Wall Street Week Ahead: Bears hibernate as stocks near record highs

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks have been on a tear in January, moving major indexes within striking distance of all-time highs. The bearish case is a difficult one to make right now.


Earnings have exceeded expectations, the housing and labor markets have strengthened, lawmakers in Washington no longer seem to be the roadblock that they were for most of 2012, and money has returned to stock funds again.


The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> has gained 5.4 percent this year and closed above 1,500 - climbing to the spot where Wall Street strategists expected it to be by mid-year. The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> is 2.2 percent away from all-time highs reached in October 2007. The Dow ended Friday's session at 13,895.98, its highest close since October 31, 2007.


The S&P has risen for four straight weeks and eight consecutive sessions, the longest streak of days since 2004. On Friday, the benchmark S&P 500 ended at 1,502.96 - its first close above 1,500 in more than five years.


"Once we break above a resistance level at 1,510, we dramatically increase the probability that we break the highs of 2007," said Walter Zimmermann, technical analyst at United-ICAP, in Jersey City, New Jersey. "That may be the start of a rise that could take equities near 1,800 within the next few years."


The most recent Reuters poll of Wall Street strategists estimated the benchmark index would rise to 1,550 by year-end, a target that is 3.1 percent away from current levels. That would put the S&P 500 a stone's throw from the index's all-time intraday high of 1,576.09 reached on October 11, 2007.


The new year has brought a sharp increase in flows into U.S. equity mutual funds, and that has helped stocks rack up four straight weeks of gains, with strength in big- and small-caps alike.


That's not to say there aren't concerns. Economic growth has been steady, but not as strong as many had hoped. The household unemployment rate remains high at 7.8 percent. And more than 75 percent of the stocks in the S&P 500 are above their 26-week highs, suggesting the buying has come too far, too fast.


MUTUAL FUND INVESTORS COME BACK


All 10 S&P 500 industry sectors are higher in 2013, in part because of new money flowing into equity funds. Investors in U.S.-based funds committed $3.66 billion to stock mutual funds in the latest week, the third straight week of big gains for the funds, data from Thomson Reuters' Lipper service showed on Thursday.


Energy shares <.5sp10> lead the way with a gain of 6.6 percent, followed by industrials <.5sp20>, up 6.3 percent. Telecom <.5sp50>, a defensive play that underperforms in periods of growth, is the weakest sector - up 0.1 percent for the year.


More than 350 stocks hit new highs on Friday alone on the New York Stock Exchange. The Dow Jones Transportation Average <.djt> recently climbed to an all-time high, with stocks in this sector and other economic bellwethers posting strong gains almost daily.


"If you peel back the onion a little bit, you start to look at companies like Precision Castparts , Honeywell , 3M Co and Illinois Tool Works - these are big, broad-based industrial companies in the U.S. and they are all hitting new highs, and doing very well. That is the real story," said Mike Binger, portfolio manager at Gradient Investments, in Shoreview, Minnesota.


The gains have run across asset sizes as well. The S&P small-cap index <.spcy> has jumped 6.7 percent and the S&P mid-cap index <.mid> has shot up 7.5 percent so far this year.


Exchange-traded funds have seen year-to-date inflows of $15.6 billion, with fairly even flows across the small-, mid- and large-cap categories, according to Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at the ConvergEx Group, in New York.


"Investors aren't really differentiating among asset sizes. They just want broad equity exposure," Colas said.


The market has shown resilience to weak news. On Thursday, the S&P 500 held steady despite a 12 percent slide in shares of Apple after the iPhone and iPad maker's results. The tech giant is heavily weighted in both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 <.ndx> and in the past, its drop has suffocated stocks' broader gains.


JOBS DATA MAY TEST THE RALLY


In the last few days, the ratio of stocks hitting new highs versus those hitting new lows on a daily basis has started to diminish - a potential sign that the rally is narrowing to fewer names - and could be running out of gas.


Investors have also cited sentiment surveys that indicate high levels of bullishness among newsletter writers, a contrarian indicator, and momentum indicators are starting to also suggest the rally has perhaps come too far.


The market's resilience could be tested next week with Friday's release of the January non-farm payrolls report. About 155,000 jobs are seen being added in the month and the unemployment rate is expected to hold steady at 7.8 percent.


"Staying over 1,500 sends up a flag of profit taking," said Jerry Harris, president of asset management at Sterne Agee, in Birmingham, Alabama. "Since recent jobless claims have made us optimistic on payrolls, if that doesn't come through, it will be a real risk to the rally."


A number of marquee names will report earnings next week, including bellwether companies such as Caterpillar Inc , Amazon.com Inc , Ford Motor Co and Pfizer Inc .


On a historic basis, valuations remain relatively low - the S&P 500's current price-to-earnings ratio sits at 15.66, which is just a tad above the historic level of 15.


Worries about the U.S. stock market's recent strength do not mean the market is in a bubble. Investors clearly don't feel that way at the moment.


"We're seeing more interest in equities overall, and a lot of flows from bonds into stocks," said Paul Zemsky, who helps oversee $445 billion as the New York-based head of asset allocation at ING Investment Management. "We've been increasing our exposure to risky assets."


For the week, the Dow climbed 1.8 percent, the S&P 500 rose 1.1 percent and the Nasdaq advanced 0.5 percent.


(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Jan Paschal)



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Azarenka secures back-to-back Australian titles


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


"I should be OK,' Li said.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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Can sanctions deter North Korea?


























