Wall Street Week Ahead: Earnings, money flows to push stocks higher

NEW YORK (Reuters) - With earnings momentum on the rise, the S&P 500 seems to have few hurdles ahead as it continues to power higher, its all-time high a not-so-distant goal.


The U.S. equity benchmark closed the week at a fresh five-year high on strong housing and labor market data and a string of earnings that beat lowered expectations.


Sector indexes in transportation <.djt>, banks <.bkx> and housing <.hgx> this week hit historic or multiyear highs as well.


Michael Yoshikami, chief executive at Destination Wealth Management in Walnut Creek, California, said the key earnings to watch for next week will come from cyclical companies. United Technologies reports on Wednesday while Honeywell is due to report Friday.


"Those kind of numbers will tell you the trajectory the economy is taking," Yoshikami said.


Major technology companies also report next week, but the bar for the sector has been lowered even further.


Chipmakers like Advanced Micro Devices , which is due Tuesday, are expected to underperform as PC sales shrink. AMD shares fell more than 10 percent Friday after disappointing results from its larger competitor, Intel . Still, a chipmaker sector index <.sox> posted its highest weekly close since last April.


Following a recent underperformance, an upside surprise from Apple on Wednesday could trigger a return to the stock from many investors who had abandoned ship.


Other major companies reporting next week include Google , IBM , Johnson & Johnson and DuPont on Tuesday, Microsoft and 3M on Thursday and Procter & Gamble on Friday.


CASH POURING IN, HOUSING DATA COULD HELP


Perhaps the strongest support for equities will come from the flow of cash from fixed income funds to stocks.


The recent piling into stock funds -- $11.3 billion in the past two weeks, the most since 2000 -- indicates a riskier approach to investing from retail investors looking for yield.


"From a yield perspective, a lot of stocks still yield a great deal of money and so it is very easy to see why money is pouring into the stock market," said Stephen Massocca, managing director at Wedbush Morgan in San Francisco.


"You are just not going to see people put a lot of money to work in a 10-year Treasury that yields 1.8 percent."


Housing stocks <.hgx>, already at a 5-1/2 year high, could get a further bump next week as investors eye data expected to support the market's perception that housing is the sluggish U.S. economy's bright spot.


Home resales are expected to have risen 0.6 percent in December, data is expected to show on Tuesday. Pending home sales contracts, which lead actual sales by a month or two, hit a 2-1/2 year high in November.


The new home sales report on Friday is expected to show a 2.1 percent increase.


The federal debt ceiling negotiations, a nagging worry for investors, seemed to be stuck on the back burner after House Republicans signaled they might support a short-term extension.


Equity markets, which tumbled in 2011 after the last round of talks pushed the United States close to a default, seem not to care much this time around.


The CBOE volatility index <.vix>, a gauge of market anxiety, closed Friday at its lowest since April 2007.


"I think the market is getting somewhat desensitized from political drama given, this seems to be happening over and over," said Destination Wealth Management's Yoshikami.


"It's something to keep in mind, but I don't think it's what you want to base your investing decisions on."


(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos, additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak and Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Kenneth Barry)



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Fiery Orioles manager Earl Weaver dead at 82


BALTIMORE (AP) — Earl Weaver, the fiery Hall of Fame manager who won 1,480 games with the Baltimore Orioles seemingly was engaged in nearly as many arguments with umpires, has died. He was 82.


Dick Gordon, Weaver's marketing agent, said Saturday that Weaver died while on a Caribbean cruise sponsored by the Orioles. Gordon said Weaver's wife told him that Weaver went back to his cabin after dinner and began choking between 10:30 and 11 Friday night. Gordon said a cause of death has not been determined.


The Duke of Earl, as he was affectionately known in Baltimore, took the Orioles into the World Series four times over 17 seasons but won only one title, in 1970. His .583 winning percentage ranks fifth among managers who served 10 or more seasons in the 20th century.


"Earl Weaver stands alone as the greatest manager in the history of the Orioles organization and one of the greatest in the history of baseball," Orioles owner Peter Angelos said. "This is a sad day for everyone who knew him and for all Orioles fans. Earl made his passion for the Orioles known both on and off the field. On behalf of the Orioles, I extend my condolences to his wife, Marianna, and to his family."


Weaver was a salty-tongued manager who preferred to wait for a three-run homer rather than manufacture a run with a stolen base or a bunt. While some baseball purists argued that strategy, no one could dispute the results.


"He was an intense competitor and smart as a whip when it comes to figuring out ways to beat you," said Davey Johnson, who played under Weaver in the minor leagues and with the Orioles from 1965 to 1972.


Weaver had a reputation as a winner, but umpires knew him as a hothead. Weaver would often turn his hat backward and yell directly into an umpire's face to argue a call or a rule, and after the inevitable ejection he would more often than not kick dirt on home plate or on the umpire's shoes.


He was ejected 91 times, including once in both games of a doubleheader.


Asked once if his reputation might have harmed his chances to gain entry into the Hall of Fame, Weaver admitted, "It probably hurt me."


Those 91 ejections were overshadowed by his five 100-win seasons, six AL East titles and four pennants. Weaver was inducted into the Hall in 1996, 10 years after he managed his final game with Baltimore at the end of an ill-advised comeback.


In 1985, the Orioles' owner at the time, Edward B. Williams, coaxed Weaver away from golf to take over a struggling squad. Weaver donned his uniform No. 4, which had already been retired by the team, and tried to breathe some life into the listless Orioles.


Baltimore went 53-52 over the last half of the 1985 season, but finished seventh in 1986 with a 73-89 record. It was Weaver's only losing season as a major-league manager, and he retired for good after that.


"If I hadn't come back," Weaver said after his final game, "I would be home thinking what it would have been like to manage again. I found out it's work."


Weaver finished with a 1,480-1,060 record. He won Manager of the Year three times.


"I had a successful career, not necessarily a Hall of Fame career, but a successful one," he said.


Weaver came to the Orioles as a first base coach in 1968, took over as manager on July 11 and went on to become the winningest manager in the history of the franchise.


"Earl was such a big part of Orioles baseball and personally he was a very important part of my life and career and a great friend to our family," Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken said. "His passion for the game and the fire with which he managed will always be remembered by baseball fans everywhere and certainly by all of us who had the great opportunity to play for him. Earl will be missed but he can't and won't be forgotten."


He knew almost everything about the game. He was also a great judge of human character, and that's one of the main reasons why he was loved by a vast majority of his players even though he often rode them mercilessly from spring training into October.


"His bark was worse than his bite, but you had to know him and kind of grow up with him, and then you loved him like a father," Johnson said. "He was a used-car salesman in the minor leagues during the offseason, so he learned a lot of ways to sell you on just about anything."


Pat Dobson, who pitched two seasons under Weaver, said, "Certainly, the years I played for him were the two most enjoyable years I've had."


During games Weaver smoked cigarettes in the tunnel leading to the dugout and he never kicked the habit. He suffered a mild heart attack in August 1998, and the Orioles' manager at the time, Ray Miller, wondered aloud how his mentor was holding up.


"I wouldn't want to talk to him if he hasn't had a cigarette in 10 days," Miller joked. "They've probably got him tied to a chair."


Weaver was a brilliant manager, but he never made it to the majors as a player. He finally quit after spending 13 years as a second baseman in the St. Louis organization.


"He talked about how he could drive in 100 runs a year, score 100 runs and never make an error," Johnson said. "He said he never got to the big leagues because the Cardinals had too many good players in front of him."


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Robots find rare whales in weather humans can’t






BOSTON (AP) — The Outer Fall area in the central Gulf of Maine is believed to be a mating ground for the endangered North Atlantic right whale, but it’s not always hospitable to humans. On a recent trip, endless, steep swells jostled the research boat Endeavor, while gusts transformed the steady sleet into eye-stinging projectiles.


The miserable conditions, though, were exactly what whale-detecting robots being tested on the voyage were built to beat.






The torpedo-shaped underwater robots, called gliders, can read calls from four types of endangered whales and relay their locations in real time. And they can do it in weather too harsh for the plane and boat surveys now relied on to find the whales.


