"Great Rotation"- A Wall Street fairy tale?

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street's current jubilant narrative is that a rush into stocks by small investors has sparked a "great rotation" out of bonds and into equities that will power the bull market to new heights.

That sounds good, but there's a snag: The evidence for this is a few weeks of bullish fund flows that are hardly unusual for January.

Late-stage bull markets are typically marked by an influx of small investors coming late to the party - such as when your waiter starts giving you stock tips. For that to happen you need a good story. The "great rotation," with its monumental tone, is the perfect narrative to make you feel like you're missing out.

Even if something approaching a "great rotation" has begun, it is not necessarily bullish for markets. Those who think they are coming early to the party may actually be arriving late.

Investors pumped $20.7 billion into stocks in the first four weeks of the year, the strongest four-week run since April 2000, according to Lipper. But that pales in comparison with the $410 billion yanked from those funds since the start of 2008.

"I'm not sure you want to take a couple of weeks and extrapolate it into whatever trend you want," said Tobias Levkovich, chief U.S. equity strategist at Citigroup. "We have had instances where equity flows have picked up in the last two, three, four years when markets have picked up. They've generally not been signals of a continuation of that trend."

The S&P 500 rose 5 percent in January, its best month since October 2011 and its best January since 1997, driving speculation that retail investors were flooding back into the stock market.

Heading into another busy week of earnings, the equity market is knocking on the door of all-time highs due to positive sentiment in stocks, and that can't be ignored entirely. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> ended the week about 4 percent from an all-time high touched in October 2007.

Next week will bring results from insurers Allstate and The Hartford , as well as from Walt Disney , Coca-Cola Enterprises and Visa .

But a comparison of flows in January, a seasonal strong month for the stock market, shows that this January, while strong, is not that unusual. In January 2011 investors moved $23.9 billion into stock funds and $28.6 billion in 2006, but neither foreshadowed massive inflows the rest of that year. Furthermore, in 2006 the market gained more than 13 percent while in 2011 it was flat.

Strong inflows in January can happen for a number of reasons. There were a lot of special dividends issued in December that need reinvesting, and some of the funds raised in December tax-selling also find their way back into the market.

During the height of the tech bubble in 2000, when retail investors were really embracing stocks, a staggering $42.7 billion flowed into equities in January of that year, double the amount that flowed in this January. That didn't end well, as stocks peaked in March of that year before dropping over the next two-plus years.


Arguing against a 'great rotation' is not necessarily a bearish argument against stocks. The stock market has done well since the crisis. Despite the huge outflows, the S&P 500 has risen more than 120 percent since March 2009 on a slowly improving economy and corporate earnings.

This earnings season, a majority of S&P 500 companies are beating earnings forecast. That's also the case for revenue, which is a departure from the previous two reporting periods where less than 50 percent of companies beat revenue expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Meanwhile, those on the front lines say mom and pop investors are still wary of equities after the financial crisis.

"A lot of people I talk to are very reluctant to make an emotional commitment to the stock market and regardless of income activity in January, I think that's still the case," said David Joy, chief market strategist at Columbia Management Advisors in Boston, where he helps oversee $571 billion.

Joy, speaking from a conference in Phoenix, says most of the people asking him about the "great rotation" are fund management industry insiders who are interested in the extra business a flood of stock investors would bring.

He also pointed out that flows into bond funds were positive in the month of January, hardly an indication of a rotation.

Citi's Levkovich also argues that bond investors are unlikely to give up a 30-year rally in bonds so quickly. He said stocks only began to see consistent outflows 26 months after the tech bubble burst in March 2000. By that reading it could be another year before a serious rotation begins.

On top of that, substantial flows continue to make their way into bonds, even if it isn't low-yielding government debt. January 2013 was the second best January on record for the issuance of U.S. high-grade debt, with $111.725 billion issued during the month, according to International Finance Review.

Bill Gross, who runs the $285 billion Pimco Total Return Fund, the world's largest bond fund, commented on Twitter on Thursday that "January flows at Pimco show few signs of bond/stock rotation," adding that cash and money markets may be the source of inflows into stocks.

Indeed, the evidence suggests some of the money that went into stock funds in January came from money markets after a period in December when investors, worried about the budget uncertainty in Washington, started parking money in late 2012.

Data from iMoneyNet shows investors placed $123 billion in money market funds in the last two months of the year. In two weeks in January investors withdrew $31.45 billion of that, the most since March 2012. But later in the month money actually started flowing back.

(Additional reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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NFL's Goodell aims to share blame on player safety

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to share the blame.

"Safety," he said at his annual Super Bowl news conference, "is all of our responsibilities."

Not surprisingly, given that thousands of former players are suing the league about its handling of concussions, the topics of player health and improved safety dominated Goodell's 45-minute session Friday. And he often sounded like someone seeking to point out that players or others are at fault for some of the sport's problems — and need to help fix them.

"I'll stand up. I'll be accountable. It's part of my responsibility. I'll do everything," Goodell said. "But the players have to do it. The coaches have to do it. Our officials have to do it. Our medical professionals have to do it."

Injuries from hits to the head or to the knees, Goodell noted, can result from improper tackling techniques used by players and taught by coaches. The NFL Players Association needs to allow testing for human growth hormone to go forward so it can finally start next season, which Goodell hopes will happen. He said prices for Super Bowl tickets have soared in part because fans re-sell them above face value.

