Wrestling president quits after Olympic omission

PHUKET, Thailand (AP) — The president of the international wrestling federation has quit in the wake of the IOC's decision to remove the sport from the 2020 Olympics.

Raphael Martinetti's resignation was announced Saturday at the FILA executive committee meeting in Phuket. The Swiss had been in the position since 2002.

On Tuesday, the executive board of the International Olympic Committee dumped wrestling from its guaranteed berth in future Summer games, forcing the sport to compete for a spot on the program.

U.S.A. Wrestling executive director Rich Bender said Martinetti's departure "provides international wrestling with an opportunity to change and improve," giving the sport a chance "to create a fresh new relationship" with the IOC.

Wrestling will still be on the program at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

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Meteor shows need to keep eye on sky

By Colin Stuart, special for CNN

February 15, 2013 -- Updated 1512 GMT (2312 HKT)

Meteor explodes over Russia

Meteor explodes over Russia

Meteor explodes over Russia

Meteor explodes over Russia

Meteor explodes over Russia

Meteor explodes over Russia

Meteor explodes over Russia

Meteor explodes over Russia


  • Meteor explosion above Russia left hundreds of people injured

  • Meteor came on day asteroid expected to pass 27,000 kilometers from Earth

  • Earth is sprinkled with around 170 craters also caused by debris falling from space

  • Stuart says unexpected meteor shows importance of monitoring space for potential threats

Editor's note: Colin Stuart is an astronomy and science writer, who also works as a Freelance Astronomer for the Royal Observatory Greenwich in London. His first book is due to be published by Carlton Books in September 2013. Follow @skyponderer on Twitter.

London (CNN) -- Reports coming from Russia suggest that hundreds of people have been injured by a meteor falling from space. The force of the fireball, which seems to have crashed into a lake near the town of Chebarkul in the Ural Mountains, roared through the sky early on Friday morning local time, blowing out windows and damaging buildings. This comes on the same day that astronomers and news reporters alike were turning their attention to a 40 meter asteroid -- known as 2012 DA14 -- which is due for a close approach with Earth on Friday evening. The asteroid will skirt around our planet, however, missing by some 27,000 kilometers (16,777 miles). Based on early reports, there is no reason to believe the two events are connected.

Read more: Russian meteor injures hundreds

Colin Stuart

Colin Stuart

And yet it just goes to show how much space debris exists up there above our heads. It is easy to think of a serene solar system, with the eight planets quietly orbiting around the Sun and only a few moons for company. The reality is that we also share our cosmic neighborhood with millions of other, much smaller bodies: asteroids. Made of rock and metal, they range in size from a few meters across, up to the largest -- Ceres -- which is 1000 kilometers wide. They are left over rubble from the chaotic birth of our solar system around 5000 million years ago and, for the most part, are found in a "belt" between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. But some are known to move away from this region, either due to collisions with other asteroids or the gravitational pull of a planet. And that can bring them into close proximity to the Earth.

Read more: Saving Earth from asteroids

Once a piece of space-rock enters our atmosphere, it becomes known as a meteor. Traveling through the sky at a few kilometers per second, friction with the air can cause the meteor to break up into several pieces. Eyewitnesses have described seeing a burst of light and hearing loud, thunderous noises. This, too, is due to the object tearing through the gases above our heads. If any of the fragments make it to the ground, only then are they called meteorites.

Such events are rare, but not unprecedented. An object entered Earth's atmosphere in 1908 before breaking up over Siberia. The force of the explosion laid waste to a dense area of forest covering more than 2000 square kilometers. It is not hard to imagine the devastation of such an event over a more highly populated region. The Earth is sprinkled with around 170 craters also caused by debris falling from space. The largest is found near the town of Vredefort in South Africa. The impact of a much larger asteroid -- perhaps as big as 15 kilometers across -- is famously thought to have finished off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

Opinion: Don't count 'doomsday asteroid' out yet

It is easy to see why, then, that astronomers are keen to discover the position and trajectory of as many asteroids as possible. That way they can work out where they are heading and when, if at all, they might pose a threat to us on Earth. It is precisely this sort of work that led to the discovery of asteroid 2012 DA14 last February by a team of Spanish astronomers. However, today's meteor strike shows that it is not currently possible to pick up everything.

A non-profit foundation, led by former NASA astronaut Ed Lu, wants to send a dedicated asteroid-hunting telescope into space that can scan the solar system for any potential threats. For now, astronomers will use Friday's fly-by to bounce radar beams off 2012 DA14's surface, hoping to learn more about its motion and structure. One day this information could be used to help move an asteroid out of an Earth-impacting orbit. This latest meteor over Russia just goes to show how important such work is and how crucial it is that we keep our eye on the sky.

Read more: NASA estimates 4,700 'potentially hazardous' asteroids

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Colin Stuart.

Part of complete coverage on

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Flooding payouts broke £1bn in 2012

Insurers paid out £1.19bn for flood and storm damage in the UK in 2012 – the highest annual figure for five years, an insurance trade body has said.

Some 486,000 claims were made by homeowners, businesses and motorists, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

The average payout for flood-damaged properties was £18,200, the ABI said.

Last year was the second wettest on record in the UK, according to figures from the Met Office.

The total rainfall for the UK during 2012 was 1,330.7mm (52.4in), just 6.6mm short of the record set in 2000.

However, it was the wettest on record in England and Wales.

Claim levels

The ABI, which represents 90% of the UK’s insurance industry, said that flooding struck a number of times during the year.

The total payout was slightly higher than in the year 2000, but was still dwarfed by the £3bn bill from the floods that had such a serious impact on the country in 2007.

Continue reading the main story

1. 2000 – 1,337.3mm

2. 2012 – 1,330.7mm

3. 1954 – 1,309.1mm

4. 2008 – 1,295.0mm

5. 2002 – 1,283.7mm

(Source: Met Office)

The insurance industry faced considerable criticism for its response to those floods, and insurers now often put teams in place in areas that are hit by storms or flooding.

The 1987 hurricane and the storms of 1990 also cost insurers more than last year.

In 2012, insurers received 411,300 claims totalling £690m for damage to homes as a result of floods and storms, the ABI said.

Commercial property accounted for considerably fewer claims, just 47,000, but the value of those claims amounted to £373m.

Insurers handled 26,800 claims for vehicles damaged by the extreme weather, paying out £84m, and 1,200 claims for interruption to business operations, costing them £40m, the ABI said.

“Insurers expect bad weather to strike anytime, anywhere and last year highlighted the vital role insurance plays in helping communities recover from our increasingly volatile weather,” said Nick Starling, the ABI’s director of general insurance.

Cover ‘at risk’

The ABI has been in talks with the government for months searching for a deal to avoid 200,000 homes being left without flood cover.

Many thousands more householders could see premiums rise if no deal emerges.

An existing agreement, reached in 2008, obliges insurers to provide cover for high-risk properties while the government continues to improve flood defences. This arrangement comes to an end in June.

