Stocks end higher for sixth straight week, tech leads

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Nasdaq composite stock index closed at a 12-year high and the S&P 500 index at a five-year high, boosted by gains in technology shares and stronger overseas trade figures.

The S&P 500 also posted a sixth straight week of gains for the first time since August.

The technology sector led the day's gains, with the S&P 500 technology index <.splrct> up 1.0 percent. Gains in professional network platform LinkedIn Corp and AOL Inc after they reported quarterly results helped the sector.

Shares of LinkedIn jumped 21.3 percent to $150.48 after the social networking site announced strong quarterly profits and gave a bullish forecast for the year.

AOL Inc shares rose 7.4 percent to $33.72 after the online company reported higher quarterly profit, boosted by a 13 percent rise in advertising sales.

Data showed Chinese exports grew more than expected, a positive sign for the global economy. The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in December, suggesting the U.S. economy likely grew in the fourth quarter instead of contracting slightly as originally reported by the U.S. government.

"That may have sent a ray of optimism," said Fred Dickson, chief market strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Trading volume on Friday was below average for the week as a blizzard swept into the northeastern United States.

The U.S. stock market has posted strong gains since the start of the year, with the S&P 500 up 6.4 percent since December 31. The advance has slowed in recent days, with fourth-quarter earnings winding down and few incentives to continue the rally on the horizon.

"I think we're in the middle of a trading range and I'd put plus or minus 5.0 percent around it. Fundamental factors are best described as neutral," Dickson said.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> ended up 48.92 points, or 0.35 percent, at 13,992.97. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> was up 8.54 points, or 0.57 percent, at 1,517.93. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> was up 28.74 points, or 0.91 percent, at 3,193.87, its highest closing level since November 2000.

For the week, the Dow was down 0.1 percent, the S&P 500 was up 0.3 percent and the Nasdaq up 0.5 percent.

Shares of Dell closed at $13.63, up 0.7 percent, after briefly trading above a buyout offering price of $13.65 during the session.

Dell's largest independent shareholder, Southeastern Asset Management, said it plans to oppose the buyout of the personal computer maker, setting up a battle for founder Michael Dell.

Signs of economic strength overseas buoyed sentiment on Wall Street. Chinese exports grew more than expected in January, while imports climbed 28.8 percent, highlighting robust domestic demand. German data showed a 2012 surplus that was the nation's second highest in more than 60 years, an indication of the underlying strength of Europe's biggest economy.

Separately, U.S. economic data showed the trade deficit shrank in December to $38.5 billion, its narrowest in nearly three years, indicating the economy did much better in the fourth quarter than initially estimated.

Earnings have mostly come in stronger than expected since the start of the reporting period. Fourth-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies now are estimated up 5.2 percent versus a year ago, according to Thomson Reuters data. That contrasts with a 1.9 percent growth forecast at the start of the earnings season.

Molina Healthcare Inc surged 10.4 percent to $31.88 as the biggest boost to the index after posting fourth-quarter earnings.

The CBOE Volatility index <.vix>, Wall Street's so-called fear gauge, was down 3.6 percent at 13.02. The gauge, a key measure of market expectations of short-term volatility, generally moves inversely to the S&P 500.

"I'm watching the 14 level closely" on the CBOE Volatility index, said Bryan Sapp, senior trading analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research. "The break below it at the beginning of the year signaled the sharp rally in January, and a rally back above it could be a sign to exercise some caution."

Volume was roughly 5.6 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT, compared with the 2012 average daily closing volume of about 6.45 billion.

Advancers outpaced decliners on the NYSE by nearly 2 to 1 and on the Nasdaq by almost 5 to 3.

(Additional reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Nick Zieminski, Kenneth Barry and Andrew Hay)

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Northeast storm disrupts travel for sports teams

Several professional and college sports teams were forced to rearrange their travel plans as a massive storm swept through the Northeast, dumping a few feet of snow in some areas.

The NBA's New York Knicks were stuck in Minnesota after playing the Timberwolves on Friday night, hoping to try to fly home sometime Saturday. The San Antonio Spurs were also staying overnight in Detroit after seeing their 11-game winning streak fall to the Pistons, awaiting word on when they might be able to fly to New York for their game Sunday night at Brooklyn.

"We can't get there tonight — we know that," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "So we're going to stay here tonight and try to get there (Saturday). Hopefully, we will be able to get there, but at this point, we don't know."

Airlines canceled more than 5,300 flights through Saturday, and New York City's three major airports and Boston's Logan Airport closed.

The Brooklyn Nets planned to take a train home instead of flying from Washington D.C. after losing to the Wizards on Friday night.

Knicks coach Mike Woodson said before a 100-94 victory that his team initially planned to fly home after the game, but the flight had already been postponed. New York is scheduled to play the Los Angeles Clippers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

The NHL's Boston Bruins pushed back the start of Saturday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning by six hours because of the blizzard. The game originally slated for 1 p.m. was rescheduled for 7 p.m., but Boston was expected to be one of the cities hit hardest by the storm.

The storm had dumped more than 2 feet of snow on New England by early Saturday and knocked out power to 650,000 customers. The National Weather Service said up to 3 feet of snow is expected in Boston, threatening the city's 2003 record of 27.6 inches.

The Bruins and Lightning each already had road games scheduled for Sunday night.

The New Jersey Devils were still scheduled to host the Pittsburgh Penguins at 1 p.m., while the New York Islanders were slated to play at home against the Buffalo Sabres at 7 p.m.

Two Ivy League men's college basketball games that were scheduled for Saturday night were moved back to Sunday because of treacherous travel conditions.

Dartmouth will play at Cornell at noon on Sunday in Ithaca, N.Y., and Harvard will visit Columbia at 2 p.m. Sunday in New York. Dartmouth played at Columbia on Friday night, and Harvard played at Cornell. Two other Ivy League games were still scheduled to be played Saturday night, with Yale visiting Princeton and Brown playing at Pennsylvania.

Aqueduct also called off Saturday's card because of the storm. The track and Belmont Park were expected to remain open for wagering on out-of-town races, with racing scheduled to resume Sunday.

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How Obama can end Congo conflict

Conflict in Congo

Conflict in Congo

Conflict in Congo

Conflict in Congo

Conflict in Congo


  • President Obama can help end the Congo conflict for good, says Vava Tampa

  • Obama has asked Rwanda to end all support to armed groups in the Congo

  • FDLR militia gang is a threat to stability and must leave Congo

  • Obama must push for change in Congolese government, argues Tampa

Editor's note: Vava Tampa is the founder of Save the Congo, a London-based campaign to tackle "the impunity, insecurity, institutional failure and the international trade of minerals funding the wars in Democratic Republic of the Congo." Follow Vava Tampa on twitter: @VavaTampa

(CNN) -- Now that President Obama has taken a public stand on the warlords and militia gangs tyrannizing DR Congo, there is a sense that the next chapter in the human tragedy that has been raging there over the past decade and half is about to be written -- or so we can hope.

In the DRC -- Africa's largest sub-Saharan country -- invasions, proxy wars and humanitarian crises have senselessly shut down millions of lives, displaced millions more from their homes and left countless women and young girls brutally raped with the world barely raising an eyebrow.

The latest murderous attempt by the M23 militia gang to besiege Goma, the strategic regional capital of Congo's eastern province of North Kivu, seems to have backfired.

Vava Tampa

Vava Tampa

The United Nations says Rwanda has helped to create and militarily supported M23. Although Rwandan President Paul Kagame denies backing M23, the accusation has taken off some of the international gloss he had long enjoyed in the West, and precipitated cuts and suspension of aid money that goes directly to the Kagame regime by the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Britain and the European Union.

The United States, which gives no money directly to the Rwandan government, suspended its military aid. In a baffling expression of a refinement of the U.S. position, President Obama made a rare telephone call to Kagame to emphasize "the importance of permanently ending all support to armed groups in the DRC." That set a firm red line on the situation in that region, the first one by President Obama since becoming president in 2008.

Watch video: Kagame on Congo

This was certainly right and good. Kagame is no fool; the diplomatic but emphatic content of that telephone call, monitored by White House's National Security staff and published thereafter for public consumption, speaks volumes. He clearly understood the implicit threat. But it was not good enough.

Left unsaid is that withholding aid money that goes directly to the Kagame regime has not changed many realities on the ground -- a painful reminder of the limits of what previous half-hearted, ambivalent international attempts to halt the crisis in that country had achieved.

However, the situation is not hopeless. President Obama can help to halt the wars engulfing the Congo. It is both economically and politically affordable.

Here is my suggestion -- a three-point road map, if you like, for President Obama, should he choose to put the weight of the United States squarely on the side of the Congolese and engage much more robustly to help end the world's bloodiest war and human tragedy.

Read more: Why the world is ignoring Congo war

1. Changes in Kinshasa

If we are to be blunt with ourselves, Congo's major problem today -- the chief reason that country remains on its knees -- is its president Joseph Kabila. Paul Kagame is just a symptom, at least in theory.

The crisis of leadership in the capital Kinshasa, the disastrous blend of lack of political legitimacy and moral authority, mixed with poor governance and vision deficiency, then compounded with dilapidated state institutions, has become the common denominator to the ills and wrongs that continues to overwhelm the Congo.

