Knicks overcome Curry's 54 to beat Warriors


NEW YORK (AP) — Stephen Curry rose for another jumper, and by then even the Knicks probably figured it would go in.

Curry had hardly missed in a scintillating second half of the NBA's most electric performance this season, the crowd cheering even before the ball left his hands.

This time, Raymond Felton jumped with him, making the play New York needed to finally withstand Curry.

Felton's blocked shot led to J.R. Smith's tiebreaking basket with 1:10 left, and the Knicks overcame Curry's NBA season-high 54 points to beat the Golden State Warriors 109-105 on Wednesday night.

Curry was 18 of 28 from the field, finishing one shy of the NBA record with 11 3-pointers in 13 attempts, in a performance that had the crowd hanging on his every shot. But the Knicks and Felton finally stopped him with 1:28 to play and the score tied at 105.

"My main thing is to keep playing. Like I said, once a guy gets it going like that, there's nothing I can really do. I've still got to stay in my mindset, still play my game, and I was still able to come up with some big plays at the end," Felton said. "We all came up with some big plays to get that win."

Carmelo Anthony followed Smith's basket with another one and the Knicks hung on to spoil former Knicks star and Warriors coach Mark Jackson's homecoming.

Anthony finished with 35 points and Smith had 26.

"We made the defensive stops we needed to make down the stretch," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said.

Playing all 48 minutes, Curry finished with seven assists and six rebounds while passing his previous career best of 42 points, and Kevin Durant's 52-point performance that had been the best in the NBA this season.

"I felt good all night. Obviously played the whole game, so was just trying to keep my legs underneath me on the offensive end, and you know, just stick to the game on the defensive end," Curry said. "Once I started seeing that 3-ball go down in transition, all sorts of spots on the floor, I knew it was going to be a good night."

But he had little help without All-Star forward David Lee, who was suspended one game for his role in an altercation Tuesday night in Indiana.

Tyson Chandler had 16 points and a career-best 28 rebounds for the Knicks, who won their second straight after a season-high, four-game losing streak. Amare Stoudemire had 14 points and Anthony added eight assists on the day the Knicks learned they could be without reserve forward Rasheed Wallace for the rest of the season because he needs surgery to repair a broken bone in his left foot.

Strutting all over the court whenever one of his 3s swished easily through the nets, Curry easily blew past the 38 points he scored Tuesday in Indiana, which had been his best of the season. That was spoiled when he was fined $35,000 for his role in the skirmish, which was essentially getting thrown to the ground by Roy Hibbert when he tried to intervene.

This performance — the most points by an NBA player in a loss since Kobe Bryant had 58 in a loss to Charlotte on Dec. 29, 2006 — was spoiled along with Jackson's trip back to his old home because of a few mistakes down the stretch.

Curry threw away a pass on the break with 3:13 left, and Jarrett Jack was called for a travel following Smith's go-ahead basket.

Plus, Klay Thompson finished 3 of 13 from the field, missing two straight from deep in the final minute.

Jackson, who grew up in Brooklyn and starred at St. John's before being drafted by the Knicks in 1987, didn't get a chance to coach here last season as an NBA rookie on the bench because of the lockout. He brought his wife, Desiree, to a road game for the first time this season, had his mother in the stands, and got a chance to see people he remembered from playing here years earlier.

He said he hadn't gotten to look ahead much to the game because of the schedule, but clearly enjoyed being back in Madison Square Garden once the day did arrive.

"This is a special place and it was part of my dreams as a kid," he said.

His night turned into Curry's, fans cheering even before the ball left his hand in the second half.

"We were short-handed and we needed a performance like that to have a chance," Jackson said. "He put on a clinic. Knocked down shots. Made plays. Carried us. Led us in rebounding. He did it all. I've seen a lot of great performances in this building and his goes up there. I've seen a lot. I've seen a lot, but that shooting performance was a thing of beauty."

The Knicks, who hadn't played since Sunday, looked ready to blow the Warriors out early, taking a 25-11 lead that the Warriors trimmed to 27-18 at the end of the first period before surging ahead behind Curry.

He scored 12 straight Golden State points, cutting it to 35-34 with his third 3-pointer of the second quarter. He followed Richard Jefferson's 3 with another one, giving the Warriors a 40-37 advantage. The Knicks recovered and went back ahead by nine late in the period before Curry answered with six consecutive points, and New York's lead was 58-55 at the break.

"He's a special young player with a very unique talent," Chandler said. "We ran everything at him. He just got hot. There was some shots that he couldn't have seen the rim."

Curry's drive gave the Warriors a two-point lead three minutes into the third quarter, but he didn't score again until hitting a turnaround 3 from 27 feet with 5 seconds left in the period, giving him 38 points again and cutting New York's lead to 84-81.

Already without Andrew Bogut because of a back injury, the Warriors had little size without Lee. Their lineup at one point in the second quarter had nobody taller than 6-foot-9 and Chandler simply climbed over them all night.

He came in leading the league with 4.4 offensive rebounds per game, and grabbed 13 boards in the first quarter alone.

Notes: Chandler was also the last NBA player to grab 13 rebounds in one quarter, hauling in 14 in the third quarter for Dallas on Dec. 1, 2010. ... Wallace, who hasn't played since December, will have surgery this week and the expected recovery time is eight weeks. Woodson said he didn't plan to waive the 38-year-old forward and create a roster spot, instead hoping he could be able to play in the postseason. ... Kenyon Martin, signed last week in part because of the uncertainty around Wallace, made his Knicks debut and was scoreless in 5 first-half minutes.


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Marcell Siahaan Risih Lihat Artis Nekat Berpolitik


TEMPO.CO, Yogyakarta - Penyanyi Marcellius Siahaan mengaku risih banyaknya artis yang nekat terjun ke dunia politik. Pemilik empat album rekaman ini mengatakan sebenarnya sah-sah saja jika si artis memiliki pengetahuan mumpuni di dunia politik sehingga bisa membawa manfaat bagi dunia seni.

"Yang terjadi sekarang kebanyakan kan coba-coba. Karena merasa cari uang gampang, pendapatan lancar, punya penggemar, lalu langsung terjun ke politik saat ada tawaran," kata Marcell di Yogyakarta, Rabu, 27 Februari 2013, petang.

Mantan suami penulis Dewi 'Dee' Lestari itu menuturkan, untuk terjun dunia politik syaratnya sangat berat. Selain mesti punya pengalaman dan tangguh menghadapi tekanan, juga punya loyalitas pelayanan yang terukur.

"Tapi kita kan paling susah untuk mengatakan, tidak, saya cukup sampai di sini. Belajar melihat kemampuan diri sendiri itu susah. Jadinya semua kacau," kata pelantun lagu Hanya Memuji itu.

Aktor film Andai Ia Tahu dan Sang Pemimpi itu menambahkan, sekarang ini untuk menjadi anggota Dewan atau kepala daerah bagi artis sudah seperti sebuah fenomena sehingga terlanjur menjadi tradisi.

"Mungkin kalau ada lowongan menjadi Tuhan, saya kira juga pada mendaftar, kok, karena merasa semua gampang kalau sudah ada uang," kata pria bernama asli Marcell Kirana Hamonangan Siahaan itu.

Meski demikian, pria berusia 35 tahun itu tidak lantas "pukul rata" saat melihat adanya rekan artis yang menekuni karir politik. "Artinya kalau dia sudah makan garam dalam bidang budaya, untuk mengubah keadaan memang harus terjun langsung. Tapi dia harus tahu benar kondisi di lapangan," katanya.


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Shares, euro rebound, Italy bond sale in focus


LONDON (Reuters) - Reassurance from the U.S. Federal Reserve about its stimulus program helped stabilize the euro and European shares on Wednesday, as Italy prepared to test the reaction to its inconclusive election in the bond market.

Italy will auction up to 6.5 billion euros of new 5- and 10-year bonds at around 1000 GMT after gridlocked elections reignited fears about the euro zone debt crisis.

"Markets have started to price in risks of ungovernability of the country in the coming months, with possible domino effects on the rest of the euro area," said Newedge economist Annalisa Piazza.

"Political instability is expected to prevail ...and even a grand coalition government would be seen only as a temporary option, probably not able to continue the so-much needed reforms process."

Having fallen sharply on Tuesday following the Italian stalemate, European shares <.fteu3> rebounded 0.4 percent as trading resumed with 0.8 percent rises in Milan's FTSE MIB <.ftmib> and Spain's IBEX <.ibex> the leading the gains.

The mood was helped after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke defended the U.S. central bank's monetary stimulus on Tuesday, easing financial market worries over a possible early retreat from bond purchases.

The euro also regained ground, rising 0.2 percent to $1.3085 having hit a seven-week low of $1.3017 on Tuesday.

In the bond market Italian yields, which rise as prices fall, inched up again, while German government bonds , a favourite of risk-adverse investors, also added to this week's hefty gains.

"Italy remains the centre of attention and I can't see it getting any better," one trader said. "Supply will be the main focus and ... it could be a bit of a problem."

(Editing by Anna Willard)

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Minnesota takes down No. 1 Indiana 77-73


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Retaining that No. 1 national ranking has been elusive throughout this wild season in college basketball, and Indiana was the latest to lose at the top — again.

