 1.8 percent, the S&P 500 gained 1.1 percent and the Nasdaq added 0.5 percent. It was the fourth straight week of gains for all three indexes.

Helping to lift the Nasdaq on Friday, Starbucks rose 4.1 percent to $56.81 after the coffee retailer reported stronger-than-expected sales in the United States and Asia. {ID:nL1N0ATH04]

Netflix added 15.5 percent to $169.56, following its massive 42.2 percent jump on Thursday after the company announced a surprising jump in subscribers to its video streaming service.

Thomson Reuters data through Friday showed that of the 147 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings so far, 68 percent exceeded expectations. Since 1994, 62 percent of companies have topped expectations, while the average over the past four quarters stands at 65 percent.

Halliburton Co shares jumped 5.1 percent to $39.72 after the world's second-largest oilfield services company reported higher-than-expected earnings and sales for the fourth quarter.

About 6.4 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE MKT, below the daily average during January 2012 of about 6.93 billion shares.

On the NYSE, more than three issues rose for every two that fell. On the Nasdaq, five stocks advanced for every four that declined.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Kenneth Barry and Jan Paschal)

Read More..

After beating Federer, Murray reaches Aussie final

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Andy Murray was sucking in deep breaths, trying to recover from his exhausting win over Roger Federer. Pain was very much on his mind.

The U.S. Open champion defeated Federer 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2 in a four-hour Australian Open semifinal Friday night. It was Murray's first victory against the 17-time major winner at a Grand Slam event.

But with the clock about to strike midnight, Murray was already thinking about Sunday's final against two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic, who is on a 20-match winning streak at Melbourne Park. This will be a rematch of their U.S. Open final.

"Every time we play each other it's normally a very physical match," Murray said. "I'll need to be ready for the pain. I hope it's a painful match — that'll mean it's a good one."

Murray had a 10-9 record against Federer, but had lost his three previous Grand Slam matches to the Swiss star. One of those defeats came at Wimbledon last year. Murray says the disappointment of that loss triggered his run to the gold medal at the London Olympics, and then his drought-breaking triumph at the U.S. Open.

"You know, I've obviously lost some tough matches against him in Slams," Murray said. "So to win one, especially the way that it went tonight, yeah, was obviously nice."

Murray ended a 76-year drought for British men at the majors when he beat Djokovic in five sets in the final at Flushing Meadows.

He's hoping the step-by-step manner in which he has crossed career milestones off his to-do list will continue Sunday. He lost four major finals, including two in Australia, before winning a Grand Slam title. He lost three times to Federer in a major before beating him. Even then, he wasted a chance to serve out in the fourth set Friday night as Federer rallied.

"Those matches ... have helped obviously mentally," he said. "I think going through a lot of the losses that I've had will have helped me as well. Obviously having won against Novak before in a Slam final will help mentally."

Djokovic will not be the only defending champion this weekend playing for another title. Victoria Azarenka will face China's Li Na on Saturday night for the women's crown.

Azarenka hasn't added a major title since her breakthrough in Australia last year. She's coming off a semifinal victory over American teenager Sloane Stephens in which she had to answer a torrent of questions over her nine-minute medical timeout after wasting five match points and then dropping serve in the next-to-last game.

Li, who is seeded sixth, lost the 2011 Australian final before claiming her first major title months later at the French Open. She made the final with less commotion, beating No. 2 Maria Sharapova in straight sets.

The first title of the 2013 Australian Open, women's doubles, was decided Friday when top-seeded Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci of Italy beat unseeded Australians Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.

That was a prelude to the night match, where 15,000 people packed Rod Laver Arena, including the great Laver himself, to see if Federer could reach a sixth Australian final. The 31-year-old Swiss has won four of his 17 titles at Melbourne Park.

He showed flashes of his customary genius, but also rare bursts of anger. Murray showed his frustration as well. The crowd started to turn on him after he challenged a call in the eighth game of the fourth set, booing each time he complained to the umpire. His unforced error into the net on the next point prompted a huge cheer.

In the 12th game of the fourth set, Federer appeared to yell across the net after Murray stopped momentarily behind the baseline during the rally.

Murray shrugged it off and seemed to dig in. He'd won that point but lost the game and was taken to another tiebreaker, which he lost.

"We were just checking each other out for bit," Federer said. "That wasn't a big deal for me — I hope not for him."

Murray said "stuff like that happens daily in tennis," and added that it was "very, very mild in comparison to what happens in other sports."