And asked what he most rues about the New Orleans Saints bounty investigation — a particularly sensitive issue around these parts, of course — Goodell replied: "My biggest regret is that we aren't all recognizing that this is a collective responsibility to get (bounties) out of the game, to make the game safer. Clearly the team, the NFL, the coaching staffs, executives and players, we all share that responsibility. That's what I regret, that I wasn't able to make that point clearly enough with the union."

He addressed other subjects, such as a "new generation of the Rooney Rule" after none of 15 recently open coach or general manager jobs went to a minority candidate, meaning "we didn't have the outcomes we wanted"; using next year's Super Bowl in New Jersey as a test for future cold-weather, outdoor championship games; and saying he welcomed President Barack Obama's recent comments expressing concern about football's violence because "we want to make sure that people understand what we're doing to make our game safer."


— New Orleans will not get back the second-round draft pick Goodell stripped in his bounty ruling;

— Goodell would not give a time frame for when the NFL could hold a game in Mexico;

— next season's games in London — 49ers-Jaguars and Steelers-Vikings — are sellouts.

Goodell mentioned some upcoming changes, including the plan to add independent neurologists to sidelines to help with concussion care during games — something players have asked for and the league opposed until now.

"The No. 1 issue is: Take the head out of the game," Goodell said. "I think we've seen in the last several decades that players are using their head more than they had when you go back several decades."

He said one tool the league can use to cut down on helmet-to-helmet hits is suspending players who keep doing it.

"We're going to have to continue to see discipline escalate, particularly on repeat offenders," Goodell said. "We're going to have to take them off the field. Suspension gets through to them."

The league will add "expanded physicals at the end of each season ... to review players from a physical, mental and life skills standpoint so that we can support them in a more comprehensive fashion," Goodell said.

With question after question about less-than-light matters, one reporter drew a chuckle from Goodell by asking how he's been treated this week in a city filled with supporters of the Saints who are angry about the way the club was punished for the bounty system the NFL said existed from 2009-11.

"My picture, as you point out, is in every restaurant. I had a float in the Mardi Gras parade. We got a voodoo doll," Goodell said.

But he added that he can "appreciate the passion" of the fans and, actually, "couldn't feel more welcome here."


Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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Biofuel stocks rise after EPA boosts mandate

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of biofuels and ethanol companies surged Friday after the government proposed increasing required use of renewable fuels.

The Environmental Protection Agency standards would require production of 14 million gallons of cellulosic biofuels made from grasses and woody material. The EPA wanted 8.7 million gallons in 2012, but actual production was near zero. Currently most ethanol is made from corn.

The oil industry objected quickly to the EPA move, saying that the Obama administration was ignoring an appeals court ruling just last week that overturned the 2012 requirement for cellulosic biofuels. The use of renewables is intended to reduce the amount of carbon emissions produced when vehicles use gasoline and other oil-based fuels.

Separately, renewable-fuel producer Amyris Inc. said Friday that its plant in Brazil made its first commercial shipment of farnesene, which is used in specialty chemicals and fuels. The plant makes the product with sugarcane and expects it to be used in diesel-powered buses in Brazil.

Investors bid up biofuels stocks, some of which are tiny companies.

In afternoon trading shares of Amyris Inc. rose 23 cents, or 7.5 percent, to $ 3.27. Renewable Energy Group Inc. picked up 27 cents, or 3.9 percent, to $ 7.05. Gevo Inc. surged 25 cents, or 10.9 percent, to $ 2.55. BioFuel Energy Corp. gained 41 cents, or 8.8 percent, to $ 5.11 and Pacific Ethanol Inc. rose 4 cents, or 9.7 percent, to 40 cents.

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Convicted killer back in custody after he was found watching TV

The convicted murderer who was mistakenly allowed to leave Cook County jail is now back in custody. (WGN - Chicago)

Convicted murderer Steven Robbins was arrested late Friday in Kankakee, two days after he was mistakenly released from the Cook County Jail after being brought to Chicago to dispose of an old case against him, according to the Cook County sheriff's office.

Saturday morning, Robbins is being held at the Cook County Sheriff's police lockup in Maywood, said Frank Bilecki, a spokesman for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

Robbins will be moved later this morning to the Leighton Criminal Courthouse at 26th and California where authorities will ask the judge to have the recent arrest warrant (issued after he was mistakenly released) stricken off the record, said Bilecki.

After that, he will be driven to Michigan City, Ind. and delivered to the Indian Department of Corrections, according to Bilecki.

Robbins, 44, who was serving a 60-year sentence for murder in Indiana, was apprehended "without incident" about 10:55 p.m. in the 400 block of Fraser Avenue in Kankakee, according to Bilecki.

“He was found at the home of an acquaintance, watching TV’’ said Bilecki. “They caught him totally off guard.''

Once they got into the home, sheriff’s authorities were trying to keep everyone calm, including a couple of young children who were there with Robbins.

Bilecki said Dart was on the scene and assisted in the arrest.

Authorities tracked Robbins through interviews with family and friends who helped provide his location, according to the sheriff's office. 

Earlier, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart took responsibility for mistakenly letting Robbins walk out of County Jail after a local charge against him was dismissed.

