Morgan Stanley's profit surges, stock soars

NEW YORK (AP) -- Profits roared back at the investment bank Morgan Stanley in the fourth quarter, reversing a loss in the same period a year ago, when its results were weighed down by a costly legal settlement.

Earnings increased sharply across the bank's business lines, and its stock jumped. Morgan Stanley's investment bank underwrote more stock and bond offerings and brought in more fees from advising companies on mergers and other deals. Financial advisers in the wealth management unit, who work with individual investors, generated more revenue per worker.

Hungary homeless face winter, fear return of fines

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) -- Homeless men and women huddle on street corners amid Budapest's majestic domed palaces, shivering under old blankets and cardboard boxes in frigid winter weather.

It's an image that critics say Prime Minister Viktor Orban doesn't want the world to see. And if he has his way, the homeless could be fined and even jailed for sleeping outside - even though some of the country's homeless shelters are already overflowing and short of beds.

Orban's punitive ideas for the homeless have set him up for his latest clash with the constitutional court and civil rights groups as he tries to reshape the country in a conservative image by centralizing power. Since winning power in 2010, Orban and his party have undermined independent institutions and democratic standards in a nation that was once an icon of democratic struggle for throwing off communism in 1989.

Ed Miliband warns: Cameron is leading us towards the EU exit

Labour leader refuses to say whether he would back a referendum on taking powers back from Brussels

Ed Miliband has warned that David Cameron is risking Britain heading out the exit door of the European Union, but he refused to say whether Labour would support a referendum to bring back powers from Brussels.

He said for the first time he would not repeal the existing referendum lock imposed by the coalition requiring there to be a vote if there was a significant transfer of powers to Brussels. He said "there is legislation on the books that we don't intend repealing", but claimed this was not a commitment to an in-out referendum. He also said he would like to see some powers repatriated as part of what he described as a move to a more flexible, rather than looser, Europe.

Review: Naturalism of 'LUV' beset by cliches

NEW YORK (AP) -- It comes as a disappointment that "LUV," a drama about the tragic realities of fathers and sons in unforgiving urban environs, can't measure up to the lyricism of its star's own music.

The film stars Common, the thoughtful, charismatic Chicago rhymer who, in three- and four-minute hip-hop ruminations, summons more vibrant social imagery than the well-intended but hollow 1 1/2 hours of "LUV."

Common has been more of a cultural ambassador for years now (he was a bizarrely controversial White House guest in 2011), and has increasingly concentrated on acting. "LUV," for which he is also a producer, is perhaps the best close-up yet of an uncommonly smooth performer.

Kenneth Clarke warns PM's strategy could end in withdrawal from EU

Former chancellor's intervention comes as a Eurosceptic Conservative group says that 'status quo is no longer an option'

The challenge facing David Cameron over Europe has been highlighted by Kenneth Clarke's description of a referendum as a "gamble" and calls from Eurosceptic Conservatives for a complete repatriation of social and employment laws.

In the runup to the prime minister's long-awaited speech on Europe, Clarke has warned that referendums are normally proposed by "hangers and floggers".

Tens of Thousands Displaced by Intensified Mali Clashes

GENEVA — The U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) says thousands of Malians have become internally displaced or are seeking refuge in neighboring countries as clashes escalate between French troops and Islamist rebels.
Officials say the humanitarian situation in the central Mopti region in particular is deteriorating as a consequence of recent fighting.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that more than 30,000 people have fled their homes since the French military intervention on Friday, bringing the number of displaced in Mali to around 230,000.

Frankel deserves World Thoroughbred Rankings rating as all-time best

Fabulous racehorse enriched lives of countless people during the time he graced the turf

There is a scene in 1984 when a mass rally against Oceania's historic and deadly enemies from Eurasia is suddenly informed that, in fact, they have had it wrong all along. Eurasia are their allies, it is Eastasia who are the enemy. The crowd scarcely pauses for breath before ripping down all the anti-Eurasia propaganda posted around the square and then carrying on as before.