When Federer got break point with Murray serving for the match at 6-5, the applause was so prolonged Murray had to wait to serve. And when Federer got the break to force a tiebreaker, the crowd stood and roared as Murray slammed a ball into the court in anger.

The crowd cheered for every Murray error in tiebreaker. One man yelled, "Andy, don't choke."

He didn't.

Rather than wilting under the pressure in the fifth set, Murray hit his stride. He allowed Federer only four points in the first three games of the fifth set, bolting to a 3-0 lead and carrying it through to the end.

"It's big. I never beat Roger in a Slam before. It definitely will help with the confidence," Murray said. "Just knowing you can win against those guys in big matches definitely helps."

Federer could see improvement in Murray's approach in the tough situations.

"With the win at the Olympics and the U.S. Open, maybe there's just a little bit more belief," Federer said. "Or he's a bit more calm overall."

Djokovic already owns three Australian titles and is aiming to be the first man in the Open era to win three in a row. The 25-year-old Serb was nearly flawless in his 89-minute disposal of No. 4-ranked David Ferrer in Thursday night's semifinal, and said he was hoping Murray and Federer would go to five sets.

"Obviously, Novak goes in as the favorite, I would think, even though Andy beat him at the U.S. Open," Federer said. "Novak is the double defending champion here. He's done really well again this tournament. Obviously a tough match again, and give a slight edge to Novak just because of the last couple of days."

Read More..

Court says EPA overestimates biofuels production

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency is overestimating the amount of fuel that can be produced from grasses, wood and other nonfood plants in an effort to promote a fledgling biofuels industry.

At issue is a 2007 renewable fuels law that requires a certain amount of those types of fuels, called cellulosic biofuels, to be mixed in with gasoline each year. Despite annual EPA projections that the industry would produce small amounts of the biofuels, none of that production materialized.

There have been high hopes in Washington that the cellulosic industry would take off as farmers, food manufacturers and others blamed the skyrocketing production of corn ethanol fuel for higher food prices. Those groups said the diversion of corn crops for fuel production raised prices for animal feed and eventually for consumers at the grocery store. Lawmakers hoped that nonfood sources like switchgrass or corn husks could be used instead, though the industry hadn’t yet gotten off the ground.

The 2007 law mandated that billions of gallons of annual production of corn ethanol be mixed with gasoline, eventually transitioning those annual requirements to include more of the nonfood, cellulosic materials to produce the biofuels. As criticism of ethanol has increased, lawmakers and even Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have talked of the cellulosic materials as the future of biofuels.

But the cellulosic industry stalled in the bad economy and still hasn’t produced much. According to final EPA estimates, no cellulosic fuel was produced in 2010 or 2011. Last year’s estimates aren’t yet available.

“What you have in our industry is a technology that is ready to go but has had a hard time punching through commercially because of a very challenging global financial climate,” said Brooke Coleman of the Advanced Ethanol Council, which represents companies trying to produce cellulosic fuel. Coleman said there are better hopes for 2013 as several plants are coming online.

The court faulted the EPA for setting last year’s projections at 8.7 million gallons even though the two previous years had shown no production, and also for writing in the rule that “our intention is to balance such uncertainty with the objective of promoting growth in the industry.”

Judge Stephen Williams on Friday threw out the too-high EPA estimates in response to a challenge filed by the American Petroleum Institute, which represents the oil industry.

Williams, an appointee of President Ronald Reagan, said the law was not intended to allow the EPA “let its aspirations for a self-fulfilling prophecy divert it from a neutral methodology.”

The court rejected the oil industry’s arguments that the EPA also should have lowered the total production requirement for renewable fuels once the cellulosic goals were not met, saying the EPA had authority to decide to maintain those requirements.

An EPA spokeswoman would only say the agency will “determine next steps.” The oil industry praised the decision.

“The courts have reined in a mandate for biofuels that don’t exist,” said Bob Greco of the American Petroleum Institute. “It’s a voice of reason.”


Associated Press writer Matthew Daly in Washington and AP Energy Writer Jon Fahey in New York contributed to this report.


Follow Mary Clare Jalonick on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mcjalonick

Energy News Headlines – Yahoo! News

Title Post: Court says EPA overestimates biofuels production
Url Post: http://www.news.fluser.com/court-says-epa-overestimates-biofuels-production/
Link To Post : Court says EPA overestimates biofuels production

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..

Where is aid for Syria going?