“We let people down, no mistake about it,” Dart said in an interview at sheriff’s offices in Maywood. “Our office did not operate the way it should have, clearly.”

The FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and Cook County Crimestoppers raised $12,000 as a reward for information leading to Robbins’ capture, he said.

Dart said his office is still looking at where and how the system broke down to allow Robbins’ mistaken release from the jail,  but he said that officials at the  jail had no paperwork showing he was serving time in an Indiana prison for murder.

Like other indigent people, Robbins was outfitted with clothing from Goodwill – a long-sleeve brown shirt and brown pants – before being released out the front entrance, Dart said. He also likely was given bus fare.

Dart said the sheriff’s office uses an archaic system – entirely paper-driven – in handling the movement of an average of about 1,500 inmates every day. Some are entering the jail after their arrest and others are being bused to courthouses around the county for court appearances.

The sheriff said the warrant for Robbins’ arrest should have been quashed by prosecutors when armed violence charges were dismissed against him in 2007. In addition, he said prosecutors signed off on the sheriff’s office traveling to Indiana to pick up Robbins at the prison in Michigan City and bring him back on the outstanding warrant.

“We were able to get an extradition warrant on a case that didn’t exist,” Dart said. “That’s the first problem.”

Earlier, documents reviewed by the Tribune showed that paperwork filled out by Cook County sheriff’s officers this week made it clear that Robbins was serving a 60-year sentence for murder in Indiana and was to be returned to authorities there after being brought to Chicago to dispose of an old case against him.

“Please be advised that this subject is in our custody under the temporary custody provision of the interstate agreement on detainers,” a sheriff’s order accompanying Robbins’ paperwork read. The order noted Robbins’ murder conviction and 60-year sentence and then stated he “must be returned to the custody of Indiana DOC.”

In addition, Judge Rickey Jones, assigned to the Leighton Criminal Court Building, ordered the Illinois case dismissed on Wednesday and wrote on paperwork that Robbins was to be released for “this case only,” the records show.

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Turkish leftist group claims U.S. embassy bombing: website

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish leftist group DHKP-C claimed responsibility on Saturday for a suicide bomb attack on the U.S. embassy in Ankara, according to a statement on a website close to the group.

"Our warrior Alisan Sanli carried out an act of self-sacrifice on Feb 1, 2013, by entering the Ankara embassy of the United States, murderer of the peoples of the world," the statement on "The People's Cry" website said.

The statement was posted next to what it said was a picture of the bomber, dressed in a black beret and military-style clothes with what appeared to be an explosives belt strapped around his waist.

The attacker detonated explosives strapped to his body, as well as a hand grenade, inside an embassy gatehouse, killing himself and a Turkish security guard and critically wounding a journalist on her way to visit the ambassador.

(Reporting by Seltem Iyigun; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Wall Street rallies on upbeat data

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks hit five-year highs on Friday after jobs and manufacturing data showed the economy's sluggish recovery is still on track.

The Dow industrials hit 14,000 for the first time since mid October 2007 and the S&P hit its highest level since December that year. The S&P gained 5 percent last month, its best start to a year since 1997.

Employment grew modestly in January, with 157,000 jobs added in the month, slightly below expectations for 160,000. Still, figures for both November and December were revised upwards.

Separate reports showed the pace of growth in the U.S. manufacturing sector picked up in January to its highest level in nine months, U.S. consumer sentiment rose more than expected last month, and December construction spending came in higher than forecasts.

"All the data seems to keep pointing to a slowly, steadily improving economy," said Eric Kuby, chief investment officer at North Star Investment Management Corp in Chicago.

Market sentiment is pointing to weaker bond prices as stocks are moving up, and the economy seems to be confirming that trend, he said.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> rose 138.31 points or 1 percent, to 13,998.89, the S&P 500 <.spx> gained 12.26 points or 0.82 percent, to 1,510.37 and the Nasdaq Composite <.ixic> added 22.82 points or 0.73 percent, to 3,164.95.

With the day's gains, major averages were on track for a fifth straight week of gains. The S&P 500 is also coming off its best monthly performance since October 2011.

Corporate earnings were also in focus, with a trio of Dow components reporting profits that beat expectations.

Exxon Mobil was little changed at $89.88 after its results while Chevron added 0.7 percent to $115.97.

Drugmaker Merck & Co fell 2.9 percent to $42 after a cautious 2013 outlook.

Generic drugmaker Perrigo reported a better-than-expected second-quarter profit and its shares were up 6.2 percent at 106.75, the largest advancer on the S&P 500.

Of the 252 companies in the S&P 500 reporting earnings so far, 69 percent have exceeded expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data. That is a higher proportion than over the past four quarters and above average since 1994.

Overall, S&P 500 fourth-quarter earnings are estimated to rise 4.4 percent according to the data, up from a 1.9 percent forecast at the start of the earnings season but well below a 9.9 percent profit growth forecast on October 1.

Dell Inc gained 4.8 percent to $13.86 after sources said the company was nearing an agreement to sell itself to a buyout consortium led by its founder Michael Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake Partners.

Shares of Zoetis surged in their trading debut after the company's initial public offering was priced at $26, above the expected range. After spiking as high as $31.74, it pared its gains to trade at $30.74.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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Carville, Matalin enjoy role as Big Easy boosters

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — When Mary Matalin heard a baby cry during a Super Bowl news conference this week, she paused midsentence, peered in the direction of the fussing child and asked: "Is that my husband?"