On a three-week trip between November and early December, the gliders developed by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution located nine right whales. The robots also led the Endeavor into an area where researchers were able to observe the whales firsthand, once the waters calmed.


“The system worked, quite frankly, beyond my expectations,” said WHOI scientist Mark Baumgartner, a project co-leader.


The gliders are primarily about protecting whales, since knowing where the often-hard-to-find whales are can help regulators devise rules that prevent often fatal human contract, such as ship strikes.


The robots are about six feet long with short wings. They aren’t new, but their ability to almost instantly recognize the whales is.


In 2005, they were deployed in the Gulf of Maine carrying recorders scientists needed to retrieve and listen to before they could figure out what whales the glider had found. Seven years and about $ 1 million later, the gliders boast a processor that so far recognizes a total of 15 of the distinctive calls made by four types of endangered baleen whales: right, fin, humpback and sei.


A second after hearing the call, the glider identifies the whale it thinks it heard and surfaces every two hours to transmit the data via satellite, Baumgartner said.


Scientists can react to the data and direct the gliders, which are GPS-equipped, to a wide range of locations during the five weeks it can stay at sea. That mobility is an advantage over an existing system which uses stationary underwater microphones placed on buoys near a shipping lane into Boston to listen for right whales.


The gliders also measure various environmental conditions like temperature and salinity that can offer clues why whales are in certain places at certain times. For instance, high concentrations of algae — which draw the tiny crustaceans that baleen whales eat — can indicate whales go there to feed.


But their indifference to bad weather is perhaps the gliders most critical feature.


“We know we’re not seeing where all the whales are, and flying is expensive and dangerous. The gliders offer this fantastic opportunity to find another way of locating whales,” said Peter Corkeron, leader of the large whale team at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northeast office, which will use data collected from the gliders.


The gliders can’t replace planes and boats because they can’t replace human observation. The right whales, for instance, are tracked individually, and that’s impossible without a person to identify the animals by distinctive, hardened patches of skin on their nose and jaw.


Such extensive efforts to find and learn about the animals reflect just how rare they’ve become, particularly the North Atlantic right whale. The animal has a population of around 550, and no one wants to push it to extinction.


One of its primary protections regionally is mandatory, seasonal speed restrictions for vessels traveling in three areas off the coast of New England. But those restrictions, enacted in 2008, expire in 2013, and there’s pressure now to determine if the rules have worked and should remain in place, said Mike Asaro, a marine mammal policy specialist at NOAA.


The gliders can augment efforts to protect the whales while ensuring shipping companies aren’t slowing down — and losing money — for nothing, he said.


“The more information we get on where right whales are, and the better able we are to predict where they are going to be, we can put those speed restrictions in the best possible spot,” he said.


The gliders need more time to prove their reliability, Asaro said. But he and Corkeron agree it’s had a strong start.


“You’ve got something that can move around the place and locate whales,” Corkeron said. “It’s huge step forward.”


Weather News Headlines – Yahoo! News





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Why Africa backs French in Mali





























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STORY HIGHLIGHTS


  • French intervention in Mali could be turning point in relationship with Africa, writes Lansana Gberie

  • France's meddling to bolster puppet regimes in the past has outraged Africans, he argues

  • He says few in Africa would label the French action in Mali as 'neo-colonial mission creep'

  • Lansana: 'Africa's weakness has been exposed by the might of a foreign power'




Editor's note: Dr. Lansana Gberie is a specialist on African peace and security issues. He is the author of "A Dirty War in West Africa: The RUF and the Destruction of Sierra Leone." He is from Sierra Leone and lives in New York.


(CNN) -- Operation Serval, France's swift military intervention to roll back advances made by Jihadist elements who had hijacked a separatist movement in northern Mali, could be a turning point in the ex-colonialist's relationship with Africa.


It is not, after all, every day that you hear a senior official of the African Union (AU) refer to a former European colonial power in Africa as "a brotherly nation," as Ambroise Niyonsaba, the African Union's special representative in Ivory Coast, described France on 14 January, while hailing the European nation's military strikes in Mali.


France's persistent meddling to bolster puppet regimes or unseat inconvenient ones was often the cause of much outrage among African leaders and intellectuals. But by robustly taking on the Islamist forces that for many months now have imposed a regime of terror in northern Mali, France is doing exactly what African governments would like to have done.



Lansana Gberie

Lansana Gberie



This is because the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), Ansar Dine and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are a far greater threat to many African states than they ever would be to France or Europe.


See also: What's behind Mali instability?


Moreover, the main underlying issues that led to this situation -- the separatist rebellion by Mali's Tuareg, under the banner of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), who seized the northern half of the country and declared it independent of Mali shortly after a most ill-timed military coup on 22 March 2012 -- is anathema to the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).


Successful separatism by an ethnic minority, it is believed, would only encourage the emergence of more separatist movements in a continent where many of the countries were cobbled together from disparate groups by Europeans not so long ago.










But the foreign Islamists who had been allies to the Tuaregs at the start of their rebellion had effectively sidelined the MNLA by July last year, and have since been exercising tomcatting powers over the peasants in the area, to whom the puritanical brand of Islam being promoted by the Islamists is alien.


ECOWAS, which is dominated by Nigeria -- formerly France's chief hegemonic foe in West Africa -- in August last year submitted a note verbale with a "strategic concept" to the U.N. Security Council, detailing plans for an intervention force to defeat the Islamists in Mali and reunify the country.


ECOWAS wanted the U.N. to bankroll the operation, which would include the deployment a 3,245-strong force -- to which Nigeria (694), Togo (581), Niger (541) and Senegal (350) would be the biggest contributors -- at a cost of $410 million a year. The note stated that the objective of the Islamists in northern Mali was to "create a safe haven" in that country from which to coordinate "continental terrorist networks, including AQIM, MUJAO, Boko Haram [in Nigeria] and Al-Shabaab [in Somalia]."


Despite compelling evidence of the threat the Islamists pose to international peace and security, the U.N. has not been able to agree on funding what essentially would be a military offensive. U.N. Security Council resolution 2085, passed on 20 December last year, only agreed to a voluntary contribution and the setting up of a trust fund, and requested the secretary-general "develop and refine options within 30 days" in this regard. The deadline should be 20 January.


See also: Six reasons events in Mali matter


It is partly because of this U.N. inaction that few in Africa would label the French action in Mali as another neo-colonial mission creep.


If the Islamists had been allowed to capture the very strategic town of Sevaré, as they seemed intent on doing, they would have captured the only airstrip in Mali (apart from the airport in Bamako) capable of handling heavy cargo planes, and they would have been poised to attack the more populated south of the country.



Africa's weakness has, once again, been exposed by the might of a foreign power.
Lansana Gberie



Those Africans who would be critical of the French are probably stunned to embarrassment: Africa's weakness has, once again, been exposed by the might of a foreign power.


Watch video: French troops welcomed in Mali


Africans, however, can perhaps take consolation in the fact that the current situation in Mali was partially created by the NATO action in Libya in 2010, which France spearheaded. A large number of the well-armed Islamists and Tuareg separatists had fought in the forces of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, and then left to join the MNLA in northern Mali after Gadhafi fell.


They brought with them advanced weapons, including shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles from Libya; and two new Jihadist terrorist groups active in northern Mali right now, Ansar Dine and MUJAO, were formed out of these forces.


Many African states had an ambivalent attitude towards Gadhafi, but few rejoiced when he was ousted and killed in the most squalid condition.


A number of African countries, Nigeria included, have started to deploy troops in Mali alongside the French, and ECOWAS has stated the objective as the complete liberation of the north from the Islamists.


The Islamists are clearly not a pushover; though they number between 2,000 and 3,000 they are battle-hardened and fanatically driven, and will likely hold on for some time to come.


The question now is: what happens after, as is almost certain, France begins to wind down its forces, leaving the African troops in Mali?


Nigeria, which almost single-handedly funded previous ECOWAS interventions (in Liberia and Sierra Leone in the 1990s, costing billions of dollars and hundreds of Nigerian troops), has been reluctant to fund such expensive missions since it became democratic.


