Obama and Rubio: How did they do?

(CNN) -- CNN asked for views on President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night, which was dominated by domestic issues such as the economy and need to reinvigorate the middle class, gun control, minimum wage, early education and immigration. Afterward, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida delivered the Republican response.

Sutter: A night that offered no hope for the jobless

John D. Sutter is a columnist for CNN Opinion. He heads the section\'s Change the List project, which focuses on human rights and social justice.

John D. Sutter is a columnist for CNN Opinion. He heads the section's Change the List project, which focuses on human rights and social justice.

After Barack Obama's speech and Marco Rubio's rebuttal, we should have heard from Kim Peters.

The 47-year-old single mother, who has been more or less unemployed since the start of the Great Recession, wore fuzzy Shrek slippers as she watched the president's State of the Union address Tuesday night from the middle of an empty living room south of Atlanta.

If the country and the president could have peered back at her through her small TV, they would have seen the piles of black trash bags, full of clothes, in the corners of the room. They haven't been unpacked since she was evicted from her last apartment. They would have seen the worry in her eyes -- felt the panic that wakes her up at 3 a.m. and makes her wonder how long it will be before she and her 7-year-old daughter end up homeless. Full story

Granderson: Rubio must have missed the year of the woman

LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com

LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com

You would think that in the shadow of a general election dubbed "Year of the Woman," the last thing any Republican in Washington would want to do is tick off women.

And while the Violence Against Women Act passed in the Senate by a healthy bipartisan majority a few hours before President Obama's State of the Union address, the fact that 22 senators -- all Republicans, all men -- voted against it should be troubling to GOP leaders.

And perhaps the most troubling aspect of that is Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the so-called savior of the Republican Party, was one of those Republican men.

Just think: A few hours before Rubio was to deliver a message reflecting a new Republican Party, he casts a vote that screams more of the same. Full story

Welch: Obama's 'do-something' plan for 'have-nothing' government

Matt Welch is editor-in-chief of Reason and co-author of \

Matt Welch is editor-in-chief of Reason and co-author of "The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America."

The two most memorable lines of President Barack Obama's fourth State of the Union address were the ad-libbed: "Get it done" (which doesn't appear in the remarks as prepared), and the emotional "They deserve a vote," concerning victims of gun violence.

As exasperated appeals for an obstructionist Congress to get off its duff, the exhortations provided emotional catnip for Democrats. For the rest of us, however, they were sobering reminders of what governing liberalism has deteriorated into: content-free calls to take action for action's sake.

Consumers of national governance are within their rights to ask just what we've gotten in return for ballooning the cost of the stuff since 2000. The answer may lie in not just what the president said, but what he has assumed we've already forgotten. Full story

Rothkopf: Obama's message: I'm in charge

David Rothkopf is CEO and editor-at-large of the FP Group, publishers of Foreign Policy magazine, and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.\n

David Rothkopf is CEO and editor-at-large of the FP Group, publishers of Foreign Policy magazine, and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

It is sometimes said of a great actor that he could hold an audience spellbound while reading a laundry list. This is essentially what President Obama tried to do on Tuesday night. As State of the Union addresses go, his was artless. It lacked inspired phrases or compelling narrative. Save for the energy he gave it at key moments, it was pedestrian.

It was also very important.

It was important because with it, Obama returned in earnest to the work of governing. Having won a clear victory in November, and having spent the intervening months putting out the wildfires our Congress likes to set, he delivered word Tuesday night that he had a clear and full agenda for his second term. Full story

Navarrette: A kinder, gentler, wiser Marco Rubio

Ruben Navarrette is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.

Ruben Navarrette is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.

Sen. Marco Rubio was ready for his close-up, and he got it. Now you know what all the fuss is about.

Rubio, a rising star and possible 2016 GOP presidential hopeful, was picked to deliver the official Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union sddress.

The selection tells you a lot about what the Republican Party has in store for Rubio, and what this 41-year-old son of Cuban immigrants can do for a party that needs to become more user-friendly for Latinos. His remarks were also delivered in Spanish. Full story

Slaughter: Obama dares Congress to get the job done

Anne-Marie Slaughter is a former director of policy planning in the U.S. State Department and a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University.

Anne-Marie Slaughter is a former director of policy planning in the U.S. State Department and a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University.

The hallmark of the 2013 State of the Union address was progressive pragmatism.

Time and again, President Obama punctuated his proposals with the refrain: "We should be able to get that done." After his call for "bipartisan, comprehensive tax reform that encourages job creation and helps bring down the deficit," he said: "We can get this done," and later, "That's what we can do together."

When he proposed the addition of three more urban manufacturing hubs and asked Congress "to help create a network of 15 of these hubs and guarantee that the next revolution in manufacturing is made right here in America," he added: "We can get that done." Full story

Coleman: Where was the foreign policy?

Isobel Coleman is the author of \

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

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

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

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

On Afghanistan -- America's longest war -- Obama expressed just a continued commitment to bringing the troops home, ending "our war" while theirs continues. On Iran, there was a single sentence reiterating the need for a diplomatic solution, which makes me think that a big diplomatic push is not likely. Full story

Greene: In 2013, democracy talks back about State of the Union

CNN Contributor Bob Greene is a best-selling author whose 25 books include \

CNN Contributor Bob Greene is a best-selling author whose 25 books include "Late Edition: A Love Story" and "Duty: A Father, His Son, and the Man Who Won the War."

"To report the state of the union." Within the first few seconds of President Barack Obama's address Tuesday night, he quoted the late President John F. Kennedy, who 51 years ago used those words to describe a president's annual duty.

As Obama spoke, citizens around the country were tapping away at keyboards, posting and sending messages -- public and private -- characterizing their own view of how the union, and its president, are faring.

Obama told the packed House of Representatives chamber: "We can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is stronger." And those citizens around the country, typing away, were in essence saying: We'll be the ones to decide that, thank you very much. Full story

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Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions in this commentary are solely those of the writers.

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Injured Bulls star Rose says 'leg still isn't feeling right'

Derrick Rose spoke after Wednesday's Bulls loss in Boston.

BOSTON — Derrick Rose doesn't know if he will return to play on his surgically-repaired left knee this season, but he does know this:

"It's really on me to make that decision when I'm going to play again," Rose said late Wednesday. "That's cool that they left it up to me."

Speaking casually and comfortably after the Bulls' 71-69 loss to the Celtics that sends them into the All-Star break eight games above .500, Rose emphasized the communication about his return is collaborative but said he feels no urgency to return until he is mentally and physically ready.

  • Related

  • Photo gallery: Derrick Rose in action

    Photo gallery: Derrick Rose in action

  • Bulls' offense AWOL in 71-69 setback

    Bulls' offense AWOL in 71-69 setback

  • Box score: Celtics 71, Bulls 69

    Box score: Celtics 71, Bulls 69

  • Bulls' Paxson takes Rose remarks in stride

    Bulls' Paxson takes Rose remarks in stride

  • Maps

  • TD Garden, Boston Bruins, 100 Legends Way #200, Boston, MA 02114, USA

  • United Center, 1901 West Madison Street, Chicago, IL 60612, USA

"I'm feeling good," he said. "But if it's where it's taking me a long time and I'm still not feeling right, I don't mind missing this year.

"I would love to (return). That's why I approach my rehab and workouts so hard. I'm trying to get back on the court as quickly as possible. But if I have anything lingering on, it's no point.

"My leg still isn't feeling right. Mentally, I still feel I'm fine. Every week, I'm trying to do something different —stay on my rehab, lift a little more, squat a little more. I'm taking it very serious."