The ABI wants the government to share the financial risk for the areas with the most homes at significant flood risk – defined as a greater than one in 75 chance of flooding in any given year.

The government said it was determined to come up with an affordable solution that did not put an unjustifiable burden on the taxpayer.

BBC News – Business

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Top Money Saving Tips for Energy Users

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM–(Marketwire – Feb 16, 2013) – Homes across Britain suffered badly last year due to the economic crisis – and with a double-dip recession expected for 2013 there”s no silver lining in sight.

Energy bills are a particular source of bewilderment for most users as energy prices keep rising despite drops in crude-oil prices and many people across the country accepting wage freezes in order to keep their jobs. The ”big 6” energy companies are particularly responsible for this pricing issue but there may be some ways you can beat them at their own game.

With this in mind we”ve put together a few top tips for cutting down your energy bills this winter…

Proper Insulation

Adding proper wall cavity insulation could save you up to £135 per year depending on the age and state of repair of your home. This saving is further extended with proper loft insulation. As around 30% of your homes heat can be lost through the room this insulation could save you up to £175 per year.

Eco Friendly Lighting

Traditional bulbs not only give off a very harsh light they also consume huge amounts of electricity. Modern energy saving bulbs last up to 10 times longer than traditional bulbs and could save you up to £40 over the duration of their lifetime. Now imagine that saving across every bulb in your home and that”s quite a tidy packet you won”t have to spend.

Lower Your Heating

This is a slightly cheeky tip as who are we to say what”s the perfect temperature? However, most people would be quite comfortable with their heating turned down just one or two degrees – which is great news, because for every degree you turn down your heating you could be saving up to 10% off your gas bill.

Replace Your Outdated Boiler

If your boiler is older than 15 years then it almost certainly won”t conform to recent efficiency protocols and it”s probably burning up a lot of your cash. Although the initial investment can cost as much as £1500 (for the average size boiler) with potential savings of up to £230 a year this home improvement will have paid for itself in money savings in around five years. Plus many companies have a boiler exchange/scrappage scheme which might net you as much as £700 towards the cost of your new equipment.

Get a Smart Meter

Not all energy companies provide a Smart Meter but some of the best ones do. A smart meter gives much more accurate readings for your energy usage which means that you”re likely to save money as you won”t have to pay estimated costs anymore. This should certainly save you more than a few pennies in the long run.

About First Utility

First Utility is the UK”s largest independent energy supplier. It supplies gas and electricity to over 180,000 residential and business customers throughout the UK. First Utility is pioneering the use of new technology within the energy sector to empower its customers to control their energy spend. It was also the first UK energy supplier to offer smart meters to all its customers in 2008. In 2012 it launched my:energy, an online analytics service which provides households and businesses with personalised information regarding their energy usage.

Marketwire News Archive – Yahoo! Finance

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G20 defuses talk of "currency war", no accord on debt

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Group of 20 nations declared on Saturday there would be no 'currency war' and deferred plans to set new debt-cutting targets in an indication of concern about the fragile state of the world economy.

Japan's expansive policies, which have driven down the yen, escaped criticism in a statement thrashed out in Moscow by financial policymakers from the G20, which groups developed and emerging markets and accounts for 90 percent of the world economy.

After late night talks, finance ministers and central bankers agreed on wording closer than expected to a joint statement issued last Tuesday by the Group of Seven rich nations backing market-determined exchange rates.

A draft communique seen by delegates on Friday had steered clear of the G7's call for fiscal and monetary policy not to be targeted at exchange rates but the later version included a G20 commitment to refrain from competitive devaluations and stated monetary policy would be directed at price stability and growth.

"The language has been strengthened since our discussions last night," Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty told reporters. "It's stronger than it was, but it was quite clear last night that everyone around the table wants to avoid any sort of currency disputes."

The communique, seen by Reuters ahead of publication, did not single out Japan for aggressive monetary and fiscal policies that have seen the yen drop 20 percent.

The statement reflected a substantial, but not complete, endorsement of Tuesday's statement by the G7 nations - the United States, Japan, Britain, Canada, France, Germany and Italy.

"We all agreed on the fact that we refuse to enter any currency war," French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici told reporters.


The text also contained a commitment to credible medium-term fiscal strategy, but stopped short of setting specific goals.

A debt-cutting pact struck in Toronto in 2010 will expire this year if leaders fail to agree to extend it at a G20 summit of leaders in St Petersburg in September.

"Advanced economies will develop credible medium-term fiscal strategies ... by the St. Petersburg summit," the communique said.

The United States says is on track to meet its Toronto pledge but argues that the pace of future fiscal consolidation must not snuff out demand. Germany and others are pressing for another round of binding debt-cutting goals.

Backing in the communique for the use of domestic monetary policy to support economic recovery reflected the U.S. Federal Reserve's commitment to monetary stimulus through quantitative easing, or QE, to promote recovery and jobs.

QE entails large-scale bond buying -- $85 billion a month in the Fed's case -- that helps economic growth but creates money, much of which has leaked into emerging markets, threatening to destabilize them.

That was offset in the communique by a commitment to minimize "negative spillovers" of the resulting financial flows that emerging markets fear may pump up asset bubbles and ruin their export competitiveness.

"Major developed nations (should) pay attention to their monetary policy spillover," Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao was quoted by state news agency Xinhua as saying in Moscow.

"Major developed countries' implementation of excessively relaxed currency policy has an influence on the world economy."

Russia, this year's chair of the G20, said the group had failed to reach agreement on medium-term budget deficit levels and also expressed concern about ultra-loose policies that it and other big emerging economies say could store up trouble for later.

Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said a rebalancing of global growth required more than an adjustment of exchange rates.

"Structural reforms in all countries, either with a positive or negative balance of payments, should play a bigger role," he said in an address to Saturday's talks, also highlighting the risk of spillover effects from unconventional monetary policy.

The G20 put together a huge financial backstop to halt a market meltdown in 2009 but has failed to reach those heights since. At successive meetings, Germany has pressed the United States and others to do more to tackle their debts. Washington in turn has urged Berlin to do more to increase demand.

On currencies, the G20 text reiterated its commitment last November, to move towards "exchange rate flexibility to reflect underlying fundamentals and avoid persistent exchange rate misalignments".

"The G7 made a very clear statement this week. I think you'll see the G20 echo what was said, and say that currencies should not be used as a tool of competitive devaluation," Britain's finance minister, George Osborne, said in Moscow.

"Countries shouldn't make the mistake of the past of using currencies as a tool of economic warfare."

(Additional reporting by Randall Palmer, Lesley Wroughton, Tetsushi Kajimoto, Jan Strupczewski, Lidia Kelly, Katya Golubkova, Jason Bush and Michael Martina. Writing by Douglas Busvine. Editing by Timothy Heritage/Mike Peacock)

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Report: Jerry Buss hospitalized with cancer

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lakers owner Jerry Buss has been hospitalized with cancer, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

The 79-year-old Buss has spent time in the intensive care unit at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, according to the Times, which quoted Buss' son, Jim, Thursday saying his father was "doing fine." Several current and former Lakers players, including Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson, have visited Buss.

