German jitters hit European shares, euro

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LONDON (Reuters) - European shares fell for a second straight day and the euro slid on Thursday, as weak German retail sales and poor earnings at its biggest bank added to investors' nerves after a shock fourth quarter contraction in the U.S. economy.


Data on Wednesday showed U.S. GDP slipped back 0.1 percent, though the country's central bank, the Federal Reserve, indicated the pullback was likely to be brief as it repeated its pledge to continue providing support.


European shares, which have surged 3.7 percent this month, took their biggest daily hit of the year on Wednesday, and a plunge in German retail sales and a huge quarterly loss from Deutsche Bank dashed hopes of a quick rebound.


London's FTSE 100 <.ftse>, Paris's CAC-40 <.fchi> and Frankfurt's DAX <.gdaxi> were all around 0.3 percent lower by 0830 GMT as trading gathered pace after shares in Asia posted modest gains. <.l><.eu><.n/>


"Perhaps the German retail sales have contributed a little bit, but we knew that Q4 was weak, so I would it attribute it more to earnings news," said Chris Scicluna, an economist at Daiwa Capital Markets.


"The Deutsche Bank loss does look to be on the sizable side. There has clearly been some mismatch between financial markets and the real economy so that does lend itself to a bit of a pullback."


In the currency market, the German jitters also left the euro under pressure. It was well off Wednesday's 14-month high at $1.3548, though the Federal Reserves promise of continued support was expected to mitigate the fall by keeping downward pressure on the dollar.


The nervy market atmosphere also pushed up Spanish and Italian government bond yields as some investors switched from higher-yielding debt into German Bunds.


Spanish 10-year yields rose 10 basis points on the day to 5.31 percent, while equivalent Italian debt rose 10 bps to 4.38 percent.


German Bund futures were half a point higher, spurred on by the Fed's determination to maintain its policy of stimulus for the U.S. economy.


Spot gold hovered near its one-week high of $1,683.39 an ounce reached on Wednesday. A weak yen pushed the most active gold contract on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange to a record high of 4,944 yen a gram on Thursday.


(Reporting by Marc Jones; Editing by Will Waterman)



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2 NFL seasons since agreement, still no HGH tests

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Count Baltimore Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones among those NFL players who want the league and the union to finally agree on a way to do blood testing for human growth hormone.


"I hope guys wouldn't be cheating. That's why you do all this extra work and extra training. Unfortunately, there are probably a few guys, a handful maybe, that are on it. It's unfortunate. It takes away from the sport," Jones said.


"It would be fair to do blood testing," Jones added. "Hopefully they figure it out."


When Jones and the Ravens face the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl on Sunday, two complete seasons will have come and gone without a single HGH test being administered, even though the league and the NFL Players Association paved the way for it in the 10-year collective bargaining agreement they signed in August 2011.


Since then, the sides have haggled over various elements, primarily the union's insistence that it needs more information about the validity of a test that is used by Olympic sports and Major League Baseball. HGH is a banned performance-enhancing drug that is hard to detect and has been linked to health problems such as diabetes, cardiac dysfunction and arthritis.


"If there are guys using (HGH), there definitely needs to be action taken against it, and it needs to be out of (the sport)," Ravens backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor said. "I'm pretty sure it'll happen eventually."


At least two members of Congress want to make it happen sooner, rather than later.


House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa, a California Republican, and ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland wrote NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith this week to chastise the union for standing in the way of HGH testing and to warn that they might ask players to testify on Capitol Hill.


Smith is scheduled to hold his annual pre-Super Bowl news conference Thursday.


"We have cooperated and been helpful to the committee on all of their requests," NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said. "If this is something they feel strongly about, we will be happy to help them facilitate it."


Several players from the Super Bowl teams said they would be willing to talk to Congress about the issue, if asked.


"I have nothing to hide. I can't speak for anyone else in football, but I would have no problem going," said Kenny Wiggins, a 6-foot-6, 314-pound offensive lineman on San Francisco's practice squad.


But Wiggins added: "There's a lot more problems in the U.S. they should be worried about than HGH in the NFL."


That sentiment was echoed by former New York Giants offensive lineman Shaun O'Hara, who now works for the NFL Network.


"Do I think there is an HGH problem in the NFL? I don't think there is. Are there guys who are using it? I'm sure there are. But is it something Congress needs to worry about? No. We have enough educated people on both sides that can fully handle this. And if they can't, then they should be fired," said O'Hara, an NFLPA representative as a player. "I include the union in that, and I include the NFL. There is no reason we would need someone to help us facilitate this process."


Issa and Cummings apparently disagree.


In December, their committee held a hearing at which medical experts testified that the current HGH test is reliable and that the union's request for a new study is unnecessary. Neither the league nor union was invited to participate in that hearing; at the time, Issa and Cummings said they expected additional hearings.


"We are disappointed with the NFLPA's remarkable recalcitrance, which has prevented meaningful progress on this issue," they wrote in their recent letter to Smith. "We intend to take a more active role to determine whether the position you have taken — that HGH is not a serious concern and that the test for HGH is unreliable — is consistent with the beliefs of rank and file NFL players."


Atallah questioned that premise.


"To us, there is no distinction between players and the union. ... The reason we had HGH in our CBA is precisely because our players wanted us to start testing for it," Atallah said. "We are not being recalcitrant for recalcitrance sake. We are merely following the direction of our player leadership."


Wiggins and other players said no one can know for sure how much HGH use there is in the league until there is testing — but that it's important for the union's concerns about the test to be answered.


"The union decides what is best for the players," said Ravens nose tackle Ma'ake Kemoeatu, who said he would be willing to go to Capitol Hill.


"I feel like some guys are on HGH," said 49ers offensive lineman Anthony Davis, who would rather not speak to Congress. "I personally don't care if there is testing. It's something they have to live with, knowing they cheated, and if they get (outplayed) while they're on it, it's a hit on their pride."


___


Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich


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Republican Hagel faces GOP critics at hearing

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama's nominee for defense secretary, is facing GOP critics who have challenged his past comments on Israel, Iran and nuclear weapons.


The former two-term senator from Nebraska is the lone witness at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Thursday that could be crucial in determining whether he will win Senate confirmation to succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Obama's second-term national security team. Two former committee chairmen — Democrat Sam Nunn and Republican John Warner — will introduce the nominee.


If confirmed, Hagel, a decorated Vietnam combat veteran, would be the first enlisted man and first Vietnam veteran to serve as defense secretary.


Hagel has the announced backing of about a dozen Democrats and the tacit support of dozens more who are unlikely to embarrass the president by defeating his Cabinet pick. One Republican — Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi — has said he will vote for his former colleague.


Six Republicans, including four members of the Armed Services panel, have said they will oppose Hagel's nomination. Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the top GOP lawmaker on the committee, has said he and Hagel are "too philosophically opposed" on issues such as defense spending, nuclear weapons and the Middle East.


Crucial for Hagel will be the questioning by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Hagel and McCain are fellow Vietnam veterans who once had a close relationship during their years in the Senate, but politics and Hagel's opposition to increased troop numbers in Iraq divided the two men.


McCain has praised Hagel's military service but said he had serious concerns about positions the nominee has taken on various issues. He said he is reserving judgment until after the hearing. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., earlier this month described Obama's selection as an "in-your-face" pick but was a bit less critical this week.


"Who are we getting — the guy today or the guy who said things before?" Graham said Tuesday after a 20-minute meeting with Hagel. Graham said he doesn't doubt Hagel's "personal integrity, but I do have real concerns about his policy positions."


The hearing will be the first time Hagel publicly addresses the barrage of criticism that he is not sufficiently pro-Israel or tough enough on Iran. In the past, Hagel has questioned the efficacy of unilateral sanctions on Iran, arguing that penalties in conjunction with international partners made more sense. He has also been criticized for his comments about the influence of a "Jewish lobby" and his view of gay rights.


He addressed several of the issues in a 112-page questionnaire to the committee in which he said his wartime experience would shape his decisions about using military force.


"I understand what it is like to be a soldier in war," wrote Hagel. "I also understand what happens when there is poor morale and discipline among the troops and a lack of clear objectives, intelligence and command and control from Washington. I believe that experience will help me as secretary of defense to ensure we maintain the best fighting force in the world, protect our men and women in uniform and ensure that we are cautious and certain when contemplating the use of force."


In his responses, Hagel adopted a hard line on Iran and its possible pursuit of a nuclear weapon. He echoed Obama's view that all options are feasible to stop Tehran, praised the rounds of penalties and warned of "severe and growing consequences" if Iran balks at international demands.


Questioned about all options, Hagel said, "If confirmed, I will focus intently on ensuring that the U.S. military is in fact prepared for any contingency."


He said that he would continue to put in place the "smart, unprecedented and effective sanctions against the Iranian regime" that Congress and the Obama administration have adopted in recent years.


The criticism of Hagel has surprised some of Hagel's strongest backers.