In other words, peace will never be secured in Congo, if the moribund status quo is still strutting around Kinshasa.

Obama's minimum objective in regard to ending the wars and human tragedy engulfing the Congo should be to push for changes in Kinshasa. He must make this one of the "10 Commandments" of the Obama Doctrine.

Circumstances demand it to re-energize Congo's chance of success and to enable the renaissance of a "New Africa." And given the effects of Congo's mounting death toll and the speed at which HIV/AIDS is spreading because of the use of rape as a weapon of war, the sooner the better.

2. Keep Kagame in the naughty corner

The wars and human tragedy engulfing the Congo have many fathers and many layers. Rwanda, and to some extent Uganda -- run by Africa's two dearest autocratic but staunchly pro-American regimes -- are, as they have been many times in the past, despite their denials, continuing to provide support to warlords and militia gangs terrorizing the Congolese people.

This is not an apocryphal claim, it's an open secret in Kinshasa, Kampala and Kigali as much as it is in Washington or White Hall, and as real as Charles Taylor's role in Sierra Leone or Iran's support to Hezbollah.

If President Obama is remotely serious about saving lives in Congo, then fracturing Rwanda's ability to directly or indirectly harbor warlords ... is critical.
Vava Tampa, Save the Congo

Indeed, reporters across Congo and across the region would testify to this. Kigali has been, one can safely argue, the sole shareholder in the M23 militia gang -- and its elder sisters CNDP and RCD-Goma.

It cannot wash its hands in Pontius Pilate fashion of either the ICC-wanted M23 warlord Bosco Ntaganda, also known as The Terminator, or Laurent Nkunda, who is wanted by the Congolese government for war crimes and is under house arrest in Kigali.

Read more: Prosecutor seeks new Congo war crimes warrants

If President Obama is remotely serious about saving lives in Congo, then fracturing Rwanda's ability to directly or indirectly harbor warlords, support militia gangs, militarize or ethnicize the wars in Congo for control of Congo's easily appropriable but highly valuable natural resources is critical, however politically disgruntling it may be to some in the State Department.

It would reduce the scale, scope and intensity of the killing, raping and uprooting of the Congolese, it would crush Kinshasa's ability to use external support to warlords and militia gangs as an alibi for a lack of progress and, above all, decrease the growing unease of the Congolese towards Rwanda over the crimes of FDLR and the role played by their government in Congo.


The continued existence in Congo of FDLR, a Rwandan militia gang made up largely of Hutus -- whose leadership took part in the 1994 genocide of Tutsi -- remains one of the most persistent and serious threats to stability in Congo and the region.

Addressing this crisis is of significant importance from both a political and humanitarian viewpoint.

Though there are no definitive statistics on the exact numbers of FDLR fighters, the good news is that experts tell us that the vast majority of its rank and file are in their 20s and early 30s, which means they were too young to have taken part in the genocide in 1994.

The United States, together with the U.N., the EU and African Union, should appoint a special envoy for the African Great Lakes region to midwife a conducive political arrangement in Kigali that could see them returning home -- and see their leaders and fundraisers in Europe arrested.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Vava Tampa.

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Hadiya Pendleton funeral: 'God is our refuge'

The funeral of slain teen Hadiya Pendleton began today amid large crowds, long lines and heavy security prompted by the attendance of first lady Michelle Obama.

While family and friends kept the focus on the 15-year-old girl who was shot dead in a South Side park, the first lady's appearance inevitably brought attention to anti-gun efforts nationwide.

Hadiya's pastor, Courtney C. Maxwell from the Greater Deliverance Temple Church of Christ, opened the services about 11:15 a.m. after a heart-shaped balloon was placed near her casket.
He thanked everyone for being at the Greater Harvest Baptist Church, including elected officials. “The family says thank you and God bless you.’’ He asked for round of applause for the Pendleton family.
“Only God can keep you and strengthen you, for God is our refuge and our strength,’’ the pastor said. 

The pastor said Hadiya was “genuine and real.’’

“She was energetic, loved music, loved the arts,’’ the pastor said.

After the pastor spoke, a female reverend dressed in white addressed the crowd and a choir behind her began singing.

“Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted,’’ she said, as the choir sang after her.

Another man, who identified himself as an assistant pastor of the Life Center church, read from scriptures.

“She is more precious than rubies. … Her ways are of pleasantness,’’ he said.

About 11:30 a.m., Pastor Elder Eric Thomas of the host Greater Harvest Baptist Church spoke to the mourners and described Hadiya as a “beloved angel.’’
“Her life has not been in vain,’’ Thomas said.
A female singer and organist the played a religious song, as about 30 others in the choir, all dress in white, stood and swayed gently from side to side before the large cross that was draped in white.

Hundreds of mourners had lined up early to pay respects to Hadiya, who was a majorette for King College Prep's band and performed during President Barack Obama's inauguration festivities just days before she was slain, shot in the back while hanging out with friends at a North Kenwood neighborhood park.

Thirty minutes before the doors were set to open, hundreds stood waiting in line amid heavy security to get into Greater Harvest Baptist Church in the Washington Park neighborhood, about two miles from where the 15-year-old girl was gunned down last month. Among the groups of high school-age students waiting in the line was the King College Prep majorettes team, who came together in their yellow and black majorette coats.

Guests who were invited by the family were given orange wristbands and were able to enter through a shorter security line. Classmates and friends of Pendleton were given green wristbands and allowed to enter through that same line.

Trinity Dishmon, 40, said her daughter Deja, 15, and Hadiya were close friends in middle school. The two girls stayed in touch and were texting about their upcoming 16th birthdays while Hadiya was in D.C. for the president's inauguration in January.

"Hadiya was a gift to everyone that knew her," Dishmon said, tearing up. "These last 12 days have been unbelievably numbing. It's not six degrees of separation anymore, it's one. It's just unreal."

Dishmon said she feared that the day was less about the teenager and more about a larger issue.

"This is Hadiya's day and should be about her -- not something sensational," Dishmon said. "But maybe by honoring her life we can help make a difference."

Inside the church, Hadiya’s silver casket was placed in the front, surrounded by flowers and two large hearts, one with her picture on it. Behind the casket, a TV screen showed pictures of Hadiya with her family, from birth to her teenage years.

At 9:09 a.m., friends, students and others with wristbands were allowed to file down the aisle to view the body. Her young friends were seated in the front pews, directly behind the casket. Her classmates and friends filled the middle section of the church — 11 rows in all. Members of the Crystal Elegance Majorette squad held on to each other as they filed down the aisle in pairs to view the body.

A funeral director wearing a suit and white gloves came outside at 9:40 a.m. to announce to the hundreds still waiting in line that the church was “at capacity.” Those still in line could come in and view the body, he said, but would have to leave before the services.

The funeral procession arrived at about 9:45 a.m., including three limousines and dozens of cars.

The first lady’s motorcade pulled into the church parking lot at about 10:15 a.m. She went in through a separate side entrance at the rear of the church, stepping directly from a vehicle into the building.

At about the same time, the funeral director came back out and announced to the hundreds still waiting in line that no one else would be allowed inside — not for the viewing or the funeral.

The family filed down the aisle a little after 10 a.m. and viewed the body in the still open casket. The pastor led the procession down the aisle chanting "the Lord is my shepherd" as soft organ music played in the background.

Ushers walked down the aisle handing out tissues, and those without wristbands were asked to give up their seats so that family members could be seated in the sanctuary. Every seat was filled by 9:45 a.m.

Purple, Hadiya’s favorite color, is represented in many of the flowers in the church and the lining of her casket. Ushers handed out a glossy funeral program booklet printed on purple paper. The front cover says "Celebrating The Life Of ... Hadiya Zaymara Pendleton.” Inside are more than 50 photos of Hadiya throughout her life.
Her obituary printed in the booklet describes her work in the church and even her favorite foods: Chinese, cheeseburgers, ice cream and Fig Newtons. It includes tributes from her grandmother, her cousin and an aunt as well as close friends. According to the program, the speakers are to include Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.
The back of the program has a copy of a handwritten note from President Barack Obama: "Dear Cleopatra and Nathaniel, Michelle and I just wanted you to know how heartbroken we are to have heard about Hadiya's passing. We know that no words from us can soothe the pain, but rest assured that we are praying for you, and that we will continue to work as hard as we can to end this senseless violence. God Bless.”

Gov. Pat Quinn entered from the upstairs balcony, went up to greet the family and then stood for a brief moment over the casket, looking at Hadiyah.

Other dignitaries entering the church were Ill. Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Rev. Michael Pfleger, a longtime community activist on the South Side and pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church in Chicago. Rev. Jesse Jackson stood at the front near the casket with members of the family for a while and then took a seat in the audience behind the family. 

Prior to the service, the first lady met privately with about 30 of Hadiya's friends and classmates, and then with members of Hadiya's family, according to a White House official.

Just before the funeral began, the first lady, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle could be seen seated near one another other and near the casket. Colorful bouquets of flowers were placed near the casket.

Michelle Obama, wearing dark blue, was then seen standing, comforting someone, possibly the pastor.

Even after those outside were told they would not be allowed in, many continued to gather around the church's front gate.

Some began to file out, having to hop over the metal barricades to exit the long line.

