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)

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Azarenka wins back-to-back Australian titles

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Victoria Azarenka won her second consecutive Australian Open title, beating Li Na 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in a final that included a break for fireworks, two medical timeouts and a nasty fall to the court by Li.

The Chinese star first tumbled to the court after twisting her left ankle in the fifth game of the second set and had it taped.

On the first point after a 10-minute pause in the third set while fireworks boomed overhead from nearby Australia Day celebrations, Li fell over again and slammed the back of her head on the court. The 2011 French Open champion was treated and had another timeout before being allowed to resume the match.

Azarenka, who broke down in tears and sobbed into her towel when the match ended, won five of the next six games to claim her second major title and retain the No. 1 ranking.

"Unfortunately, you have to go through some rough patches to achieve great things. That's what makes it so special for me," she said. "I went through that, and I'm still able to kiss that beautiful trophy."

Serena Williams, who lost in the quarterfinals, will become the new No. 2 in the rankings.

Americans Mike and Bob Bryan won their record 13th Grand Slam doubles title, defeating the Dutch team of Robin Haase and Igor Sijsling 6-3, 6-4. They had been tied with the Australian greats John Newcombe and Tony Roche with 12 major titles.

The women's 2-hour, 40-minute match featured 16 service breaks, with Li losing her service nine times.

On a crisp Saturday night, Azarenka won the coin toss and elected to receive, a ploy that seemed to work when a nervous Li was broken to start the match. After a double fault on the first point, Li's forehand long gave Azarenka the early lead.

When she first injured her ankle, Li was trailing 3-1 in the second set. When she came back, she won three of the next four games to tie it 4-4, but Azarenka broke back and then held her serve.

Azarenka broke in the opening game of the final set, just two games before the match was suspended for the fireworks, a planned stoppage of play that both players were notified about before the match.

While Azarenka jogged around and practiced her serving motion during the 10-minute fireworks break, Li sat on her courtside chair for most of the stoppage.

It was on the first point that she again fell to the court.

Li said she went "totally black" for two seconds after her head hit the court, and when a medical official asked her to follow her finger, "I started laughing, thinking 'This is a tennis court, not like a hospital.'"

Li said the tournament doctor saw her after the match and checked out her head and neck.

"I should be OK,' Li said.

From the outset, the capacity crowd at Rod Laver Arena was firmly behind Li, cheering loudly when she was introduced. Meanwhile, Azarenka's errors were applauded, and one spectator even mocked the loud hooting sound she makes when she hits a shot.

The chill from the crowd was a remnant of Azarenka's semifinal win over American teenager Sloane Stephens, when Azarenka was criticized for taking a questionable 10-minute medical timeout near the end of the match. She was accused of taking the time out to compose herself after she'd wasted five match points while serving for the match against Stephens. Azarenka said she needed the time out because a rib injury was making it difficult for her to breathe and she had a knee injury.

In the second set Saturday, a few fans heckled Azarenka. One man yelled, "Take a deep breath, Vicky."

By the end of the match, she appeared to have won some of the fans back. Azarenka's friend, rapper Redfoo, yelled down to her from the player box "You deserve it," and she later blew kisses to the crowd. Someone else in the crowd shouted "Victoria, we love you."

Azarekna appeared to quickly forgive the crowd, saying during the trophy presentations that she wanted to thank the fans for their support.

"I will always keep very special memories of this court and it will be in my heart forever," she said, pausing several times to find the right words. "Of course, I (almost) forgot to say congratulations to Li Na, she's had a terrific start to the year ... hope to see you in many, many more finals."

Later, Azarenka said she expected a "way worse" reception from the crowd.

"You just have to go out there and try to play tennis in the end of the day," she said. "The things what happened in the past, I did the best thing I could to explain, to do everything I could, and it was left behind me already."

Azarenka and Li had met twice before in Grand Slam tournaments, with Li winning both times — in the fourth round of the 2011 Australian Open and quarterfinals at the French Open. Li lost the 2011 Australian Open final to Kim Clijsters but won her first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros a few months later, beating Francesca Schiavone.

But after failing to advance past the fourth round at any major in 2012, Li hired Carlos Rodriguez, Justine Henin's former coach. The hard training he's put her through in the past four months appears to be paying dividends.

Li won a WTA tournament in China before travelling to Australia, where she advanced to the semifinals at the Sydney International.

In the men's final on Sunday, Novak Djokovic will attempt to win his third consecutive Australian Open against U.S. Open champion Andy Murray. Djokovic has had the benefit of an extra day off after an easy three-set win over David Ferrer on Thursday night, while Murray needed a tough five-setter to defeat Roger Federer.

Murray has predicted a tough match with long rallies against Djokovic, the player he beat in the final at Flushing Meadows in September.

"I'm ready for the pain," he said. "I hope it's a painful match, that will mean it will be a good one."

The Bryan brothers have six Australian Open doubles titles to go along with four at the U.S. Open, two at Wimbledon and one at the French Open.