Most important and maybe more challenging for the Hoosiers, however, is holding on to first place in the tough-as-ever Big Ten.

Trevor Mbakwe had 21 points on 8-for-10 shooting and 12 rebounds to help Minnesota take down top-ranked Indiana 77-73 on Tuesday night, the seventh time the No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll has lost this season. Three of those losses were by the Hoosiers, who were No. 1 when they fell to Butler and Wisconsin earlier this season. All three opponents were unranked at the time.

Indiana (24-4, 12-3) has held the No. 1 ranking for 10 of the 17 polls by the AP this season, including the last four, and that will likely change next week. But fending off Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin is what's on the minds of the Hoosiers, who'll take a one-game lead in the conference race into Saturday's game against Iowa.

"Winning the Big Ten was going to be tough whether we won today or lost," said star guard Victor Oladipo, who had 16 points. "We knew it was going to be tough from the jump. Now it's even tougher. But I think my team is ready for it. We just have to go back and see what we did wrong and correct it."

Andre Hollins added 16 points for the Gophers (19-9, 7-8), who outrebounded Cody Zeller and the Hoosiers by a whopping 44-30 and solidified their slipping NCAA tournament hopes with an emphatic performance against the conference leader. The fired-up fans swarmed the court as the last seconds ticked off, the first time that's happened here since a 2002 win over Indiana.

"There were just too many times when that first shot went up and they were there before we were because we didn't get into their bodies," Hoosiers coach Tom Crean said. "We weren't physical enough on the glass. That's the bottom line."

Zeller, the second-leading shooter in the Big Ten, went 2 for 9. He had nine points with four turnovers. Minnesota had 40 points in the paint to Indiana's 22.

Mbakwe, a sixth-year senior, had a lot to do with that. While positing his conference-leading seventh double-double of the season, the 24-year-old Mbakwe was a man among boys in many ways in this game, dominating both ends of the court when the Gophers needed him most. He grabbed six of Minnesota's 23 offensive rebounds, two of them to keep a key possession alive. His off-balance put-back drew contact for a three-point play with 7:22 left that gave the Gophers a 55-52 lead.

Mbakwe was called for a loudly questioned blocking foul, his fourth, with 4:39 remaining on Zeller's fast-break layup and free throw that put the Hoosiers up 59-58. But Austin Hollins answered with a pump-fake layup that drew a foul for a three-point play and a two-point advantage for the Gophers.

The Hoosiers didn't lead again, and Joe Coleman's fast-break dunk with 2:35 left gave Minnesota a 68-61 cushion that helped it withstand a couple of 3-pointers by Christian Watford and one by Jordan Hulls in the closing minutes. That was the only basket Hulls made after halftime. He had 17 points.

"Just the way we bounced back is unbelievable. We showed that we can beat one of the best teams in the country. Now we have to build off this," said Mbakwe, whose team lost eight of its previous 11 games starting with an 88-81 loss at Indiana on Jan. 12. The Gophers were ranked eighth then. They didn't even receive a vote in the current poll. That could change next week.

The Hoosiers are still in position for their first outright Big Ten regular-season championship since 1993. With another home game against Ohio State on March 5, Indiana could still clinch the title before the finale at Michigan on March 10.

For now, though, the Hoosiers have to regroup and re-establish their inside game after the trampling in the post they endured here.

"They were relentless on the glass. We just didn't do a great job of boxing them out," Oladipo said.


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Hagel takes helm at Pentagon after bitter fight


WASHINGTON (AP) — Chuck Hagel takes charge at the Defense Department with deep budget cuts looming and Republican opponents still doubtful that he's up to the job.

Hagel is expected to be sworn in Wednesday and is likely to address the staff in his first day as defense secretary. The bitter, seven-week fight over his nomination ended Tuesday as a deeply divided Senate voted 58-41 to confirm him. Just four Republicans joined Democrats in backing the former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska and twice-wounded Vietnam combat veteran.

"I am honored that President Obama and the Senate have entrusted me to serve our nation once again," Hagel said in a statement. "I can think of no greater privilege than leading the brave, dedicated men and women of the Department of Defense as they perform vital missions around the globe."

Hagel promised to work closely with Congress, but he faces lingering reservations about his ability to handle the responsibilities. Shortly after the vote, Sen. Lindsey Graham said he still has serious questions about Hagel and his qualifications.

"I hope, for the sake of our own national security, he exceeds expectations," said the South Carolina Republican.

The top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, said Hagel's record on Israel, Iran, defense spending and nuclear weapons "demonstrate, in my view, a profound and troubling lack of judgment on many of the critical issues he will now be confronted with as secretary of defense."

But Inhofe promised to work with Hagel to avoid the $46 billion in automatic, across-the-board budget cuts that hit the Pentagon on Friday.

Obama alluded to the need for cooperation in his statement welcoming the vote.

The president said he was grateful to Hagel "for reminding us that when it comes to our national defense, we are not Democrats or Republicans, we are Americans, and our greatest responsibility is the security of the American people."

Hagel joins Obama's retooled national security team, including Secretary of State John Kerry and CIA Director-designate John Brennan, at a time of uncertainty for a military emerging from two wars and fighting worldwide terrorism with smaller, deficit-driven budgets.

Among his daunting challenges are dealing with the budget cuts and deciding on troop levels in Afghanistan as the United States winds down its combat presence. He also will have to work with lawmakers who spent weeks vilifying him.

Republicans insisted that Hagel was battered and bloodied after their repeated attacks during the protracted political fight.

"He will take office with the weakest support of any defense secretary in modern history, which will make him less effective on his job," said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate GOP's No. 2 Republican.

Not so, said Democratic Sen. Jack Reed, who pointed out that Hagel now has the title and the fight is history.

"All have to work together for the interest of the country," said Reed, D-R.I.

The vote ended one of the bitterest fights over a Cabinet choice and former senator since 1989, when the Democratic-led Senate defeated newly elected President George H.W. Bush's nomination of Republican John Tower to be defense secretary. This time, Republicans waged an unprecedented filibuster of a president's Pentagon pick and Hagel only secured the job after Republicans dropped their delay.

A 71-27 vote to end the filibuster cleared the way for Hagel's confirmation.

In the course of the rancorous nomination fight, Republicans, led by Inhofe and freshman Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, insinuated that Hagel has a cozy relationship with Iran and received payments for speeches from extreme or radical groups. Those comments drew rebukes from Democrats and some Republicans.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, dismissed the "unfair innuendoes" against Hagel and called him an "outstanding American patriot" whose background as an enlisted soldier would send a positive message to the nation's servicemen and women.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., questioned how the confirmation process devolved into a character assassination in which Hagel was accused of "having secret ties with our enemies."

"I sincerely hope that the practice of challenging nominations with innuendo and inference, rather than facts and figures, was an aberration and not a roadmap," she said in a statement after the vote.


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Di Oscar, Jennifer Lawrence Kuasai Media Sosial


TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Tidak cuma berhasil menggondol Piala Oscar untuk kategori Aktris Pemeran Utama Terbaik, Jennifer Lawrence, juga sukses menguasai perhatian pengguna media sosial selama ajang ini berlangsung.

Dikutip dari Mashable, situs teknologi Mashable, Selasa, 26 Februari 2013, wanita cantik berusia 22 tahun ini dinobatkan sebagai tamu berbusana terbaik dalam polling yang digelar saluran televisi ABC dalam Twitter. Tak cuma itu, berdasarkan data yang dihimpun via Facebook, gaun strapless dari Dior yang dikenakan Lawrence juga merupakan busana yang paling banyak diperbincangkan selama gelaran red carpet.

Di Facebook pula, Lawrence merupakan nominator Aktris Pemeran Utama terbaik yang paling banyak disebut-sebut oleh pengguna pria selama Oscar berlangsung. Sementara pada kategori yang sama, pengguna Facebook wanita lebih banyak membicarakan nominator Jessica Chastain.

Di luar Jennifer Lawrence, Facebook telah mengeluarkan data mengenai interaksi yang terjadi selama pagelaran Oscar. Berdasarkan data yang dikumpulkan dari pemilik akun di Amerika Serikat, Django Unchained menjadi film yang paling banyak dibicarakan pengguna Facebook pria sementara pengguna wanita lebih banyak membicarakan mengenai Les Miserables.

Untuk aktor utama, pengguna Facebook pria lebih banyak membicarakan Daniel Day-Lewis sementara yang wanita lebih lebih banyak membicarakan Hugh Jackman. Adapun untuk Pemeran Pembantu Pria dan Wanita Terbaik, pengguna Facebook dari kedua jenis kelamin kompak paling banyak membicarakan Tommy Lee Jones dan Anne Hathaway.

Sebagai perhelatan film tahunan prestisius, tak mengherankan bila Oscar menjaring banyak percakapan via media sosial. Dari Twitter saja terkumpul sebanyak 8,9 juta cuitan selama acara berlangsung. Pengguna Twitter mengirim 2,1 juta tweet sepanjang gelaran karpet merah dan 6,8 juta sisanya selama acara berlangsung. Sementara itu aktivitas yang berkaitan dengan Oscar di Facebook bahkan mencapai 66,5 juta interaksi.