  • The U.S. ambassador to Syria says the U.S. has provided $210 million in humanitarian aid

  • The assistance has to be discrete, he said, to protect workers from being targeted

  • Washington has also provided $35 million worth of assistance to Syria's political opposition

  • Ambassador: We can help, but it's up to Syrians to find their way forward

(CNN) -- It has been more than a year since the United States government withdrew its ambassador to Syria and closed its embassy in Damascus.

On Thursday, that ambassador returned to the region along with a U.S. delegation, touring a Syrian refugee camp in Turkey to bring more attention to the growing humanitarian crisis. As the civil war has intensified in Syria, hundreds of thousands of people have sought refuge in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and other neighboring countries.

Ambassador Robert Ford gave an exclusive interview to CNN's Ivan Watson and described what the U.S. is doing to help the refugees and the Syrian opposition.

Ivan Watson: The U.S. has given $210 million in aid (to Syria), but I think that there is a perception problem because no one can actually point at what that help is. So people conclude there is no help.

Robert Ford: The assistance is going in. It's things like tents, it's things like blankets, it's things like medical equipment, but it doesn't come in big boxes with an American flag on it because we don't want the people who are delivering it to be targeted by the Syrian regime.

The regime is going after and killing people who are delivering supplies. You see them bombing even bakeries and bread lines. So we're doing that, in part, to be discrete.

The assistance is going in ... but it doesn't come in big boxes with an American flag on it.
Robert Ford, U.S. ambassador to Syria

The needs are gigantic. So even though a great deal of American materials and other countries' materials are arriving, the needs are still greater. And that's why we're going to Kuwait to talk to the United Nations and to talk to other countries about how we can talk together to provide additional assistance.

Watson: The head of the Syrian National Coalition, which the U.S. government has backed, came out with a statement very critical of the international community, saying we need $3 billion if you want us to have any say on events on the ground inside Syria. Where is that money?

Ford: (Sheikh Ahmed) Moaz al-Khatib is a good leader, and we think highly of him and we have recognized his (coalition) as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. And, of course, he wants to get as many resources as possible because of the humanitarian conditions that I was just talking about. Especially the ones inside Syria.

But we also, at the same time, have to build up those (aid) networks I was talking about. In some cases, they start out with just a few people. We don't need just a few people, we need hundreds of people, thousands of people on the inside of Syria organized to bring these things in.

And so step by step, the Syrians, Moaz al-Khatib and his organization, need to build that capacity. We can help build it, we can do training and things like that. But in the end, Syrians have to take a leadership role in this.

Watson: Is Washington giving money to the Syrian National Coalition?

Ford: We absolutely are assisting the (coalition), with everything from training to, in some cases, limited amount of cash assistance so that they can buy everything ranging from computers to telephones to radios.

Frankly, if not for the American assistance in many cases, the activists inside Syria wouldn't be in contact with the outside world. It's American help that keeps them in contact with the outside world.

Watson: But, how much assistance has this coalition gotten from the U.S.?

Ford: So far, we've allocated directly to the coalition in the neighborhood of $35 million worth of different kinds of equipment and assistance. And over the next few weeks, couple of months, we'll probably provide another $15 million worth of material assistance.

Watson: Washington recently blacklisted Jabhat al-Nusra, the Nusra Front, calling it a terrorist organization even though inside Syria, it has attracted a lot of respect for its victories and for comparative lack of corruption compared to many rebel groups. How has blacklisting the Nusra Front helped the Syrian opposition?

Ford: We blacklisted the Nusra Front because of its intimate links with al Qaeda in Iraq, an organization with whom we have direct experience, which is responsible for the killings of thousands of Iraqis, hundreds of Americans. We know what al Qaeda in Iraq did and is still doing, and we don't want it to start doing that in Syria -- which is why we highlighted its incredibly pernicious role.

I think one of the things that our classification of Nusra as a terrorist group did is it set off an alarm for the other elements of the Free Syrian Army. There was a meeting of the Free Syrian Army to set up a unified command, (and) Nusra Front was not in that meeting -- which we think is the right thing to do. As Syrians themselves understand that Nusra has a sectarian agenda, as they understand better that Nusra is anti-democratic and will seek to impose its very strict interpretation of Islam on Syria -- which historically is a relatively moderate country in terms of its religious practices -- as Syrians understand that better, I think they will more and more reject the Nusra Front itself.