The team said Rose should begin 5-on-5 full-court scrimmaging after the break. Rose said he still can't dunk off stride and has yet to take a hit on his knee during his half-court sessions against teammates.

"I'm not afraid of that," he said. "I know that's going to happen. That's the way I play. I'm not scared of taking a hit at all."

Rose also said suggestions he will become more of a grounded facilitator and jump shooter are overstated.

"I'm working on my shot, but you're not going to label me as a shooter," he said. "My game is always going to be driving."

Rose said he has suffered no setbacks and consistently pushes himself during rehabilitation. He estimated he has put on 10 pounds of muscle.

"I'm feeling pretty good, man," he said. "I'm slowly getting back in the mix. The other day, we played three-on-three and one-on-one. I felt good out there. I'm not trying to rush myself still. I'm still trying to be patient."

Rose is impressed that the Bulls have fared well in his absence.

"It's great, man, knowing that they're winning games," he said. "It seems like they're fighting for me so I don't have anything but respect for how hard they've been working."

The Bulls have maintained a conservative stance regarding Rose's return throughout. The only official timeline they have given is the 8- to 12-month range following his May 12 surgery. Following that, there is a chance Rose sits until 2013-14.

Luol Deng, who endured pressure to return in 2009 when he had a stress fracture in his right tibia, said Rose is doing the right thing.

"We have to let him decide," Deng said. "He knows his body better than anybody. Everybody wants to see him back. You have to look at where we are as a team, how he's feeling. As someone who has been through injuries, I feel like you have to make a decision for yourself and how you feel and not so much on how everybody is pressuring you."

Rose said he feels no pressure.

"It's exciting that all my hard work is going to pay off one day," Rose said. "I just don't know when."


Twitter @kcjhoop

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South Korea unveils missile it says can hit North's leaders

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea unveiled a cruise missile on Thursday that it said can hit the office of North Korea's leaders, trying to address concerns that it is technologically behind its unpredictable rival which this week conducted its third nuclear test.

South Korean officials declined to say the exact range of the missile but said it could hit targets anywhere in North Korea.

The Defence Ministry released video footage of the missiles being launched from destroyers and submarines striking mock targets. The weapon was previewed in April last year and officials said deployment was now complete.

"The cruise missile being unveiled today is a precision-guided weapon that can identify and strike the window of the office of North Korea's leadership," ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said told reporters.

North Korea has forged ahead with long-range missile development, successfully launching a rocket in December that put a satellite into orbit.

The North's ultimate aim, Washington believes, is to design an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead that could hit the United States.

North Korea, which accuses the United States and its "puppet", South Korea, of war-mongering on an almost daily basis, is likely to respond angrily to South Korea flexing its muscles.

North Korea, technically still at war with the South after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, carried out its third nuclear test on Tuesday, drawing condemnation from around the world including its only major ally China.

The test and the threat of more unspecified actions from Pyongyang have raised tensions on the Korean peninsula as the South prepares to inaugurate a new president on February 25.

"The situation prevailing on the Korean peninsula at present is so serious that even a slight accidental case may lead to an all-out war which can disturb the whole region," North Korea's official KCNA news agency said.

(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Comcast to buy rest of NBC stake for $16.7 billion

(Reuters) - Comcast Corp on Tuesday said it would buy General Electric's remaining 49 percent equity stake in their NBCUniversal joint venture for about $16.7 billion, speeding up a deal that had not been expected until at least late 2014.

Analysts said Comcast was getting a good deal at that price, while Comcast's chief executive said the company moved because it was eager to take control of the business sooner than planned.

Comcast shares rose 7.5 percent in afterhours trading.

Comcast bought 51 percent of NBC Universal in 2011 after winning antitrust approval from the Justice Department. The transaction created a $30 billion business that includes broadcast, cable networks, movie studios and theme parks.

"Pretty much in our opinion given that media stocks have gone up quite a bit, it's a very attractive price, a fair price because we had a formula buyout," Comcast Chairman and Chief Executive Brian Roberts said in an interview with Reuters. "We feel many good things coming today and in the future and we wanted to get 100 percent of that for our shareholders."

In addition to the main deal, NBCUniversal will also buy from GE Capital the properties it uses at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City and CNBC's headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, for about $1.4 billion.

Comcast said it would fund the deal with $11.4 billion of cash on hand, $4 billion in senior unsecured notes to be issued to GE, $2 billion in credit facility borrowings and the issuance of $725 million in subsidiary preferred stock to GE.

Separately, Comcast said it would increase its dividend by 20 percent and that it would buy back $2 billion in stock this year. GE also said it would accelerate its own share buy-back program to $10 billion this year.

"It's an attractive price - Comcast is getting a good deal," Wunderlich Securities analyst Matthew Harrigan said.


Comcast turned its attention to NBC after a failed $54 billion hostile takeover attempt of Disney in 2004 that ultimately led to the resignation of that company's CEO, Michael Eisner, after more than 20 years on the job.

The hostile offer exposed Comcast's desire to merge content with distribution at a time when most of its industry peers, such as Viacom-CBS and AOL-Time Warner, were doing the opposite.

While Comcast held the title of the nation's leading cable operator by a wide margin, its status as a content player was always second tier, with middling networks like E!, G4 and Golf forming the basis of its channel portfolio.

The NBC deal gave the Philadelphia-based cable operator the cable industry's top-rated entertainment network, USA, its leading business network CNBC, upstart news network MSNBC and Bravo, among others.

For GE, the sale culminates a long-planned exit from the entertainment business.

Since reaching the deal to sell its majority stake in NBC Universal, GE officials have made clear that they eventually planned to exit the entertainment business entirely.

The initial sale contract gave GE the option to sell back as much as all its remaining stake in NBC Universal by mid-2014.

The company's accelerated share buyback could be an answer to shareholders, who have wondered what GE would do with a cash windfall that could total tens of billions of dollars over several years, as the company sold its remaining NBC stake and recouped more profits earned by GE Capital.


In addition to the GE deal, Comcast reported fourth-quarter earnings on Tuesday.

It posted $15.94 billion in revenue, up 6 percent from a year ago. It posted net income of $1.8 billion, or 56 cents per share, up from $1.56 billion, or 47 cents a year ago.

In its cable business, it lost a net 7,000 video customers, which is better than the 17,000 subscribers lost a year ago.

Wall Street analysts were expecting Comcast to lose 5,000 customers, according to StreetAccount. It added 341,000 Internet customers in the quarter, which beat the 329,000 new customers analysts were expecting.

Comcast shares rose to $41.89 after the market close from $38.97 in regular trading. GE shares rose 3 percent to $23.37 from a $22.58 close.

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker, Jennifer Saba and Peter Lauria in New York, Diane Bartz in Washington, Scott Malone in Boston and A. Ananthalakshmi in Bangalore; Writing by Ben Berkowitz; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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Body slam for wrestling: Sport cut from Olympics

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — For wrestling, this may have been the ultimate body slam: getting tossed out of the Olympic rings.

The vote Tuesday by the IOC's executive board stunned the world's wrestlers, who see their sport as popular in many countries and steeped in history as old as the Olympics themselves.

While wrestling will be included at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, it was cut from the games in 2020, which have yet to be awarded to a host city.

2004 Olympic Greco-Roman champion Khasan Baroev of Russia called the decision "mind-boggling."

"I just can't believe it. And what sport will then be added to the Olympic program? What sport is worthy of replacing ours?" Baroev told the ITAR-Tass news agency. "Wrestling is popular in many countries — just see how the medals were distributed at the last Olympics."

American Rulan Gardner, who upset three-time Russian Olympic champion Alexander Karelin at the Sydney Games in an epic gold-medal bout known as the "Miracle on the Mat," was saddened by the decision to drop what he called "a beloved sport."