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World shares slide on Italy vote, German Bunds gain


LONDON (Reuters) - Italy's inconclusive election result sparked a selloff on world equity markets on Tuesday and sent safe-haven German bond yields sharply lower as investors feared a resurgence of the euro zone debt crisis.

The euro briefly touched a seven-week low against the dollar to trade near $1.30 after no clear majority emerged from the vote, raising the prospect of weeks of political uncertainty and potentially another election later in the year.

"This is the worst possible outcome from the market's point of view," said Alessandro Tentori, Citigroup's head of global rates.

Yields on 10-year Italian government bonds jumped 45 basis points to 4.82 percent while Italy's main stock market index <.ftmib> tumbled five percent with shares in some of the country's major banks down over 10 percent.

Other European markets were also slumping, with London's FTSE 100 <.ftse>, Paris's CAC-40 <.fchi> and Frankfurt's DAX <.gdaxi> down as much as 2.5 percent. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index <.fteu3> was down 1.3 percent. <.eu/>

Italy's centre-left bloc led by Pier Luigi Bersani narrowly won control of the lower house but no party or coalition appeared to be in a position to take a majority in the equally powerful Senate. A party led by the anti-establishment comic Beppe Grillo gained more than 25 percent of the vote.

"The very close result and the stalemate between the two houses of parliament point to a non-trivial risk of new elections," Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank, adding there was also a small risk that new elections could lead to a referendum in Italy on the euro.

The euro steadied at around $1.3080, up about 0.15 percent after falling as low as $1.3039, its lowest since January 10.

The focus will now be on an Italian treasury bill auction later, when Rome's borrowing costs could rise.

Ahead of the auction investors were showing a clear preference for safety, with the yield down 8 basis points at 1.5 percent on 10-year German bonds, while riskier Spanish and Portuguese bonds were coming under heavy selling pressure.

Elsewhere investors were awaiting testimony later in the day from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke for further clues to when the central bank intends to slow down or stop its bond-buying program.

Financial markets were rattled last week by minutes of the Fed's January meeting showing some Fed officials were thinking of scaling back its monetary stimulus earlier than expected.

U.S. stock futures were flat to suggest a cautious Wall Street start. <.l><.eu><.n/>

(Reporting by Richard Hubbard. Editing by Alastair Macdonald)

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SPIN METER: In budget fight, sky is falling again


WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and his officials are doing their best to drum up public concern over the shock wave of spending cuts that could strike the government in just days. So it's a good time to be alert for sky-is-falling hype.

Over the last week or so, administration officials have come forward with a grim compendium of jobs to be lost, services to be denied or delayed, military defenses to be let down and important operations to be disrupted. Obama's new chief of staff, Denis McDonough, spoke of a "devastating list of horribles."

For most Americans, though, it's far from certain they will have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day if the budget-shredder known as the sequester comes to pass. Maybe they will, if the impasse drags on for months.

For now, there's a whiff of the familiar in all the foreboding, harking back to the mid-1990s partial government shutdown, when officials said old people would go hungry, illegal immigrants would have the run of the of the land and veterans would go without drugs. It didn't happen.

For this episode, provisions are in place to preserve the most crucial services — and benefit checks. Furloughs of federal workers are at least a month away, breathing room for a political settlement if the will to achieve one is found. Many government contractors would continue to be paid with money previously approved.

Warnings of thousands of teacher layoffs, for example, are made with the presumption that local communities would not step in with their own dollars — perhaps from higher taxes — to keep teachers in the classrooms if federal money is not soon restored. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says teacher layoffs have already begun, but he has not backed up that claim and school administrators say no pink slips are expected before May, for the next school year.

To be sure, the cuts are big and will have consequences. Knowing what they will be, though, is far from a precise exercise.

And there is a lot of improbable precision in administration statements about what could happen: more than 373,000 seriously ill people losing mental health services, 600,000 low-income pregnant women and new mothers losing food aid and nutrition education, 1,200 fewer inspections of dangerous work sites, 125,000 poor households going without vouchers, and much more.

"These numbers are just numbers thrown out into the thin air with no anchor, and I think they don't provoke the outrage or concern that the Obama administration seeks," said Paul Light, a New York University professor who specializes in the federal bureaucracy and budget. For all the dire warnings, he said, "It's not clear who gets hurt by this."

The estimates in many cases come from a simple calculation: Divide the proscribed spending cut by a program's per-person spending to see how many beneficiaries may lose services or benefits under the sequester.

But in practice, through all the layers of bureaucracy and the everyday smoke and mirrors of the federal budget, there is rarely a direct and measurable correlation between a federal dollar and its effect on the ground.

That has meant a lot of tenuous "could happen" warnings by the administration, not so much "will happen" evidence.

So it was in Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' letter to Congress laying out likely consequences of the spending cuts for her agency's operations. She said the sequester "could" compromise the well-being of more than 373,000 people who "potentially" would not get needed mental health services, which in turn "could result" in more hospitalizations and homelessness.

Duncan left himself less wiggle room. "This stuff is real," he said last week. "Schools are already starting to give teachers notices."

Asked to provide backup for Duncan's assertion, spokesman Daren Briscoe said it was based on "an unspecified call he was on with unnamed persons," and the secretary might not be comfortable sharing details.

Briscoe referred queries about layoffs to the American Association of School Administrators. Noelle M. Ellerson, an assistant director of the organization, said Monday that in her many discussions with superintendents at the group's just-completed annual meeting, she heard of no layoffs of teachers. While everyone is bracing for that possibility down the road, she said, "not a single one I spoke with had already issued pink slips."

Most school district budgets for the next school year won't be completed for two months, she said, meaning any layoff notices would come in early to mid-May. "No one had yet acted."

School districts in areas set aside for tribal lands or military bases count on Washington for a significant share of their budgets, and are to lose $60 million, or 5 percent of their federal payments, when the sequester starts. Nearly all money to run most of the nation's public schools comes from local sources such as property taxes that are not affected by the federal cuts.

As for the assertion that 600,000 women could be dropped from the Women, Infants and Children Program, that's not to say the rolls would be cut by that number. The actual number is likely to include women who are not enrolled in the program now and could be denied when seeking to join it. Federal officials say the true number will depend on how states can manage their caseloads.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has warned of impending furloughs of air traffic controllers, who may need to take one day off every two weeks, and said air-travel delays are likely across the country. Asked Friday why the airline lobby predicted no major impact on air travel from the sequester, he said, "I don't think they have the information we're presenting to them today."

"The idea that we're just doing this to create some kind of a horrific scare tactic is nonsense," LaHood said. But it's a pressure tactic nonetheless: "What I'm trying to do is to wake up members of the Congress on the Republican side to the idea that they need to come to the table."

However the cuts fall, Light at NYU says the Washington Monument ploy, also known as the Firemen First principle, is at work.

It goes like this: Put someone's budget at risk and the first thing you'll hear is a threat to close a cherished national symbol or lay off firefighters and police, when in fact there are other ways to cut spending.

It so happens the Washington Monument is already closed, for earthquake repair. But Obama indulged in the Firemen First principle quite literally.

He appeared at the White House in front of officers in blue uniforms to warn of the consequences of the sequester. "Emergency responders like the ones who are here today — their ability to help communities respond to and recover from disasters will be degraded."

The law gives little flexibility to agencies to protect favored programs, except for big ones specifically exempted from the automatic cuts, such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans benefits. FBI and Border Patrol furloughs are expected. Still, the White House has directed agencies to avoid cuts presenting "risks to life, safety or health" and to minimize harm to crucial services.

In the partial government shutdown during his presidency, Bill Clinton and his officials told some tall tales and sketched dark scenarios that didn't come to pass, though some might have if the crisis had lasted weeks or months longer. The shutdown played out over two installments totaling 26 days from mid-November 1995 to early January 1996.

National park properties closed (yes, even the Washington Monument), passport and federal mortgage insurance processing were disrupted and toxic waste cleanup stalled as hundreds of thousands of federal workers went idle, paid retroactively later. But states, communities and private groups stepped up to tide over the neediest, keeping Meals on Wheels rolling with their own resources, for example, until Clinton found emergency money to cover the costs. Warnings that Medicare treatment would be withheld proved unfounded, and veterans got their care.

Contractors, who perform many key services for government, kept working for IOUs. A claim by the government that deportations "have virtually ended" was not so.

The Justice Department told the story of a Florida gas station rejecting the government-issued credit card of a drug-enforcement agent to illustrate the indignity of it all.

But the reality was humdrum: The card had merely expired.


Associated Press writers Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Mary Clare Jalonick, Joan Lowy and Philip Elliott contributed to this report.

EDITOR'S NOTE _ An occasional look behind the rhetoric of political figures

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Limbad: Masak Bupati Rambutnya Kayak Orang Gila


TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Pesulap yang biasa dipanggil Master Limbad berjanji akan mengubah gaya rambut gimbalnya bila kelak terpilih menjadi Bupati Tegal. Saat ini dia sedang disiapkan oleh Partai Hati Nurani Rakyat atau Hanura untuk maju sebagai calon bupati pada Pilkada Kabupaten Tegal 2013.

"Kita akan ikuti aturan dan bisa jadi contoh. Masak bupati rambutnya kayak gini, kayak orang gila," kata Limbad saat ditemui di acara musik Dahsyat, RCTI, Jakarta, Selasa, 26 Februari 2013.

