Euro shares dip as fiscal cliff deadline nears

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LONDON (Reuters) - World stocks were set to end the year up 15 percent but dipped on Monday as U.S. politicians prepared for last-minute talks to avoid a fiscal crunch of spending cuts and tax hikes that could drag down the world economy.


In Washington, the two political parties are set to hold further talks to try and find a way to avoid the $600 billion "fiscal cliff" due to kick in from the start of January.


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate would resume sitting at 11 a.m. Washington time on Monday (1600 GMT), to continue discussions, but there were still significant differences between the two sides.


After a subdued day in Asia, where Japan's Nikkei as well as a number of other indexes had already shut for the year, European stock markets opened fractionally lower.


The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 <.fteu3>, which has risen roughly 16 percent this year, was down 0.1 percent as London's FTSE <.ftse> and the Paris CAC 40 <.fchi> both started a shortened trading day in negative territory. German markets were closed.


"Volumes are very depressed and we're going to see a lot of cash off the table and investors are probably going to take profit on cyclical shares," Ishaq Siddiqi, a market strategist at ETX Capital, said.


Siddiqi said a failure to avert the "fiscal cliff" may push the FTSE back to a late November low of 5,800 in the coming sessions.


Midnight on Monday marks the deadline for a U.S. budget deal, though the government can pass legislation in 2013 that retroactively prevents going over the cliff, an option that is viewed as politically easier.


In currency markets, the U.S. dollar last stood at 85.78 yen, having retreated from Friday's high of 86.64 yen, which was the greenback's strongest level versus the Japanese currency since August 2010.


As the year draws to a close, the dollar is up about 11.9 percent against the yen, putting it on track for its biggest percentage gain versus the Japanese currency since 2005.


The euro was down 0.16 percent to $1.3192 on Monday. An agreement on the U.S. budget would be viewed as positive for riskier currencies such as the euro and Australian dollar, while a deadlock is deemed positive for the haven and highly liquid dollar.


Gold was $1,664.10 an ounce by 0810 GMT, up around 6 percent for the year and is on track for a 12th consecutive year of gains on rock-bottom interest rates, concerns over the financial stability of the euro zone, and diversification into bullion by central banks.


Oil prices slipped on Monday for a third consecutive session on the U.S. budget crisis, with failure to reach a solution seen likely to cause a large drop in fuel consumption.


Brent crude slipped 23 cents to $110.39 a barrel, but is set to post a 2.8 percent year-on-year increase in 2012, up for a fourth consecutive year.


(Additional reporting by Francesco Canepa; Editing by Giles Elgood)



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Redskins beat Cowboys 28-18 to win NFC East

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LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — "R-G-3!" was all Redskins fans needed to chant when they wanted to express their love for Robert Griffin III. For the lesser-known rookie, they opted for his whole name: "Alf-red Mor-ris!"


It's a new generation that has Washington atop the NFC East for the first time this millennium. There's Griffin — the vocal leader, the first-round draft pick, the Heisman Trophy winner, the team captain. And there's Morris — the out-of-nowhere sixth-rounder from Florida Atlantic who merely ran for 200 yards and three touchdowns in the division-clincher and broke the franchise single-season rushing record.


"These," cornerback DeAngelo Hall said, "aren't ordinary rookies."


The Redskins claimed their first division title since 1999, beating the archrival Dallas Cowboys 28-18 Sunday night in a winner-take-all finale to end the NFL's regular season.


"I was 9 years old in 1999," said Griffin, sporting a black baseball cap commemorating the title. "So I stand before you at 22, and the Redskins are the NFC East champions. To me, talking to Alfred after the game, it's the first time the Redskins have been champs since '99 and we came in and we did it in one year. The sky's the limit for this team."


Griffin, gradually regaining his explosiveness after spraining his right knee four weeks ago, ran for 63 yards and a touchdown for the Redskins (10-6), who finished with seven straight wins after their bye week. They became the first NFL team to rally from 3-6 and make the playoffs since the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1996.


With the running game working so well, Griffin didn't have to throw much. He completed nine of 18 passes for 100 yards.


Washington will host Seattle next Sunday, the Redskins' third consecutive playoff game against the Seahawks. They lost at Seattle as a wild-card team in the 2005 and 2007 seasons.


"I've been here for the 4-12, the bad times, almost being the joke of the NFL," veteran defensive lineman Kedric Golston said. "But to do this with this group of guys — the old and the new — it's good to be here."


Certainly, Sunday night was mostly about the new. Morris had touchdown runs of 1, 17 and 32 yards and was so dominant that the Cowboys — missing their five best run defenders due to injuries — fell hook, line and sinker nearly every time the Redskins faked the ball to him. He finished with 1,613 yards for the year, topping Clinton Portis' 1,516 in 2005.


"I'll tell you what: Alfred Morris became a star tonight," Redskins tight end Chris Cooley said. "He deserved it. He's a phenomenal football player."


To which Morris answered: "I'm never a star. I'll never be a star. Other people might think I'm a star, but I'm just Alfred."


He won't have much choice if he keeps this up. On the Redskins' go-ahead drive in the third quarter, six plays were runs by Morris and the other three involved fakes to him. The touchdown came when Griffin faked to Morris — one of several times linebacker DeMarcus Ware was totally fooled by deception in the backfield — and ran 10 yards around left end to put Washington ahead 14-7.


The Cowboys (8-8), meanwhile, will miss the playoffs for the third straight season, having stumbled in a make-or-break end-of-regular-season game for the third time in five years.


Tony Romo threw three interceptions — matching his total from the last eight games combined. A poor throw was picked by Rob Jackson when the Cowboys had a chance to drive for a winning score in the final minutes.


"I feel as though I let our team down," Romo said.


Romo completed 20 of 31 passes for 218 yards, and his career is now further tainted by post-Christmas disappointments, including Week 17 losses to the Philadelphia Eagles (44-6) in 2008 and the New York Giants (31-14) last year. He's also 1-3 in playoff games.


"Your legacy will be written when you're done playing the game," Romo said. "And when it's over with, you'll look back. ... It's disappointing not being able to get over that hump."


The Cowboys played catch-up after Morris' 32-yard scamper gave the Redskins a 21-10 cushion with 10:32 to play, pulling within three on a 10-yard pass to Kevin Ogletree and a 2-point conversion with 5:50 left. But Morris' third touchdown sealed the win with 1:09 remaining.


The Cowboys also dealt with in-game injuries to receivers Miles Austin (left ankle), Dez Bryant (back) and Dwayne Harris (lower leg). Bryant, who had a torrid second half of the season despite breaking his left index finger, had four catches for 71 yards.


Washington's slow start this season prompted coach Mike Shanahan to dismiss playoff hopes and declare the remaining seven games would determine which players would be on his team "for years to come."


Griffin and his teammates had other plans, and the coach quickly changed his tune. Now the Redskins will be playing in January.


"All odds were against us," Morris said. "But we believed in each other."


Notes: Griffin set two more NFL rookie records. His 102.4 passer rating topped Ben Roethlisberger's 98.1 in 2004, and his 1.3 percentage of passes intercepted is better than Charlie Batch's 1.98 in 1998. Griffin had already set the league mark for rushing yards by a rookie QB (815). ... The Redskins also set a franchise record for fewest turnovers in a season with 14, fewer even than the 1982 team that played only nine regular-season games because of a players strike.


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Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP


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


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'Fiscal cliff' disputes remain as deadline nears

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House and Senate Republicans sorted through stubborn disputes over taxing the wealthy and cutting the budget to pay for Democratic spending proposals as Monday's midnight deadline for an accord avoiding the "fiscal cliff" drew to within hours.


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., spoke repeatedly Sunday to Vice President Joe Biden, a former Senate colleague, in hopes of settling remaining differences and clinching a breakthrough that has evaded the two sides since President Barack Obama's November re-election. In one indication of the eleventh-hour activity, aides said the president, Biden and top administration bargainer Rob Nabors were all working late at the White House, and McConnell was making late-night phone calls as well.


Unless an agreement is reached and approved by Congress by the start of New Year's Day, more than $500 billion in 2013 tax increases will begin to take effect and $109 billion will be carved from defense and domestic programs. Though the tax hikes and budget cuts would be felt gradually, economists warn that if allowed to fully take hold, their combined impact — the so-called fiscal cliff — would rekindle a recession.


"There is still significant distance between the two sides, but negotiations continue," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said shortly before the Senate ended an unusual Sunday session. "There is still time to reach an agreement, and we intend to continue negotiations."


The House and Senate planned to meet Monday, a rarity for New Year's Eve, in hopes of having a tentative agreement to consider. Yet despite the flurry of activity, there was still no final pact.


And in a move that was sure to irritate Republicans, Reid was planning — absent a deal — to force a Senate vote Monday on Obama's campaign-season proposal to continue expiring tax cuts for all but those with income exceeding $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples.


Attached to the measure — which the GOP seemed likely to block — would be an extension of jobless benefits for around 2 million long-term unemployed people. The plan was described by Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, the chamber's No. 2 Democrat.