See also: Nigerians waiting for 'African Spring'


Its civilian regimes have to be more accountable to their citizens than the military regimes of the 1990s, and Nigeria has pressing domestic challenges. Foreign military intervention is no longer popular in the country, though the links between the northern Mali Islamists and the destructive Boko Haram could be used as a strategic justification for intervention in Mali.


The funding issue, however, will become more and more urgent in the coming weeks and months, and the U.N. must find a sustainable solution beyond a call for voluntary contributions by member states.


The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Lansana Gberie.






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2 shot to death in separate attacks on South, Northwest sides

About 9:15 p.m., a man was shot to death inside a Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen, 5500 W. North Ave. (January 19, 2013)









Two young men were shot to death during another night of gun violence in Chicago Friday: One inside a well-lit restaurant along a thoroughfare that divides the West and Northwest Sides, the other in a dark gangway on a South Side block populated by vacant brick buildings.


The Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen at 5500 W. North Ave. where Marshall Fields-Hall died is fortified: a chain link fence with barbed and razor wire encircles part of the roof near cooling units and thick glass separates the dining area from the cash registers. Food and money exchange hands through small openings at the counter.


Fields-Hall's killer was on foot when he fired four shots into the restaurant from the outside about 9:15 p.m., police said, close enough to the glass window that detectives had to step over shell casings and red tape when they opened the door to get inside. The holes in the glass, spiderwebbed by the impact, were all within a couple inches of each other, and there were bits of glass on a small ledge inside.





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Reggie Stiff was working in the back of the restaurant preparing an order when the shooting began. The pops didn't sound like gunfire, he said, but more like "a hammer hitting a table real hard."


He came out from the back and the workers up front were "just looking dazed," he said.


Fields-Hall, 21, who lived nearby on the 1500 block of North Luna Avenue, was unresponsive on the scene when police found him but was taken to John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, police said. He was pronounced dead there at 9:55 p.m.


Across the street, separated by three police cars and crime scene tape stretched by strong wind, Fannie White stood with her two great grandchildren, who were playing on a small concrete stoop in front of a boarded-up sandwich shop, running in circles around a brick pillar on the corner of a patio.


"I adopted him as my grandson," Fannie White said. "It's really hard."


White said she wasn't sure how she was going to explain the death to the children, who knew Fields-Hall.


Trese Butler stood next to White and the children, trying to understand what happened after someone had called her to say her friend was shot and that people were talking about it on Facebook.


"He just made 21. We're all trying to piece this together," said Butler, who walked to the scene from her home about a block away. "To me, he's still a baby."


After a couple minutes, the four left together, westbound on North Avenue. The four-lane road with parking on both sides is dotted with liquor stores, sandwich shops and blue-light police department cameras.


"This is the first Friday ever ain't nobody outside," Butler said before she left, adding that the block was usually bustling. "It's very rare. Very rare."


Across town, about the same time Fields-Hall was being taken to the hospital, police found 19-year-old Jovantay Alexander lying dead on his back between two brick buildings in the Back of the Yards neighborhood with a gunshot wound to the head.


Police had responded to a shots fired call and found Alexander where he had been shot. Police said nobody in the neighborhood, along the 5400 block of South Laflin Street, knew the man, who authorities said lived in the 1800 block of East 72nd Street in the South Shore neighborhood. It doesn't appear that he affiliated with a gang.


A handful of detectives stood over Alexander with large flashlights, examining the rest of his body for wounds and other evidence. A single officer blocked northbound traffic on the one-way street, north of an alley that runs parallel to Garfield Boulevard.


Fields-Hall was the 28th person killed in Chicago this year. Alexander was the 29th. They were among at least eleven people shot Friday afternoon into Saturday morning across the city.


In the other shootings:


• A 35-year-old man told police he "heard shots and felt pain" when someone shot him just before 4 a.m. Saturday morning in the 1600 block of North Sawyer Avenue, police said. The man, who police said was a gang member, was taken from the Logan Square crime scene to Stroger hospital in stable condition with a gunshot wound to the arm, police said.


The victim had been paroled in 2011 after having served about 18 years in prison on first degree murder charges filed in 1993, when he was 16, according to state records. Police said he is a gang member who was shot at by the passenger in a white vehicle that approached him from the south as he tried to get into his car.





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Algerian army stages "final assault" on gas plant


ALGIERS/IN AMENAS, Algeria (Reuters) - The Algerian army on Saturday carried out a final assault on al Qaeda-linked gunmen holed up in a desert gas plant, killing 11 of the Islamists after they took the lives of seven more foreign hostages, a local source and the state news agency said.


"It is over now, the assault is over, and the military are inside the plant clearing it of mines," a local source familiar with the operation told Reuters.


The state oil and gas company, Sonatrach, said the militants who attacked the plant on Wednesday and took a large number of hostages had booby-trapped the complex with explosives.


The exact death toll among the gunmen and the foreign and Algerian workers at the plant near the town of In Amenas close to the Libyan border remained unclear.


Earlier on Saturday, Algerian special forces found 15 burned bodies at the plant. Efforts were under way to identify the bodies, the source told Reuters, and it was not clear how they had died.


Sixteen foreign hostages were freed on Saturday, a source close to the crisis said. They included two Americans, two Germans and one Portuguese. Britain said fewer than 10 of its nationals at the plant were unaccounted for.


The attack on the plant swiftly turned into one of the biggest international hostage crises in decades, pushing Saharan militancy to the top of the global agenda.


INTERNATIONAL CRISIS


It marked a serious escalation of unrest in northwestern Africa, where French forces have been in Mali since last week fighting an Islamist takeover of Timbuktu and other towns.


The captors said their attack was a response to the French offensive. However, some U.S. and European officials say the elaborate raid probably required too much planning to have been organized from scratch in the week since France launched its strikes.


Scores of Westerners and hundreds of Algerian workers were inside the heavily fortified gas compound when it was seized before dawn on Wednesday by Islamist fighters who said they wanted a halt to the French intervention in neighboring Mali.


Hundreds escaped on Thursday when the army launched a rescue operation, but many hostages were killed.


Before the final assault, different sources had put the number of hostages killed at between 12 and 30, with many foreigners still unaccounted for, among them Norwegians, Japanese, Britons and Americans.


The figure of 30 came from an Algerian security source, who said eight Algerians and at least seven foreigners were among the victims, including two Japanese, two Britons and a French national. One British citizen was killed when the gunmen seized the hostages on Wednesday.


The U.S. State Department said on Friday one American, Frederick Buttaccio, had died but gave no further details.


Leaders of Britain, Japan and other countries have expressed frustration that the assault was ordered without consultation and officials have grumbled at the lack of information.


France's defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, declined to criticize the Algerian response to the crisis, however.


"The Algerian authorities are on their own soil and responding in the fashion they can. The overriding mission is to tackle the terrorists," he told France 3 television.


The base was home to foreign workers from Britain's BP, Norway's Statoil, Japanese engineering firm JGC Corp and others.


VETERAN JIHADIST


The apparent ease with which the fighters swooped in from the dunes to take control of an important energy facility, which produces some 10 percent of the natural gas on which Algeria depends for its export income, has raised questions over the value of outwardly tough Algerian security measures.


Algerian officials said the attackers may have had inside help from among the hundreds of Algerians employed at the site.


France says the incident proves its decision to fight Islamists in neighboring Mali was necessary.


The field commander of the Islamist group that attacked the plant is a veteran fighter from Niger called Abdul Rahman al-Nigeri, Mauritanian news agencies reported.


Security in the half-dozen countries around the Sahara desert has long been a preoccupation of the West. Smugglers and militants have earned millions in ransom from kidnappings.


The most powerful Islamist groups operating in the Sahara were severely weakened by Algeria's secularist military in a civil war in the 1990s. But in the past two years the regional wing of al Qaeda gained fighters and arms as a result of the civil war in Libya, when arsenals were looted from Muammar Gaddafi's army.


Al Qaeda-linked fighters, many with roots in Algeria and Libya, took control of northern Mali last year.


