"Cliff" concerns give way to earnings focus

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Investors' "fiscal cliff" worries are likely to give way to more fundamental concerns, like earnings, as fourth-quarter reports get under way next week.

Financial results, which begin after the market closes on Tuesday with aluminum company Alcoa , are expected to be only slightly better than the third-quarter's lackluster results. As a warning sign, analyst current estimates are down sharply from what they were in October.

That could set stocks up for more volatility following a week of sharp gains that put the Standard & Poor's 500 index <.spx> on Friday at the highest close since December 31, 2007. The index also registered its biggest weekly percentage gain in more than a year.

Based on a Reuters analysis, Europe ranks among the chief concerns cited by companies that warned on fourth-quarter results. Uncertainty about the region and its weak economic outlook were cited by more than half of the 25 largest S&P 500 companies that issued warnings.

In the most recent earnings conference calls, macroeconomic worries were cited by 10 companies while the U.S. "fiscal cliff" was cited by at least nine as reasons for their earnings warnings.

"The number of things that could go wrong isn't so high, but the magnitude of how wrong they could go is what's worrisome," said Kurt Winters, senior portfolio manager for Whitebox Mutual Funds in Minneapolis.

Negative-to-positive guidance by S&P 500 companies for the fourth quarter was 3.6 to 1, the second worst since the third quarter of 2001, according to Thomson Reuters data.

U.S. lawmakers narrowly averted the "fiscal cliff" by coming to a last-minute agreement on a bill to avoid steep tax hikes this weeks -- driving the rally in stocks -- but the battle over further spending cuts is expected to resume in two months.

Investors also have seen a revival of worries about Europe's sovereign debt problems, with Moody's in November downgrading France's credit rating and debt crises looming for Spain and other countries.

"You have a recession in Europe as a base case. Europe is still the biggest trading partner with a lot of U.S. companies, and it's still a big chunk of global capital spending," said Adam Parker, chief U.S. equity strategist at Morgan Stanley in New York.

Among companies citing worries about Europe was eBay , whose chief financial officer, Bob Swan, spoke of "macro pressures from Europe" in the company's October earnings conference call.


One of the biggest worries voiced about earnings has been whether companies will be able to continue to boost profit growth despite relatively weak revenue growth.

S&P 500 revenue fell 0.8 percent in the third quarter for the first decline since the third quarter of 2009, Thomson Reuters data showed. Earnings growth for the quarter was a paltry 0.1 percent after briefly dipping into negative territory.

On top of that, just 40 percent of S&P 500 companies beat revenue expectations in the third quarter, while 64.2 percent beat earnings estimates, the Thomson Reuters data showed.

For the fourth quarter, estimates are slightly better but are well off estimates for the quarter from just a few months earlier. S&P 500 earnings are expected to have risen 2.8 percent while revenue is expected to have gone up 1.9 percent.

Back in October, earnings growth for the fourth quarter was forecast up 9.9 percent.

In spite of the cautious outlooks, some analysts still see a good chance for earnings beats this reporting period.

"The thinking is you need top line growth for earnings to continue to expand, and we've seen the market defy that," said Mike Jackson, founder of Denver-based investment firm T3 Equity Labs.

Based on his analysis, energy, industrials and consumer discretionary are the S&P sectors most likely to beat earnings expectations in the upcoming season, while consumer staples, materials and utilities are the least likely to beat, Jackson said.

Sounding a positive note on Friday, drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co said it expects profit in 2013 to increase by more than Wall Street had been forecasting, primarily due to cost controls and improved productivity.

(Reporting By Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

Read More..

PGA Tour's season opener delayed again

KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) — For those who think the PGA Tour season never ends, here's a new twist: This one can't get started.

For the second straight day, the Tournament of Champions was postponed Saturday because of gusts topping 40 mph that made it impossible to play. Some holes on the back nine are so exposed that when officials dropped a golf ball on the green, it actually rolled up uphill.

The tournament was supposed to begin Friday. The plan is to play 36 holes Sunday and get in 54 holes by Monday afternoon, making it likely that the Tournament of Champions will be decided over 54 holes for the first time since 1997 when it was at La Costa.

Unlike Friday, when 24 players at least teed off, no one hit a shot on the Plantation Course on Saturday.

Read More..

Famed Roman Shipwreck Could Be Two

SEATTLE — A dive to the undersea cliff where a famous Roman shipwreck rests has turned up either evidence that the wreck is enormous — or a suggestion that, not one, but two sunken ships are resting off the Greek island of Antikythera.

“Either way, it’s an exciting result,” said study researcher Brendan Foley, an archaeologist at Woods Hold Oceanographic Institution who presented the findings here today (Jan. 4) at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America.

The Antikythera wreck is famed for the massive number of artifacts pulled from the site over the past century. First discovered in the early 1900s by local sponge divers, the wreck is most famous for the Antikythera mechanism, a complex bronze gear device used to calculate astronomical positions (and perhaps the timing of the Olympic games). Numerous bronze and marble statues, jars and figurines have also been pulled from the wreck. The ship went down in the first century B.C.

Remote wreck

The wreck is perched on a steep undersea cliff in water too deep for standard scuba gear. The undersea landscape also makes deploying remotely operated submersibles impossible, Foley said. In 1976, Jacques Costeau led a diving expedition to the site. Since then, it has been unexplored, thanks in part to its remote location in the strait between Crete and Peloponnese.

“This place is absolutely unspoiled,” Foley said.

Led by Aggeliki Simossi, the director of the Greek Ephorate of Underwater Antiquities, Foley and colleagues from Greece and Woods Hole watched footage and pored over logs from the 1976 dive. With so many artifacts already taken from the site, they knew there would be little evidence of the shipwreck exposed on the ocean floor. They’d have to match the underwater geology to find the wreck.

In October, diving with technical scuba gear and diver propulsion vehicles that look like underwater fans, the team found the sweet spot, marked by a scattering of amphora, or large curved jars. [See Photos of the Antikythera Shipwreck]

Intact artifacts from the wreck were spread over a huge area, about 197 feet (60 meters) long at depths ranging from 114 feet to 197 feet (35 to 60 m), Foley said. That’s large for an ancient shipwreck, Foley said, suggesting either a huge ship or perhaps more than one wreck. The findings are preliminary, Foley said, but the team may have ultimately been excavating 984 feet (300 m) away from the site explored by Cousteau. If that’s the case, he said, they may have found a separate wreck — likely part of the same fleet as the original wreck that went down in the same storm.

More secrets

One reason for the researchers’ uncertainty is the fact that they used Costeau’s Antikythera expedition videos to gauge where to anchor their boat. Since some of the shots in the video were almost certainly staged, the researchers can’t be sure they weren’t diving at a site hundreds of yards away from the site explored in 1976.

Either way, the wreck site has many more artifacts to offer, the researchers found. They pulled one jar to the surface, which will undergo DNA testing to determine its contents. They also recovered two components of a lead anchor, which itself was resting on top of other artifacts, suggesting it was on deck when the ship went down.

“What else could be down there?” Foley said. “Are there more pieces of the known Antikythera mechanism? Is there another mechanism down there?”

The researchers plan to return to the area next year and will use metal detectors to check the site almost 1,000 feet away where Costeau’s team may have really been, he said. There are no artifacts visible on the ocean floor other than the spot that Foley and his colleagues explored, but metal detectors should pick up on any remnants under the sand at the other site if there are in fact two wrecks. [The 7 Most Mysterious Archaeological Finds]

What’s more, the technical scuba gear may also allow archaeologists to dive deeper and more extensively in the future, Foley added. The dream, he told LiveScience, is to find an “undisturbed Antikythera,” or a significant wreck that hasn’t been disrupted for decades.

“Because the site has been so intruded upon for more than a century it gets really hard to disambiguate what’s myth and what’s fact,” Foley said.

Follow Stephanie Pappas on Twitter @sipappas or LiveScience @livescience. We’re also on Facebook & Google+.

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

Title Post: Famed Roman Shipwreck Could Be Two
Url Post: http://www.news.fluser.com/famed-roman-shipwreck-could-be-two/
Link To Post : Famed Roman Shipwreck Could Be Two

based on 99998 ratings.
5 user reviews.
Author: Fluser SeoLink
Thanks for visiting the blog, If any criticism and suggestions please leave a comment

Read More..