Matalin, the noted Republican political pundit, isn't shy about making jokes at the expense of Democratic strategist James Carville, who went from being her professional counterpart to her partner in life when they were married — in New Orleans — two decades ago.

This week, though, and for much of the past few years, the famous political odd couple have been working in lockstep for a bipartisan cause — the resurgence of their adopted hometown.

Their passion for the Big Easy and its recovery from Hurricane Katrina was why Carville and Matalin were appointed co-chairs of New Orleans' Super Bowl host committee, positions that made them the face of the city's effort to prove it's ready to be back in the regular rotation for the NFL's biggest game.

"Their commitment to New Orleans and their rise to prominence here locally as citizens made them a natural choice," said Jay Cicero, president of the Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation, which handles the city's Super Bowl bids. "It's about promoting New Orleans, and their being in love with this city, they're the perfect co-chairs."

Carville, a Louisiana native, and Matalin moved from Washington, D.C., to historic "Uptown" New Orleans in the summer of 2008, a little less than three years after Katrina had laid waste to vast swaths of the city. There was not only heavy wind damage but flooding that surged through crumbling levees and at one point submerged about 80 percent of the city.

The couple had long loved New Orleans, and felt even more of a pull to set down roots here, with their two school-age daughters, at a time when the community was in need.

"The storm just weighed heavy," Carville said. "We were thinking about it. We'd been in Washington for a long time. The more that we thought about it, the more sense that it made. We just came down here (to look for a house) in late 2007 and said we're just going to do this and never looked back."

Matalin said she and Carville also wanted to raise their daughters in a place where people were willing to struggle to preserve a vibrant and unique culture.

"It's authentically creative, organically eccentric, bounded by beauty of all kinds," she said. "People pull for each other, people pull together. ... Seven years ago we were 15 feet under water. ... This is unparalleled what the people here did and that's what you want your kids to grow up with: Hope and a sense of place, resolve and perseverance."

Carville has been an avid sports fan all his life, and Matalin jokes that he now schedules his life around Saints and LSU football.

An LSU graduate, Carville has been a regular sight in Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, often wearing a purple and gold rugby-style shirt.

In New Orleans, he and Matalin have lent their names not just to the Super Bowl host committee, but to efforts to prevent the NBA's Hornets from leaving when the ownership situation was in flux.

"I was scared to death they would leave the city," said Carville of the Hornets, who were purchased by the NBA in December of 2010 when club founder George Shinn wanted to sell and struggled to find a local buyer. "We were starting to do better (as a community). It would have been a terrible story to lose an NBA franchise at that time."

Saints owner Tom Benson has since bought the NBA club and signed a long-term lease at New Orleans Arena, ending speculation about a possible move.

Carville and Matalin also have taken part in a range of environmental, educational, economic and cultural projects in the area. Matalin is on the board of the Water Institute of the Gulf, which aims to preserve fragile coastal wetlands that have been eroding, leaving south Louisiana ecosystems and communities increasingly vulnerable to destruction. They have supported the Institute of Politics at Loyola University and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra.

Carville teaches a current events class at Tulane University and he looks forward to getting involved in the 200th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans in 2015 and New Orleans' tercentennial celebrations in 2018, when the city also hopes to host its next Super Bowl, if the NFL sees fit.

Leading a Super Bowl host committee, the couple said, has similarities to running a major national political campaign, but takes even more work.

"This has been going on for three years and it's huge," Matalin said. "It's bigger, it's harder, it's more complex — even though it's cheaper."

The host committee spent about $13 million in private and public funds to put on this Super Bowl, and the payoff could be enormous in terms of providing a momentum boost to the metro area's growth, Carville said.

"For us — New Orleans — I think this is going to be much more than a football game Sunday," Carville said of the championship matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers. "We'll know how we feel about it on Monday. It's a big event, it helps a lot of people, but I think we have a chance if it goes the way we hope it does, it'll go beyond economic impact. It'll go beyond who won the game. I think there's something significant that's coming to a point here in the city."

So there's a bit of anxiety involved, to go along with the long hours. But Carville and Matalin say they've loved having a role in what they see as New Orleans' renaissance.

"I always say I'm so humbled by everyone's gratitude," Matalin said. "We get up every day and say, 'Thank you, God. Thank you, God.' It's a blessing for us to be able to be here, to live here."

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Canada Kills the Penny

It’s the end of the line for the Canadian penny in retail purchases. On Feb. 4 the Canadian Mint, which stopped producing pennies last spring, will stop circulating the coins to financial institutions and will encourage them to send back any pennies they have on hand. And the majority of retailers will follow the government‘s proposal to round the prices of all cash transactions.

It’s billed as a cost-savings move.

“The penny is a currency without any currency in Canada, and it costs us 1.5 cents to produce a penny,” said Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

While there may be some nostalgic souls north of the U.S. border who lament the passing of the iconic twin-maple-leaf coin, Flaherty said that when the Canadian senate committee held hearings on axing the penny last year, not one witness came forward to say it should be preserved.

Canadians, though, won’t be forced to go cold turkey. Retailers will still be allowed to make exact change in pennies until the supply runs outs. And rounding  applies only to cash transactions; it will not affect electronic forms of payment, such as credit and debit transaction.