This is not to imply that the press conference on Tuesday which announced Frankel as the highest-rated horse in turf history had Orwellian overtones, even if the downgrading of Dancing Brave and Shergar among others was described as "recalibration". Criticism was tolerated, and addressed, by the professional handicappers who decide the ratings.

NH $700M case against 2 oil companies begins

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Day one of what is expected to be a marathon pollution trial over the gasoline additive MTBE ended Monday with lawyers for the state of New Hampshire and two big oil companies heatedly accusing each other of misleading jurors.

The judge denied demands for a mistrial made by Citgo's lawyer, Nathan Eimer, but may give jurors a special instruction when the trial resumes Tuesday with more opening statements from the lawyers.

The state is seeking more than $700 million from Citgo and ExxonMobil to cover the cost of monitoring and treating MTBE-contaminated wells. Lawyers for the state argue that the MTBE gasoline is a defective product and that oil companies failed to warn the state of its potential for widespread groundwater contamination.

Kaepernick gives 49ers new look in NFC title game

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Colin Kaepernick stood in a cramped corner of the 49ers' locker room smiling and chatting with Alex Smith late Saturday night when a stranger interrupted the two quarterbacks.

"Wow, great game," said former franchise quarterback John Brodie, shaking Kaepernick's hand and patting him on the back. "Nice to meet you."

After a record-setting playoff debut that sent San Francisco to the NFC championship game for the second straight season, Kaepernick needs no more introductions.

Ravens top Broncos in double OT 38-35

DENVER (AP) -- Welcome to NFL immortality, Joe Flacco.

Somewhere up there in the all-time playoff archives near the "Hail Mary" by Staubach and the "Immaculate Reception" by Franco now lives the "Flacco Fling" by the Baltimore Ravens quarterback.

One big throw down the sideline, 70 make-or-break yards on a wing and a prayer - a high, arcing touchdown pass that soared through the icy air, flew over two defenders, landed in the hands of Jacoby Jones, saved the game for Baltimore and kept Ray Lewis' 17-year career going at least one more week.

Tarantino will only shoot from the hip if he's got something to promote

The Django Unchained director's lack of interest in the gun-control debate was typical of a broadcasting culture where marketing always seems to come first

You may admire Krishnan Guru-Murthy's dogged Channel 4 News pursuit of Quentin Tarantino over movie gun violence, but you must also pause over Tarantino's grumpy response. I'm not here to debate all this Newtown stuff, snarled the would-be director of Kill Krish 1. "I'm here to sell my movie." And that, in TV world, is the gospel, all-pervasive truth. You have something – a movie, a record, even a new TV show – to sell, and cameras roll in the most unlikely newsroom places. Once upon a distant, Reithian time, public service broadcasting meant never plugging anything explicitly. Now chat show after show from Graham Norton on down arrives stiff with non-subliminal ads and one old refrain is never heard. Why am I here debating all this tedious stuff? I haven't got anything to plug.

Inquest ordered in WA death after police struggle

SEATTLE (AP) -- The King County executive has ordered an inquest into the September death of an armed West Seattle man after a confrontation with police who used a stun gun on him during a struggle and restrained him.

County Executive Dow Constantine's office said Thursday that Seattle police responding Sept. 6 to a call from Mike Chen found him slumped on the ground with a sword in front of an apartment door. Police say they used a stun gun several times when Chen grabbed the sword and started to sit up. Chen showed no pulse after being handcuffed and restrained so police say they administered CPR. He was rushed to Harborview Medical Center, where he died several days later.

US seared during hottest year on record by far

WASHINGTON (AP) -- America set an off-the-charts heat record in 2012.

A brutal combination of a widespread drought and a mostly absent winter pushed the average annual U.S. temperature last year up to 55.32 degrees Fahrenheit, the government announced Tuesday. That's a full degree warmer than the old record set in 1998.