"It's the IOC trying to change the Olympics to make it more mainstream and more viewer-friendly instead of sticking to what they founded the Olympics on," Gardner told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Logan, Utah.

The executive board of the International Olympic Committee reviewed the 26 sports on its summer program in order to remove one of them so it could add one later this year. It decided to cut wrestling and keep modern pentathlon — a sport that combines fencing, horse riding, swimming, running and shooting — and was considered to be the most likely to be dropped.

The board voted after reviewing a report by the IOC program commission report that analyzed 39 criteria, including TV ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy and global participation and popularity. With no official rankings or recommendations contained in the report, the final decision by the 15-member board was also subject to political, emotional and sentimental factors.

"This is a process of renewing and renovating the program for the Olympics," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said. "In the view of the executive board, this was the best program for the Olympic Games in 2020. It's not a case of what's wrong with wrestling; it is what's right with the 25 core sports."

According to IOC documents obtained by the AP, wrestling ranked "low" in several of the technical criteria, including popularity with the public at the London Games — just below 5 on a scale of 10. Wrestling sold 113,851 tickets in London out of 116,854 available.

Wrestling also ranked "low" in global TV audience with a maximum of 58.5 million viewers and an average of 23 million, the documents show. Internet hits and press coverage were also ranked as low.

NBC, which televises the Olympics in the U.S., declined comment.

The IOC also noted that FILA — the international wrestling federation — has no athletes on its decision-making bodies, no women's commission, no ethics rules for technical officials and no medical official on its executive board.

Modern pentathlon also ranked low in general popularity in London, with 5.2 out of 10. The sport also ranked low in all TV categories, with maximum viewership of 33.5 million and an average of 12.5 million.

FILA has 177 member nations, compared to 108 for modern pentathlon.

Modern pentathlon, which has been on the Olympic program since the 1912 Stockholm Games, was created by French baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic movement.

It also benefited from the work of Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr., the son of the former IOC president who is a UIPM vice president and member of the IOC board.

"We were considered weak in some of the scores in the program commission report but strong in others," Samaranch told the AP. "We played our cards to the best of our ability and stressed the positives."

Klaus Schormann, president of governing body UIPM, lobbied hard to protect his sport's Olympic status and it paid off in the end.

"We have promised things and we have delivered," he said after Tuesday's decision. "That gives me a great feeling. It also gives me new energy to develop our sport further and never give up."

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

Wrestling will now join seven other sports in applying for 2020, but it is extremely unlikely that it would be voted back in so soon after being removed by the executive board.

The other sports vying for a single opening in 2020 are a combined bid from baseball and softball, karate, squash, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu, a martial art.

"Today's decision is not final," Adams said. "The session is sovereign and the session will make the final decision."

Wrestling featured 344 athletes competing in 11 medal events in freestyle and seven in Greco-Roman at last year's London Olympics, with Russia dominating the podium but Iran and Azerbaijan making strong showings. Women's wrestling was added to the Olympics at the 2004 Athens Games.

Tuesday's decision came via secret ballot over four rounds, with 14 members voting each time on which sport should not be included in the core group. IOC President Jacques Rogge did not vote.

Three sports were left in the final round: wrestling, field hockey and modern pentathlon. Eight members voted against wrestling and three each against the other two sports. Taekwondo and canoe kayaking survived the previous rounds.

"I was shocked," said IOC board member Rene Fasel of Switzerland.

"It was an extremely difficult decision to take," added IOC Vice President Thomas Bach of Germany. "The motivation of every member is never based on a single reason. There are always several reasons. It was a secret vote. There will always be criticism, but I think the great majority will understand that we took a decision based on facts and for the modernization of the Olympic Games."

Wrestling was featured in the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896. Along with Russia's Karelin, it has produced such American stars as Gardner, Bruce Baumgartner, Jeff Blatnick and Jordan Burroughs.

U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun also expressed surprise at the IOC decision, citing "the history and tradition of wrestling, and its popularity and universality."

"It is important to remember that today's action is a recommendation, and we hope that there will be a meaningful opportunity to discuss the important role that wrestling plays in the sports landscape both in the United States and around the world," Blackmun said in a statement. "In the meantime, we will fully support USA Wrestling and its athletes."

FILA said in a statement that it was "greatly astonished" by the decision, adding that the federation "will take all necessary measures to convince the IOC executive board and IOC members of the aberration of such decision against one of the founding sports of the ancient and modern Olympic Games."

It said it has always complied with IOC regulations and is represented in 180 countries, with wrestling the national sport in some of them.

The federation, which is headed by Raphael Martinetti and based in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland, said it would meet next week in Thailand to discuss the matter.

Gardner cited wrestling's worldwide popularity and urged a campaign to keep it in the Olympics.

"It just seems like wrestling — if we don't fight, we're going to die," he said. "At this point, it's time for everybody to man up and support the program."

The decision hit hard in Russia, which has long been a power in the sport.

Mikhail Mamiashvili, president of the Russian Wrestling Federation, suggested FILA had not done enough to keep the sport in the games.

"We want to hear what was done to prevent this issue from even being discussed at the board," he said on the Rossiya TV channel.

In comments carried by ITAR-Tass, Mamiashvili added: "I can say for sure that the roots of this problem is at the FILA. I believe that Martinetti's task was to work hard, socialize and defend wrestling's place before the IOC."

Alexander Leipold, a 2000 Olympic champion from Germany and former freestyle German team coach, said he was shocked.

"We are a technical, tactical martial sport where the aim is not to harm the opponent," he said. "Competing at the Olympics is the greatest for an athlete."

Wrestling's long history in the Olympics has featured some top names and moments:

— Karelin won the super-heavyweight gold in Greco-Roman over three straight Olympics — 1988, 1992 and 1996 — until his streak was ended by Gardner, who beat him for the gold in 2000.

— Baumgartner won four Olympic medals, including golds in 1984 and 1992.

— Blatnick overcame cancer to win gold in Greco-Roman at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, bursting into tears after the match. Blatnick died last year at age 55.

— Burroughs emerged as the star of the sport in London, where he won the 74-kilogram gold.

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

Among those in Lausanne were the leaders of the recently created World Baseball Softball Confederation. The two sports agreed last year to merge in a joint bid to return to the games.

Don Porter, the American who heads international softball, and Riccardo Fraccari, the Italian who leads baseball, are working out the final details of their unified body ahead of their presentation to the IOC in May.

A major hurdle remains the lack of a commitment from Major League Baseball to release top players for the Olympics.

Porter and Fraccari said they hope to have another meeting with MLB officials in April in Tokyo.

"The next thing is to sit down with them and see how they can help us," Porter said. "It all depends on the timing, the timing of the season. It's not an easy decision to allow players a week off."


Associated Press writers Lynn Berry in Moscow and Luke Meredith in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this story.

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What now after N. Korea nuclear test?


  • Test a "step forward" in North Korea's nuclear ambitions, says Chinoy

  • U.S. likely to push for tougher sanctions, he says

  • China's reaction to nuclear test will be key

  • Timing linked to power transitions in the region and propaganda value

Editor's note: Mike Chinoy, a senior follow at the University of South California, the author of Meltdown: The Inside Story of the North Korean Nuclear Crisis and a former CNN senior international correspondent explains the implications of North Korea's third nuclear test.

Hong Kong (CNN) -- After much anticipation, and against the wishes of the international community, North Korea finally pushed the button on its third underground nuclear test, this time using more sophisticated technology than its previous attempts.

While it marks another milestone in the short, but increasingly eventful, reign of young leader Kim Jong Un, it also threatens to undermine an already fragile security situation in the region.

