Yen off lows vs dollar, Asian shares ease in subdued trade

TOKYO (Reuters) - The yen recovered from lows against the dollar and Tokyo stocks jumped closer to a 33-month high on Tuesday after markets took comments from a U.S. official as approval for Japan to pursue anti-deflation policies that weaken the yen.

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

"Her (Brainard's) comments gave confidence to the market. It was surprising, and was taken as the Obama Administration giving a green light to 'Abenomics'," said Takuya Takahashi, a market analyst at Daiwa Securities.

Japan has faced some overseas criticism that it is intentionally trying to weaken the yen with monetary easing, but talk of a so-called currency war was dialled back ahead of a Group of 20 meeting in Moscow on Friday and Saturday.

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

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

The dollar fell 0.4 percent to 93.94 yen after marking its highest level since May 2010 of 94.465 on Monday . The euro shed 0.6 percent to 125.68 yen after rising over 2 percent on Monday. It hit its highest since April 2010 of 127.71 yen last week.

"I think the yen's weakening is a function of (playing)catch-up," and not Japan resorting to deliberate devaluation of its currency, said Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak & Co. in New York. "It's the market's way of saying:'We're convinced there is a movement afoot to reinflate Japan.'"

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

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

European markets are seen inching lower, with financial spreadbetters predicting London's FTSE 100 <.ftse>, Paris's CAC-40 <.fchi> and Frankfurt's DAX <.gdaxi> would open down 0.2 percent. A 0.2 percent drop in U.S. stock futures also suggested a soft Wall Street start. <.l><.eu><.n/>

The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.miapj0000pus> fell 0.1 percent, with Australian shares closing flat ahead of corporate earnings due this week.

The weaker yen in turn hoisted the Nikkei stock average <.n225> to close 1.9 percent higher on improving earnings prospects for exporters. <.t/>

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


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

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

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

Financial markets showed a muted reaction to the news that North Korea has conducted a nuclear test.

"The test was not something that makes your heart pound as much as a pressing situation between Iran and Israel," said Kaname Gokon, research manager at brokerage Okato Shoji, referring to the threat of possible military action to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

U.S. crude futures edged down 0.1 percent to $96.92 a barrel while Brent steadied around $118.15.

Spot gold stayed near a one-month low.

(Additional reporting by Ayai Tomisawa, Lisa Twaronite and Osamu Tsukimori in Tokyo; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Eric Meijer)

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Mullens, Bobcats end Celtics' win streak 94-91

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

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

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

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

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

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

All of that came crashing down Monday night.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was a back-and-forth game throughout.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Why pope will long be remembered

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Timothy Stanley

Timothy Stanley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

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

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Cardinal George likely to play key role in picking next pope

As he nears his own retirement, Cardinal Francis George will head to Rome likely to play a powerful role in choosing Pope Benedict XVI's successor and charting a course for the next chapter of the Roman Catholic Church.

Most recently focused on reaching a new generation and preserving Catholic identity in an increasingly secularized world, George, the College of Cardinals' elder statesman, is expected to encourage his colleagues to choose a pontiff who will do the same.

"Cardinal George is a highly respected member of the College of Cardinals and his views on the church's situation and the next pope will be carefully considered by his brother cardinals," said conservative Catholic scholar George Weigel, who recently wrote a book titled "Evangelical Catholicism."

Cardinal George's colleagues turn to him not just because he's the leader in Chicago, where parishioners are as diverse as the global church. He's also traveled widely in Africa and Latin America as the vicar general of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and lived and worked in Rome. Meanwhile, in the U.S., he has served as president of the national bishops conference and led the charge for a zero-tolerance policy on clergy sexual abuse.

"Everyone at the Vatican trusts him," said John Thavis, a longtime Rome correspondent for the Catholic News Service and author of "The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church." "He has an excellent reputation as a person who understands both Rome and the pastoral side of issues. He's a very thoughtful person, yet he's not afraid to say what he believes. ... The cardinals appreciate that."