(Additional reporting by Balazs Koranyi in Oslo, Estelle Shirbon in London, Brian Love in Paris; Writing by Giles Elgood; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Mark Trevelyan)



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Wall Street little changed; Intel drags, Morgan Stanley up

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks opened little changed on Friday, a day after the S&P 500 rose to its highest level in five years, as a weak outlook from Intel offset a fourth-quarter profit at Morgan Stanley.


Shares of Intel Corp slumped 6.1 percent to $21.30 after the tech company forecast quarterly revenue that was below analysts' estimates and hiked capital spending plans for the year.


That was offset somewhat by a 5-percent gain in shares of Morgan Stanley , which reported a fourth-quarter profit after a year-earlier loss, helped by higher revenue at the bank's institutional securities business. Its stock jumped 5.3 percent to $22.84.


The earnings season so far has been mixed, but that could change with a barrage of releases scheduled for next week, said Doug Cote, chief market strategist, ING Investment Management in New York.


"There were some good reports but the real big bellwether companies are not coming in strong," said Cote.


The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> edged up 8.02 points, or 0.06 percent, at 13,604.04. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> slipped 1.20 points, or 0.08 percent, to 1,479.74. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> lost 7.52 points, or 0.24 percent, to 3,128.48.


Overall, S&P 500 company earnings are expected to have risen 2.3 percent in the fourth quarter, Thomson Reuters data showed. Expectations for the quarter have dropped considerably since October, when a 9.9 percent gain was estimated.


On Thursday, the S&P 500 rose to its highest since late 2007, and that could prompt investors to lock in recent gains, analysts said.


Economic data out of China provided some support to the market, though the focus remained on U.S. corporate earnings. The country's economy grew at a modestly faster-than-expected 7.9 percent in the fourth quarter, the latest sign the world's second-biggest economy was pulling out of a post-global financial crisis slowdown which saw it grow in 2012 at its weakest pace since 1999.


General Electric reported a better-than-expected rise in earnings on Friday, spurred by robust demand in China and oil-producing countries. Shares were up 2.4 percent to $21.82.


Despite the gains in Morgan Stanley, financial stocks sagged as Capital One Financial reported disappointing profit. Capital One slumped 7.4 percent to $57.06, while the KBW bank index <.bkx> slipped 0.4 percent.


Research In Motion climbed 4.7 percent to $15.61 after Jefferies Group boosted the BlackBerry maker's rating and price target.


(Editing by Bernadette Baum)



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Hamilton: Armstrong must tell everything he knows


Tyler Hamilton recognized what he saw during Lance Armstrong's televised confession to doping.


"He's broken. He's broken," Hamilton said in an interview Friday with The Associated Press. "I've never seen him even remotely like that. It doesn't please me to see that."


Hamilton rode for Armstrong's U.S. Postal Service team during his first three Tour de France titles. Hamilton's public confessions to doping — first in a candid-but-halting "60 Minutes" interview in 2011, then later in a tell-all book that came out last summer — provided key evidence in the case against Armstrong.


On Thursday, Armstrong's interview with Oprah Winfrey aired, and the cyclist admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs to fuel all seven of his Tour de France victories.


Hamilton, who said he felt a huge sense of relief after telling the truth, applauded Armstrong's decision to come clean, calling it a "big first step," but only a beginning.


"It's what he does moving forward," Hamilton said in a phone interview. "He's saying some of the right things now but the proof is in the pudding. If he just goes and hides away, people are not going to be happy. But if he does the right thing, speaks to Travis Tygart and WADA and tells everything he knows, that's going to make a big difference."


Both Tygart, head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and World Anti-Doping Agency director general David Howman have said Armstrong will need to offer more than a televised confession to make amends and possibly have his lifetime sports ban reduced.


While admitting to doping in his interview, Armstrong contradicted a key point of Hamilton's: That Armstrong told him he tested positive during the 2001 Tour de Suisse and conspired with International Cycling Union officials to cover it up — in exchange for a donation.


"That story wasn't true. There was no positive test, no paying off of the labs. There was no secret meeting with the lab director," Armstrong told Winfrey.


Asked about that, Hamilton told the AP: "I stand by what I said. It's all out there. I don't know if it's a legal thing, or why he said that. It doesn't really bother me that much."


Hamilton was also among numerous riders who described the immense pressure Armstrong put on them to take part in the doping. Armstrong told Winfrey nobody was forced to dope.


"Nobody took a syringe and forced it into my arm. I made that decision on my own," Hamilton said. "But you did feel the pressure. When it was all set up for my first blood-doping experience in 2000, when I flew to Spain on Lance's private jet, I don't know what would've happened to me if I'd said, 'I'll stick with EPO but no blood doping.' I assume they would've been angry about it. For me, it was a no-brainer."


Armstrong said he had reached out to some of the people he felt he owed apologies. Hamilton has not heard from him, however, and didn't sound like he was waiting by the phone.


Hamilton called the entire episode a "huge life lesson" and said Armstrong can help the sport if he's willing to do more, especially if it involves providing information about doctors, managers and other higher-ups in cycling.


"There are still a lot of bad apples in this sport," Hamilton said. "Lance Armstrong did not act alone. There are plenty of people out there who still think they got away with it. I don't think he wants to rat anybody out. But he didn't do this by himself and he didn't learn this by himself."


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Flu Season Arrives on West Coast






Some areas of the West Coast, which had seen less flu activity than the rest of the nation earlier, have finally been hit by the flu season.


As of Jan. 12, the region of the country that includes California, Arizona and Nevada reported elevated flu activity, up from normal flu activity the week before, according to new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).






The rest of the country is also experiencing higher than normal flu activity. Forty-eight states reported widespread flu activity, up from 47 states the week before. Widespread flu activity means that more than 50 percent of areas in those states are experiencing flu. [See Flu Activity Still High: How Long Will it Last?]


Thirty states are now reporting high levels of flu activity — up from 29 states the previous week. Ten states are reporting moderate levels, which is down from 16 states the week before.


Nine children died a result of the flu during the week of Jan. 6 to Jan 12, bringing the total number of child deaths from flu this season to 29.


Nationally, the percentage of people visiting the doctor for flulike illness was 4.6 percent, up from 4.3 percent the last week of December. Health officials said visits to the doctor for flu can dip during the holiday season.


The best way to protect yourself from the flu is to get vaccinated. This year’s vaccine is 62 percent effective against the disease.


The CDC will hold a press conference about flu season at noon today.


Pass it on: The entire United States is experiencing higher than normal flu activity.


Follow Rachael Rettner on Twitter @RachaelRettner, or MyHealthNewsDaily @MyHealth_MHND. We’re also on Facebook & Google+.


Copyright 2013 MyHealthNewsDaily, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Science News Headlines – Yahoo! News





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U.S. 'needs tougher child labor rules'




Cristina Traina says in his second term, Obama must address weaknesses in child farm labor standards




STORY HIGHLIGHTS


  • Cristina Traina: Obama should strengthen child farm labor standards

  • She says Labor Dept. rules allow kids to work long hours for little pay on commercial farms

  • She says Obama administration scrapped Labor Dept. chief's proposal for tightening rules

  • She says Labor Dept. must fix lax standards for kid labor on farmers; OSHA must enforce them




Editor's note: Cristina L.H. Traina is a Public Voices Op Ed fellow and professor at Northwestern University, where she is a scholar of social ethics.


(CNN) -- President Barack Obama should use the breathing space provided by the fiscal-cliff compromise to address some of the issues that he shelved during his last term. One of the most urgent is child farm labor. Perhaps the least protected, underpaid work force in American labor, children are often the go-to workers for farms looking to cut costs.


It's easy to see why. The Department of Labor permits farms to pay employees under 20 as little as $4.25 per hour. (By comparison, the federal minimum wage is $7.25.) And unlike their counterparts in retail and service, child farm laborers can legally work unlimited hours at any hour of day or night.


The numbers are hard to estimate, but between direct hiring, hiring through labor contractors, and off-the-books work beside parents or for cash, perhaps 400,000 children, some as young as 6, weed and harvest for commercial farms. A Human Rights Watch 2010 study shows that children laboring for hire on farms routinely work more than 10 hours per day.