In the other final Sunday to end the year's first Grand Slam, the unseeded pairs of Jarmila Gajdosova and Matthew Ebden of Australia and the Czech Republic's Lucie Hradecka and Frantisek Cermak play for the mixed doubles championship.

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Supergiant Star Betelgeuse to Crash Into Cosmic ‘Wall’

The red supergiant star Betelgeuse in the famed constellation Orion is on a collision course with a strange wall of interstellar dust, with the clock ticking down to a cataclysmic cosmic smashup in 5,000 years, scientists say.

A new image of Betelgeuse by the European Space Agency’s infrared Herschel space observatory, shows that the star will crash headlong into a trail of space dust while speeding through its part of the cosmos at a blistering 18.6 miles (30 kilometers) per second. That’s about 66,960 mph (107,761 kph).

Betelgeuse is a giant star that makes up the left shoulder of the Orion constellation and can easily be seen from Earth with the unaided eye by observers in the Northern Hemisphere. The star appears as a reddish-orange light above and to the left of Orion’s belt.

The new Herschel observatory image shows Betelgeuse as a bright disk surrounded by a shield-like arc of gas as it approaches an odd bar-like wall of dust.

The curved “shield” formations to the left of the star are actually structures shaped by Betelgeuse’s solar wind — the charged particles each star emits and blows out into the galaxy, ESA officials said. But the wall of dust the star will crash into may be anything, from a filament linked to the galaxy’s magnetic field to a stellar cloud. Scientists do not think the dust wall is part of the Betelgeuse star structure.

After the first bow of solar wind hits the line of dust in 5,000 years, Betelgeuse itself should run into the bar 12,500 years after that.

Betelgeuse is about 100,000 times brighter than the sun and 1,000 times larger. If Betelgeuse was at the center of the Earth’s solar system, it would extend out to the orbit of Jupiter, astronomers have said. In about 1 million years, when the star uses up its nuclear fuel, Betelgeuse will shed the last of its layers in a bright and violent explosion known as a supernova.

The Herschel space observatory launched 2009 to study the formation of galaxies and how stars interact with its surroundings.

Follow Miriam Kramer on Twitter @mirikramer or SPACE.com @Spacedotcom. We’re also on Facebook & Google+

Copyright 2013 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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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.

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3 dead, 2 wounded in pair of early morning shootings

Photo: Three men were shot outside of a diner in the Bridgeport neighborhood

Photo: Three men were shot outside of a diner in the Bridgeport neighborhood
(Peter Nickeas / January 26, 2013)

Two shootings on the South and West sides left three people dead and two wounded Saturday morning. 

Three men were shot outside of a diner at the corner of Wallace Street and Pershing Road in the Bridgeport neighborhood about 4 a.m. Saturday, police said. Two men died at the scene. 

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. That happened about 2:15 a.m. 

Check back for more information. 


Twitter: @PeterNickeas

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At least 22 die in Egyptian clashes over death sentences

PORT SAID, Egypt/CAIRO (Reuters) - At least 22 people died on Saturday when Egyptians rampaged in protest at the sentencing of 21 people to death over a soccer stadium disaster, adding to bloody street turmoil confronting Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.

Armored vehicles and military police fanned through the streets of Port Said after the violence. The state news agency quoted a general as saying the military aimed to "establish calm and stability in Port Said and to protect public institutions".

The unrest began with nationwide rallies on Friday to mark the second anniversary of the overthrow of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, a democratic uprising that protesters now accuse Mursi of betraying by ramming through an Islamist-hued constitution.

While anniversary-related violence subsided, a new flare-up hit Port Said after a court sentenced 21 men to die for involvement in the deaths of 74 people after a local soccer match on February 1, 2012, many of them fans of the visiting team.

Residents ran wildly through the streets of Port Said in rage that men from their city had been blamed for the stadium disaster, and gunshots were reported near the prison where most of the defendants were being held.

State television, citing the Health Ministry, said 22 people were killed and more than 200 wounded. Security sources said at least two of the dead were policemen.

A witness said some men stormed a police station in Port Said, where protesters lit tires in the street, sending black smoke funneling into the air.

At least nine people were killed in clashes with police on Friday, mainly in the port of Suez where the army has also deployed. Hundreds were injured as police rained down tear gas on protesters armed with stones and some with petrol bombs.

The schism between Islamists and secular Egyptians is hurting efforts by Mursi, freely elected in June, to revive an economy in crisis and reverse a slide in Egypt's currency.

The political strife and lack of security that has blighted the Arab world's most populous country over much of the post-Mubarak era is casting a chilling shadow over a parliamentary election expected to start in April.

Highlighting tensions, the opposition National Salvation Front coalition called for a government of national unity and an early presidential vote among other demands. It said it would call for more protests next Friday and could boycott the parliamentary election if its demands are not met.

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

His supporters say his critics do not respect the democracy that has given Egypt its first freely elected leader.


At the Port Said soccer stadium a year ago, many spectators were crushed and witnesses saw some thrown off balconies after the match between Cairo's Al Ahly and local team al-Masri.