Watson: But I've seen the opposite. As I go into Syria, I hear more and more support and respect for the Nusra Front, and more and more criticism for the U.S. government each time I go back.

Ford: I think that people, Ivan, are still understanding what Nusra is. I have heard criticism from the Nusra Front from people like Moaz al-Khatib who, in Marrakesh (Morocco) in his speech, said he rejected the kind of ideology which backs up Nusra. ... We have heard that from the senior commander of the Free Syrian Army as well. And so the more people understand inside Syria what Nusra is and represents, I think they will agree that is not the group on which to depend for freedom in Syria.

Watson: Do you think the U.S. government could have done more?

Ford: I think the Syrians, as I said, are the ones who will bring the answer to the problem -- just as in Iraq, Iraqis brought the solution to the Iraq crisis, to the Iraq war. The Americans can help, and we helped in Iraq, but ultimately it wasn't the Americans. Despite our help, it was Iraqis.

In Syria, again, it has to be Syrians who find their way forward. Twenty-three million Syrians need to find their way forward. We can help, and we are helping: $210 million in humanitarian assistance, $50 million to help the political opposition get organized for the day after (Bashar) al-Assad goes. These are important bits of help. But ultimately, it's not the American help. It's the Syrians themselves.

Read More..

Victim's mom removed from hearing

A basketball coach at a charter high school in the South Shore neighborhood is charged with sexually assaulting a 17-year-old student. (Source: WGN - Chicago)

The mother of an underage girl who was allegedly sexually assaulted by the basketball coach at her South Side high school began wailing at his bond hearing and had to be dragged out of the courthouse by supporters.

“That’s my (expletive) child!” the woman screamed over and over as prosecutors detailed allegations against the coach, Kevin Jones.

After deputies escorted the woman out of the courtroom, she fell to the floor wailing and later had to be physically pulled from the courthouse. Court personnel later identified her as the mother of one of two underage victims, both 17.

Jones, 33, a varsity boys basketball coach at Epic Academy Charter High School in the 8200 block of South Houston Avenue, was charged with two counts of criminal sexual assault and one count of attempted criminal sexual assault.

Prosecutors said Jones was driving the 17-year-old girl and her friend home from an away basketball game on Jan. 17 when he parked the car in an alley in the 8500 block of South Green Bay Avenue.

Jones got into the back seat of the car with the victims and unzipped his pants, Assistant State’s Atty. Joell Zahr said. He tried to force the girl into a sex act, but she resisted and was able to get out of the car.

As she stood outside the car trying to call for a ride home, the girl saw Jones engaged in a sex act with the other girl, Zahr said.

After Jones drove the one girl home, she told her mother about the incident a few days later, the prosecutor said. The girl who had escaped the car also reported the incident to a teacher at school and a friend, according to Zahr.

Jones’ attorney, Jeff Granich, said that in addition to coaching basketball at Epic, Jones was employed as a gym teacher at LEARN charter school in the 1700 block of West 83rd Street.  He is married with two young children, serves as a deacon at his church  and has no prior convictions, Granich said.

“At this point, we are shocked about these allegations, and we look forward to going to trial and clearing his name,” Granich said after court.

Judge Edward Harmening set bond at $500,000 and ordered Jones to have no contact with any children except his own if he is released from custody. 

Jones’ employment at Epic ended on Jan. 17, said Cindy Hansen, an attorney representing the school. She could not say whether he was fired or left on his own.

"The school has taken every action necessary to make sure people are safe," Hansen said. The school has "cooperated with police and the state's attorney's office," she said.

Officials at the LEARN charter school, where Jones was a PE teacher, released the following statement:

"Although the alleged  incident did not occur at our school or with any of our students, Kevin Jones has been terminated from LEARN, effective immediately. Student safety is our highest priority at all of our campuses, and we are committed to doing everything we can to ensure their security." 

Tribune reporter Jeremy Gorner contributed.


Read More..

North Korea threatens war with South over U.N. sanctions

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea threatened to attack rival South Korea if Seoul joined a new round of tightened U.N. sanctions, as Washington unveiled more of its own economic restrictions following Pyongyang's rocket launch last month.

In a third straight day of fiery rhetoric, the North directed its verbal onslaught at its neighbor on Friday, saying: "'Sanctions' mean a war and a declaration of war against us."

The reclusive North this week declared a boycott of all dialogue aimed at ending its nuclear program and vowed to conduct more rocket and nuclear tests after the U.N. Security Council censured it for a December long-range missile launch.