As if this were not bad enough, few labor safety regulations apply. Children 14 and older can work long hours at all but the most dangerous farm jobs without their parents' consent, if they do not miss school. Children 12 and older can too, as long as their parents agree. Unlike teen retail and service workers, agricultural laborers 16 and older are permitted to operate hazardous machinery and to work even during school hours.


In addition, Human Rights Watch reports that child farm laborers are exposed to dangerous pesticides; have inadequate access to water and bathrooms; fall ill from heat stroke; suffer sexual harassment; experience repetitive-motion injuries; rarely receive protective equipment like gloves and boots; and usually earn less than the minimum wage. Sometimes they earn nothing.


Little is being done to guarantee their safety. In 2011 Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis proposed more stringent agricultural labor rules for children under 16, but Obama scrapped them just eight months later.


Adoption of the new rules would be no guarantee of enforcement, however. According to the 2010 Human Rights Watch report, the Department of Labor employees were spread so thin that, despite widespread reports of infractions they found only 36 child labor violations and two child hazardous order violations in agriculture nationwide.


This lack of oversight has dire, sometimes fatal, consequences. Last July, for instance, 15-year-old Curvin Kropf, an employee at a small family farm near Deer Grove, Illinois, died when he fell off the piece of heavy farm equipment he was operating, and it crushed him. According to the Bureau County Republican, he was the fifth child in fewer than two years to die at work on Sauk Valley farms.


If this year follows trends, Curvin will be only one of at least 100 children below the age of 18 killed on American farms, not to mention the 23,000 who will be injured badly enough to require hospital admission. According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries. It is the most dangerous for children, accounting for about half of child worker deaths annually.


The United States has a long tradition of training children in the craft of farming on family farms. At least 500,000 children help to work their families' farms today.


Farm parents, their children, and the American Farm Bureau objected strenuously to the proposed new rules. Although children working on their parents' farms would specifically have been exempted from them, it was partly in response to worries about government interference in families and loss of opportunities for children to learn agricultural skills that the Obama administration shelved them.






Whatever you think of family farms, however, many child agricultural workers don't work for their parents or acquaintances. Despite exposure to all the hazards, these children never learn the craft of farming, nor do most of them have the legal right to the minimum wage. And until the economy stabilizes, the savings farms realize by hiring children makes it likely that even more of them will be subject to the dangers of farm work.


We have a responsibility for their safety. As one of the first acts of his new term, Obama should reopen the child agricultural labor proposal he shelved in spring of 2012. Surely, farm labor standards for children can be strengthened without killing off 4-H or Future Farmers of America.


Second, the Department of Labor must institute age, wage, hour and safety regulations that meet the standards set by retail and service industry rules. Children in agriculture should not be exposed to more risks, longer hours, and lower wages at younger ages than children in other jobs.


Finally, the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration must allocate the funds necessary for meaningful enforcement of child labor violations. Unenforced rules won't protect the nearly million other children who work on farms.


Agriculture is a great American tradition. Let's make sure it's not one our children have to die for.


Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.


Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.



The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Cristina Traina.






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Autopsy today for lottery winner poisoned by cyanide









Officials will conduct an autopsy this morning on the body of a West Rogers Park man who was exhumed from Rosehill Cemetery on Chicago's North Side after dying of cyanide poisoning last summer after winning a million-dollar lottery.


A hearse was being opened in front of a green tent set up at the grave site just north of Peterson Avenue and Urooj Khan's body was loaded into it. An evidence technician snapped a photo of it before the hearse's rear doors were closed up and the vehicle began driving away across the grass on the cemetery, escorted by a Chicago police evidence technician squad car and several other marked and unmarked police vehicles. They exited west onto Peterson Avenue.


The whole exhumation process lasted about two hours.





Khan's body was not frozen, officials said, and his autopsy will be today. A medical examiner's office spokeswoman, Mary Paleologos, said Khan's body will be buried again on Monday.


Dr. Marta Helenowski, the forensic pathologist who originally handled Khan's case, will be performing the autopsy this morning at the medical examiner's office, 2121 W. Harrison St., Paleologos said in a telephone interview.


The pathologist is going to be taking samples of Khan's lungs, liver and spleen for further testing. She will also be looking at the contents of Khan's stomach and intestines and taking bone, nail and hair samples, all for further examination, according Paleologos.


"Depending on the condition of the body and the quality of the samples, (the medical examiner's office) will hopefully be able to determine how the cyanide entered his body," Paleologos said.


Chief Medical Examiner Stephen J. Cina will hold a 2:30 p.m. news conference about the autopsy. He will likely only be able to discuss whether Khan's body is in good condition and if the samples taken from it are good quality.


Helenowski and a few medical examiner's office personnel were on hand for the exhumation. An imam also was present to say prayers at the grave site as the exhumation went on.


Several helicopters hovered over Rosehill Cemetery this morning and a backhoe and three or four pickup trucks were stationed at the grave site in the middle of the cemetery's northern section, where a beam of light could be seen shining over Khan's headstone. The backhoe soon began its work digging into the ground at the grave site. In addition to the backhoe, one or two workers were seen helping dig up the body with shovels.


A large tent was set up at the site where some two dozen police officers were gathered. Among the officers are two Chicago police evidence technicians, Paleologos said. One was taking still photos of the exhumation, while the other was shooting video.


An unmarked police car and two blue barricades blocked off the Peterson Avenue gate to Rosehill, the only entrance and exit in the northern section of the cemetery.


Four TV trucks sat parked along the fence about 100 yards west of the grave site along Oakley Avenue, the designated staging area for the media. A group of about a dozen photographers, a videographer and TV reporters stood along the Peterson Avenue fence, next to where traffic moved along the busy thoroughfare like any normal morning rush hour.


A few passersby gazed at the police activity at the grave site from Oakley Avenue. One, curious about large presence inside the cemetery, was surprised to learned from a Tribune reporter that it was Khan's body being dug up. Another thought someone was having a funeral.


The exhumation of Khan's remains – scheduled to begin at about 7 a.m. – will come about six months after he was buried at Rosehill. In court papers last week, Cina said it was important to exhume the remains "as expeditiously as possible" since Khan's body was not embalmed.

In court papers, Cina said it was necessary to perform a full autopsy to "further confirm the results of the blood analysis as well as to rule out any other natural causes that might have contributed to or caused Mr. Khan's death."


The exhumation comes after the Tribune broke the story on Jan. 7 about Khan's mysterious death, sparking international media interest in the case.


The medical examiner's office initially ruled Khan's July 20 death was from hardening of the arteries when there were no signs of trauma on the body and a preliminary blood test didn't raise any questions. But the investigation was reopened about a week later after a relative suggested to authorities that Khan's death "may have been the result of poisoning," prosecutors said in a court filing seeking the exhumation.


The medical examiner's office contacted Chicago police Sept. 11 after tests showed cyanide in Khan's blood. By late November, more comprehensive toxicological tests showed lethal levels of the toxic chemical and the medical examiner's office declared his death a homicide.


Khan's widow, Shabana Ansari, who has hired a criminal-defense lawyer, told the Tribune last week that she had been questioned for more than four hours by detectives and had fully cooperated.  She said the detectives had asked her about ingredients she used to prepare his last meal of lamb curry, shared by Ansari, her father-in-law Fareedun Ansari and Khan's daughter from a previous marriage, Jasmeen, 17.


While a motive has not been determined, police have not ruled out that Khan was killed because of his lottery win, a law enforcement source has told the Tribune. He died before he could collect the winnings – a lump-sum payment of about $425,000 after taxes.


According to court records obtained by the Tribune, Khan's brother has squabbled with Shabana Ansari over the lottery winnings in probate court. The brother, ImTiaz Khan, raised concern that since Khan left no will, Jasmeen Khan would not get "her fair share" of her father's estate.


Khan and Ansari did not have children together. Since her father's death, Jasmeen Khan has been living with Khan's siblings.


An attorney for Ansari in the probate case said the money was all accounted for and the estate was in the process of being divided up by the court. Under state law, the estate typically would be split evenly between the spouse and Khan's only child, he said.