Team spokesman John Black said the team has no plans to comment on Buss' health out of respect for the family's wishes. Buss spokesman Bob Steiner said information would have to come from the Lakers.

"Dr. Jerry Buss, thinking about u & wish I could be there, get well soon," former Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal tweeted Thursday. "I cant wait 2 see u on 4/2/13 (hash)LoveYou."

The Lakers will retire O'Neal's No. 34 jersey on April 2.

Buss has been hospitalized several times in recent years, including a stint last July for dehydration. He was treated for blood clots in his legs in December 2011.

A former aerospace engineer and real-estate developer, Buss has been a prominent name in American sports since he bought the Lakers, the NHL's Los Angeles Kings and the Forum from Jack Kent Cooke in 1979. Buss immediately transformed the Lakers into the NBA's most glamorous franchise, winning 10 NBA championships under his watch.

The Lakers won five titles in nine years during the 1980s, earning a reputation as basketball's most exciting team with their glamorous Showtime style led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Johnson, who was Buss' first draft pick. O'Neal and Kobe Bryant then led the Lakers to a threepeat from 2000-02 under coach Phil Jackson before Bryant and Pau Gasol won two more titles in 2009 and 2010.

Buss' children moved into leadership roles with the Lakers in recent years. Jim Buss, the Lakers' executive vice president of player personnel and the second of Buss' six children, has taken a leading role in basketball decisions, while daughter Jeanie plays a major role in running the franchise's business side.

Yet Jerry Buss was deeply involved the Lakers' most recent major moves, including the acquisitions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard last summer, along with the firing of coach Mike Brown and the hiring of Mike D'Antoni early this season.

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What does Kim intend with nuclear test?


  • North Korea enjoys international community chatter about its nuclear program

  • Dates of nuclear test and rocket launch have significance, writes Joo Sung Ha

  • Joo works as a newspaper journalist and came from North Korea

Editor's note: Joo Sung Ha is a Seoul-based journalist for Donga Ilbo, a newspaper in South Korea. He graduated from North Korea's Kim Il Sung University and trained as a reservist artillery officer. He has been imprisoned in China and North Korea. This piece was submitted in Korean and has been translated.

(CNN) -- On Tuesday, the international community reacted to North Korea's third nuclear test by calling its action "provocative," while South Korea's foreign minister warned that it was a "clear threat to international peace and security."

It was what Kim Jong Un, the nation's young leader, wanted.

From the North Korean government's view, the more pressure the international community places on its nuclear testing, the better. They enjoy the chatter among the world's leaders and at the U.N. about how North Korea's nuclear program must be stopped at all cost.

Joo Sung Ha defected from North Korea and is a journalist based in Seoul.

Joo Sung Ha defected from North Korea and is a journalist based in Seoul.

On January 23, the North Korean foreign ministry notified that they intended to carry out a test. They also sent photos of Kim Jong Un holding a meeting with senior officials.

If Kim had not acted by going through with the underground blast, it would have appeared that he had succumbed to pressure from the international community. In North Korea the authority of the "king" in the dynasty system cannot be compromised.

The date of the nuclear test -- conducted on February 12 -- is also significant, as it fell just days short of the 71st birthday of Kim's late father, Kim Jong Il, on February 16. Many North Korean events are associated with symbolic dates for the Kim family. On December 12, just days before the first anniversary of Kim Jong II's death, Pyongyang launched its first rocket into orbit -- despite international uproar.

North Korea has staked its pride on these events. Saving face is more important than international sanctions, even if hundreds of thousands of ordinary North Koreans have died of hunger.

Even so, I cannot say the motivation behind North Korea's nuclear test is for Kim's pride alone. It also sends a message to its people that "Kim Jong Un leads the world."

Even with the nuclear test, the government knows that war will not arise. But to its people, it can give the impression that war is impending.

Inheriting his father's position at such a young age -- he's believed to be in his 20s -- many in North Korea may question whether Kim has the clout to lead. But through this test, Kim wanted to send a strong message domestically that he is in charge.

What happens if they do develop an effective nuclear weapon? Does North Korea intend to attack the United States? That is impossible. If North Korea attacks, it will be sent back to the Stone Ages -- the leadership in Pyongyang is well aware of that.

Does this point to an eventual attack on South Korea then? South Korea is protected by a nuclear umbrella -- meaning that the United States will protect it. In return for Seoul limiting its own nuclear weapons capability, Washington offers its protection. If North Korea attacks South Korea, it's effectively an attack on the United States.

Another major reason why North Korea is developing a nuclear capability is that its conventional military is dated and there are doubts about whether it can defend itself. While North Korea has an estimated 1.2 million soldiers, making it the third largest military behind China and United States, this is only a number.

It may be hard to believe but for almost 20 years, there have been continued food shortages in the military, to the extent that as many as 20% to 30% of the armed forces have actually disappeared -- with many deserting their post by way of a bribe to their superiors. Those that do remain in service are often involved in petty crime to get by, such as stealing from the civilian population.

North Korea requires military service for 10 years. During those years, most are discharged without even having fired 30 bullets. Without sufficient fuel for planes, airborne troops have not had much training. In 1990, I stood guard at a post in Pyongyang. The anti-aircraft weapon I used was a 1940s era model from the Soviet Union.

If war is to occur, North Korea could not stand, even for days, and it is well aware of that. But could it count on traditional ally, China, for support?

Starting from Kim Il Sung, the founder of North Korea, the North Korean regime has never fully trusted China. The message that China is a nation that could strike North Korea at the "back of the head" has been passed down over the years to Kim Jong Un, his grandson. Since North Korea cannot count on Beijing fully, it has turned to the nuclear option as a deterrent.

North Korea would not risk a pre-emptive attack on the South, but the Kim dynasty now believes it has a card to protect itself, which is its main objective. For this reason, even if millions of people starve to death in the effects of the harsh sanctions, North Korea will keep trying to develop its own nuclear capabilities.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Joo Sung Ha.

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Tesla vs. the ‘Times’: Cars Are Now Gadgets

Late Wednesday night, Tesla Motors (TSLA) issued its much-anticipated response to a scathing New York Times review of its all-electric Model S sedan. In a blog post, Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk used data logs gathered from the car to accuse reporter John Broder of outright lies. Broder, for example, complained about freezing inside the car, since he had to turn the heating system off to save electricity and keep driving. Balderdash, says Musk: The data show the cabin had an average temperature of 72F for the majority of the trip.

Broder, in a series of posts, has argued that he followed Tesla’s instructions and that the car simply did not handle the cold weather of the Northeast well. He also claims to have been testing not really the Model S itself, but rather the network of free, superfast charging stations Tesla has started putting up around the country. This is how Broder explains away the baffling circumstances in which he didn’t charge the car while spending the night at a hotel.