George said Monday that he will head into his second conclave of cardinals with a clear set of priorities and a strategy for selecting Benedict's successor. Because of Pope John Paul II's 27-year papacy, most cardinals faced a steep learning curve in the days leading up to and during the 2005 conclave, the top-secret closed-door process to select the next pope.

The next conclave likely will begin 15 to 20 days after Benedict's resignation becomes effective Feb. 28. At that time, the College of Cardinals will govern the church collectively and informal discussions will begin. George said he will use that time more wisely, asking better questions and figuring out "how to move beyond impressions to find out really what people are going to say about another cardinal."

"I'd like to make better use of the time before the voting begins," he said.

Once the doors of the Sistine Chapel close, the activities inside are carefully choreographed, George said. Cardinals are seated in order of their elevation. Prayers are recited in Latin, instructions are printed in Italian and the participants speak a variety of languages. In April 2005, George sat between the Viennese cardinal with whom he spoke German and the cardinal from Mexico City, with whom he spoke Spanish.

"Until you take the first ballot, you really don't know who has strength and who does not," George said. "It's a very serious moment. You stand there with a ballot in your hand facing Michelangelo's fresco of the Last Judgment and you say … a pretty serious oath. You put your life and salvation on the line. That first ballot tells you what people really think."

George said the challenge facing cardinals next month will be finding a leader who can maintain a degree of continuity while moving the church in a bold new direction.

"I have some sense of where we must both keep our attention focused and also where we have to put some attention where perhaps we haven't been able to do that yet," he said. "But I'd like to clarify that more in my own mind before I say."

Nearly eight years ago, the sexual abuse scandal dominated headlines. Within minutes of Benedict's election, George sought assurances from the pope-elect that he would renew church rules that facilitated the permanent removal from ministry of sexually abusive priests in the U.S. That experience in dealing with a scandal that's now rippling across Europe gives George additional credibility with his colleagues, experts say.

But his experience traveling as a missionary helps too. George confirmed Monday that there are several Latin American cardinals who would make serious contenders.

"If you look at where the church is strong in terms of population, in terms of the faithful, it would be in Latin America or Africa," he said. Popes historically hail from Europe.

"That would be an appropriate question: Should we look elsewhere?" George said.

Thavis said he has never ruled out an American pope, but that's contrary to conventional wisdom.

"The standard thinking is 'An American? Never. They already run the world. They want to run the church too?'" Thavis said. "But I've never heard a cardinal say that."

George, however, explained that cardinals place more weight on personalities than geography.

"Who can govern the church? Who can teach? Who can sanctify?" he said. "Who can function as a papacy?"

"It matters less where someone is from," George continued. "It's not a representative office. … It's an office that represents Christ."

The Rev. Donald Senior, president of Catholic Theological Union, said he thinks this conclave could be the moment when cardinals give serious consideration to a candidate from the Southern Hemisphere.

George is "going to represent a perspective that's looking away from Europe and more an appreciation for the Southern Hemisphere, the Third World and mission territories. That's been his life," Senior said.

"Some of the other cardinals will be coming from much more ethnocentric types of experiences, not the kind of diversity that Chicago will offer and that his background as vicar of a missionary order will have. I suspect his sympathies align in that direction. I think they will be deliberating whether to turn at this point to a pope not from a European context. The cardinal would have a lot to say," he added.

Twitter @tribseeker

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North Korea conducts third nuclear test, sparks condemnation

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea conducted its third-ever nuclear test on Tuesday, a move likely to anger its main ally China and increase international action against Pyongyang and its new young leader, Kim Jong-un.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned North Korea's test, saying it was a "clear and grave violation" of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

South Korea said the size of the seismic activity indicated a nuclear explosion slightly larger than the North's two previous tests at 6-7 kilotons, although that is still relatively small. The Hiroshima bomb was around 20 kilotons.

The U.S. Geological Survey said that a seismic event measuring 5.1 magnitude had occurred on Tuesday, with North Korea later confirming the nuclear test.

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

The test prompted the U.N. Security Council to call for an emergency meeting later on Tuesday and came as China celebrated the lunar new year, potentially increasing embarrassment for Beijing, the North's sole major economic and diplomatic ally.