And the rules on rounding aren’t hard and fast. Retailers are expected to follow a variety of rounding approaches, with some expected to round down all transactions to the nearest nickel, others rounding down all sales below 5 cents and rounding up all sales above five cents, and still others using the government‘s more complicated penny-by-penny rules.

[Top 10 Rarest U.S. Coins]

All are good in the eyes of the government. There are also no requirements that retailers change their cash registers. They can simply have their staff use “rounding rules in their head,” as long as they are consistent in the approach.

Canada will not be the first penniless nation. New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands, Norway and Finland are among those that  have made smooth transitions to a penny-free economy, according to the Canadian government.

The great consolation for U.S. citizens is that the Canadian penny will now be as useless north of the border as it is south of the border when Americans find one among their change.

This story was provided BusinessNewsDaily, a sister site to LiveScience. Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Hillary: Secretary of empowerment

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CNN Contributor Donna Brazile

CNN Contributor Donna Brazile

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

On the road with Hillary Clinton

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

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

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

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

Rothkopf: President Hillary Clinton? If she wants it

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

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

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

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

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

Ghitis: Hillary Clinton's global legacy on gay rights

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

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

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Indiana killer mistakenly released from Cook County Jail

A convicted murderer from Indiana is on the loose because of some bad paperwork in Cook County. (WGN - Chicago)

An Indiana man convicted of murder has been on the loose since Wednesday night after Cook County Jail officials mistakenly released him, authorities said.

The sheriff's office confirmed that Steven Robbins, 44, was released after appearing in Cook County court on armed violence and drug charges, and the charges were dismissed.

But the office didn't alert the public that Robbins, who was convicted of a 2002 fatal shooting of a Kentucky man, was on the loose until Thursday evening.

Robbins spent the night in the Cook County Jail on Tuesday to attend a court date Wednesday on a warrant for a 1992 criminal case, in which he was charged with armed violence — committing a felony while using a gun, said Frank Bilecki, a spokesman for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

After attending the court hearing, Robbins was released at 7 p.m. Wednesday because there was no indication in his jail paperwork that he was ordered to remain in custody, Bilecki said. Robbins left through the jail's main entrance.

On Thursday, the Cook County fugitive warrant unit called the jail to make arrangements to send Robbins back to an Indiana prison. Jail staff realized that Robbins was gone.

The sheriff's office and other law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service, were notified.

Authorities didn't want Robbins to immediately know that they were on to him, which is why the public wasn't told right away, Bilecki said.

"We were trying to hit all the spots where we thought he might be before he became aware that we were looking for him," he said.

A warrant for Robbins has been issued in Illinois and Indiana.

A similar issue occured at the Cook County Jail in 2009 when convicted sex offender Jonathan Cooper, who was serving a 30-year prison sentence in Mississippi for manslaughter, was mistakenly freed after prosecutors here dropped sex-related charges against him.

In a telephone interview, Robbins' ex-wife, Nicole Robbins, who divorced him in 2008, said she hadn't spoken with or heard from him in a year and a half.

"He was mistakenly released? I haven't heard from him," she said. "I don't know where he is."

Steven Robbins was serving time in Indiana State Prison when he was brought to Cook County to appear on the warrant.

In 2002, Robbins was arrested at a Day's Inn in Merrillville, Ind., according to an archived story in the Merrillville Post-Tribune. He was convicted of shooting Richard Melton, 24, with whom he'd gotten into a fight at a party. Robbins shot Melton on Mother's Day, authorities said.

He was sentenced in 2004 to 60 years in prison for murder and carrying a handgun without a license, according to Indiana Department of Correction documents. He was eligible for parole in 2029. Robbins has relatives in Gary and Bloomington, according to the archived story.

Robbins was described as black, 5 feet 5 inches tall and 190 pounds, with a tattoo on the right side of his neck that reads "Nicole." Anyone with information on Robbins' whereabouts is asked to call 708-865-4915.

The Cook County charges had actually been dropped in 2007, but Robbins was still required to appear in court in Illinois to answer for the warrant on those charges, court records show.

Tribune reporters David Heinzmann and Jeremy Gorner contributed.


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Suicide bomber kills guard at U.S. embassy in Turkey

ANKARA (Reuters) - A suicide bomber from a far-left group killed a Turkish security guard at the U.S. embassy in Ankara on Friday, blowing the door off a side entrance and sending smoke and debris flying into the street.

The attacker blew himself up inside U.S. property, Ankara Governor Alaaddin Yuksel said. The blast sent masonry spewing out of the wall and could be heard a mile away.

Interior Minister Muammer Guler said the bomber was a member of a far-left group. The U.S. State Department said it was working with Turkish police to investigate what it described as "a terrorist blast".

Islamist radicals, far-left groups, far-right groups and Kurdish separatist militants have all carried out attacks in Turkey in the past. There was no claim of responsibility.

"The suicide bomber was ripped apart and one or two citizens from the special security team passed away," said Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who was attending a ceremony in Istanbul when the blast happened.

"This event shows that we need to fight together everywhere in the world against these terrorist elements," he said.

Far-left groups in Turkey oppose what they see as U.S. influence over Turkish foreign policy.