Families of victims in court cheered and wept for joy when Judge Sobhy Abdel Maguid read a list of 21 names "referred to the Mufti", a phrase used to denote execution, as all death sentences must be reviewed by Egypt's top religious authority.

A total of 73 people have been standing trial. Other rulings will be issued on March 9, the judge said.

One relative in the court shouted: "God is greatest." Outside the Al Ahly club in Cairo, fans also cheered. They had threatened more violence unless the death penalty was meted out.

Thousands took to the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and other cities on Friday to protest against what they call the authoritarianism of Mursi's rule. Protesters in Cairo were again hurling stones at police lines in Cairo on Saturday.

"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 and near where youths stoned police.


Ahmed Salama, 28, a protester camped out with dozens of others in Tahrir, said: "The protests will continue until we realize all the demands of the revolution - bread, freedom and social justice."

In a statement in response to Friday's violence, Mursi said the state would not hesitate in "pursuing the criminals and delivering them to justice". He urged Egyptians to respect the principles of the revolution by expressing views peacefully.

The president met on Saturday with the National Defence Council, which includes senior ministers and security officials, to discuss the spate of violence.

In a televised statement, the National Salvation Front said it was holding Mursi responsible.

The Front was formed from disparate groups last year when Mursi awarded himself extra powers and fast-tracked an Islamist-flavored constitution to a referendum, opposed by the Front although the document was passed in the popular vote.

"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 his Twitter account.

Until the Front was formed, the opposition had struggled to unite and their vote had been split at presidential and parliamentary polls, helping Islamists. The last parliament was dissolved based on court order, demanding a new vote this year.

Mustapha Kamal Al-Sayyid, a professor of political science at Cairo University, said the latest violence reflected the frustration of many liberal-minded Egyptians and others.

"The state of polarization between Islamists and others is most likely to continue and will have a very negative impact on the state's politics, security and economy," he said.

Inspired by the popular uprising in Tunisia, Egypt's revolution spurred further revolts across the Arab world. But the sense of common purpose among Egyptians two years ago has unraveled, triggering bloody street battles last month.

(Additional reporting by Omar Fahmy; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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S&P 500 eyes best winning streak in eight years

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks rose on Friday, buoyed by sturdy corporate earnings from Procter & Gamble and Honeywell, with the S&P 500 poised for its longest winning streak in more than eight years.

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

Those factors helped the S&P 500 rally for a seventh day on Thursday to a five-year peak. Still, the index struggled to climb convincingly above 1,500, a level it surpassed briefly Thursday for the first time since December 2007.

If the S&P 500 rises for an eighth day on Friday it will be its longest winning streak since late 2004, when it rallied for nine straight days.

"We are seeing a very broad-based rally and the ingredients are still in place," said Steve Goldman, principal at Goldman Management in Short Hills, New Jersey. "This is the lift-off phase and it's still significant."

Procter & Gamble , the world's top household products maker, said quarterly profit soared past expectations and raised its sales and earnings outlook for the fiscal year. Shares rose 3.5 pct to $72.93.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> gained 27.45 points, or 0.20 percent, to 13,852.78. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> rose 4.19 points, or 0.28 percent, to 1,499.01. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> added 8.63 points, or 0.28 percent, to 3,139.01.

Honeywell International Inc posted fourth-quarter earnings just above Wall Street estimates, reflecting the diversified U.S. manufacturer's campaign to boost profit margins in the face of sluggish sales growth. The shares rose 0.9 percent to $68.82.

Pointing to a rotation out of bonds, U.S. 30-year Treasury bonds traded more than a point lower in price on Friday, with yields touching session highs at 3.10 percent.

"You have had more confidence from fund managers to provide more allocations to equity markets," which looked more attractive than bonds or cash, said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management.

Recent company earnings have been encouraging. Thomson Reuters data through early Thursday showed that of the 133 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings so far, 66.9 percent exceeded expectations, more than the 65 percent average over the past four quarters.

Microsoft Corp reported lower quarterly profit on Thursday as Office software sales slowed ahead of a new launch, offsetting a solid but unspectacular start for its Windows 8 operating system and sending the company's shares down 0.2 percent to $27.51.

Apple stepped up audits of working conditions at major suppliers last year, discovering multiple cases of underage workers, discrimination and wage problems. The shares, which fell 12 percent Thursday after disappointing earnings, were little changed at around $450.93.

German business morale improved for a third consecutive month in January to its highest in more than half a year, providing further evidence that growth in Europe's largest economy was gathering speed after contracting late last year.

Echoing a more positive tone in Europe, ECB President Mario Draghi said on Friday he expects the euro zone economy to recover later this year, and that financial market improvements had not yet trickled into the general economy.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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Murray edges Federer, reaches Australian final

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Andy Murray has finally beaten Roger Federer at a Grand Slam.

The U.S. Open champion beat 17-time major winner Federer 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2 Friday at the Australian Open, calling it a massive confidence boost as he attempts to win his second consecutive major.