Kim Jong Un and his military


Kim Jong Un and his military


Kim Jong Un and his military


Kim Jong Un and his military


Kim Jong Un and his military


Kim Jong Un and his military


Kim Jong Un and his military


Kim Jong Un and his military


Kim Jong Un and his military


Kim Jong Un and his military


Kim Jong Un and his military


Kim Jong Un and his military


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Kim Jong Un and his military


Kim Jong Un and his military


Kim Jong Un and his military


Kim Jong Un and his military


Kim Jong Un and his military


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STORY HIGHLIGHTS


  • N. Korea said Thursday it plans to carry out new nuclear test and more long-range rocket launches

  • It said they are part of new phase of confrontation with United States

  • George A. Lopez says North Korea's aim is to be recognized as a 'new nuclear nation by fait accompli'

  • The Security Council sanctions aim to deteriorate and disrupt N. Korea's programs, says Lopez




Editor's note: George A. Lopez holds the Hesburgh Chair in Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute, University of Notre Dame. He is a former member, UN Panel of Experts on DPRK.


Indiana, U.S. (CNN) -- North Korea has responded to new Security Council sanctions condemning its December 12 rocket launch with a declaration that it plans a third nuclear test and more missile launches. Politically, it has made unambiguous that its "aim" is its enemy, the United States.


In this rapid reaction to U.N. sanctions, the young government of Kim Jong Un underscores what Security Council members have long known anticipated from the DPRK. Their end-game is to create a vibrant, integrated missile and nuclear weapons program that will result - as in the cases of Pakistan and India - in their being recognized as a new nuclear nation by fait accompli.


Read more: North Korea says new nuclear test will be part of fight against U.S.


In light of DPRK defiance - and a soon to occur nuclear test - the Security Council's first set of sanctions on North Korea since 2009 may seem absurd and irrelevant. These sanctions will certainly not prevent a new DPRK nuclear test. Rather, the new sanctions resolution mobilizes regional neighbors and global actors to enforce sanctions that can weaken future DPRK programs and actions.










Read more: U.N. Security Council slams North Korea, expands sanctions


The utility, if not the necessity, of these Security Council sanctions are to deteriorate and disrupt the networks that sustain North Korea's programs. Chances of this degradation of DPRK capabilities have increased as the new sanctions both embolden and empower the member states who regularly observe - but do nothing about - suspicious vessels in their adjacent waterways.


The resolution provides new guidance to states regarding ship interdiction, cargo inspections, and the seizure and disposal of prohibited materials. Regarding nuclear and missile development the sanctions expand the list of material banned for trade to DPRK, including high tech, dual-use goods which might aid missile industries.


Read more: South Korean officials: North Korean rocket could hit U.S. mainland


These new measures provide a better structure for more effective sanctions, by naming new entities, such as a bank and trading companies, as well as individuals involved in the illicit financing of prohibited materials, to the sanctions list. To the surprise of many in the diplomatic community - the Council authorizes states to expose and confiscate North Korea's rather mobile "bulk cash." Such currency stocks have been used in many regions to facilitate purchases of luxury goods and other banned items that sustain the DPRK elites.


Finally, the Security Council frees the Sanctions Committee to act more independently and in a timely manner to add entities to the list of sanctioned actors when evidence shows them to be sanctions violators. This is an extensive hunting license for states in the region that can multiply the costs of sanctions to the DPRK over time.


Read more: North Korea's rocket launches cost $1.3 billion


Whatever their initial limitations, the new round of U.N. sanctions serve as a springboard to more robust measures by various regional and global powers which may lead back to serious negotiations with DPRK.


Despite its bluster and short-term action plan, Pyongyang recognizes that the wide space of operation for its policies it assumed it had a week ago, is now closed considerably. To get this kind of slap-down via this Security Council resolution - when the launch was a month ago - predicts that any nuke test or missile launch from Pyongyang will bring a new round of stronger and more targeted sanctions.


Read more: North Korea silences doubters, raises fears with rocket launch


Although dangerous - a new game is on regarding DPRK. Tougher U.N. measures imposed on the North generated a predictable response and likely new, prohibited action. While DPRK may be enraged, these sanctions have the P5 nations, most notably China, newly engaged. A forthcoming test or launch will no doubt increase tensions on both sides.


But this may be precisely the shock needed to restart the Six Party Talks. Without this institutional framework there is little chance of influencing DPRK actions. And in the meantime, the chances of greater degrading of DPRK capabilities via sanctions, are a sensible next best action.


Read more: Huge crowds gather in North Korean capital to celebrate rocket launch


The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of George A. Lopez.






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3 dead, 2 wounded in pair of early morning shootings













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


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


























































Two shootings on the South and West sides left three people dead and two wounded at 2:15 and 4 a.m. Saturday morning. 


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


At the north end of the 1100 block of South Mozart Street in the Lawndale neighborhood, two people were shot. One also died there, police said. That happened about 2:15 a.m. 





Check back for more information. 


pnickeas@tribune.com






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At least 16 die in Egyptian clashes over death sentences


PORT SAID/CAIRO (Reuters) - At least 16 people died in a rampage by protesters angry at the sentencing of 21 people to death over a soccer stadium disaster, amid a wave of bloody unrest posing a challenge for Egypt's new Islamist rulers.


Armored vehicles and military police were deployed on the streets of Port Said after the violence in the Mediterranean city on Saturday. The state news agency quoted a general as saying the military was sent to "establish calm and stability in Port Said and to protect public institutions".


The latest deaths brought to at least 25 the number reported killed in three days of violence. Hundreds have been injured in clashes in which police have rained down tear gas on protesters armed with stones and some with petrol bombs.