Storm over Depardieu's 'pathetic' move


  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has bestowed Russian citizenship on actor Gérard Depardieu

  • For Depardieu, a public war of words erupted, with many in France disgusted by his move

  • Depardieu more than anyone, represents the Gallic spirit, says Agnes Poirier

  • Majority of French people disapprove of his action but can't help loving him, she adds

Agnes Poirier is a French journalist and political analyst who contributes regularly to newspapers, magazines and TV in the UK, U.S., France, Italy. Follow her on Twitter.

Paris (CNN) -- Since the revelation on the front page of daily newspaper Libération, on December 11, with a particularly vicious editorial talking about France's national treasure as a "former genius actor," Gérard Depardieu's departure to Belgium, where he bought a property just a mile from the French border, has deeply divided and saddened France. Even more so since, as we have learnt this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin has bestowed the actor Russian citizenship.

Back in mid-December, the French media operated along political lines: the left-wing press such as Libération couldn't find strong enough words to describe Depardieu's "desertion" while right-wing publications such as Le Figaro, slightly uneasy at the news, preferred to focus on President François Hollande's punishing taxes which allegedly drove throngs of millionaires to seek tax asylum in more fiscally lenient countries such as Belgium or Britain. Le Figaro stopped short of passing moral judgement though. Others like satirical weekly Charlie hebdo, preferred irony. Its cover featured a cartoon of the rather rotund-looking Depardieu in front of a Belgian flag with the headline: "Can Belgium take the world's entire load of cholesterol?" Ouch.

Quickly though, it became quite clear that Depardieu was not treated in the same way as other famous French tax exiles. French actor Alain Delon is a Swiss resident as is crooner-rocker Johnny Halliday, and many other French stars and sportsmen ensure they reside for under six months in France in order to escape being taxed here on their income and capital. Their move has hardly ever been commented on. And they certainly never had to suffer the same infamy.

Agnes Poirier

Agnes Poirier

For Depardieu, a public war of words erupted. It started with the French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, and many members of his government, showing their disdain, and talking of Depardieu's "pathetic move." In response the outraged actor penned an open letter to the French PM in which he threatened to give back his French passport.

The backlash was not over. Fellow thespian Phillipe Torreton fired the first salvo against Depardieu in an open letter published in Libération, insulting both Depardieu's protruding physique and lack of patriotism: "So you're leaving the ship France in the middle of a storm? What did you expect, Gérard? You thought we would approve? You expected a medal, an academy award from the economy ministry? (...)We'll get by without you." French actress Catherine Deneuve felt she had to step in to defend Depardieu. In another open letter published by Libération, she evoked the darkest hours of the French revolution. Before flying to Rome to celebrate the New Year, Depardieu gave an interview to Le Monde in which he seemed to be joking about having asked Putin for Russian citizenship. Except, it wasn't a joke.

In truth, French people have felt touched to their core by Depardieu's gesture. He, more than anyone, represents the Gallic spirit. He has been Cyrano, he has been Danton; he, better than most, on screen and off, stands for what it means to be French: passionate, sensitive, theatrical, and grandiose. Ambiguous too, and weak in front of temptations and pleasures.

In truth, French people have felt touched to their core by Depardieu's gesture. He, more than anyone, represents the Gallic spirit
Hugh Miles

For more than two weeks now, #Depardieu has been trending on French Twitter. Surveys have showed France's dilemma: half the French people understand him but there are as many who think that paying one's taxes is a national duty. In other words, a majority of French people disapprove of his action but can't help loving the man.

Putin's move in granting the actor Russian citizenship has exacerbated things. And first of all, it is a blow to Hollande who, it was revealed, had a phone conversation with Depardieu on New Year's Day. The Elysées Palace refused to communicate on the men's exchange. A friend of the actor declared that Depardieu complained about being so reviled by the press and that he was leaving, no matter what.

If, in their hearts, the French don't quite believe Depardieu might one day settle in Moscow and abandon them, they feel deeply saddened by the whole saga. However, with France's former sex symbol Brigitte Bardot declaring that she too might ask Putin for Russian citizenship to protest against the fate of zoo elephants in Lyon, it looks as if the French may prefer to laugh the whole thing off. Proof of this: the last trend on French Twitter is #IWantRussianCitizenship.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Agnes Poirier.

Read More..

Jail escapee appears in court, ordered held without bond

Chicago Tribune reporter Jason Meisner on the recent arrest of Kenneth Conley, a convicted bank robber who escaped from federal jail in December. (Posted on: Jan. 4, 2013.)

Kenneth Conley's formal return to federal custody this morning at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse was a far cry from the brazen way he left.

The second half of a daring escape duo who used bedsheets to scale down the façade of a downtown jail last month was pushed into a federal courtroom in a wheelchair, his legs extended and his feet swollen and shoeless. Shoulder bones pushed through his thin white T-shirt and one pinky was secured in a splint.

A short time later, U.S. District Judge Sheila Finnegan ordered Conley be held in custody without bail and set his preliminary hearing for Jan. 17.
Conley spoke only briefly to tell Finnegan he understood the charges against him.

"Yes, your honor," said Conley, who was wan and appeared thinner than in his booking photo.

Conley, a convicted bank robber, was on the lam 18 days before being arrested Friday afternoon in Palos Hills after police there received a call of a suspicious person. Police said Conley had attempted a disguise, wearing a an overcoat, beret and using a cane he didn't need.

Conley fought briefly with police, slugging one officer before he was tackled, authorities said. He was treated at a hospital before being transferred back to the Metropolitan Correctional Center, the jail he busted out of Dec. 18 with his cellmate and fellow convicted bank robber, Joseph "Jose" Banks. Banks was caught two days after the escape.

Conley's attorney, Gary Ravitz, asked Finnegan for permission to use his cell phone camera to document Conley's left foot, which he said was swollen.

Ravitz, who represents Conley on the underlying bank robbery charge, said he did not know the extent of his client's injuries and that he otherwise appeared calm.

"He seemed to be in relatively good spirits, given the situation," Ravitz said.

Conley, 38, allegedly escaped from the jail, located at 71 W. Van Buren Street, while awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty on Oct. 29, 2012, to a 2011 bank robbery of $4,000 in Homewood.

Deputy U.S. Marshals and FBI agents returned to Palos Hills Friday morning to canvass for Conley because of unconfirmed sightings there and his long-standing connections to the area. A 911 call from maintenance workers at a building where Conley is believed to have been sleeping in the basement came in around 3:30 p.m.

The maximum penalty for Conley's escape is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for bank robbery is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

According to court records, Conley has a long criminal history. He has been convicted in Cook County of offenses ranging from retail theft to weapons violations and was sentenced to eight years in prison for an armed robbery in 1996. He also was sentenced to six years in prison in San Diego County for petty theft with a prior conviction, according to California records.

asweeney@tribune.com, jmeisner@tribune.com, sschmadeke@tribune.com

Twitter: @ChicagoBreaking

Read More..

Venezuela lawmakers elect Chavez ally as Assembly chief

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan lawmakers re-elected a staunch ally of Hugo Chavez to head the National Assembly on Saturday, putting him in line to be caretaker president if the socialist leader does not recover from cancer surgery.

By choosing the incumbent, Diosdado Cabello, the "Chavista"-dominated legislature cemented the combative ex-soldier's position as the third most powerful figure in the government, after Chavez and Vice President Nicolas Maduro.

"As a patriot ... I swear to be supremely loyal in everything I do, to defend the fatherland, its institutions, and this beautiful revolution led by our Comandante Hugo Chavez," Cabello said as he took the oath, his hand on the constitution.

He had earlier warned opposition politicians against attempting to use the National Assembly to "conspire" against the people, saying they would be "destroyed" if they tried.

Thousands of the president's red-clad supporters gathered outside parliament hours before the vote, many chanting: "We are all Chavez! Our comandante will be well! He will return!"

If Chavez had to step down, or died, Cabello would take over the running of the country as Assembly president and a new election would be organized within 30 days. Chavez's heir apparent, Maduro, would be the ruling Socialist Party candidate.

Chavez, who was diagnosed with an undisclosed form of cancer in his pelvic area in mid-2011, has not been seen in public nor heard from in more than three weeks.

Officials say the 58-year-old is in delicate condition and has suffered multiple complications since the December 11 surgery, including unexpected bleeding and severe respiratory problems.

Late on Friday, Maduro gave the clearest indication yet that the government was preparing to delay Chavez's inauguration for a new six-year term, which is scheduled for Thursday.