"This idea that's being propagated that he might be soft on adversaries. Chuck Hagel's not soft on anybody, particularly himself," said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., a member of the Armed Services Committee, in a conference call with Hagel allies. "He drives hard. He's someone who searches for the right approach and the right policy."


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Barbra Streisand Tampil dalam Ajang Oscar

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TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Ajang Oscar bakal mirip Grammy. Pasalnya, sejumlah musikus tampil dalam acara itu. Penyanyi legendaris Barbra Streisand akan tampil, setelah sebelumnya Adele memastikan kesediaannya untuk bernyanyi. "Di malam perayaan seni dari film dan musikus, bagaimana mungkin para bakat ini bisa dianggap lengkap tanpa kehadiran Barbra Streisand," ujar produser acara Oscar, Craig Zadan dan Neil Meron, dalam pernyataanya, Rabu, 30 Januari 2013.



Namun, produser tak memberikan detail lagu yang akan dibawakan Streisand. Tapi, diyakini ia akan menampilkan rangkaian lagu dari karyanya di film seperti Funny Girl, Hello Dolly, dan The Main Event.



Tampil dalam ajang Oscar bukanlah hal pertama bagi Barbra Streisand, yang seorang bintang film. Ia tampil pertama kali dalam perayaan Oscar 1977 saat menyanyikan lagu Evergreen, yang diambil dari film A Star Is Born. Lagu ini meraih penghargaan Oscar kala itu.



Dalam Oscar kali ini, Streisand bisa jadi menyanyikan lagu untuk menghargai karya mendiang komposer Marvin Hamlisch. Marvin yang meninggal Agustus lalu merupakan rekan kerja Streisand untuk lagu dalam film The Way We Were dan lagu I've Finally Found Someone, yang ada dalam film The Mirror Has Two Faces.



THEHOLLYWOODREPORTER | DEWI RETNO



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Syrian rebels make slow headway in south

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AMMAN (Reuters) - The revolt against President Bashar al-Assad first flared in Deraa, but the southern border city now epitomizes the bloody stalemate gripping Syria after 22 months of violence and 60,000 dead.


Jordan next door has little sympathy with Assad, but is wary of spillover from the upheaval in its bigger neighbor. It has tightened control of its 370-km (230-mile) border with Syria, partly to stop Islamist fighters or weapons from crossing.


That makes things tough for Assad's enemies in the Hawran plain, traditionally one of Syria's most heavily militarized regions, where the army has long been deployed to defend the southern approaches to Damascus from any Israeli threat.


The mostly Sunni Muslim rebels, loosely grouped in tribal and local "brigades", are united by a hatred of Assad and range from secular-minded fighters to al Qaeda-aligned Islamists.


"Nothing comes from Jordan," complained Moaz al-Zubi, an officer in the rebel Free Syrian Army, contacted via Skype from the Jordanian capital Amman. "If every village had weapons, we would not be afraid, but the lack of them is sapping morale."


Insurgents in Syria say weapons occasionally do seep through from Jordan but that they rely more on arsenals they seize from Assad's troops and arms that reach them from distant Turkey.


This month a Syrian pro-government television channel showed footage of what it said was an intercepted shipment of anti-tank weapons in Deraa, without specifying where it had come from.


Assad's troops man dozens of checkpoints in Deraa, a Sunni city that was home to 180,000 people before the uprising there in March 2011. They have imposed a stranglehold which insurgents rarely penetrate, apart from sporadic suicide bombings by Islamist militants, say residents and dissidents.


Rebel activity is minimal west of Deraa, where military bases proliferate near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.


Insurgents have captured some towns and villages in a 25-km (17-mile) wedge of territory east of Deraa, but intensifying army shelling and air strikes have reduced many of these to ruin, forcing their residents to join a rapidly expanding refugee exodus to Jordan, which now hosts 320,000 Syrians.


However, despite more than a month of fighting, Assad's forces have failed to winkle rebels out of strongholds in the rugged volcanic terrain that stretches from Busra al-Harir, 37 km (23 miles) northeast of Deraa, to the outskirts of Damascus.


Further east lies Sweida, home to minority Druze who have mostly sat out the Sunni-led revolt against security forces dominated by Assad's minority, Shi'ite-rooted Alawite sect.


"KEY TO DAMASCUS"


As long as Assad's forces control southwestern Syria, with its fertile, rain-fed Hawran plain, his foes will find it hard to make a concerted assault on Damascus, the capital and seat of his power, from suburbs where they already have footholds.


"If this area is liberated, the supply routes from the south to Damascus would be cut," said Abu Hamza, a commander in the rebel Ababeel Hawran Brigade. "Deraa is the key to the capital."


Fighters in the north, where Turkey provides a rear base and at least some supply lines, have fared somewhat better than their counterparts in the south, grabbing control of swathes of territory and seizing half of Aleppo, Syria's biggest city.


They have also captured some towns in the east, across the border from Iraq's Sunni heartland of Anbar province, and in central Syria near the mostly Sunni cities of Homs and Hama.


But even where they gain ground, Assad's mostly Russian-supplied army and air force can still pound rebels from afar, prompting a Saudi prince to call for outsiders to "level the playing field" by providing anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons.


"What is needed are sophisticated, high-level weapons that can bring down planes, can take out tanks at a distance," Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former intelligence chief and brother of the Saudi foreign minister, said last week at a meeting in Davos.


Saudi Arabia and its fellow Gulf state Qatar have long backed Assad's opponents and advocate arming them, but for now the rebels are still far outgunned by the Syrian military.


"They are not heavily armed, properly trained or equipped," said Ali Shukri, a retired Jordanian general, who argued also that rebels would need extensive training to use Western anti-tank or anti-aircraft weapons effectively even if they had them.


He said two powerful armored divisions were among Syrian forces in the south, where the rebels are "not that strong".


It is easier for insurgents elsewhere in Syria to get support via Turkey or Lebanon than in the south where the only borders are with Israel and Jordan, Shukri said.


Jordan, which has urged Assad to go, but seeks a political solution to the crisis, is unlikely to ramp up support for the rebels, even if its cautious policy risks irritating Saudi Arabia and Qatar, financial donors to the cash-strapped kingdom.


ISLAMIST STRENGTH


"I'm confident the opposition would like to be sourcing arms regularly from the Jordanian border, not least because I guess it would be easier for the Saudis to get stuff up there on the scale you'd be talking about," said a Western diplomat in Amman.


A scarcity of arms and ammunition is the main complaint of the armed opposition, a disparate array of local factions in which Islamist militants, especially the al Qaeda-endorsed Nusra Front, have come to play an increasing role in recent months.


The Nusra Front, better armed than many groups, emerged months after the anti-Assad revolt began in Deraa with peaceful protests that drew a violent response from the security forces.


It has flourished as the conflict has turned ever more bitterly sectarian, pitting majority Sunnis against Alawites.


Since October, the Front, deemed a terrorist group by the United States, has carried out at least three high-profile suicide bombings in Deraa, attacking the officers' club, the governor's residence and an army checkpoint in the city centre.


Such exploits have won prestige for the Islamist group, which has gained a reputation for military prowess, piety and respect for local communities, in contrast to some other rebel outfits tainted by looting and other unpopular behavior.


"So far no misdeeds have come from the Nusra Front to make us fear them," said Daya al-Deen al-Hawrani, a fighter from the rebel al-Omari Brigade. "Their goal and our goal is one."


Abu Ibrahim, a non-Islamist rebel commander operating near Deraa, said the Nusra Front fought better and behaved better than units active under the banner of the Free Syrian Army.


"Their influence has grown," he acknowledged, describing them as dedicated and disciplined. Nor were their fighters imposing their austere Islamic ideology on others, at least for now. "I sit with them and smoke and they don't mind," he said.


The Nusra Front may be trying to avoid the mistakes made by a kindred group, Al Qaeda in Iraq, which fought U.S. troops and the rise of Shi'ite factions empowered by the 2003 invasion.


The Iraqi group's suicide attacks on civilians, hostage beheadings and attempts to enforce a harsh version of Islamic law eventually alienated fellow Sunni tribesmen who switched sides and joined U.S. forces in combating the militants.


Despite the Nusra Front's growing prominence and its occasional spectacular suicide bombings in Deraa, there are few signs that its fighters or other rebels are on the verge of dislodging the Syrian military from its southern bastions.


Abu Hamza, the commander in the Ababeel Hawran Brigade, was among many rebels and opposition figures to lament the toughness of the task facing Assad's enemies in the south: "What is killing us is that all of Hawran is a military area," he said.


"And every village has five army compounds around it."


(Writing by Alistair Lyon; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)



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Euro surges to 14-month high, Fed decision awaited

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LONDON (Reuters) - The euro hit its highest level in over a year on Wednesday and shares, oil and metals were also on the rise, as confidence in the global economic outlook strengthened ahead of European data and the U.S. Federal Reserve's latest policy decision.


The Fed is expected to maintain asset buying at $85 billion a month when it concludes its meeting later and retain its commitment to hold interest rates near zero until unemployment falls to at least 6.5 percent.