One man asked the funeral staff member if he could at least have a pamphlet from the funeral before he left.

"Oh sir, those are long gone. They only printed 1,500," the funeral staff member said.

Activists, religious groups and others passed out printed material to those standing in line. Some kept the papers, others were left on the snowy ground as the crowds left.

Michelle Obama's attendance puts Chicago solidly in the middle of a national debate over gun violence that has polarized Congress and forced President Obama to take his gun control initiatives on the road to garner more public support.

The first lady's visit is being seen not only as a gesture of condolence to the family but as part of an effort to draw attention and support for the president's gun initiatives.

But the visit also meant scores of security, police and Secret Service agents, metal detectors and other security measures.

Other dignitaries expected to attend the funeral included Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to Barack Obama.

The church is surrounded by an iron fence and all of the openings -- a pedestrian gate in the front, front and side doors to the church, and a driveway to the north -- are guarded by city police or men in white shirts, ties and long black coats. Chicago police vehicles -- two wagons, a handful of squads and SUVs -- guarded the outside of the church while other vehicles circle the block.

Chicago police staffing the event are wearing dress blues -- a blue overcoat with pockets that allow access to the duty belt, creased navy pants, and a hat.

King College Prep math and engineering teacher Alonzo Hoskins stood quietly in line with others. He said he taught Hadiya in his first-period geometry class, where he now has an empty desk.

"She was full of life," Hoskins said.

Hoskins looked at the sea of people that preceded him in line. "I want to support the family. For me, this isn't about the dignitaries," Hoskins said.

"But I don't know if I'll even get in."

Some waiting in line for the funeral said they didn't know the Pendletons personally but felt some connection to the teenager's death.

Earl Worthington, 51, said his mother was an elementary school teacher in Chicago and would have embraced a driven young student like Hadiya.

“She's the type of girl my mother would have produced in her class,” Worthington said. “I feel a connection to Hadiya's death through my mother. I feel my mother is with her right now in heaven.”

Nate Weathers, 16,  Jeramy Brown, 16, and Antoine Fuller, 15, all stood in line to see their former classmate. The three young men said they attended Carter G. Woodson Middle School with Hadiya.

“This tears me up,” Fuller said. “She was my 7th grade crush.”

Brown described Hadiya as “sweet and innocent.”

“Something like this should have never happened to her,” Brown said.

Police took two men into custody after they got into an altercation near the back of the long line of mourners waiting to get into the church. One man was agitated, complaining about the long wait to get in. A second man confronted him and they began shoving each other before police intervened.

Local and national pool reports contributed.

Twitter: @chicagobreaking 

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Tunisian Islamists rally to show "power of street"

TUNIS (Reuters) - Thousands of Islamists marched in Tunis on Saturday in a show of strength, a day after the funeral of an assassinated secular politician drew the biggest crowds seen on the streets since Tunisia's uprising two years ago.

About 6,000 supporters of the ruling Ennahda movement rallied to back their leader Rachid al-Ghannouchi, who was the target of angry slogans raised by mourners at Friday's mass funeral of Chokri Belaid, a rights lawyer and opposition leader.

"The people want Ennahda again," the Islamists chanted, waving Tunisian and party flags as they marched towards the Interior Ministry on Habib Bourguiba Avenue in the city centre.

The demonstration was dwarfed by the tens of thousands who had turned out in Tunis and other cities to honor Belaid and to protest against the Islamist-led government the day before, shouting slogans that included "We want a new revolution".

Belaid's killing by an unidentified gunman on Wednesday, Tunisia's first such political assassination in decades, has shaken a nation still seeking stability after the overthrow of veteran strongman Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011.

The family of the slain politician has accused Ennahda of responsibility for his killing. The party denies any hand in it.

"We are here to support legitimacy, but if you prefer the power of the street, look at the streets today, we have this power," Lotfi Zitoun, an Ennahda leader, said in a speech to the Islamist demonstrators in Tunis.

Tunisia's political transition has been more peaceful than those in other Arab nations such as Egypt, Libya and Syria, but tensions are running high between Islamists elected to power and liberals who fear the loss of hard-won liberties.


"We have gained things - the freedom of expression, the freedom to meet, to form organizations, parties, to work in the open," said Radhi Nasraoui, a veteran human rights campaigner.

"The problem is that these freedoms are still threatened, and there are attempts (by Islamists) to touch the gains of women," she told Reuters.

After Belaid's death, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali promised to form a non-partisan, technocratic cabinet to run the country until an election could take place, despite complaints from within his own Ennahda party and its two junior non-Islamist coalition partners that he had failed to consult them.

Jebali told France 24 television on Saturday that he would resign if political parties refused to support his proposal, which he said was intended to "save the country from chaos".

The state news agency TAP said the prime minister would unveil his new government next week.

Secular groups have accused the Islamist-led government of a lax response to attacks by ultra-orthodox Salafi Islamists on cinemas, theatres, bars and individuals in recent months.

Prolonged political uncertainty and street unrest could damage an economy that relies on tourism. Unemployment and other economic grievances fuelled the revolt against Ben Ali in 2011.

Tunisia's stock exchange has fallen 3.32 percent since Belaid's assassination.

France, the former colonial power, ordered its schools in Tunis to stay closed on Friday and Saturday, warning its nationals to stay clear of potential flashpoints in the capital.

Some of the Islamist demonstrators shouted "France, out", in response to remarks by French Interior Minister Manuel Valls which were rejected by Jebali, the prime minister, on Friday.

"We must support all those who fight to maintain values and remain aware of the dangers of despotism, of Islamism that threatened those values today through obscurantism," Valls had said on Europe 1 radio on Thursday in comments on Tunisia.

"There is an Islamic fascism which is on the rise in many places."

Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem described Valls's remarks as "worrying and unfriendly".

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Market rises on data but caution settles on Wall Street

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks edged higher on Friday, with the benchmark S&P index hitting a five-year high after a batch of positive economic reports, but gains were capped as investors grew cautious about a further advance.

Data showing stronger international trade from China and Germany and a report showing a smaller U.S. trade deficit in December were seen as encouraging signs of global demand.

Among stocks on the rise, the technology sector was boosted by gains in LinkedIn Corp and AOL Inc following their quarterly results.

The S&P 500 <.spx>, up 6.3 percent for the year, is on track for six straight weeks of gains. But the index has found it tougher to climb in recent days as investors await strong trading incentives to drive it further upward.

"We are going to have this churn and this consolidation, which actually isn't a bad thing," said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O'Neil Securities in New York.

The market is building a base by consolidating and showing less volatility, he said.

"If it builds a base, from there it is easier to make the argument that you move ahead," Polcari said.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> was up 34.83 points, or 0.25 percent, at 13,978.88. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> was up 6.06 points, or 0.40 percent, at 1,515.45. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> was up 25.90 points, or 0.82 percent, at 3,191.04.

The CBOE Volatility index <.vix>, Wall Street's so-called fear gauge, was down 4.2 percent at 12.94. The gauge generally moves inversely to the S&P 500.

Still, there were concerns whether the market would stride higher.

"I'm watching the 14 level closely. The break below it at the beginning of the year signaled the sharp rally in January, and a rally back above it could be a sign to exercise some caution," said Bryan Sapp, senior trading analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research.

Healthcare stocks also performed well. The Morgan Stanley healthcare payor index <.hmo> was up 2.3 percent. Molina Healthcare Inc surged 9.7 percent to $31.67 as the biggest boost to the index after posting fourth-quarter earnings.

McDonald's Corp said January sales at established hamburger restaurants around the world fell 1.9 percent, a steeper decline than analysts had expected. Still, shares edged up 0.7 percent to $95.31.

Data showed Chinese exports grew more than expected in January, while imports climbed 28.8 percent, highlighting robust domestic demand, while German data showed a 2012 surplus that was the nation's second highest in more than 60 years, an indication of the underlying strength of Europe's biggest economy.

Another positive sign was U.S. economic data which showed the trade deficit shrank in December to $38.5 billion, its narrowest in nearly three years, indicating the economy did much better in the fourth quarter than initially estimated.

Shares of LinkedIn jumped 18.8 percent to $147.40 after announcing quarterly profits and giving a bullish forecast for the year.

AOL Inc shares also jumped 7 percent to $33.60 after the online company said its quarterly profit had jumped, boosted by a 13 percent rise in advertising sales.

According to Thomson Reuters data through Friday morning, of 339 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings, 69.9 percent have exceeded analysts' expectations, above a 62 percent average since 1994 and 65 percent over the past four quarters.

Fourth-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies grew 5.2 percent, according to the data, above a 1.9 percent forecast at the start of the earnings season.

(Reporting By Angela Moon; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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Super Bowl blackout traced to preventive equipment

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An electrical device that had been installed expressly to prevent a power outage caused the Super Bowl blackout, the stadium's power company said Friday as it took the blame for the outage that brought the game to a halt for more than a half-hour.

Officials of Entergy New Orleans, a subsidiary of New Orleans-based Entergy Corp., said the device, called a relay, had been installed in switching gear to protect the Superdome from a cable failure between the company's incoming power line and lines that run into the stadium.

The switching gear is housed in a building known as "the vault" near the stadium that receives a line directly from a nearby Entergy power substation. Once the line reaches the vault, it splits into two cables that go into the Superdome.