The tit-for-tat squabble is entertaining. Musk’s data-heavy beatdown, especially, is great reading.

To me, the real takeaway here is that we’ve reached a moment in which the car has turned into a gadget, and we’re seeing the good and bad that comes with that. A lot of the flaws Broder brings up, such as discrepancies between the car’s estimated range vs. the actual range, come down to software issues. The same can be said for many of the gripes from Model S owners, who have seen their 17-inch touchscreen display act funny or their motorized door handles not work quite right.

Tesla’s software is good, but it’s not working perfectly. The company is issuing over-the-air updates that fix many of these problems. One day your door handle doesn’t work. The next day it does. It’s also been issuing updates that, for example, suddenly allow the cars to charge much faster than they could before by taking advantage of new Tesla supercharging technology. This is a strange new world for car owners.

Guys like Broder and many of the Tesla owners obviously want to see the Model S act as billed. And Musk has said the car is not meant to be some grand beta experiment in which people pay $ 100,000 to serve as Tesla’s guinea pigs.

But let’s be clear. The Model S has pushed automotive innovation forward by leaps and bounds. It offers space, speed, and safety in a package that outstrips rivals while also introducing a whole new set of computing and fuel technology. You don’t have to stretch to compare the Model S to Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone in terms of a device changing the rules of engagement in its respective field. And let’s all remember that the iPhone has come with its antenna, map, screen, and other fundamental issues.

We’re used to buying cars that at best stay static over time but usually get worse. The Model S seems more similar to the iPhone. It has the chance of getting better (at least for a while) as flaws get fixed and new features arrive.

Some people are willing to live in this fast-moving, imperfect world. Here in Palo Alto, the Tesla Model S has become a common sighting. This is a place full of early adopters who don’t mind paying extra for the latest and greatest gadget—even if it has some glitches. Tesla only needs to sell about 20,000 people on this premise for the Model S to be wildly successful.

Moving forward, though, the company will have to do much better if it’s to make follow on vehicles like the Model X mainstream. The public wants amazing gadgets but is less tolerant of the types of issues the Model S has seen so far. So here’s Tesla’s real moment to prove it’s more Apple and Silicon Valley than Detroit—and to show the world what technology mettle it’s really got.

Businessweek.com — Top News

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Yen firms as G20 eyed, weak Europe dampens mood

LONDON (Reuters) - The yen firmed on Friday as investors braced for the likelihood of more conflicting comments on currencies from the G20 meeting, while a revival in worries about global economic growth weighed on shares and commodities.

The G20 forum in Moscow is in the spotlight as officials are expected to discuss whether the ultra loose monetary polices of the United States, Japan, Britain and the euro zone depart from the group's commitment to market-driven exchange rates.

The dollar shed 0.5 percent to 92.46 yen, dropping as far as a one-week low of 92.25 yen while the euro fell to a two-week low of 123.10 yen.

The Japanese currency gained some support when a Russian official said drafting the final communique from the G20 meeting was proving difficult, but the text would not single out Japan for criticism.

"There is an issue of 'who started the fire?' You can say that Japan has getting really aggressive but then they might say, well what have Americans done, what about the British and so on," said William De Vijlder, chief investment officer at BNP Paribas Investment Partners.

The yen was also underpinned by expectations that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is close to selecting his nominee for Bank of Japan governor. A decision could come in the next few days, sources close to the process told Reuters [ID:nL4N0BF1LS]

Shares were broadly flat with the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index <.fteu3> little changed at 1,163.34 points following dismal gross domestic product data from across the euro zone on Thursday.

The surprisingly sharp contraction in the region's economy during the final three months of 2012 has undermined hopes of an early recovery from recession, but also boosted talk that the European Central Bank may have to ease policy further.

Frankfurt's DAX <.gdaxi>, Paris's CAC-40 <.fchi> and London's FTSE <.ftse> were around 0.1 to 0.3 percent lower.

The weaker demand outlook implied by the GDP data sent Brent crude under $118 a barrel and on course for its first weekly loss since mid-January.

Front-month Brent futures LCOc1 fell 30 cents to $117.70 a barrel, while Gold dropped to a six-week low of $1,629.89 an ounce, and was headed for its biggest weekly drop since December.

(Reporting by Richard Hubbard; editing by David Stamp)

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Pistorius charged with murder of girlfriend

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — Oscar Pistorius has been charged with the murder of his girlfriend after model Reeva Steenkamp was shot inside the Olympic athlete's home in South Africa.

Police said a 26-year-old male would appear in court later on Thursday. Police in South Africa do not name suspects in crimes until they have appeared in court but police spokesperson Brigadier Denise Beukes said that Pistorius was at his home after the death of Steenkamp and "there is no other suspect involved."

Beukes said the suspect was undergoing blood alcohol and forensic tests and had made a request to be brought to court immediately. Beukes said he would apply for bail, but the South African Police Service would oppose the application.

Beukes said there had been "previous incidents" at Pistorius' home.

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Where's Obama's foreign policy?

By Isobel Coleman, Special to CNN

February 13, 2013 -- Updated 1653 GMT (0053 HKT)


  • Isobel Coleman: Obama mainly addressed domestic issues: economy, immigration, energy

  • He spoke very little about and offered nothing much new on foreign policy, she says

  • Coleman: He talked about ending Afghanistan War, spoke briefly about Iran, Syria, China

  • Coleman: His reinvigorated free trade agenda seems to be the boldest move

Editor's note: Isobel Coleman is the author of "Paradise Beneath Her Feet" and a senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

(CNN) -- President Obama's State of the Union address predictably focused on his domestic priorities.

Immigration reform, a laundry list of economic initiatives including infrastructure improvements (Fix it First), clean energy, some manufacturing innovation, a bit of educational reform and the rhetorical high point of his speech -- gun control.

Isobel Coleman

Isobel Coleman

As in years past, foreign policy made up only about 15% of the speech, but even within that usual limited attention, Tuesday night's address pointed to few new directions.

On Afghanistan -- America's longest war -- Obama expressed just a continued commitment to bringing the troops home, ending "our war" while theirs continues. On Iran, there was a single sentence reiterating the need for a diplomatic solution, which makes me think that a big diplomatic push is not likely. On North Korea, boilerplate promises to isolate the country further after its provocative nuclear test, and on Syria, a call to "keep the pressure" on the regime, which means more watching from the sidelines as the horror unfolds.

Notably, China was mentioned only twice -- once in the context of jobs, and another time with respect to clean energy. Nothing about managing what could very well be this administration's most vexing but critically important bilateral relationship.

Obama's call for a reinvigorated free trade agenda was his boldest foreign policy statement of the evening. He is right to note that free trade "supports millions of good-paying American jobs," but his pledge to pursue a "comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership" -- a free trade agreement with Europe -- will run into significant opposition from organized labor, especially given ongoing weaknesses in the economy.