European economic confidence data for January at 1000 GMT, ECB crisis loan repayments and Italy's sale of five and 10-year bonds will absorb most of investors' attention before then, as they look for further evidence of a pick-up in the region.


Share markets in London <.ftse>, Paris <.fchi> and Frankfurt <.gdaxi> opened little changed ahead of the data, leaving all eyes on a rally by the euro as it broke above $1.35 for the first time since December 2011.


Alongside the recent rebound in confidence in the euro zone, one of the drivers behind the recent spike has been the eagerness of banks to repay the crisis loans they took from the European Central Bank just over a year ago.


"It (the euro rise) is just a carry on with the current trend, risk is pretty healthy and equities are doing well," said Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi strategist Derek Halpenny.


"The danger is European policymakers allow a spike (in euro and market rates) as a result of a removal of one of the principle support measures ... With the Fed and the BOJ still easing the euro is clearly the path of least resistance."


An earlier rise in Asian equities meant the MSCI world share index <.miwd00000pus> was up 0.2 percent at a new 21-month high as European trading gathered pace. U.S. stock futures suggested a cautious start on Wall Street.


Strong U.S. housing data on Tuesday and China's promising economic growth forecast for 2013 also supported the upbeat mood and raised expectations for robust demand for fuel and industrial commodities, underpinning oil prices and lifting copper.


In the bond market, German Bund futures opened lower as investors made room for a sale of long-dated German paper and braced for solid demand at an Italian debt auction.


Italy will offer up to 6.5 billion euros of bonds maturing in 2017 and 2022. Traders expect the sale to benefit from yield-hungry investors but flagged the risk of indigestion after a bout of buying in recent months that triggered a sharp rally.


"(The auction) probably (goes) alright but I don't think it trades well afterwards," one trader said.


(Additional reporting by Ana Nicolaci da Costa; Editing by Giles Elgood)



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A-Rod implicated in PED use again as MLB probes

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NEW YORK (AP) — Alex Rodriguez is in the middle of Major League Baseball's latest doping investigation after an alternative weekly newspaper reported baseball's highest-paid star was among the big leaguers listed in the records of a Florida clinic the paper said sold performance-enhancing drugs.


The Miami New Times said Tuesday that the three-time AL MVP bought human growth hormone and other performance-enhancing substances during 2009-12 from Biogenesis of America LLC, a now-closed anti-aging clinic in Coral Cables, Fla., near Rodriguez's offseason home.


The new public relations firm for the New York Yankees third baseman issued a statement denying the allegations.


New Times said it obtained records detailing purchases by Rodriguez, 2012 All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera, 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon and 2011 AL championship series MVP Nelson Cruz of Texas.


Cabrera left San Francisco after the season to sign with Toronto, while Oakland re-signed Colon.


Other baseball players the newspaper said appeared in the records include Washington pitcher Gio Gonzalez, who finished third in last year's NL Cy Young Award voting, and San Diego catcher Yasmani Grandal.


Biogenesis, which the New Times said was run by Anthony Bosch, was located in a beige, nondescript office park. The former clinic is no longer listed as a business in its directory,


"There was a flier put out by the building management a couple weeks ago. It was put on all the doors and windows of all the offices," said Brad Nickel, who works in a cruise planning company on the floor above where the clinic was located. "It just said this guy's not really a doctor, he doesn't belong here, he's no longer allowed here, call the police or the building management if you see him."


The New Times posted copies of what it said were Bosch's handwritten records, obtained through a former Biogenesis employee it did not identify.


Bosch's lawyer, Susy Ribero-Ayala, said in a statement the New Times report "is filled with inaccuracies, innuendo and misstatements of fact."


"Mr. Bosch vehemently denies the assertions that MLB players such as Alex Rodriguez and Gio Gonzalez were treated by or associated with him," she said.


Rodriguez appears 16 times in the documents New Times received, the paper said, either as "Alex Rodriguez," ''Alex Rod" or the nickname "Cacique," a pre-Columbian Caribbean chief.


Rodriguez admitted four years ago that he used PEDs from 2001-03. Cabrera, Colon and Grandal were suspended for 50 games each last year by MLB following tests for elevated testosterone. Responding to the testosterone use, MLB and the players' union said Jan. 10 they were authorizing the World Anti-Doping Agency laboratory outside Montreal to store each major leaguer's baseline testosterone/epitestosterone (T/E) ratio in order to detect abnormalities.


"We are always extremely disappointed to learn of potential links between players and the use of performance-enhancing substances," MLB said in a statement. "Only law enforcement officials have the capacity to reach those outside the game who are involved in the distribution of illegal performance-enhancing drugs. ... We are in the midst of an active investigation and are gathering and reviewing information."


A baseball official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public statements, said Monday that MLB did not have any documentation regarding the allegations. If MLB does obtain evidence, the players could be subject to discipline. First offenses result in a 50-game suspension and second infractions in 100-game penalties. A third violation results in a lifetime ban.


Rodriguez is sidelined for at least the first half of the season after hip surgery Jan. 16. A 50-game suspension would cost him $7.65 million of his $28 million salary.


"The news report about a purported relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Anthony Bosch are not true," Rodriguez said in a statement issued by a publicist. "He was not Mr. Bosch's patient, he was never treated by him and he was never advised by him. The purported documents referenced in the story — at least as they relate to Alex Rodriguez — are not legitimate."


Jay Reisinger, a lawyer who has represented Rodriguez in recent years, said the three-time AL MVP had retained Roy Black, an attorney from Rodriguez's hometown of Miami. Black's clients have included Rush Limbaugh and William Kennedy Smith.


Bosch did not return a phone message seeking comment.


MLB hopes to gain the cooperation of Bosch and others connected with the clinic, another baseball official said, also on condition of anonymity because no public statements on the matter were authorized. In order to successfully discipline players based on the records, witnesses would be needed to authenticate them, the official said.


Players could be asked to appear before MLB for interviews, but the official said MLB would be reluctant to request interviews before it has more evidence.


Rodriguez spent years denying he used PEDs before Sports Illustrated reported in February 2009 that he tested positive for two steroids in MLB's anonymous survey while with the Texas Rangers in 2003. Two days later, he admitted in an ESPN interview that he used PEDs over a three-year period. He has denied using PEDs after 2003.


If the new allegations were true, the Yankees would face high hurdles to get out of the final five years and $114 million of Rodriguez's record $275 million, 10-year contract. Because management and the players' union have a joint drug agreement, an arbitrator could determine that any action taken by the team amounted to multiple punishments for the same offense.


But if Rodriguez were to end his career because of the injury, about 85 percent of the money owed by the Yankees would be covered by insurance, one of the baseball officials said.


Gonzalez, 21-8 for the Washington Nationals last season, posted on his Twitter feed: "I've never used performance enhancing drugs of any kind and I never will, I've never met or spoken with tony Bosch or used any substance provided by him. anything said to the contrary is a lie."


Colon was not issuing a statement, agent Adam Katz said through spokeswoman Lisa Cohen.


"We are aware of certain allegations and inferences," Cruz's law firm, Farrell & Reisinger, said in a statement. "To the extent these allegations and inferences refer to Nelson, they are denied."


Cruz and Gonzalez had not previously been linked to performance-enhancing drugs. Cruz hit 24 home runs last year for the Rangers.


The New Times report said it obtained notes by Bosch listing the players' names and the substances they received. Several unidentified employees and clients confirmed to the publication that the clinic distributed the substances, the paper said. The employees said that Bosch bragged of supplying drugs to professional athletes but that they never saw the sports stars in the office.


The paper said the records list that Rodriguez paid for HGH; testosterone cream; IGF-1, a substance banned by baseball that stimulates insulin production; and GHRP, which releases growth hormones.


___


Associated Press writers Jennifer Kay in Coral Cables, Fla., and Curt Anderson in Miami, and AP Sports Writers Howard Fendrich and Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.


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Senate hearing pits NRA, gun-control supporters

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Rifle Association and gun-control advocates, including the husband of wounded former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, are facing off at the year's first Senate hearing on what lawmakers should do to curb gun violence.


The two sides were squaring off Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose own members are divided in a microcosm of the debate that gun limits will face on their way through Congress. The hearing is a direct response to the Dec. 14 shooting rampage that killed 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and transformed gun control into a top-tier issue in the capital.


"The time has come to change course," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., one of Congress' leading gun-control advocates, said Tuesday. "And the time has come to make people safe."


Feinstein, a Judiciary Committee member, has already introduced her own legislation banning assault weapons and magazines of more than 10 rounds of ammunition.


Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said he would listen to proposals and agreed that reviewing the issue was timely.


"But I'm a strong supporter of the Second Amendment," he said Tuesday, citing the constitutional provision that describes the right to bear arms, "and I don't intend to change."


The chairman of the panel, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said little Tuesday about the direction his committee's legislation might take. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., indicated that whatever the committee produced wouldn't necessarily be the final product, saying the package would be debated by the full Senate and senators would be allowed to propose "whatever amendments they want that deal with this issue."