"If the puppet group of traitors takes a direct part in the U.N. 'sanctions,' the DPRK will take strong physical counter-measures against it," the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said, referring to the South.

The committee is the North's front for dealings with the South. The North's official name is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Speaking in Beijing, U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies said he found North Korea's rhetoric "troubling and counterproductive," and that he and his Chinese counterparts had agreed a new nuclear test would be harmful.

"We will judge North Korea by its actions, not its words. These types of inflammatory statements by North Korea do nothing to contribute to peace and stability on the peninsula," he said.

"What North Korea has done through its actions, in particular through the launch on December 12 of a rocket in contravention of Security Council resolutions, is they have made it that much more difficult to contemplate getting back to a diplomatic process."

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland urged North Korea's young leader Kim Jong-un to choose a different path, rather than "continue to waste what little money the country has on missile technologies and things while his people go hungry."

The U.N. Security Council unanimously condemned North Korea's December rocket launch on Tuesday and expanded existing U.N. sanctions.

On Thursday, the United States slapped economic sanctions on two North Korean bank officials and a Hong Kong trading company that it accused of supporting Pyongyang's proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The company, Leader (Hong Kong) International Trading Ltd, was separately blacklisted by the United Nations on Wednesday.

Seoul has said it will look at whether there are any further sanctions that it can implement alongside the United States, but said the focus for now is to follow Security Council resolutions.

The resolution said the council "deplores the violations" by North Korea of its previous resolutions, which banned Pyongyang from conducting further ballistic missile and nuclear tests and from importing materials and technology for those programs. It does not impose new sanctions on Pyongyang.

The United States had wanted to punish North Korea for the rocket launch with a Security Council resolution that imposed entirely new sanctions against Pyongyang, but Beijing rejected that option. China agreed to U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang after North Korea's 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.

Nuland declined to speculate whether the United States thinks the U.N. steps would change North Korea's behavior.

"What's been important to us is strong unity among the six-party talks countries; strong unity in the region about a positive course forward; and the fact that there will be consequences if they keep making bad choices," she said.

Long-dormant six-nation talks brought together the United States, China, Russia, Japan and the two Koreas in negotiations to try to induce Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear arms quest in exchange for economic aid and diplomatic normalization.


North Korea's rhetoric this week amounted to some of the angriest outbursts against the outside world coming under the leadership of Kim Jong-un, who took over after the death of his father Kim Jong-il in late 2011.

On Thursday, the North said it would carry out further rocket launches and a nuclear test, directing its ire at the United States, a country it called its "sworn enemy".

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the comments were worrying.

"We are very concerned with North Korea's continuing provocative behavior," he said at a Pentagon news conference.

"We are fully prepared ... to deal with any kind of provocation from the North Koreans. But I hope in the end that they determine that it is better to make a choice to become part of the international family."

North Korea is not believed to have the technology to deliver a nuclear warhead capable of hitting the continental United States, although its December launch showed it had the capacity to deliver a rocket that could travel 10,000 km (6,200 miles), potentially putting San Francisco in range, according to an intelligence assessment by South Korea.

South Korea and others who have been closely observing activities at the North's known nuclear test grounds believe Pyongyang is technically ready to go ahead with its third atomic test and awaiting the political decision of its leader.

The North's committee also declared on Friday that a landmark agreement it signed with the South in 1992 on eliminating nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula was invalid, repeating its long-standing accusation that Seoul was colluding with Washington.

The foreign ministry of China, the North's sole remaining major diplomatic and economic benefactor, repeated its call for calm on the Korean peninsula at its daily briefing earlier on Friday.

"The current situation on the Korea peninsula is complicated and sensitive," spokesman Hong Lei said.

"We hope all relevant parties can see the big picture, maintain calm and restraint, further maintain contact and dialogue, and improve relations, while not taking actions to further complicate and escalate the situation," Hong said.

But unusually prickly comments in Chinese state media on Friday hinted at Beijing's exasperation.

"It seems that North Korea does not appreciate China's efforts," said the Global Times in an editorial, a sister publication of the official People's Daily.

"Just let North Korea be 'angry' ... China hopes for a stable peninsula, but it's not the end of the world if there's trouble there. This should be the baseline of China's position."

(Additional reporting by Michael Martina, Sui-Lee Wee and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING and Arshad Mohammed and Paul Eckert in WASHINGTON; Editing by Jonathan Standing, Myra MacDonald and Jackie Frank)

Read More..