Turkey is a key U.S. ally in the Middle East with common interests ranging from energy security to counter-terrorism, and has been one of the leading advocates of foreign intervention to end the conflict in neighboring Syria.

Around 400 U.S. soldiers have arrived in Turkey over the past few weeks to operate Patriot anti-missile batteries meant to defend against any spillover of Syria's civil war, part of a NATO deployment due to be fully operational in the coming days.

U.S. Ambassador Francis Ricciardone emerged through the main gate of the embassy, which is surrounded by high walls, shortly after the explosion to address reporters, flanked by a security detail as a Turkish police helicopter hovered overhead.

"We are very sad of course that we lost one of our Turkish guards at the gate," Ricciardone said, thanking the Turkish authorities for a prompt response.

A Reuters witness saw one wounded person being lifted into an ambulance as police armed with assault rifles cordoned off the area.

"It was a huge explosion. I was sitting in my shop when it happened. I saw what looked like a body part on the ground," said travel agent Kamiyar Barnos, whose shop window was shattered around 100 meters away from the blast.


State broadcaster TRT said the attacker was thought to be from The Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), which wants a socialist state and is vehemently anti-American, according to the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).

The group, deemed a terrorist organization by both the United States and Turkey, was blamed for a suicide attack in 2001 that killed two police officers and a tourist in Istanbul's central Taksim Square.

Guler said the bomber could have been from the DHKP-C or a similar group.

The DHKP/C has in the past attacked Turkish official targets with bombs, but arrests of some of its members in recent years have weakened its capabilities, according to the NCTC.

The date of the DHKP-C's most recent attack, on an Istanbul police station, was September 11, 2012, seen as a symbolic strike to coincide with the 11th anniversary of the al Qaeda attacks on the United States.

Despite some strains, Washington and Ankara have long had a strong strategic alliance. U.S. President Barack Obama chose Turkey as his first Muslim nation to visit after he took office five years ago.

Turkish support and bases have helped U.S. forces in Afghanistan, while Turkey hosts a NATO radar system, operated by U.S. forces, in its eastern province of Malatya to help defend against any regional threat from Iran.

More recently, it has led calls for international intervention in neighboring Syria and is hosting hundreds of NATO soldiers who are manning the Patriot missile defense system near the Syrian border, hundreds of kilometers from the capital.

The U.S. consulate in Istanbul warned its citizens to be vigilant and to avoid large gatherings, while the British mission in Istanbul called on British businesses to tighten security after what it called a "suspected terrorist attack".

The most serious bombings of this kind in Turkey occurred in November 2003, when car bombs shattered two synagogues, killing 30 people and wounding 146. Authorities said the attack bore the hallmarks of al Qaeda.

Part of the HSBC Bank headquarters was destroyed and the British consulate was damaged in two more explosions that killed a further 32 people a week later.

(Additional reporting by Daren Butler and Ayla Jean Yackley in Istanbul; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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Wall Street flat after mixed data; Qualcomm lifts Nasdaq

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks were little changed on Thursday as investors mulled a mixed bag of economic data, though earnings from Qualcomm helped lift the Nasdaq.

Data showed the labor market improved modestly; the number of Americans filing new claims last week for unemployment benefits rose, beating expectations and bouncing off five-year lows in the prior week.

That comes ahead of Friday's payrolls report, which is expected to show employers added 160,000 jobs in January after an increase of 155,000 in December.

A separate report showed incomes climbed in December by the most in eight years, in an encouraging sign that the economy may be propelled forward through consumer spending.

A gauge of business activity in the U.S. Midwest showed a pick up in January from a more than three-year low in December as new orders jumped. The report followed a disappointing survey from the mid-Atlantic and New York regions.

Qualcomm Inc gained 5.9 percent to $67.25 as the top boost to the Nasdaq 100 <.ndx> after the world's leading supplier of chips for cellphones beat analysts' expectations for quarterly profit and revenue, and raised its targets for the year.

The worst performer on the Nasdaq was Facebook Inc , which lost 5.9 percent to $29.39. The social network company said Wednesday it doubled its mobile advertising revenue in the fourth quarter; however, that growth trailed some of Wall Street's most aggressive estimates.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> gained 22.88 points, or 0.16 percent, to 13,933.30. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> gained 0.21 points, or 0.01 percent, to 1,502.17. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> gained 8.43 points, or 0.27 percent, to 3,150.73.

The S&P 500 <.spx> has gained 5.3 percent in January, after legislators in Washington temporarily sidestepped a "fiscal cliff" of automatic tax increases and spending cuts that could have derailed the economic recovery, and amid improving economic data and better-than-expected corporate earnings.

But the benchmark index has stalled recently and is virtually flat for the week, hovering near the 1,500 mark, as investors look for fresh trading incentives to justify further gains.

"Unfortunately it's still a mixed picture, it appears we are just getting a lot of conflicting data right now," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago.

"There is certainly a lot of information coming out this week - a lot of economic data, a lot of earnings and of course we have the employment number looming Friday, so with 1,500 right here, my guess is there is just not enough conviction to push us substantially higher yet."

United Parcel Service Inc lost 1.6 percent to $79.95 after the world's largest parcel delivery reported fourth-quarter earnings below analysts' estimates on Thursday and forecast weaker-than-expected profit for 2013.