Despite the horrific Newtown slayings, it remains unclear whether those advocating limits on gun availability will be able to overcome resistance by the NRA and lawmakers from states where gun ownership abounds. Question marks include not just many Republicans but also Democratic senators facing re-election in red-leaning states in 2014. They include Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska and Mark Pryor of Arkansas.


Knowing that television cameras would beam images of the hearing nationally, both sides were drumming up supporters to attend Wednesday's session.


A page on an NRA-related website urged backers to arrive two hours early to get seats, bring no signs and dress appropriately. The liberal BoldProgressives.org urged its members to attend, saying the NRA "will try to pack the room with their supporters to deceive Congress into believing they are mainstream."


Earlier this month, President Barack Obama proposed a package that includes banning assault weapons, requiring background checks on all firearms purchases and limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.


Among those testifying will be Mark Kelly, husband of Giffords and a retired astronaut. Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, received a severe head wound in a 2011 shooting as she met with constituents outside a Tucson supermarket. Six people were killed and 12 others wounded.


Kelly and Giffords, a gun owner, formed a political action committee called Americans for Responsible Solutions to back lawmakers who support tighter gun restrictions.


In testimony prepared for the hearing but released Tuesday, Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president, said such steps had failed in the past. He instead voiced support for better enforcement of existing laws, beefing up school security and strengthening the government's ability to keep guns from mentally unstable people.


The massacre in Newtown has also set off a national discussion about mental health care, with everyone from law enforcement leaders to the gun industry urging policymakers to focus on the issue as a way to help prevent similar mass shootings. The issue of mental health has arisen in four recent mass shootings, including Sandy Hook, the Tucson shooting, the incident in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater last year and Virginia Tech in 2007.


"Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals," LaPierre said in his statement. "Nor do we believe the government should dictate what we can lawfully own and use to protect our families."


While not yielding on specifics, much of LaPierre's statement had a milder tone than other remarks the NRA has made since Newtown.


That includes an NRA television ad calling Obama an "elitist hypocrite" for voicing doubts about having armed school guards while his own children are protected that way at their school. While Obama's children have Secret Service protection, officials at their school have said its own guards don't carry guns.


Feinstein said Tuesday that she will hold her own hearing on gun control because she was unhappy that three of the five witnesses testifying Wednesday are "skewed against us."


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday he would wait to see what legislation Democrats produce. Republican leaders of the GOP-run House have expressed similar sentiments.


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Aniaya Ardina Rasti, Eza Gionino Ditahan  

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TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Pemain sinetron Eza Gionino yang menjadi tersangka atas kasus dugaan penganiayaan terhadap artis Ardina Rasti ditahan Kepolisian Resor Jakarta Selatan. "Dia ditahan mulai hari ini karena ada bukti baru," kata Kepala Satuan Reserse Kriminal Polres Jakarta Selatan, Ajun Komisaris Besar Hermawan, saat dihubungi, Rabu, 30 Januari 2013.



Hermawan beralasan penahanan Eza karena dikhawatirkan dia bisa melarikan diri dan menghilangkan barang bukti. "Atau bisa mengulangi perbuatannya lagi," ujarnya.



Menurut Aldy Firmansyah, kuasa hukum Rasti, urusan ditahan atau tidaknya tersangka itu masuk kewenangan penyidik. "Dari proses yang berjalan telah ditemukan bukti baru oleh penyidik," katanya.



Bukti baru itu diduga berupa kesaksian pekerja rumah tangga di rumah kliennya. Namun, Aldy mengaku tak mengetahui apa-apa saja yang disampaikan pekerja rumah tangga itu saat diperiksa penyidik.



Eza dituduh Rasti telah melakukan penganiayaan sebanyak dua kali terhadap dirinya. Eza yang juga merupakan mantan kekasihnya itu selalu membantah. Bahkan, bintang sinetron Putih Abu-Abu itu mengaku selama ini hubungannya dengan Rasti masih terjalin baik.



YAZIR FAROUK



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Sixty-five people executed in Syria's Aleppo: activists

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DUBAI (Reuters) - Denouncing "unrelenting horrors" in Syria's war, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed on Wednesday for an end to the violence and urged more aid to address a situation he said was catastrophic and worsening by the day.


"How many more people will be killed if the current situation continues?," Ban said, speaking at a conference of donors in Kuwait called to drum up more pledges of financing for U.N. humanitarian efforts.


"I appeal to all sides and particularly the Syrian government, to stop the killing ... in the name of humanity, stop the killing, stop the violence," he said.


More than 60,000 people have been killed since the 22-month-old conflict began, the United Nations says.


The world body warned on Monday that without more money it would not be able to help millions of Syrians and appealed for donations at the aid conference to meet its $1.5 billion target.


Some four million Syrians inside the country need food, shelter and other aid and more than 700,000 more have escaped to neighboring countries since the conflict began, according to the United Nations. Half of the civilians affected by the crisis are children, it says.


SCALE OF CRISIS ESCALATES


Wednesday's conference will seek pledges of $1 billion of aid for Syria's neighbors sheltering refugees and another $500 million to bankroll humanitarian work for 4 million Syrians inside the country.


The aid would fund operations for the first half of this year, but the United Nations has so far received pledges covering just 18 percent of the target, unveiled last month as the scale of Syria's humanitarian crisis escalated sharply.


Even if pledges are made, aid groups have found in the past that converting promises into hard cash can take time.


Nevertheless, there was early positive news for the gathering when Kuwait's emir pledged to give $300 million to the aid effort.


Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah told the meeting that "horrifying reports" of violence had raised questions over the future of Syria and aid efforts had to be redoubled.


But Ban said much more remained to be done.


"The situation in Syria is catastrophic and getting worse every day," he said. "Every day Syrians face unrelenting horrors," he said, adding this included sexual violence and detentions.


INFRASTRUCTURE BEING DESTROYED


About half of public hospitals and a quarter of schools are damaged, he said, and the country's infrastructure was being systematically destroyed.


Aid officials hope the fact that the conference is being held in Kuwait will encourage other wealthy Gulf Arab states, who have led regional opposition to President Bashar al-Assad, to support the international aid effort.


Many Gulf states have sent assistance, but aid workers say their efforts have been haphazard and rarely coordinated with other aid agencies, hampering their ability to plan a sustained relief program.


Syria's main opposition coalition has criticized the U.N. appeal and its arrangements for distributing aid inside Syria, saying the organization has effectively ceded control to the Syrian government and failed to deliver all but a bare minimum of aid to areas controlled by Assad's opponents.


(Reporting by Sylvia Westall, Writing by William Maclean; Editing by Jon Boyle)



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Shares, oil steady before U.S. data, Fed meeting

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LONDON (Reuters) - European shares consolidated near two-year highs on Tuesday and oil prices steadied as investors awaited data on the strength of U.S. economy and a Federal Reserve policy decision later in the week.


Most markets for riskier assets have risen solidly this year - despite only modest global growth - due to robust corporate earnings reports, signs of an end to the euro zone crisis and renewed momentum in the U.S. and Chinese economies.


But particularly in the equity markets, where many major indexes are close to multi-year highs, investors are looking for reassurance that a lasting economic recovery is underway.


"With markets posting significant gains for the year already, traders are becoming more demanding in their need for positive cues to keep up the buying momentum," said Jonathan Sudaria, a dealer at Capital Spreads in a trading note.


The FTSE Eurofirst 300 index <.fteu3> of top European shares was up 0.2 percent in early trade after hitting a 23-month high on Monday. London's FTSE 100 <.ftse>, Paris's CAC-40 <.fchi> and Frankfurt's DAX <.gdaxi> were flat to 0.1 percent higher.


U.S. stock futures gained 0.1 percent, pointing to a firm Wall Street start. <.l><.eu><.n/>


Earlier the MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.miapj0000pus> rallied 0.9 percent to end a four-day losing streak, led by a 1.1 percent jump in Australian shares <.axjo> to a fresh 21-month high.


The major event in investors' sights is the two-day Federal Reserve policy meeting. They are awaiting the Fed's decision and statement on Wednesday for any signs that the recent run of positive economic data would encourage policymakers to consider changing its easing policy.


The first estimate of U.S. fourth-quarter gross domestic product also will be released on Wednesday, followed by non-farm payrolls on Friday.


In Europe investors are looking to Spanish GDP data and Italian and German debt auctions on Wednesday, the first big day of European earnings on Thursday and the month-end.


Official data on China's growth outlook due Friday will also be important, especially for commodities markets.


Brent crude and U.S. oil were edging higher on Tuesday but, in line with equities, gains were limited with Brent crude up 16 cents to $113.64 a barrel and U.S. crude rising 44 cents to $96.88.


The euro was at $1.3450, not far from an 11-month high of $1.3480 hit on Friday when it had gained a boost from news of early repayments by euro zone banks of three-year loans to the European Central Bank, which suggested that parts of the banking system may be on the mend.


The euro, however, faces a series of major resistance levels near $1.35, including its 2012 high of $1.34869.