"I think it will be proven to be a self-defeating and self-suffocating blunder on the part of the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea)," an Asian diplomat to the United Nations told Reuters in New York.

"They have chosen the worst timing to conduct this testing ... This will also be an open invitation to the international community to up the ante to corner the DPRK."

It may take days to ascertain whether the North used highly enriched uranium for the first time in the nuclear test, a move that would give it a second path to a nuclear weapon.

North Korea has used plutonium in previous tests and needs to conserve its stocks as testing eats into its limited supply of the material that could be used to construct a nuclear bomb.

The Vienna-based Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty Organization, the international atomic test monitor, said the event had hallmarks similar to the North's previous nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

"This act would constitute a clear threat to international peace and security, and challenges efforts made to strengthen global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation," it said.

Japan immediately called for sanctions against North Korea whose December long-range rocket launch prompted new U.N. sanctions that Pyongyang said earlier would push it to undertake a third nuclear test.

South Korea's defense ministry said additional nuclear tests and rocket launches by the North should not be ruled out.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency said Pyongyang had informed China and the United States of its plans to test on Monday.

When new leader Kim Jong-un took office after his father's death in December 2011, there were hopes the youthful leader would bring economic reforms and end his father Kim Jong-il's "military first" policies that have seen the North declare itself a "nuclear weapons state".

Since taking office however, he has purged the military, pushed ahead with two long-range rocket launches, which critics say breach U.N. sanctions.

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

But options for the international community appear to be in short supply, as North Korea is already one of the most heavily sanctioned states on earth.

Significantly, the test comes at a time of political transition in China, Japan and South Korea, and as U.S. President Barack Obama begins his second term.

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

China too is in the midst of a once in a decade leadership transition to Xi Jinping, who takes office in March.

But the longer term game plan from Pyongyang may be to restart talks aimed at winning aide for its impoverished and stricken economy that is smaller than it was 20 years ago.

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

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

(Additional reporting by Jack Kim, Christine Kim and Jumin Park in SEOUL; Linda Sieg in TOKYO; Louis Charbonneau at the UNITED NATIONS; Editing by Michael Perry and Paul Tait)

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Equities, oil steady; euro dips in holiday-thinned trade

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil and equities dawdled on Monday near multi-month highs scaled after robust Chinese trade data last week, while the euro slipped to a two-week low as uncertainty surrounded a political scandal in Spain and a looming election in Italy.

With the Lunar New Year holiday shutting most Asian financial centers, including those in Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea, trading was light and volatile on many of those exchanges that remained open.

European markets were expected to likewise lack momentum in the absence of major economic drivers and ahead of a meeting of the Eurogroup, where the discussion around the risk of a global round of competitive currency devaluation could re-emerge.

Financial bookmakers called major European indexes <.ftse><.gdaxi><.fchi>to open flat.

Australian shares <.axjo> were flat after closing at a 34-month high on Friday following positive data from China, the most important consumer of Australia's commodity exports.

S&P 500 index futures inched up 0.1 percent after the Wall Street benchmark reached a five-year high on Friday.

Brent crude oil, which touched its highest in nine months on Friday, was unchanged just below $119 a barrel.

Foreign exchange trading was choppy in thin volumes, with what traders interpreted as slightly dovish comments from the European Central Bank last week also weighing on the euro, which has shed around 2.5 percent since reaching a 15-month high above $1.37 on February 1.

The euro briefly fell to $1.3325 on Monday, after stop-loss selling was triggered below $1.3340, traders said, before recovering to stand little changed around $1.3370.

There are growing worries about Spain as a scandal on secret cash payments engulfs the prime minister, while confidence in Italy has been shaken in the run-up to a February 24-25 election. "The euro's upside is likely to be limited and short-lived," said Aroop Chatterjee, an analyst at Barclays Capital.

"Better financial conditions are likely to be offset by rising political risks, market positioning and a weaker economy. We expect the euro to be on a declining trend beginning in Q2."

The yen pared a little of its recent heavy losses after Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said it had weakened more than intended.