Company officials said the device performed with no problems during January's Sugar Bowl and other earlier events, but has been removed and will be replaced. All systems at the Superdome are now working and the dome will host a major Mardi Gras event Saturday night, said Doug Thornton, an executive with SMG, the company that manages the stadium for the state.

The power failure at Sunday's big game cut lights to about half of the stadium for 34 minutes, halting play between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.

The FBI had ruled out cyberterrorism as a cause.

Entergy's announcement came shortly before officials appeared before a committee of the City Council, which is the regulatory body for the company, to answer questions about the outage.

Entergy New Orleans CEO Charles Rice and Dennis Dawsey, an Entergy vice president for distribution, told the Council that SMG agrees the cause of the outage was a relay failure. Asked if the two corporations still plan to hire a third-party investigator, Rice said that possibility remains open.

Committee member Jackie Clarkson pressed for such an independent probe. "We've told the public we're going to have an outside investigation," she said.

"We'll work closely with SMG and if there is a need for a third-party investigation, we will do that," Rice said.

It remains unclear whether the problem with the relay was a design flaw or a manufacturing problem. Rice said Entergy is working with the manufacturer.

"I'm pleased that we were able to find the root cause," Thornton said.

Shabab Mehraeen, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Louisiana State University, said the relay device is a common electrical fixture in businesses and massive facilities such as the Superdome.

"They are designed to keep a problem they sense from becoming something bigger, like a fire or catastrophic event," said Mehraeen, who holds a doctorate from the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, Mo.

The devices vary in size, and while Mehraeen noted he was not familiar with the specifics of the relay at the Superdome, he added, "I wouldn't be surprised if it was bigger than a truck."

Mehraeen said the reasons the devices fail are the subject of much academic research into the interaction of relays with the complex electrical systems they regulate.

"It's not unusual for them to have problems," he said. "They can be unpredictable despite national testing standards recommended by manufacturers."

Entergy and SMG had both upgraded lines and equipment in the months leading up to the Super Bowl. Rice said the new switching gear, with the faulty relay, was installed as part of a $4.2 million upgrade by Entergy, including the installation of a new power line dedicated solely to the stadium.

In a separate project, SMG replaced lines coming into the stadium after managers expressed concerns the Superdome might be vulnerable to a power failure like the one that struck Candlestick Park during a 49ers Monday Night Football game in 2011. That outage was blamed at least partly on a transformer explosion.

Thornton stressed Friday that the dome was drawing only about two-thirds of its power capacity Super Bowl night, and said typical NFL games in late August or September can draw a little more.

City officials had worried that the Super Bowl outage might harm New Orleans' chances of getting another NFL championship game.

But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell downplayed that possibility after the outage, saying the NFL planned to keep New Orleans in its Super Bowl plans. Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the city intends to bid for the Super Bowl in 2018.

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Why I dread Chinese New Year

Kids see Chinese New Year through rose-tinted glasses.


  • Zoe Li: As an adult, Chinese New Year is an annual nightmare

  • It's a time when relatives have the right to be judgmental

  • Superstitious Chinese New Year foods often aren't that tasty

(CNN) -- For me, Chinese New Year used to be fun.

When I was a kid, I was excited during Chinese New Year when I got lai see and I could stay up late. I even had access to candy, a once-a-year treat while living under the roof of my Tiger Mom.

Riding strong on the sugar highs, I always thought to myself, this is what it must feel like to be an adult. I was flush, free and giddy.

Then at some point in my twenties, Chinese New Year became a chore. Not any garden variety chore, but a cold-sweat-inducing family obligation that I try hard to avoid.

As an adult, Chinese New Year is an annual nightmare, for the following reasons:

1. I find it sucks when you are single

Single twenty-something? Smile while you can until the interrogation begins.

Relatives feel that they have a right to judge you because you do share bits of DNA, so, really, it's almost like they're judging themselves.

Typically, the extended family gathers for Chinese New Year and spends an inordinate amount of time together, during which people get bored and focus their restlessness on judging the younger generation, particularly those who are single.

Singledom means a lack of responsibilities and responsibility-free people need to be reined in by the wisdom of elders, or they will be reckless with their directionless lives.

Here are some unavoidable conversations at Chinese New Year. By "conversations" I really mean monologues by one Wise Elder or another, fired away at a particular Single Younger in a trance-like manner:

"Why don't you have a boyfriend? If you have a boyfriend, why don't you get married?"

"Why are you not dieting at least a little bit? Second Cousin Yong Yong will have to start bringing clothes from America for you."

"What happened to your hair? Blue is not such a good color for us Chinese people."

"Are you saving up for an apartment? Why not? The most important thing in life is to have a roof over your head. You don't want to be homeless, do you? What if the economy collapses again? At least you will have an apartment."

"Why don't you get a better paid job? You are wasting your talent. You will regret your life."

2. I am employed

I loved the great Chinese tradition of gifting lai see. Getting HK$20 for no reason other than tradition really rocked my seven-year-old world.

I have an income now, so twenty bucks here and there doesn't make a huge difference, but I still retain that childhood anticipation for the red packets. It's just a bit disappointing when I open up an envelope and it isn't concealing a massive check.

And it's the guilt from feeling disappointed that makes me really hate Chinese New Year for making me hate myself.

It's just like being unable to conceal your letdown expression when unwrapping that pair of socks at Secret Santa parties.

Gifting is a heartwarming tradition. It's the thought that counts. I am not supposed to care. I am a bad person.

There's even worse.

Chinese New Year gambling is just out of hand.

Now that I have a job, I'm expected to bet real money at The Mahjong Table, a no man's land filled with hidden agendas, treacherous scheming and Janus-faced traitors.

If you beat your elder relatives at mahjong one too many times, beware their wrath. It really hurts when you get hit by a mahjong tile.

If you lose on purpose to your elders and are unable to skillfully conceal your purposefulness, you risk looking patronizing.

It will put them in a bad mood and lead to a vengeful "what are you doing with your life" interrogation later. See point number one.

If you're simply crap at the game, you lose a load of money and will probably be judged for being not very intelligent. See point number one again.

3. I like good food

Chinese New Year cake is good only when it's homemade.

When foreigners make jokes about Chinese eating weird foods, I cringe.

When Chinese New Year comes around, I'm the one making the damn jokes.

At this time of year, we do get some incredible festive dishes.

And then there are those odd ones that make you feel like the taste, texture and nutritional content of food have all become irrelevant -- we only eat for superstitions.

Lots of Chinese New Year foods are auspicious in meaning, but atrocious in taste. I propose that we at least get rid of these three that are now out of touch with our lives:

Chinese New Year cake

Called "leen go" in Cantonese ("niangao" in mainland China), the name sounds auspicious and means "to progress more and reach higher every year."

The cake is made from glutionous rice, sugar and flavored with red bean paste or jujubes. Cut into thin slices, dip into beaten eggs and pan fry until it's gooey on the inside and crisp on the outside.

The problem is, no one makes these at home anymore and the store-bought version is bland and stodgy, like eating slices of caulking.

Since glutinous rice is considered difficult to digest for the elderly, us Single Youngers who have nothing to lose are forced to finish the plateful.

Sugared lotus seeds

Back in the day -- before globalization brought us jelly beans and Sugus, before the invention of Coca-Cola, before Christopher Columbus brought cocoa beans to the Old World -- eating sugar-coated lotus seeds during Chinese New Year seemed like a good idea.

Today, we have so many more delicious ways to feed our sweet tooth, so why do people still buy sugared lotus seeds?

They look like mothballs, taste one dimensional and feel like a marble of sand broken upon the tongue.

The name "leen tsi" sounds like "to birth sons each year." No one in the family likes to eat them and most of them already have kids, which means us Single Youngers have to swallow.

Gok tsai

These are deep-fried sweet dumplings. The skin is a thick, lifeless pastry made from lard, the filling is a mind-numbingly sweet blend of sugar and nuts.

Its shape and color makes it, somewhat, resemble a gold ingot. Eating these symbolize prosperity for the new year.

If I had to run a marathon, I might appreciate the fat bomb. But the only thing that I run are scripts on my browser.

That point, like the others in this post, is lost on the Wise Elders, wise as they are.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Zoe Li. A former CNN employee, Zoe is a Hong Kong resident and edits the Hong Kong section of BLOUIN ARTINFO.

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Blizzard begins to slam Northeast

A blizzard blew into the northeastern United States on Friday, bringing whiteout conditions to some parts of New England and threatening to drop record amounts of snow around Boston.

Authorities scrambled to prepare for the storm, which had already touched off a massive traffic pile-up in southern Maine and prompted organizers of the nation's sledding championship in Maine to postpone a race scheduled for Saturday, fearing too much snow for the competition.

From New York to Maine, the storm began gently, dropping a light dusting of snow, but officials urged residents to stay home, rather than risk getting stuck in deep drifts when the storm kicks up later Friday afternoon.

Even in its early stages, the storm created some panic. Drivers lined up at gas stations to top off their tanks, grocery stores were swamped as shoppers stocked up on bread and milk, and travelers were forced to confront flight delays and cancellations.

The early edge of the storm led to a 19-vehicle pile-up in southern Maine, snarling traffic on a major interstate highway north of Portland. No major injuries were reported.