German government bond prices edged higher on Tuesday, as some investors were attracted by a dip that had followed Friday's announcement that banks would repay 137 billion euros of the ECB money.


Bund futures were 8 ticks higher on the day at 141.87. They hit a two-month low of 141.61 on Monday, having fallen by almost two full points in the past three sessions.


(Reporting by Richard Hubbard. Editing by)



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Woods makes short work at Torrey Pines

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — Tiger Woods never looked so irritated winning a golf tournament so comfortably.


His record eighth victory at Torrey Pines was all but over when Woods ripped a 5-iron from 244 yards over the corner of a bunker and onto the green at the par-5 13th hole, setting up a two-putt birdie that gave him an eight shot lead in the Farmers Insurance Open.


At least he had plenty of time to savor this victory. The final five holes felt like they took forever.


Woods twirled his club on the tee and leaned on it in the fairway as the final round dragged on. He lost rhythm and appeared to lose interest, and it showed. A bogey from the bunker on the 14th. A tee shot that caromed off a eucalyptus tree on the 15th hole that led to double bogey. A tee shot he popped up on the 17th hole that left him 50 yards behind the other players and led to another bogey.


"It got a little ugly at the end," Woods said. "I started losing patience a little bit with the slow play."


No matter. It only affected the margin, not the outcome. Woods had to settle for an even-par 72 that gave him a four-shot win over defending champion Brandt Snedeker and Josh Teater, who each had a 69.


For a tour that has been criticized for slow play, this wasn't an ideal start to the network portion of its schedule. With Woods virtually a lock to win, CBS Sports wanted the final round to resume Monday later than normal so that it could be televised in late afternoon on the East Coast. Play was so slow that CBS went over its allotted time.


Woods, meanwhile, had the ideal start to his tour season.


Only a week earlier, he missed the cut in Abu Dhabi, in part because of a two-shot penalty assessed after his second round for taking an illegal drop. Woods had never missed the cut on the European Tour, and he had never started his season with the weekend off.


He might have been the only one who didn't panic.


Woods seized control with a 65 on the North Course at Torrey Pines, the spent the rest of the week pulling away from the field until no one could catch him.


"I don't know if anybody would have beaten him this week," said Nick Watney, who got within five shots of Woods when the tournament was still undecided until making three bogeys on his next five holes. "He's definitely on his game."


It's still too early to figure out the state of his game, especially in relation to Rory McIlroy, who also missed the cut in Abu Dhabi.


Torrey Pines is a public course that Woods treats like his private domain. He won the tournament for the seventh time, one short of the PGA Tour record for most wins in a single event. Sam Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open eight times. Woods won for the eighth time at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open, and that's a PGA Tour record that Woods previously shared with ... himself. He also has won seven times at Firestone and Bay Hill.


"I think he wanted to send a message," said Hunter Mahan, who shares a swing coach with Woods. "I think deep down he did. You play some games to try to motivate yourself. There's been so much talk about Rory. Rory is now with Nike. That would be my guess."


And it was his 75th win on the PGA Tour, seven short of the record held by Snead. Woods has won 23 of those tournaments by at least four shots.


"I'm excited the way I played all week," Woods said. "I hit the ball well — pretty much did everything well and built myself a nice little cushion. I had some mistakes at the end, but all my good play before that allowed me to afford those mistakes."


Woods mostly had reason to be excited about his short game.


In the third round Sunday, he was furious with himself for going long on the par-3 eighth green, without much green between his ball and the hole. Woods hit a chip solidly, with just enough loft, to leave himself a tap-in par. In the conclusion of the final round Monday, he pulled his tee shot into a bad spot in the bunker on the par-3 11th. The lie was good, but he had to aim well left, meaning his legs were spread wide on the slope of the sand.


He blasted it out with his 60-degree wedge to a top shelf, and then watched it feed down a slope to the right. It lost pace at the end or it might have gone in.


It looked good for television. It was a difficult shot, but not impossible.


But Woods believes those are the shots he wasn't converting a year ago. And that's one reason his outlook was so bright on the rest of the year, even after having to cope with so much fog along the Pacific bluffs.


He played the par 5s in 12 under for the lead — that alone would have been enough to win — and attributed that to his short game.


"My short game was back to how I know it can be," Woods said. "My shots that I hit, especially out of these nasty little lies, I hit some really good ones this week. And that allowed me to save some pars, make some birdies, and move my way up the board. And basically, that's what I did."


Woods figures his swing change under Sean Foley took root at some point last year, but that he had devoted so much time to the swing that he neglected his wedges. Now that he is practicing more on his short game, he expects better results — turning a 74 into a 70, and not losing leads at the majors, like he did twice last year.


Still, the season is young.


Any measure of Woods likely will have to wait until the road to the Masters gets going during the Florida Swing. Woods headed home to Florida on Monday night and is not expected to return until the Match Play Championship in Arizona a month from now. McIlroy also isn't expected to play until then, and match play being such a fickle format, the better gauge could come in the Honda Classic and at Doral.


Woods, however, likes where he is headed.


Torrey Pines is a good omen for the rest of his year. Whenever he starts a PGA Tour season with a win at Torrey, he tends to have big years — eight wins and two majors in 2006, seven wins and a major in 2007, four wins in only six starts in 2008.


Where will this lead?


"Does it feel good? Yes. Does it give me confidence? Absolutely," Woods said. "But as far as the other stuff, as I said, I'm excited about this year. I'm excited about what I'm doing with Sean and some of the things that I've built. This is a nice way to start the year."


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After gun crime, weapon history takes time to find

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WASHINGTON (AP) — In the fictional world of television police dramas, a few quick clicks on a computer lead investigators to the owner of a gun recovered at a bloody crime scene. Before the first commercial, the TV detectives are on the trail of the suspect.


Reality is a world away. There is no national database of guns. Not of who owns them, how many are sold annually or even how many exist.


Federal law bars the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from keeping track of guns. The only time the government can track the history of a gun, including its first buyer and seller, is after it's used in a crime. And though President Barack Obama and numerous Democratic lawmakers have called for new limits on what kinds of guns should be available to the public and urged stronger background checks in gun sales, there is no effort afoot to change the way the government keeps track — or doesn't — of where the country's guns are.


When police want to trace a gun, it's a decidedly low-tech process.


"It's not CSI and it's not a sophisticated computer system," said Charles J. Houser, who runs the ATF's National Tracing Center in Martinsburg, W. Va.


When police trace a gun, the search starts by sending all the information they have about the gun — including the manufacturer and model — to an office worker in a low-slung brick building just off the Appalachian Trial in rural West Virginia, about 90 miles northwest of Washington.


ATF officials first call the manufacturer, who reveals which wholesaler the company used. That may lead to a call to a second distributor before investigators can pinpoint the retail gun dealer who first sold the weapon. Gun dealers are required to keep a copy of federal forms that detail who buys what gun and a log for guns sold. They are required to share that information with the ATF if a gun turns up at a crime scene and authorities want it traced. Often, gun shops fax the paperwork to the ATF.


That's where the paper trail ends.


In about 30 percent of cases, one or all of those folks have gone out of business and ATF tracers are left to sort through potentially thousands of out-of-business records forwarded to the ATF and stored at the office building that more closely resembles a remote call center than a law enforcement operation.


The records are stored as digital pictures that can only be searched one image at a time. Two shifts of contractors spend their days taking staples out of papers, sorting through thousands of pages and scanning or taking pictures of the records.


"Those records come in all different shapes and forms. We have to digitally image them, we literally take a picture of it," Houser said. "We have had rolls of toilet paper or paper towels ... because they (dealers) did not like the requirement to keep records."


The tracing center receives about a million out-of-business records every month and Houser runs the center's sorting and imaging operations from 6 a.m. to midnight, five days a week. The images are stored on old-school microfilm reels or as digital images. But there's no way to search the records, other than to scroll through one picture of a page at a time.


"We are ... prohibited from amassing the records of active dealers," Houser said. "It means that if a dealer is in business he maintains his records."


Last year the center traced about 344,000 guns for 6,000 different law enforcement agencies. Houser has a success rate of about 90 percent, so long as enough information is provided. And he boasts that every successful trace provides at least one lead in a criminal case.


"It's a factory for the production of investigative leads," Houser said of the tracing center.


A 1968 overhaul of federal gun laws required licensed dealers to keep paper records of who buys what guns and gave ATF the authority to track the history of a gun if was used in a crime. But in the intervening decades, the National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups lobbied Congress to limit the government's ability to do much with what little information is collected, including keeping track on computers.


"They (lawmakers) feel that the act of amassing those records would in essence go a step toward creating an artificial registration system," Houser said.


What the ATF can do is give trace information to the law enforcement agency that asked for it and in some cases uses the data to help point them in the direction of other crimes.


Houser said the "manually intensive process" can take about five days for a routine trace. In some cases, completing the trace can mean sifting by hand through paperwork that hasn't yet been scanned.