The House and Senate met Sunday ready to debate an agreement or at least show voters they were trying. But the day produced alternating bursts of progress and pitfalls, despite Senate chaplain Barry Black's opening prayer in which he asked the heavens, "Look with favor on our nation and save us from self-inflicted wounds."


In one sign of movement, Republicans dropped a demand to slow the growth of Social Security and other benefits by changing how those payments are increased each year to allow for inflation.


Obama had offered to include that change, despite opposition by many Democrats, as part of earlier, failed bargaining with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, over a larger deficit reduction agreement. But Democrats said they would never include the new inflation formula in the smaller deal now being sought to forestall wide-ranging tax boosts and budget cuts, and Republicans relented.


"It's just acknowledging the reality," Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said of the GOP decision to drop the idea.


There was still no final agreement on the income level above which decade-old income tax cuts would be allowed to expire. While Obama has long insisted on letting the top 35 percent tax rate rise to 39.6 percent on earnings over $250,000, he'd agreed to boost that level to $400,000 in his talks with Boehner. GOP senators said they wanted the figure hoisted to at least that level.


Senators said disagreements remained over taxing large inherited estates. Republicans want the tax left at its current 35 percent, with the first $5.1 million excluded, while Democrats want the rate increased to 45 percent with a smaller exclusion.


The two sides were also apart on how to keep the alternative minimum tax from raising the tax bills of nearly 30 million middle-income families and how to extend tax breaks for research by business and other activities.


Republicans were insisting that budget cuts be found to pay for some of the spending proposals Democrats were pushing.


These included proposals to erase scheduled defense and domestic cuts exceeding $200 billion over the next two years and to extend unemployment benefits. Republicans complained that in effect, Democrats would pay for that spending with the tax boosts on the wealthy.


"We can't use tax increases on anyone to pay for more spending," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.


Both parties also want to block an immediate 27 percent cut in reimbursements to doctors who treat Medicare patients. Republicans wanted to find savings from Obama's health care bill as well as from Medicare providers, while Democrats want to protect the health care law from cuts.


Both sides agree that a temporary 2-percentage-point cut in the Social Security payroll tax was likely to expire. That reduction — to 4.2 percent — was initiated by Obama two years ago to help spur the economy and has meant $1,000 annual savings to families earning $50,000.


A senior defense official said if the spending cuts were triggered, the Pentagon would soon begin notifying its 800,000 civilian employees to expect furloughs — mandatory unpaid leave, not layoffs. It would take time for the furloughs to be implemented, said the official, who requested anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the preparations


___


Associated Press writers David Espo, Julie Pace and Robert Burns contributed to this report.


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Rhoma Irama: Saya Bina Bangsa ini Sudah 40 Tahun  

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TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Rhoma Irama sudah siap maju ke bursa pencalonan Presiden 2014. Ditemui Tempo di kediamannya, Senin, 24 Desember 2012, raja dangdut ini buka suara soal keinginannya untuk memperbaiki akhlak bangsa. Rhoma mengaku tidak berambisi menjadi presiden, berikut kutipannya dari majalah Tempo Edisi 31 Desember 2012:



Soal pencalonan presiden. Kenapa Anda yang didorong maju?


Karena saya punya popularitas. Integritas saya bisa dilihat dari lirik lagu saya. Sebelum ada KPK, saya sudah menyerukan pemberantasan korupsi di lagu Indonesia. Orang belum bicara HAM, saya sudah ciptakan lagu Hak Asasi.



Boleh kami tahu apa yang membuat Anda menciptakan lagu Hak Asasi?


Saya terpanggil untuk menghormati hak asasi manusia karena ada sikap diskriminatif, tidak manusiawi. Waktu itu, di era Orde Baru, ada otoritarianisme.



Bagaimana dengan hak asasi kelompok Ahmadiyah yang banyak dilanggar?


Ini wilayah agama, kita sudah punya Majelis Ulama Indonesia. Pemerintah seharusnya hanya mengeksekusi fatwa MUI. Ahmadiyah menyimpang dari akidah Islam, maka harus dibubarkan.



Bukankah itu tidak sesuai dengan hak asasi manusia? Selain itu, bagaimana membubarkan keyakinan?


Kalau mau menyimpang dari kebenaran Al-Quran boleh, tapi jangan pakai Islam. Ahmadiyah boleh mengakui nabi lain, pakai kitab suci lain, itu hak asasi. Pakai istilah lain. Kalau Islam itu nabi terakhirnya Muhammad.



Tadi Anda mengkritik Orde Baru, tapi kemudian Anda bergabung dengan Golkar.


Saya pernah menjadi simpatisan PPP sewaktu masih berasas Islam. Begitu ada kewajiban asas tunggal, saya mundur karena tidak ada kepentingan. Terakhir saya bergabung dengan Golkar karena sangat islami dan memperjuangkan Islam.



Anda tak khawatir hanya dijadikan ”jualan” partai untuk meraup suara?


Saya rasa enggak. Saya berprasangka baik kepada orang-orang yang sependapat, sevisi, dan misi.



Apakah Anda merasa memiliki kompetensi untuk menjadi presiden?


Setiap orang adalah pemimpin. Saya sudah menjadi pemimpin, tapi informal. Saya membina bangsa ini sudah 40 tahun dengan cara saya, yaitu dakwah musik. Jadi saya kenal bangsa ini, saya tahu banget. Karena itu, lagu-lagu saya banyak bertema sosial dan politik.



Tapi ini soal memimpin negara, perlu manajemen yang mumpuni.


Tanpa manajemen yang baik, mana mungkin Soneta bisa bertahan selama 40 tahun? Itu adalah ukuran kepemimpinan.



Baiklah. Apakah Anda sudah memiliki nama calon wakil presiden?


Masih jauhlah itu. Belum sampai ke sana.



MAJALAH TEMPO | ALIA



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Chavez suffers new post-surgery complications

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CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is suffering more complications linked to a respiratory infection that hit him after his fourth cancer operation in Cuba, his vice president said in a somber broadcast on Sunday.


Vice President Nicolas Maduro flew to Cuba to visit Chavez in the hospital as supporters' fears grew for the ailing 58-year-old socialist leader, who has not been seen in public nor heard from in three weeks.


Chavez had already suffered unexpected bleeding caused by the six-hour operation on December 11 for an undisclosed form of cancer in his pelvic area. Officials said doctors then had to fight a respiratory infection.


"Just a few minutes ago we were with President Chavez. He greeted us and he himself talked about these complications," Maduro said in the broadcast, adding that the third set of complications arose because of the respiratory infection.


"Thanks to his physical and spiritual strength, Comandante Chavez is confronting this difficult situation."


Maduro, flanked by his wife Attorney-General Cilia Flores, Chavez's daughter Rosa Virginia and her husband, Science Minister Jorge Arreaza, said he would remain in Havana while Chavez's condition evolved.


He said Chavez's condition remained "delicate" - a term he has used since the day after the surgery, when he warned Venezuelans to prepare for difficult times and urged them to keep the president in their prayers.


"We trust that the avalanche of love and solidarity with Comandante Chavez, together with his immense will to live and the care of the best medical specialists, will help our president win this new battle," Maduro said.


A senior government official in Caracas said the New Year's Eve party in the capital's central Plaza Bolivar had been canceled. "Everyone pray for strength for our comandante to overcome this difficult moment," the official, Jacqueline Faria, added on Twitter after making the announcement.


OIL-FINANCED SOCIALISM


Chavez's resignation for health reasons, or his death, would upend politics in the OPEC nation where his personalized brand of oil-financed socialism has made him a hero to the poor but a pariah to critics who call him a dictator.


His condition is being closely watched around Latin America, especially in other nations run by leftist governments, from Cuba to Bolivia, which depend on subsidized fuel shipments and other aid from Venezuela for their fragile economies.


Chavez has not provided details of the cancer that was first diagnosed in June 2011, leading to speculation among Venezuela's 29 million people and criticism from opposition leaders.


Chavez's allies have openly discussed the possibility that he may not be able to return to Venezuela to be inaugurated for his third six-year term as president on the constitutionally mandated date of January 10.


Senior "Chavista" officials have said the people's wishes were made clear when the president was re-elected in October, and that the constitution makes no provision for what happens if a president-elect cannot take office on January 10.


Opposition leaders say any postponement would be just the latest sign that Chavez is not in a fit state to govern and that new elections should be called to choose his replacement. If Chavez had to step down, new elections would be called within 30 days.


Opposition figures believe they have a better shot against Maduro, who was named earlier this month by Chavez as his heir apparent, than against the charismatic president who for 14 years has been nearly invincible at the ballot box.


Any constitutional dispute over succession could lead to a messy transition toward a post-Chavez era in the country that boasts the biggest oil reserves in the world.


Maduro has become the face of the government in Chavez's absence, imitating the president's bombastic style and sharp criticism of the United States and its "imperialist" policies.


In Sunday's broadcast, Maduro said Chavez sent New Year greetings to all Venezuelans, "especially the children, whom he carries in his heart always."


(Additional reporting by Deisy Buitrago and Mario Naranjo; Editng by Kieran Murray and Christopher Wilson)



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Wall Street Week Ahead: Cliff may be a fear, but debt ceiling much scarier

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(Reuters) - Investors fearing a stock market plunge - if the United States tumbles off the "fiscal cliff" next week - may want to relax.