Limbad belum mau menjelaskan secara detail bagaimana gaya rambutnya nanti. Pastinya masih ada ciri khas yang melekat. "Entah rambut saya masih panjang atau enggak, tapi nanti ada ciri khas. Biar masyarakat menilai enggak norak ya," katanya sambil tertawa.

Akan tetapi, ada karakter Limbad yang masih dipertahankan bila menjadi orang nomor satu di Tegal. Dia tetap akan membisu di depan publik, seperti kebiasaannya selama ini.

"Saya mungkin 99 persen tetep enggak ngomong. Inilah keunikan bupati andaikata masyarakat memilih saya," ujarnya. Selama ini, Limbad selalu didampingi seseorang untuk menjadi juru bicaranya. Dia tak pernah bicara langsung di depan publik, kecuali untuk pewarta media online dan cetak.


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Italy faces stalemate after election shock


ROME (Reuters) - Italy faced political deadlock on Tuesday after a stunning election that saw the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement of comic Beppe Grillo become the strongest party in the country but left no group with a clear majority in parliament.

"The winner is: Ingovernability" was the headline in Rome newspaper Il Messaggero, reflecting the stalemate the country would have to confront in the next few weeks as sworn enemies would be forced to work together to form a government.

The center-left coalition led by Pier Luigi Bersani won the lower house by around 125,000 votes, where it will have a majority because of a premium given to the largest party or coalition.

Results in the upper house Senate indicated the center-left would end up with about 119 seats, compared with 117 for the center-right. Seats are awarded on a region-by-region basis in the Senate, where a majority of 158 is needed to govern.

Any coalition must have a working majority in both houses in order to pass legislation.

Bersani claimed victory but said it was obvious that Italy was in "a very delicate situation".

Neither Grillo, a comedian-turned-politician who previously ruled out any alliance with another party, nor Silvio Berlusconi's center-right bloc, which threatened to challenge the close tally, showed any immediate willingness to negotiate.

Commentators said all of Grillo's adversaries had underestimated the appeal of a grassroots movement that called itself a "non-party", particularly its allure among young Italians who find themselves without jobs and the prospect of a decent future.

The 5-star Movement's score of 25.5 percent in the lower house was just ahead of the 25.4 percent for Bersani's Democratic Party, which ran in a coalition with the leftist SEL party, and it won almost 8.7 million votes overall - more than any other single party.


"The 'non-party' has become the largest party in the country," said Massimo Giannini, commentator for the Rome newspaper La Repubblica.

World financial markets reacted nervously to the prospect of a government stalemate in the euro zone's third-largest economy with memories still fresh of the financial crisis that took the 17-member currency bloc to the brink of collapse in 2011.

The euro skidded to an almost seven-week low against the dollar in Asia on fears about the euro zone's debt crisis. It fell as far as $1.3042, its lowest since January 10.

A first indication of investors' reaction to the results will come later on Tuesday when the Treasury auctions 8.75 billion euros in 6-month bonds.

Italy's borrowing costs have come down in recent months, helped by the promise of European Central Bank support but the election result confirmed fears of many European countries that it would not produce a government strong enough to implement effective reforms.

Grillo's surge in the final weeks of the campaign threw the race open, with hundreds of thousands turning up at his rallies to hear him lay into targets ranging from corrupt politicians and bankers to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In just three years, his 5-Star Movement, heavily backed by a frustrated generation of young Italians increasingly shut out from permanent full-time jobs, has grown from a marginal group to one of the most talked about political forces in Europe.

"The 5-Star Movement is the real winner of the election," said SEL leader Nichi Vendola, who said that his coalition would have to deal with Grillo, who mixes fierce attacks on corruption with policies ranging from clean energy to free Internet.


"It's a classic result. Typically Italian," said Roberta Federica, a 36-year-old office worker in Rome. "It means the country is not united. It is an expression of a country that does not work. I knew this would happen."

A long recession and growing disillusionment with mainstream parties fed a bitter public mood that saw more than half of Italian voters back parties that rejected the austerity policies pursued by Prime Minister Mario Monti with the backing of Italy's European partners.

Monti suffered a major setback. His centrist grouping won only 10.6 percent and two of his key centrist allies, Pier Ferdinando Casini and lower house speaker Gianfranco Fini, both of parliamentarians for decades, were booted out.

"It's not that surprising if you consider how much delusion there was with politics in its traditional forms," Monti said.

Berlusconi's campaign, mixing sweeping tax cut pledges with relentless attacks on Monti and Merkel, echoed many of the themes pushed by Grillo and underlined the increasingly angry mood of the Italian electorate.

Stefano Zamagni, an economics professor at Bologna University said the result showed that a significant share of Italians "are fed up with following the austerity line of Germany and its northern allies".

"These people voted to stick one up to Merkel and austerity," he said.

Even if the next government turns away from the tax hikes and spending cuts brought in by Monti, it will struggle to revive an economy that has scarcely grown in two decades.

Monti was widely credited with tightening Italy's public finances and restoring its international credibility after the scandal-plagued Berlusconi, whom he replaced as the 2011 financial crisis threatened to spin out of control.

But he struggled to pass the kind of structural reforms needed to improve competitiveness and lay the foundations for a return to economic growth, and a weak center-left government may not find it any easier.

(Writing by Philip Pullella; Additional reporting by Barry Moody, Gavin Jones, Catherine Hornby and Naomi O'Leary; Editing by Pravin Char)

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Yen slumps on Bank of Japan report, eyes on Italy vote


LONDON (Reuters) - The yen hit a 33-month low against the dollar on reports that a strong supporter of aggressive monetary easing is likely to head the Bank of Japan, while Italian assets gained as markets await the outcome of national elections.

Britain's pound also slumped against the dollar, hitting a 2-1/2 year low, following Moody's downgrade of the country's prized triple-A rating late on Friday.

Voting closes in Italy at 1400 GMT, with exit polls due soon after. An inconclusive result would trigger a sell-off in Italian bonds and stocks and renew concerns about the euro.

"If we don't have an indication of a clear winner, there will be pressure on Italian bond yields," said Ishaq Siddiqi, market strategist with trading house ETX Capital.

European shares extended their slow recovery from multi-month lows in early trade as investors kept a close eye on Italy, with the FTSEurofirst 300 <.fteu3> up 0.2 percent at 1,167.55 points.

Reports that the Japanese government was likely to nominate Asian Development Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda as the next central bank governor, along with an academic who has criticized the central bank as deputy governor, sent the yen down to 94.77 to the dollar, lows not seen since May 2010.

Tokyo shares rose 2.4 percent to a 53-month high <.n225> on the news, but gains in other Asian markets were limited by data showing growth in China's giant manufacturing sector in February pulled back from two-year highs.

Sterling fell to a 2-1/2 year trough against the dollar at $1.5073 and a 16-month low against the euro of 87.75 pence after the Moody's downgrade, although the UK's main share index <.ftse> rose.

British government June bond futures touched a low of 115.50, some 56 ticks down from Friday's close as the market reacted to the ratings loss.

(Additional reporting by Clement Tan in Hong Kong; Editing by Will Waterman)

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A fickle format that produces the right winner


MARANA, Ariz. (AP) — For such a fickle format, the Match Play Championship sure does seem to produce the right winner.

Matt Kuchar had reason to pack a full suitcase for the high desert of Arizona based on his record in this tournament. He is the only player to reach the quarterfinals each of the last three years, and he wound up losing to the eventual champion the previous two times.

Sunday he went the distance to capture his first World Golf Championship.

Kuchar became only the second player in the 15-year history of the Match Play to win without ever seeing the 18th hole except in a practice round, or when the courtesy van ferrying him in after winning a match drove past the closing hole on the way to the clubhouse.

He played 96 holes in six rounds and only trailed after four of them.

He built a 4-up lead over Hunter Mahan in the championship match and held off a fierce rally on the back nine at Dove Mountain to close him out, 2 and 1, and add his name to an impressive list of winners.

"Match play I find to be such an amazing, unique format, so much fun to play and so much pressure," Kuchar said. "It seems like each hole there's so much momentum riding and so much pressure on every hole. To come out on top after six matches of playing the top 64 guys in the world, it's an incredible feeling."

One reason the PGA Championship abandoned match play in 1958 was that the field was cut in half after each round, giving the crowd fewer players to watch. And it was miserable for television when the biggest stars were eliminated.

That much hasn't changed.

Tiger Woods left on Thursday for the second year in a row, and the only reason he lasted that long was because of a snowstorm on Wednesday. He lost in the first round, as did Rory McIlroy, the No. 1 player in the world. By the weekend, the highest seed remaining was Masters champion Bubba Watson.

But a closer look will show that this tournament is won by some of the best in match play.

Kuchar's record improved to 15-3.

His last win came at the expense of Mahan, who had won 11 straight matches in this event — 12 overall dating to his singles win in the 2011 Presidents Cup — and had a staggering streak of 169 holes without trailing.

The previous four winners were Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Geoff Ogilvy and Woods, all of them considered the best in the head-to-head game that many believe to be the purest form of golf.