In more urgent situations, including the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting in Connecticut last year, ATF agents run a trace within about 24 hours. Oftentimes, that involves sending agents to the gun dealer that first sold the weapon to quickly find the paperwork listing its original buyer.


Despite having access to millions of records about gun purchases from dealers that have gone out of business, the ATF isn't allowed to create a database of what guns were sold to whom and when.


ATF does keep tabs on how many guns are manufactured and shipped out of the country every year, but only gun makers and dealers know for sure how many are sold. There are also strict limits on what the agency can do with the gun trace information. And that's just the way the gun lobby and Congress want it.


Various laws and spending bills have specifically barred the ATF from creating a national database of guns and gun owners. And due to the efforts of lawmakers, including former Rep. Todd Tiahrt of Kansas, ATF agents who trace the history of a gun can't share that information with anyone but the police agency that asked for it.


As it stands now, local law enforcement doesn't have access to regional data about gun traces. So if the police commissioner in New York City is trying to figure out where the guns are coming into the city from — whether they're going to New Jersey first or upstate New York, for example — that data is not available because of an amendment introduced by Tiahrt, said Mike Bouchard, a former ATF assistant director for Field Operations. ATF can tell police where most crime guns are traced from, by state. But it does not release information on gun shops or purchasers.


If police chiefs want that, they have to reach out to individual chiefs at other departments and ask.


"It's pretty ridiculous when we have an automated system that will do it for the chiefs," Bouchard said.


Tiahrt said he first proposed limiting access to trace data to make sure the information wasn't available under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. It was an issue of keeping undercover police, informants and innocent gun buyers and sellers out of the public eye, Tiahrt said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.


Knowing who legally buys guns won't prevent gun violence, the former Republican congressman said.


"We're chasing these wisps of smoke that won't solve the problem," Tiahrt said. "Get to the root cause. Put out the fire. Deal with mental illness. Deal with situational awareness."


Houser said he would prefer the tracing center's operations to be expanded and a center built that would use some technologies to help more easily trace a gun. But until the law changes, his staff will continue removing staples, turning pages right-side-up and taking digital pictures of records.


"Our job is to enforce the laws that are passed to us," Houser said. "What they give us is what we are required to work with."


___


Associated Press reporter Eileen Sullivan contributed to this report.


___


Follow Alicia A. Caldwell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/acaldwellap


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Zaskia dan Irwansyah Bebas dari Kasus Narkoba  

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TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Artis Zaskia Sungkar dan suaminya, Irwansyah, tersenyum di hadapan puluhan wartawan yang menunggu di Badan Narkotika Nasional. Pasangan selebriti ini ingin memberikan pernyataan seputar status mereka yang telah bebas dan hasil yang negatif setelah melakukan rangkaian tes.



"Saya di sini bersama suami saya ingin menjelaskan bahwa ketika kami datang ke rumah rekan kami, Raffi, sudah dalam penggerebekan," kata Zaskia yang mengenakan kerudung putih.



Menurut kakak kandung Shiren Sungkar itu, dia dan Irwan datang sekitar pukul 05.30 pagi ketika petugas BNN sudah masuk ke dalam rumah Raffi. "Kami datang sehabis Irwan syuting bersama pegawai kami. Kami datang ingin meminta tanda tangan giro untuk perusahaan kami, Arwansyah Picture," kata wanita 22 tahun ini.



Zaskia dan Irwan memang masuk ke dalam situasi dan waktu yang salah. Selama di BNN, mereka hanya dimintai keterangan sebagai saksi perihal penggerebekan di rumah Raffi Ahmad, Ahad pagi, 27 Januari 2013. Pihak BNN juga tak menemukan bukti kalau keduanya terlibat.



Zaskia dan Irwan menerima surat pembebasan dari BNN. Di belakangnya terlihat Shiren Sungkar, yang mengenakan kaca mata hitam, serta kedua orang tua Zaskia, Fanny Bauty dan Mark Sungkar.



AFRILIA SURYANIS | PRIHANDOKO



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French seal off Mali's Timbuktu, rebels torch library

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GAO, Mali (Reuters) - French and Malian troops retook control of Timbuktu, a UNESCO World Heritage site, on Monday after Islamist rebel occupiers fled the ancient Sahara trading town and torched several buildings, including a library holding priceless manuscripts.


The United States and the European Union are backing a French-led intervention in Mali against al Qaeda-allied militants they fear could use the West African state's desert north as a springboard for international attacks.


The recovery of Timbuktu followed the swift capture by French and Malian forces at the weekend of Gao, another major town in Mali's north that had been occupied by the alliance of jihadist groups since last year.


The two-week-old mission by France in its former Sahel colony, at the request of Mali's government, has driven the Islamist rebels northwards out of towns into the desert and mountains.


Without a shot being fired, 1,000 French soldiers and paratroopers and 200 Malian troops seized Timbuktu airport and surrounded the town on the banks of the Niger River, looking to block the escape of insurgents.


In both Timbuktu and Gao, cheering crowds turned out to welcome the French and Malian troops.


A third town in Mali's vast desert north, Kidal, had remained in Islamist militant hands. But Malian Tuareg MNLA rebels, who are seeking autonomy for their northern region, said on Monday they had taken charge in Kidal after Islamist fighters abandoned it.


A diplomat in Bamako confirmed the MNLA takeover of Kidal.


A French military spokesman said the assault forces at Timbuktu were avoiding any fighting inside the city to protect the cultural treasures, mosques and religious shrines in what is considered a seat of Islamic learning.


But Timbuktu Mayor Ousmane Halle told Reuters departing Islamist gunmen had four days earlier set fire to the town's new Ahmed Baba Institute, which contained thousands of manuscripts.


UNESCO spokesman Roni Amelan said the Paris-based U.N. cultural agency was "horrified" by the news of the fire, but was awaiting a full assessment of the damage.


Ali Baba, a worker at the Ahmed Baba Institute, told Sky News in Timbuktu more than 3,000 manuscripts had been destroyed. "They are bandits. They have burned some manuscripts and also stole a lot of manuscripts which they took with them," he said.


Marie Rodet, an African history lecturer at Britain's School of Oriental and African Studies, said Timbuktu held one of the greatest libraries of Islamic manuscripts in the world.


"It's pure retaliation. They (the Islamist militant rebels) knew they were losing the battle and they hit where it really hurts," Rodet told Reuters. "These people are not interested in any intellectual debate. They are anti-intellectual."


ISLAMISTS "ALL FLED"


The Ahmed Baba Institute, one of several libraries and collections in Timbuktu containing fragile documents dating back to the 13th century, is named after a Timbuktu-born contemporary of William Shakespeare and houses more than 20,000 scholarly manuscripts. Some were stored in underground vaults.


The French and Malians have encountered no resistance so far in Timbuktu. But they will now have to comb through a labyrinth of ancient mosques, monuments, mud-brick homes and narrow alleyways to flush out any hiding fighters.


The Islamist forces comprise a loose alliance that groups Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) with Malian Islamist group Ansar Dine and AQIM splinter MUJWA.


They have retreated in the face of relentless French air strikes and superior firepower and are believed to be sheltering in the rugged Adrar des Ifoghas mountain range, north of Kidal.


The MNLA Tuareg rebels who say they now hold Kidal have offered to help the French-led offensive against the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamists. It was not clear, however, whether the French and Malians would steer their offensive further towards Kidal, or hold negotiations with the MNLA.


FRANCE: MALI "BEING LIBERATED"


The world was shocked by Timbuktu's capture in April by Tuareg fighters, whose separatist rebellion was later hijacked by Islamist radicals who imposed severe sharia (Islamic law).


Provoking international outrage, the Muslim militants - who follow a more radical Salafist brand of Islam - destroyed dozens of ancient shrines in Timbuktu sacred to Sufi Muslims, condemning them as idolatrous and un-Islamic.


They also imposed a strict form of Islamic law, or sharia, authorizing the stoning of adulterers and amputations for thieves, while forcing women to go veiled.


On Sunday, many women among the thousands of Gao residents who came out to celebrate the rebels' expulsion made a point of going unveiled. Other residents smoked cigarettes and played music to flout the bans previously imposed by the rebels.


Hundreds of troops from Niger and Chad have been brought to Gao to help secure the town.


"Little by little, Mali is being liberated," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told France 2 television.


Speaking at a news conference in Paris, French President Francois Hollande said French troops would take a step back once the job of retaking key towns was complete, and Malian and other African troops would take over the task of hunting the rebels.


"They are the ones who will go into the northern part, which we know is the most difficult because that's where the terrorists are hiding," Hollande said.


As the French and Malian troops thrust into northern Mali, African troops for a U.N.-backed continental intervention force for Mali, expected to number 7,700, are being flown into the country, despite severe delays and logistical problems.


Outgoing African Union Chairman President Thomas Boni Yayi of Benin scolded AU states at a weekend summit in Addis Ababa for their slow response to assist Mali while former colonial power France took the lead in the military operation.


Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Niger and Chad are providing soldiers for the AFISMA force. Burundi and other nations have pledged to contribute.