But they should be scared if a few weeks later, Washington fails to reach a deal to increase the nation's debt ceiling because that raises the threat of a default, another credit downgrade and a panic in the financial markets.


Market strategists say that while falling off the cliff for any lengthy period - which would lead to automatic tax hikes and stiff cuts in government spending - would badly hurt both consumer and business confidence, it would take some time for the U.S. economy to slide into recession. In the meantime, there would be plenty of chances for lawmakers to make amends by reversing some of the effects.


That has been reflected in a U.S. stock market that has still not shown signs of melting down. Instead, it has drifted lower and become more volatile.


In some ways, that has let Washington off the hook. In the past, a plunge in stock prices forced the hand of Congress, such as in the middle of the financial crisis in 2008.


"If this thing continues for a bit longer and the result is you get a U.S. debt downgrade ... the risk is not that you lose two-and-a-half percent, the risk is that you lose ten and a half," said Jonathan Golub, chief U.S. equity strategist at UBS Equity Research, in New York.


U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said this week that the United States will technically reach its debt limit at the end of the year.


INVESTORS WARY OF JANUARY


The White House has said it will not negotiate the debt ceiling as in 2011, when the fight over what was once a procedural matter preceded the first-ever downgrade of the U.S. credit rating. But it may be forced into such a battle again. A repeat of that war is most worrisome for markets.


Markets posted several days of sharp losses in the period surrounding the debt ceiling fight in 2011. Even after a bill to increase the ceiling passed, stocks plunged in what was seen as a vote of "no confidence" in Washington's ability to function, considering how close lawmakers came to a default.


Credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's lowered the U.S. sovereign rating to double-A-plus, citing Washington's legislative problems as one reason for the downgrade from triple-A status. The benchmark S&P 500 dropped 16 percent in a four-week period ending August 21, 2011.


"I think there will be a tremendous fight between Democrats and Republicans about the debt ceiling," said Jon Najarian, a co-founder of online brokerage TradeMonster.com, in Chicago.


"I think that is the biggest risk to the downside in January for the market and the U.S. economy."


There are some signs in the options market that investors are starting to eye the January period with more wariness. The CBOE Volatility Index, or the VIX, the market's preferred indicator of anxiety, has remained at relatively low levels throughout this process, though on Thursday it edged above 20 for the first time since July.


More notable is the action in VIX futures markets, which shows a sharper increase in expected volatility in January than in later-dated contracts. January VIX futures are up nearly 23 percent in the last seven trading days, compared with a 13 percent increase in March futures and an 8 percent increase in May futures. That's a sign of increasing near-term worry among market participants.


The CBOE Volatility Index closed on Friday at 22.72, gaining nearly 17 percent to end at its highest level since June as details emerged of a meeting on Friday afternoon of President Barack Obama with Senate and House leaders from both parties where the president offered proposals similar to those already rejected by Republicans. Stocks slid in late trading and equity futures continued that slide after cash markets closed.


"I was stunned Obama didn't have another plan, and that's absolutely why we sold off," said Mike Shea, a managing partner and trader at Direct Access Partners LLC, in New York.


Obama offered hope for a last-minute agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff after a meeting with congressional leaders, although he scolded Congress for leaving the problem unresolved until the 11th hour.


"The hour for immediate action is here," he told reporters at a White House briefing. "I'm modestly optimistic that an agreement can be achieved."


The U.S. House of Representatives is set to convene on Sunday and continue working through the New Year's Day holiday. Obama has proposed maintaining current tax rates for all but the highest earners.


Consumers don't appear at all traumatized by the fiscal cliff talks, as yet. Helping to bolster consumer confidence has been a continued recovery in the housing market and growth in the labor market, albeit slow.


The latest take on employment will be out next Friday, when the U.S. Labor Department's non-farm payrolls report is expected to show jobs growth of 145,000 for December, in line with recent growth.


Consumers will see their paychecks affected if lawmakers cannot broker a deal and tax rates rise, but the effect on spending is likely to be gradual.


PLAYING DEFENSE


Options strategists have noted an increase in positions to guard against weakness in defense stocks such as General Dynamics because those stocks would be affected by spending cuts set for that sector. Notably, though, the PHLX Defense Index is less than 1 percent away from an all-time high reached on December 20.


This underscores the view taken by most investors and strategists: One way or another, Washington will come to an agreement to offset some effects of the cliff. The result will not be entirely satisfying, but it will be enough to satisfy investors.


"Expectations are pretty low at this point, and yet the equity market hasn't reacted," said Carmine Grigoli, chief U.S. investment strategist at Mizuho Securities USA, in New York. "You're not going to see the markets react to anything with more than a 5 (percent) to 7 percent correction."


Save for a brief 3.6 percent drop in equity futures late on Thursday evening last week after House Speaker John Boehner had to cancel a scheduled vote on a tax-hike bill due to lack of Republican support, markets have not shown the same kind of volatility as in 2008 or 2011.


A gradual decline remains possible, Golub said, if business and consumer confidence continues to take a hit on the back of fiscal cliff worries. The Conference Board's measure of consumer confidence fell sharply in December, a drop blamed in part on the fiscal issues.


"If Congress came out and said that everything is off the table, yeah, that would be a short-term shock to the market, but that's not likely," said Richard Weiss, a Mountain View, California-based senior money manager at American Century Investments.


"Things will be resolved, just maybe not on a good time table. All else being equal, we see any further decline as a buying opportunity."


(Wall St Week Ahead runs every Friday. Questions or comments on this column can be emailed to: david.gaffen(at)thomsonreuters.com)


(Reporting by Edward Krudy and Ryan Vlastelica in New York and Doris Frankel in Chicago; Writing by David Gaffen; Editing by Martin Howell, Steve Orlofsky and Jan Paschal)



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Michigan State edges TCU 17-16 in BWW Bowl

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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Michigan State labored on offense throughout the first half, unable to get anything going on the ground, in the air, anywhere.


For a team that had lost five games by a combined 13 points during the regular season, it was starting to feel familiar.


The Spartans changed their luck by turning to brutally effective running back Le'Veon Bell in the second half, setting up Dan Conroy for another game-winning kick in a bowl game.


Bell ran for 145 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown, Conroy kicked a 47-yard field goal with 1:01 left and Michigan State rallied to beat Texas Christian 17-16 in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl on Saturday night.


"With so many close games and losing like we did during the season, to have one go our way was definitely sweet," Conroy said.


It wasn't always pretty for the Spartans.


Michigan State (7-6) managed 76 yards of offense during the first two quarters as TCU bottled up Bell.


The 237-pound junior started to wear down the Horned Frogs in the second half, grinding out 107 of his yards on a 32-carry night.


Behind Bell, the Spartans went on the longest drive in their bowl history in the third quarter, marching 90 yards to set up freshman Connor Cook's 15-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Burbridge.


Michigan State then recovered a muffed punt by TCU's Skye Dawson at the 4-yard line midway through the fourth and Bell scored two plays later by racing around left end for a 14-13 lead.


TCU (7-6) still had a little life after blowing a 13-point halftime lead, moving just far enough to set up Jaden Oberkrom for the longest field goal in the bowl's history, a 53-yarder that put the Horned Frogs up 16-14 with 2:42 left.


They just left Michigan State too much time.


Starting at their own 25-yard line, the Spartans moved 45 yards in eight plays, setting up Conroy for his second game-winner in a bowl after beating Georgia with a 28-yarder in the third overtime of the 2012 Outback Bowl.


Michigan State's defense held after that, sending the Spartans to their second straight bowl win after three consecutive losses.


"There was no doubt in my mind that after so many losses in similar fashion that we were going to come out on top in this one," Spartans linebacker Max Bullough said.


The Horned Frogs shut down Michigan State's offense in the first half and did just enough when they had the ball to put together three scoring drives.


In the second half, TCU couldn't get anything going against the Spartans' defense — 84 total yards — and its defense gave up the long scoring drive in the third quarter, along with the game-winner in the fourth.


Trevone Boykin threw for 201 yards and an interception on 13-of-29 passing for the Horned Frogs.


"A little bit empty feeling inside because we felt like we left a lot on the field," TCU coach Gary Patterson said.


TCU and Michigan State came to the desert with an awful lot of similarities.


The Horned Frogs opened their first season in the Big 12 with four straight wins before losing four of their final six games. Michigan State started 4-2, then lost four of six down the stretch.


Michigan State had the nation's fourth-best defense and was 10th in scoring defense during the regular season. TCU was 18th in total defense and 10th against the run.


Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell was up-and-down in his first season as Kirk Cousins' replacement, throwing 13 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. Boykin took over after four games for Casey Pachall, who was suspended and later left the team, and threw for 15 touchdowns and nine interceptions.


The biggest difference between the teams was Bell.


He ranked third nationally with 137.3 yards rushing per game and had 1,648 on the season, second-most in Michigan State history and 242 fewer than TCU had as a team.


Early on, the Horned Frogs gave him nowhere to go.