Maduro said the ceremony was a "formality" and that Chavez could be sworn in by the Supreme Court at a later date.

The opposition says Chavez's absence would be just the latest sign that he is no longer fit to govern, and that new elections should be held in the South American OPEC nation.

Brandishing a copy of the constitution after his win in the Assembly, Cabello slammed opposition leaders for writing a letter to foreign embassies in which they accused the government of employing a "twisted reading" of the charter.

"Get this into your heads: Hugo Chavez was elected president and he will continue to be president beyond January 10. No one should have any doubt ... this is the constitutional route," he said as fellow Socialist Party lawmakers cheered.

The opposition sat stony-faced. One of their legislators had earlier told the session that it was not just the head of state who was ill, "the republic is sick."

Last year, Chavez staged what appeared to be a remarkable comeback from the disease to win re-election in October, despite being weakened by radiation therapy. He returned to Cuba for more treatment within weeks of his victory.

Should the president have to step down after 14 years in office, a new vote would probably pit Maduro, a 50-year-old former bus driver and union leader, against opposition leader Henrique Capriles, the 40-year-old governor of Miranda state.

Capriles lost to Chavez in October's presidential election.

"I don't think Maduro would last many rounds in a presidential race. He's not fit for the responsibility they have given him," Capriles said after the vice president's appearance on state television.

Chavez's condition is being watched closely by leftist allies around Latin American who have benefited from his oil-funded generosity, as well as investors attracted by Venezuela's lucrative and widely traded debt.

The country boasts the world's biggest crude reserves. Despite the huge political upheaval Chavez's exit would cause, the oil industry is not likely to be affected much in the short term, with an extension of "Chavismo" keeping projects on track, while a change in parties could usher in more foreign capital.

(Additional reporting by Deisy Buitrago; Editing by Vicki Allen)

Read More..

Data helps pace Wall Street higher, but Apple drags

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks advanced on Friday, putting the S&P 500 on track for its biggest weekly gain in over a year after a jobs report showed employers kept the pace of hiring steady in December.

The Labor Department said payrolls outside the farming sector grew by 155,000 jobs last month, slightly below November's level. Gains in employment were distributed broadly throughout the economy, from manufacturing and construction to healthcare.

Also helping to keep equities afloat was data from the Institute for Supply Management showing U.S. service sector activity expanding the most in 10 months.

"It feels like the economy, we're not burning the barn down, but we are doing fine - we seem to be growing and the fiscal cliff does not seem to have weighed too much on December employment," said Paul Mendelsohn, chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in Charlotte, Vermont.

The S&P 500 index's weekly gain would be its largest since December 2011. The majority of the gains were achieved earlier in the holiday-shortened week, including the largest daily gain for the benchmark S&P index in more than a year on Wednesday, after a deal was struck in Washington to avert the "fiscal cliff."

"So far there is nothing that has come out that has been negative following the push, they tried to read into the Fed minutes yesterday and take it down but so far they haven't had much success," Mendelsohn said.

But a drag on Apple Inc shares, down 2.6 percent to $528.36, kept the Nasdaq near the uchanged mark, as the iPhone maker continued its downward path of recent months.

Adding to concerns about Apple's ability to produce more innovative products, rival Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is expected to widen its lead over Apple in global smartphone sales this year with growth of 35 percent. Market researcher Strategy Analytics said Samsung had a broad product lineup.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> gained 28.46 points, or 0.21 percent, to 13,419.82. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> rose 5.47 points, or 0.37 percent, to 1,464.84. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> added 2.50 points, or 0.08 percent, to 3,103.07.

The CBOE Volatility index <.vix>, a measure of investor anxiety, was on pace for its fourth straight decline, a drop of nearly 40 percent which has pushed the index to its lowest level since September.

Eli Lilly and Co was among the biggest boost's to the S&P, up 3.5 percent to $51.47 after the pharmaceuticals maker said it expects its 2013 earnings to increase to $3.75 to $3.90 per share, excluding items, from $3.30 to $3.40 per share in 2012.

Fellow drugmaker Johnson & Johnson rose 1.2 percent to $71.55 after Deutsche Bank upgraded the Dow component to a "Buy" from a "Hold" rating. The NYSEArca pharmaceutical index <.drg> climbed 0.4 percent.

Shares of Mosaic Co gained 2.7 percent to $58.29. Excluding items, the fertilizer producer's quarterly earnings beat analysts' expectations, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The rise in payrolls shown by the jobs data did not make a dent in the still-high U.S. unemployment rate, but it calmed fears about the possibility of the U.S. Federal Reserve ending its highly stimulative monetary policy.

Concerns about the duration of the Fed's stimulus program prompted a pull-back from the market Thursday after a rally.

Minutes from the Fed's December policy meeting, released Thursday, showed Fed officials were increasingly worried about the risks of asset purchases to financial markets, though they looked set to continue with the open-ended stimulus program for now.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

Read More..

Reid arrives in KC, nears deal to become coach

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Andy Reid arrived in Kansas City on Friday, and the Chiefs are close to making an official announcement that he will become their next coach.

Reid and the Chiefs have reportedly agreed to a deal giving the longtime Eagles coach broad authority over football decisions. His deal came hours after the Chiefs announced they had parted with general manager Scott Pioli after four tumultuous seasons.

Reid inherits a team that went 2-14, matching the worst record in franchise history. But he'll also have the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, and with five players voted to the Pro Bowl, Kansas City has building blocks in place to make a quick turnaround.

While Reid will have authority in personnel decisions, it's expected that he will pursue longtime Packers personnel man John Dorsey to work with him as general manager.

Reid takes over for Romeo Crennel, who was fired Monday after one full season.

The Chiefs first interviewed Reid for about nine hours in Philadelphia on Wednesday, and then spent much of Thursday working out the details before coming to an agreement.

The addition of Reid and the departure of Pioli should help to stabilize a team that was expected to contend for the AFC West title but instead floundered all season.

Reid has experience turning around franchises, too.

He took over a team in Philadelphia that was just 3-13, but two years later went 11-5 and finished second in the NFC East. That began a stretch of five straight years in which Reid won at least 11 games and included a trip to the Super Bowl after the 2004 season.

During his tenure, the Eagles made nine playoff appearances, while Kansas City made three, and won 10 playoff games — something the Chiefs haven't done since 1993. Meanwhile, the Chiefs cycled through five head coaches and are now on their third in three years.

"Overall the job is still attractive," said Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt, who led the search for Crennel's replacement. "The franchise remains very well respected."

The fresh start afforded by the Chiefs should be welcomed by Reid.

Despite a 130-93-1 record and the most wins in Eagles history, he was just 12-20 the past two seasons. Reid also dealt with personal tragedy when his oldest son, Garrett, died during training camp after a long battle with drug addiction.

Reid will have more authority in Kansas City than any previous coach.

Hunt told The Associated Press this week that he was changing the Chiefs' organizational structure so that the coach and general manager report directly to him. Since his late father Lamar founded the team 53 years ago, the coach typically reported to the general manager.

The Chiefs issued a statement Friday that said they had "mutually parted ways" with Pioli after a four-year tenure marked by poor draft choices, ineffective free-agent moves, his own failed coaching hires and a growing fan rebellion.

"The bottom line is that I did not accomplish all of what I set out to do," Pioli said. "To the Hunt family — to the great fans of the Kansas City Chiefs — to the players, all employees and alumni, I truly apologize for not getting the job done."

Most of the Chiefs' top stars were drafted by Pioli's predecessor, Carl Peterson. The former Patriots executive struggled to find impact players, particularly at quarterback, while cycling through coaches and fostering a climate of dread within the entire organization.

Numerous longtime staff members were fired upon Pioli's arrival, and his inability to connect with fans resulted in unprecedented unrest. Some fans even paid for multiple banners to be towed behind planes before home games asking that he be fired.

On Dec. 1, linebacker Jovan Belcher shot the mother of his 3-month-old daughter, Kasandra Perkins, at a home not far from Arrowhead Stadium. Belcher then drove to the team's practice facility and shot himself in the head as Pioli and Crennel watched in the parking lot.

Pioli hasn't spoken publicly since the incident.

The three-time NFL executive of the year, all with New England, often spoke of putting together "the right 53," but he failed to do so, and now it falls on Reid and his staff to finish the job.