AU Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra said these regional troops could play a useful "clean-up" role once the main military operations against the Islamist rebels end.


Speaking in Addis Ababa on Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the U.N. was "actively considering" helping the troop-contributing African countries with logistical support.


(Additional reporting by Richard Valdmanis in Sevare, Mali, Bate Felix and David Lewis in Dakar, Maria Golovina in London, Alexandria Sage, Vicky Buffery and Emmanuel Jarry in Paris, Tiemoko Diallo in Bamako, Abdoulaye Massalatchi in Niamey, Richard Lough and Aaron Masho in Addis Ababa; Writing by Pascal Fletcher; Editing by Andrew Heavens)



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GLOBAL MARKETS-Euro, shares stall as investors turn cautious

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LONDON (Reuters) - Rallies in European shares and the single currency stalled on Monday after strong gains last week as investors awaited confirmation that financial market conditions and the outlook for the euro area have improved.


Investor sentiment rose strongly on Friday after data showed European banks would repay more than expected of the emergency loans they borrowed from the European Central Bank (ECB) and that business sentiment in Germany was improving sharply.


A solid start to the corporate earnings season has also helped send many equity indexes to pre-financial crisis highs, with the Standard & Poor's 500 index closing last week at its highest level in over five years.


In the equity markets Europe's FTSEurofirst 300 index <.fteu3> shed 0.1 percent in early trade to 1,173.87 points, leveling off near its highest level for almost two years, though traders said there was still strong underlying demand.


"All European benchmarks are at their 2012-2013 highs. Every time there's even a slight pull-back, the buying pressure comes in," Aurel BGC chartist Gerard Sagnier said.


The market's cautious mood on Monday also followed a weaker session in Asia, where falls in technology companies saw the MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.miapj0000pus> drop 0.4 percent.


The euro held near an 11-month high against the dollar $1.3440

Meanwhile, German government bond futures, a key gauge of investor sentiment, continued to ease, slipping a further 7 ticks to 142.40 on Monday, and gold is languishing near a two-week low as hopes for an economic recovery worldwide dampen the metal's appeal as a safe haven.


Investors are keenly awaiting the ECB's monthly data on bank lending to companies and consumers, due later, for confirmation that growth is returning to the economy. Italy will also provide a test of investor sentiment when it auctions almost 7 billion euros ($9.4 billion) of 2-year and 5-year bonds.


However, the main focus for investors this week will be on the U.S., where the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee meets on Tuesday and Wednesday, and where the nonfarm payrolls report is due out on Friday.


Oil prices were being held in check by the events coming up in the U.S., with Brent crude unchanged at $113.28 a barrel, while U.S. crude rose 17 cents to $96.05 after seven straight weekly gains - the longest such streak since early 2009.


($1 = 0.7421 euros)


(Reporting by Richard Hubbard; Editing by Will Waterman)



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Team flag waves as 49ers arrive for Super Bowl

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Jim Harbaugh stepped to the podium, smirked a bit, and greeted his first news conference as a Super Bowl coach.


"We're super happy to be here," he said Sunday night as his NFC champion San Francisco 49ers arrived in the Big Easy for the big game.


"I think this team has the best focus on unity and winning I've ever been a part of."


Considering that Harbaugh was an NFL quarterback for 14 seasons and a successful college coach before joining the 49ers, he knows something about winning.


Under Harbaugh, San Francisco has been to two NFC title games and, now, to its first Super Bowl in 18 years. The Niners (13-4-1) will play Baltimore (13-6), coached by Harbaugh's older brother, John, in next Sunday's Super Bowl.


He is certain his team is ready for the task as the 49ers seek their sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy; they are 5-0 in Super Bowls.


"These are uncharted waters for a rookie Super Bowl coach," Harbaugh said. "But that's exciting. It's a great thrill, and we have a desire to be in uncharted waters. We always strive for that kind of challenge."


Earlier in the evening, with a team flag waving from an open window of their chartered plane, the 49ers arrived in a businesslike manner. The players calmly walked off the airplane — no video recorders or cameras, no waves to onlookers.


Most of the team's veteran players disembarked first, including center Jonathan Goodwin, who won a Super Bowl three years ago with the Saints.


"You get to go to the Super Bowl with your childhood team, so that's something special to me," he said. "So hopefully I can find a way to win the Super Bowl with my childhood team."


Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, wearing a red wool cap sporting "49ers" on it, mouthed the words to a song on his headphones as he walked on the tarmac.


He seemed just as relaxed 90 minutes later as he met the media.


"Pressure comes from a lack of preparation," said Kaepernick, who took over as the starter when Alex Smith got a concussion in November and has been sensational in keeping the job. "This is not a pressure situation. It's a matter of going out and performing."


Harbaugh said the 49ers came to New Orleans on Sunday to simulate a normal week. He likened their trip to his strategy the last two seasons when the 49ers spent a week in Youngstown, Ohio, between Eastern games rather than return to the Bay Area.


He liked the way the players and coaches bonded during that experience.


"Same approach," Harbaugh said. "Enjoy the moment and the preparation. I think our team enjoys that the most: the meetings, the preparation and then, especially, the competition."


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Washington casts wary eye at Muslim Brotherhood

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama begins his second term straining to maintain a good relationship with Egypt, an important U.S. ally whose president is a conservative Islamist walking a fine line between acting as a moderate peace broker and keeping his Muslim Brotherhood party happy with anti-American rhetoric.


The White House last summer had hoped to smooth over some of the traditional tensions between Washington and the Brotherhood, a party rooted in opposition to Israel and the U.S., when Egypt overthrew dictator Hosni Mubarak and picked Mohammed Morsi as its first democratically elected leader.


But a spate of recent steps — from Brotherhood-led attacks on protesters, to vague protestations of women's freedoms in the nation's new constitution, to revelations of old comments by Morsi referring to Jews as "bloodsuckers" and "pigs" — have raised alarm among senior U.S. officials and threatens $1 billion in American aid to Egypt.


Though the Brotherhood was founded in Egypt, its influence and affiliates have spread across the Mideast and into North Africa — where two recent terrorist attacks and a French assault on Islamist militants in Mali have presented Obama with a new front in the battle against extremism for his second term.


The White House has little interest in picking a fight with the Muslim Brotherhood, which has grown in size and stature across the region since the Arab Spring revolts. The Brotherhood and similar Islamist movements are regarded warily by monarchies in Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco. Its members are part of the opposition coalition seeking to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad. It has small followings in Qatar, Algeria, and a like-minded — although not officially affiliated — ally in Tunisia.


When Egyptians elected Morsi, he offered words of moderation, brokered a cease-fire between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza and bore down on terrorist dens in the Sinai Peninsula.


The Morsi-led government is "a new administration and they're obviously having growing pains," said a senior Obama administration official who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity so he could discuss the diplomatic relationship more candidly.


Since the Tahrir Square revolution two years ago, Washington has tried to help Egypt build a democratic state without appearing to tread on its sovereignty. Morsi won election last June with 51 percent of Egypt's vote.


A new eruption of political violence in Egypt over the weekend left about 50 people dead, deepening the malaise as the Morsi struggles to get a grip on enormous social and economic problems. He has declared a 30-day state of emergency and curfew in the three Suez Canal provinces hit hardest by the violence.


The White House is increasingly concerned about the direction the Brotherhood is taking Egypt: "It's not just about majority rule," the administration official said. "There are democratic principles that we continue to support."


Morsi's anti-Semitic comments, made in separate speeches in 2010 but which surfaced this month on Egyptian TV, also accused Obama of being a liar. They shocked U.S. officials who sprang to condemn them as counter-productive to American-supported peace efforts in the Mideast. But they surprised few people in Egypt, who have heard Brotherhood officials make similar statements for years.


Morsi initially struggled to respond to the U.S. backlash from the comments. His office issued a statement committing to uphold religious freedoms and tolerance, and condemning violence.


"The president strongly believes that we must respect and indeed celebrate our common humanity, and does not accept or condone derogatory statements regarding any religious or ethnic group," the statement said, without addressing the fact that Morsi himself made those comments.


The statement, however, did little to soothe U.S. lawmakers — Democrats and Republicans alike — who have balked at approving $1 billion in aid to Egypt that Obama promised in 2011 to help the new government settle an economic crisis that has drained the country's central bank and devalued the local currency in the revolution's aftermath.


"How would the American people feel about cutting money to education programs here and giving money to a government that is anti-Semitic?" Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., a member of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees funding to foreign governments, said.


"I don't think the administration has any right to say they are going to grant this foreign aid because I think this Congress may very well condition it," Wolf said. "I think there are a lot of questions, and I don't think it's a given."


Part of the proposed $1 billion aid package depends on International Monetary Fund approval of its own $4.8 billion loan to Egypt. But that loan has stalled for months because of Egypt's instability.


Despite its misgivings about Morsi, the White House still is pushing Congress for the funding, acknowledging that Egypt's downfall all but certainly would roil the already turbulent Mideast and North Africa.