Without fast track negotiating authority, the prospects for such a deal are minimal. Fast track authority, which allows the president to negotiate trade deals that Congress can then only approve or disapprove but not amend, expired in 2007, and it would require quite a breakthrough for Congress to approve it again. Still, despite these challenges, an agreement is worth pursuing.

Aside from a free trade agreement with Europe, there was little else in this State of the Union that hinted at foreign policy ambition. But unpredictable events have a way of derailing America's best laid plans to stay above the fray of the world's messiest problems. Who could have predicted just a few months ago that Mali would get a mention in the State of the Union? Iraq -- not uttered once tonight -- could re-emerge as a formidable crisis; Iran, Pakistan and North Korea also have tremendous potential to erupt.

While this administration seems determined to focus inward on getting America's economic and fiscal house in order, I doubt events in the rest of the world will be so accommodating.

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February 13, 2013 -- Updated 1629 GMT (0029 HKT)

After Barack Obama's speech and Marco Rubio's rebuttal, we should have heard from Kim Peters, who has been unemployed for more than a year, says John Sutter.

February 13, 2013 -- Updated 1420 GMT (2220 HKT)

Anne-Marie Slaughter says the hallmark of the 2013 State of the Union address was progressive pragmatism.

February 13, 2013 -- Updated 1755 GMT (0155 HKT)

David Rothkopf says a newly confident and empowered Obama offered an agenda for change and determination to get to the work of governing.

February 13, 2013 -- Updated 1848 GMT (0248 HKT)

CNN invited contributors to weigh in on President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night.

February 13, 2013 -- Updated 1859 GMT (0259 HKT)

Jessica Massa says today's romantic landscape is full of ambiguity and gray areas about where any given connection might lead.

February 13, 2013 -- Updated 1752 GMT (0152 HKT)

LZ Granderson: Marco Rubio was set to showcase the new, women-friendly face of the GOP. Too bad he had just cast a women-unfriendly vote.

February 13, 2013 -- Updated 1753 GMT (0153 HKT)

Ruben Navarrette says Sen. Marco Rubio's effective response to the State of the Union showed he is someone to be reckoned with.

February 13, 2013 -- Updated 1415 GMT (2215 HKT)

Matt Welch: The State of the Union laid out an agenda too costly for a country that wants to see what it's getting in return for debt.

February 13, 2013 -- Updated 1653 GMT (0053 HKT)

Isobel Coleman says Obama's speech ignored huge challenges the U.S. faces in the world, ones which could quickly dominate domestic agenda.

February 13, 2013 -- Updated 1417 GMT (2217 HKT)

Presidents once delivered State of the Union only in writing; now they reckon with a stream of social media comments, says Bob Greene.

February 12, 2013 -- Updated 2118 GMT (0518 HKT)

Peter Bergen says the interview with the bin Laden "shooter" adds important detail to the story of bin Laden's final minutes.

February 12, 2013 -- Updated 1700 GMT (0100 HKT)

David Frum says many people want to believe in living alone, without traditional attachments, but is that kind of life best?

February 12, 2013 -- Updated 1612 GMT (0012 HKT)

Timothy Stanley says Pope Benedict XVI, who struggled to reconcile the Catholic Church's relationship with the modern world, embraced the living traditions of the church while attempting to extend its reach.

February 10, 2013 -- Updated 1839 GMT (0239 HKT)

Dean Obeidallah says the CBS dress advisory note to Grammy attendees was hilarious -- and sexist.

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Now You Can Shop With a Single Tweet

This week American Express (AXP) and Twitter announced a partnership to allow people to buy things by tweeting. It works like this: You sync your Amex card to your Twitter account, and then you can start making purchases by putting hashtags in your tweets that correspond with special deals Amex is offering—today as of noon, for example, a limited supply of Kindle Fires, Xbox consoles, and special Donna Karan-designed Urban Zen bracelets, among other items, are on offer. You send your tweet out to your followers—“So excited to wear my Donna Karan Urban Zen bracelet while playing Halo 4!” or something like that—and include the hashtags. Amex sends you a confirmation tweet, and when you respond to it, the transaction is complete.

To paraphrase Marshall McLuhan, the medium of exchange is the message.

There is, at first blush, something conceptually confusing about the whole idea. We tend to think of Twitter as a form of communication, not commerce. Paying by Twitter seems to make as much sense as keeping up with your old college roommate by PayPal. But American Express is betting that there’s a whole market of consumers who treat shopping as a sort of performance, who like spreading the word about good deals and great finds. The kind of people who love explaining how much of a discount they got on their new shoes, or who make “unboxing” videos on YouTube where they spend five minutes unpacking a new tech gadget while narrating the process. Amex is also confident that the rest of us find those people’s advice and tips valuable rather than a nuisance.

According to Leslie Berland, who runs digital partnerships for American Express, that confidence comes from previous collaborations with Facebook (FB), Foursquare, and Twitter itself. (It was possible even before this week to get Amex deals by tweeting hashtags, but you had to go to the store or store website to redeem them.) “Customers loved sharing with other people,” Berland says. “There was so much viral activity, we saw new customers who walked into establishments, and those who redeemed the offers went back again.” She doesn’t provide exact figures but says that Amex customers cumulatively saved millions of dollars on the deals.

The partnership is part of a larger push by social networks into e-commerce, as they take all the information they have about users and try to make money off it. In Twitter’s case, that means taking the web of relationships people have built on the network and using it to push products. The idea is that we’re more willing to pay attention to a plug for something if it comes from someone we have decided, in Twitter’s religion-tinged term, to “follow.” (Twitter doesn’t get a cut of the Amex purchases.)

The big hurdle for this particular endeavor is that Twitter doesn’t have the best reputation for security—Twitter accounts are notoriously hackable. And while that’s a problem when someone commandeers a person’s Twitter account and blasts out a stream of embarrassing tweets, it’s for many people a problem of a different order when credit-card information enters the picture. To allay those concerns, Berland emphasizes that Twitter never gets the credit-card information; it stays with Amex. In addition to the confirmation tweet, Amex sends a confirmation e-mail when a transaction goes through, so if someone does hijack your Twitter account and run up a tab, you’ll know right away.

Berland doesn’t think security concerns will give consumers pause. American Express, she points out, has a very good reputation for keeping customer information safe. “We’re trusted and well-known for safety and security. That’s a very important part of the story,” she says. Whether that can survive a partnership with Twitter remains to be seen.

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Euro falls as German, French economies disappoint

LONDON (Reuters) - The euro dropped and European shares fell on Thursday as growth data from the region's two largest economies came in weaker than forecast, throwing a first quarter recovery for the bloc into doubt.

The German economy, Europe's largest, contracted by 0.6 percent in the final quarter of 2012, marking its worst performance since the global financial crisis was raging in 2009.

Worryingly for Berlin, it was export performance - the motor of its economy - that did most of the damage. France's 0.3 percent fall was also a touch worse than expectations.

The figures suggest the euro zone could remain slumped in recession in the first quarter of this year and pushed down the euro 0.5 percent to a session low $1.3382.