But the Dow Jones Transportation average <.djt> gained 0.5 percent as Kirby Corp added 7.6 percent to $71.57 and Ryder Systems Inc climbed 4.7 percent to $56.79 after posting quarterly results.

Thomson Reuters data through Thursday morning shows that of the 231 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings this season, 69.3 percent have exceeded expectations, a higher proportion than over the past four quarters and above the average since 1994.

Overall, S&P 500 fourth-quarter earnings are forecast to have risen 3.7 percent. That's above a 1.9 percent forecast at the start of the earnings season, but well below a 9.9 percent profit growth forecast on October 1, the data showed.

WMS Industries Inc surged 52.5 percent to $24.96 after the company agreed to be acquired by Scientific Games Corp for $26 per share in cash. Scientific Games jumped 19 percent to $10.63.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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49ers' Culliver apologizes for anti-gay remarks

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver has apologized for anti-gay comments he made to a comedian during Super Bowl media day.

Culliver said Thursday that's "not what's in my heart" and he was "just kidding around."

He also apologized to the city of San Francisco and added he would welcome a gay teammate to the 49ers, a reversal of his remarks to comedian Artie Lange two days ago. San Francisco and the Bay Area are home to a large gay community.

During an interview Tuesday at the Superdome, Culliver responded to questions from Lange by saying he wouldn't welcome a gay player in the locker room. He said the 49ers didn't have any gay players, and if they did those players should leave.

Culliver's apology reiterated his statement of regret released by the team Wednesday night.

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Fear and loathing in Egypt's Port Said

Behind the mask

Scales of justice

Moment of truth

Fans celebrate

Armed and ready

Rally at the club

Portrait of the dead


Down with Morsi

Army in control

Port Said women protest

Al Masry ultras

The sound of machine guns



Shots fired

Empty stands

Harrowing reminder
























  • Chaos erupted in Egypt after 21 people were sentenced to death following a football riot

  • More than 70 people died after match in Port Said between local club Al Masry and Al Ahly

  • Egyptian league was suspended and has yet to restart due to threats of further violence

  • Verdicts for 52 other defendants who were arrested after riot is expected March 9

(CNN) -- The faces of more than 70 young men and boys bore down on the crowd of thousands outside Al Ahly's training complex in Cairo.

As many as 15,000 members of the Ahlawy, the organized ultras fan group of Egypt's most popular soccer club, had gathered here early for the news they, and the country, had been waiting almost a year to hear.

At 10 a.m. a judge was to deliver a verdict on one of the darkest moments in the history of the game.

It happened on February 1, 2012, when more than 70 -- those young men and boys whose faces now appear on a billboard high above the entrance of the club -- lost their lives after a match in the Mediterranean city of Port Said, against local club Al Masry.

Most of the dead were crushed when the Al Masry fans stormed the pitch.

The players sprinted for their lives, finding sanctuary in the dressing room. And then the floodlights went out.

When the lights came back on 10 minutes later, the dead lay piled in a tunnel, in front of a locked, metal gate that had prevented escape before it collapsed under the weight of bodies.

Direct action

Seventy-three people were arrested, many accused of murder. They were mostly Al Masry fans, but included several members of the security forces.

The man allegedly responsible for cutting the power to the lights was also arrested. The Ahlawy suspected that a hidden hand was at work.

There were conspiracy theories, many asked questions: was this just a football rivalry gone very wrong? Or did police allow the violence as payback against the ultras for their part in the revolution?

Read: Clashes erupt after Egypt court sentences

The Ahlawy had played a crucial role in the revolution. They were an organized group of tens of the thousands of young men willing to fight the police -- as they had both inside and out of Egypt's soccer stadiums for the previous four years -- to make their voices heard.

The authorities denied any collusion. It was a tragic accident, they said. Hooliganism and ineptitude, no more, no less, no hidden hand.

But many of the Ahlawy fans were not convinced. The Egyptian soccer league was canceled and the Ahlawy waged a successful direct action campaign to prevent its restart until justice had been served.

The young men waited for the verdict on Saturday. Several had come armed, in anticipation of a further postponement or, worst still, a not guilty verdict. Some carried clubs, others homemade pistols and double-barreled sawn-off shotguns.

Tear gas

At 10 a.m. the judge rose on national television and delivered his verdict. Twenty-one of the accused were sentenced to death. The verdicts for the remaining defendants are expected March 9.

The news swept through the crowd, reducing those in its path to tears of joy; teenagers who had lost friends, mothers who had lost sons, wives who had lost husbands.

Scores dead in Egypt soccer riot



















"It's a very good decision by the court," said Mihai, a member of the Ahlawy who had come to hear the verdict. As with all the ultras, he declined to give his last name.

The guns that had been brought in anticipation of violence were fired into the sky in celebration.

One fan fired an automatic pistol until it jammed. He inspected the piece of failing, unfamiliar equipment. Unable to fix it, he tucked it into his belt and jumped into the sea of celebrating men.

"We hope it will be a perfect ending for this story. We have been waiting for this for so long. For 21 to get executed is a very good decision. So now we wait for the police decision. For sure it wasn't just them that made this," Mihai said.

Back in February, with the raw memories of Port Said just a few weeks old, the Ahlawy had demanded that those responsible should be put to death.

With the court verdict, they received their wish. Justice, they believed, had been served. At least partially.