The most glaring position of need is quarterback.

Matt Cassel has two years left on a $63 million, six-year deal, but he played so poorly this season that he was benched in favor of Brady Quinn, who is now a free agent.

It's expected that the Chiefs will pursue a veteran quarterback while also choosing one in the draft, giving Reid options in training camp. Reid has had success working with young quarterbacks, including Brett Favre in Green Bay and Donovan McNabb in Philadelphia.

Decisions will also have to be made about left tackle Branden Albert, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and even Pro Bowl punter Dustin Colquitt, all of whom can become free agents.


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

Read More..

Google’s original Android mascot would have given children everywhere horrible nightmares

Read More..

Myanmar: Evolution, not revolution

Tourists walk around the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon in April. The tourism industry is set for expansion.


  • Myanmar is undergoing incremental change, welcomed by all, says Parag Khanna

  • But he says people still tread lightly, careful not to overstep or demand too much

  • Myanmar has survived succession of natural and man-made ravages, Khanna adds

  • With sanctions lifted, foreign investment is now pouring in from Western nations

Editor's note: Parag Khanna is a Senior Research Fellow at the New America Foundation and Senior Fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs. His books include "The Second World," "How to Run the World," and "Hybrid Reality."

Yangon, Myanmar (CNN) -- Call it a case for evolution instead of revolution. While the Arab world continues in the throes of violence and uncertainty, Myanmar is undergoing incremental change -- and almost everyone seems to want it that way.

The government is lightening up: holding elections, freeing political prisoners, abolishing censorship, legalizing protests, opening to investment and tourists and welcoming back exiles. But the people still tread lightly, careful not to overstep or demand too much. Still, the consensus is clear: Change in Myanmar is "irreversible."

Read more: Aung San Suu Kyi and the power of unity

As the British Raj's jungle frontier, Burma was a key Asian battleground resisting the Japanese occupation of Southeast Asia during World War II. As with many post-colonial countries, the euphoria of independence and democracy in 1948 gave way in just over a decade to the 1962 coup in which General Ne Win nationalized the economy and abolished most institutions except the army.

Parag Khanna

Parag Khanna

Non-alignment gave way to isolationism. Like Syria or Uzbekistan, Myanmar became an ancient Silk Road passageway that almost voluntarily choked itself off, choosing the unique path of a Buddhist state conducting genocide, slavery, and human trafficking.

Watch: Myanmar in grip of economic revolution

The military junta began its increasingly cozy rapproachment with Deng Xiaoping's China in the 1970s, just as China was opening to the world, and used cash from its Golden Triangle drug-running operations to pay for Chinese weapons.

Mass protests, crackdowns and another coup in 1988 led to a rebranding of the junta as the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) and the country's official renaming as the Union of Myanmar.

Terrorized, starving and homeless: Myanmar's Rohingya still forgotten

The 1990 elections, in which Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) won a majority of the seats, were annulled by the SLORC, which continued to rule until 2011 when it was formally disbanded. Most international sanctions on Myanmar have now been lifted.

Read more: Myanmar: Is now a good time to go?

In just the past few years, Myanmar has survived a succession of natural and man-made ravages, from the brutal crackdown on the Saffron Revolution of 2007 (led by Buddhist monks but more widely supported in protest against rising fuel prices and economic mismanagement), to Cyclone Nargis (which killed an estimated 200,000 people in 2008) to civil wars between the government's army and ethnic groups such as the Kachin in the north and Shan and Karen in the east, and communal violence between the Muslim Rohingya (ethnic Bengalis) and Buddhist Rakhine in the west.

There are still approximately 150,000 Karen refugees in Thailand (and over 300,000 total refugees on the Thai-Burmese border) and more than 100,000 displaced Rohinya living in camps in Sittwe. So difficult is holding Myanmar together that even Aung San Suu Kyi, who helps lead the national reconciliation process, ironically advocated the use of the army (which kept her under house arrest for almost two decades) to pacify the rebellions.

Though sectarian conflict between Muslims and Buddhists in Rakhine underscores the Myanmar's tenuous search for national unity, the genuine efforts at religious pluralism are reminiscent of neighboring India: Every religion is officially recognized, and days are given off for observance. Surrounding Yangon's downtown City Hall is not only the giant Sule Pagoda but also a mosque, synagogue, church and Jain temple. The roundabout is therefore a symbol of the country's diversity -- but also the place where protesters flock when the government doesn't live up to promises.

Q&A: What's behind sectarian violence in Myanmar?

Scarred from decades of oppressive and ideological rule and still beset by conflict, it is therefore against all odds that Myanmar would become the most talked about frontier market of the moment, a top Christmas holiday destination and a case study in democratic transitions. Myanmar's political scene is now a vibrant but cacophonous discourse involving the still-powerful army; upstart parliament; repatriated civilian advisers; flourishing civil society, including human rights groups, ambitious business community, the Buddhist religious community, and a feisty media (especially online).

The parliament is pushing for accountability in telecom and energy contracts, and its speaker, Shwe Mann, is already maneuvering to challenge the chairman of his Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) -- current president Thein Sein -- in the 2015 elections.

In the meantime, however, the establishment in Yangon and the new capital of Napyidaw need to focus much more on building capacity. Thein Sein, who traded in his uniform for indigenous attire in 2011, has reshuffled the Cabinet to make room for functional experts in the energy and economic portfolios. He's even spearheaded an anti-corruption drive, admitting recently that Myanmar's "governance falls well below international standards." By many accounts he is also very open to advice on investment and other reforms.

He will need it, as Myanmar faces crucial tests of its international credibility in the coming years. In 2013, Myanmar will play host to the World Economic Forum (WEF) as well as the Southeast Asian Games. In 2014 it will chair the ASEAN regional group, and in 2015 it is expected to enter a new ASEAN Free Trade Area.

The military's power is still pervasive, placing it somewhere on the spectrum between Indonesia, where military influence has been rolled back, and Pakistan, where the military still dominates. On the streets, it's often difficult to know who is in charge.

One numerological fetish led to the driving side being unilaterally changed, making Myanmar the rare place where the steering wheel is (mostly) on the right, and cars drive (mostly) on the right. At least a dozen official and private newspapers (though private daily papers are not allowed yet) are on offer from meandering street hawkers, while you inch through Yangon's increasingly dense daily traffic jams.

At this time of year, visitors to Burma enjoy crisp, smoky morning air and dry, starry nights. Yangon is undergoing a construction boom, with faded colonial embassies turned into bustling banks, the national independence column being refurbished and redesigned with a park, and tycoons building columned mansions near downtown -- and seeking Buddhist blessings by pledging lavish donations for the construction of even more monasteries and pagodas.

By 2020, the population of Yangon could easily double from the current 5 million, at which point it may look like a mix of Calcutta and Kuala Lumpur.

Thant Myint-U, the grandson of former U.N. Secretary-General U Thant and noted historian of modern Burma, now wears several hats related to ethnic reconciliation, foreign donor trust funds and urban conservation. He says that as foreign aid flows grow from trickles into a flood, they have to be systematically focused on sustainable employment creation and infrastructure. USAID has pledged to spend more than $150 million in Myanmar in the next three years.

Myanmar's opening, however, is strongly motivated by an anti-Chinese sentiment that is part of a much wider global blowback against China's commercial and strategic encroachment
Parag Khanna

Outside of Yangon, the pace of Burmese society slows to a timeless pace -- as do Internet connections. On village roads, cycle rickshaws and monks with parasols amble by fruit vendors and car part stalls. Whether at the Dhammayazika Pagoda in Bagan or Mandalay Hill in that city, locals enjoy watching sunrises and sunsets as much as tourists.

Traveling around Myanmar, one observes the paradox of a country that has massive potential yet still needs just about everything. Yangon's vegetable market is a maze of tented alleys overflowing with cabbage, pineapples, eggplant and flowers, but they are still transported by wheelbarrows and bicycles. Ox-drawn ploughs still power farming in much of the country, meaning agricultural output of rice, beans and other staples could grow immensely through mechanization.

Similarly, the British-era light-rail loop circling Yangon takes about three hours to ride once around, with no linking bus services into downtown. But with cars already clogging the city, a major transport overhaul is essential. The communications sector actually needs to be re-invented. At present, the country's Internet and mobile phone penetration are only just growing; both are still governed by India's 1886 Telegraph Act. Mobile penetration is only 3 million but could easily grow to 30 million (half the population) within the next couple of years, as the price of SIM cards come down (so far from $2,000 to about $200), and foreign telecoms are allowed in to provide data coverage.