The unrest began with rallies to mark the second anniversary of the overthrow of autocrat Hosni Mubarak in a revolution which the protesters accuse current President Mohamed Mursi and his Islamist allies of betraying.


The schism is hindering efforts by Mursi, elected in June, to revive an economy in crisis and reverse a plunge in Egypt's currency. The polarization and lack of security that has blighted Egypt casts a shadow over a parliamentary election expected to start in April.


Mursi's opponents say he has failed to deliver on economic promises or to be a president for all Egyptians, as he pledged. His backers say his critics do not respect the democracy that has given Egypt its first freely elected leader.


Nine people were reported killed in Friday's violence, most in the port city of Suez, where the army has also been deployed.


Saturday's violence in Port Said erupted when a court sentenced 21 men, most from the city, to death for involvement in the disaster in the city's soccer stadium which killed 74 people on February 1, 2012.


VICTIMS' RELATIVES CHEER


Many spectators were crushed and witnesses saw some thrown off balconies after the match between Cairo's Al Ahly and local team al-Masri. Many of those killed were from the visiting team's supporters.


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


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


One relative of a victim in the court shouted: "God is greatest." Outside Al Ahly club in Cairo, supporters also cheered. Fans had threatened fresh violence unless the death penalty was meted out.


But in Port Said residents rampaged through the streets in anger that men from their city had been blamed. Gunshots were reported near the prison where most are being held.


The director of Port Said hospitals said 16 people were killed and 200 wounded, state television reported. Security sources said at least two of the dead were policemen.


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


Thousands took to the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and other cities on Friday to protest against what they call the authoritarianism of Mursi's rule.


"NOTHING HAS CHANGED"


"We want to change the president and the government. We are tired of this regime. Nothing has changed," said Mahmoud Suleiman, 22, in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the cauldron of the 2011 revolt. Nearby, youths hurled stones at police early on Saturday.


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


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


The president was due to meet later on Saturday with the National Defence Council, which includes senior ministers and security officials, to discuss the violence.


Unrest has been stoked by Mursi's decision to fast-track an Islamist-tinged constitution rejected by his opponents.


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


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


Inspired by the popular uprising in Tunisia, Egypt's revolution spurred further revolts across the Arab world. But the sense of common purpose that united Egyptians two years ago has given way to internal strife that triggered bloody street battles last month.


(Additional reporting by Omar Fahmy; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Andrew Roche)



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Stock futures edge up, S&P 500 poised to extend rally

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock index futures gained on Friday after Procter & Gamble reported a higher quarterly profit and as the S&P 500 looked set to extend its best winning streak in more than six years.


The strong start to the year has been attributed to solid corporate earnings, agreement in Washington over raising the debt limit, encouraging recovery signs in the global economy and seasonal inflows to equity markets.


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


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


Procter & Gamble , the world's top household products maker reported a higher profit on Friday and raised its sales and earnings outlook for the fiscal year. Shares were up 1.4 pct at $71.42 in premarket trading.


Earnings have helped drive the stock market's recent rally. Thomson Reuters data through early Thursday showed that of the 133 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings so far, 66.9 percent have exceeded expectations, above the 65 percent average over the past four quarters.


Microsoft Corp's quarterly profit edged lower as Office software sales slowed ahead of a new launch, offsetting a solid but unspectacular start for its Windows 8 operating system and sending the company's shares down 1.1 percent.


S&P 500 futures rose 3.2 point and were above fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 44 points and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 9.75 points.


Echoing a more positive tone in Europe, ECB President Mario Draghi said he expects the euro zone economy to recover later this year, adding that financial market improvements have not yet trickled into the general economy. Draghi was speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Friday.


Halliburton , the world's second-largest oilfield services company, is also due to report results.


Apple stepped up audits of working conditions at major suppliers last year, discovering multiple cases of underage workers, discrimination and wage problems. The shares, which fell 12 percent Thursday after disappointing earnings, edged up 0.2 percent to $451.80.


Honeywell , the diversified U.S. manufacturer, will be in focus as it reports earnings, with modest growth in demand for systems used to manage large buildings expected to be offset by declining sales to the military.


The Commerce Department releases new home sales data for December at 10:00 a.m. (1500 GMT). Economists forecast a total of 385,000 annualized units, compared with 377,000 in November.


Economic Cycle Research Institute releases its weekly index of economic activity for January 18 at 10:30 a.m. (1530 GMT). In the prior week the index read 130.


European shares <.fteu3> rose 0.1 percent after a survey showed German business morale improved for a third consecutive month in January.


(Editing by Bernadette Baum)



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Murray beats Federer, reaches Australian final


MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Andy Murray has beaten Roger Federer for the first time in a Grand Slam event to advance to the Australian Open final against top-ranked Novak Djokovic.


Murray, who became the first British man to win a major in 76 years when he beat Djokovic in last year's U.S. Open final, missed a chance to serve for the match in the fourth set before beating Federer 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2 in a tense semifinal Friday.


The No. 3-ranked Murray, who lost Australian finals in 2010 and 2011, will be playing his third consecutive major final when he takes on two-time defending champion Djokovic on Sunday.


Murray lost the Wimbledon final to Federer — their third meeting in a major — before his career breakthrough in New York.


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3 On Your Side: Cold Weather Car Advice







By Jim Donovan


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – As the coldest weather to hit the area in two years has settled in, we can consider ourselves lucky that we haven’t had to deal with much snow like much of the Midwest has. Eventually though, we’ll have to deal with it too, and many drivers aren’t prepared for the task of driving in it. So 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan has advice to prepare for the next round of weather.