Murray, who missed his chance to serve out the match at 6-5 in the fourth set, will play defending champion and top-seeded Novak Djokovic in Sunday's final. Djokovic cruised past David Ferrer in straight sets in just under 90 minutes — 2 1/2 hours less than Murray's semifinal.

Advantage Djokovic.

There was some controversy in that 12th game of the fourth set when Federer appeared to glare and say something to Murray when the Scotsman stopped momentarily behind the baseline during the rally.

Murray ignored it after winning the point, but conceded serve in that game and lost the ensuing tiebreaker before regrouping in the fifth set.

"I mean, it wasn't a big deal," Federer said. "We just looked at each other one time. That's OK, I think. We were just checking each other out for bit. That wasn't a big deal for me — I hope not for him."

While Murray came into the match with a 10-9 career advantage, Murray had never beaten Federer in their three previous meetings at a major — the finals of the 2008 U.S. Open, 2010 Australian Open and last year at Wimbledon.

"It's always tough against him, when he plays in Slams is when he plays his best tennis," Murray said. "When his back was against the wall at 6-5 and I was serving, he came up with some unbelievable shots. I just had to keep fighting."

Federer outplayed Murray at stages of the match, but the 25-year-old Scotsman appeared to have the legs and stamina over the 31-year-old Federer in the fifth set, including a service break to clinch the tense match.

"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 said he was playing catch-up all night.

"Definitely it was more of a chase," Federer said. "I think I had my chances a little bit. Obviously, you're going to go through a five-setter with some regrets. But overall, I think Andy was a bit better than I was tonight."

With a capacity crowd of 15,000 at Rod Laver Arena watching, including the Australian legend Laver himself, Federer opened the match serving and was in trouble early, losing a 28-rally point to set up break point for Murray. But Federer held the game with a stunning cross-court forehand that just looped over the net from the baseline.

Murray, who had not lost a set through five rounds at Melbourne Park this year, had the first service break — on his fourth break point — to lead 2-1. It came in unusually cool summer conditions in Melbourne — breezy and temperatures of only 60 degrees during most of the match.

The crowd was initially evenly split between Federer and Murray supporters — and at times, they were competing to be heard. At one point in the second set, a group of Murray fans wearing white shirts with blue letters spelling his nickname "Muzza" stood to chant Murray's name, while a group of Federer supporters with Swiss flags on their cheeks and shirts chanted Federer's name.

Earlier Friday, top-seeded Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci of Italy won the first title of 2013 at Melbourne Park, beating the unseeded Australian pair of Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 for the women's doubles championship.

The 16-year-old Barty was attempting to become the youngest Grand Slam champion since Martina Hingis won the Australian Open singles title in 1997.

On Saturday, defending champion Victoria Azarenka plays sixth-seeded Li Na of China for the women's singles title. Li lost the Australian Open final to Kim Clijsters in 2011 two months before winning her first and only Grand Slam at the French Open.

"Last time was more exciting, (more) nervous because it was my first time to be in a final," Li said. "But I think this time (I'm) more calmed down, more cool."

Azarenka leads 5-4 in career matches, including the last four times they've played.

"I'm really hungry to defend my title," said Azarenka, who needs to beat Li to retain her No. 1 ranking. "I've put myself in the position to give it the best shot."

If Li win, Serena Williams will regain the No. 1 ranking.

Also on Saturday, American brothers Bob and Mike Bryan will play their fifth consecutive Australian Open doubles final and attempt to win their record 13th Grand Slam doubles championship. They'll play the Dutch pair of Robin Haase and Igor Sijsling.

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Egyptian Mummy’s Elaborate Hairstyle Revealed in 3D

Nearly 2,000 years ago, at a time when Egypt was under the control of the Roman Empire, a young woman with an elaborate hairstyle was laid to rest only yards away from a king’s pyramid, researchers report.

She was 5 feet 2 inches in height, around age 20 when she died, and was buried in a decorated coffin whose face is gilded with gold. A nearby pyramid, at a site called Hawara, was built about 2 millennia before her lifetime. The location of her burial is known from archival notes.  

High-resolution CT scans reveal that, before she was buried, her hair was dressed in an elaborate hairstyle.

“The mummy’s hair is readily appreciable, with longer strands at the middle of the scalp drawn back into twists or plaits that were then wound into a tutulus, or chignon at the vertex (crown) of the head,” writes a research team in a paper published recently in the journal RSNA RadioGraphics. They note that it was a popular hairstyle at the time, which may have been inspired by a Roman empress, Faustina I, who lived in the second century. [See Photos of Egyptian Mummy's Reconstruction]

Today, thanks to research and reconstruction work that includes high-resolution CT scans, anthropological analysis, 3D printing and facial reconstruction drawing, this woman, along with two other mummies, are being brought back to life. Their three-dimensional faces and hair, carefully reconstructed by professional forensic artist Victoria Lywood, of John Abbott College, are set to be revealed tomorrow (Jan. 25) at the Redpath Museum at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

In pictures sent to LiveScience the reconstructions appear vividly real in every aspect, from the tone of their muscles to the color and style of their hair. It looks like they could be people living today.