The currency, which has been an easy one-way bet for weeks as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe put intense pressure on the central bank to take bold action to revive Japan's fragile economy, also recovered from its recent 4-week trough against the Aussie, the latter changing hands at 95.25 yen AUDJPY=R, compared with a peak of 97.42 set on Tuesday.

(Additional reporting by Ian Chua in Sydney and Vidya Ranganathan in Singapore; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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Celtics outlast Nuggets in 3 OTs with 118-114 win

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Celtics relied on their veterans to help them win the matchup of the NBA's two hottest teams.

Paul Pierce had 27 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists and the Celtics extended their winning streak to seven games with a 118-114 triple overtime victory over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.

Boston's win also ended Denver's winning streak at nine games.

Pierce made a tying 3-pointer in the second overtime to make it 107-107 and extend the game.

"I mean that's what great players do. I would love to tell you I had something to do with it," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "I was sitting just like the fans saying, "Please, Lord, Paul make a shot."

Kevin Garnett had 20 points and grabbed 18 rebounds while Jason Terry scored a season-high 26 points off the bench.

"It seems like Garnett has a huge heart and wanted to win the game and he made some big time shots," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "His range has improved and it's about time he get that respect."

Pierce, Garnett and Terry are the only active Celtics with championship rings since point guard Rajon Rondo's season-ending knee injury. The Celtics remain unbeaten in Rondo's absence.

Terry hit a 3-pointer with 1:33 remaining in the third overtime to put the Celtics ahead 116-113.

Danilo Gallinari, who finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds, hit a free throw, but Denver would not get any closer.

"Hard to believe these guys don't have an all-star," Garnett said. "That baffles me ... Gallinari, Lawson ... they have deserving guys."

Terry, who had missed five consecutive 3-point shots in the first two overtimes, also made the defensive play of the game when he stole the ball from Andre Miller with 35 seconds remaining.

Denver had one last gasp as Miller missed a 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds remaining before Terry dribbled the ball up the court and made a layup at the buzzer to finish the scoring.

"We're not into moral victories, but it was one of those games," Miller said. "It was a fun game and I'm sure everybody was tired."

Denver's Ty Lawson had 29 points, nine assists and six rebounds and hit several key shots, including a running bank shot to send the game into overtime tied at 92-92.

Gallinari struggled from the field as he shot 7 of 20 for the Nuggets. Kenneth Faried had 14 points and 12 rebounds for Denver.

Garnett was 3 of 4 from the field in overtime after missing 14 of his previous 20 shots.

With Denver leading 105-104 in the second overtime, Lawson hit another jumper to put the Nuggets up 107-104 with 18.9 seconds remaining.

But Pierce hit a 3-pointer with Miller in his face with 5 seconds left to tie the game at 107-107.

Gallinari then had an open lane to the basket as he was overplayed by Garnett, but missed his shot as time ran out.

Jeff Green's 3-pointer tied the game at 99-99 with 23.8 seconds remaining in the first overtime, but Lawson's long 3-pointer fell short at the buzzer.

"Lot of people still doubt us," Green said. Can't come into games thinking we have to impress people."

Denver failed to hit its last shot in all three overtimes with chances to win the game in the first two and to tie it in the third.

Green's jumper put Boston ahead 92-90 with 47.9 seconds remaining in regulation. Miller then missed consecutive shots on the ensuing Denver possessions, but Faried was fouled with 5.4 seconds remaining.

Faried missed both free throws, but Celtics guard Avery Bradley knocked the ball out of bounds. Lawson then scored with 0.8 seconds remaining.

Gallinari, who averages 20 points per game to lead Denver, was held to three points in the first half on 1-of-6 shooting as the Nuggets trailed 50-46 at the break.

Notes: Pierce and Lawson each played 54 minutes respectively. ... JaVale McGee had 16 rebounds for Denver. ... Boston is 13-2 in its past 15 home games against Denver, but the teams are 10-10 head-to-head in the past 20. ... Boston matches up again on the road with Denver on Feb. 19. ... This had been the Nuggets' longest winning streak since March 30 to April 15, 2005. ... Andre Iguodala left the game for Denver in the third quarter with a strain and did not return.