This blast of arctic air isn’t welcomed by many motorists and service calls are soaring. On Wednesday, AAA Mid-Atlantic responded to over 2,600 dead battery calls alone.


The time to think about preparing your car for driving in winter weather is before the snow starts piling up. According to AAA, there are some simple things drivers can do to get their car ready like considering winter wiper blades wrapped in rubber to reduce buildup of ice and snow on the glass. You should inspect the tread on tires, and keep them properly inflated. When the temperature drops, so will the pressure inside of your tires.


Your emergency road kit should be updated for the winter months with items like blankets, extra gloves, hats, scarves, an ice scraper and brush and a bag of abrasive material like sand or salt.


When snow and ice start to cover the roadways, make sure your gas tank stays at least half-full to avoid gas line freeze-ups. Don’t use cruise control on slick surfaces, avoid tailgating to allow for extra braking distance, and if you do feel your wheels slipping, don’t slam on the brakes — continue to look and steer in the direction you want to go.


In frigid temperatures, frozen door locks are common. Never pour hot water on a lock or windshield because this could make it worse or cause the window to shatter. Instead, carefully heat the end of the key with a match or lighter. If that doesn’t work, sometimes dipping the tip of the key in rubbing alcohol, using a can of de-icer spray, or heating the lock with a hair dryer will work too.




Weather News Headlines – Yahoo! News





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Cantor CEO: 'Off the fiscal cliff we go'






Part of complete coverage on















By Ramy Inocencio, for CNN


January 25, 2013 -- Updated 1120 GMT (1920 HKT)









STORY HIGHLIGHTS


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

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

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

  • Lutnick: 'Dumb lending' caused 2008 credit crisis




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


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


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


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








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


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


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


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


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












Part of complete coverage on







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



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







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



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







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



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







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



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







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



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








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








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







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



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







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



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







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



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







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



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







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



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







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



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







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



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

















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Snow expected to fall through morning rush hour









Snow started falling about 4:45 a.m. near O'Hare International Airport, jeopardizing a 335-day streak of calendar days without snow, according to the National Weather Service.


Falling snow had failed to reach the ground overnight, blocked by a shield of dry air that ensures the flakes evaporate before hitting the ground.


“It’s been snowing very hard above the ground all night and there’s been really dry air so it evaporates before it hits the ground,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Gino Izzi said.





About a half hour into the storm, Illinois State Police in Chicago reported "slick conditions" and had already responded to six fender benders. The number of accidents reached 12, including a 9-car-crash on the Kennedy Expressway, after 6 a.m.


It's unclear if any of the crashes resulted in injuries, and Illinois State Police aren't responding to crashes where no one is injured and the car or truck is still drivable.


The snow should fall through the morning rush hour, though not much more than an inch – if that – is expected.


“We’re not looking for much to accumulate – up to an inch at worst, with high (temperatures) in the mid to upper 20s,” Izzi said. “Something like this wouldn’t be newsworthy if it wasn’t for the fact it hasn’t snowed all year.”


The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation deployed almost 200 of its 284 plow trucks to clear streets of snow and apply salt to the roads.


"We’re going to be monitoring the weather but at this point we’re looking at snow fall at least through the rush hour," said Anne Sheahan, spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation.


An inch of snow today would end the 335-day streak but failing that, it would likely extend into next week, Izzi said.


"We don’t have much of a chance of snow for the next five or six days," Izzi said. "If we miss today – today’s our one shot until we get to the middle or end of next week."


Check back for more information.


pnickeas@tribune.com
Twitter: @peternickeas





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North Korea threatens war with South over U.N. sanctions


SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea threatened to attack rival South Korea if Seoul joined a new round of tightened U.N. sanctions, as Washington unveiled more of its own economic restrictions following Pyongyang's rocket launch last month.


In a third straight day of fiery rhetoric, the North directed its verbal onslaught at its neighbor on Friday, saying: "'Sanctions' mean a war and a declaration of war against us."


The reclusive North has this week declared a boycott of all dialogue aimed at ending its nuclear program and vowed to conduct more rocket and nuclear tests after the U.N. Security Council censured it for a December long-range missile launch.


"If the puppet group of traitors takes a direct part in the U.N. 'sanctions,' the DPRK will take strong physical counter-measures against it," the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said, referring to the South.


The committee is the North's front for dealings with the South. DPRK is short for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.


The U.N. Security Council unanimously condemned North Korea's December rocket launch on Tuesday and expanded existing U.N. sanctions.


On Thursday, the United States slapped economic sanctions on two North Korean bank officials and a Hong Kong trading company that it accused of supporting Pyongyang's proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.


The company, Leader (Hong Kong) International Trading Ltd, was separately blacklisted by the United Nations on Wednesday.


Seoul has said it will look at whether there are any further sanctions that it can implement alongside the United States, but said the focus for now is to follow Security Council resolutions.


The resolution said the council "deplores the violations" by North Korea of its previous resolutions, which banned Pyongyang from conducting further ballistic missile and nuclear tests and from importing materials and technology for those programs. It does not impose new sanctions on Pyongyang.


The United States had wanted to punish North Korea for the rocket launch with a Security Council resolution that imposed entirely new sanctions against Pyongyang, but Beijing rejected that option. China agreed to U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang after North Korea's 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.


NUCLEAR TEST WORRY


North Korea's rhetoric this week amounted to some of the angriest outbursts against the outside world coming under the leadership of Kim Jong-un, who took over after the death of his father Kim Jong-il in late 2011.