“They are three human Egyptian mummies that have been trapped in the manner they held when laid to rest nearly 2,000 years ago. And now we can reveal what they might have looked like,” the team writes in a press release.  All three mummies were donated to the Redpath Museum in the 19th century.

While two scientific papers have recently been published on them, and their reconstructed faces are set to be unveiled, there are still plenty of mysteries for Egyptologists to tackle. For instance, when researchers scanned the woman they found three puncture marks, each about an eighth of an inch (3-4 millimeters) across, on the right side of her abdominal wall, wounds that may have killed her, leading to the question — how did she get them?  

“These wounds were believed to have occurred either before or shortly after death,” the researchers write in their RadioGraphics paper, “although these CT findings are far from conclusive, it is possible that the punctures are related to the cause of death.”

The ‘matron’

Another mummy, dubbed the “white-haired matron,” is of a woman who lived long enough to see her hair go gray, likely passing away sometime between the ages of 30 and 50. Radiocarbon dating indicates that she lived late in the time of Roman rule (A.D. 230-380), when Christianity was growing in Egypt and mummification was soon to go out of style. At 5 foot 3 inches, she was relatively tall for her time, and museum records indicate that she was found somewhere in the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes (modern-day Luxor).

She suffered from a problem quite common in ancient Egypt — bad, and rather painful, teeth. “Thecondition of the teeth of (the mummy) was poor,” the team writes in the RadioGraphics paper, noting that she was missing several of them and that a large cavity, between two teeth, was visible along with several abscesses.

Theban male

The third reconstructed mummy lived a few centuries earlier than the other two, at a time when a dynasty of Greek kings ruled Egypt. If he and the matron could talk, they could sympathize with each other’s dental problems. [Mummy Melodrama: 9 Secrets of Otzi the Iceman]

The 5-foot-4-inch male mummy had numerous cavities, including one that caused a sinus infection, possibly killing him. His condition was so bad that in his final days he had a form of linen “packing,” dipped in medicine, inserted into one of his cavities. According to records he also was found in Thebes, with CT scans showing that he died relatively young, likely in his 20s or early 30s.

Western University researcher Andrew Wade, a leading member of the team, said at a recent Egyptology symposium in Toronto that the development of high-resolution CT scans has played a key role in advancing the study of Egyptian mummies, including these three individuals, unveiling tiny details that help bring their past to life. 

“The high spatial and contrast resolution of the last decade of CT studies of mummies has allowed us to examine the paleo-anatomic minutiae (of mummies),” he said.

Follow LiveScience on Twitter @livescience. We’re also on Facebook & Google+.

Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Cantor CEO: 'Off the fiscal cliff we go'

Part of complete coverage on

By Ramy Inocencio, for CNN

January 25, 2013 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)


  • "U.S. fiscal cliff still coming" in form of failure to raise debt ceiling - Cantor Fitzgerald CEO

  • More than 25% of CEOs feel world economy will get worse in 2013, says PwC survey

  • U.S. House of Representatives passed short-term debt ceiling increase Jan. 23

  • Lutnick: "Dumb lending" caused 2008 credit crisis

Hong Kong (CNN) -- The world thought the U.S. fiscal cliff deadline was December 31, but "the fiscal cliff is (still) coming", says Howard Lutnick, CEO of global financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald.

"You're going to watch the U.S. do crazy, crazy things this year," Lutnick told CNN's Richard Quest at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "The Republican Party that was elected to control Congress... (is) going to cross their arms and they are not going to raise the debt ceiling ultimately unless they get severe spending cuts, and the Obama administration is not going to give it to them."

If Congress fails to act, the U.S. and the world economy will have a "dreadful" 2013, Lutnick said.

Following this week's PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of global CEO confidence, Lutnick appears to be one of the more than 25% who think the world economy is more likely to deteriorate in 2013.

Despite Lutnick's concerns, on January 23 the Republican-controlled House of Representatives did pass a bill that would allow the U.S. Treasury to borrow new money through mid-May. President Barack Obama has said he would not oppose the proposal if it reaches his desk, although he prefers a long-term debt ceiling increase.

Lutnick adds that to avoid a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis, regulators need to actually address issues that caused it.

"What caused the credit crisis was just dumb lending. When you lend money to people who can't pay you back, you go broke."

Looking ahead to 2013, Lutnick says the biggest risk to global growth is the U.S. hitting the debt ceiling -- whether in the short- or long-term.

"Off the fiscal cliff we go. We (the U.S.) are irrational and we are silly... we are dopey."

Part of complete coverage on

January 23, 2013 -- Updated 1308 GMT (2108 HKT)

Global policymakers, leading thinkers and key entrepreneurs are gathering in Davos. CNN brings you the latest news, views and musings live.

January 23, 2013 -- Updated 1040 GMT (1840 HKT)

As extreme weather events cost the global economy billions each year, the "neglected" risk of climate change seems to be rising to the top of the agenda, Andrew Steer writes.

January 23, 2013 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)

Economic empowerment offers a win-win scenario for Saudi Arabia and its women, Mounira Jamjoon writes.