“It was close to whiteout conditions, it's sort of a precursor of what's coming later,” said Stephen McCausland, a spokesman for the Maine State Police.

Officials across the region closed schools and more than 3,000 flights were canceled. Several thousand customers lost power in New Jersey and points south, though officials warned the number was likely to rise as the snowfall got heavier and winds picked up.

Governors and mayors ordered nonessential government workers to stay home, urged private employers to do the same, told people to prepare for power outages and encouraged them to check on elderly or disabled neighbors.

The light snow falling across much of New England on Friday morning was a taste of the weather to come, said Jerry Paul, senior meteorologist with Weather Insight, a unit of Thomson Reuters. &lt;TRI.TO

“That's going to be gradually building today as time goes on,” Paul said.

A wide swath of New England, including northeastern Connecticut, Providence, Rhode Island, and the Boston area, will likely see 24 inches to 30 inches (60 centimeters to 76 centimeters) of snow, with some areas seeing more than three feet (one meter) by the time the storm ends on Saturday morning, Paul added.

At the storm's peak, winds could gust up to 65 miles per hour (105 kilometers per hour), he said.

Boston's record snowfall, 27.6 inches (70.1 cm), came in 2003.


Organizers of the country's championship sledding race, that had been scheduled to get underway in Camden, Maine, on Saturday, postponed the event by one day.

“As soon as the weather clears on Saturday and it is safe, the toboggan committee will be out at Tobagganville cleaning up the chute as quickly as they can,” said Holly Edwards, chairman of the U.S. National Toboggan Championships. “It needs to be shoveled out by hand.”

Some 400 teams were registered for the race, which features costumed sledders on a 400-foot (121 meter) chute.

After two years of very little snow across the region, people whose livelihoods depend on skiers and snowmobilers cheered on the storm.

“It affects restaurants, lodgings, everything if those people aren't up here to play,” said Scott Senecal, manager of the VIP Discount Auto Center in Littleton, New Hampshire, in the White Mountains. “All those people that come up here they're going to have flat tires, batteries that die … Cold weather causes people to have to spend money whether they wanted to or not.”


In New York City, still not fully recovered from the effects of October's devastating Hurricane Sandy, officials said they had 1,800 Sanitation Department trucks equipped with snow plows ready to be deployed.

Motorists, mindful of the severe fuel disruptions after Sandy, rushed to buy gasoline, leading to shortages in New York City. A Reuters photographer reported at least three service stations had run out of gas in the borough of Queens on Friday morning, with long lines formed at others.

Sandy knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of homes, taking gasoline stations out of service, and damaged port facilities, exacerbating the shortages by preventing operable stations from refueling.

“We've seen some lines at stations in the southern part of the state, ahead of the storm, which may actually help prevent problems after the storm,” said Ralph Bombardiere, executive director of the New York State Association of Service Stations and Repair Shops. “I'm not expecting anything like the vast power outages and problems we had with Sandy.”

Life was not any easier for those who planned to fly. More than 3,000 flights were canceled on Friday, with close to 1,000 planned cancellations for Saturday, according to the website The hardest-hit airports were in the New York City area, Boston and Toronto.

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Violence mars funeral of slain Tunisian opposition leader

TUNIS (Reuters) - Police and mourners clashed at the mass funeral on Friday of secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid, whose assassination has plunged Tunisia deeper into political crisis.

Braving chilly rain, at least 50,000 people turned out to honor Belaid in his home district of Jebel al-Jaloud in the capital, chanting anti-Islamist and anti-government slogans.

It was Tunisia's biggest funeral since the death of Habib Bourguiba, independence leader and first president, in 2000.

Violence erupted near the cemetery as police fired teargas at demonstrators who threw stones and set cars ablaze. Police also used teargas against protesters near the Interior Ministry, a frequent flashpoint for clashes in the Tunisian capital.

Tunisia, cradle of the Arab uprisings, is riven by tensions between dominant Islamists and their secular opponents, and by frustration at the lack of social and economic progress since President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted in January 2011.

Belaid's assassination has shocked a country which had hitherto experienced a relatively peaceful political transition.

"The people want a new revolution," shouted mourners in Tunis, who also sang the national anthem.

Crowds surged around an open army truck carrying Belaid's coffin, draped in a red and white Tunisian flag, from a cultural center in Jebel al-Jaloud towards the leafy Jallaz cemetery, as a security forces helicopter flew overhead.

"Belaid, rest in peace, we will continue the struggle," mourners chanted, holding portraits of the politician killed near his home on Wednesday by a gunman who fled on a motorcycle.

Some demonstrators denounced Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of the ruling Islamist Ennahda party. "Ghannouchi, assassin, criminal," they chanted. "Tunisia is free, terrorism out."

Police fired teargas to disperse anti-government protesters throwing stones and petrol bombs in the southern mining town of Gafsa, a stronghold of support for Belaid, witnesses said.

Crowds there had chanted "The people want the fall of the regime", a slogan first used against Ben Ali.


In Sidi Bouzid, the southern town where the revolt against the ousted strongman began, about 10,000 marched to mourn Belaid and shout slogans against Ennahda and the government.

Banks, factories and some shops were closed in Tunis and other cities in response to a strike called by unions in protest at Belaid's killing, but buses were running normally.

Tunis Air suspended all its flights because of the strikes, a spokesman for the national airline said. Airport sources in Cairo said EgyptAir had canceled two flights to Tunisia after staff at Tunis airport joined the general strike.

After Belaid's assassination, Prime Minister Hamdi Jebali, an Islamist, said he would dissolve the government and form a cabinet of technocrats to rule until elections could be held.

But his own Ennahda party and its secular coalition partners complained they had not been consulted, casting doubt over the status of the government and compounding political uncertainty.

No one has claimed responsibility for the killing of Belaid, a lawyer and secular opposition figure.

His family have blamed Ennahda but the party has denied any hand in the shooting. Crowds have attacked several Ennahda party offices in Tunis and other cities in the past two days.

"Hope still exists in Tunisia," Fatma Saidan, a noted Tunisian actor, told Reuters at Belaid's funeral. "We will continue to struggle against extremism and political violence."

She called for national unity, saying: "We are ready to accept Islamists, but they don't accept us."


While Belaid had only a modest political following, his criticism of Ennahda policies spoke for many Tunisians who fear religious radicals are bent on snuffing out freedoms won in the first of the revolts that rippled through the Arab world.

Secular groups have accused the Islamist-led government of a lax response to attacks by ultra-orthodox Salafi Islamists on cinemas, theatres and bars in recent months.

The economic effect of political uncertainty and street unrest could be serious in a country which has yet to draft a new constitution and which relies heavily on the tourist trade.

Mohamed Ali Toumi, president of the Tunisian Federation of Travel Agencies, described the week's events as a catastrophe that would have a negative impact on tourism, but he told the national news agency TAP no cancellations had been reported yet.

France, which had already announced the closure of its schools in Tunis on Friday and Saturday, urged its nationals to stay clear of potential flashpoints in the capital.

The cost of insuring Tunisian government bonds against default rose to its highest level in more than four years on Thursday and ratings agency Fitch said it could further downgrade Tunisia if political instability continues or worsens.

(For an interactive look at Tunisia please click on

(Additional reporting by Alexander Dziadosz in Cairo and Brian Love in Paris; Editing by Jon Boyle)



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Wall Street dips on renewed euro zone concerns

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Shares fell on Thursday after the euro currency dropped against the safe-haven dollar and yen, raising worries about Europe's outlook and curbing investors' appetite for risky assets such as stocks.

The euro sank after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the exchange rate was important to growth and price stability, which investors took as a sign the bank is concerned about the euro's advance in recent days.

U.S. stocks have been in an uninterrupted uptrend for most of the year, with the S&P 500 gaining more than 5 percent for 2013.

"The market is a bit shaky on the back of some of the Draghi comments" amid worry the strength of the euro might hamper economic recovery, said Andre Bakhos, director of market analytics at LEK Securities in New York.

"Whether this ignites renewed concerns about the euro debt struggles and Europe in general is yet to be seen, but the market is looking for any reason to take a profit. It is just consolidating near multi-year highs, taking a respite before we advance higher."

The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> was down 92.05 points, or 0.66 percent, at 13,894.47. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> was down 7.93 points, or 0.52 percent, at 1,504.19. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> was down 14.95 points, or 0.47 percent, at 3,153.52.

Housing and retail stocks were the day's biggest decliners. The housing sector index <.hgx> was off 1 percent and the S&P housing index <.spxrt> was off 0.5 percent.

Top U.S. retailers reported strong January sales after offering compelling merchandise that drew in shoppers facing a hit to their take-home pay from higher payroll taxes.

Macy's Inc rose 1.3 percent to $40.01 after reporting January same store sales rose 11.7 percent.

But Ann Inc dropped 6.6 percent to $30.63 after forecasting fourth-quarter sales below analysts' expectations.

Fund manager David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital on Thursday said it has sued Apple Inc and said the company needs to do more to unlock value for shareholders. Apple shares gained 1.2 percent at $460.16.

Akamai Technologies Inc lost 15.6 percent to $35.06 as the worst performer on the S&P 500 after the Internet content delivery company forecast current-quarter revenue below analysts' expectations.