On Thursday, the North said it would carry out further rocket launches and a nuclear test, directing its ire at the United States, a country it called its "sworn enemy".


U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the comments were worrying.


"We are very concerned with North Korea's continuing provocative behavior," he said at a Pentagon news conference.


"We are fully prepared ... to deal with any kind of provocation from the North Koreans. But I hope in the end that they determine that it is better to make a choice to become part of the international family."


North Korea is not believed to have the technology to deliver a nuclear warhead capable of hitting the continental United States, although its December launch showed it had the capacity to deliver a rocket that could travel 10,000 km (6,200 miles), potentially putting San Francisco in range, according to an intelligence assessment by South Korea.


South Korea and others who have been closely observing activities at the North's known nuclear test grounds believe Pyongyang is technically ready to go ahead with its third atomic test and awaiting the political decision of its leader.


The North's committee also declared on Friday that a landmark agreement it signed with the South in 1992 on eliminating nuclear weapons from the Korean peninsula was invalid, repeating its long-standing accusation that Seoul was colluding with Washington.


The foreign ministry of China, the North's sole remaining major diplomatic and economic benefactor, repeated its call for calm on the Korean peninsula at its daily briefing on Friday.


"The current situation on the Korea peninsula is complicated and sensitive," spokesman Hong Lei said.


"We hope all relevant parties can see the big picture, maintain calm and restraint, further maintain contact and dialogue, and improve relations, while not taking actions to further complicate and escalate the situation," Hong said.


But unusually prickly comments in Chinese state media on Friday hinted at Beijing's exasperation.


"It seems that North Korea does not appreciate China's efforts," said the Global Times in an editorial, a sister publication of the official People's Daily.


"Just let North Korea be 'angry' ... China hopes for a stable peninsula, but it's not the end of the world if there's trouble there. This should be the baseline of China's position."


(Additional reporting by Michael Martina in Beijing; editing by Jeremy Laurence and Raju Gopalakrishnan)



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Stock futures drop as Apple revenue miss to halt stocks rally


NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock index futures fell Thursday as Apple slid nearly 10 percent following a revenue miss, and analysts said equities may be due for a pullback after a six-day rally for the S&P 500.


Apple Inc missed Wall Street's revenue forecast for a third straight quarter after iPhone sales came in below expectations, fanning fears its dominance of consumer electronics is slipping. The shares dropped 8.8 percent to $468.64 in premarket trading, wiping out about $50 billion of its market value.


However, some positive economic news looked set to put a floor under stock prices. Growth in Chinese manufacturing accelerated to a two-year high this month and a buoyant Germany took the euro zone economy a step closer to recovery, business surveys showed on Thursday.


"The march to 1,500 on the S&P is looking quite strong, the question is will Apple be the spoiler?" said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New York.


"My guess is that while Nasdaq might suffer losses today, both the Dow and the S&P may do otherwise based on economic news out of China and Europe."


The S&P 500 rose for a sixth day on Wednesday after stronger-than-expected profits from IBM and Google . But Apple could now halt that rally, which had lifted stocks to five-year highs.


S&P 500 futures fell 3.7 point and were below fair value, a formula that evaluates pricing by taking into account interest rates, dividends and time to expiration on the contract. Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 15 points and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 34.75 points.


Apple's disappointing results drew a round of price-target cuts from brokerages. At least seven brokerages, including Barclays Capital, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank, cut their price target on the stock by $142 on average to $617.80. Morgan Stanley removed the stock from its 'best ideas' list.


Helping the Dow industrials, diversified U.S. manufacturer 3M Co reported a 3.9 percent rise in profit on solid growth in sales of its wide array of products, which range from Post-It notes to films used in television screens. The shares rose 0.7 percent in premarket trading.


Corporate earnings have helped drive the recent stock market rally. Thomson Reuters data through Wednesday showed that of the 99 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings, 67.7 percent have exceeded expectations, above the 65 percent average over the past four quarters.


Investors in U.S.-based mutual funds pumped $9.32 billion into stock funds in the week ended January 16, the second consecutive week of inflows for such funds, data from the Investment Company Institute showed Wednesday.


Netflix Inc surprised Wall Street Wednesday with a quarterly profit after the video subscription service added nearly 4 million customers in the U.S. and abroad. Shares jumped nearly 40 percent in premarket trading.


Removing another element of political uncertainty from markets, the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a Republican plan to allow the federal government to keep borrowing money through mid-May, clearing it for fast enactment after the top Senate Democrat and White House endorsed it.


(Editing by Bernadette Baum)



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NCAA announces problems with Miami investigation


CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — The NCAA's probe of Miami's athletic compliance practices is ramping up yet again.


Only this time, the Hurricanes aren't exactly the subject of the inquiry.


In a bizarre twist, it's college sports' governing body itself that is being investigated after NCAA President Mark Emmert acknowledged on Wednesday "a very severe issue of improper conduct" by former investigators working the long, complex Miami case.


The NCAA said its investigation was based, at least in part, on information that it should not have had access to, the testimony of those who appeared under subpoena to be deposed in the bankruptcy case involving former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro, one of the most notorious Ponzi scheme architects in history.


The NCAA does not have subpoena power. Shapiro's attorney did, and used it — and apparently entered into some sort of contractual agreement with the NCAA, one that apparently either was not or should never have been approved.


"We cannot have the NCAA bringing forward an allegation ... that was collected by processes none of us could stand for," Emmert said. "We're going to move it as fast as possible, but we have to get this right."