How worried should we be about North Korea's nuclear test?

It's worrying but does this mean they can drop a nuclear weapon on Los Angeles? Absolutely not. The notion that they are going to target the U.S. is way off the mark.

Any time the North Koreans stage a test, it significantly improves their nuclear capabilities. This comes after they staged a rocket launch that was successful, a long range rocket which appears to have put a satellite into orbit. What they need to achieve to have the weapon they want is the capability to miniaturize a warhead and put it on a rocket. This test isn't going to do that in and of itself, but it is a significant step forward.

What will happen next?

The U.N. Security Council will meet. South Korea is the chair this month so they get to call the agenda. There will be discussion about a much tougher sanctions resolution. The $64,000 question is whether the Chinese will in the end agree to anything significant enough for it to really affect North Korea.

I think it's certain, whatever the U.N. does, the U.S. will move on its own to ratchet up sanctions. I also think the Americans will beef up their military presence in the region. It will mean stronger anti-missile defenses going to South Korea and possibly Japan

Why is China's reaction so important?

The Chinese don't like the idea of international sanctions and coercing other countries. They still have a strategic interest in maintaining a viable separate North Korea as a buffer against a pro-U.S. South Korea and that has only become more important as tensions between the U.S. and China have increased.

Are you worried about NK's tests? Share your views with CNN

On the other hand, a nuclear North Korea that is behaving in an adventuristic way risks very bad outcomes from the Chinese point of view. What China least wants is a more active, antagonistic, robust U.S. military presence in North East Asia in conjunction with the strengthening of military capabilities of allies who are not China's friends.

Chinese companies are more involved in North Korea than they were half a dozen years ago, so the Chinese stand to lose on that front if the U.S. tightens sanctions.

Who really calls the shots in North Korea?

(North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un has people around him but he's driving the show. There's no evidence to suggest that he's not in charge. All the personnel changes he made he was able to make without enough pushback for it to matter. He's got military people around him, and his uncle. I don't see any evidence to see that he's not ultimately in charge.

How significant is the timing of the test?

It's the birthday of Kim Jong Il (Kim Jong Un's late father) on (Saturday). Assuming this (test) is not a total dud, this will be ... great propaganda and they will play it to the hilt. North Koreans are extremely nationalistic. They may be hungry, they may be miserable but by God they've got a bomb and they can stand up to the rest of the world and that really, really matters in North Korea.

You also have a power transitions in Seoul, Tokyo (and the U.S.). How can Barack Obama not devote more attention to North Korea in his State of the Union address? Everyone is reacting to them and that's how they (North Koreans) like it.

What don't we know?

We don't know yet whether this was a test of a plutonium device or a uranium device. The previous two tests were plutonium. We know they have a uranium enrichment capability. We know that a uranium bomb, once they master it, is easier to make and they have deposits of uranium in North Korea so they can keep digging it up.

If they have successfully detonated a uranium bomb and they have moved forward in the process of developing the technical capabilities to miniaturize it and put it on a war head, then in purely military terms it's worrying

The test also raises interesting questions on the proliferation front. The more successful they are with this program, the scarier the consequences should they choose, for example, to provide Iran with test data or fissile material or other information.

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Dorner manhunt: Confusion over whether body was found

Raw footage of Christopher Dorner's cabin engulfed in flames. It is unclear who set it. There are also reports of ammo exploding inside.

There were conflicting reports tonight about whether a body was located inside the burned-out cabin Tuesday night where Christopher Jordan Dorner was believed to have kept law enforcement authorities at bay.

Several sources told The Times and many other news organizations that a body was located in the rubble. But LAPD officials just said that the cabin is still too hot to search and no body has been found.

Another update is expected within the next hour from law enforcement officers near the scene, and officials said they might have an update clarifying the confusion.

As authorities moved into the cabin earlier Tuesday, they heard a single gunshot.

According to a law enforcement source, police had broken down windows, fired tear gas into the cabin and blasted over a loud speaker urging Dorner to surrender. When they got no response, police deployed a vehicle to rip down the walls of the cabin "one by one, like peeling an onion," a law enforcement official said.

By the time they got to the last wall, authorities heard a single gunshot, the source said. Then flames began to spread through the structure, and gunshots, probably set off by the fire, were heard. 

As darkness descended on the mountainside, Dorner's body had not been found, authorities said. Police were planning to focus their search in the basement area, the source said.

Earlier Tuesday, a tall plume of smoke was rising as flames consumed the wood-paneled cabin. Hundreds of law enforcement personnel had swooped down on the site near Big Bear after the gun battles between Dorner and officers that broke out in the snow-covered mountains where the fugitive had been eluding a massive manhunt since his truck was found burning in the area late last week.

Law enforcement personnel in military-style gear and armed with high-powered weapons took up positions in the heavily forested area as the tense standoff progressed. 

One San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy died of his wounds after he and another deputy were wounded in an exchange of gunfire outside the cabin in which hundreds of rounds were fired, sources told The Times. The deputy was airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where he died of his wounds.

The afternoon gun battle was part of a quickly changing situation that began after Dorner allegedly broke into a home, tied up a couple and held them hostage. He then stole a silver pickup truck, sources said.

Then Dorner was allegedly spotted by a state Fish and Wildlife officer in the pickup truck, sources said. A vehicle-to-vehicle shootout ensued. The officer's vehicle was peppered with multiple rounds, according to authorities.

Dorner crashed his vehicle and took refuge in a nearby cabin, sources said. One deputy was hit as Dorner fired out of the cabin and a second deputy was injured when Dorner exited the back of the cabin, deployed a smoke bomb and opened fire again in an apparent attempt to flee. Dorner was driven back inside the cabin, the sources said.

During the unprecedented manhunt, officers had crisscrossed California for days pursuing the more than 1,000 tips that poured in about Dorner's possible whereabouts -- including efforts in Tijuana, San Diego County and Big Bear -- and serving warrants at homes in Las Vegas and the Point Loma area of San Diego.

Statewide alerts were issued in California and Nevada, and border authorities were alerted. The Transportation Security Administration also had issued an alert urging pilots and other aircraft operators to keep an eye out for Dorner.

The search turned to Big Bear last week after Dorner's burning truck was found on a local forest road.

At the search's height, more than 200 officers scoured the mountain, conducting cabin-by-cabin checks. It was scaled back Sunday -- about 30 officers were out in the field Tuesday, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said.

Dorner allegedly threatened "unconventional and asymmetrical warfare" against police in a lengthy manifesto that authorities say he posted on Facebook. The posting named dozens of potential targets, including police officers, whom Dorner allegedly threatened to attack, according to authorities.

Records state that the manifesto was discovered by authorities last Wednesday, three days after the slaying of an Irvine couple: Monica Quan, a Cal State Fullerton assistant basketball coach, and her fiance, Keith Lawrence, a USC public safety officer.

Quan was the daughter of a retired LAPD captain whom Dorner allegedly blamed in part for his firing from the force in 2009.

 -- Robert Lopez and Andrew Blankstein


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North Korean nuclear test draws anger, including from China

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea conducted its third nuclear test on Tuesday in defiance of U.N. resolutions, drawing condemnation from around the world, including from its only major ally, China, which summoned the North Korean ambassador to protest.

Pyongyang said the test was an act of self-defense against "U.S. hostility" and threatened stronger steps if necessary.

The test puts pressure on U.S. President Barack Obama on the day of his State of the Union speech and also puts China in a tight spot, since it comes in defiance of Beijing's admonishments to North Korea to avoid escalating tensions.