In addition, almost two years ago, the Internal Revenue Service placed liens on Khan's residence on West Pratt Boulevard in an effort to collect more than $120,000 in back taxes from his father-in-law,  Fareedun Ansari, who still lives at the home with his daughter.


Fareedun and Shabana Ansari have denied involvement in Khan's death.


jgorner@tribune.com

Twitter: @ChicagoBreaking





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Sixty foreigners still caught in Sahara hostage crisis


ALGIERS (Reuters) - About 60 foreigners were still being held hostage or missing inside a gas plant on Friday after Algerian forces stormed the desert complex to free hundreds of captives taken by Islamist militants, who threatened to attack other energy installations.


The attack, which plunged capitals around the world into crisis mode, is a serious escalation of unrest in northwestern Africa, where French forces have been in Mali since last week fighting an Islamist takeover of Timbuktu and other towns.


"We are still dealing with a fluid and dangerous situation where a part of the terrorist threat has been eliminated in one part of the site, but there still remains a threat in another part," British Prime Minister David Cameron told his parliament.


A local Algerian source said 60 foreigners were still in the facility and some were being held hostage, but it was unclear how many and how many might be in hiding elsewhere in the sprawling compound. It was also not known whether some might have been killed and the bodies not found.


Those still unaccounted for included 10 from Japan, eight Norwegians and a number of Britons put by Cameron at "less than 30". Washington has said a number of Americans were among the hostages, without giving details, and the local source said a U.S. aircraft landed nearby on Friday.


As Western leaders clamored for news of their nationals, several expressed anger they had not been consulted by the Algerian government about its decision to storm the facility.


Algeria's state news agency said earlier more than half of 132 foreign hostages were freed and that the army had rescued 650 hostages, 573 of whom were Algerians.


"(The army) is still trying to achieve a ‘peaceful outcome' before neutralizing the terrorist group that is holed up in the (facility) and freeing a group of hostages that is still being held," it said, quoting a security source.


Thirty hostages, including several Westerners, were killed during Thursday's assault, the source said, along with at least 18 of their captors, who said they had taken the site as retaliation for French intervention against Islamists in neighboring Mali.


(Additional reporting by Ali Abdelatti in Cairo, Eamonn Mallie in Belfast, Gwladys Fouche in Oslo, Mohammed Abbas in London and Padraic Halpin and Conor Humprhies in Dublin; Writing by Philippa Fletcher; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)



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Wall Street climbs, boosted by eBay results, rosy data

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street rose on Thursday, with the S&P 500 hitting a five-year intraday high, as investors were cheered by rosy economic data and better-than-expected results from online marketplace eBay .


In encouraging signs for the labor and housing sectors, data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell to a five-year low last week, while residential construction jumped in December.


"It reminds us that although the situation on the job front hasn't improved significantly, slowly but surely it is getting better," said Andres Garcia-Amaya, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds, in New York.


EBay's shares rose 3 percent to $54.50 a day after it reported holiday quarter results that just beat Wall Street expectations. It gave a 2013 forecast that was within analysts' estimates.


The S&P climbed above an intraday peak set in September to its highest since December 2007.


Gains were capped by weakness in the financial sector, with Bank of America and Citigroup down more than 2 percent following results.


Bank of America's fourth-quarter profit fell as it took more charges to clean up mortgage-related problems. Citigroup posted $2.32 billion of charges for layoffs and lawsuits, while its new chief executive cautioned the bank needed more time to deal with its problems.


Bank of America fell 3.7 percent to $11.36, while Citigroup dropped 2.3 percent to $41.50.


The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> gained 61.49 points, or 0.46 percent, to 13,572.72. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> added 6.36 points, or 0.43 percent, to 1,478.99. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> rose 18.19 points, or 0.58 percent, to 3,135.73.


Overall, S&P 500 corporate earnings for the fourth quarter are expected to see a 2.3 percent gain, Thomson Reuters data showed. Expectations for the quarter have moderated significantly since October.


With investors anticipating the current earnings season to be lackluster, their focus will be on the corporate earnings outlook for the months ahead, analysts said.


Shares of Boeing extended recent declines after the United States and other countries grounded the company's new 787 Dreamliner after a second incident involving battery failure. That comes in the wake of a series of other recent mishaps that have raised safety-related concerns about the aircraft. Boeing slipped 0.8 percent to $73.77 and is down nearly 2 percent for the week so far.


(Editing by Bernadette Baum)



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Manti Te'o girlfriend's death apparently a hoax


SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Not long before Notre Dame played Michigan State last fall, word spread that Fighting Irish linebacker Manti Te'o had lost his grandmother and girlfriend within hours of each other.


Te'o never missed a practice and made a season-high 12 tackles, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery in a 20-3 victory against the Spartans. His inspired play became a stirring story line for the Fighting Irish as they made a run to the national championship game behind their humble, charismatic star.


Te'o's grandmother did indeed die. His girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, never existed.


In a shocking announcement, Notre Dame said Te'o was duped into an online relationship with a woman whose "death" from leukemia was faked by perpetrators of an elaborate hoax. The goal of the scam wasn't clear, though Notre Dame said it used an investigative firm to dig into the details after Te'o disclosed them three weeks ago.


The hoax was disclosed hours after Deadspin.com posted a lengthy story, saying it could find no record that Kekua ever existed. The story suggests a friend of Te'o may have carried out the hoax and that the football player may have been in on it — a stunning claim against a widely admired All-American who led the most famed program in college football back to the championship game for the first time since 1988.


"This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online," Te'o said Wednesday night in a statement. "We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her. "


However, he stopped short of saying he had ever met her in person or correcting reports that said he had, though he did on numerous occasions talk about how special the relationship was to him.


"To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating," he said. "In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was."


Word of the hoax spread quickly and raised questions about whether the school somehow played a role in pushing the tale.


Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said at a news conference that Te'o told coaches on Dec. 26 that he had received a call from Kekua's phone number while at an awards ceremony during the first week of December.


"When he answered it, it was a person whose voice sounded like the same person he had talked to, who told him that she was, in fact, not dead. Manti was very unnerved by that, as you might imagine," Swarbrick said.


Swarbrick said the school hired investigators and their report indicated those behind the hoax were in contact with each other, discussing what they were doing.


The investigators "were able to discover online chatter among the perpetrators that was certainly the ultimate proof of this, the joy they were taking," Swarbrick said. "The casualness among themselves they were talking about what they accomplished."


Te'o asked the woman he thought was his girlfriend to converse via Skype, where he could see her online, but she always found an excuse not to, Swarbrick said.


"As part of the hoax, several meetings were set up where Lennay never showed, including some in Hawaii," said Swarbrick, who offered only vague details of the scheme to dupe his player, and others.


"We know, for example, that these perpetrators didn't limit themselves to Manti in the targets," he said. "There are a remarkable number of characters involved. We don't know how many people they represent. There are male and female characters, brothers, cousins, mother, and we don't know if it's two people playing multiple characters or multiple people. But, again, it goes to the sophistication of this, that there are all these sort of independent pieces that reinforce elements of the story all the way through."


As for Te'o being gullible, Swarbrick said the linebacker was the "perfect mark."


"He was not a person who would have a second thought about offering his assistance and help in engaging fully," Swarbrick said.


For Te'o, "the pain was real," Swarbrick said. "The grief was real. The affection was real. That's the nature of this sad, cruel game."


Swarbrick said Notre Dame did not take the matter to the police, saying that the school left it up to Te'o and his family to do so. He added that Notre Dame did not plan to release the findings of its investigation.


"We had no idea of motive, and that was really significant to us. ... Was somebody trying to create an NCAA violation at the core of this? Was there somebody trying to impact the outcome of football games by manipulating the emotions of a key player? Was there an extortion request coming? When you match the lack of sort of detail we lacked until we got some help investigating it with the risk involved, it was clear to me until we knew more we had to just to continue to work to try to gather the facts," Swarbrick said.


The Deadspin report changed all that.


Friends and relatives of Ronaiah Tuiasosopo told Deadspin they believe he created Kekua. The website said Te'o and Tuiasosopo knew each other. Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Tuiasosopo by telephone were unsuccessful.