S&P rises for seventh day but 1,500 too steep a climb

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The smallest of gains gave the Standard & Poor's 500 its seventh straight winning day on Thursday, but the index failed to hold above the 1,500 line, restrained by Apple's worst day in more than four years.

Apple Inc slid 12.4 percent to $450.50 a day after it posted revenue that missed Wall Street's forecast as iPhone sales were poorer than expected.

The sharp drop wiped out nearly $60 billion in Apple's market capitalization to less than $423 billion, leaving the company vulnerable to losing its status as the most valuable U.S. company to second-place ExxonMobil , at $416.5 billion.

The S&P 500, however, managed to hit its longest winning streak since October 2006.

"The market has sent the message it is no longer driven by the whims of Apple," said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O'Neil Securities in New York.

The S&P 500 briefly traded above 1,500 for the first time since December 12, 2007, but failed to hold above it, indicating that momentum is waning and a pullback is in the charts.

"If the market had a little bit more excitement to it, momentum players would have jumped after it broke through 1,500. Investors know the market is a little bit ahead of itself," Polcari said.

Economic data helped buoy equities as U.S. factory activity grew the most in nearly two years in January and new claims for jobless benefits dropped to a five-year low last week, giving surprisingly strong signals on the economy's pulse.

At the same time, Chinese manufacturing grew this month at the fastest pace in about two years, while data suggesting German growth picked up boosted hopes for a euro-zone recovery.

"PMI in Asia, Europe, and obviously, here in the United States, is moving in the right direction, and that's stuff people should be excited about," Polcari said.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> rose 46 points or 0.33 percent, to 13,825.33 at the close. The S&P 500 <.spx> inched up just 0.01 of a point, or 0 percent, to finish at 1,494.82. The Nasdaq Composite <.ixic> dropped 23.29 points or 0.74 percent, to end at 3,130.38, with most of that loss on Apple's slide.

The broader Russell 2000 index <.rut> also hit a milestone as it closed above 900 points for the first time.

Video streaming service Netflix Inc surprised Wall Street with a quarterly profit after it added nearly 4 million customers in the United States and abroad. Netflix shares surged 42.2 percent to $146.86, its biggest percentage jump ever.

Earnings have helped drive the stock market's recent rally. Thomson Reuters data through early Thursday showed that of the 133 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings so far, 66.9 percent have exceeded expectations - above the 65 percent average over the past four quarters.

About 6.8 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE MKT, below the daily average during January 2012 of about 6.93 billion shares.

Roughly five issues rose for every four that fell on both the NYSE and Nasdaq.

(Editing by Jan Paschal)

Read More..

Azarenka eludes chokehold, gains Australian final

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Sloane Stephens sat for nine minutes, mostly staring at the court and trying to forget the curious timing of Victoria Azarenka's medical timeout. She may have been the only one trying to ignore it.

The 19-year-old American had just saved five match points and broken Azarenka. But she knew she had to hold serve to stay in her first Grand Slam semifinal whenever Azarenka — the No. 1 player and defending Australian Open champion — returned to Rod Laver Arena.

The restless murmuring in the crowd gave way to slow claps. Why had Azarenka chosen that very moment for a medical break?

Azarenka eventually hustled onto the court, and Stephens won only three more points, losing 6-1, 6-4.

"I almost did the choke of the year," Azarenka said in a frank admission during an on-court interview. "At 5-3, having so many chances, I couldn't close it out."

The crowd that had cheered wildly for Stephens, only 25 hours after she ousted an injured Serena Williams, gave Azarenka tepid applause as she left the court. She'll face 2011 finalist Li Na in the final Saturday night. Given the support Li enjoyed in her 6-2, 6-2 win over No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova, there's no question which player the crowd will favor in the title match.

Azarenka's immediate post-match remarks suggest she panicked after failing to convert five match points, her forehand misfiring. She had little trouble finishing the match after she came back, and the No. 29-seeded Stephens had cooled off.

"I just felt a little bit overwhelmed. I realized I'm one step away from the final and nerves got into me for sure," Azarenka said.

The 23-year-old Belarusian said she was later compelled to explain that she misunderstood the question in the on-court interview, and she wanted to dispel the perception that her medical timeout amounted to little more than gamesmanship.

"I understand the point of people maybe not understanding what I said; me not understanding what I've been asked," she said during an official news conference more than two-thirds devoted to questions on her medical timeout. "So I'm just glad that I'm here, you know, to make everything clear.