"This is major data, so it's dampening sentiment," said Anita Paluch, sales trader at Gekko Capital Markets.

"It is kind of disappointing that Germany, which had shown so much resilience, is now showing signs of suffering from the debt crisis."

Stock markets also edged lower although the impact was not so marked. The pan-European ESTOXX 50 index <.stoxx50e> was down 0.1 percent by 0815 GMT with London's FTSE 100 <.ftse>, Paris's CAC-40 <.fchi> and Frankfurt's DAX <.gdaxi> all down by a similar amount.

German bonds were steady, stabilizing after a fall in the previous session as demand for traditional safe-haven assets returned.

Benchmark Bund futures were 3 ticks higher on the day at 142.08, with analysts targeting a further rise if the remaining GDP data for countries such as Italy (0900 GMT), and the euro zone as a whole (1000 GMT), also come in weak.

The pain is not confined to Europe. Japan, under some pressure over its aggressive monetary and fiscal policies which are driving down the yen, came up with an unwanted riposte earlier on Thursday - its GDP shrank 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter, leaving it in recession and crushing expectations of a modest return to growth.

The Bank of Japan also kept monetary policy steady and upgraded its economic assessment, as recent falls in the yen and signs of a pick-up in global growth in recent months give it some breathing space after expanding stimulus just a month ago.

Markets in China and Taiwan remain shut for the Lunar New Year holiday but Hong Kong resumed trading on Thursday.

(Reporting by Marc Jones; Editing by Peter Graff)

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No. 8 Michigan State routs No. 4 Michigan 75-52

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State has muddled through much of its season, finding ways to win games short on style with gritty substance.

The eighth-ranked Spartans, though, showed their potential in an impressive 75-52 win over No. 4 Michigan on Tuesday night in the rivalry's first matchup of top 10 teams.

"The sky is the limit," guard Keith Appling said.

If Michigan State can play anything like it did against the Wolverines, Appling might be right.

The Spartans (21-4, 10-2 Big Ten) broke a first-place tie in the conference with No. 1 Indiana, which plays at Michigan State next Tuesday after the Spartans try to avoid a letdown Saturday night at Nebraska.

Appling acknowledged he was a little bit surprised by the lopsided victory — the school's largest since beating Michigan by 27 points in 2002 — but shrugged off the significance of it with much of the regular season remaining.

"We just have to take it for what it is and prepare for our next game," Appling said.

The Wolverines (21-4, 8-4) have lost three of four, but the closely contested setbacks on the road against the Hoosiers and at Wisconsin were nothing like the latest when they were held to a season-low points total.

"They bullied us — point blank," said Tim Hardaway Jr., who matched a career low with two points.

Michigan State didn't trail once, led by as many as 16 points in the first half and enjoyed 30-point leads in the second.

"We probably played our best game in three years," Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. "And, they probably played one of their worst."

Michigan coach John Beilein agreed.

"That was the worst we've played in a long, long time and credit Michigan State for that," he said.

Burke scored 18 points for the Wolverines and didn't get much help from his teammate offensively, or defensively.

"It was an embarrassing loss," Burke said.

Hardaway Jr. was held scoreless until making a layup in the opening minute of the second half — after turning down Beilein's suggestion to work on his shot during halftime warmups — and didn't score again. Hardaway was 1 of 11 from the field.

"He's been playing as good as any player in the country," Beilein said. "He had a bad night, credit Michigan State's defense. Tim had a bad night and Tim Hardaway will bounce back like he always has."

Glen Robinson III was 1 of 4 and scored two points to match his season low.

The Wolverines, who pride themselves on taking care of the basketball, had a season-high 16 turnovers and didn't have much success getting the ball away from the turnover-prone Spartans. Michigan made fewer than 40 percent of its shots and scored one fewer point than it did in a three-point loss at Ohio State.

"Maybe we got exactly what we deserve and it's medicine for the future," Beilein said.

Everything went right for Michigan State, which had just eight turnovers and made 48-plus percent of its shots.

Gary Harris scored 17 points, making five 3-pointers, and Derrick Nix had his way on the inside, scoring 14 points as part of a balanced offense.

Appling had 11 points and Branden Dawson scored 10 before leaving the court late in the game because Michigan's Mitch McGary hit him in the face inadvertently with his right arm.

Izzo said Dawson got hit in the nose and had a cut on his lip.

"I do think he's going to be OK," Izzo said.

Matt Costello scored a season-high eight points and fellow freshman Denzel Valentine had seven points to help Michigan State win its second straight in the series after losing three in a row following a run of dominance for the Spartans.

White-clad fans in the stands were fired up before the game even started and they stayed enthusiastic, standing for much of the game, because the home team gave them plenty of reasons to cheer from start to finish.

"The crowd was just awesome," Izzo said. "It kind of reminded me of back in the day."

In the first matchup of 20-win teams in Division I basketball this season, Michigan State showed it might not be a rebuilding this season.

Michigan, meanwhile, has been humbled since being ranked No. 1 last month for the first time since the 1992-92 season.

"It was a big step for us, but don't think that's the real Michigan team because it's not," Izzo said.


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Obama's chance to lead?


  • John Avlon: President Barack Obama is well-positioned to help solve debt problem

  • He says Obama should avoid temptation favored by some Democrats to put off action

  • Relatively modest changes in entitlements could help ensure their survival, Avlon says

  • Avlon: Obama can rally his party behind deficit cuts that won't hurt economy

Editor's note: John Avlon is a CNN contributor and senior political columnist for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. He is co-editor of the book "Deadline Artists: America's Greatest Newspaper Columns." He is a regular contributor to "Erin Burnett OutFront" and is a member of the OutFront Political Strike Team. For more political analysis, tune in to "Erin Burnett OutFront" at 7 ET weeknights.

(CNN) -- "What we have done is kicked this can down the road. We are now at the end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further. ... We have to signal seriousness in this by making sure some of the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else's."

So said President-elect Barack Obama at a Washington Post editorial board meeting in January 2009, just days before taking his first oath of office. He was talking about the importance of dealing with the long-term deficit and debt.

The rhetoric hasn't met the record -- debt has exploded under Obama's watch. Reasonable people can forgive the president for expenses incurred while confronting the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression -- and, let's be honest, alternative paths of austerity have not worked that well across the Atlantic. But now is the time to get serious about reigning in our long-term debt, which now exceeds an unsustainable 70% of gross domestic product.

At this moment of maximum political capital, Obama is perfectly positioned to act on his original impulse in the State of the Union on Tuesday night.

But there is a dangerous bit of hubris sweeping the Democratic Party, which says that dealing with deficits and debt is a sucker's bet, best left to the next Republican president.

Instead, the Keynesians are riding high and arguing that deficit and debt is not a primary concern to most voters and irrelevant to economic growth. And so the pregame expectation setting comes: White House minions told The Washington Post not to expect the president to present "an ambitious new plan to rein in the debt" in the State of the Union.