Filling holes inside and stringing plays out toward the sidelines, TCU stuffed the bruising Bell on nearly every touch, holding him to 38 yards on 11 carries in the first half.


Of course, it didn't seem to matter what Michigan State did. The Spartans had 29 yards on 12 plays in the first quarter and weren't a whole lot better in the second, with Maxwell throwing two near-interceptions on consecutive passes and an ill-advised trick play that probably should have resulted in a turnover, too.


The Spartans still seemed to be stuck in the ruts in the third quarter before grinding out a 14-play scoring drive led by Cook, who replaced Maxwell for the second time in the game. They had their biggest play on a floating pass from Bell to fullback TyQuan Hammock (29 yards), then Cook threw his first career touchdown pass, a 15-yarder to Burbridge on a crossing route that cut TCU's lead to 13-7.


"I thought Connor did a good job on the 90-yard drive, gave us a little momentum," Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said.


TCU didn't exactly have its way with Michigan State's defense in the first half and missed some chances to build a bigger lead.


The Frogs started gashing the Spartans for decent-sized chunks with their option midway through the first quarter, setting up Matthew Tucker's 4-yard touchdown on an end-around.


Boykin had an impressive off-the-back-foot throw to freshman Kolby Listenbee for 59 yards on the last play of the first quarter and nearly had a 19-yard touchdown pass to open the second, but LaDarius Brown was bumped and dropped the ball in the end zone. Oberkrom followed with a 47-yard field goal and added another from 31 yards after Boykin hit Josh Boyce on a 61-yard pass to put TCU up 13-0 at halftime.


The Frogs couldn't keep it up in the second half.


With Michigan State clogging the running lanes and chasing Boykin around, TCU had 30 yards of offense in the third quarter and continued to struggle in the fourth. The Horned Frogs did manage the short scoring drive to set up Oberkrom's late field goal, but ended up going backward on their final drive after Conroy's kick.


"What I thought happened in the third quarter was Michigan State dialed up the heat and we didn't have an answer," Patterson said.


Michigan State did — for one of the few times this season.


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Over the fiscal cliff: Soft or hard landing?

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Efforts to save the nation from going over a year-end "fiscal cliff" were still in disarray as lawmakers returned to the Capitol to confront the tax-and-spend crisis. A tone-setting quotation was Democratic Sen. Harry Reid's assertion that the House under Republican Speaker John Boehner had been "operating with a dictatorship."


President Barack Obama flew back to Washington from Hawaii after telephoning congressional leaders from his Christmas vacation perch. Once back, he set up a meeting with leaders of both parties at the White House late Friday to make a fresh attempt to find a solution before Monday night's deadline.


A look at why it's so hard for Republicans and Democrats to compromise on urgent matters of taxes and spending, and what happens if they fail to meet their deadline:


___


NEW YEAR'S HEADACHE


Partly by fate, partly by design, some scary fiscal forces come together at the start of 2013 unless Congress and Obama act to stop them. They include:


— Some $536 billion in tax increases, touching nearly all Americans, because various federal tax cuts and breaks expire at year's end.


— About $110 billion in spending cuts divided equally between the military and most other federal departments. That's about 8 percent of their annual budgets, 9 percent for the Pentagon.


Hitting the national economy with that double whammy of tax increases and spending cuts is what's called going over the "fiscal cliff." If allowed to unfold over 2013, it would lead to recession, a big jump in unemployment and financial market turmoil, economists predict.


___


WHAT IF THEY MISS THE DEADLINE?


If New Year's Day arrives without a deal, the nation shouldn't plunge onto the shoals of recession immediately. There still might be time to engineer a soft landing.


So long as lawmakers and the president appear to be working toward agreement, the tax hikes and spending cuts could mostly be held at bay for a few weeks. Then they could be repealed retroactively once a deal was reached.


The big wild card is the stock market and the nation's financial confidence: Would traders start to panic if Washington appeared unable to reach accord? Would worried consumers and businesses sharply reduce their spending? In what could be a preview, stock prices in the U.S. and Europe dropped Friday on waning hopes that Obama and key lawmakers would reach an 11th-hour compromise.


Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has warned lawmakers that the economy is already suffering from the uncertainty and they shouldn't risk making it worse by blowing past their deadline.


___


WHAT IF THEY NEVER AGREE?


If negotiations between Obama and Congress collapse completely, 2013 looks like a rocky year.


Taxes would jump $2,400 on average for families with incomes of $50,000 to $75,000, according to a study by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Because consumers would get less of their paychecks to spend, businesses and jobs would suffer.


At the same time, Americans would feel cuts in government services; some federal workers would be furloughed or laid off and companies would lose government business. The nation would lose up to 3.4 million jobs, the Congressional Budget Office predicts.


"The consequences of that would be felt by everybody," Bernanke says.


___


THE TAXES


Much of the disagreement surrounds the George W. Bush-era income tax cuts, and whether those rates should be allowed to rise for the nation's wealthiest taxpayers. Both political parties say they want to protect the middle class from tax increases.


Several tax breaks begun in 2009 to stimulate the economy by aiding low- and middle-income families are also set to expire Jan. 1. The alternative minimum tax would expand to catch 28 million more taxpayers, with an average increase of $3,700 a year. Taxes on investments would rise, too. More deaths would be covered by the federal estate tax, and the rate climbs from 35 percent to 55 percent. Some corporate tax breaks would end.


The temporary Social Security payroll tax cut also is due to expire. That tax break for most Americans seems likely to end even if a fiscal cliff deal is reached, now that Obama has backed down from his call to prolong it as an economic stimulus.


___


THE SPENDING


If the nation goes over the fiscal cliff, budget cuts of 8 percent or 9 percent would hit most of the federal government, touching all sorts of things from agriculture to law enforcement and the military to weather forecasting. A few areas, such as Social Security benefits, Veterans Affairs and some programs for the poor, are exempt.


___


THERE'S MORE AT STAKE


All sorts of stuff could get wrapped up in the fiscal cliff deal-making. A sampling:


— Some 2 million jobless Americans may lose their federal unemployment aid. Obama wants to continue the benefits extension as part of the deal; Republicans say it's too costly.


— Social Security recipients might see their checks grow more slowly. As part of a possible deal, Obama and Republican leaders want to change the way cost-of-living adjustments are calculated, which would mean smaller checks over the years for retirees who get Social Security, veterans' benefits or government pensions.


— The price of milk could double. If Congress doesn't provide a fix for expiring dairy price supports before Jan. 1, milk-drinking families could feel the pinch. One scenario is to attach a farm bill extension to the fiscal cliff legislation — if a compromise is reached in time.


— Millions of taxpayers who want to file their 2012 returns before mid-March will be held up while they wait to see if Congress comes through with a deal to stop the alternative minimum tax from hitting more people.


___


CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF?


In theory, Congress and Obama could just say no to the fiscal cliff, by extending all the tax cuts and overturning the automatic spending reductions in current law. But both Republicans and Democrats agree it's time to take steps to put the nation on a path away from a future of crippling debt.


Indeed, the automatic spending cuts set for January were created as a last-ditch effort to force Congress to deal with the debt problem.


If Washington bypassed the fiscal cliff, the next crisis would be just around the corner, in late February or early March, when the government reaches a $16.4 trillion ceiling on the amount of money it can borrow.


Boehner says Republicans won't go along with raising the limit on government borrowing unless the increase is matched by spending cuts to help attack the long-term debt problem. Failing to raise the debt ceiling could lead to a first-ever U.S. default that would roil the financial markets and shake worldwide confidence in the United States.


To avoid that scenario, Obama and Boehner are trying to wrap a debt limit agreement into the fiscal cliff negotiations.


___


SO WHAT'S THE HOLDUP?


They're at loggerheads over some big questions.


Obama says any deal must include higher taxes for the wealthiest Americans. Many House Republicans oppose raising anyone's tax rates. Boehner tried to get the House to vote for higher taxes only on incomes above $1 million but dropped the effort when it became clear he didn't have the votes.


Republicans also insist on deeper spending cuts than Democrats want to make. And they want to bring the nation's long-term debt under control by significantly curtailing the growth of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — changes that many Democrats oppose.


Obama, meanwhile, wants more temporary economic "stimulus" spending to help speed up a sluggish recovery. Republicans say the nation can't afford it.


___


IT'S NOT JUST WASHINGTON


Seems like they could just make nice, shake hands and split their differences, right?


But there's a reason neither side wants to give ground. The two parties represent a divided and inconsistent America. True, Obama just won re-election. But voters also chose a Republican majority in the House.


Republicans and Democrats alike say they are doing what the voters back home want.


Neither side has a clear advantage in public opinion. In an Associated Press-GfK poll, 43 percent said they trust the Democrats more to manage the federal budget deficit and 40 percent preferred the Republicans. There's a similar split on who's more trusted with taxes.


About half of Americans support higher taxes for the wealthy, the poll says, and about 10 percent want tax increases all around. Still, almost half say cutting government services, not raising taxes, should be the main focus of lawmakers as they try to balance the budget.


When asked about specific budget cuts being discussed in Washington, few Americans express support for them.