The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting at which its members, including China, "strongly condemned" the test and vowed to start work on appropriate measures in response, the president of the council said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the third of his line to rule the country, has presided over two long-range rocket launches and a nuclear test during his first year in power, pursuing policies that have propelled his impoverished and malnourished country closer to becoming a nuclear weapons power.

North Korea said the test had "greater explosive force" than those it conducted in 2006 and 2009. Its KCNA news agency said it had used a "miniaturized" and lighter nuclear device, indicating it had again used plutonium, which is suitable for use as a missile warhead.

China, which has shown signs of increasing exasperation with the recent bellicose tone of its reclusive neighbor, summoned the North Korean ambassador in Beijing and protested sternly, the Foreign Ministry said.

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said China was "strongly dissatisfied and resolutely opposed" to the test and urged North Korea to "stop any rhetoric or acts that could worsen situations and return to the right course of dialogue and consultation as soon as possible".

Analysts said the test was a major embarrassment to China, which is a permanent member of the Security Council and North Korea's sole major economic and diplomatic ally.

Obama called the test a "highly provocative act" that hurt regional stability.

"The danger posed by North Korea's threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community. The United States will also continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies," Obama said.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said Washington and its allies intended to "augment the sanctions regime" already in place due to Pyongyang's previous atomic tests. North Korea is already one of the most heavily sanctioned states in the world and has few external economic links that can be targeted.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the test was a "grave threat" that could not be tolerated.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged North Korea to abandon its nuclear arms program and return to talks. NATO condemned the test as an "irresponsible act."

South Korea, still technically at war with North Korea after a 1950-53 civil war ended in a mere truce, also denounced the test. Obama spoke to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Tuesday and told him the United States "remains steadfast in its defense commitments" to Korea, the White House said.


North Korea's Foreign Ministry said the test was "only the first response we took with maximum restraint".

"If the United States continues to come out with hostility and complicates the situation, we will be forced to take stronger, second and third responses in consecutive steps," it said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

North Korea - which gave the U.S. State Department advance warning of the test - often threatens the United States and its "puppet", South Korea, with destruction in colorful terms.

North Korea told the U.N. disarmament forum in Geneva that it would never bow to resolutions on its nuclear program and that prospects were "gloomy" for the denuclearization of the divided Korean peninsula because of a "hostile" U.S. policy.

Suzanne DiMaggio, an analyst at the Asia Society in New York, said North Korea had embarrassed China with the test. "China's inability to dissuade North Korea from carrying through with this third nuclear test reveals Beijing's limited influence over Pyongyang's actions in unusually stark terms," she said.

Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank, said: "The test is hugely insulting to China, which now can be expected to follow through with threats to impose sanctions."

The magnitude of the explosion was roughly twice that of the 2009 test, according to the Vienna-based Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty Organization. The U.S. Geological Survey said that a seismic event measuring 5.1 magnitude had occurred.

U.S. intelligence agencies were analyzing the event and found that North Korea probably conducted an underground nuclear explosion with a yield of "approximately several kilotons", the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said.

Nuclear experts have described Pyongyang's previous two tests as puny by international standards. The yield of the 2006 test has been estimated at less than 1 kiloton (1,000 tons of TNT equivalent) and the second at some 2-7 kilotons, compared with 20 kilotons for a Nagasaki-type bomb.

Initial indications are that the test involved the latest version of a plutonium-based prototype weapon, according to one current and one former U.S. national security official. Both previous tests involved plutonium. If it turns out the test was of a new uranium-based weapon, it would show that North Korea has made more progress on uranium enrichment than previously thought.

The United States uses WC-135 Constant Phoenix "sniffer" aircraft to collect samples to identify nuclear explosions. These would need to be deployed quickly to detect whether highly enriched uranium rather than plutonium was used because uranium decays to undetectable levels within a matter of days. Plutonium takes much longer to decay.

North Korea trumpeted news of the test on its state television channel to patriotic music against a backdrop of its national flag.

"It was confirmed that the nuclear test that was carried out at a high level in a safe and perfect manner using a miniaturized and lighter nuclear device with greater explosive force than previously did not pose any negative impact on the surrounding ecological environment," KCNA said.

North Korea linked the test to its technical prowess in launching a long-range rocket in December, a move that triggered the U.N. sanctions, backed by China, that Pyongyang said prompted it to take Tuesday's action.

The North's ultimate aim, Washington believes, is to design an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead that could hit the United States. North Korea says the program is aimed at putting satellites in space.

Despite its three nuclear tests and long-range rocket tests, North Korea is not believed to be close to manufacturing a nuclear missile capable of hitting the United States.

It used plutonium in previous nuclear tests and before Tuesday there had been speculation that it would use highly enriched uranium so as to conserve its plutonium stocks, as testing eats into its limited supply of materials to construct a nuclear bomb.


When Kim Jong-un, who is 30, took power after his father's death in December 2011, there were hopes that he would bring reforms and end Kim Jong-il's "military first" policies.

Instead, North Korea, whose economy is smaller than it was 20 years ago and where a third of children are believed to be malnourished, appears to be trapped in a cycle of sanctions followed by further provocations.

"The more North Korea shoots missiles, launches satellites or conducts nuclear tests, the more the U.N. Security Council will impose new and more severe sanctions," said Shen Dingli, a professor at Shanghai's Fudan University. "It is an endless, vicious cycle."

Options for the international community appear to be in short supply. Diplomats at the United Nations said negotiations on new sanctions could take weeks since China is likely to resist tough new measures for fear they could lead to further retaliation by the North Korean leadership.

Beijing has also been concerned that tougher sanctions could further weaken North Korea's economy and prompt a flood of refugees into China.

Tuesday's action appeared to have been timed for the run-up to February 16 anniversary celebrations of Kim Jong-il's birthday, as well as to achieve maximum international attention.

Significantly, the test comes at a time of political transition in China, Japan and South Korea, and as Obama begins his second term. The U.S. president will likely have to tweak his State of the Union address due to be given on Tuesday.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is bedding down a new government and South Korea's new president, Park Geun-hye, is preparing to take office on February 25.

China too is in the midst of a once-in-a-decade leadership transition to Xi Jinping, who takes office in March. Both Abe and Xi are staunch nationalists.

The longer-term game plan from Pyongyang may be to restart international talks aimed at winning food and financial aid. China urged it to return to the stalled "six-party" talks on its nuclear program, hosted by China and including the two Koreas, the United States, Japan and Russia.

Its puny economy and small diplomatic reach mean that North Korea struggles to win attention on the global stage - other than through nuclear tests and attacks on South Korea, the last of which was made in 2010.

"Now the next step for North Korea will be to offer talks... - any form to start up discussion again to bring things to their advantage," predicted Jeung Young-tae, senior research fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul.

(Additional reporting by Jack Kim, Christine Kim and Jumin Park in SEOUL; Linda Sieg in TOKYO; Louis Charbonneau and Michelle Nichols at the UNITED NATIONS; Fredrik Dahl in VIENNA; Michael Martina and Chen Aizhu in BEIJING; Mette Fraende in COPENHAGEN; Adrian Croft, Charlie Dunmore and Justyna Pawlak in BRUSSELS; Mark Hosenball, Paul Eckert, Roberta Rampton, Tabassum Zakaria and Jeff Mason in WASHINGTON; Editing by Nick Macfie, Claudia Parsons and David Brunnstrom)

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Mullens, Bobcats end Celtics' win streak 94-91

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — All in all, Monday proved to be a painful night for the Boston Celtics.

Not only did the Celtics have their seven-game losing streak snapped at the hands of the NBA's worst team, but they might have suffered yet another costly injury in their 94-91 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats.