As for Kekua, Deadspin said she does not have a death certificate. Stanford, where she reportedly went to school, has no record of anybody by that name, the website said. Deadspin said a record search produced no obituary or funeral announcement. There is no record of her birth in the news.


There are a few Twitter and Instagram accounts registered to Lennay Kekua, but the website reported that photographs identified as Kekua online and in TV news reports are pictures from the social-media accounts of a 22-year-old California woman who is not named Lennay Kekua.


Te'o talked freely about their relationship after her supposed death and how much she meant to him.


In a story that appeared in The South Bend Tribune on Oct. 12, Manti's father, Brian, recounted an anecdote about how his son and Kekua met after Notre Dame had played at Stanford in 2009. Brian Te'o also told the newspaper that Kekua had visited Hawaii and met with his son. Brian Te'o told the AP in an interview in October that he and his wife had never met Manti's girlfriend but they had hoped to at the Wake Forest game in November. The father said he believed the relationship was just beginning to get serious when she died.


The Tribune released a statement saying: "At the Tribune, we are as stunned by these revelations as everyone else. Indeed, this season we reported the story of this fake girlfriend and her death as details were given to us by Te'o, members of his family and his coaches at Notre Dame."


The week before Notre Dame played Michigan State on Sept. 15, coach Brian Kelly told reporters when asked that Te'o's grandmother and a friend had died. He said Kekua had told Te'o not to miss a game if she died. The linebacker turned in one of his best performances of the season and his playing through heartache became a prominent theme during the Irish's undefeated regular season. He finished second in Heisman voting.


"It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother's death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life," Te'o said in his statement.


"I am enormously grateful for the support of my family, friends and Notre Dame fans throughout this year. To think that I shared with them my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick. I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been."


Te'o and the Irish lost the title game to Alabama, 42-14 on Jan. 7. He has graduated and was set to begin preparing for the NFL combine and draft at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., this week.


"Fortunately, I have many wonderful things in my life," he said in his statement, "and I'm looking forward to putting this painful experience behind me as I focus on preparing for the NFL draft."


Read More..

Did Scientology ad cross line?




The Church of Scientology is also at fault for thinking the advertorial would survive The Atlantic readers' scrutiny, Ian Schafer says.




STORY HIGHLIGHTS


  • The Atlantic published and pulled a sponsored Scientology "story"

  • Ian Schafer: On several levels, the ad was a mistake

  • He says the content was heavy-handed and comments were being moderated

  • Schafer: Experimenting to raise revenue makes sense, but standards should be clear




Editor's note: Ian Schafer is the founder and CEO of a digital advertising agency, Deep Focus, and the alter ego of @invisibleobama. You can read his rants on his blog at ianschafer.com.


(CNN) -- "The Atlantic is America's leading destination for brave thinking and bold ideas that matter. The Atlantic engages its print, online, and live audiences with breakthrough insights into the worlds of politics, business, the arts, and culture. With exceptional talent deployed against the world's most important and intriguing topics, The Atlantic is the source of opinion, commentary, and analysis for America's most influential individuals who wish to be challenged, informed, and entertained." -- The Atlantic 2013 media kit for advertisers


On Monday, The Atlantic published -- and then pulled -- a story titled "David Miscavige Leads Scientology to Milestone Year." This "story" went on to feature the growth of Scientology in 2012.



Ian Schafer

Ian Schafer



Any regular reader of The Atlantic's content would immediately do a double-take upon seeing that kind of headline, much less the heavy-handed text below it, shamelessly plugging how well Scientology's "ecclesiastical leader" Miscavige has done in "leading a renaissance for the religion."


This "story" is one of several "advertorials" (a portmanteau of "advertising" and "editorials") that The Atlantic has published online, clearly designated as "Sponsor Content." In other words, "stories" like these aren't real stories. They are ads with a lot of words, which advertisers have paid publications to run on their behalf for decades. You may have seen them in magazines and newspapers as "special advertising sections."


The hope is that because you are already reading the publication, hey, maybe you'll read what the advertiser has to say, too -- instead of the "traditional" ad that they may have otherwise placed on the page that you probably won't remember, or worse, will ignore.



There's nothing wrong with this tactic, ethically, when clearly labeled as "sponsored" or "advertising." But many took umbrage with The Atlantic in this particular case; so many, that The Atlantic responded by pulling the story from its site -- which was the right thing to do -- and by apologizing.


At face value, The Atlantic did the right thing for its business model, which depends upon advertising sales. It sold what they call a "native" ad to a paying advertiser, clearly labeled it as such, without the intention of misleading readers into thinking this was a piece of journalism.


But it still failed on several levels.


The Atlantic defines its readers as "America's most influential individuals who wish to be challenged, informed, and entertained." By that very definition, it is selling "advertorials" to people who are the least likely to take them seriously, especially when heavy-handed. There is a fine line between advertorial and outright advertising copywriting, and this piece crossed it. The Church of Scientology is just as much at fault for thinking this piece would survive The Atlantic readers' intellectual scrutiny. But this isn't even the real issue.


Bad advertising is all around us. And readers' intellectual scrutiny would surely have let the advertorial piece slide without complaints (though snark would be inevitable), as they have in the past, or yes, even possibly ignored it. But here's where The Atlantic crossed another line -- it seemed clear it was moderating the comments beneath the advertorial.


As The Washington Post reported, The Atlantic marketing team was carefully pruning the comments, ensuring that they were predominantly positive, even though many readers were leaving negative comments. So while The Atlantic was publishing clearly labeled advertiser-written content, it was also un-publishing content created by its readers -- the very folks it exists to serve.


It's understandable that The Atlantic would inevitably touch a third rail with any "new" ad format. But what it calls "native advertising" is actually "advertorial." It's not new at all. Touching the third rail in this case is unacceptable.


So what should The Atlantic have done in this situation before it became a situation? For starters, it should have worked more closely with the Church of Scientology to help create a piece of content that wasn't so clearly written as an ad. If the Church of Scientology was not willing to compromise its advertising to be better content, then The Atlantic should not have accepted the advertising. But this is a quality-control issue.


The real failure here was that comments should never have been enabled beneath this sponsored content unless the advertiser was prepared to let them be there, regardless of sentiment.


It's not like Scientology has avoided controversy in the past. The sheer, obvious reason for this advertorial in the first place was to dispel beliefs that Scientology wasn't a recognized religion (hence "ecclesiastical").


Whether The Atlantic felt it was acting in its advertiser's best interest, or the advertiser specifically asked for this to happen, letting it happen at all was a huge mistake, and a betrayal of an implicit contract that should exist between a publication of The Atlantic's stature and its readership.


No matter how laughably "sales-y" a piece of sponsored content might be, the censoring of readership should be the true "third rail," never to be touched.


Going forward, The Atlantic (and any other publication that chooses to run sponsored content) should adopt and clearly communicate an explicit ethics statement regarding advertorials and their corresponding comments. This statement should guide the decisions it makes when working with advertisers, and serve as a filter for the sponsored content it chooses to publish, and what it recommends advertisers submit. It should also prevent readers from being silenced if given a platform at all.


As an advertising professional, I sincerely hope this doesn't spook The Atlantic or any other publication from experimenting with ways to make money. But as a reader, I hope it leads to better ads that reward me for paying attention, rather than muzzle my voice should I choose to interact with the content.


After all, what more could a publication or advertiser ask for than for content to be so interesting that someone actually would want to comment on (or better, share) it?


(Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said native advertising accounts for 59% of the Atlantic's ad revenue. Digital advertising, of which native advertising is a part, accounts for 59% of The Atlantic's overall revenue, according to the company.)


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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ian Schafer.






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Teen killed following Simeon-Morgan Park game; 2 in custody

The Simeon and Morgan Park High School basketball teams ended their game at Chicago State University with a melee between players on the court. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune)









A 17-year-old boy was shot and killed after a fight broke out at the end of a high school basketball game at Chicago State University.

Tyrone Lawson was shot around 9:20 p.m. outside the gymnasium near 95th Street and King Drive, according to Police News Affairs Officer Daniel O’Brien.