Initial jobless claims dipped last week, with the four-week moving average falling to its lowest level since March 2008, signaling the economy continues to recover slowly.

A separate report said fourth-quarter productivity registered its biggest drop in nearly two years, while unit labor costs jumped 4.5 percent, more than economists expected.

According to Thomson Reuters data through Thursday morning, of 317 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings, 69 percent have exceeded analysts' expectations, above a 62 percent average since 1994 and 65 percent over the past four quarters.

Fourth-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies rose 5 percent, according to the data, above a 1.9 percent forecast at the start of the earnings season.

(Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Kenneth Barry and Nick Zieminski)

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NFL reinstates Williams, Titans add him to staff

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The NFL has reinstated Gregg Williams after suspending him for his role in the New Orleans' bounty scandal, and the Titans have added him to their coaching staff.

The NFL ended Williams' indefinite suspension Thursday and approved the Titans' contract hiring Williams. Tennessee also announced in the same release that Williams had been hired as a senior assistant coach for its defense.

The league issued a statement saying that Commissioner Roger Goodell cited several reasons for reinstating Williams including that Williams accepted responsibility for his role in the bounty program, his commitment to never be involved in any pay for performance system and pledging to teach safe play and respect for the rules.

"The commissioner emphasized that Williams must fully conform to league rules and will be subject to periodic monitoring to confirm his compliance," the NFL said in its statement.

Williams, suspended indefinitely last March, is the last person involved in the scandal to be reinstated by league. New Orleans coach Sean Payton had his suspension lifted on Jan. 22.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended for eight games and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six. Four current or former Saints players were also suspended after an investigation found the club had a performance pool offering cash rewards for key plays, including big hits. The player suspensions eventually were overturned.

Williams coached for the Saints between 2009 and 2011 and was hired as defensive coordinator by the St. Louis Rams in January 2012 before being suspended. Williams had been free to look for a new job in the NFL since the playoffs started, and now he is returning to the team where he got his start in the league back in 1990.

The Titans scheduled a news conference for Thursday afternoon with Williams expected to be on hand along with Titans coach Mike Munchak.

"I have known Gregg for over two decades and have seen him work his way up from a quality control coach to a head coach," Munchak said in a statement. "He will bring a great deal of defensive knowledge and energy to our staff. The decision to bring him here only came after going through a thoughtful and thorough process."

How well this move works remains to be seen, but Munchak faces a must-win situation going into his third season as head coach.

The Titans missed the playoffs in his first season on a tiebreaker in 2011 before slumping to a 6-10 record in 2012. Fans have not been happy that Munchak has kept Jerry Gray as his coordinator after a season when Tennessee set a franchise record by allowing 471 points, gave up at least 30 points in seven different games and ranked 27th in yards allowed.

Munchak previously made only one move on his defensive staff, firing linebackers coach Frank Bush and moving Chet Parlavecchio from assisting with special teams to linebackers coach.

Williams will be working with Gray, the same man he took with him to Buffalo when he was hired as the Bills head coach in 2001 after four seasons as Tennessee's defensive coordinator under then-coach Jeff Fisher. Gray also worked with Williams at the Washington Redskins between 2004-07 before Williams worked with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2008 and then with the Saints.

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Bring drones out of the shadows?


  • John Brennan's confirmation hearing is a chance to ask about drone program, author says

  • Sarah Holewinski: Brennan is one of a few officials who knows full story on drones

  • She says senators need to ask about damage drone program does to civilians, U.S. reputation

  • Holewinski: CIA should hand over drone program to Defense Department

Editor's note: Sarah Holewinski is executive director of the Center for Civilians in Conflict, which advocates protections for civilians affected by armed conflict. She was a member of the White House AIDS policy team in President Bill Clinton's second term.

(CNN) -- The president's pick for CIA director -- John Brennan -- is one of a handful of U.S. officials who understands America's covert drone campaign inside and out.

Nearly everyone else is in the dark about the whos, wheres and whys of the program, including most members of Congress. But Brennan is also one of the few U.S. officials who's stood in front of a public audience and tried to explain the targeting of terrorists outside recognized battlefields. And while overseeing a massive use of lethal force, Brennan is also known inside the administration as a moderating voice in the fight against terrorism.

Sarah Holewinski

Sarah Holewinski

The fact is, Brennan's personal views are as opaque as the drone campaign itself. He may assume leadership of the CIA and decide a clandestine agency should not conduct what is an obvious military operation (a stance I and many others would fully support); after all, a veteran of the CIA may believe the agency should get back to gritty intelligence gathering.

Or, maybe Brennan believes that when it comes to the fight against al Qaeda, the public and its Congress should trust the executive office to protect the American people by whatever means it sees fit.

One way or the other, this week's Senate confirmation hearings should be an opportunity to bring Brennan's views out of the shadows, along with the basic attributes and justifications of the covert drone campaign. The man, the machine and the policy are inextricably linked.

Bergen: John Brennan, America's drone warrior

U.S. officials have consistently claimed that offering too many details about the covert drone program could threaten national security. Fair enough; some classification for national security is understandable. But the secrecy surrounding covert drone use is unduly excessive and not in keeping with the transparent government President Barack Obama promised.

Since the bulk of Brennan's hearing will be behind closed doors, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has no reason to shy away from asking tough questions about the drone program. It matters that Congress is there to represent the American people. On their behalf, Congress has a duty to ensure the use of lethal force beyond our borders is being considered and carried out responsibly, with due consideration for the harm it may inflict on civilian populations.

Talk Back: Should U.S. be able to kill American terrorist suspects without trial?

Senators might ask a very basic question to Brennan, one that is seldom clearly answered by the administration: "What impact is the drone campaign against al Qaeda and its associates having?"

John Brennan, President Barack Obama's choice for CIA director, has been deeply involved in the U.S. drone program.

This is a fundamental question of accountability any U.S. official involved in setting or carrying out counterterrorism policy should be able to answer. That answer may describe a dwindling kill list, but it must also put forward facts about what impact drones are having on civilians living under them.

U.S. armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq learned that the positive or negative impacts of an operation on the local population are an important metric of mission effectiveness. Commanders worked hard to reverse anti-American sentiment caused by a seemingly callous U.S. attitude toward civilian deaths and injuries. In the case of counterterrorism operations, palpable anger toward America would be antithetical to the goal of decreasing the number of terrorists and those who support their cause.

As it stands, it's unclear whether anyone, including Brennan, knows what negative consequences are emerging on the ground because of remote drones.

Rather, claims of low civilian casualties and drone precision capabilities paint a picture of extreme effectiveness in taking out terrorists while sparing civilians. It's true that a drone is precise, meaning it will hit what it is aimed at -- a building, a bunker or a person. But there are valid concerns about whether the target hit is the right one.

Opinion: When are drone killings illegal?

Remote drones likely rely on sources that may be questionable such as video and cell phone intercepts to identify a target. Civilians may be mistakenly targeted as combatants and counted as such because there are no ground troops to conduct a battle damage assessment, interview witnesses or properly identify bodies.

Civilians may also get caught up in so-called "signature strikes" in which operators target individuals based on behavior, not on known identity. This is legally questionable but also has real ramifications for civilians living under drones.

If a civilian in Pakistan doesn't know what behavior makes him a target for U.S. drones, he cannot fully protect himself and his family. If a drone harms his family, even mistakenly, our research shows they won't receive an apology, explanation or any help from the United States. Certainly there will be no love lost for America.

Any deaths and injuries are compounded by psychological trauma, displacement and fear and suspicion among neighbors. One Pakistani told us, "We fear that the drones will strike us again. ... My aged parents are often in a state of fear. We are depressed, anxious and constantly remembering our deceased family members."

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of international forces in Afghanistan, recently noted, "What scares me about drone strikes is how they are perceived around the world. ... (T)he resentment created by American use of unmanned strikes ... is much greater than the average American appreciates. They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who've never seen one or seen the effects of one."

The drone program needs to come out of the shadows, with explanations about who is a civilian, who is a target, and how drone operators distinguish between the two.

The CIA should get out of the drone operation business, handing it over to the Defense Department, which has a culture of learning lessons, accountability to Congress and a new openness about civilian protection after 10 years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Drone operators should be trained in civilian protection best practices, and any civilian harmed should receive recognition and help for their losses, in accordance with the values American policymakers have espoused about humanity even during times of war.

The Senate may confirm Brennan as head of the CIA. It should also confirm where he stands on government accountability for lethal force and the CIA's role in the remote drone program.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Sarah Holewinski.

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Carmakers preview new models for 2013 Chicago Auto Show

The 2013 Chicago Auto Show opens Saturday, and automakers today are giving the news media a preview of models making their public debuts at the McCormick Place show.

Hundreds of cars and trucks will be on display through Feb. 18, along with concept cars that hint at future models, indoor and outdoor test tracks, and more midwinter amusements for car buffs and casual fans.

Today's new-model unveilings will join many Chicago Auto Show offerings either just arriving in showrooms or coming soon, and they provide evidence of where the automakers are heading in terms of styling, size, performance, options and mileage in the next few years.