January 23, 2013 -- Updated 1154 GMT (1954 HKT)

The recession in Europe is entering its fifth year and unemployment doesn't look like it will be returning to normal levels anytime soon.

January 22, 2013 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)

What has been made clear by current events and financial upheavals since 2008 is that the global economy has become truly that -- global.

The globe's greatest economic minds meet in Davos next week. With financial crises in the U.S. and Europe, CNN asks: What is your economic mood?

Many eurozone countries face dropping employment even as basic costs rise. But not everyone is suffering. Explore our interactive for more.

January 23, 2013 -- Updated 0551 GMT (1351 HKT)

In 2013, the greatest risk of conflict lies in the geopolitical struggle between Japan and China, according to Ian Bremmer of Eurasia Group.

January 21, 2013 -- Updated 1502 GMT (2302 HKT)

CNN's Richard Quest explores the topic that will be on every delegate's lips at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year.

January 21, 2013 -- Updated 1500 GMT (2300 HKT)

It was January 25, 2011, when the brisk winds of change from Tahrir Square swept through the Swiss Alpine village of Davos.

January 21, 2013 -- Updated 1357 GMT (2157 HKT)

The world's political and business elite will converge on Europe's highest-altitude town for the annual talk-shop that is the World Economic Forum.

January 21, 2013 -- Updated 1458 GMT (2258 HKT)

On July 1, 2013 the 27-nation European Union will become 28. But is the Adriatic country ready to join Europe's elite club?

January 22, 2013 -- Updated 1133 GMT (1933 HKT)

The great Davos talking shop is now up and running, with delegates of all levels of importance, shapes and nationalities putting the world to rights.

January 21, 2013 -- Updated 1404 GMT (2204 HKT)

After five years in crisis the eurozone's new leader has emerged. With influence reaching from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean Sea.

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Video sparks protest of Ultimate Fighting event

Women's advocacy groups in Chicago are urging the Ultimate Fighting Championship organization to prevent a fighter who appeared in a video that made light of rape from fighting Saturday at an event in the United Center.

Sharmili Majmudar, executive director of Rape Victim Advocates in Chicago, said she and other activists came out with a letter of opposition Thursday because Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, the man in the video, is about to fight on Chicago turf.

"It's kind of despicable that anyone would take so lightly the issue of sexual violence," Majmudar said. "This isn't Chicago. This is not something that's consistent with Chicago (values)."

Although UFC officials say they find the video tasteless, they suggest another motivation behind the letter and the news release that accompanied it, said Lawrence Epstein, UFC's chief operating officer.

The letter to the UFC, its sponsors and the Fox television network included an email address for Jen Suh, a research analyst for the Culinary Workers Union in Las Vegas. Its parent union is the national UNITE HERE organization.

Lorenzo Fertitta and Frank Fertitta III are the majority owners of Station Casinos LLC in Las Vegas, and the company has long been at odds with the Culinary Workers Union over the unionization of casino workers. The Fertittas also are the majority owners of the UFC.

"They think if you harass an employer enough, they'll say 'take my workers,'" Epstein said. Suh, when asked for comment, said the union's website contains a list of grievances against the company.

In October, the National Labor Relations Board held that Station Casinos violated federal labor law in 82 cases in its response to union-organizing efforts. But the union and the Fertittas are still a long way from settling their dispute.

The most recent news release on the Culinary Worker Union's website announces that the U.S. Marine Corps did not renew its sponsorship of UFC.

Jackson will "absolutely" fight Saturday, Epstein said. Although the UFC did not punish Jackson for the video, Epstein said its officials made it clear to Jackson and his manager that his behavior was inappropriate.

Also on Thursday, the UFC released a statement about its new code of conduct, which will include punishments such as fines and community service for fighters who violate the code. Matt Hughes, a former UFC fighter who made the organization's Hall of Fame, joined UFC as vice president of athlete development and government relations to help enforce the policy.

Epstein said Jackson's video was tasteless.

The video, with nearly 1,200 views on YouTube as of Thursday evening, shows Jackson instructing viewers on how to "pick up a gurl." Jackson suggests comfortable shoes, chloroform and zip ties. In the video, he stalks a woman in a parking garage and tries to grab her from behind. Before he has the chance, she elbows him in the gut and pulls a gun.

Jackson has said in other interviews that the video was an attempt at humor. He told Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting in October that he was trying to emulate comedian Dave Chapelle and that he put out the video to get kicked off the UFC roster.

The UFC and Jackson's relationship has been rocky for months. Jackson hasn't fought since February, in Japan, before the video appeared, a UFC spokesperson confirmed. The fight Saturday at the United Center is the last one of his current contract.


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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 has 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. DPRK is short for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

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.


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 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 in Beijing; editing by Jeremy Laurence and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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Wall Street opens lower after Apple results

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks opened lower on Thursday, a day after Apple Inc reported revenue that missed expectations, tanking the stock and weighing on technology shares.