Breaking temperature records by an entire degree is unprecedented, scientists say. Normally, records are broken by a tenth of a degree or so.

"It was off the chart," said Deke Arndt, head of climate monitoring at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., which calculated the temperature records.

Obama to tap budget expert Lew to lead Treasury

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama will nominate White House chief of staff Jack Lew to be his second-term Secretary of the Treasury, turning to one of Washington's most knowledgeable budget experts to manage prickly fiscal negotiations with Congress and steer the still-shaky national economy.

Lew's nomination, expected Thursday, accelerates the overhaul of Obama's top advisers, with new leaders at the Pentagon, State Department, Central Intelligence Agency and Labor Department. Obama also must replace Lew with a new chief of staff, and that could have a ripple effect through the West Wing's senior ranks.

Vt. Air Guard hopes for jet, but others fear noise

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) -- Plans on where to base the U.S. military's next-generation fighter jet, the F-35, concern people in communities from California to Florida to Maine who worry the aircraft are too loud.

In Vermont, where the Air National Guard has flown planes from Burlington International Airport for more than 60 years, opponents are especially vocal. But in other communities, even some long accustomed to the roar of military aircraft, the noise of the F-35 has been an issue.

South Burlington City Council President Rosanne Greco, a retired Air Force officer, said she favored bringing the F-35 to her community until she read the draft environmental impact statement released last spring.

Colombia firm makes armored clothes for kids

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- A Colombian firm that makes bulletproof vests is now creating armored clothing for children.

Factory owner Miguel Caballero said he never thought about making protective clothes for kids until requests came in following the deadly attack on Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut last month.

"After the tragedy in Connecticut, we started getting emails from customers asking for protected (clothing) because they were afraid to take their kids to school," Caballero said.

£10m lottery win for Belfast army torture victim

Joe Clarke was one of 11 people awarded £12,500 damages after internment in 1971

An Irish republican internee who was once tortured by the British Army has won £10.2m in the New Year Euro- millions lottery.

Joe Clarke, 60, who was awarded £12,500 for being subjected to extreme interrogation by the military during internment in 1971, bought the winning ticket in his native west Belfast last week. He only found out about his jackpot when he returned to the Saveway Spar filling station store on the Springfield Road where he bought the ticket on Thursday. At the time it is understood he did not realise how much he had won.

Thai accused of shooting Stephen Ashton appears in court

Ekkapan Kaewkla charged with premeditated murder and illegal possession of a weapon over death of Briton at new year party

A man accused of shooting dead a British tourist at a New Year's Eve party in Thailand has appeared in court.

Stephen Ashton, 22, was caught in the crossfire of a gun fight between two groups of locals at a crowded beach bar on the island of Koh Phangan. His family said they were "completely devastated" by his death.

Clinton's blood clot an uncommon complication

The kind of blood clot in the skull that doctors say Hillary Rodham Clinton has is relatively uncommon but can occur after an injury like the fall and concussion the secretary of state was diagnosed with earlier this month.

Doctors said Monday that an MRI scan revealed a clot in a vein in the space between the brain and the skull behind Clinton's right ear.

The clot did not lead to a stroke or neurological damage and is being treated with blood thinners, and she will be released once the proper dose is worked out, her doctors said in a statement.

CAR Negotiations May Not Be Possible

BANGUI, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC — The Central African Republic capital of Bangui remained tense Tuesday as rebels threatened to take the last major government stronghold, the city of Damara, just 75 kilometers away. President Francois Bozize said he is willing to negotiate a unity government. However, rebels say he must go. It remains to be seen whether or not a negotiated solution is still possible.

Regional leaders are trying to organize peace talks in Gabon on January 10 between the government of the Central African Republic and a northern rebel alliance known as Seleka that has seized a third of the country in less than three weeks.

Net loss: Brooklyn fires coach Avery Johnson

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

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

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