Shortly before the shooting, an argument had broken out in a handshake line after the game between Simeon Career Academy and Morgan Park High School, police said. The argument spilled into the parking lot and someone pulled out a gun and shot Lawson, officials said.

Each team was held in the locker rooms longer than normal after the game as tensions ran high in the gym, witnesses said.

University police issued a message to officers, asking them to watch for a Jeep. It was pulled over east of the school and two people were taken into custody, officials said. Police said they found a gun inside the Jeep.

It was unclear what the fight was about. Nothing outside ordinary bumps and physical contact appeared to have happened during the game between the two school, which are located on Vincennes Avenue about 30 blocks apart.


An aunt told WGN-TV that Lawson was an honor student at Morgan Park High School and was six weeks away from his 18th birthday.

His mother had dropped Lawson off at the game and was waiting for him to call her back, she said.


The university released a statement Thursday morning saying it was "deeply saddened by the tragic shooting death."

“(Chicago Public Schools) periodically uses the university’s athletic facility to provide a neutral setting for student sporting events. This is the first such incident to occur on the campus of Chicago State University where CPS students have played many times over the last three years," the statement said.

"Additional security is provided by the university and all external partners during high school sporting events. Arrests have been made and university officials are awaiting the outcome of a full investigation to learn details about the shooting incident.”

Lawson, of the 11600 block of South Peoria Street, was pronounced dead at 9:59 p.m., according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.








Contributor Mike Helfgot and Tribune reporters Peter Nickeas, Rosemary Regina Sobol and Jeremy Gorner contributed to this story.


chicagobreaking@tribune.com
Twitter: @chicagobreaking





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Algerian forces launch operation to break desert siege


ALGIERS (Reuters) - Twenty-five foreign hostages escaped and six were killed on Thursday when Algerian forces launched an operation to free them at a remote desert gas plant, Algerian sources said, as one of the biggest international hostage crises in decades unfolded.


The standoff began when gunmen calling themselves the Battalion of Blood stormed the gas facility on Wednesday morning. They said they were holding 41 foreigners and demanded a halt to a French military operation against fellow al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants in neighboring Mali.


The raid increased fears that jihadist militants could launch further attacks in Algeria, a vast desert country with large oil and gas reserves that is only just recovering from a protracted conflict with Islamist rebels during the 1990s which cost an estimated 200,000 lives.


Fast-moving details of the military operation to free the hostages from the gas plant were difficult to confirm. Algeria's official APS news agency said about half the foreign hostages had been freed.


A local source told Reuters six foreign hostages were killed along with eight captors when the Algerian military fired on a vehicle being used by the gunmen.


Mauritania's ANI news agency, which has been in constant contact with the kidnappers, said seven hostages were still being held: two Americans, three Belgians, one Japanese and one British citizen.


It quoted one of the kidnappers as saying that Algerian ground forces were trying to fight their way into the complex.


ANI and Qatar-based Al Jazeera reported that 34 of the captives and 15 of their captors had been killed when government forces fired from helicopters at a vehicle. Those death tolls, far higher than confirmed by the local source, would contradict the reports that large numbers of foreigners escaped alive.


Britain and Norway, whose oil firms BP and Statoil run the plant jointly with the Algerian state oil company, said they had been informed by the Algerian authorities that a military operation was under way but did not provide details.


As many as 600 Algerian workers at the site managed to flee, the official Algerian news agency said.


RAISING THE STAKES


The incident dramatically raises the stakes in the French military campaign in neighboring Mali, where hundreds of French paratroopers and marines are launching a ground offensive against rebels after air strikes began last week.


Algerian Interior Minister Daho Ould Kablia said the kidnappers were led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a veteran Islamist guerrilla who fought Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s and had set up his own group in the Sahara after falling out with other local al Qaeda leaders.


A holy warrior-cum-smuggler dubbed "The Uncatchable" by French intelligence and "Mister Marlboro" by some locals for his illicit cigarette-running business, Belmokhtar's links to those who seized towns across northern Mali last year are unclear.


The hostage takers earlier allowed some prisoners to speak to the media, apparently to put pressure on Algerian forces not to storm the compound. An unidentified hostage who spoke to France 24 television said prisoners were forced to wear explosive belts and captors had threatened to blow up the plant.


A local source told Reuters the hostage takers had blown up a petrol filling station at the plant.


Two hostages, identified as British and Irish, spoke to Al Jazeera television and called on the Algerian army to withdraw from the area to avoid casualties.


"We are receiving care and good treatment from the kidnappers. The (Algerian) army did not withdraw and they are firing at the camp," the British man said. "There are around 150 Algerian hostages. We say to everybody that negotiations is a sign of strength and will spare many any loss of life."


Ireland said later that the Irish hostage was among those freed.


NUMBERS UNCONFIRMED


The precise number and nationalities of foreign hostages could not be confirmed, with some countries reluctant to release information that could be useful to the captors.


Britain said one of its citizens was killed in the initial storming on Wednesday and "a number" of others were held.


The militants said seven Americans were among their hostages, a figure U.S. officials said they could not confirm.


Norwegian oil company Statoil said nine of its Norwegian staff and three Algerian employees were captive. Britain's BP, which operates the plant with Statoil and Algerian state oil company Sonatrach, said some of its staff were held but would not say how many or their nationalities.


Japanese media said five workers from Japanese engineering firm JGC Corp. were held, a number the company did not confirm. Paris has not said whether any hostages were French. Vienna said one hostage was Austrian, Dublin said one was Irish and Bucharest said an unspecified number were Romanian.


Spanish oil company Cepsa said it had begun to evacuate personnel from elsewhere in Algeria, an OPEC member.


Paris said the Algeria attack demonstrated it was right to intervene in Mali: "We have the flagrant proof that this problem goes beyond just the north of Mali," French ambassador to Mali Christian Rouyer told France Inter radio.


President Francois Hollande has received public backing from Western and African allies who fear that al Qaeda, flush with men and arms from the defeated forces of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, is building a desert haven in Mali, a poor country helpless to combat fighters who seized its north last year.


However, there is also some concern in Washington and other capitals that the French action in Mali could provoke a backlash worse than the initial threat by militants in the remote Sahara.


The militants, communicating through established contacts with media in neighboring Mauritania, said they had dozens of men armed with mortars and anti-aircraft missiles in the compound and had rigged it with explosives.


"We hold the Algerian government and the French government and the countries of the hostages fully responsible if our demands are not met, and it is up to them to stop the brutal aggression against our people in Mali," read one statement carried by Mauritanian media.


They condemned Algeria's secularist government for letting French warplanes fly over its territory to Mali and shutting its border to Malian refugees.


PRESSING ON


The attack in Algeria did not stop France from pressing on with its campaign in Mali. It said on Thursday it now had 1,400 troops on the ground in Mali, and combat was underway against the rebels that it first began targeting from the air last week.


"There was combat yesterday, on the ground and in the air. It happened overnight and is under way now," said Le Drian. Residents said a column of about 30 French Sagaie armored vehicles set off on Wednesday toward rebel positions from the town of Niono, 300 km (190 miles) from the capital, Bamako.


The French action last week came as a surprise but received widespread international support in public. Neighboring African countries planning to provide ground troops for a U.N. force by September have said they will move faster to deploy them.


Nigeria, the strongest regional power, sent 162 soldiers on Thursday, the first of an anticipated 906.


"The whole world clearly needs to unite and do much more than is presently being done to contain terrorism, with its very negative impact on global peace and security," President Goodluck Jonathan said.


Germany, Britain and the Netherlands have offered transport aircraft to help ferry in African troops. Washington has said it is considering what support it can offer.


Many inhabitants of northern Mali have welcomed the French action, though some also fear being caught in the cross-fire. The Mali rebels who seized Timbuktu and other oasis towns in northern Mali last year imposed Islamic law, including public amputations and beheadings that angered many locals.


A day after launching the campaign in Mali, Hollande also ordered a failed rescue in Somalia on Saturday to free a French hostage held by al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants since 2009. Al Shabaab said on Thursday it had executed hostage Denis Allex. France said it believed he died in the rescue.


(Reporting by Lamine Chikhi; Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Giles Elgood)



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