With sanctions lifted, foreign investment is now pouring in from Western nations, in addition to the players who have been making inroads for years such as China, Thailand and Singapore. The paradox, however, is that Myanmar lacks the infrastructure (physical and institutional) to absorb all the investor interest.

Major nations have thus focused on special economic zones that they themselves effectively run. The way Japan has moved into Myanmar, one would think that its World War II imperialism has been forgotten. After their major bet on the Thilawa special economic zone south of Yangon, Japanese contractors have plans to deepen the Yangon River's estuary so that cargo ships can sail directly up to the city's shores and offload more containers of cars that are already being briskly snapped up at busy dealerships.

Besides natural gas and agriculture, everyone agrees that tourism will comprise an ever-larger share of the country's GDP. Especially with much of the country off-limits to foreigners due to security restrictions and the military's economic operations, tourists already clog all existing suitable hotels in Yangon, Bagan and Mandalay, meaning a massive upgrade is needed in the hospitality sector.

Annual tourist visits are climbing 25% annually to an estimated 400,000 for 2012. Daily flights arrive packed from around the region, with longer-haul routes beginning from as far afield as Istanbul and Doha.

Still, Myanmar is a traveler's dream come true. In Bagan, you can walk or take a sunrise jog around countless pagodas that feel like they haven't been touched in 800 years -- some actually haven't. There is also the sacred and enchanting Golden Rock; the pristine beaches of Ngwe Saung, which rival the best of Thailand and the Philippines; the temperate climate of Inle Lake; the Himalayan foothills near Putao in far northern Kachin state where one can trek; the rich dynastic history of Mandalay; and the languorous Irrawaddy River cruises that harken to George Orwell's "Burmese Days."

Yangon has a pleasant charm and gentle energy, with vast gardens and riverside walks, the grandeur of centuries-old monuments such as the Shwedegon Pagoda, a fast-growing cultural scene of art galleries and music performances, and a melting pot population of all Myanmar's tribes as well as industrious overseas Indians and Chinese, who make up 5% of the nation's population.

Mandalay in particular is where one feels the depth of China's demographic penetration into Myanmar, owing not only to recent decades of commercial expansion from gems trading to real estate but also centuries of seasonal migrations across the rugged natural border with Yunnan province. Some have begun to call the Shan region "Yunnan South."

The combination of the Saffron Revolution, civil strife, sanctions, its economic lag behind the rest of ASEAN, and the status of becoming a captive resource supplier to China all played crucial roles in Myanmar's opening. China has traditionally been a kingmaker in isolated and sanctioned countries and well-placed to capitalize on the infrastructural and extractive needs of emerging economies as well.

For China, Myanmar represents a crucial artery to evade the "Malacca trap" represented by its dependence on shipping transit through the Straits of Malacca. In 2011 China was still far and away the largest foreign investor in Myanmar, bringing in $5 billion (of a total of $9 billion) across their 2,000-kilometer (1250-mile)-long border. The massive ongoing investments include 63 hydropower projects, a 2,400-kilometer (1500-mile) Sittwe-to-Kunming oil pipeline from the Bay of Bengal and a proposed gas pipeline to China's Yunnan beginning at Myanmar's Ramree Island -- not to mention an entire military outfitted with Chinese tanks, helicopters, boats and planes.

Myanmar's opening, however, is strongly motivated by an anti-Chinese sentiment that is part of a much wider global blowback against its commercial and strategic encroachment. Even well-kept generals are fundamentally Burmese nationalists and awoke to the predicament of total economic and strategic dependence on China. The government has taken major steps to correct this excessive tilt, suspending a major hydroelectric dam project at Myitsone and re-evaluating Wanbao Mining company's giant copper mine concession near Monywa.

Myanmar is now deftly playing the same multi-alignment game mastered by countries such as Kazakhstan in trying to escape the Soviet-Russian sphere of influence: courting all sides and gaining whatever one can from multiple great powers and neighbors while giving up as little autonomy as possible.

India sees Myanmar as the crucial gateway for its "Look East" policy and is offering substantial investments in oil and gas as well as port construction and information technology; Europe has become a larger investor, especially Great Britain; Russia is being courted as a new arms supplier; Japan is viewing Myanmar as its new Thailand for automobile production; and of course, U.S. President Barack Obama visited in December, paving the way not only for greater U.S. investment but even for Myanmar to potentially participate in the Cobra Gold military exercises held annually with America's regional allies.

Obama was not only the first U.S. president to visit Myanmar but also the first to call it by that name, conceding ground in a long-running dispute. The administration hopes that North Korea, Asia's still frozen outcast, will learn the lessons from Myanmar's steady but determined opening.

But countries that are playing multi-alignment don't have to thaw domestically -- witness Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan. Myanmar is simultaneously undergoing political liberalization and international rehabilitation -- a tricky and laudable feat for sure but not one North Korea is likely to emulate entirely. What the two do have in common, however, is the growing realization that having China as a neighbor is both a blessing and a curse.

During my visit to the "Genius Language School," where university students go for professional English tutoring, I asked the assembled round table whether they were happy that Obama came to visit and whether they considered America a friend. All giggled and chanted: "Yes."

Then I asked, "Are you afraid of China?" And the answer came in immediate, resounding unison: "Yes!"

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Parag Khanna.

Read More..

McHenry County judge picked for Vanecko case

McHenry County Judge Maureen P. McIntyre was selected today to preside over the politically charged involuntary manslaughter trial of former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley's nephew.

Michael Sullivan, chief judge of McHenry County Circuit Court, was tasked with naming a judge from his circuit last month after the Cook County judge originally picked to preside over the case stepped aside because of connections to Daley.

At the request of the special prosecutor who brought the charge against Richard Vanecko, Cook County's chief judge asked the Illinois Supreme Court to appoint a judge from outside the county to avoid the appearance of impropriety. The state’s highest court asked Sullivan last month to select a judge on his court to oversee the trial.

McIntyre is currently the presiding judge of the court's Family Division, hearing mostly cases of juvenile abuse and neglect, delinquency, and adoption.

Sullivan announced the appointment of McIntyre in a one-page order released this afternoon.

McIntyre was retained by voters in November to a six-year term. She has been on the bench in McHenry County since 1996.

Dan Wallace, administrator of the McHenry County Circuit Court, told the Tribune on Thursday that whichever judge was selected will travel to Cook County to preside over the criminal case against Vanecko, who was indicted in the 2004 death of David Koschman after a quarrel in the Rush Street bar district

Koschman, 21, of Mount Prospect, had been drinking in the Rush Street night life district early on April 24, 2004, when he and friends quarreled with a group that included Vanecko. During the altercation, Koschman was knocked to the street, hitting the back of his head on the pavement. He died 11 days later.

Last year, Cook County Judge Michael Toomin appointed veteran attorney Dan Webb as special prosecutor after an investigative series by the Chicago Sun-Times raised questions about whether authorities intentionally concealed evidence for political reasons.

In announcing the indictment against Vanecko in December, Webb said a special grand jury continued to probe how police and prosecutors handled the original investigation.


Read More..

Abbas sees Palestinian unity as Fatah rallies in Gaza

GAZA (Reuters) - President Mahmoud Abbas predicted the end of a five-year split between the two big Palestinian factions as his Fatah movement staged its first mass rally in Gaza with the blessing of Hamas Islamists who rule the enclave.

"Soon we will regain our unity," Abbas, whose authority has been limited to the Israeli-occupied West Bank since the 2007 civil war between the two factions, said in a televised address to hundreds of thousands of followers marching in Gaza on Friday, with yellow Fatah flags instead of the green of Hamas.

The hardline Hamas movement, which does not recognize Israel's right to exist, expelled secular Fatah from Gaza during the war. It gave permission for the rally after the deadlock in peace talks between Abbas's administration and Israel narrowed the two factions' ideological differences.

The Palestinian rivals have drawn closer since Israel's assault on Gaza assault in November, in which Hamas, though battered, claimed victory.

Egypt has long tried to broker Hamas-Fatah reconciliation, but past efforts have foundered over questions of power-sharing, control of weaponry, and to what extent Israel and other powers would accept a Palestinian administration including Hamas.

An Egyptian official told Reuters Cairo was preparing to invite the factions for new negotiations within two weeks.