"The police will be (put to) trial on March 9," said Mohamed, a founding member of the Ahlawy.

The previous night -- on the Egyptian revolution's anniversary -- Cairo was blanketed in tear gas as protesters roamed the streets surrounding Tahrir Square, venting their anger at President Mohamed Morsy and what they see as a lack of any real reforms.

Many, including the Ahlawy, expected further confrontations after the verdict.

But as the crowd moved inside the complex, holding a rally on the club's main soccer pitch, it became clear that no fighting would take place that day.

"I feel satisfied that some of those who committed what we suffered a year ago are going to face what they deserve," said Ahmed, another founding member of the Ahlawy who believed that the right decision had been made.

"It's a strong verdict but they don't deserve less than a strong verdict. Nobody ever wants to see someone dying but when someone kills he deserves a death sentence. He deserves that his life is taken. I don't see a way the police can get away with this."

Port Said ignited

Not everyone was happy, especially those who saw the verdict as a potential springboard to challenge Morsy, whom many of the Ahlawy view as no different from Hosni Mubarak, the former dictator who ruled Egypt for almost 30 years.

"They are giving us something of a painkiller to take out the anger from the young lads -- for me it is not enough," said Hassan, an Ahly fan standing on the training ground pitch.

Egypt unstable after days of protest


























Ultra culture



















"All the other political movements and parties were looking at what was going to happen today. Everyone had their hopes for the ultras and now they have given us this painkiller and it has lost its momentum of something really happening against the new regime," he added.

But what had -- if only temporarily -- calmed the Ahlawy, it ignited Port Said.

The verdicts were greeted with astonishment, disbelief, and anger by Al Masry's fans and the families of the 73 accused who had gathered outside the prison in Port Said where the suspects were held.

Like the Ahlawy supporters in Cairo, they too had come prepared. Two policemen were shot dead as the relatives tried to storm the prison. The police fired back. At least 30 people were killed in clashes. Among them was a former Al Masry player.

President Morsy addressed the nation and announced a 30-day curfew, from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m. in the cities worst effected by the violence.

A few hours before the first curfew was due to fall, a storm rolled into Port Said. The streets were empty, the skies dark and pregnant with rain as 9 p.m. approached.

The only sound was the faint, periodic burst of gunfire. It emanated from near the Al Arab police station by the sea.

Smoldering barricades

On approaching it, the dead streets suddenly came alive, as if the entire energy of the city had been focused on one point. Barricades made from burning tires separated the police from groups of young men, exchanging rocks for gunfire.

The clashes had followed the funeral of more protesters, killed the day after the violence outside the prison.

"There are some injuries here," a member of the Red Crescent said as he sheltered from the gunfire in a side street. Ambulances flew by, their sirens blaring.

"We've seen gun bullets from the government. In four days we have seen more than 450 (injured)."

The prospects of a hastily arranged march to defy Morsy's curfew, looked bleak.

But at 8.30 p.m. a crowd of thousands gathered near the same spot the Red Crescent had been waiting to ferry the injured to hospital. They marched through the smoldering barricades towards where the gunfire had previously come from.

Now the army, not the police, was in charge.

Armored personnel carriers and armed troops were stationed on street corners and outside important military and civilian buildings.

At its core were the fans of Al Masry ultras group the Green Eagles. But they were by no means alone. The marchers had come from all sections of Port Said. Several hundred women marched together, denouncing Morsy and Cairo.

The curfew came and went, the crowd mocking its passing. "It's 9 o'clock!" they chanted as they passed the stationed troops.

But there was no animosity towards the army. The police was the enemy. Protesters took it in turns to hug and kiss the young soldiers.

Few would readily admit to being Al Masry fans, nor say whether they were there on that fateful night almost a year ago that set in motion this chain of deadly events.


What they would say is that they believed a miscarriage of justice had taken place, that Morsy had sacrificed Port Said to prevent chaos in Cairo, that traditional antipathy towards Port Said was at play.

"People are truly sure that these people (the 21 sentenced to death) didn't kill anyone. We didn't do it and they (the Ahlawy) don't believe we didn't do this," said Tariq Youssef, a 32-year-old accountant who was on the march with a friend.

"Al Masry will not be back for five years. I'm a big Masry fan. But I can't go anywhere. All the supporters for the big teams in Cairo or anywhere believe that Al Masry supporters did this."

For Tariq, admitting to being an Al Masry supporter outside of Port Said was impossible.

"They say, 'You killed them the Ahly supporters. You are like a terrorist.' Nobody believes us we didn't do anything here. There will be no football in the next five years."

As the march moved back towards the place it had started, machine gun fire rang out once again.

This time it was all around the march, front and back. The crowd scattered. A protester had been shot dead at the back of the march, next to the Al Arab police station.

"In three days we have lost 21 people, judged to be executed, and also about 39 murdered and many injured so there is no family which have not lost a friend, a colleague, a neighbor.

"You can consider this a sort of vendetta between the people and the police," said Muhammad el Agiery, an English tutor who had stayed until the end.

"People are going to stay out all of the night, every day for a month. They reject and refuse the curfew imposed by Morsy," he added.

The next morning the storm was gone and the sun was shining. But the cycle of violence continues. Another funeral march will begin, another barricade will likely be set on fire, and another curfew broken.

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