Opinion: Obama needs to lay out a plan on climate crisis

This would be a major mistake and a costly lost opportunity.

With an eye toward his legacy, Obama should follow his original instincts and put the power of presidency behind a balanced long-term plan to deal with deficits and debt -- including spending cuts, tax reform and, most importantly, entitlement reform.

This is the time for Obama to pull a Nixon in China.

Just as only a committed anti-communist such as Nixon could establish relations with communist China, Obama is perfectly positioned to do what he knows is necessary to preserve the long-term strength and solvency of the social safety net: Medicare and Social Security.

This does not mean draconian cuts or a voucherization of the existing system as imagined by Rep. Paul Ryan and many House Republicans. But it does mean following through on the president's previous negotiated offers to consider "chained CPI," which would lower inflation-related increases in Social Security benefits, and to raise the eligibility age for Medicare.

Formula adjustments such as these can save billions of dollars over the next 10 years, keeping these popular programs solvent. Other solutions, such as raising the Social Security payroll tax cap to more than the current income cutoff of $110,000, are worth consideration as part of a package. This is an idea that liberals love because it extends the progressivity of the tax code to the wealthiest Americans.

Alternatively, we could means-test Social Security to make sure it serves primarily as a safety net -- or (gasp!) raise the retirement age. When the Bowles-Simpson commission suggested raising the retirement age to 69 in 2075, it was met with howls of outrage from unions in particular. This makes no sense, especially if common-sense exemptions are made for manual labor.

Beltway cynics say that the bipartisan deficit and debt reduction plans that are often cited have no chance of passing Congress. When you look at the pathetic support for Bowles-Simpson when it was actually put to a vote in the House last March -- 16 Republicans and 22 Democrats supported it -- you see why cynicism is always a safe bet in Washington.

But take a step back, and you'll see much broader support among the American people. The Pew Research Center found that the top three issues are "strengthening the economy" (at 86%), "improving the jobs situation" (79%) and "reducing the budget deficit" (at 72%). Crucially, the deficit has shown the biggest increase as an issue over the past four years -- up 19 percentage points from 2009. This is evidence of a pent-up demand for action -- but it will require presidential leadership.

Of course the devil is in the details, and politicos will point out that when confronted with tough medicine to deal with deficits and debt, even alleged tea party supporters balk (hence the classic "Government Get Your Hands Off My Medicare!" sign that I saw at one 2009 rally).

But strengthening America to remain competitive in the 21st century will require getting our long-term debt under control along with other important but less poll-prioritized policies such as comprehensive immigration reform and a public-private infrastructure bank to fund nation-building "here at home."

The State of the Union is a chance for the president to put forward a balanced bipartisan solution that contrasts with radical conservatives who believe that increased tax revenues from closed tax loopholes can't be part of a big deal to bring down our debt. Wall Street lawyers will fight to protect every loophole they embedded in our tax code, but their argument doesn't begin to make sense to people on Main Street.

Obama will probably point out Tuesday night that economic growth is the essential X Factor to reducing long-term deficits and debt. On this point at least, he and some conservatives might agree. But dumb meat cleaver cuts such as the looming sequestration could push our economy back into recession.

That's why a smart balanced alternative plan is necessary. But it will require presidential leadership and putting some Democratic sacred cows on the table.

This doesn't just make practical sense in a divided government (a reality some Democrats seem to forget) -- it makes compelling political sense as well. By seizing the mantle of fiscal responsibility -- in contrast to fiscal conservatism -- Obama will build on his post-election bump among centrists and some independents.

The more Machiavellian Democrats might argue that this outreach could only serve to isolate Republicans more. Nonpartisan strategists might argue that this approach would drive a wedge between reasonable Republicans and the House radicals.

But the real reason for Obama to address the need to reduce long-term deficits and debt directly is because it's the right thing to do for our country -- and he is uniquely positioned to achieve it. Just as Nixon could go to China, a Southern Democrat such as Lyndon Johnson was needed to pass civil rights legislation and Bill Clinton was able to sign welfare reform after decades of Republicans talking about it, Obama can put our country on a balanced path of long-term economic growth and fiscal responsibility.

Bottom line: Obama has the political opportunity, but does he have the political will? We'll all find out in real time if he decides to lead on this issue or just be the latest in a long line to kick the can further down the road.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Avlon.

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Obama pledges to reignite economy

President Obama: “Time for tax reform that encourages job creation”

President Barack Obama has urged Congress to back government action to revive the sluggish US economy, in his annual State of the Union speech.

The Democratic president promised “smarter” rather than bigger government for “the many, and not just the few”.

He also called for action on gun violence, climate change and immigration reform.

In the Republican response, Senator Marco Rubio urged Mr Obama to drop his “obsession” with raising taxes.

Speaking in the House of Representatives, Mr Obama told his audience that his generation’s task was “to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth – a rising, thriving middle class”.

‘North Star’

“We have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and we can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is strong,” Mr Obama said in an hour-long address.

Delivering growth and jobs will be the “North Star that guides our efforts”, he added.

Continue reading the main story

Those hoping for a more conciliatory tone than this notably aggressive State of the Union speech were disappointed”

End Quote

But he insisted that nothing he planned would raise the deficit “by a single dime”.

Mr Obama proposed reforms to reduce the cost of Medicare, a federal healthcare programme for pensioners, but argued “we can’t just cut our way to prosperity”.

In his speech, Mr Obama went on to call for federal investment in infrastructure, clean energy and education.

And he vowed to act on climate change himself if Congress failed to enact legislation.

“I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change…,” he said.

“But if Congress won’t act sooner to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”

Mr Obama also said he would reduce by more than half the number of US troops in Afghanistan over the next year.

Watch President Obama’s full address

He asked Congress to raise the minimum wage, called for legislation to ensure women are paid equally to men, and announced a commission to improve the voting process.

On gun control, Mr Obama said an “overwhelming” majority of Americans supported “common-sense reform” on firearms, including tighter background checks and restrictions on “weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines”.

And he urged gun-control opponents to allow a vote in Congress on his proposals.

“The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence – they deserve a simple vote,” he said.

Conservative divisions

He also praised bipartisan efforts to draw up an immigration reform bill, adding that if he is sent legislation, “I will sign it right away”.

Less than a day after North Korea tested a nuclear device, Mr Obama said the US will “lead the world in taking firm action in response to these threats”.

Mr Obama will take to the road in the coming days to push his economic recovery proposals, stopping in the US states of North Carolina and Georgia and in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois.

Republican Senator Rubio: ‘I hope the president will abandon his obsession with raising taxes’

Sen Rubio, a possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, delivered his party’s official riposte.

In it, he attacked Mr Obama’s economic policies and said “more government isn’t going to help you get ahead, it’s going to hold you back”.

The Cuban-American senator, who also made his address in Spanish, referred to the pain felt by residents of the working-class neighbourhood in which he grew up.