___


THE COUNTDOWN


Time for deal-making is short, thanks to the holiday and congressional calendars. Some key dates for averting the fiscal cliff:


— Lawmakers didn't begin returning to the Capitol until Thursday, leaving less than a week to vote on a compromise before year's end.


— Obama returned Thursday from his Christmas vacation in Hawaii. The president asked congressional leaders to the White House Friday to try to resolve the fiscal cliff.


— If lawmakers reach Dec. 31 without a deal, some economists worry that the financial markets might swoon.


— The current Congress is in session only through noon Eastern time on Jan. 3. After that, a newly elected Congress with 13 new senators and 82 new House members would inherit the problem.


___


Associated Press writers Jim Kuhnhenn, Alan Fram and Andrew Taylor and Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.


___


Follow Connie Cass on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ConnieCass


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Ariel Noah Bikin Perempuan Ini Bergairah

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TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Bisa bertemu dengan idolanya adalah impian semua penggemar. Mungkin ini yang sedang dirasakan Sri, seorang penggemar Ariel Noah.



Sri berhasil memeluk dan mencium Ariel saat bandnya tampil di acara musik Dahsyat, RCTI, Ahad, 30 Desember 2012. "Rasanya enak abis cium Ariel. Tapi kurang puas karena nggak bisa ngobrol sama dia," kata Sri dengan muka kegirangan.



Ulah nekat perempuan berusia 25 tahun ini terjadi saat Ariel dan rekan-rekannya menyempatkan diri untuk menyapa para fasnya di luar studio. Tiba-tiba Sri menerobos barikade satpam dan memeluk serta mencium Ariel. "Emang udah niat mau cium Ariel," ujarnya.



Sebagai seorang fan Noah sejak tahun 2004, Sri rela datang jauh-jauh dari Serang sejak pukul 05.00 WIB. Ia datang bersama adik serta tiga kerabatnya ke sana. "Sampai sini jam 6 pagi tadi," katanya.



Saat ditanya apa yang disukai dari pemilik nama lengkap Nazriel Irham itu, Sri punya jawaban sendiri. "Ariel itu karismatik. Kalo denger dia ngomong selalu bikin nafsu," katanya sambil tertawa.



Ini bukan kali pertama Sri mencium Ariel. Sebelumnya di dua kesempatan yang berbeda, ia mengaku selalu berhasil mendaratkan bibirnya ke pipi mantan kekasih Luna Maya itu.



YAZIR FAROUK



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Body of India rape victim arrives home in New Delhi

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The body of a woman whose gang rape provoked protests and rare national debate about violence against women in India arrived back in New Delhi early on Sunday and was quickly cremated at a private ceremony.


The unidentified 23-year-old medical student died from her injuries on Saturday, prompting promises of action from a government that has struggled to respond to public outrage.


She had suffered brain injuries and massive internal injuries in the attack on December 16, and died in hospital in Singapore where she had been taken for treatment.


She and a male friend had been returning home from the cinema, media reports say, when six men on a bus beat them with metal rods and repeatedly raped the woman. The friend survived.


Six suspects were charged with murder after her death.


A Reuters correspondent saw family members who had been with her in Singapore take her body from the airport to their Delhi home in an ambulance with a police escort.


Ruling party leader Sonia Gandhi was seen arriving at the airport when the plane landed and Prime Minister Mannmohan Singh's convoy was also there, the witness said.


The body was then taken to a crematorium and cremated. Media were kept away but a Reuters witness saw the woman's family, New Delhi's chief minister, Sheila Dikshit, and the junior home minister, R P N Singh, coming out of the crematorium.


Security in the capital remained tight after authorities, worried about the reaction to the news of her death, had on Saturday deployed thousands of policemen and closed some roads and metro stations.


Protesters still gathered, in New Delhi and other cities, to keep the pressure on Singh's government to get tougher on crime against women. Last weekend, protesters fought pitched battles with police.


On Sunday, lines of policemen in riot gear and armed with heavy wooden sticks stood in front of metal barricades closing off roads in New Delhi. Morning traffic was light.


DOUBTS


The outcry over the attack caught the government off-guard. It took a week for Singh to make a statement, infuriating many protesters.


Issues such as rape, dowry-related deaths and female infanticide rarely enter mainstream political discourse in India.


Analysts say the death of the woman dubbed "Amanat", an Urdu word meaning "treasure", by some Indian media could change that, although it is too early to say whether the protesters calling for government action to better safeguard women can sustain their momentum through to national elections due in 2014.


Newspapers raised doubts about the commitment of both male politicians and the police to protecting women.


"Would the Indian political system and class have been so indifferent to the problem of sexual violence if half or even one-third of all legislators were women?" the Hindu newspaper asked.


The Indian Express acknowledged the police force was understaffed and poorly paid, but there was more to it than that.


"It is geared towards dominating citizens rather than working for them, not to mention being open to influential interests," the newspaper said. "It reflects the misogyny around us, rather than actively fighting for the rights of citizens who happen to be female."


Most sex crimes in India go unreported, many offenders go unpunished, and the wheels of justice turn slowly, according to social activists, who say that successive governments have done little to ensure the safety of women.


Commentators and sociologists say the rape has tapped into a deep well of frustration many Indians feel over what they see as weak governance and poor leadership on social issues.


New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India's major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to police figures. Government data show the number of reported rape cases in India rose by nearly 17 percent between 2007 and 2011.


For a link to the poll, click http://www.trust.org/trustlaw/news/special-coverage/g20women/


(Additional reporting by Ross Colvin and Diksha Madhok; Writing by Louise Ireland; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Robert Birsel)



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Wall Street ends sour week with fifth straight decline

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks fell for a fifth straight day on Friday, dropping 1 percent and marking the S&P 500's longest losing streak in three months as the federal government edged closer to the "fiscal cliff" with no solution in sight.


President Barack Obama and top congressional leaders met at the White House to work on a solution for the draconian debt-reduction measures set to take effect beginning next week. Stocks, which have been influenced by little else than the flood of fiscal cliff headlines from Washington in recent days, extended losses going into the close with the Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 each losing 1 percent, after reports that Obama would not offer a new plan to Republicans. The Dow closed below 13,000 for the first time since December 4.


"I was stunned Obama didn't have another plan, and that's absolutely why we sold off," said Mike Shea, managing partner at Direct Access Partners LLC in New York. "He's going to force the House to come to him with something different. I think that's a surprise. The entire market is disappointed in a lack of leadership in Washington."


In a sign of investor anxiety, the CBOE Volatility Index <.vix>, known as the VIX, jumped 16.69 percent to 22.72, closing at its highest level since June. Wall Street's favorite fear barometer has risen for five straight weeks, surging more than 40 percent over that time.


The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> dropped 158.20 points, or 1.21 percent, to 12,938.11 at the close. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> lost 15.67 points, or 1.11 percent, to 1,402.43. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> fell 25.59 points, or 0.86 percent, to end at 2,960.31.


For the week, the Dow fell 1.9 percent. The S&P 500 also lost 1.9 percent for the week, marking its worst weekly performance since mid-November. The Nasdaq finished the week down 2 percent. In contrast, the VIX jumped 22 percent for the week.


Pessimism continued after the market closed, with stock futures indicating even steeper losses. S&P 500 futures dropped 26.7 points, or 1.9 percent, eclipsing the decline seen in the regular session.


All 10 S&P 500 sectors fell during Friday's regular trading, with most posting declines of 1 percent, but energy and material shares were among the weakest of the day, with both groups closely tied to the pace of growth.


An S&P energy sector index <.gspe> slid 1.8 percent, with Exxon Mobil down 2 percent at $85.10, and Chevron Corp off 1.9 percent at $106.45. The S&P material sector index <.gspm> fell 1.3 percent, with U.S. Steel Corp down 2.6 percent at $23.03.


Decliners outnumbered advancers by a ratio of slightly more than 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, while on the Nasdaq, two stocks fell for every one that rose.


"We've been whipsawing around on low volume and rumors that come out on the cliff," said Eric Green, senior portfolio manager at Penn Capital Management in Philadelphia, who helps oversee $7 billion in assets.


With time running short, lawmakers may opt to allow the higher taxes and across-the-board federal spending cuts to go into effect and attempt to pass a retroactive fix soon after the new year. Standard & Poor's said an impasse on the cliff wouldn't affect the sovereign credit rating of the United States.


"We're not as concerned with January 1 as the market seems to be," said Richard Weiss, senior money manager at American Century Investments, in Mountain View, California. "Things will be resolved, just maybe not on a good timetable, and any deal can easily be retroactive."


Trading volume was light throughout the holiday-shortened week, with just 4.46 billion shares changing hands on the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE MKT on Friday, below the daily average so far this year of about 6.48 billion shares. On Monday, the U.S. stock market closed early for Christmas Eve, and the market was shut on Tuesday for Christmas. Many senior traders were absent this week for the holidays.


Highlighting Wall Street's sensitivity to developments in Washington, stocks tumbled more than 1 percent on Thursday after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid warned that a deal was unlikely before the deadline. But late in the day, stocks nearly bounced back when the House said it would hold an unusual Sunday session to work on a fiscal solution.


Positive economic data failed to alter the market's mood.