Donald has a 17-8 record in this tournament alone, which doesn't speak to his prowess in the Ryder Cup. Poulter had a 19-3-2 record in match play worldwide the last three years, though he wound up losing twice in one day on Sunday — to Mahan in the semifinals, and to Jason Day in a consolation match.

Ogilvy was disheartened at failing to qualify this year, and it's easy to see why. He has a 20-5 record at the Match Play, with two wins and three trips to the championship match. Ogilvy has never lost in singles in the Presidents Cup, with two of those wins over Steve Stricker.

Woods, of course, needs no introduction when it comes to Match Play. He won six straight USGA titles as an amateur, and even with a recent slump at Dove Mountain — he has failed to get out of the second round since he won in 2008 — his overall record in this format as a pro is 48-15-2.

Mahan had to take down Poulter in the semifinal, and it was no picnic. Mahan twice hit tough chips to within 6 feet to win a hole, and he chipped in from 70 feet behind the 12th green to grab a 3-up lead and coast in against the Englishman, who was off his game in that match. As tough as Poulter is in match play, Mahan knew that Kuchar would be just as difficult in his own way.

"It was definitely a different vibe, for sure," Mahan said. "Kooch and I had more conversation on the first hole than I did with Poulter all day. But that's the difference between the two guys. There's nothing wrong with it either way. Poults is very steely out there. He motivates himself in a different way than Kooch does."

Poulter and Mahan learned an old lesson the hard way. There is no good time in this tournament to have a bad day. Some players can get away with one in the early rounds, but not late in the bracket when those who are left got there for a reason.

When Mahan hit a weak pitch up the slope on No. 4 and made bogey, he paid for it more ways than one. It was the first time he trailed in any match since the sixth hole of the opening round last year. And he trailed Kuchar, who doesn't make many mistakes.

Kuchar built a 4-up lead at the turn on the strength of two good birdies and two bad bogeys from Mahan, but the defending champion fought back. He won the next two holes, both into a fierce, cold wind, which the cut deficit in half and gave Mahan loads of momentum. And then he hit an 8-iron into 10 feet on the par-3 12th.

That's where the match turned in Kuchar's favor. He followed with an 8-iron to just inside 15 feet, still a difficult putt.

"The shot was certainly good, but the putt was really crucial, and when that went in, I felt like I was still in control of the match," Kuchar said. "Had that putt not gone in, it would have been only a 1-up lead, and I think the match was in anybody's hands at that point."

Mahan kept fighting and trailed by one hole when they got to the 17th, and an exciting back nine ended with a thud. Both hit into the fairway bunker on 17, but Mahan's ball was slightly sunk in the sand, and his approach never came close to reaching the green. Instead, it rolled through a patch of desert until it lodged in a bush. Mahan took four shots to reach the green and conceded the match.

Kuchar won for the fifth time in his career, pocketing just over $3.2 million for his last two titles — the WGC and The Players Championship. He moved to No. 8 in the world and is sure to be looked up on as a contender in the majors this year.

And now, no one will be deceived by Kuchar's easy smile and happy-go-lucky nature when they return to Dove Mountain next year.

"He does it differently," Mahan said. "He's more like a fuzzier, Peter Jacobsen kind of guy who likes to talk. He's super competitive, there's no doubt about it. He plays golf to win, and he works hard at it."

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Column: No big compromises? Blame party power


WASHINGTON (AP) — These days, it sounds like an improbable fairy tale: politicians with deeply differing visions of America setting aside disagreements to reach a grand compromise on a critical issue.

That's exactly what happened in 1790, when the Founding Fathers overlooked their parochial interests — and defied their staunchest backers — by agreeing, for the good of the fledgling union, to put America's capital in a neutral place along the Potomac River.

Would the same outcome happen today? Fat chance.

In this polarized and partisan era, Washington careens from one crisis to the next even as the country faces huge problems that threaten its standing in the world. With power divided on Capitol Hill, bipartisan solutions are necessary. And yet, while both Democrats and Republicans talk a lot about compromise — a cross-the-aisle, solutions-driven approach — few seem willing to give ground to fix what ails the nation.

The latest example is the stalemate over deep budget cuts set to take effect Friday, absent a bipartisan deal. The cuts likely will inconvenience average Americans and may slow the nation's fragile economic recovery. Both sides are dug in on their ideological positions. President Barack Obama and his Democrats want more tax increases, while Republicans demand more spending cuts.

This is the fifth fiscal standoff since this period of divided government began in 2011, when Republicans took over the House while Democrats continued to control the Senate. In the other cases, both sides reached mini-deals to avert immediate crisis — only to ignore the larger issues. Skyrocketing debt and persistent deficits. Rampant waste, fraud and abuse. Budget-busting Social Security and Medicaid programs.

Why does Washington get so caught up this cycle of panic — whether manufactured or real — only to ultimately put a Band-Aid on the country's biggest gushers without ever mending the underlying wounds?

Politicians have little incentive to take the risk of working with the opposing party to reach solutions that will fundamentally fix a problem. They operate in a system that makes it hard to roll the dice because they're putting their own jobs on the line. Robust Republican and Democratic parties — and their conservative and liberal activists, whose voices drown out the centrist Americans seeking remedies — usually rebuke them rather than reward them.

"Rebels, risk takers and creative thinkers are marginalized early and are seldom promoted up the ladder of local/state/national politics," says David A. Drupa of the Society for Risk Analysis.

These days, he says, politicians seem to be allowing the short-term benefit for themselves — winning re-election — drive their decision-making, without getting far enough along in their return-on-investment analysis to examine the long-term benefit for the nation.

"They're trying to win the next battle, the next matchup, the next race, at all our peril," Drupa says.

Both parties promise to use their bank accounts to protect lawmakers who stick with their ideological positions, and punish those who don't. Deep-pocketed groups on the far right and far left also go after those deemed unfaithful.

At the same time, party leaders have proven extraordinarily successful in drawing congressional boundaries in a way that actually discourages House members from collaborating and all but ensures their re-elections if they don't. Most districts are stocked with hard-core Republicans and Democrats who typically will vote for lawmakers only if they demonstrate consistent party loyalty.

So the easy thing for lawmakers to do is just that. It's much harder to meet in the middle.

Thus, when Washington's players do end up compromising on the meaty matters, it's usually in a piecemeal way that kicks the larger problems to future generations. Those who dare to try to solve the big problems typically find they lack the juice, lose re-election or get so fed up with the gridlock that they retire.

All this is precisely what George Washington worried would happen if the country devolved into factions.

"He thought political parties would tear up the union and it wouldn't survive," says Willard Sterne Randall, a biographer and historian who has written several books on the Founding Fathers.

The first president's fear of factionalism was so great that he decided on a second term as Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, whose political bases were businessmen and farmers, respectively, battled over competing visions for the union.

Yet while they differed, they also compromised when necessary — as they did during the "Dinner Table Bargain" that resulted in Washington becoming the nation's capital instead of New York, Philadelphia or elsewhere.

"They weren't at each other's throats politically. They could get together on a major issue," Randall says. "They wanted the union to survive, so they compromised where they had to for the good of it. That's the kind of tone there was. They were pragmatic idealists, and in Congress now, they are ideologues."

So how do we get back to those more reasonable roots?

The Democratic and Republican parties are strong, and they probably won't face serious threats from third parties in the near future. They certainly won't eliminate gerrymandering unless voters force it.

So maybe it's time for something radical, or at least radically reasonable. Maybe this is the moment for a few of the frustrated Americans in the middle — many of whom reject the extremes, complain about stalemate and fear for the nation's future — to take a risk.

What if they stepped forward as candidates with a promise that they'll do only what they think will solve the country's big problems, regardless of what it could mean for their political careers? What if they rejected the strict adherence to orthodoxy that party bosses demand? What if they promised to only serve one term, choosing explicitly to put the country's future over their own?

And then, by not going to Congress primarily to get re-elected, they just might end up with a surprising reward: getting re-elected.

Wouldn't the country — not to mention this supposedly neutral city on the banks of the Potomac — be better for it?


EDITOR'S NOTE — Liz Sidoti is the national politics editor for The Associated Press. Follow her on Twitter:

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Versi Terbaik dan Terburuk Harlem Shake


TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Tren tarian Gangnam Style mulai menurun dan beralih ke tarian lain yang bisa dibilang aneh, gokil, unik, bahkan menarik. Baru-baru ini tarian yang disebut Harlem Shake menarik perhatian. Sebenarnya Harlem Shake sebuah lagu milik seorang DJ asal Amerika yang bernama Baauer dan menjadi sangat fenomenal di dunia Youtube.  Berkat lagu Filthy Frank yang diunggah selama 30 detik yang memperlihatkan beberapa orang menari tidak karuan.

Tarian ini menjadi semacam virus yang menular. Muncul aneka versi dengan koregrafi yang mengundang tawa hingga membuat jidat berkenyit. Harlem Shake menarik karena biasanya dimulai dengan seseorang yang berdansa di tengah-tengah kesibukan orang tanpa ada yang peduli. Pria pertama yang berdansa musik elektrik itu akan memakai penutup kepala, yang sering muncul adalah helm. Tak lama kemudian,orang-orang di sekitar pria itu pun ikut bergoyang tak beraturan. Berikut ini adalah sejumlah video Harlem Shake dari yang terbaik dan terburuk versi thedailybeast.