Wednesday's revelations mean that the notice of allegations against Miami — the NCAA's findings of wrongdoing, a document that was nearly completed and was expected to be released by the end of this week — will be delayed for at least a couple more weeks, if not longer. The long-term ramifications could be more damning for the NCAA, especially if the outside investigator they have commissioned to look into the mess finds more problems.


The NCAA did not name the attorney involved, whom Emmert only referred to as "she." The NCAA said it would not confirm that it was Maria Elena Perez, a Miami graduate and Shapiro's longtime defense attorney.


Perez did not respond to telephone or email messages. A person in her office said the attorney was working in New York and would be forwarded requests for comment.


"As we have done since the beginning, we will continue to work with the NCAA and now with their outside investigator hoping for a swift resolution of the investigation and our case," Miami President Donna Shalala said.


Emmert said two depositions are involved in this allegation of improper conduct by former enforcement-office staffers. One of those two depositions was given Dec. 19, 2011, by former Miami equipment-room staffer Sean Allen — who has been linked to Shapiro and many of the allegations that he made against the university.


Among the questions Allen was asked in that deposition:


— "Did you ever witness Mr. Shapiro paying any money to any University of Miami football or basketball players?"


— "Would it be fair to say that Mr. Shapiro did, in fact, confer various financial benefits on the University of Miami Athletic Program and its players?"


— "Did you ever overhear any of the coaches or any other staff for the University of Miami providing Mr. Shapiro with inside information regarding, you know, the condition of any particular athlete for the purposes of Mr. Shapiro's gambling?"


It's unknown which of Allen's answers caught the NCAA investigators' attention.


What is known publicly now, and has been suspected by some for months, is that those investigators never should have known those questions were asked.


"How in the world can you get this far without it being recognized that this was an inappropriate way to proceed?" Emmert asked.


That's the question that the NCAA wants answered, and fast.


Emmert spoke angrily at times during a half-hour conference call to discuss the findings, in which he revealed that he briefed the NCAA's executive committee and the Division I board presidents with some information about the Miami matter. He said he developed a better understanding of what went on in the days that followed, which led to the hiring of Kenneth L. Wainstein of the firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP to conduct the external review of what happened.


Wainstein, Emmert said, will begin his probe on Thursday, with the NCAA hoping that he can finish within two weeks.


"We want to make sure that any evidence that's brought forward is appropriately collected and it has the integrity that we expect and demand," Emmert said.


It was part of a stunning day for Hurricane athletics: The 25th-ranked men's basketball team routed No. 1 Duke later Wednesday, 90-63.


Emmert said the NCAA was trying to find out why part of the investigation was based on depositions specific to the bankruptcy case against Shapiro, who will have to repay $82.7 million to his victims as part of his sentence. And the timing of this also is curious. Several people who were to be named in the NCAA's notice of allegations against Miami have been told that the document was in the final stages of preparation — and one person who spoke with the AP said at least one person who was to have faced a charge of wrongdoing was told the letter was scheduled for delivery to Miami on Tuesday.


Now it's anyone's guess when that will happen.


Emmert said the NCAA learned of the alleged misconduct, in part, through legal bills presented by Shapiro's attorney for work that was not properly approved by the organization's general counsel's office.


"One of the questions that has to be answered, unequivocally, is what was the nature of that contractual arrangement and what was all the activity that that individual was involved with," Emmert said. "There is some uncertainty about all of that and it's one of the first orders of business for the firm that we've hired to investigate."


The Hurricanes' athletic compliance practices have been probed by the NCAA for nearly two years. Allegations of wrongdoing involving Miami's football and men's basketball programs became widely known in August 2011 when Yahoo Sports published accusations brought by Shapiro, who is serving a 20-year term in federal prison for masterminding a $930 million Ponzi scheme.


Miami has self-imposed two football postseason bans in response to the investigation. The Hurricanes also would have played in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game this past season, meaning they could have qualified for the Orange Bowl.


"In my two-and-a-half years I've certainly never seen anything like this, and don't want to see it again," Emmert said.


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Adelie penguins: cool, efficient killing machines






TOKYO (Reuters) – Fish of the Antarctic, be very afraid. There’s an unlikely stealth predator on the loose – Adelie penguins.


Forget their ungainly waddling on land or comical bobbing at the ocean’s surface. As soon as these penguins dive into the icy Antarctic ocean, they become calculating, efficient killing machines, say Japanese researchers.






“You could say the penguins have an amazing stealth mode,” said Yuuki Watanabe, a researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Polar Research. “They’re great at sneaking up on their prey and taking them unaware.”


Watanabe this week released footage recorded in December 2010 showing a bird’s eye view of a hunt for fish and small crustaceans called krill, captured using a small video camera strapped to the backs of more than a dozen penguins.


“The krill wiggle their bodies about, they clearly make an attempt to swim off at full speed and escape,” Watanabe said of his findings, published in the U.S.-based Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week.


“But that doesn’t make the slightest difference to the penguins. They just gobble up the krill that are trying to get away and swallow them whole.”


Using the “penguin cams,” which were set to automatically switch on when a penguin entered the water and shoot for 90 minutes, Watanabe and his team were able to capture the secrets of penguins on the hunt.


Additional information came from two accelerometers strapped to each bird that measured its head and body movements to calculate how fast it devoured its prey.


“We didn’t really know if the penguins caught krill one-by-one. I’d thought that maybe they just got into their stomachs when they were after some other prey,” Watanabe said. “But when we saw the footage it turned out the penguins were doing just that, eating these tiny little creatures one after the other.”