The National Association of Realtors said contracts to buy previously owned U.S. homes rose in November to their highest level in 2-1/2 years, while a report from the Institute for Supply Management-Chicago showed business activity in the U.S. Midwest expanded in December.


"Economic reports have been very favorable, and once Congress comes to a resolution, the market should resume an upward trend, based on the data," said Weiss, who helps oversee about $125 billion in assets. "All else being equal, we see any further decline as a buying opportunity."


Barnes & Noble Inc rose 4.3 percent to $14.97 after the top U.S. bookstore chain said British publisher Pearson Plc had agreed to make a strategic investment in its Nook Media subsidiary. But Barnes & Noble also said its Nook business will not meet its previous projection for fiscal year 2013.


Shares of magicJack VocalTec Ltd jumped 10.3 percent to $17.95 after the company gave a strong fourth-quarter outlook and named Gerald Vento president and chief executive, effective January 1.


The U.S.-listed shares of Canadian drugmaker Aeterna Zentaris Inc surged 13.8 percent to $2.47 after the company said it had reached an agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on a special protocol assessment by the FDA for a Phase 3 registration trial in endometrial cancer with AEZS-108 treatment.


(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Jan Paschal)



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Clippers beat Jazz 116-114 for 16th straight win

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Chris Paul could hardly be heard over Jay-Z's pounding music as his Los Angeles Clippers teammates sang along in the visitors' locker room.


And why not?


The Clippers had just pulled off a 19-point comeback for their 16th straight victory — in a venue where they had often struggled.


Paul did most of the damage, leading the Clippers (24-6) with 29 points, including the final seven, as Los Angeles squeaked out a 116-114 win Friday night over the Utah Jazz.


The Clippers' winning streak is the longest in the NBA since Boston won 19 games in a row from Nov. 15 to Dec. 23, 2008.


The last time the franchise won three straight in Salt Lake City was 1979-81 when they were the San Diego Clippers.


"This one is a great win for us because we kind of needed a challenge," said Blake Griffin, who added 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Clippers. "(We had) to prove not only to everybody else but to ourselves that we can still win close games like this and win a game down 19 in the third quarter."


In the opposing locker room, the Jazz were lamenting another one that got away — the second loss at home to the Clippers during their franchise-record streak. Utah dropped the first by one on Dec. 3 after leading by 14.


On Friday, ex-Clipper Randy Foye put up a 3-pointer at the buzzer that was contested by Matt Barnes, but no foul was called. Foye finished with a season-high 28 points for Utah.


Foye did his best not to say anything about the officiating.


"I felt as though I pump-faked," Foye said. "He knew that I wanted to shoot the 3 and I felt the contact. He made me go straight up and shoot the ball straight down. It was just a tough play."


Paul was tough down the stretch, hitting the clinching free throws after getting fouled by Al Jefferson with 3.4 seconds left.


"When (DeAndre Jordan) came to give me the ball screen, I wasn't worried about (Gordon) Hayward, I was just worried about Al Jefferson," Paul said. "I could tell (Jefferson) was going to try and blitz me. Anytime two guys try and trap me, I'm always going to attack the slower guy. If they wouldn't have called the foul, I was right around Al anyway."


Paul sank both free throws this time, after missing one with 18 seconds left that allowed Jefferson to grab the rebound, draw a foul and sink two free throws at the other end to tie it at 114.


Paul made sure he hit both the next time.


"Man, I couldn't wait to get to the line. I couldn't wait to get to the line," Paul said. "I was mad at myself for missing that last one. I couldn't wait to get to the line to redeem myself."


Just like the first game this season against the Clippers, Utah had the upper hand early.


The Jazz used a 36-point second quarter to turn a seven-point deficit into a 58-48 halftime lead. Utah reserves did most of the damage.


Alec Burks and Earl Watson pushed the pace, big men Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors provided a presence inside and Hayward found ways to score.


Kanter's block of Ronny Turiaf ignited the crowd.


Hayward's 3-pointer tied it at 34 with 7:04 left in the second and he scored 10 straight for the Jazz, who forced eight turnovers in the quarter and held the Clippers to 37.5 percent shooting.


Foye, who kept Utah close in the first with a 13-point quarter on 4-of-5 shooting, gave the Jazz their biggest lead of the half, 54-41, with two more free throws.


The Jazz led 74-55 with 8:08 left in the third on a pair of free throws by Paul Millsap. But the Clippers outscored Utah 29-14 the rest of the quarter to pull to 88-84 going into the fourth.


Paul provided the offense in the third with 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting.


"At the beginning of the third quarter, they made another run at us but then we got a little bit of a rhythm and then started guarding. We started getting some stops and getting out in the open court," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said.


"Give Utah credit but our guys battled back tonight. They found a way to win and that's what it's all about. We stayed together, we weathered the storm when we had to and gave ourselves a chance and we were fortunate to make enough plays."


The loss dropped Utah below .500 at 15-16. The Jazz have lost six of their last eight.


Jefferson added 22 points for Utah. Hayward had 17 off the bench.


The Clippers had six players in double figures. DeAndre Jordan had 16 points and 10 rebounds.


"It's all tough," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "On our home court, we had a lead, we gave up the lead but we continued to fight. We made some mistakes but fought our way through it and had a chance to win the ballgame at the end. Unfortunately they got a lot of free throws."


The teams combined for 81 free throw attempts, with Utah making 37 of 40 and the Clippers 33 of 41.


Points in the paint were identical and rebounds were close (36-35 Jazz), but the Clippers had a four-point edge on second-chance points.


That was enough.


NOTES: An unidentified Jazz employee was disciplined and had his access to the team Twitter account discontinued after what team officials deemed an inappropriate tweet regarding the firing of Nets coach Avery Johnson and Brooklyn's interest in Phil Jackson. The tweet said Jackson only wants "great players," an apparent reference to ex-Jazz point guard Deron Williams, who had criticized Johnson's offense. ... Jazz point guard Mo Williams still has swelling in his sprained right thumb and remains out indefinitely. ... The Clippers got a scare late in the first quarter when Lamar Odom came up limping. He returned in the second and finished with 12 points. ... The Clippers failed to register a blocked shot despite coming into the game averaging 6.52.


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All eyes on them, Senate leaders seek fiscal deal

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate leaders rushed to assemble a last-ditch agreement to avoid middle-class tax increases and possibly delay steep spending cuts in an urgent attempt to find common ground after weeks of postelection gridlock.


An impatient President Barack Obama pressed top lawmakers to cut a deal before the year-end deadline, even one that falls short of the ambitions he and congressional leaders may once have harbored for a bigger deficit reduction package.


"The hour for immediate action is here. It is now," Obama declared.


Following a White House meeting Friday among Obama and congressional leaders, aides to Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., began racing against the clock for a bipartisan bargain. Senators could vote on a measure as early as Sunday.


The guest list for the White House meeting included Reid, McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. But the key players were clearly Reid and McConnell, both of whom stayed behind briefly at the White House and huddled with their staffs and Obama's top legislative aide, Rob Nabors, in the West Wing Cabinet Room just outside the Oval Office.


Neither side expected compromise to be easy. However, McConnell and Reid voiced unexpected optimism that they could work toward a deal that could win support in both their camps.


Warned Reid: "Whatever we come up with is going to be imperfect."


Whatever manages to pass in the Senate, with its Democratic majority, would then face a second test in the Republican-controlled House.


Boehner, a Republican speaker who has struggled recently with anti-tax rebels inside his own party, said through an aide that he would await the results of the talks between the Senate and White House. A House vote could come as late as Wednesday, the final full day before a new Congress takes office.


Officials said there was a general understanding that any agreement would block scheduled income tax increases for middle-class earners while letting rates rise at upper-income levels.


Obama was sticking to his campaign call for increases above $250,000 in annual income, even though in recent negotiations he said he could accept $400,000.


The two sides also confronted a divide over estate taxes. Obama favors a higher tax than is currently in effect, but one senior Republican, Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, said he's "totally dead set" against it. Speaking of fellow GOP lawmakers, he said they harbor more opposition to an increase in the estate tax than to letting taxes on income and investments rise at upper levels.


But the estate tax was more likely to be used as a possible bargaining chip that Democrats could give away in exchange for higher rates for top earners and other Obama priorities.


Obama and Democrats want to prevent the expiration of unemployment benefits for about 2 million long-term jobless men and women, and there is widespread sentiment in both parties to shelter doctors from a 27 percent cut in Medicare fees.


Also likely to be included in the negotiations are taxes on dividends and capital gains, both of which are scheduled to rise with the new year. Also the alternative minimum tax, which, if left unchanged, could hit an estimated 28 million households for the first time and mean an average increase of more than $3,000.


The White House has shown increased concern about a possible doubling of milk prices if a farm bill is not passed in the next few days, although it is not clear whether that issue too might be included in the talks.


One Republican who was briefed on the White House meeting said Boehner made it clear he would leave in place spending cuts scheduled to take effect unless alternative savings were included in any compromise to offset them. In previous White House proposals, Obama has suggested finding enough cuts in government spending to put off the steeper cuts for up to six months.