Terbaik : Edisi Militer

Tentara Norwegia sangat tahu bagaimana bersenang-senang. Sebuah video yang menampilkan barisan tentara di lapangan bersalju, dimulai dengan goyangan seorang prajurit di tengah lajur. Setelah momen chorus, maka barisan tersebut berubah menjadi pesta kostum, ada yang berpakaian menyala, bawa ember di atas kepala bahkan bergulingan dengan sleeping bag di tengah salju, Bravo!

Terbaik: Edisi Happy Endings

Bahkan pemain di sinetron Happy Endings yang tayang di stasiun ABC pun tak mau kalah dengan sensasi ini. Mereka menampilkan versi Harlem Shake yang melibatkan para pemain dan kru di sebuah bar.

Terbaik : Mesin Cuci

Setiap orang bisa melakukan goyang pelvis Harlem Shake, bahkan sebuah mesin pun tertarik untuk memainkan tubuh kotaknya.

Terbaik : Edisi kantor

Meski kamu bukanlah pemeran sinetron The Office dan memiliki rekan kerja penipu atau resepsionis yang cantik, tapi melihat video ini, kamu pasti akan tertawa. Sebab para pekerja kantor yang harus masuk dari jam 9 hingga jam 5 bisa terlihat sangat lucu dan menyenangkan.

Terbaik : Harlem Shake ala Perenang dan Penyelam dari Universitas Georgia Athletic

Dalam edisi ini, para perenang menunjukkan campuran antara tubuh atletis dengan kemampuan berenang (sebuah kapasitas paru-paru yang sangat mengesankan) dalam sebuah tarian bawah air. Bahkan para perenang ini memiliki kursi tunggu di dasar kolam sebagai alat peraga.

Terbaik : Tim Desk Berita KSLA News

Tim dari KSLA News menyingkarkan teleprompter demi pembuatan video Harlem Shake. Mereka bergoyang bak berada di pesta topeng dengan tarian yang luar biasa gila

Terbaik: Matt & Kim

Dalam keramaian, dua sensai pop Indie Matt dan Kim ikut membuat edisi Harlem Shake. Mereka pun memanfaatkan para penggemar sebagai backdrop di paruh kedua video ini.

Terbaik: Maskot Bebek Oregon

Para maskot dari tim olahraga pun tak mau ketinggalan untuk tampil. Mereka menjadi pemain utama dengan latar belakang para siswa dan tentunya tim olahraga universitas.

Terbaik: Edisi NODE

Tak perlu ditanya lagi soal ini, tak ada penjelasan

Terburuk : Cross-dressing (kostum gantian)

Jika kita ingin melihat pria mengenak bra atau celana dalam hitam, maka tinggal klik google saja. Tapi untuk membuat ini menjadi lebih buruk, video ini menampilkan pria yang dikuncir tanpa ekspresi

Terburuk : Edisi Black

Video ini tak menampilkan ide yang baru. Hanya ada para pria yang menempelkan tangan di pantat di depan muka umum (seperti di kantin atau kelas sejarah). Itu bukanlah kesopanan

Terburuk: Edisi Today Show

Dengan banyaknya versi Harlem Shake, harusnya tim acara Today Show berpikir lebih serius variasi apa saja yang mereka buat. Mereka hanya membuat edisi siaran pagi bertema khusus Valentine tapi dengan goyangan, lengkap dengan panah cinta, anak panah, sayap malaikat dan segala hal bertema hati yang gemerlap



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Cuban leader Raul Castro says he will retire in 2018


HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban President Raul Castro announced on Sunday he will step down from power after his second term ends in 2018, and the new parliament named a 52-year-old rising star to become his first vice president and most visible successor.

"This will be my last term," Castro, 81, said shortly after the National Assembly elected him to a second five-year tenure.

In a surprise move, the new parliament also named Miguel Diaz-Canel as first vice president, meaning he would take over if Castro cannot serve his full term.

Diaz-Canel is a member of the political bureau who rose through the Communist Party ranks in the provinces to become the most visible possible successor to Castro.

Raul Castro starts his second term immediately, leaving him free to retire in 2018, aged 86.

Former President Fidel Castro joined the National Assembly meeting on Sunday, in a rare public appearance. Since falling ill in 2006 and ceding the presidency to his brother, the elder Castro, 86, has given up official positions except as a deputy in the National Assembly.

The new government will almost certainly be the last headed up by the Castro brothers and their generation of leaders who have ruled Cuba since they swept down from the mountains in the 1959 revolution.

Cubans and foreign governments were keenly watching whether any new, younger faces appeared among the Council of State members, in particular its first vice president and five vice presidents.

Their hopes were partially fulfilled with Diaz-Canel's ascension. He replaces former first vice president, Jose Machado Ventura, 82, who will continue as one of five vice presidents.

Commander of the Revolution Ramiro Valdes, 80, and Gladys Bejerano, 66, the comptroller general, were also re-elected as vice presidents.

Two other newcomers, Mercedes Lopez Acea, 48, first secretary of the Havana communist party, and Salvador Valdes Mesa, 64, head of the official labor federation, also earned vice presidential slots.

Esteban Lazo, a 68-year-old former vice president and member of the political bureau of the Communist Party, left his post upon being named president of the National Assembly on Sunday. He replaced Ricardo Alarcon, who served in the job for 20 years.

Six of the Council's top seven members sit on the party's political bureau which is also lead by Castro.

Castro's announcement came as little surprise to Cuban exiles in Miami.

"It's no big news. It would have been big news if he resigned today and called for democratic elections," said Alfredo Duran, a Cuban-American lawyer and moderate exile leader in Miami who supports lifting the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. "I wasn't worried about him being around after 2018," he added.

The National Assembly meets for just a few weeks each year and delegates its legislative powers between sessions to the 31-member Council of State, which also functions as the executive through the Council of Ministers it appoints.

Eighty percent of the 612 deputies, who were elected in an uncontested vote February 3, were born after the revolution.


Raul Castro, who officially replaced his ailing brother as president in 2008, has repeatedly said senior leaders should hold office for no more than two five-year terms.

"Although we kept on trying to promote young people to senior positions, life proved that we did not always make the best choice," Castro said at a Communist Party Congress in 2011.

"Today, we are faced with the consequences of not having a reserve of well-trained replacements ... It's really embarrassing that we have not solved this problem in more than half a century."

Speaking on Sunday, Castro hailed the composition of the new Council of State as an example of what he had said needed to be accomplished.

"Of the 31 members, 41.9 percent are women and 38.6 percent are black or of mixed race. The average age is 57 years and 61.3 percent were born after the triumph of the revolution," he said.

The 2011 party summit adopted a more than 300-point plan aimed at updating Cuba's Soviet-style economic system, designed to transform it from one based on collective production and consumption to one where individual effort and reward play a far more important role.

Across-the-board subsidies are being replaced by a comprehensive tax code and targeted welfare.

Raul Castro has encouraged small businesses and cooperatives in retail services, farming, minor manufacturing and retail, and given more autonomy to state companies which still dominate the economy.

The party plan also includes an opening to more foreign investment.

At the same time, Cuba continues to face a U.S. administration bent on restoring democracy and capitalism to the island and questions about the future largess of oil rich Venezuela with strategic ally Hugo Chavez battling cancer.

(Editing by Kieran Murray and Vicki Allen)

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Investors face another Washington deadline


NEW YORK (Reuters) - Investors face another Washington-imposed deadline on government spending cuts next week, but it's not generating the same level of fear as two months ago when the "fiscal cliff" loomed large.

Investors in sectors most likely to be affected by the cuts, like defense, seem untroubled that the budget talks could send stocks tumbling.

Talks on the U.S. budget crisis began again this week leading up to the March 1 deadline for the so-called sequestration when $85 billion in automatic federal spending cuts are scheduled to take effect.

"It's at this point a political hot button in Washington but a very low level investor concern," said Fred Dickson, chief market strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co. in Lake Oswego, Oregon. The fight pits President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats against congressional Republicans.

Stocks rallied in early January after a compromise temporarily avoided the fiscal cliff, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index <.spx> has risen 6.3 percent since the start of the year.

But the benchmark index lost steam this week, posting its first week of losses since the start of the year. Minutes on Wednesday from the last Federal Reserve meeting, which suggested the central bank may slow or stop its stimulus policy sooner than expected, provided the catalyst.

National elections in Italy on Sunday and Monday could also add to investor concern. Most investors expect a government headed by Pier Luigi Bersani to win and continue with reforms to tackle Italy's debt problems. However, a resurgence by former leader Silvio Berlusconi has raised doubts.

"Europe has been in the last six months less of a topic for the stock market, but the problems haven't gone away. This may bring back investor attention to that," said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.


The spending cuts, if they go ahead, could hit the defense industry particularly hard.

Yet in the options market, bulls were targeting gains in Lockheed Martin Corp , the Pentagon's biggest supplier.

Calls on the stock far outpaced puts, suggesting that many investors anticipate the stock to move higher. Overall options volume on the stock was 2.8 times the daily average with 17,000 calls and 3,360 puts traded, according to options analytics firm Trade Alert.