As the most valuable U.S. company and a heavy weight in both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 <.ndx>, a decline in Apple shares has an outsized impact on the broader market. Apple dropped 10.5 percent to $459.84 in early trading.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> was up 21.73 points, or 0.16 percent, at 13,801.06. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> was down 2.16 points, or 0.14 percent, at 1,492.65. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> was down 24.98 points, or 0.79 percent, at 3,128.69.

(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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No. 1 Duke routed by No. 25 Miami 90-63

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — With a steady din coming from the sea of orange behind the visitors' basket, No. 1 Duke had a tough time making a shot.

The Blue Devils went more than 8 minutes without a field goal in the first half Wednesday night, and a sellout became a blowout for No. 25 Miami, which delighted a boisterous crowd with a 90-63 victory.

The defeat was the third-worst ever for a No. 1 team. The last time Duke lost a regular-season game by a bigger margin was in January 1984.

"It wasn't demoralizing; they played better," Blue Devils guard Rasheed Sulaimon said. "I believe we have them on the schedule again."

"We expected them to be terrific, and we have to match terrific, and then you have a terrific game," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "What you had was a terrific win for them, but not a terrific game. We didn't hold our end of the bargain."

Miami (14-3, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) beat a No. 1 team for the first time, taking control with a stunning 25-1 run midway through the opening half. The Blue Devils missed 13 consecutive shots despite numerous good looks, while four Hurricanes hit 3-pointers during the run that transformed a 14-13 deficit into a 38-15 lead.

Duke (16-2, 3-2) fell to 0-2 when playing on an opponent's court. The Blue Devils' other loss came at North Carolina State, a defeat that cost them the No. 1 ranking.

They regained the top spot this week but seemed rattled by the capacity crowd, only the 10th in 10 years at Miami's on-campus arena. Students began lining up for seats outside the arena almost 24 hours before tipoff, a rarity for the attendance-challenged Hurricanes.

"I don't know how you can sit outside for a basketball game for that long," Miami guard Durand Scott said. "That made me want to win for them even more."

The Hurricanes, who are alone atop the league standings, won their sixth consecutive game. They beat Duke for the second straight time — but only the fourth time in the 19-game series.

Miami had been 0-6 against No. 1 teams. Coach Jim Larranaga also beat a No. 1 team for the first time.

"This is a great memory," Larranaga said.

Scott scored a season-high 25 points for the Hurricanes, and Kenny Kadji added a season-high 22. Shane Larkin had 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, and Durham, N.C. native Julian Gamble had 10 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Miami senior center Reggie Johnson came off the bench in his first action since being sidelined with a broken left thumb Dec. 18. He had two points and five rebounds in 16 minutes.

The Hurricanes, ranked this week for the first time in three years, improved to 8-0 at home.

Seth Curry, Tyler Thornton and Quinn Cook went a combined 1 for 29 for the Blue Devils, who shot a season-low 30 percent. Sulaimon led them with 16 points.

Duke went 4 for 23 from 3-point range, while Miami went 9 for 19 and shot 57 percent overall.

"Especially in the first couple of minutes, we got a lot of great shots," Blue Devils forward Mason Plumlee said. "You're going to miss some, but you have to keep shooting. The biggest mistake you can make is questioning your shot because you're missing open shots."

Kadji made two 3s during the Hurricanes' first-half spurt, then capped it with a three-point play. Duke shot 22 percent in the first half, including two for 11 on 3-pointers, and trailed 42-19 at halftime.

There was no letup by the Hurricanes to start the second half. They scored the first seven points for a shocking 49-19 lead, and punctuated the drubbing with five dunks in the final 10 minutes.

"Some teams come out in the second half flat and think they have the game won," Larkin said, "but we stayed with it with the same energy in the second half. We played great the whole game."

A Duke mistake — one in a long series — early in the second half had Krzyzewski red-faced and on the court, screaming at his team. But he couldn't inspire a turnaround.

"Over-rated," fans chanted with 3 minutes left. When the game ended, they poured onto the court and mobbed their team.

"The crowd I'm sure helped them some," Krzyzewski said. "But they didn't need much help."

Back in North Carolina, fans of the Tar Heels savored the loss by their rivals. When the final score of the Duke game was posted on the video board at the North Carolina-Georgia Tech game, students chanted, "Go to hell, Duke!"


AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Chapel Hill, N.C., contributed to this report.

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NASA’s Opportunity Rover Begins Year 10 on Mars

The older, smaller cousin of NASA‘s huge Mars rover Curiosity is quietly celebrating a big milestone today (Jan. 24) — nine years on the surface of the Red Planet.

NASA‘s Opportunity rover landed on Mars the night of Jan. 24, 2004 PST (just after midnight EST on Jan. 25), three weeks after its twin, Spirit, touched down. Spirit stopped operating in 2010, but Opportunity is still going strong, helping scientists better understand the Red Planet’s wetter, warmer past.

“No one could’ve imagined how good the exploration and scientific discovery would be for this vehicle, looking from the perspective of nine years ago,” said John Callas, Opportunity‘s project manager at NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “It’s been a phenomenal accomplishment.”