Not only that, the penguins didn’t swim randomly but hung poised on the edge of the ice until a thick swarm neared, then swooped into the water. Footage showed a penguin zooming under the ice and then deeper, its head snapping rapidly up as it fed.


The krill killing-rate was both fast and efficient. The penguins gobbled an average of two krill per second when the krill were clustered in swarms, a much faster rate than under general hunting conditions when the penguins consumed about 244 krill in roughly 90 minutes.


“I was so happy when I got the footage of a penguin going straight into a swarm of krill and gorging itself,” Watanabe said.


Penguin research completed, Watanabe now aims to repeat the same exercise with sharks.


(Writing by Elaine Lies, Editing by Michael Perry)


Science News Headlines – Yahoo! News





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Meet today's most ambitious women




STORY HIGHLIGHTS


  • Report: Women in Brazil, Russia, India and China more ambitious than U.S. counterparts

  • Extended families, affordable childcare makes it easier for mothers to work, says author

  • Eldercare and "daughterly guilt" are a more significant barrier than in Western world

  • Women report: Assertiveness not considered feminine in China and India




Editor's note: Sylvia Ann Hewlett is an economist and the founding president of the Center for Talent Innovation, a Manhattan-based think tank where she chairs the Task Force for Talent Innovation, a task force of more than 70 global companies focused on fully realizing the new stream of talent in the global marketplace.


New York (CNN) -- The rapid growth in emerging markets over the past decade has made them fertile ground for the development of new approaches to attracting and managing talent.


Among the biggest beneficiaries: Ambitious, educated women in Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC). Following the trend in developed nations, BRIC women are graduating from university at rates equal to or exceeding men. As they enter the professional workforce in their home countries, these women have an unparalleled opportunity to leapfrog their Western counterparts.


Research from the think tank I set up, Center for Talent Innovation, shows that their career ambitions and commitment overwhelm those of women in the U.S.



Their career ambitions and commitment overwhelm those of women in the U.S.
Sylvia Ann Hewlett



In my book, "Winning the War for Talent in Emerging Markets: Why Women are the Solution," written with Ripa Rashid, we say some 76% of Chinese women, 80% of Brazilian women, and a whopping 86% of Indian women aspire to the top job, compared to only 52% of their U.S. counterparts. Over 80% in Brazil, Russia and India love their jobs, versus 70% in the U.S.


Yet their promising futures too often are derailed by family-rooted "pulls" and workplace-centered "pushes."


Although childcare is one of the most common career killers for women in the United States and Western Europe, it is rarely a serious problem in the emerging markets. Parents and in-laws frequently live nearby and are willing to pitch in to help care for their grandchildren. Nannies and household help are, for the most part, affordable and readily available.


Instead, BRIC women confront a series of family and social pressures that pile onto women when they marry, ratchet up after they have children, and become almost crushing as their parents and in-laws get older.


Eldercare is a ticking time bomb, especially in countries where filial piety is tightly woven into the cultural value system.


Although elders today represent a net benefit to the female career professional in BRIC markets, demographic projections a huge leap in the percentage of the population over 60.


This dramatic shift will land squarely on professional women. While many women in our sample did not have children, the vast majority -- 81% -- do have eldercare responsibilities. "Daughterly guilt," already substantial across the BRICs, actually exceeds maternal guilt in India and China.



Gender bias remains an indisputable reality of the workplace
Sylvia Ann Hewlett



In spite of the tremendous gains in women's status in the BRICs over the past two decades, gender bias remains an indisputable reality of the workplace.


In India and China, over 25% of CTI survey respondents believe women are treated unfairly in the workplace owing to their gender; in India, the number is 45%.


More than half of educated women in India and nearly half of their counterparts in China have encountered bias severe enough to make them consider scaling back their career goals -- or quitting altogether. (Russia is the exception, in part owing to a Communist legacy that integrated women into the workplace better than elsewhere in today's emerging markets.)


Even a sizable percentage of men agree that women are treated unfairly because of their gender.


The most commonly encountered types of bias involve lingering stereotypes about women's abilities and commitment to work.


These deeply rooted prejudices can impact women's careers in a range of ways, from curtailed assignments to smaller salaries to penalties for taking maternity leave.


Women also have to fight cultural stereotypes that bar them from coveted assignments. More than half of the women surveyed are interested in international assignments, with most seeing them as critical to their career advancement.


Yet because it's assumed that a woman's responsibilities are to her home, and that her husband and children will take precedence over commitment to her career, she is often passed over in favor of a man.



Employers who wish to maximize their potential need to understand (women's) complicated career dynamics.
Sylvia Ann Hewlett



But assertiveness can be difficult for women brought up in cultures that place great value on women's submissiveness and reticence, as in India and China, or consider it a trait that detracts from women's essential femininity.


Many women surveyed felt crippled by this cultural bind, a sense further reinforced by the absence of senior female role models, mentors, sponsors and access to leadership training. Time and again, the women spoke of how hungry they are for more support from their employers and how much they would benefit from programs that would help them break out of their shells.


A nuanced understanding of the cultural and social influences is essential to doing business effectively anywhere, yet the "think global, act local" mantra that is the cornerstone of many successful business strategies rarely extends to managing talented women in emerging markets.


Employers who wish to maximize their potential need to understand their complicated career dynamics.


Only by creating policies and practices that enable ambitious, educated women to flourish will companies ensure that the tomorrow's leaders get the skills and support they need today.







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Bridgeport warehouse fire rekindles













Fire rekindles at warehouse gutted by blaze earlier this week.