"The upside call buying in Lockheed solidifies the idea that option investors are not pricing in a lot of downside risk in most defense stocks from the likely impact of sequestration," said Jared Woodard, a founder of research and advisory firm in Forest, Virginia.

The stock ended up 0.6 percent at $88.12 on Friday.

If lawmakers fail to reach an agreement on reducing the U.S. budget deficit in the next few days, a sequester would include significant cuts in defense spending. Companies such as General Dynamics Corp and Smith & Wesson Holding Corp could be affected.

General Dynamics Corp shares rose 1.2 percent to $67.32 and Smith & Wesson added 4.6 percent to $9.18 on Friday.


The latest data on fourth-quarter U.S. gross domestic product is expected on Thursday, and some analysts predict an upward revision following trade data that showed America's deficit shrank in December to its narrowest in nearly three years.

U.S. GDP unexpectedly contracted in the fourth quarter, according to an earlier government estimate, but analysts said there was no reason for panic, given that consumer spending and business investment picked up.

Investors will be looking for any hints of changes in the Fed's policy of monetary easing when Fed Chairman Ben Bernake speaks before congressional committees on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Shares of Apple will be watched closely next week when the company's annual stockholders' meeting is held.

On Friday, a U.S. judge handed outspoken hedge fund manager David Einhorn a victory in his battle with the iPhone maker, blocking the company from moving forward with a shareholder vote on a controversial proposal to limit the company's ability to issue preferred stock.

(Additional reporting by Doris Frankel; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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Dozens hurt after crash debris hits Daytona stands


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — With the start of the Daytona 500 just hours away, NASCAR officials still have some cleaning up to do amid growing questions about fan safety.

The season opener will go off as planned Sunday less than 24 hours after at least 33 people were injured when a car flew into the fence during a NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway, sending a tire and large pieces of debris sailing into the stands.

"Just seeing the carnage on the racetrack, it was truly unbelievable," driver Justin Allgaier said.

The final-lap accident Saturday marred the second-tier Nationwide Series race on the eve of a spectacle often called the Super Bowl of motorsports. Late into the night, track workers were scrambling to repair a huge section of fence that separates fans from the high-speed track.

Speedway President Joie Chitwood III has a news conference scheduled for Sunday morning to give the latest update on repairs and any safety changes that could be made before the "Great American Race."

The 12-car crash began about 200 feet from the start-finish line as the front-runners approached the checkered flag. Leader Regan Smith attempted to block Brad Keselowski for the win, triggering a horrific pileup that could have been much worse.

The front end of Larson's No. 32 car was sheared off, and his burning engine wedged through a gaping hole in the fence. Parts and pieces of his car sprayed into the stands, including a tire that cleared the top of the fence and landed midway up the spectator section closest to the track.

The 20-year-old Larson stood in shock a few feet from his car as fans in the stands waved frantically for help. Smoke from the burning engine briefly clouded the area, and emergency vehicles descended on the scene.

Ambulance sirens could be heard wailing behind the grandstands at a time the race winner would typically be doing celebratory burnouts.

"It was freaky. When I looked to my right, the accident happened," Rick Harpster of Orange Park said. "I looked over and I saw a tire fly straight over the fence into the stands, but after that I didn't see anything else. That was the worst thing I have seen, seeing that tire fly into the stands. I knew it was going to be severe."

Shannan Devine of Egg Harbor Township, N.J., was sitting about 250 feet from where the car smashed into the fence and could see plumes of smoke directly in front of her.

"I didn't know if there was a car on top of people. I didn't know what to think," she said. "I'm an emotional person and I immediately started to cry. It was very scary. Absolutely scary. I love the speed of the sport. But it's so dangerous."

Chitwood said 14 fans were treated on site and 14 others were taken to hospitals. Local officials said 19 people were taken to neighboring hospitals, including two who were in critical but stable condition.

Because of potential injuries, race winner Tony Stewart skipped the traditional victory celebration.

Stewart, who won for the 19th time at Daytona and seventh time in the last nine season-opening Nationwide races, was in no mood to celebrate.

"The important thing is what is going on on the frontstretch right now," said Stewart, a three-time NASCAR champion. "We've always known, and since racing started, this is a dangerous sport. But it's hard. We assume that risk, but it's hard when the fans get caught up in it.

"So as much as we want to celebrate right now and as much as this is a big deal to us, I'm more worried about the drivers and the fans that are in the stands right now because that was ... I could see it all in my mirror, and it didn't look good from where I was at."

There were at least five stretchers carrying injured people out of the stands, and a helicopter flew overhead.

Officials turned their attention to the track and the wreckage after injured were treated.

A forklift plucked Larson's engine out of the fence, and workers carried the tire out of the stands.

It was a chaotic finish to a race that was stopped for nearly 20 minutes five laps from the finish by a 13-car accident that sent driver Michael Annett to a hospital. His Richard Petty Motorsports team said he would be held overnight with bruising to his chest.

The race resumed with three laps to go, and the final accident occurred with Smith trying to hold off Keselowski through the final turn.

"It's Daytona. You want to go for the win here," Smith said. "I don't know how you can play it any different, other than concede second place, and I wasn't willing to do that today. Our job is to put them in position to win, and it was, and it didn't work out."

As the cars began wrecking all around Smith and Keselowski, Stewart slid through for the win, but Larson plowed into Keselowski and his car was sent airborne into the fence. When Larson's car came to a stop, it was missing its entire front end. Larson, who made his Daytona debut this week, stood with his hands on his hips before finally making the mandatory trip to the care center.

"I took a couple big hits there and saw my engine was gone," Larson said. "Just hope everybody's all right."

It appeared fans were lined up along the fence when Larson's car got airborne. But Chitwood said there was a buffer, adding there would be no changes to the seating before the Daytona 500.

"We don't anticipate moving any of our fans," Chitwood said. "We had our safety protocols in place. Our security maintained a buffer that separates the fans from the fencing area. With the fencing being prepared tonight to our safety protocols, we expect to go racing tomorrow with no changes."

Keselowski watched a replay of the accident and said it could cast a pall on the Daytona 500.

"I think until we know exactly the statuses of everyone involved, it's hard to lock yourself into the 500," Keselowski said. "Hopefully, we'll know soon and hopefully everyone's OK. And if that's the case, we'll staring focusing on Sunday."


AP Sports Writers Jenna Fryer, Dan Gelston and Jerome Minerva in Daytona Beach and Associated Press writer Jennifer Kay in Miami contributed to this report.

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Governors: Looming cuts threaten economic gains


WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington's protracted budget stalemate could seriously undermine the economy and stall gains made since the recession, exasperated governors said Saturday as they tried to gauge the fallout from impending federal spending cuts.

At the annual National Governors Association meeting, both Democrat and Republican chief executives expressed pessimism that both sides could find a way to avoid the massive, automatic spending cuts set to begin March 1, pointing to the impasse as another crisis between the White House and Congress that hampers their ability to construct state spending plans and spooks local businesses from hiring.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a former congressman, noted that the cuts — known in Washington-speak as "the sequester" — could lead to 19,000 workers laid off at Pearl Harbor, site of the surprise attack in 1941 that launched the United States into World War II. Today, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam supports Air Force and Navy missions.

"That will undermine our capacity for readiness at Pearl Harbor. If that doesn't symbolize for the nation ... what happens when we fail to meet our responsibilities congressionally, I don't know what does," Abercrombie said.

The budget fight came as many states say they are on the cusp of an economic comeback from the financial upheaval in 2008 and 2009. States expect their general fund revenues this year to surpass the amounts collected before the Great Recession kicked in. An estimated $693 billion in revenues is expected for the 2013 budget year, nearly a 4 percent increase over the previous year.

"It's a damn shame," said Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat. "We've actually had the fastest rate of jobs recovery of any state in our region. And this really threatens to hurt a lot of families in our state and kind of flat line our job growth for the next several months."

At their weekend meetings, governors were focusing on ways to boost job development and grow their state economies, measures to restrict gun violence and implement the new health care law approved during Obama's first term.

Some Republican governors have blocked the use of Medicaid to expand health insurance coverage for millions of uninsured while others have joined Democrats in a wholesale expansion as the law allows. The Medicaid expansion aims to cover about half of the 30 million uninsured people expected to eventually gain coverage under the health care overhaul.

Yet for many governors, the budget-cut fight remains front-and-center and fuels a pervasive sense of frustration with Washington.

"My feeling is I can't help what's going on in Washington," Gov. Terry Branstad, R-Iowa, said in an interview Saturday. "I can't help the fact that there's no leadership here, and it's all politics as usual and gridlock. But I can do something about the way we do things in the state of Iowa."

Indeed, right now no issue carries the same level of urgency as the budget impasse.

Congressional leaders have indicated a willingness to let the cuts take effect and stay in place for weeks, if not much longer.

The cuts would trim $85 billion in domestic and defense spending, leading to furloughs for hundreds of thousands of workers at the Transportation Department, Defense Department and elsewhere.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said the cuts would harm the readiness of U.S. fighting forces.

The looming cuts were never supposed to happen. They were intended to be a draconian fallback intended to ensure a special deficit reduction committee would come up with $1 trillion or more in savings from benefit programs. It didn't.

"We should go back and remember that sequestration was originally designed by both the administration and Congress as something so odious, so repellent, that it would force both sides to a compromise. There can't be any question, this is something that nobody wants," said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat.