"You know, I think you cannot really judge by (a) few words. The situation had to be explained."

Medical staff said Azarenka had timeouts for treatment of left knee and rib injuries. The rib needed to be manipulated because it was affecting her breathing. Tournament director Craig Tiley said Azarenka hadn't broken any rules.

Azarenka hadn't helped herself in a second television interview after the match when she said she couldn't breathe.

"I had chest pains," she said. "It was like I was getting a heart attack."

She tried to allay any negative perception with her explanation that the choking was related to shortness of breath from the rib injury, not her faltering game.

"When you cannot breathe you start to panic," she said. "I was really panicking, not because I couldn't convert my match point. That's not the case. I mean, I'm experienced enough to go over those emotions. But when you cannot breathe, when something's really blocking you, the stress — that was the stress I was talking about.

"What I said — that I was stressed out and choked — was not because I couldn't finish my shot. It was just so stressing me out the pain that I had that, maybe it was overreaction, but I just really couldn't breathe."

Azarenka had retired during previous Grand Slam matches, including a fourth-round match against Serena Williams at the 2009 Australian Open. But with a second major title so close, and the fact she needed to reach the final to retain the No. 1 ranking, she desperately didn't want to quit this time.

For her part, Stephens seemed sympathetic. She had to wait through a medical timeout Wednesday when Williams received treatment for a sore back — the 15-time major winner injured herself after leading by a set and a break. Another rival earlier in the tournament took a long break between sets for other reasons.

"I mean, when you take a medical break or timeout, obviously it's for a reason," she said. "I mean, just another something else that happens. If it was one of my friends, I would say, 'Oh, my God, that sounds like a PP, which is a personal problem. Other than that, it's just unfortunate."

Besides, Stephens said, it didn't affect the outcome of the match.

"No, not at all. She played obviously a really good match," she said. "First set she played awesome; got close in the second. It didn't go my way, but I wouldn't say at all what happened affected the match."

Novak Djokovic dispensed with No. 4-seeded David Ferrer 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 in the night match, saying he "played perfectly" to reach his third consecutive Australian Open title match. Then he dispensed some medical advice of his own.

The Serb, who won the Australian titles in 2008, 2011 and 2012, wore a white shirt with a red cross on the back, pretending to be a doctor to treat Henri Leconte during a legends doubles match at Rod Laver Arena.

He's relaxed now that he has an extra day to prepare for Sunday's final. Djokovic will next play the winner of Friday's semifinal between No. 2 Roger Federer, a four-time Australian Open champion, and No. 3 Andy Murray, the U.S. Open champion.

Djokovic lost only seven points in 11 service games against Ferrer, and hit 30 crisp, clean winners in an almost flawless performance.

"I cannot remember the last time I played so well," Djokovic said. "I've played many great matches, but this one stands out. Hopefully, I can play the same level on Sunday."

He played confidently in the first two sets, and was sublime in the third. Even Ferrer, who has now lost five Grand Slam semifinals and never reached a championship match, was surprised.

After hitting a forehand a fraction wide of the line and losing his challenge in a review, Ferrer double-faulted to give Djokovic match point. The errors were a measure of just how much pressure Djokovic was applying.

Right after his semifinal, Djokovic started playing mind games leading to the final.

"Federer-Murray, when they're playing it's always very close," he said, confirming he'd be closely watching the match. "I wouldn't give the role of the favorite to either of them. I expect to enjoy it. Whoever I play against, I'm going to be ready."

Read More..

W.Va. average gas prices fall 2 cents per gallon

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Motorists are paying a little less for gas in West Virginia than they did a week ago.

AAA East Central says the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is about $ 3.42, down 2 cents from a week ago.

The national average remained rose by a penny to $ 3.31.

The highest average price is in Martinsburg, where a gallon of regular costs about $ 3.60. Motorists in Parkersburg are paying the lowest price at $ 3.22. (backslash)

Energy News Headlines – Yahoo! News

Title Post: W.Va. average gas prices fall 2 cents per gallon
Url Post: http://www.news.fluser.com/w-va-average-gas-prices-fall-2-cents-per-gallon/
Link To Post : W.Va. average gas prices fall 2 cents per gallon

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..

Neanderthal cloning? Pure fantasy

A display of a reconstruction of a Neanderthal man and boy at the Museum for Prehistory in Eyzies-de-Tayac, France.