Backup guard Leandro Barbosa, who has seen increased playing time since the season-ending injury to Rajon Rondo, injured his left knee late in the third quarter and had to be carried to the locker room by a trainer and teammate.

Coach Doc Rivers said Barbosa will have an MRI on Tuesday.

"It doesn't look great but we'll see," Rivers said.

In the seven games since Rondo's injury Barbosa had averaged nine points while playing an average of 22.5 minutes. The Celtics had won all seven games.

All of that came crashing down Monday night.

This night belonged to Charlotte's unheralded big man, Byron Mullens.

The four-year NBA veteran turned in a career game with 25 points and 18 rebounds as the Bobcats snapped a seven-game losing streak.

The 7-foot Mullens hit 10 of 16 shots from the field, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range. Ramon Sessions had 19 points for the Bobcats, including the go-ahead jumper from 18 feet with 25.7 seconds left. Kemba Walker had 18 points, six assists and six rebounds, and Gerald Henderson chipped in with 16 points.

Mullens was playing his fifth game after missing 19 with an ankle injury.

"It's big time," Walker said of Mullens' effort. "We need that from him. We need that from Byron and he can do it. We know he can do it every night. He is very capable. When he has big games like that, you know, I think that gives us a much better chance."

Mullens said he was more pleased with his rebounding than his scoring "because that is not what I'm known for.

"I just have to show the league and this organization that I can rebound," he said.

Kevin Garnett had 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Celtics, but missed a key 18-footer that would have given Boston the lead late in the game. Paul Pierce and Avery Bradley had chances to send the game into overtime in the final seconds, but missed open 3-pointers.

Jeff Green had 18 points for the Celtics and Pierce finished with 13 points, eight assists and eight rebounds.

"We had a win streak going and we had momentum going," Celtics guard Courtney Lee said. "We wanted finish out the rest of these games going into the (All-Star) break. So it's definitely a letdown. This one hurts more because we had the lead with one minute to go."

It was a back-and-forth game throughout.

After Henderson gave the Bobcats an 85-84 lead with 3:58 remaining, Jason Terry made a 3 from the wing and Garnett followed with a turnaround jumper in the lane to push the Boston lead to four.

It appeared as though the Bobcats were on their way to another fourth quarter collapse.

But trailing by four, Henderson hit a 3-point with 1:01 left. After Bradley missed an open jumper, Sessions came free off a screen and knocked down an 18-footer to give the Bobcats the lead with 25.7 seconds remaining.

The Celtics called timeout but Garnett missed from the left wing. Mullens grabbed his 18th rebound and the Walker made a pair of key free throws to give the Bobcats a three-point lead with 14.8 seconds left.

Boston set up an inbounds play and Pierce got an open look but missed. He grabbed his own rebound and dished out to the wing for Bradley, but he missed a 3 as time expired.

Boston's loss came after a triple overtime win against Denver on Thursday night, but the Celtics refused to use fatigue as an excuse.

"We put that one behind us," Green said.

As he'd planned to do before the game, Rivers went deep into his bench in the first half with 10 players seeing at least 10 minutes of action.

The Bobcats battled back in the third quarter behind 12 points from Mullens to take a 75-72 lead into the fourth. Mullens, who scored Charlotte's first 10 points of the game, did most of his damage from outside, knocking down 3-pointers and turnaround jumpers, showing great touch for a big man.

"Byron was as good as you can get in the NBA statistically in many ways," Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap said. "He's still young. He's growing. ... He's a different player because he was able to take a res. He's got live legs and he's able to see the game."

NOTES: Pierce scored in double figures for the 50th game this season. ... Bobcats center Bismack Biyombo was a force inside on the defensive end blocking four shots and grabbing seven defensive rebounds.

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Yen near fresh lows versus dollar, Asian shares steady

TOKYO (Reuters) - The yen hovered near fresh lows against the dollar and Tokyo stocks jumped back near a 33-month high on Tuesday after markets took comments from a U.S. official as giving Japan the green light to pursue policies that weaken the yen as long as they help beat deflation.

Asian shares were steady, with many regional bourses shut for holidays. Encouraging trade data from China late last week was lending support but non-Japan markets lacked momentum as investors awaited key events such as the U.S. president's State of the Union address for trading cues.

While Japan has faced some criticism from German and other European officials that it is intentionally trying to weaken the yen with monetary easing, rhetoric about a so-called currency war was dialled back ahead of a Group of 20 meeting in Moscow on Friday and Saturday.

U.S. Treasury Undersecretary Lael Brainard said on Monday the United States supports Japanese efforts to end deflation. But she also mentioned that the G7 has long committed to exchange rates determined by market forces, "except in rare circumstances where excess volatility or disorderly movements might warrant cooperation.

European Central Bank council member Jens Weidmann also said the euro was not overvalued at current levels.

The dollar was trading at 94.22 yen after marking on Monday its highest level since May 2010 of 94.465. The euro was trading at 126.28 yen after the yen fell 2 percent against the euro on Monday, pushing it back towards 127.71 yen hit last week, its highest level since April 2010.

"I think the yen's weakening is a function of (playing)catch-up," and not Japan resorting to deliberate devaluation of its currency, said Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak & Co. in New York.

"It's the market's way of saying: we're convinced there is a movement afoot to reinflate Japan."

The weaker yen in turn helped bolster sentiment for Japanese stocks, sending the Nikkei average <.n225> 2.6 percent higher. <.t/>

"While currency moves have been sensitive to officials' comments in general, people thought any comment from the G20 would trigger yen buying," said Hiroichi Nishi, an assistant general manager at SMBC Nikko Securities.

"But such worries are receding as she (Brainard) said she supports Japan's efforts to end deflation."

The yen is expected to stay under pressure on expectations that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will endorse a far more dovish Bank of Japan regime when the current leadership's term ends next month. The BOJ is expected to refrain from taking fresh easing steps when it meets this week.

The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.miapj0000pus> was little changed. Australian shares inched up 0.1 percent led by financials, as investors waited for corporate earnings results.

Trading resumed in Japan and South Korea but markets remained closed in Singapore, Hong Kong, mainland China, Malaysia and Taiwan.

G20 officials said on Monday the Group of Seven nations are considering a statement this week reaffirming their commitment to "market-determined" exchange rates.

Currency and equities markets were also looking ahead to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address later on Tuesday, for any signs of a deal to avert automatic spending cuts due to take effect on March 1.

"We believe that the G20's take on currency wars, Mr. Obama's upcoming state of the union address, and data on the current condition of the US economy should help markets assess where the global recovery stands and where we are heading," Barclays Capital said in a research report.

Wall Street and world equity markets were little changed in light volume on Monday as a lack of major economic news gave investors little incentive to push prices higher after a robust performance last week.

U.S. and Chinese data last week lifted the tech-focused Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> to a 12-year closing high and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> to a five-year peak on Friday.

U.S. crude futures edged down 0.2 percent to $96.88 a barrel while Brent steadied around $118.12.

Spot gold stayed near a one-month low.

(Additional reporting by Ayai Tomisawa and Lisa Twaronite in Tokyo; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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Why pope will long be remembered

Tim Stanley says Pope Benedict will be seen as an important figure in church history.


  • Timothy Stanley: Benedict XVI's resignation is historic since popes usually serve for life

  • He says pope not so much conservative as asserting church's "living tradition"

  • He backed traditionalists, but a conflicted flock, scandal, culture wars a trial to papacy, he says

  • Stanley: Pope kept to principle, and if it's not what modern world wanted, that's world's problem

Editor's note: Timothy Stanley is a historian at Oxford University and blogs for Britain's The Daily Telegraph. He is the author of "The Crusader: The Life and Times of Pat Buchanan."