Obama has stepped up efforts to tell the public about the cuts' negative impact and pressure Republicans who oppose his approach of reducing deficits through a combination of targeted savings and tax increases. House Republicans have said reduced spending needs to be the focus and have rejected the president's fresh demand to include higher taxes as part of a compromise.

Governors said they are asking the Obama administration for more flexibility to deal with some of the potential cuts.

"We're just saying that as you identify federal cuts and savings, allow the states to be able to realize those savings, too," said Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican and the association's vice chairwoman.


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Kejutan Ulang Tahun Ari Lasso di Atas Panggung


TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Penyanyi Ari Lasso dibuat terkejut oleh kehadiran dua anaknya, Abraham dan Audra di atas panggung dalam konser tunggalnya di Plenary Hall Jakarta Convention Center (JCC) Senayan, Jakarta, Sabtu malam, 23 Februari 2013. Mereka berdua tiba-tiba muncul dan langsung menyanyikan lagu Misteri Ilahi.

Skenario di luar sepengetahuan Ari tersebut sengaja dibuat sebagai kado spesial ulang tahunnya. Ya, bekas vokalis band Dewa 19 ini baru saja genap berusia 40 tahun pada 17 Januari 2013 kemarin.

"Oh jadi ini maksudnya kado spesial itu," ujar Ari kepada isterinya Vitta Dessy di atas panggung. Ari sesekali mengusap matanya karena merasa begitu terharu. "Mungkin setelah kematian ibunda saya, malam ini saya ingin menangis lagi."

Ari kemudian memperkenalkan kedua buah hatinya kepada penonton. "Ini namanya Abraham anak ke-3, dan ini namanya Audra anak ke-2 saya," ujarnya sambil mencium keduanya.

Tak lupa, isteri tercintanya pun ikut menjadi bahan pujian Ari. Dia merasa bangga bisa memiliki Vitta sampai bisa menoreh kesuksesan seperti sekarang ini. "Dia adalah wanita paling tangguh yang menemani hidup saya," katanya.

Konser tunggal Ari Lasso ini diberi tajuk 'Sang Dewa Cinta'. Sejumlah penyanyi diundang sebagai bintang tamu. Mereka antara lain Melly Goeslaw, Titi DJ, Bunga Citra Lestari, dan Dewa 19. Gelaran ini cukup mendapat antusias dari penikmat musik dengan dihadiri sekitar 2000-an penonton.


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Italians head to polls in crucial vote for euro zone


ROME (Reuters) - Italians began voting on Sunday in one of the most closely watched elections in years, with markets nervous about whether it will produce a strong government to pull Italy out of recession and help resolve the euro zone debt crisis.

A huge final rally by anti-establishment-comedian-turned-politician Beppe Grillo on Friday before a campaigning ban kicked in has highlighted public anger at traditional parties and added to uncertainty about the election outcome.

Voters started casting their ballots at 0700 GMT. Polling booths will remain open until 2100 GMT on Sunday and between 0600-1400 GMT on Monday. Exit polls will come out soon after voting ends and official results are expected by early Tuesday.

The election is being followed closely by financial markets with memories still fresh of the potentially catastrophic debt crisis that brought technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti to power more than a year ago.

Italy, the euro zone's third-largest economy, is stuck in deep recession, struggling under a public debt burden second only to Greece's in the 17-member currency bloc and with a public weary of more than a year of harsh austerity policies.

Final polls published two weeks ago showed center-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani with a 5-point lead, but analysts disagree about whether he will be able to form a stable majority that can push though the economic reforms Italy needs.

Bersani is now thought to be just a few points ahead of center-right rival Silvio Berlusconi, the four-times prime minister who has promised tax refunds and staged a media blitz in an attempt to win back voters.


Berlusconi hogged the headlines on Sunday after he broke the campaign silence the previous evening attack magistrates, saying they were "more dangerous than the Sicilian mafia" and had invented allegations he held sex parties to discredit him.

The 76-year-old billionaire, who faces several trials on charges ranging from fraud to sex with an underage prostitute, was criticized by his election rivals for making the comments after the campaigning ban had come into force.

While the center left is still expected to gain control of the lower house, thanks to rules that guarantee a strong majority to whichever party wins the most votes nationally, a much closer battle will be fought in the Senate, which any government also needs to control to be able to pass laws.

Seats in the upper house are awarded on a region-by-region basis, meaning that support in key regions can decisively influence the overall result.

Pollsters still believe the most likely outcome is a center-left government headed by Bersani and possibly backed by Monti, who is leading a centrist coalition.

But strong campaigning by Berlusconi and the fiery Grillo, who has drawn tens of thousands to his election rallies, have thrown the election wide open, causing concern that there may be no clear winner.

Surveys have shown up to 5 million voters are expected to make up their minds at the last minute, adding to uncertainty.

Italy's Interior Ministry urged some 47 million eligible voters to not let bad weather forecasts put them off, and said it was prepared to handle snowy conditions in some northern regions to ensure everyone had a chance to vote.


Whatever government emerges from the vote will have the task of pulling Italy out of its longest recession for 20 years and reviving an economy largely stagnant for two decades.

The main danger for Italy and the euro zone is a weak government incapable of taking firm action, which would rattle investors and could ignite a new debt crisis.

Monti replaced Berlusconi in November 2011 after Italy came close to Greek-style financial meltdown while the center-right government was embroiled in scandals.

The former European Commissioner launched a tough program of spending cuts, tax hikes and pension reforms which won widespread international backing and helped restore Italy's credibility abroad after the scandals of the Berlusconi era.

Italy's borrowing costs have since fallen sharply after the European Central Bank pledged it was prepared to support countries undertaking reforms by buying unlimited quantities of their bonds on the markets.

But economic austerity has fuelled anger among Italians grappling with rising unemployment and shrinking disposable incomes, encouraging many to turn to Grillo, who has tapped into a national mood of disenchantment.

(Editing by Alison Williams)

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Investors face another Washington deadline


NEW YORK (Reuters) - Investors face another Washington-imposed deadline on government spending cuts next week, but it's not generating the same level of fear as two months ago when the "fiscal cliff" loomed large.

Investors in sectors most likely to be affected by the cuts, like defense, seem untroubled that the budget talks could send stocks tumbling.

Talks on the U.S. budget crisis began again this week leading up to the March 1 deadline for the so-called sequestration when $85 billion in automatic federal spending cuts are scheduled to take effect.

"It's at this point a political hot button in Washington but a very low level investor concern," said Fred Dickson, chief market strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co. in Lake Oswego, Oregon. The fight pits President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats against congressional Republicans.

Stocks rallied in early January after a compromise temporarily avoided the fiscal cliff, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index <.spx> has risen 6.3 percent since the start of the year.

But the benchmark index lost steam this week, posting its first week of losses since the start of the year. Minutes on Wednesday from the last Federal Reserve meeting, which suggested the central bank may slow or stop its stimulus policy sooner than expected, provided the catalyst.

National elections in Italy on Sunday and Monday could also add to investor concern. Most investors expect a government headed by Pier Luigi Bersani to win and continue with reforms to tackle Italy's debt problems. However, a resurgence by former leader Silvio Berlusconi has raised doubts.

"Europe has been in the last six months less of a topic for the stock market, but the problems haven't gone away. This may bring back investor attention to that," said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.


The spending cuts, if they go ahead, could hit the defense industry particularly hard.

Yet in the options market, bulls were targeting gains in Lockheed Martin Corp , the Pentagon's biggest supplier.

Calls on the stock far outpaced puts, suggesting that many investors anticipate the stock to move higher. Overall options volume on the stock was 2.8 times the daily average with 17,000 calls and 3,360 puts traded, according to options analytics firm Trade Alert.

"The upside call buying in Lockheed solidifies the idea that option investors are not pricing in a lot of downside risk in most defense stocks from the likely impact of sequestration," said Jared Woodard, a founder of research and advisory firm in Forest, Virginia.

The stock ended up 0.6 percent at $88.12 on Friday.

If lawmakers fail to reach an agreement on reducing the U.S. budget deficit in the next few days, a sequester would include significant cuts in defense spending. Companies such as General Dynamics Corp and Smith & Wesson Holding Corp could be affected.

General Dynamics Corp shares rose 1.2 percent to $67.32 and Smith & Wesson added 4.6 percent to $9.18 on Friday.


The latest data on fourth-quarter U.S. gross domestic product is expected on Thursday, and some analysts predict an upward revision following trade data that showed America's deficit shrank in December to its narrowest in nearly three years.

U.S. GDP unexpectedly contracted in the fourth quarter, according to an earlier government estimate, but analysts said there was no reason for panic, given that consumer spending and business investment picked up.

Investors will be looking for any hints of changes in the Fed's policy of monetary easing when Fed Chairman Ben Bernake speaks before congressional committees on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Shares of Apple will be watched closely next week when the company's annual stockholders' meeting is held.

On Friday, a U.S. judge handed outspoken hedge fund manager David Einhorn a victory in his battle with the iPhone maker, blocking the company from moving forward with a shareholder vote on a controversial proposal to limit the company's ability to issue preferred stock.

(Additional reporting by Doris Frankel; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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