Fire rekindles at warehouse gutted by blaze earlier this week.
(WGN-TV / January 24, 2013)


























































Flames have rekindled this morning at a Bridgeport warehouse that was gutted by a massive extra-alarm fire earlier this week.


Fire officials had expected the fire to start up again because of the magnitude of the 5-11 alarm blaze and the old timber in the warehouse, according to Chicago Fire Department spokeswoman Meg Ahlheim.


"We expected it. We have companies working there again," she said. "We were working there well into yesterday." 





The initial fire broke out at the former Harris Marcus Group building at 3757 S. Ashland Ave. Tuesday evening. Extra alarms were quickly called as the fire spread throughout the warehouse and the roof collapsed and the more than 200 firefighters contended with frozen hydrants and icy ladders.

Chicago Fire Cmsr. Jose Santiago said the fire was Chicago's largest in seven years. "This was a very large fire, unbelievable fire load, a lot of wood, timber, old stuff, varnish," Santiago said on the scene. "Once it caught, it caught and ran.

"Everything is wood inside these buildings, beautiful fa├žades on the outside. They've been up for a long time. When they start burning like this, they start coming down," Santiago said.




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North Korea to target U.S. with nuclear, rocket tests


SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said on Thursday it would carry out further rocket launches and a nuclear test that would target the United States, dramatically stepping up its threats against a country it called its "sworn enemy".


The announcement by the country's top military body came a day after the U.N. Security Council agreed to a U.S.-backed resolution to censure and sanction North Korea for a rocket launch in December that breached U.N. rules.


"We are not disguising the fact that the various satellites and long-range rockets that we will fire and the high-level nuclear test we will carry out are targeted at the United States," North Korea's National Defence Commission said, according to state news agency KCNA.


North Korea is believed by South Korea and other observers to be "technically ready" for a third nuclear test, and the decision to go ahead rests with leader Kim Jong-un who pressed ahead with the December rocket launch in defiance of the U.N. sanctions.


China, the one major diplomatic ally of the isolated and impoverished North, agreed to the U.S.-backed resolution and it also supported resolutions in 2006 and 2009 after Pyongyang's two earlier nuclear tests.


Thursday's statement by North Korea represents a huge challenge to Beijing as it undergoes a leadership transition with Xi Jinping due to take office in March.


China's Foreign Ministry called for calm and restraint and a return to six-party talks, but effectively singled out North Korea, urging the "relevant party" not to take any steps that would raise tensions.


"We hope the relevant party can remain calm and act and speak in a cautious and prudent way and not take any steps which may further worsen the situation," ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters at a regular press briefing.


North Korea has rejected proposals to restart the talks aimed at reining in its nuclear capacity. The United States, China, Russia, Japan and the two Koreas are the six parties involved.


"After all these years and numerous rounds of six-party talks we can see that China's influence over North Korea is actually very limited. All China can do is try to persuade them not to carry out their threats," said Cai Jian, an expert on Korea at Fudan University in Shanghai.


Analysts said the North could test as early as February as South Korea prepares to install a new, untested president or that it could choose to stage a nuclear explosion to coincide with former ruler Kim Jong-il's Feb 16 birthday.


"North Korea will have felt betrayed by China for agreeing to the latest U.N. resolution and they might be targeting (China) as well (with this statement)," said Lee Seung-yeol, senior research fellow at Ewha Institute of Unification Studies in Seoul.


U.S. URGES NO TEST


Washington urged North Korea not to proceed with a third test just as the North's statement was published on Thursday.


"Whether North Korea tests or not is up to North Korea," Glyn Davies, the top U.S. envoy for North Korean diplomacy, said in the South Korean capital of Seoul.


"We hope they don't do it. We call on them not to do it," Davies said after a meeting with South Korean officials. "This is not a moment to increase tensions on the Korean peninsula."


The North was banned from developing missile and nuclear technology under sanctions dating from its 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests.


A South Korean military official said the concern now is that Pyongyang could undertake a third nuclear test using highly enriched uranium for the first time, opening a second path to a bomb.


North Korea's 2006 nuclear test using plutonium produced a puny yield equivalent to one kiloton of TNT - compared with 13-18 kilotons for the Hiroshima bomb - and U.S. intelligence estimates put the 2009 test's yield at roughly two kilotons


North Korea is estimated to have enough fissile material for about a dozen plutonium warheads, although estimates vary, and intelligence reports suggest that it has been enriching uranium to supplement that stock and give it a second path to the bomb.


According to estimates from the Institute for Science and International Security from late 2012, North Korea could have enough weapons grade uranium for 21-32 nuclear weapons by 2016 if it used one centrifuge at its Yongbyon nuclear plant to enrich uranium to weapons grade.


North Korea gave no time-frame for the coming test and often employs harsh rhetoric in response to U.N. and U.S. actions that it sees as hostile.


Its long-range rockets are not seen as capable of reaching the United States mainland and it is not believed to have the technology to mount a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile.


The bellicose statement on Thursday appeared to dent any remaining hopes that Kim Jong-un, believed to be 30 years old, would pursue a different path from his father Kim Jong-il, who oversaw the country's military and nuclear programs.


The older Kim died in December 2011.


"The UNSC (Security Council) resolution masterminded by the U.S. has brought its hostile policy towards the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (North Korea) to its most dangerous stage," the commission was quoted as saying.


(Additional reporting by Christine Kim in SEOUL, Ben Blanchard and Sui-Lee Wee in Beijing; Writing by David Chance; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)



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