Israel fears grassroots support for Hamas could eventually topple Abbas's Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank.

"Hamas could seize control of the PA any day," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday.

The demonstration marked 48 years since Fatah's founding as the spearhead of the Palestinians' fight against Israel. Its longtime leader Yasser Arafat signed an interim 1993 peace accord that won Palestinians a measure of self rule.

Hamas, which rejected the 1993 deal, fought and won a Palestinian parliamentary election in 2006. It formed an uneasy coalition with Fatah until their violent split a year later.

Though shunned by the West, Hamas feels bolstered by electoral gains for Islamist movements in neighboring Egypt and elsewhere in the region - a confidence reflected in the fact Friday's Fatah demonstration was allowed to take place.

"The success of the rally is a success for Fatah, and for Hamas too," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. "The positive atmosphere is a step on the way to regain national unity."

Fatah, meanwhile, has been riven by dissent about the credibility of Abbas's statesmanship, especially given Israel's continued settlement-building on West Bank land. The Israelis quit Gaza unilaterally in 2005 after 38 years of occupation.

"The message today is that Fatah cannot be wiped out," said Amal Hamad, a member of the group's ruling body, referring to the demonstration attended by several Abbas advisers. "Fatah lives, no one can exclude it and it seeks to end the division."

In his speech, Abbas promised to return to Gaza soon and said Palestinian unification would be "a step on the way to ending the (Israeli) occupation".

(Editing by Dan Williams, Alistair Lyon and Jason Webb)

Read More..

Wall Street ends down on Fed concern

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks dipped on Thursday after minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting showed growing concern about the risks of the Fed's stimulative monetary policy, giving investors reason to pull back after a strong two-day run.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> slipped 21.35 points, or 0.16 percent, to 13,391.20, according to the latest figures. The S&P 500 <.spx> dipped 3.09 points, or 0.21 percent, to 1,459.33. The Nasdaq Composite <.ixic> fell 11.70 points, or 0.38 percent, to 3,100.57.

(Editing by Kenneth Barry)

Read More..

NHL, union resume talks in hopes to save season

NEW YORK (AP) — After a long night of talks, the NHL and the union returned to the bargaining table, but not for long.

The sides met at the league office Thursday about three hours later than scheduled. The players' association said it had been updating members on negotiations.

Players and union staff began arriving at NHL headquarters a little before 1 p.m. EST, although executive director Donald Fehr wasn't with them. The group left the building about an hour later but expected to return later in the day.

With the lockout in its 110th day, both sides understand the urgency to save a shortened season. They still have several key issues to work out — pensions and salary cap limits, among them.

Commissioner Gary Bettman has said that the league told the union a deal needs to be in place by next week so a 48-game season can begin Jan. 19. All games through Jan. 14 along with the All-Star game have been canceled, claiming more than 50 percent of the original schedule.

The sides met in small groups throughout the day Wednesday. They then held a full bargaining session with a federal mediator at night that lasted nearly five hours and didn't wrap up until about 1 a.m. Thursday.

The biggest detail to emerge from those talks was that Fehr is still the executive director of the players' association, which passed on its first chance to declare a disclaimer that would dissolve the union and turn it into a trade association.

Last month, players voted overwhelmingly to give its executive board the right to declare the disclaimer, but that permission expired at midnight Wednesday. The disclaimer would allow individual players to file antitrust lawsuits against the NHL. Fehr wouldn't address the issue, calling it an "internal matter."

"The word disclaimer has yet to be uttered to us by the players' association," Bettman said. "It's not that it gets filed anywhere with a court or the NLRB. When you disclaim interest as a union, you notify the other side. We have not been notified and it's never been discussed, so there has been no disclaimer."

The thought was that the union wouldn't take action Wednesday if it saw progress was being made. Neither side would characterize the talks or address what, if any, movement toward common ground was reached.

"There's been some progress but we're still apart on a number of issues," Bettman said. "As long as the process continues I am hopeful."

A deal can't be done without a resolution on pensions. Bettman called the pension plan a "very complicated issue." A small group meeting on the pension issue was held Wednesday morning before the players' association presented its offer.

"The number of variables and the number of issues that have to be addressed by people who carry the title actuary or pension lawyer are pretty numerous and it's pretty easy to get off track. That is something we understand is important to the players."

The union's proposal Wednesday makes four offers between the sides since the NHL restarted negotiations Thursday with a proposal. The league presented the players with a counteroffer Tuesday night in response to one the union made Monday.

Fehr believed an agreement on a players-funded pension had been reached before talks blew up in early December. That apparently wasn't the case, or the NHL has changed its offer regarding the pension in exchange for agreeing to other things the union wanted.

The salary-cap number for the second year of the deal — the 2013-14 season — hasn't been established, and it is another point of contention. The league is pushing for a $60 million cap, while the union wants it to be $65 million.

In return for the higher cap number players would be willing to forgo a cap on escrow.

"We talk about lots of things and we even had some philosophical discussions about why particular issues were important to each of us," Bettman said. "That is part of the process."

The NHL proposed in its first offer Thursday that pension contributions come out of the players' share of revenues, and $50 million of the league's make-whole payment of $300 million will be allocated and set aside to fund potential underfunding liabilities of the plan at the end of the collective bargaining agreement.

Last month, the NHL agreed to raise its make-whole offer of deferred payments from $211 million to $300 million as part of a proposed package that required the union to agree on three nonnegotiable points. Instead, the union accepted the raise in funds, but then made counterproposals on the issues the league stated had no wiggle room.

"As you might expect, the differences between us relate to the core economic issues which don't involve the share," Fehr said of hockey-related revenue, which likely will be split 50-50.

The NHL is the only North American professional sports league to cancel a season because of a labor dispute, losing the 2004-05 campaign to a lockout. A 48-game season was played in 1995 after a lockout stretched into January.

Read More..

Mars Meteorite May Be Missing Link to Red Planet’s Past

A Martian meteorite recently found on Earth may represent a missing link between Mars’ warm, wet past and its present cold and dry state, a new study shows.

The rock, which was discovered in Morocco in 2011, is of a previously unknown class that could fill in gaps in scientists’ understanding of the Red Planet‘s geological history, researchers said.

The meteorite — named NWA 7034 — is markedly dissimilar from other meteorites from Mars that scientists have studied on Earth.

Rare type

NWA 7034 has about 10 times more water content (about 6,000 parts per million) than any of the 110 other known meteorites that have fallen to Earth from Mars, suggesting that the meteorite probably came from the Martian surface, as opposed to deeper inside, said University of New Mexico planetary scientist Carl Agee, lead author of a paper describing the findings published in the Jan. 3 issue of the online journal Science Express.

Previously studied Martian meteorites, known as the SNC samples, appear to come from a different, less explored part of the Martian landscape. They probably broke away from Mars after a large asteroid impacted a certain region of the planet. But this newest sample is more representative of Mars’s surface, Agee told SPACE.com. [Mars Meteorites: Pieces of the Red Planet on Earth (Photos)]

The researchers think NWA 7034 represents the remains of a volcanic eruption on the Martian surface that occurred about 2.1 billion years ago. The meteorite was once lava from the eruption that cooled and hardened on the surface of the planet. The rock’s cooling was probably aided by water on Mars’ surface that was eventually imprinted on the chemical composition of the meteorite.

Middle-aged rock

The meteorite’s age is also of interest to scientists. Most of the SNC meteorite samples date to only around 1.3 billion years ago, with the oldest being about 4.5 billion years old. NWA 7034 represents a transition between the oldest and youngest Martian meteorite samples found on Earth, Agee said.

“Many scientists think that Mars was warm and wet in its early history, but the planet’s climate changed over time,” Agee said. Eventually, the Red Planet lost its atmosphere and became the cold, dry desert it is today. The new meteorite comes from the transitional period between these extremes, making it an important find for scientists hoping to learn how the Martian climate change occurred.

Agee’s conclusions are supported by data collected by the Mars rover missions and spacecraft in orbit around the planet, he said. The geochemical composition of the new meteorite falls in line with the rocks that rovers have analyzed on the surface of the Red Planet.

The researchers confirmed the meteorite’s Martian origins using a process of elimination. It took six months for Agee and his team to confidently report that the piece of space rock came from Mars. Because of the meteorite’s age, they knew it couldn’t come from an asteroid: All asteroids are much older than 2.1 billion years — most are probably at least 4.5 billion years old.