The headline-stealing Curiosity rover, for its part, touched down on Aug. 5, 2012, marking the next step in Mars exploration. The car-size Curiosity weighs about 1 ton — five times more than either Spirit or Opportunity.

Long-lived rovers

Spirit and Opportunity were originally supposed to spend three months searching for evidence of past water activity on the Red Planet. The golf-cart-size robots found plenty of such signs at their separate landing sites, showing that Mars was not always the cold and arid planet we know today. [Most Amazing Discoveries by Spirit and Opportunity]

For example, in 2007 Spirit uncovered an ancient hydrothermal system in Gusev Crater, suggesting that two key ingredients for life as we know it — liquid water and an energy source — were both present in some parts of Mars long ago.

And Opportunity is currently inspecting clay deposits along the rim of Mars’ huge Endeavour Crater. Clays form in relatively neutral (as opposed to acidic or basic) water, so the area may once have been capable of supporting primitive microbial life, researchers say.

“This is our first glimpse ever at conditions on ancient Mars that clearly show us a chemistry that would’ve been suitable for life at the Opportunity site,” Opportunity principal investigator Steve Squyres, of Cornell University, said of the discovery at a conference last month.

The rovers rolled far beyond their 90-day warranties. Spirit finally stopped communicating with Earth in March 2010, after getting mired in soft sand and failing to maneuver into a position that would allow it to slant its solar panels toward the sun over the 2009-2010 Martian winter. NASA declared the rover dead in 2011.

But Opportunity keeps chugging along. It has put 22.03 miles (35.46 kilometers) on its odometer since landing on Mars — just 1 mile (1.6 km) off the all-time record for most ground covered on the surface of another world. The Soviet Union’s unmanned Lunokhod 2 rover holds that mark, traveling 23 miles (37 km) on the moon back in 1973.

The great engineering that allowed Spirit and Opportunity to keep roving for so long is a big part of the six-wheeled robots’ legacy, mission team members say.

“These are magnificently designed machines,” Callas told SPACE.com. “We really have greatly expanded the exploration envelope by having a vehicle that can not only last so long but stay in very good health over that time, such that we can continue exploring.”

Still in good health

While Opportunity is showing signs of its advanced age, such as an arthritic robotic arm, the rover remains in good shape overall.

“Its health right now is miraculously good,” Callas said.

Still, the rover team is treating every day as a gift at this point, knowing that Opportunity could conk out at pretty much any time. Indeed, the sun will rise one day without a message from Opportunity, and its handlers will have to face the rover’s death and the end of an amazing mission.

“It’s going to be hard; it’ll be the end of a great era,” Callas said. “But we’ll have to remember that we’ve had such a good run.”

Follow SPACE.com senior writer Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall or SPACE.com @Spacedotcom. We’re also on Facebook and Google+

Copyright 2013 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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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.

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

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Sentencing today for Chicago man in Mumbai terror attack

A man convicted in the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai will be sentenced in Chicago Thursday. ( WGN - Chicago)

David Coleman Headley, an admitted terrorist with links to al-Qaida who helped plot the 2008 massacre in Mumbai, is scheduled to be sentenced today at Chicago’s federal courthouse.

Headley, 52,  who is to be sentenced amid heightened security measures in U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber’s courtroom, faces up to life in prison. He pleaded guilty to scouting out sites to be targeted in the terrorist attack that killed more than 160 people – including six Americans -- in India’s largest city. He also admitted playing a similar role in an aborted plot to storm a Danish newspaper and behead staffers in retaliation for printing a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad.

Federal prosecutors have cited Headley’s extraordinary cooperation for seeking a sentence of 30 to 35 years in prison.

Headley, who agreed to cooperate on the day of his arrest at O’Hare International Airport as he prepared to fly overseas, detailed the inner-workings of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani terror organization that planned the Mumbai attacks. His information led to charges against seven terrorist figures, including his childhood friend from a Pakistani school, Tahawwur Rana, a former Chicago businessman.

Headley was the key witness at the trial of Rana, who was convicted of aiding the Denmark plot and providing support to Lashkar.  Judge Leinenweber sentenced him  last week to 14 years in prison, about half what prosecutors sought.

Headley, an American citizen of Pakistani descent,  came to the United States at age 17 and was twice convicted of drug smuggling in the late 1980s. He later agreed to work as an informant for the DEA. Headley also revealed during testimony  at Rana’s trial that there was an overlap between his work for the DEA and his early days with Lashkar.

Headley became involved with Lashkar, a radical group that opposes Indian rule in divided Kashmir, around 2000, attending training camps between 2002 and 2005. He had moved to Chicago by 2009 and reconnected with Rana.

Though embraced by Rana’s family, Headley lived a very different life that included multiple wives and apparently indoctrinating even his children with his ideologies. His 5-year-old son once dropped to the ground in a Chicago park and pretended to fire a weapon after a soccer coach yelled "shoot, shoot!" to him during a game, Headley testified at Rana’s trial.


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