"It's not in our interest to have an economic collapse in Egypt," said the senior Obama administration official.


The Brotherhood describes itself as a non-violent social organization dedicated to instilling Islamic values in the society. In Egypt, where it formed, the group was repressed by former regimes for decades and has struggled with adjusting to its new role leading the government. Its members, fearing a coup, are widely blamed with attacking anti-Morsi protesters outside the presidential palace in Cairo last month in clashes that left at least 10 people dead.


"What they missed was the fact that they are a governing party now, and to be getting into street battles when you also have commanding presence in the Egyptian state shows inexperience and panic," said Nathan Brown, a professor at George Washington University who has been researching Islamic movements for nearly a decade. "This is the kind of group that will be a pain to deal with for the United States, but it's not al-Qaida; it's not a security threat."


He added: "The biggest fear on the part of the (Obama) administration is a political breakdown in Egypt. They are worried that a collapse in the Egyptian state would be destabilizing on the region, and might allow the flow of arms and fighters among more radical movements in the region — especially in trouble spots like Sinai and Gaza."


Obama administration officials said Morsi's promises to abide by Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel, and continued security cooperation with Israel over the volatile Sinai Peninsula shows his willingness to be a reasonable partner. Morsi's work in November to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rules was "a good first step," the senior Obama administration official said.


But Washington remains wary of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, "who come from a very conservative viewpoint with issues that are very important to America," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.


Gillibrand was part of a delegation of U.S. lawmakers who met with Morsi in Cairo this month shortly after his 2010 statements surfaced. She stopped short of saying Morsi appeared chastened but described him as mindful of "how important America is to the viability of his presidency and the economy."


She said lawmakers want to see what actions he takes, "and we want to see if his words match those deeds and actions," Gillibrand said.


___


Follow Lara Jakes on Twitter at https://twitter.com/larajakesAP


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Pembuktian Ben Affleck Lewat 'Argo'  

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TEMPO.CO, Los Angeles - Film Argo kembali sabet penghargaan tertinggi di Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards 2013 sebagai mengalahkan Les Miserables, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook dan The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.



Kemenangan ini diterima Ben Affleck, sebagai produser, sutradara sekaligus pemeran dalam film Argo di Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles pada Ahad, 27 Januari 2013. »Penghargaan ini mencerminkan bagaimana kami, 120 orang bekerja sama. Kami semua berbeda bahasa, berbeda kebangsaan. Setiap orang yakin bahwa apa yang kami kerjakan adalah sesuatu yang penting. Setiap peran di dalamnya membawa sebuah cerita”, ujar Affleck.



Sempat diragukan, Affleck kini dapat membuktikan filmnya layak untuk dihargai. Argo menceritakan tentang anggota CIA yang diberi tugas berbahaya untuk menyelamatkan diplomat di daerah konflik Iran. Film ini diadaptasi dari kisah Canadian Caper.



Kemenangan ini memperkuat nama Argo dalam persaingan di Academy Awards ke-85. Argo masuk dalam beberapa kategori, salah satunya penghargaan tertinggi sebagai nominator film terbaik.



Argo akan kembali bersaing dengan Les Miserables, Lincoln, Django Unchained dan beberapa film lainnya. Academy Awards dijadwalkan berlangsung di Dolby Theater, Hollywood pada 24 Februari 2013 mendatang.



LATIMES | NANDA HADIYANTI



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Nightclub fire kills 233 in Brazil

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SANTA MARIA, Brazil (Reuters) - A nightclub fire killed at least 233 people in southern Brazil on Sunday when a band's pyrotechnics show set the building ablaze and fleeing partygoers stampeded toward blocked exits in the ensuing panic.


Most of those who died were suffocated by toxic fumes that rapidly filled the crowded club after sparks from pyrotechnics used by the band for visual effects set fire to soundproofing on the ceiling, local fire officials said.


"Smoke filled the place instantly, the heat became unbearable," survivor Murilo Tiescher, a medical student, told GloboNews TV. "People could not find the only exit. They went to the toilet thinking it was the exit and many died there."


Firemen said one exit was locked and that club bouncers, who at first thought those fleeing were trying to skip out on bar tabs, initially blocked patrons from leaving. The security staff relented only when they saw flames engulfing the ceiling.


The tragedy in the university town of Santa Maria in one of Brazil's most prosperous states comes as the country scrambles to improve safety, security and logistical shortfalls before the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament and the 2016 Olympics, both intended to showcase the economic advances and first-world ambitions of Latin America's largest nation.


In Santa Maria, a city of more than 275,000 people, rescue workers and weary officials wept alongside family and friends of the victims at a gymnasium being used as a makeshift morgue.


"It's the saddest, saddest day of my life," said Neusa Soares, the mother of one of those killed, 22-year-old Viviane Tolio Soares. "I never thought I would have to live to see my girl go away."


President Dilma Rousseff cut short an official visit to Chile and flew to Santa Maria, where she wept as she spoke to relatives of the victims, most of whom were university students.


"All I can say at the moment is that my feelings are of deep sorrow," said Rousseff, who began her political career in Rio Grande do Sul, the state where the fire occurred.


It was the deadliest nightclub fire since 309 people died in a discotheque blaze in China in 2000 and Brazil's worst fire at an entertainment venue since a disgruntled employee set fire to a circus in 1961, killing well over 300 people.


'BARRIER OF THE DEAD'


Local authorities said 120 men and 113 women died in the fire, and 92 people are still being treated in hospitals.


News of the fire broke on Sunday morning, when local news broadcast images of shocked people outside the nightclub called Boate Kiss. Gradually, grisly details emerged.


"We ran into a barrier of the dead at the exit," Colonel Guido Pedroso de Melo, commander of the fire brigade in Rio Grande do Sul, said of the scene that firefighters found on arrival. "We had to clear a path to get to the rest of those that were inside."


Pedroso de Melo said the popular nightclub was overcrowded with 1,500 people packed inside and they could not exit fast.


"Security guards blocked their exit and did not allow them to leave quickly. That caused panic," he said.


The fire chief said the club was authorized to be open, though its permit was in the process of being renewed. But he pointed to several egregious safety violations - from the flare that went off during the show to the locked door that kept people from getting out.


"The problem was the use of pyrotechnics, which is not permitted," Pedroso de Melo said.


The club's management said in a statement that its staff was trained and prepared to deal with any emergency. It said it would help authorities with their investigation.


One of the club's owners has surrendered to police for questioning, GloboNews TV reported.


When the fire began at about 2:30 a.m., many revelers were unable to find their way out in the chaos.


"It all happened so fast," survivor Taynne Vendrusculo told GloboNews TV. "Both the panic and the fire spread rapidly, in seconds."


Once security guards realized the building was on fire, they tried in vain to control the blaze with a fire extinguisher, according to a televised interview with one of the guards, Rodrigo Moura. He said patrons were trampled as they rushed for the doors, describing it as "a horror film."


Band member Rodrigo Martins said the fire started after the fourth or fifth song and the extinguisher did not work.


"It could have been a short circuit, there were many cables there," Martins told Porto Alegre's Radio Gaucha station. He said there was only one door and it was locked. A band member died in the fire.


CELL PHONES STILL RINGING


TV footage showed people sobbing outside the club before dawn, while shirtless firefighters used sledge hammers and axes to knock down an exterior wall to open up an exit.


Rescue officials moved the bodies to the local gym and separated them by gender. Male victims were easier to identify because most had identification on them, unlike the women, whose purses were left scattered in the devastated nightclub.


Piles of shoes remained in the burnt-out club, along with tufts of hair pulled out by people fleeing desperately. Firemen who removed bodies said victims' cell phones were still ringing.


The disaster recalls other incidents including a 2003 fire at a nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, that killed 100 people, and a Buenos Aires nightclub blaze in 2004 that killed nearly 200. In both incidents, a band or members of the audience ignited fires that set the establishment ablaze.


The Rhode Island fire shocked local and federal officials because of the rarity of such incidents in the United States, where enforcement of safety codes is considered relatively strict. After the Buenos Aires blaze, Argentine officials closed many nightclubs and other venues and ultimately forced the city's mayor from office because of poor oversight of municipal codes.


The fire early on Sunday occurred in one of the wealthiest, most industrious and culturally distinct regions of Brazil. Santa Maria is about 186 miles west of Porto Alegre, the capital of a state settled by Germans and other immigrants from northern Europe.


Local clichés paint the region as stricter and more organized than the rest of Brazil, where most residents are a mix descended from native tribes, Portuguese colonists, African slaves, and later influxes of immigrants from southern Europe.


Rio Grande do Sul state's health secretary, Ciro Simoni, said emergency medical supplies from all over the state were being sent to the scene. States from all over Brazil offered support, and messages of sympathy poured in from foreign leaders.


(Additional reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal, Gustavo Bonato, Jeferson Ribeiro, Eduardo Simões, Brian Winter and Guido Nejamkis.; Writing by Paulo Prada and Anthony Boadle; Editing by Todd Benson, Kieran Murray and Christopher Wilson)



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