(CNN) -- Journalists have a habit of calling too many things "historic" -- but on this occasion, the word is appropriate. The Roman Catholic Church is run like an elected monarchy, and popes are supposed to rule until death; no pope has stepped down since 1415.

Therefore, it almost feels like a concession to the modern world to read that Benedict XVI is retiring on grounds of ill health, as if he were a CEO rather than God's man on Earth. That's highly ironic considering that Benedict will be remembered as perhaps the most "conservative" pope since the 1950s -- a leader who tried to assert theological principle over fashionable compromise.

Timothy Stanley

Timothy Stanley

The word "conservative" is actually misleading, and the monk who received me into the Catholic Church in 2006 -- roughly a year after Benedict began his pontificate -- would be appalled to read me using it. In Catholicism, there is no right or left but only orthodoxy and error. As such, Benedict would understand the more controversial stances that he took as pope not as "turning back the clock" but as asserting a living tradition that had become undervalued within the church. His success in this regard will be felt for generations to come.

He not only permitted but quietly encouraged traditionalists to say the old rite, reviving the use of Latin or receiving the communion wafer on the tongue. He issued a new translation of the Roman Missal that tried to make its language more precise. And, in the words of one priest, he encouraged the idea that "we ought to take care and time in preparing for the liturgy, and ensure we celebrate it with as much dignity as possible." His emphasis was upon reverence and reflection, which has been a healthy antidote to the 1960s style of Catholicism that encouraged feverish participation bordering on theatrics.

Nothing the pope proposed was new, but it could be called radical, trying to recapture some of the certainty and beauty that pervaded Catholicism before the reforming Vatican II. Inevitably, this upset some. Progressives felt that he was promoting a form of religion that belonged to a different century, that his firm belief in traditional moral theology threatened to distance the church from the people it was supposed to serve.

If that's true, it wasn't the pope's intent. Contrary to the general impression that he's favored a smaller, purer church, Benedict has actually done his best to expand its reach. The most visible sign was his engagement on Twitter. But he also reached out to the Eastern Orthodox Churches and spoke up for Christians persecuted in the Middle East.

In the United Kingdom, he encouraged married Anglican priests to defect. He has even opened up dialogue with Islam. During his tenure, we've also seen a new embrace of Catholicism in the realm of politics, from Paul Ryan's nomination to Tony Blair's high-profile conversion. And far from only talking about sex, Benedict expanded the number of sins to include things such as pollution. It's too often forgotten that in the 1960s he was considered a liberal who eschewed the clerical collar.

The divisions and controversies that occurred under Benedict's leadership had little to do with him personally and a lot more to do with the Catholic Church's difficult relationship with the modern world. As a Catholic convert, I've signed up to its positions on sexual ethics, but I appreciate that many millions have not. A balance has to be struck between the rights of believers and nonbelievers, between respect for tradition and the freedom to reject it.

As the world has struggled to strike that balance (consider the role that same-sex marriage and abortion played in the 2012 election) so the church has found itself forced to be a combatant in the great, ugly culture war. Benedict would rather it played the role of reconciler and healer of wounds, but at this moment in history that's not possible. Unfortunately, its alternative role as moral arbiter has been undermined by the pedophile scandal. Nothing has dogged this pontificate so much as the tragedy of child abuse, and it will continue to blot its reputation for decades to come.

For all these problems, my sense is that Benedict will be remembered as a thinker rather than a fighter. I have been so fortunate to become a Catholic at a moment of liturgical revival under a pope who can write a book as majestic and wise as his biography of Jesus. I've been lucky to know a pope with a sense of humor and a willingness to talk and engage.

If he wasn't what the modern world wanted -- if he wasn't prepared to bend every principle or rule to appease all the people all the time -- then that's the world's problem rather than his. Although he has attained one very modern distinction indeed. On Monday, he trended ahead of Justin Bieber on Twitter for at least an hour.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Timothy Stanley.

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Slain teen's dad: 'The healing can start' after 2 charged with murder

Two reputed gang members were out for revenge from a previous shooting when they opened fire on a group of students in a South Side park last month, killing 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton in a heartbreaking case that has brought national attention to Chicago's rampant gun violence, police said.

Michael Ward, 18, and Kenneth Williams, 20, were each charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and aggravated battery with a firearm in the Jan. 29 attack that also left two teens wounded.

Ward confessed to police that he and Williams mistook a Pendleton companion for rivals who had shot and wounded Williams last July, police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said at a news conference Monday night at the Area Central police headquarters.

Ward told police that he and Williams got out of their car, crept up on the group and opened fire in Harsh Park, McCarthy said. Williams then drove them from the scene, he said.

"The offenders had it all wrong. They thought the group they shot into included members of a rival gang. Instead it was a group of upstanding, determined kids who, like Hadiya, were repulsed by the gang lifestyle," said McCarthy, flanked by two dozen detectives and gang investigators who worked the case.

Detectives arrested the two Saturday night as the suspects were on their way to a suburban strip club to celebrate a friend's birthday, McCarthy said. Pendleton had been buried only hours earlier in a funeral attended by first lady Michelle Obama.

"I don't even know what to say about that," McCarthy said. "They were going out to celebrate at a strip club."

Williams did not confess and police have not recovered a weapon, McCarthy said. Both are due in bond court Tuesday.

Hadiya's father, Nathaniel Pendleton, said Monday night that news of the charges marked the first time since his daughter's slaying that he had a "legitimate" smile on his face.

"I'm ecstatic that they found the two guys," he told the Tribune during a brief telephone interview from Washington, D.C., where he and wife Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton will attend the State of the Union address Tuesday as guests of President Barack Obama. "(I'm) thanking God that these two guys are off the streets, so that this doesn't happen to another innocent person."

Danetria Hutson, 15, a classmate who held Hadiya in her arms after she was shot, said she and others who witnessed the shooting have had nightmares.

"A lot of us were actually paranoid because the guys were still out there," Hutson said in a telephone interview. "They knew where we went to school."

McCarthy said that two days before the killing, police had stopped Ward in his Nissan Sentra as part of a routine gang investigation. That information wound up being the starting point for detectives when witnesses in the shooting described seeing a similar car driving away from the shooting scene, he said.

Through surveillance and interviews — including several fruitful interviews with parolees in the neighborhood — detectives were able to home in on Ward and Williams, McCarthy said. On Saturday night, the decision was made to stop the two if they were spotted. Police watched as they departed in a caravan of cars headed to the strip club in Harvey. They were stopped near 67th Street and South King Drive and taken in for questioning.

McCarthy said Williams was shot July 11 at 39th Street and South Lake Park Avenue, and an arrest was made. But that gunman was let go after Williams refused to cooperate, McCarthy said.

McCarthy also noted that at the time of Hadiya's slaying, Ward was on probation for a weapons conviction. McCarthy said weak Illinois gun laws allowed Ward to avoid jail time because of the absence of mandatory minimum sentences.

"This incident did not have to occur," McCarthy said. "And if mandatory minimums existed in the state of Illinois, Michael Ward would not have been on the street to commit this heinous act."

In announcing the charges, McCarthy praised the "meticulous" detective work that led to the arrests, but he also expressed frustration that despite a $40,000 reward for information in the shooting, no one who had knowledge of the crime came forward.

"While we received a lot of tips in this particular case and the community really stepped up and tried to help us, I'm sad to point out that we did not get our target audience to step up," the superintendent said.

Hadiya was fatally shot about a mile north of the president's Kenwood neighborhood home a little more than a week after the King College Prep honor student performed with her school band near Washington during inauguration festivities.