“We knew that it had to be from a planet,” Agee said. Mercury wasn’t an option: the composition of the volcanic meteorite didn’t match the surface of the closest planet to the sun. Venus didn’t fit either. Scientists hypothesize that that planet’s surface is too dry to produce a meteorite with NWA 7034′s water content, Agee added.

Mars was the only viable option, and with mounting evidence suggesting that the meteorite was similar in composition to the rocks analyzed by rovers, Agee’s hypothesis fit.

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

Copyright 2013 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Space and Astronomy News Headlines – Yahoo! News

Title Post: Mars Meteorite May Be Missing Link to Red Planet’s Past
Url Post: http://www.news.fluser.com/mars-meteorite-may-be-missing-link-to-red-planets-past/
Link To Post : Mars Meteorite May Be Missing Link to Red Planet’s Past

based on 99998 ratings.
5 user reviews.
Author: Fluser SeoLink
Thanks for visiting the blog, If any criticism and suggestions please leave a comment

Read More..

Why U.S. lives under the shadow of 'W'

Julian Zelizer says former President George W. Bush's key tax and homeland security policies survive in the age of Obama


  • Julian Zelizer: For all the criticism Bush got, two key policies have survived

  • He says fiscal cliff pact perpetuates nearly all of Bush's tax cuts

  • Obama administration has largely followed Bush's homeland security policy, he says

  • Zelizer: By squeezing revenues, Bush tax cuts will put pressure on spending

Editor's note: Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Jimmy Carter" and of "Governing America."

Princeton, New Jersey (CNN) -- Somewhere in Texas, former President George W. Bush is smiling.

Although some Democrats are pleased that taxes will now go up on the wealthiest Americans, the recent deal to avert the fiscal cliff entrenches, rather than dismantles, one of Bush's signature legacies -- income tax cuts. Ninety-nine percent of American households were protected from tax increases, aside from the expiration of the reduced rate for the payroll tax.

Julian Zelizer

Julian Zelizer

In the final deal, Congress and President Barack Obama agreed to preserve most of the Bush tax cuts, including exemptions on the estate tax.

When Bush started his term in 2001, many of his critics dismissed him as a lightweight, the son of a former president who won office as result of his family's political fortune and a controversial decision by the Supreme Court on the 2000 election.

But what has become clear in hindsight, regardless of what one thinks of Bush and his politics, is that his administration left behind a record that has had a huge impact on American politics, a record that will not easily be dismantled by future presidents.

The twin pillars of Bush's record were counterterrorism policies and tax cuts. During his first term, it became clear that Obama would not dismantle most of the homeland security apparatus put into place by his predecessor. Despite a campaign in 2008 that focused on flaws with the nation's response to 9/11, Obama has kept most of the counterterrorism program intact.

Opinion: The real issue is runaway spending

In some cases, the administration continues to aggressively use tactics his supporters once decried, such as relying on renditions to detain terrorist suspects who are overseas, as The Washington Post reported this week. In other areas, the administration has expanded the war on terrorism, including the broader use of drone strikes to kill terrorists.

Now come taxes and spending.

With regard to the Bush tax cuts, Obama had promised to overturn a policy that he saw as regressive. Although he always said that he would protect the middle class from tax increases, Obama criticized Bush for pushing through Congress policies that bled the federal government of needed revenue and benefited the wealthy.

In 2010, Obama agreed to temporarily extend all the tax cuts. Though many Democrats were furious, Obama concluded that he had little political chance to overturn them and he seemed to agree with Republicans that reversing them would hurt an economy limping along after a terrible recession.

Opinion: Time to toot horn for George H.W. Bush

With the fiscal cliff deal, Obama could certainly claim more victories than in 2010. Taxes for the wealthiest Americans will go up. Congress also agreed to extend unemployment compensation and continue higher payments to Medicare providers.

But beneath all the sound and fury is the fact that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, for most Americans, are now a permanent part of the legislative landscape. (In addition, middle class Americans will breathe a sigh of relief that Congress has permanently fixed the Alternative Minimum Tax, which would have hit many of them with a provision once designed to make sure that the wealthy paid their fair share.)

As Michigan Republican Rep. Dave Camp remarked, "After more than a decade of criticizing these tax cuts, Democrats are finally joining Republicans in making them permanent." Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the new legislation will increase the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 10 years.

The tax cuts have significant consequences on all of American policy.

Opinion: Christie drops bomb on GOP leaders

Most important, the fact that a Democratic president has now legitimated the moves of a Republican administration gives a bipartisan imprimatur to the legitimacy of the current tax rates.

Although some Republicans signed on to raising taxes for the first time in two decades, the fact is that Democrats have agreed to tax rates which, compared to much of the 20th century, are extraordinarily low. Public perception of a new status quo makes it harder for presidents to ever raise taxes on most Americans to satisfy the revenue needs for the federal government.

At the same time, the continuation of reduced taxes keeps the federal government in a fiscal straitjacket. As a result, politicians are left to focus on finding the money to pay for existing programs or making cuts wherever possible.

New innovations in federal policy that require substantial revenue are just about impossible. To be sure, there have been significant exceptions, such as the Affordable Care Act. But overall, bold policy departures that require significant amounts of general revenue are harder to come by than in the 1930s or 1960s.

Republicans thus succeed with what some have called the "starve the beast" strategy of cutting government by taking away its resources. Since the long-term deficit only becomes worse, Republicans will continue to have ample opportunity to pressure Democrats into accepting spending cuts and keep them on the defense with regards to new government programs.

Politics: Are the days of Congress 'going big' over?

With his income tax cuts enshrined, Bush can rest comfortably that much of the policy world he designed will remain intact and continue to define American politics. Obama has struggled to work within the world that Bush created, and with this legislation, even with his victories, he has demonstrated that the possibilities for change have been much more limited than he imagined when he ran in 2008 or even in 2012.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Julian Zelizer.

Read More..

Family of slain auto shop owner: 'We are lost'

A longtime Southwest Side business owner was shot and killed during a robbery at his muffler shop; His family talked with CBS's Susanna Song. (Source: CBS Chicago)

After Michael Kozel was shot in a hold-up robbery at his Gage Park muffler shop Wednesday, he reached out to his son, just hours before his death.

"'They shot me in the back,'" Michael Kozel Jr., recalled his father's last words to him.

Kozel said he believes his dad reached out to him at about 5:30 p.m. even before he had an ambulance called. When the man's only son got the call, he raced over from his job and found his father being treated by paramedics inside an ambulance.

Kozel, 57, was pronounced dead at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County at 9:09 p.m.

Thursday, Kozel's family remembered him as a compassionate man who turned his love for cars into a living that supported his tight-knit family.

Two men entered Kozel's business, Independent Mufflers Inc. in the 5600 block of South Western Avenue, about 5:20 p.m. and demanded money, police said. Kozel tried to flee but was shot in the back once as he tried to run away, authorities said.

An employee at his shop said Thursday that Kozel was with two employees at the time of the hold-up, one of whom was robbed.

He was the fifth homicide in Chicago in the first two days of 2013, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.

Kozel's family gathered at their South Side residence on the 2700 block of West Siepp Street in the Wrightwood neighborhood Thursday morning, tearful and visibly shaken by the loss of their patriarch.

His daughter, Amber Kozel, 30, said her father owned the muffler shop for more than 20 years. He had owned other various businesses in the automotive industry throughout his career, she said.

"He's been in the business for 35 years -- it all started with a love for cars," Amber Kozel said.

"He was in the business because he was a people person," said Kozel's wife, Antonia Kozel, 55.

Kozel grew up off of 26th Street and lived his whole life in Chicago, family said.

Amber Kozel said her father was often mistaken for Santa Claus by children because of his "big belly and big beard."

"Kids would stare at him awestruck," she said. "As in 'What should I say to Santa?'"

Antonia Kozel said her husband was a loving and giving family man.

"He would give anyone the shirt off his back," she said. "He didn't deserve this."

"Everything was taken care of for us as kids," Amber Kozel said.

Kozel's family said he was hard-working and spent long hours at the muffler shop -- usually 10-hour days, Monday through Saturday.

He had regular, loyal clientele at the muffler shop, his family said.

Kozel's son said his father was a carefree man.

While the area sees break-ins regularly, Kozel's 31-year-old son said the muffler shop was "like Fort Knox" when it was all locked up.