  • Arthur Caplan: It would be unethical to try and clone a Neanderthal baby

  • Caplan: Downsides include a good chance of producing a baby that is seriously deformed

  • He says the future belongs to what we can do to genetically engineer and control microbes

  • Caplan: Microbes can make clean fuel, suck up carbon dioxide, clean fat out of arteries

Editor's note: Arthur Caplan is the Drs. William F and Virginia Connolly Mitty professor and director of the Division of Bioethics at New York University Langone Medical Center.

(CNN) -- So now we know -- there won't be a Neanderthal moving into your neighborhood.

Despite a lot of frenzied attention to the intentionally provocative suggestion by a renowned Harvard scientist that new genetic technology makes it possible to splice together a complete set of Neanderthal genes, find an adventurous surrogate mother and use cloning to gin up a Neanderthal baby -- it ain't gonna happen anytime soon.

Nor should it. But there are plenty of other things in the works involving genetic engineering that do merit serious ethical discussion at the national and international levels.

Arthur Caplan

Arthur Caplan

Some thought that the Harvard scientist, George Church, was getting ready to put out an ad seeking volunteer surrogate moms to bear a 35,000-year-old, long-extinct Neanderthal baby. Church had to walk his comments back and note that he was just speculating, not incubating.

Still cloning carries so much mystery and Hollywood glamour thanks to movies such as "Jurassic Park," "The Boys From Brazil" and "Never Let Me Go" that a two-day eruption of the pros and cons of making Neanderthals ensued. That was not necessary. It would be unethical to try and clone a Neanderthal baby.

Why? Because there is no obvious reason to do so. There is no pressing need or remarkable benefit to undertaking such a project. At best it might shed some light on the biology and behavior of a distant ancestor. At worst it would be nothing more than the ultimate reality television show exploitation: An "Octomom"-like surrogate raises a caveman child -- tune in next week to see what her new boyfriend thinks when she tells him that there is a tiny addition in her life and he carries a small club and a tiny piece of flint to sleep with him.

The downsides of trying to clone a Neanderthal include a good chance of killing it, producing a baby that is seriously deformed, producing a baby that lacks immunity to infectious diseases and foods that we have gotten used to, an inability to know what environment to create to permit the child to flourish and a complete lack of understanding of what sort of behavior is "normal" or "appropriate" for such a long-extinct cousin hominid of ours.

When weighed against the risks and the harm that most likely would be done, it would take a mighty big guarantee of benefit to justify this cloning experiment. I am willing to venture that the possible benefit will never, ever reach the point where this list of horrible likely downsides could be overcome.

Even justifying trying to resurrect a woolly mammoth, or a mastodon, or the dodo bird or any other extinct animal gets ethically thorny. How many failures would be acceptable to get one viable mastodon? Where would the animal live? What would we feed it? Who would protect it from poachers, gawkers and treasure hunters? It is not so simple to take a long dead species, make enough of them so they don't die of isolation and lack of social stimulation and then find an environment that is close enough and safe enough compared with that which they once roamed.

In any event the most interesting aspects of genetic engineering do not involve making humans or Neanderthals or mammoths. They involve ginning up microbes to do things that we really need doing such as making clean fuel, sucking up carbon dioxide, cleaning fat out of our arteries, giving us a lot more immunity to nasty bacteria and viruses and helping us make plastics and chemicals more efficiently and cheaply.

In trying to make these kinds of microbes, you can kill all you want without fear of ethical condemnation. And if the new bug does not like the environment in which it has to exist to live well, that will be just too darn bad.

The ethical challenge of this kind of synthetic biology is that it can be used by bad guys for bad purposes. Biological weapons can be ginned up and microbes created that only infect people with certain genes that commonly associate with racial or ethnic groups.

Rather than worry about what will happen to real estate values should a new crop of "Flintstones" move in down the street, our public officials, religious groups and ethicists need to get serious about how much regulation the genetic engineering of microbes needs, how can we detect what terrorists might try to use, what sort of controls do we need to prevent accidents and who is going to pay if a bug turns out to cause more harm than good.

We love to think that the key to tomorrow lies in what humanity can be designed or empowered to do. Thus, the fascination with human cloning. In reality, at least for a long time to come, the future belongs to what we can do to design and control microbes. That is admittedly duller, but it is far better to follow a story that is true than one such as Neanderthal cloning that is pure, speculative fantasy.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Arthur Caplan.

Read More..