Hadiya's death occurred during the deadliest January in Chicago since 2002. It also came on the heels of a homicide total last year that was the highest since 2008 and the second highest since 2003.

The first lady's attendance at Hadiya's funeral pushed Chicago further into the spotlight of a debate over gun violence that has polarized Congress and led the president to take his plans for gun control on the road to garner more public support. The president is scheduled to appear in Chicago on Friday to talk about violence.

In the days after Hadiya's death, clergy and community leaders raised the $40,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the teen's killer or killers.

The victim's father acknowledged that true closure will come if Ward and Williams are convicted of the crimes. But the charges, he said, are a good start.

"Right now, I can say to you that the healing can start," Pendleton said.



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Pope's sudden resignation sends shockwaves through Church

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict stunned the Roman Catholic Church on Monday when he announced he would stand down, the first pope to do so in 700 years, saying he no longer had the mental and physical strength to carry on.

Church officials tried to relay a climate of calm confidence in the running of a 2,000-year-old institution, but the decision could lead to uncertainty in a Church already besieged by scandal for covering up sexual abuse of children by priests.

The soft-spoken German, who always maintained that he never wanted to be pope, was an uncompromising conservative on social and theological issues, fighting what he regarded as the increasing secularization of society.

It remains to be seen whether his successor will continue such battles or do more to bend with the times.

Despite his firm opposition to tolerance of homosexual acts, his eight year reign saw gay marriage accepted in many countries. He has staunchly resisted allowing women to be ordained as priests, and opposed embryonic stem cell research, although he retreated slightly from the position that condoms could never be used to fight AIDS.

He repeatedly apologized for the Church's failure to root out child abuse by priests, but critics said he did too little and the efforts failed to stop a rapid decline in Church attendance in the West, especially in his native Europe.

In addition to child sexual abuse crises, his papacy saw the Church rocked by Muslim anger after he compared Islam to violence. Jews were upset over rehabilitation of a Holocaust denier. During a scandal over the Church's business dealings, his butler was accused of leaking his private papers.

In an announcement read to cardinals in Latin, the universal language of the Church, the 85-year-old said: "Well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of St Peter ...

"As from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours (1900 GMT) the See of Rome, the See of St. Peter will be vacant and a conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is."


Benedict is expected to go into isolation for at least a while after his resignation. Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Benedict did not intend to influence the decision of the cardinals in a secret conclave to elect a successor.

A new leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics could be elected as soon as Palm Sunday, on March 24, and be ready to take over by Easter a week later, Lombardi said.

Several popes in the past, including Benedict's predecessor John Paul, have refrained from stepping down over their health, because of the division that could be caused by having an "ex-pope" and a reigning pope alive at the same time.

Lombardi said the pope did not fear a possible "schism", with Catholics owing allegiances to a past and present pope in case of differences on Church teachings.

He indicated the complex machinery of the process to elect a new pope would move quickly because the Vatican would not have to wait until after the elaborate funeral services for a pope.

It is not clear if Benedict will have a public life after he resigns. Lombardi said Benedict would first go to the papal summer residence south of Rome and then move into a cloistered convent inside the Vatican walls.

The resignation means that cardinals from around the world will begin arriving in Rome in March and after preliminary meetings, lock themselves in a secret conclave and elect the new pope from among themselves in votes in the Sistine Chapel.

There has been growing pressure on the Church for it to choose a pope from the developing world to better reflect where most Catholics live and where the Church is growing.

"It could be time for a black pope, or a yellow one, or a red one, or a Latin American," said Guatemala's Archbishop Oscar Julio Vian Morales.

The cardinals may also want a younger man. John Paul was 58 when he was elected in 1978. Benedict was 20 years older.

"We have had two intellectuals in a row, two academics, perhaps it is time for a diplomat," said Father Tom Reese, senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. "Rather than electing the smartest man in the room, they should elect the man who will listen to all the other smart people in the Church."

Liberals have already begun calling for a pope that would be more open to reform.

"The current system remains an 'old boy's club' and does not allow for women's voices to participate in the decision of the next leader of our Church," said the Women's Ordination Conference, a group that wants women to be able to be priests.


The last pope to resign willingly was Celestine V in 1294 after reigning for only five months, his resignation was known as "the great refusal" and was condemned by the poet Dante in the "Divine Comedy". Gregory XII reluctantly abdicated in 1415 to end a dispute with a rival claimant to the papacy.

Lombardi said Benedict's stepping aside showed "great courage". He ruled out any specific illness or depression and said the decision was made in the last few months "without outside pressure". But the decision was not without controversy.

"This is disconcerting, he is leaving his flock," said Alessandra Mussolini, a parliamentarian who is granddaughter of Italy's wartime dictator. "The pope is not any man. He is the vicar of Christ. He should stay on to the end, go ahead and bear his cross to the end. This is a huge sign of world destabilization that will weaken the Church."

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, secretary to the late Pope John Paul, said the former pope had stayed on despite failing health for the last decade of his life as he believed "you cannot come down from the cross."

While the pope had slowed down recently - he started using a cane and a wheeled platform to take him up the long aisle in St Peter's Square - he had given no hint recently that he was considering such a dramatic decision.

Elected in 2005 to succeed the enormously popular John Paul, Benedict never appeared to feel comfortable in the job.


In his announcement, the pope told the cardinals that in order to govern "... both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me."

Before he was elected pope, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was known as "God's rottweiler" for his stern stand on theological issues. After a few months, he showed a milder side but he never drew the kind of adulation that had marked the 27-year papacy of his predecessor John Paul.

U.S. President Barack Obama extended prayers to Benedict and best wishes to those who would choose his successor.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the pope's decision must be respected if he feels he is too weak to carry out his duties. British Prime Minister David Cameron said: "He will be missed as a spiritual leader to millions."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the worldwide Anglican communion, said he had learned of the pope's decision with a heavy heart but complete understanding.


Elected to the papacy on April 19, 2005, Benedict ruled over a slower-paced, more cerebral and less impulsive Vatican.

But while conservatives cheered him for trying to reaffirm traditional Catholic identity, his critics accused him of turning back the clock on reforms by nearly half a century and hurting dialogue with Muslims, Jews and other Christians.

After appearing uncomfortable in the limelight at the start, he began feeling at home with his new job and showed that he intended to be pope in his way.

Despite great reverence for his charismatic, globe-trotting predecessor -- whom he put on the fast track to sainthood and whom he beatified in 2011 -- aides said he was determined not to change his quiet manner to imitate John Paul's style.

A quiet, professorial type who relaxed by playing the piano, he showed the gentle side of a man who was the Vatican's chief doctrinal enforcer for nearly a quarter of a century.

The first German pope for some 1,000 years and the second non-Italian in a row, he traveled regularly, making about four foreign trips a year, but never managed to draw the oceanic crowds of his predecessor.

The child abuse scandals hounded most of his papacy. He ordered an official inquiry into abuse in Ireland, which led to the resignation of several bishops.

Scandal from a source much closer to home hit in 2012 when the pontiff's butler, responsible for dressing him and bringing him meals, was found to be the source of leaked documents alleging corruption in the Vatican's business dealings.

Benedict confronted his own country's past when he visited the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. Calling himself "a son of Germany", he prayed and asked why God was silent when 1.5 million victims, most of them Jews, were killed there.

Ratzinger served in the Hitler Youth during World War Two when membership was compulsory. He was never a member of the Nazi party and his family opposed Adolf Hitler's regime.

(Additional reporting by James Mackenzie, Barry Moody, Cristiano Corvino, Alexandra Hudson in Berlin, and Dagamara Leszkowixa in Poland; Editing by Peter Graff)

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