The shop had been robbed once before a few years ago, he said, and his father gave up the money.

Kozel leaves behind three grandchildren -- an 8-year-old boy, a 7-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy, family said.

The family joined Kozel at the hospital Wednesday night before he died.

"We are lost," Kozel's son said.

Family members later returned to the shop in a tan SUV because Kozel's widow wanted to return to the site of the shooting.

"I think she just wants to be here," said Angelica Kozel, a family member, referring to Kozel's widow.

Manny Serna, 27, and two other men used thick white paint to cover graffiti on Thursday morning, which previously had been painted onto the muffler shop's garage door.

While the graffiti had been there for some time before Kozel's shooting, Serna said it was "out of respect" that they painted over the black spray paint. It was Michael Kozel's idea, Serna said.

"It's the least I can do," Serna said. "I was a manager at this muffler shop for 10 years and recently went my own way. But he was a great man."

Serna said he was a long-time friend of the family.

Serna pointed to a bullet hole in the garage door.

"See that hole? That's the last of him," Serna said.

Serna said Kozel was shot inside the muffler shop. The bullet that killed his former boss then traveled through the garage door, he said.

Another employee, Mike Shaw, said he had worked for Kozel for about six months and remembered him as a man who got along with everyone.

Shaw, 52, called Kozel a "good guy" and enjoyed working for him.

Kozel was with two employees at the time of the hold-up, said Shaw. He said one of the employees was also robbed at gunpoint.

Shaw said he lived in the Gage Park community and said he never felt unsafe.

"Today had been rough on everybody," said Shaw. "I don't think [it's] going to re-open anytime soon."

Read More..

Syria rebels in push to capture air base

AZAZ, Syria (Reuters) - Rebels battled on Thursday to seize an air base in northern Syria, part of a campaign to fight back against the air power that has given President Bashar al-Assad's forces free rein to bomb rebel-held towns.

More than 60,000 people have been killed in the 21-month-old uprising and civil war, the United Nations said this week, sharply raising the death toll estimate in a conflict that shows no sign of ending.

After dramatic advances over the second half of 2012, the rebels now hold wide swathes of territory in the north and east, but are limited in exerting control because they cannot protect towns and villages from Assad's helicopters and jets.

Hundreds of fighters from rebel groups were attempting to storm the Taftanaz air base, near the northern highway that links Syria's two main cities, Aleppo and the capital Damascus.

Rebels have been besieging air bases across the north in recent weeks, in the hope this will reduce the government's power to carry out air strikes and resupply loyalist-held areas.

A rebel fighter speaking from near the Taftanaz base overnight said the base's main sections were still in loyalist hands but insurgents had managed to infiltrate and destroy a helicopter and a fighter jet on the ground.

The northern rebel Idlib Coordination Committee said the rebels had detonated a car bomb inside the base.

The government's SANA news agency said the base had not fallen and that the military had "strongly confronted an attempt by the terrorists to attack the airport from several axes, inflicting heavy losses among them and destroying their weapons and munitions".

Rami Abdulrahman, head of the opposition-aligned Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which monitors the conflict from Britain, said as many as 800 fighters were involved in the assault, including Islamists from Jabhat al-Nusra, a powerful group that Washington considers terrorists.

Taftanaz is mainly a helicopter base, used for missions to resupply army positions in the north, many of which are cut off by road because of rebel gains, as well as for dropping crude "barrel bombs" of explosives on rebel-controlled areas.


Near Minakh, another northern air base that rebels have surrounded, government forces have retaliated by regularly shelling and bombing nearby towns.

In the town of Azaz, where the bombardment has become a near nightly occurrence, shells hit a family house overnight. Zeinab Hammadi said her two wounded daughters, aged 10 and 12, had been rushed across the border to Turkey, one with her brain exposed.

"We were sleeping and it just landed on us in the blink of an eye," she said, weeping as she surveyed the damage.

Family members tried to salvage possessions from the wreckage, men lifting out furniture and children carrying out their belongings in tubs.

"He (Assad) wants revenge against the people," said Abu Hassan, 33, working at a garage near the destroyed house. "What is the fault of the children? Are they the ones fighting?"

Opposition activists said warplanes struck a residential building in another rebel-held northern town, Hayyan, killing at least eight civilians.

Video footage showed men carrying dismembered bodies of children and dozens of people searching for victims in the rubble of the destroyed building, shouting "God is greatest". The provenance of the video could not be independently confirmed.

In addition to their tenuous grip on the north, the rebels also hold a crescent of suburbs on the edge of Damascus, which have come under bombardment by government forces that control the center of the capital.

On Wednesday, according to opposition activists, dozens of people were incinerated in an inferno caused by an air strike on a petrol station in a Damascus suburb where residents were lining up for precious fuel.

The civil war in Syria has become the longest and bloodiest of the conflicts that rose out of uprisings across the Arab world in the past two years.

Assad's family has ruled for 42 years since his father seized power in a coup. The war pits rebels, mainly from the Sunni Muslim majority, against a government supported by members of Assad's Shi'ite-derived Alawite minority sect and some members of other minorities who fear revenge if he falls.

The West, most Sunni-ruled Arab states and Turkey have called for Assad to leave power. He is supported by Russia and Shi'ite Iran.

(Additional reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis in Amman and Dominic Evans in Beirut; Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

Read More..

Wall Street rallies on "fiscal cliff" agreement

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks began the new year with a broad rally on Wednesday, sparked by a last-minute deal in Washington to avert the "fiscal cliff" of tax hikes and spending cuts that threatened to derail the economy.

In 2013's first trading session, the S&P 500 was on target for its best percentage gain since November 19 and highest close since October 19.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> gained 229.64 points, or 1.75 percent, to 13,333.78. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> rose 26.53 points, or 1.86 percent, to 1,452.72. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> jumped 74.26 points, or 2.46 percent, to 3,093.77.

U.S. markets were closed on Tuesday for New Year's Day.

Nine stocks rose for every one falling on the New York Stock Exchange and all 10 of the S&P 500 industry sector indexes gained at least 1 percent. The S&P financial index <.gspf> was up 2.2 percent.

The S&P Information Technology index <.gspt> gained 2.1 percent, including Hewlett-Packard , which climbed nearly 5 percent to $14.95. HP's gain followed a miserable 2012 when the stock fell nearly 45 percent.

Congress passed a bill to prevent huge tax hikes and delay spending cuts that would have pushed the world's largest economy off a "fiscal cliff" and possibly into recession.

The vote avoided steep income-tax increases for a majority of Americans but failed to resolve a major showdown over cutting the budget deficit, leaving investors and businesses with only limited clarity about the outlook for the economy. Spending cuts of $109 billion in military and domestic programs were temporarily delayed, and another fight over raising the U.S. debt limit also looms.

"We got through the fiscal cliff. The next big thing, and probably more contentious thing, is negotiating the debt ceiling and possibly entitlement reform in early 2013," said Jim Russell, senior equity strategist for U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Cincinnati.

Hard choices about budget cuts and the critical need to raise the debt ceiling will confront Congress about the same time in two months "so the fur will be flying," Russell said.

U.S. stocks ended 2012 with the S&P 500 up 13.4 percent for the year, as investors largely shrugged off worries about the fiscal cliff. For the year, the Dow gained 7.3 percent and the Nasdaq jumped 15.9 percent.

Bank shares rose following news that U.S. regulators are close to securing another multibillion-dollar settlement with the largest banks to resolve allegations that they unlawfully cut corners when foreclosing on delinquent borrowers.

Bank of America Corp rose 3 percent to $11.95 and Citigroup Inc gained 3.7 percent to $41.03. The KBW bank index <.bkx> rose 2.4 percent and the S&P financial sector <.gspf> climbed 2.2 percent.

Shares of Zipcar Inc surged 48.2 percent to $12.21 after Avis Budget Group Inc said it would buy Zipcar for about $500 million in cash to compete with larger rivals Hertz and Enterprise Holdings Inc. Avis advanced 4.8 percent to $20.78.

Shares of Apple rose 2.5 percent to $545.56, helping to lift the S&P technology index <.gspt> up 2.3 percent following a report that the most valuable tech company has started testing a new iPhone and a new version of its iOS software.

Economic data showed U.S. manufacturing ended 2012 on an upswing despite fears about the fiscal cliff, but construction spending fell in November for the first time in eight months.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

Read More..