He told Mr Obama: “I don’t oppose your plans because I want to protect the rich. I oppose your plans because I want to protect my neighbours.”

The Florida senator also warned the president that the “tax increases and the deficit spending you propose will hurt middle-class families”.

Underscoring conservative divisions, immediately after the Rubio speech Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul delivered the Tea Party’s rebuttal to Mr Obama’s address.

He said both parties had failed voters by driving up trillion-dollar deficits.

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Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Announces $10,000 Scholarships for New Visions Health Careers Students

ALBANY, NY–(Marketwire – Feb 13, 2013) – Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (ACPHS) announced that it will be offering a scholarship to any high school graduate who successfully completes New York State’s New Visions Health Careers Program. Scholarship recipients who meet the eligibility criteria will receive $ 2,500 annually for each of their first four years at the College, for a total award of $ 10,000.

Offered through the State’s Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), the New Visions Health Careers program is designed for high school seniors interested in medical and health-related professions. The program offers both classroom instruction and hands-on learning in a variety of health care settings. Program participants may spend from one day to three weeks in a wide range of clinical and administrative areas within a hospital or health care facility. These areas include radiation oncology, the operating room, pharmacy, psychiatric units, rehabilitation, and many others.

“The New Visions Health Careers program offers high school students invaluable opportunities to shadow health care professionals and learn about the variety of career options available in the health care field. The academic and experiential requirements of the program also provide students with excellent preparation for college,” said Matthew Stever, ACPHS Director of Admissions. “The goal of this scholarship is to increase access to the College for New Visions students, as our academic programs offer multiple pathways to health care related careers and graduates of New Visions have a demonstrated record of success at ACPHS.”

The scholarship is available for students enrolled in any of the College’s six undergraduate programs:

  • B.S. in Biomedical Technology

  • B.S. in Chemistry

  • B.S. in Health and Human Sciences

  • B.S. in Microbiology

  • B.S. in Pharmaceutical Sciences

  • Doctor of Pharmacy

For more information about the New Visions Health Careers scholarship, please contact the Office of Admissions at [email protected] or 518-694-7221.

About Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Founded in 1881, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is a private, independent institution committed to graduating the best health care minds in the world. In addition to its doctor of pharmacy program, ACPHS offers five bachelor’s programs and five graduate programs in the health sciences. The College’s main campus is located in Albany, New York; its satellite campus is in Colchester, Vermont.

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Stock index futures point to slightly higher start

LONDON (Reuters) - Stock index futures pointed to a slightly higher open on Wall Street on Wednesday, with futures for the S&P 500, the Dow Jones and the Nasdaq 100 up 0.1-0.2 percent at 0958 GMT (4.58 a.m EST).

European shares were slightly lower, although they remained near the top of a six-day trading range. French bank Societe Generale sank 3.7 percent after it unveiled a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss.

U.S. President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday he backs higher taxes for the wealthy and a $50 billion spending plan to create jobs by rebuilding degraded roads and bridges.

The U.S. Commerce Dept. releases U.S. retail sales data at 1330 GMT. It was expected to show a 0.1 percent rise in January, slowing from a 0.5 percent increase in December as consumers eyed smaller paychecks on the back of a recent tax increase.

Business inventories data for December, due at 1500 GMT, are expected to show a rise of 0.3 percent, a repeat of the November increase.

Comcast Corp clinched full control of NBC Universal for $16.7 billion on Tuesday, the latest in a series of deals that have taken the cable operator from humble roots in Tupelo, Mississippi, to Manhattan's iconic Rockerfeller Center.

The group is due to unveil fourth-quarter results before the market open, with earnings per share seen at $0.53 from $0.47 one year earlier.

Networking equipment maker, Cisco Systems , is expected to report a $0.01 increase in its quarterly earnings per share, with corporate North America and parts of Europe showing signs of improvement. The results are due after the market close.

Chip-maker Nvidia is also among companies due to report quarterly results.

Clearwire Corp , the wireless service provider that both Sprint Nextel S.N and Dish Network DISH.O want to buy, said on Tuesday that it would need Sprint financing to keep afloat up to the end of the year.

Asset manager Legg Mason Inc is preparing to name its interim head, Joseph Sullivan, as its permanent chief executive, two people familiar with the matter said, as the company turns to a sales chief to stop an outflow of funds.

BlackRock Inc named Morgan Stanley MS.N banker and long-time financial advisor Gary Shedlin as its next chief financial officer, to succeed Ann Marie Petach.

Yahoo Inc Chief Executive Marissa Mayer said the company's search partnership with Microsoft Corp was not delivering the market share gains or the revenue boost that it should.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> closed 47.46 points higher, or 0.34 percent, at 14,018.70 on Tuesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> was up 2.42 points, or 0.16 percent, at 1,519.43. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> was down 5.51 points, or 0.17 percent, at 3,186.49.

(Reporting by Francesco Canepa; editing by Patrick Graham)

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AP Source: IOC drops wrestling from 2020 Olympics

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — IOC leaders dropped wrestling from the program for the 2020 Olympics on Tuesday, an official familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.

In a surprise move, the IOC executive board decided to retain modern pentathlon — the sport considered most at risk — and remove wrestling instead, the official said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision hadn't been announced yet.

The IOC board acted after reviewing the 26 sports on the current Olympic program. Eliminating one sport allows the International Olympic Committee to add a new sport to the program later this year.

Wrestling combines freestyle and Greco-Roman disciplines. It had 11 medal events in freestyle and seven in Greco-Roman at last year's London Olympics.

Wrestling will now join seven other sports in applying for inclusion in 2020. The others are a combined bid from baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu. They will be vying for a single opening in 2020.

The IOC executive board will meet in May in St. Petersburg, Russia, to decide which sport or sports to propose for 2020 inclusion. The final vote will be made at the IOC general assembly in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The last sports removed from the Olympics were baseball and softball, voted out by the IOC in 2005 and off the program since the 2008 Beijing Games. Golf and rugby will be joining the program at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The IOC program commission report analyzed more than three dozen criteria, including television ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy and global participation and popularity. With no official rankings or recommendations contained in the report, the final decision by the 15-member board was also subject to political, emotional and sentimental factors.

Previously considered under the closest scrutiny was modern pentathlon, which has been on the Olympic program since the 1912 Stockholm Games. It was created by French baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic movement.

Modern pentathlon combines fencing, horse riding, swimming, running and shooting — the five skills required of a 19th century cavalry officer. The sport's governing body, the UIPM, has been lobbying hard to protect its Olympic status, and the efforts apparently paid off.

UIPM President Klaus Schormann had considered traveling from Germany to Lausanne for the decision, but decided to stay away.

"The Olympic movement always needs history," Schormann told the AP ahead of the IOC decision. "You cannot just say we look only at the future. You can have a future when you are stable on the basic part of history. We are continuing to develop, to renovate, to be innovative and creative. We are very proud of what we achieved so far and want to deliver this as well for the next generations in 2020."

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