Obama, speaking to reporters following his meeting with the congressional leaders, faulted a system that left crucial decisions to the last minute, a way of governing that he said the public finds "mindboggling."


"Outside of Washington nobody understands how it is that this seems to be a repeat pattern, over and over again," he said.


Still, Obama himself is part of the negotiating process, and his meeting with all four top leaders Friday was the first since Nov. 16. A phone call he placed Wednesday night to McConnell was the first the Republican leader had received from a Democrat on the fiscal talks since Thanksgiving.


Looking to add pressure on negotiators, Obama said he expects Reid to put legislation on the floor to prevent tax increases on the middle class and extend unemployment benefits — an implicit challenge to Republicans to dare to vote against what polls show is popular.


The start of negotiations in the Senate marked a new endgame for discussions that have moved in fits and starts since the November election.


Boehner refused for weeks to accept any rate increases, and simultaneously accused Obama of skimping on the spending cuts he would support as part of a balanced deal to reduce deficits, remove the threat of spending cuts and prevent the across-the-board tax cuts.


Last week, the Ohio Republican presented a Plan B measure that would have let rates rise on million-dollar earners. That was well above Obama's latest offer, which called for a $400,000 threshold, but more than the speaker's rank and file were willing to accept.


Facing defeat, Boehner scrapped plans for a vote, leaving the economy on track for the cliff that political leaders in both parties had said they could avoid. In the aftermath, Democrats said they doubted any compromise was possible until Boehner has been elected to a second term as speaker when the new Congress convenes Thursday.


___


Associated Press writers Alan Fram and Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.


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Rick Price Biasa Buat Lagu Setelah Bangun Tidur

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TEMPO.CO, Jakarta -Setiap pemusik memiliki cara sendiri mendapatkan ide untuk membuat lagu-lagunya. Begitu juga dengan penyanyi sekaligus pencipta lagu asal Australia Rick Price. Pria 51 tahun ini mengaku terbiasa membuat lagu pada pagi hari setelah bangun tidur. "Setelah bangun di pagi hari, biasanya saya langsung main gitar


atau piano untuk mencari melodinya," kata Rick di hotel Mulia pada Jumat 28 Desember 2012.



Menurut pelantun lagu Heaven Knows ini, dia biasa bermain-main, sampai kemudian mendapat melodi yang pas. Setelah menemukan nada-nadanya, baru ia mulai mencari musik dan ketukannya. Lalu setelah mendapat nada dan musiknya, maka baru lah penyanyi  yang sekarang tinggal di Amerika ini mencari lirik serta judul yang pas untuk  lagunya itu.



"Awalnya melodi dulu dan kemudian kita siapkan lirik dan judulnya," kata penyanyi yang sudah datang sebanyak 8 kali ke Indonesia.



Menurut pengalamannya, ketika membuat musik, alunan nada sangat penting ketika awal membuat sebuah lagu. "Kalau awal melodynya membosankan, lagu itu pasti juga akan menjadi lagu yang membosankan hingga akhir," kata pria yang memakai jas hitam dan celana jins hitam itu.



Rick Price sudah mulai menemukan bakatnya di bidang musik sejak kecil. Ia didukung oleh orang tuanya yang menyukai musik serta keluarga besarnya yang juga suka bermain alat instrumen. Pria yang mendeskripsikan Kota Jakarta sebagi kota sibuk itu memulai karirnya sebagai backing vocal grup tertentu.



Pada 1992 ia mulai memproduksi album pertamanya. Hingga tahun 2012 ini, ia sudah memiliki sebanyak delapan buah album yang beberapa lagunya ia ciptakan sendiri. Saat ini, ia pun sedang dalam pengerjaan membuat album terbarunya yang direncanakan rilis pada tahu 2013 nanti.



MITRA TARIGAN



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Indian gang rape victim dies; New Delhi braces for protests

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NEW DELHI/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - A woman whose gang rape sparked protests and a national debate about violence against women in India died of her injuries on Saturday, prompting a security lockdown in New Delhi and an acknowledgement from India's prime minister that social change is needed.


Bracing for a new wave of protests, Indian authorities deployed thousands of policemen, closed 10 metro stations and banned vehicles from some main roads in the heart of New Delhi, where demonstrators have converged since the attack to demand improved women's rights. Hundreds of people staged peaceful protests at two locations on Saturday morning.


The 23-year-old medical student, severely beaten, raped and thrown out of a moving bus in New Delhi two weeks ago, had been flown to Singapore in a critical condition by the Indian government on Thursday for specialist treatment.


The intense media coverage of the attack and the use of social media to galvanize the protests, mostly by young middle-class students, has forced political leaders to confront some uncomfortable truths about the treatment of women in the world's largest democracy.


Most sex crimes in India go unreported, many offenders go unpunished, and the wheels of justice turn slowly, according to social activists who say that successive governments have done too little to ensure the safety of women.


"The need of the hour is a dispassionate debate and inquiry into the critical changes that are required in societal attitudes," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a statement.


"I hope that the entire political class and civil society will set aside narrow sectional interests and agenda to help us all reach the end that we all desire - making India a demonstrably better and safer place for women to live in."


T.C.A. Raghavan, the Indian high commissioner to Singapore, told reporters hours after the woman's death in a Singapore hospital that a chartered aircraft would fly her body back to India on Saturday, along with members of her family.


The body was taken to a Hindu casket firm in Singapore for embalming. Indian diplomats selected a gold and yellow coffin to transport her home, staff at the firm told reporters.


"We are very sad to report that the patient passed away peacefully at 4:45 a.m. on Dec 29, 2012 (2045 GMT Friday). Her family and officials from the High Commission (embassy) of India were by her side," Mount Elizabeth Hospital Chief Executive Officer Kelvin Loh said earlier in a statement.


Delhi's chief minister, Sheila Dikshit, said the woman's death was a "shameful moment for me not just as a chief minister but also as a citizen of this country".


The woman, who has not been identified, and a male friend were returning home from the cinema by bus on the evening of December 16 when, media reports say, six men on the bus beat them with metal rods and repeatedly raped the woman. Media said a rod was used in the rape, causing internal injuries. Both were thrown from the bus. The male friend survived.


The attack has put gender issues center stage in Indian politics arguably for the first time. Issues such as rape, dowry-related deaths and female infanticide have rarely entered mainstream political discourse.


Analysts say the death of the woman dubbed "Amanat", an Urdu word meaning "treasure," by some media could change that, although it is too early to say whether the protesters calling for government action to better safeguard women can sustain their momentum through to national elections due in 2014.


WORST PLACE


The public outcry over the attack caught the government off-guard. It took a week for Singh to make a public statement on the attack, infuriating many protesters who saw it as a sign of a government insensitive to the plight of women.


The prime minister, a stiff 80-year-old technocrat who speaks in a low monotone, has struggled to channel the popular outrage in his public statements and convince critics that his eight-year-old government will now take concrete steps to improve the safety of women.


"The Congress mangers were ham-handed in their handling of the situation that arose after the brutal assault on the girl. The crowd management was poor," a lawmaker from Singh's ruling Congress party said on condition of anonymity.


Protesters fought pitched battles with police around the capital last weekend. Police used batons, water cannon and teargas to quell the protests.


Commentators and sociologists say the rape has tapped into a deep well of frustration many Indians feel over what they see as weak governance and poor leadership on social issues.


A global poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in June found that India was the worst place to be a woman because of high rates of infanticide, child marriage and slavery.


New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India's major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to police figures. Government data show the number of reported rape cases in the country rose by nearly 17 percent between 2007 and 2011.


Indian media had accused the government of sending the woman to Singapore to minimize any backlash in the event of her death but Raghavan said it had been a medical decision intended to ensure she got the best treatment.


The suspects in the rape - five men, including two brothers, aged between 20 and 40, and a 15-year-old - were arrested within hours of the attack and are in custody. The suspects, all from a slum in south Delhi, will be formally charged with murder, New Delhi Deputy Commissioner of Police Chhaya Sharma told Reuters.


Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told Times Now television the government was committed to ensuring "the severest possible punishment to all the accused at the earliest".


"It will not go in vain. We will give maximum punishment to the culprits. Not only to this, but in future also. This one incident has given a greater lesson" Shinde said.


He said earlier the government was considering hanging for rape in rare cases. Murder already carries the death penalty.


(Additional reporting by Ross Colvin and Diksha Madhok in New Delhi; Kevin Lim, Saeed Azhar, Edgar Su and Sanjeev Miglani in Singapore; Editing by Mark Bendeich and Robert Birsel and Ross Colvin)



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Yen hits two-year low, Asian shares rise on U.S. fiscal hopes

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TOKYO (Reuters) - The yen fell to its lowest level in more than two years on Friday, lifting Japanese stocks to 21-month highs on expectations of drastic monetary easing, while shares in the rest of Asia rose as Washington races to avoid a fiscal crisis.


U.S. President Barack Obama and lawmakers are launching a last round of budget talks before a New Year deadline to reach a deal or watch the economy go off a "fiscal cliff," that economists fear will push the United States back into recession and stamp out fragile signs of recovery elsewhere.


"A big issue is being made of it, but eventually they'll do something to kick the can down the road," said Steven Robinson, senior investment manager at Alleron Investment Management in Sydney.