Here's a list of "Don't Miss" cars to see at the 105th Chicago Auto Show:

2014 Chevy Cruze diesel

There's a way to get more miles per gallon as well as many more miles per tank of fuel — and that's to drive a vehicle with a tank that holds high mileage and therefore high range diesel fuel. Not many cars in the U.S. run on diesel because diesel has been notoriously dirty and, as a result, doesn't easily meet federal emissions regulations.

With the arrival of "clean" diesel fuel, and emission controls to handle exhaust fumes, more diesel powered cars are coming and Chevy is unveiling its new creation in Chicago, the compact Cruze diesel sedan that will be added to General Motors Lordstown, Ohio, assembly plant by midyear to prepare for its U.S. launch later in the year as a 2014 model.

The compact Cruze sedan will offer a 2 liter diesel engine. No word yet on mileage, but well more than 40 m.p.g. highway is expected since the current Cruze Eco model with 1.4 liter, turbo 4-cylinder gas engine is rated at 42 m.p.g. highway.

The important number will be range, which could be from 650 to 750 miles before need to fill the tank, a mileage total that would get most families not only to, but back again, from any vacation retreat.

A diesel Cruze is now sold in Europe. but stricter U.S. emissions standards kept it out of this market. By using what's called a urea system to clean emissions, the Cruze diesel will meet current and future federal standards. Reportedly the only hang-up is that the urea system needs regular refilling at oil change intervals.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

When you think Corvette you think high speed, not high mileage, but if asked which you'd rather have in your driveway, any Corvette or any economy car, even tree huggers would be hard pressed to stand in the economy car line.

The new 'Vette goes on sale in the third quarter of this year as the first all new Corvette since 2005 and the first to use the legendary Stingray name last carried by the second generation model that bowed in the 1963 model year and was offered through 1967.

It's mission is simple, get younger sports car enthusiasts behind the wheel because the 'Vette has gotten to be referred to as an old man's car, even though old means an average age of only about 55. Still, Corvette needs to attract those younger sports car enthusiasts who migrated to European nameplates like Porsche and Audi as 'Vette went 9 years without a major redesign as GM focused on survival rather than sizzling style upgrades.

The 7th generation of the American sports car icon boasts a 6.2 liter, 450 h.p. V-8 capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 m.p.h. in less than 4 seconds and achieving more than 1G of force in high performance cornering. Yet thanks to an active fuel management system it will throttle down to four cylinder mode when coasting or cruising when it doesn't need maximum power. The new 'Vette as a result will exceed the 26 m.p.g. highway rating of the current model — making it the most fuel efficient 'Vette to date.

Stingray will offer a choice of 7-speed manual or 6-speed automatic with steering wheel paddle shifters.

Both high performance and high mileage benefit from a series of weight-saving measures, including a lightweight carbon fiber hood and removable roof panel; composite fenders, doors and rear quarter panels; and composite carbon underbody panels plus a new aluminum frame.

Inside there's two 8-inch configurable "infotainment" screens and a choice of two seats: one for optimum comfort, the other a "Competition Sport" option with special side bolstering to hold the driver in place during hard cornering. The cockpit also features five ride settings for varying driving conditions — Weather, Eco, Tour, Sport and Track.

A Z51 performance package will be offered with such goodies as electronic limited-slip differential, 19 inch run flat radials up front, 20 inch run flats in the rear, and an aerodynamics package designed to improve high-speed stability.

GM hasn't set pricing yet, but said it will be in the range of the current car, which starts at about $50,000, and won't have a dramatic increase.

The new 'Vette is being counted on to generate traffic and bring folks back into Chevy showrooms, where motorists are hoped to leave with a new car, whether 'Vette or Aveo as long as it carries a Chevy bow tie.

2014 Honda Urban SUV concept

Consumers are moving down from large cars and SUVs to smaller cars and SUVs in order to obtain better mileage, the reason Honda is showcasing the Urban SUV at the auto show, a peek at a new small SUV to be offered first in Japan at the end of this year and then in the U.S. in 2014.

The Urban SUV is a derivative of the subcompact Fit car sold in the U.S. Like the little Fit, the Urban SUV is aimed at youth and those on a limited budget and focuses on fuel efficiency and fun.

It will have hidden rear door handles and Honda's reconfigurable Magic Seats that can be folded flat to hold maximum cargo when not carrying people.

Urban is 169.3 inches long, or about 8 inches longer than Fit, but 9 inches shorter than the CR-V, Honda's current smallest crossover SUV. It's designed to navigate congested city streets and take advantage of limited parking space and will be priced below the CR-V, which starts at about $15,000.

The small SUV will be manufactured along with the Fit at Honda's newest North American plant near Celaya, Mexico, expected to open in the spring of 2014. The growth and expansion of its small-vehicle lineup will help Honda double worldwide production of vehicles by the end of 2016, and remain a global small-car leader.

2014 Lincoln MKC concept

The MKC ("C" for crossover) is the smallest vehicle to ever carry the Lincoln badge, ironic since it's also serving as one of the building blocks to recreate the brand.

The compact crossover represents a new segment for Lincoln and teams with the newly designed 2014 Lincoln MKZ midsize sedan at dealers now to help revive a Lincoln brand whose sales of only a little more than 80,000 units last year left it ranked last among the 8 luxury nameplates sold in the U.S.

The Lincoln MKC concept crossover shares the same platform with the compact Ford Escape, but MKC is more designer label while Escape tends to be more off the rack.

MKC will go on sale in 2014, same year Ford also plans to start selling Lincolns in China as part of the brands revitalization and growth plans.

The new crossover will join the industry's small luxury segment that has grown by 200 percent in the past four years, and compete against such nameplates as the Acura RDX, Mercedes-Benz GLK and BMW X3.

MKC and the redesigned 2014 Lincoln MKZ sedan are the first two products in what Lincoln says will be four all-new vehicles over the next four years that will include a redesigned midsize MKX crossover and MKS sedan.

Features include push button gear shift selector, 20 inch wheels, panoramic sunroof the length of the vehicle, leather seats and interior trim, programmable ride control, clamshell hatchback lid, ambient cabin lighting along doors, seat pockets and even cupholders, a rear seat center console that can double as a mini frig (rear bench seat minus the frig if holding 5 passengers), plus a split wing grille that traces its DNA back to the '30s Lincoln Zephyr.

2014 Ford Transit Connect wagon

When the novel looking Transit Connect bowed for the 2010 model year it became a surprise hit among both the consumers who bought it and the media who voted it North American Truck of the Year. Both groups hinted out loud that what looked like a work truck for tradesmen to haul tools to the job site might make a wonderful people hauler getting people wherever they need to go as well.

Ford listened and for 2014 a new generation Transit Connect is going to be available starting later this year in two versions, a short and long van to serve tradesmen, and a short and long wagon to hold 5 to 7 passengers and substitute for a minivan — that might be too big and expensive and burn too much gas.

Ford says the new wagon rides and handles like a car, has the flexibility to haul people like a mini van, and has the cargo capacity of a truck in a vehicle capable of obtaining 30 m.p.g. from a choice of standard 2.5 liter four cylinder or optional 1.6 liter 4 cylinder engines, both teamed with 6-speed automatic. An alternate fuel 2.5 liter four cylinder that burns CNG gas rather than gasoline but will be premium priced and available in van or wagon.

The wagon with side glass windows, and the van with side metal panels instead of glass, will be offered in short and long version, short with a 104.8 inch wheelbase, 173.9 inch overall length, and 1 or 2 rows of seats to hold up to 5; long with a 120.6 inch wheelbase, 189.7 inch overall length, and 2 to 3 rows of seats to hold up to 7. Both second and third row seats can be folded flat to increase cargo capacity

There's also two trim levels, XL or up-level XLT, while the long version also adds a top of the line Titanium trim.

Goodies include back up camera, infotainment system with voice activation, navigation system, panoramic sunroof, rain sensing wipers, power heated outside mirrors, stability control, overhead roof storage, dual slide open side doors and a choice of hatchback liftgate or swing open rear cargo doors.

Ford also will replace its full size Econoline van with a vehicle simply called Transit early next year offering a 3.2 liter, 5 cylinder diesel.

While checking out the Transit Connect wagon, take a peek at the nearby Ford Atlas, a concept that gives an early look at the 2015 model Ford F-150 pickup with an all new look and such novel features as power running boards that motor out and retract to help getting in or out of the cabin, hidden ramps under the cargo bed that pull out to make loading/unloading the bed an easier chore, power grille and wheel vents that automatically close at speed to reduce air drag for better aerodynamics and mileage, and a power air dam up front that drops down at speed to reduce air drag and help boost fuel economy. With the new 2013 Ram and new 2014 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra at the show, Ford wanted consumers to see its 2015 F-150 in the hopes they'll wait to buy the industry's top selling full size pickup.

2014 Concept Toyota Furia

Weird name for what is an early look at the new styling on the next generation of the compact Toyota Corolla coming out later this year.

Corolla had become more than a bit conservative over the last several years and the new sheet metal is designed to give it some sizzle and make it stand out from the crowd rather than disappear into it.

As with most small cars, when redesigned they are usually made a little bigger for improved room and comfort, and that's the case here. Furia has a 4 inch longer wheelbase at 106.3 inches than the current Corolla, and is 1 inch longer at 181 inches. It's also 2 inches wider for more wiggle room in the cabin, though 1 inch lower at 56.1 inches.