European shares were seen flat to higher, with financial spreadbetters predicting London's FTSE 100 <.ftse>, Paris's CAC-40 <.fchi> and Frankfurt's DAX <.gdaxi> would open little changed to as much as 0.3 percent higher. U.S. stock futures suggested a steady Wall Street start. <.l><.eu><.n/>


MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.miapj0000pus> rose 0.5 percent, hovering around a near 17-month high. It has gained about 18.7 percent this year, a sharp turnaround from an 18 percent plunge in 2011.


Australian shares <.axjo> rode iron ore stocks up to finish at a 19-month high, with a recovery in battered mining shares driving the market to its strongest annual gain since 2009. Hong Kong shares <.hsi> hovered near a 17-month high with a 0.1 percent gain and Shanghai shares <.ssec> jumped 0.8 percent.


Oil prices rose on hopes the United States would resolve the fiscal cliff, easing concerns about weakening demand.


Brent crude was up 0.4 percent to $111.25 a barrel and on course to post a full-year increase of about 3.6 percent, which would be its smallest gain in four years. U.S. crude rose 0.5 percent to $91.30, set for its first yearly loss in four years.


"The U.S. fiscal cliff will continue to direct crude prices until it's resolved," said Natalie Rampono, a commodities analyst at ANZ in Melbourne.


As well as being deadline day for the fiscal cliff, December 31 is the date the federal government is set to reach its $16.4 trillion debt limit. The Treasury will have to take measures to buy time for the government to approve a rise in the debt ceiling.


A similar political stalemate over raising the federal debt limit in the summer of 2011 raised fears over a U.S. default, and prompted Standard & Poor's to strip the U.S. of its top-notch credit rating, causing turmoil in financial markets.


Asian bond issuance jumped to $133.8 billion so far this year, eclipsing the previous year's tally of $76.34 billion, as retail investors stepped up purchases of the region's corporate bond. Those bonds have returned nearly 20 percent this year, outshining Asian equities.



Asset returns in 2012: http://link.reuters.com/nyw85s


Asian 2012 bond issuance: http://r.reuters.com/xyz93t


Japan industrial output: http://link.reuters.com/xyt65s


SE Asia foreign inflows: http://link.reuters.com/byr84t


^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>


JAPAN REMAINS IN FOCUS


Under the leadership of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office earlier in the week, Japan is speeding up efforts to turn around its economy, battered for decades by its strong currency and persistent deflation.


A survey on Friday showed Japanese manufacturing activity contracted in December at its fastest pace in more than three years while core consumer prices fell last month and industrial output plunged 1.7 percent in November from October.


Abe's repeated calls for "unlimited" monetary easing and policies aimed at reducing the yen's strength have bolstered expectations of a sustained period of yen weakness. This has lifted the mood in Japanese stocks as a weaker yen improves earnings prospects for the country's exporters.


The benchmark Nikkei average <.n225> closed up 0.7 percent at a 21-month high, ending 2012 with the sharpest yearly gain since 2005. Japanese markets will be closed for New Year's holidays and will resume trading on January 4. <.t/>


"The Japanese equity market has turned positive, providing good sentiment for global investors, with many making money and putting the money into commodity markets such as oil market," said Tetsu Emori, a commodity fund manager at Astmax in Tokyo.


The dollar climbed to its highest since August 2010 of 86.64 yen on Friday. The yen is on track for a drop of more than 12 percent this year, its steepest since 2005. The yen also fell to a 17-month low against the euro at 114.675 yen on EBS on Thursday.


The Australian dollar hit a 20-month peak against the yen of around 89.83 yen, according to Reuters data.


The Japanese government will compile spending requests for a stimulus package on January 7 and finalize the proposal shortly thereafter as Abe tries to quickly enact his agenda of increased public works spending to boost the economy.


(Additional reporting by Umesh Desai in Hong Kong, Jessica Jaganathan in Singapore and Victoria Thieberger and Sonali Paul in Melbourne; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Eric Meijer)



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Net loss: Brooklyn fires coach Avery Johnson

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NEW YORK (AP) — Coach of the month in November, out of a job by New Year's.


The Brooklyn Nets have elevated expectations this season, and a .500 record wasn't good enough. Coach Avery Johnson was fired Thursday, his team having lost 10 of 13 games after a strong start to its first season in Brooklyn.


"We don't have the same fire now than we did when we were 11-4," general manager Billy King said at a news conference in East Rutherford, N.J. "I tried to talk to Avery about it and we just can't figure it out. The same pattern kept on happening."


Assistant P.J. Carlesimo will coach the Nets on an interim basis, starting Friday night with a home game against Charlotte. King said the Nets might reach out to other candidates, but for now the job was Carlesimo's. The GM wouldn't comment on a report that the team planned to get in touch with former Lakers coach Phil Jackson.


King said the decision to dismiss Johnson was made by ownership after a phone discussion Thursday morning. Owner Mikhail Prokhorov had expressed faith in Johnson before the season.


"With the direction we were going we felt we had to make a change," King said.


Johnson was in the final year of a three-year, $12 million contract.


"It's a really disappointing day for me and my family. It's my wife's birthday. It's not a great birthday gift," Johnson said. "I didn't see this coming. But this is ownership's decision. It's part of the business. Fair or unfair, it's time for a new voice and hopefully they'll get back on track."


The Nets have fallen well behind the first-place New York Knicks, the team they so badly want to compete with in their new home. But after beating the Knicks in their first meeting Nov. 26, probably the high point of Johnson's tenure, the Nets went 5-10 and frustrations have been mounting.


"Our goal is to get to the conference finals," King said. "We started out good and then we stumbled. We have to get back to playing winning basketball. It's the entire team. It's not like golf, where Tiger Woods can blame the caddie. It takes five guys on the court and they're all struggling. We have to figure out the ways to get back to winning. I don't know what happened. I'm not sure. But unfortunately, it did happen."


The Nets were embarrassed by Boston on national TV on Christmas, then were routed by Milwaukee 108-93 on Wednesday night for their fifth loss in six games.


Star guard Deron Williams recently complained about Johnson's offense, and Nets CEO Brett Yormark took to Twitter after the loss to Celtics to voice his displeasure with the performance.


King said the change was not made because Williams was unhappy, and he added the point guard himself has to play better.


Johnson also stood by Williams.


"From Day One, I always had a really good relationship with him. I don't think it's fair for anyone to hang this on Deron," Johnson said. "We were just going through a bad streak, a bad spell. It's not time for me to be down on one player. That would be the easy way."


Brooklyn started the season 11-4, winning five in a row to end November, when Johnson was Eastern Conference coach of the month. But he couldn't do anything to stop this slump, one the Nets never anticipated after a $350 million summer spending spree they believed would take them toward the top of their conference.


Johnson has been the Nets' coach for a little more than two seasons. He went 60-116 with the Nets, who moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn to start the season. Johnson coached the Dallas Mavericks to a spot in the NBA Finals in 2006.


"You don't always get a fair shake as a coach," Johnson said. "I'm not the owner. If I were the owner, I wouldn't have fired myself today. But life is not always necessary fair. It's a business and in this business, the coach always gets blamed."


This is the NBA's second coaching change this season following the dismissal of Mike Brown by the Los Angeles Lakers.


Johnson arrived in New Jersey with a 194-70 record, a .735 winning percentage that was the highest in NBA history, but had little chance of success in his first two seasons while the Nets focused all their planning on the move to Brooklyn.


They looked to make a splash this summer when they re-signed Williams and fellow starters Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries, traded for Atlanta All-Star Joe Johnson, and added veteran depth with players such as Reggie Evans, C.J. Watson and Andray Blatche.


Johnson didn't have a contract beyond this season but seemed to have the confidence of Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire who before the season said he had faith in "the Avery defense system."


Some thought the Nets would finish as high as second in the East behind defending champion Miami, and the predictions seemed warranted when the Nets started quickly amid much fanfare. But all the good publicity faded in recent weeks once the losing started.


Williams, who has struggled this season, stirred the waters when he expressed his preference for the offense he ran under Jerry Sloan in Utah before a loss to the Jazz. Williams and Johnson, nicknamed "Brooklyn's Backcourt" and expected to be one of the best in the NBA, have shot poorly and rarely meshed.


The Nets were embarrassed near the end of their 93-76 loss to Boston, when fans exited early amid a chant of "Let's go Celtics!"


"Nets fans deserved better," Yormark tweeted after the game. "The entire organization needs to work harder to find a solution. We will get there."


Not under Johnson, though.


The Nets should be able to entice a big-name coach with Prokhorov's billions and the chance to play in a major market at Barclays Center, the $1 billion arena that has drawn praise in the city and from visiting teams.


Carlesimo has previous NBA head coaching experience in Portland, Golden State and Seattle/Oklahoma City. He has a career coaching record of 204-296 in the regular season and 3-9 in the playoffs.


"Right now, P.J. is our coach and I told him to coach the team like he'll be here for the next 10 years," King said.


___


AP Sports Writer Tom Canavan in East Rutherford and AP freelancer Jim Hague contributed to this report.


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