The Furia is designed around a theme of "Iconic Dynamism," which "uses pure and simple surface elements to create a confident, decisive and recognizable appearance." That's designer speak for the sheet metal is supposed to appeal to more youthful consumers than retirees.

The Corolla Furia design includes a swept windshield, with a sloped roofline and pronounced fender flares, which help make it possible to add large and sporty 19 inch wheels that youth favor, though time will tell if those big wheels make it on the production version.

There's also sculpted LED headlamps up front, composite LED taillights in the rear. Wheel wells, rocker panels, and rear valance, which includes ornate metal exhaust outlets for a sporty touch, are made of lightweight carbon fiber.

While checking out the Furia concept, take a look at the redesigned Toyota Tundra pickup truck being unveiled at the show. Tundra, last redesigned in 2007, sold 1012,621 copies last year, up 25 percent from 2011. The redesigned 2014 version built at Toyota's plant in San Antonio, Tex., goes on sale later this year as a 2014 model to compete against the Big Three domestic pickups.

2014 Cadillac ELR

An early look at the next plug in battery powered extended range electric from General Motors that arrives in showrooms at midyear. The 2-door ELR coupe joins the 4-door Volt sedan in the GM plug in electric stable.

The Chevy Volt was GM's first plug in electric, a surprise to many observers who thought GM would bring out a luxury Cadillac plug in first, allowing the automaker to charge a higher price for a low volume novelty to help recover some of the development cost. Besides, luxury buyers are more prone to buy novelty items and boast about being the first on the block with the newest gadget than Chevy owners. GM opted instead to offer its first plug in at its volume value leader, which meant it offered at a lower than expected price, but even so, it was hard for many to accept a $40,000 plus Chevy not bearing an Corvette badge — even if it boasted new battery technology.

While Volt was a "low cost" $40,000 plug in, ELR will be a premium luxury model in the $50,000-$60,000 plus range, loaded with all the creature comfort amenities and goodies to justify the hefty price tag. It will share the same power plant as the Volt, a lithium ion battery pack that claims about 40 miles of travel in battery mode only. A small 1.4 liter four cylinder gas engine that powers a generator automatically takes over when the battery pack is exhausted to keep producing electricity to keep the vehicle going another 100 miles or until the battery pack can be plugged in for from 4 hours using 240 volt current to 10-16 hours using 120 volt current to fully recharge.

The 2014 ELR will be produced late this year at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant that also builds Volt. No production numbers as yet.

ELR is a production version of Cadillac's Converj concept vehicle that made the rounds on the 2009 auto show circuit.


Add 2 more doors to the mini Fiat 500 and you have the all new for 2014 500L, with the L denoting added length. The newest edition to the Italian automaker's lineup will arrive in showrooms at midyear as a 2014 model. The L could have been called the LWH, because it's not only 26 inches longer (167.1 inches versus 139.6 inches) than the current 2-door, it's also both 6 inches wider (69.8 inches versus 64.1 inches) and higher (65.7 inches versus 59.8) to provide more cabin wiggle room for 5-passengers.

And the 4-door wheelbase was stretched a little more than a foot to 102.8 inches versus 90.6 inches on the 2-door. The L is a rival to the 4-door Mini Paceman from BMW and is powered by a 1.4 liter, 160 turbocharged 4 cylinder teamed with a choice of 6-speed manual or automatic transmissions. The 2-door offers a 1.4 liter, non turbo 101 h.p. four with a choice of 5-speed manual or 6-speed automatic.

Since it competes with the BMW MINI, the 500L also offers a more aggressive, higher performance Trekking version with two-tone black/brown interior, unique black front and rear facias, flared wheel arches and larger 17 inch wheels to support a sportier, more adventurous personality.

There's also an all-new Uconnect 5.0 system that features a 5 inch touch screen interface, hands-free calling, and Bluetooth streaming video, as well as voice command control of the radio. An upgraded premium Uconnect system offers a larger 6.5 inch screen and dealer activated navigation system.

The 4-door L, newest nmember of the Italian automakers stable, offers 42 percent more interior space than the 2-door and is built in Serbia.

Fiat is adding a 500e battery powered electric but only for the California market so it's not at the show.

2014 KIA Cadenza sedan

Just as its South Korean partner Hyundai moved up into the premium sedan segment with Genesis models, now comes Kia with its premium Cadenza to move the brand up-market.

Kia, like Hyundai, felt an upscale flagship was needed for consumers who joined the family with an entry level offering and have moved up through the ranks, but now want more luxury than Optima offers as age and income levels have risen. Toyota owners, for example, move up to its Lexus luxury division and Kia wanted a similar option for its owners to stay in the family.

A host of premium standard and optional equipment includes Advanced Smart Cruise Control (ASCC) to avoid making contact with the vehicle ahead of you by braking should it slow down, Blind Spot Detection (BSD), to warn drivers that a vehicle lurks out of site along either side of the car, and Lane-Departure Warning System (LDWS), that alerts the driver if he or she wanders into the wrong lane to avoid a head on impact.

Cadenza is powered by a 3.3 liter V-6 engine teamed with a 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters.

There's also standard leather seat trim, dual-zone automatic climate control with rear seat ventilation, Smart Key keyless entry with push-button start, 10-way power adjustable driver's seat, Bluetooth wireless technology, back up camera, full-length panoramic sunroof with power retractable sunshade, a ventilated power driver's seat with seat cushion extension, heated front and rear outboard seats, heated steering wheel with power tilt and telescoping steering column.

Cadenza is expected to arrive in Kia showrooms in the second quarter this year. No pricing yet.

2014 Kia Forte5

The new for 2014 Kia Forte5 hatchback version of the redesigned Kia Forte sedan is being unveiled at the auto show prior to going on sale in the second half of this year following the sedan's going on sale in the first quarter. The slightly longer (2 inches) hatchback compete with the Hyundai Elantra GT and Mazda 3 hatchbacks. The all-new 2014 Forte will be offered in LX and EX variants with a choice of 1.8-liter or more powerful 2-liter four cylinder engines. The hatchback will offer the same 1.8 liter base engine as the sedan, but also an optional 1.6 liter turbocharged four for added power.

Slotted between the subcompact Rio sedan and the mid-size Optima sedan, the all-new Forte hatchback includes a host of premium features, depending on model, such as a ventilated driver's seat, steering wheel mounted audio controls, satellite radio, Bluetooth wireless technology, power windows, air conditioning and power heated outside mirrors.

2014 Mazda6

The midsize sedan is noteworthy because it has been totally redesigned for 2014 and competes in the most popular segment in the industry, midsize sedans. But the primary reason it deserves a close look is that it offers a 2.2 liter turbo diesel engine to provide driving range that gas engines don't offer.

The Mazda6 becomes the first non commercial diesel offering in the U.S. from a Japanese brand. It goes on sale in the second half of this year for those who want the room and comfort of a midsize sedan, the fuel economy and driving range of a compact. It will be teamed with a choice of 6-speed automatic or 6-speed manual. No mileage or range estimates as yet.

The sedan features Mazda's new capacitor-based brake energy regeneration system called i-ELOOP that provides power to all the electrical mechanisms in a vehicle by using an electric motor or alternator to capture energy during braking to generate electricity to power the car's electrical systems, including air conditioning and audio.

An all-new safety component is called Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) that's designed to assist a driver in avoiding front collisions when traveling at speeds of less than 20 miles per hour. An imbedded laser sensor detects an object ahead and reduces brake rotor travel to quicken braking if the system calculates there is a risk of a collision. If the driver fails to perform an avoidance maneuver, the SCBS system automatically activates the brakes.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Styling upgrade of the icon SUV with a new 3 liter ECO diesel V-6 rated at 30 m.p.g. highway and a driving range of 730 miles — in a sport utility vehicle. Also new is an 8-speed to maximize fuel economy. The Grand Cherokee is joined by a modest styling upgrade to the Jeep Compass for 2014. It also gets a new 6-speed automatic. Compass is built in Belvidere alongside the Jeep Patriot.

If you haven't exhausted all your time, amble over to Dodge to see the new Dart GT with its 2.4 liter, 184 h.p. 4 cylinder, a response to critics who said the high mileage car needed higher performance than it gets from the 2 liter, 160 h.p. four that was only offered at first. However, there's speculation that even higher horsepower R/T and SRT versions with 200 plus h.p. are in the works.

2014 Acura MDX

The prototype of the 7-passenger luxury SUV that goes on sale at midyear as a 2014 model is spotlighted at the show.

The MDX will be offered in front or all wheel drive versions, with the front drive version added in response to motorists in warm climates who said they didn't need all wheel drive.

A new 3.5-liter V-6 with Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) is designed for more spirited movement away from the light or when passing, but shuts down 3 cylinders at cruising to conserve fuel.

The SUV also features a longer wheelbase to improve ride quality and provide a little more second row leg room. The 2014 MDX also will be equipped with Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) systems, Blind Spot Information, and Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS). The new MDX will feature the next-generation AcuraLink system with automated crash notification, remote locking/unlocking, emergency "SOS" call feature, and live-operator concierge services.

With the introduction of the 2014 MDX, production will move from Alliston, Ontario, to Honda's vehicle and V-6 engine manufacturing facility in Lincoln, Ala.

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