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What beats Grammy? Immortality

Legends beyond their own time

Legends beyond their own time

Legends beyond their own time

Legends beyond their own time

Legends beyond their own time

Legends beyond their own time


  • Bob Greene: Grammy nominated acts should remember the real prize comes later in life

  • He says at a hotel he ran into a group of singing stars from an earlier era, in town for a show

  • He says the world of post-fame touring less glamorous for acts, but meaningful

  • Greene: Acts grow old, but their hits never will and to fans, the songs are time-machine

Editor's note: CNN Contributor Bob Greene is a best-selling author whose 25 books include "When We Get to Surf City: A Journey Through America in Pursuit of Rock and Roll, Friendship, and Dreams"; "Late Edition: A Love Story"; and "Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen."

(CNN) -- Memo to Carly Rae Jepsen, Frank Ocean, Hunter Hayes, Mumford & Sons, Miguel, the Alabama Shakes and all the other young singers and bands who are nominated for Sunday night's Grammy Awards:

Your real prize -- the most valuable and sustaining award of all -- may not become evident to you until 30 or so years have passed.

You will be much older.

But -- if you are lucky -- you will still get to be out on the road making music.

Bob Greene

Bob Greene

Many of Sunday's Grammy nominees are enjoying the first wave of big success. It is understandable if they take for granted the packed concert venues and eye-popping paychecks.

Those may go away -- the newness of fame, the sold-out houses, the big money.

But the joy of being allowed to do what they do will go on.

I've been doing some work while staying at a small hotel off a highway in southwestern Florida. One winter day I was reading out on the pool deck, and there were some other people sitting around talking.

They weren't young, by anyone's definition. They did not seem like conventional businessmen or businesswomen on the road, or like retirees. There was a sense of nascent energy and contented anticipation in their bearing, of something good waiting for them straight ahead. A look completely devoid of grimness or fretfulness, an afternoon look that said the best part of the day was still to come.

I would almost have bet what line of work they were in. I'd seen that look before, many times.

I could hear them talking.


The Tokens ("The Lion Sleeps Tonight," a No. 1 hit in 1961).

Little Peggy March ("I Will Follow Him," a No. 1 hit in 1963).

Little Anthony and the Imperials ("Tears on My Pillow," a top 10 hit in 1958).

Major singing stars from an earlier era of popular music, in town for a multi-act show that evening.

It is the one sales job worth yearning for -- carrying that battered sample case of memorable music around the country, to unpack in front of a different appreciative audience every night.

It's quite a world. I was fortunate enough to learn its ins and outs during the 15 deliriously unlikely years I spent touring the United States singing backup with Jan and Dean ("Surf City," a No. 1 hit in 1963) and all the other great performers with whom we shared stages and dressing rooms and backstage buffets:

Chuck Berry, Martha and the Vandellas, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, the Everly Brothers, James Brown, Lesley Gore, Freddy "Boom Boom" Cannon, the Kingsmen, the Drifters, Fabian, the Coasters, Little Eva, the Ventures, Sam the Sham. ...

Jukebox names whose fame was once as fresh and electric as that now being savored by Sunday's young Grammy nominees.

Decades after that fame is new, the road may not be quite as glamorous, the crowds may not be quite as large. The hours of killing time before riding over to the hall, the putrid vending-machine meals on the run, the way-too-early-in-the-morning vans to the airport -- the dreary parts all become more than worth it when, for an hour or so, the singers can once again personally deliver a bit of happiness to the audiences who still adore their music.

Greene: Super Bowl ad revives iconic voice

As the years go by, the whole thing may grow complicated -- band members come and go, they fight and feud, some quit, some die. There are times when it seems you can't tell the players without a scorecard -- the Tokens at the highway hotel were, technically and contractually, Jay Siegel's Tokens (you don't want to know the details). One of their singers (not Jay Siegel -- Jay Traynor) was once Jay of Jay and the Americans, a group that itself is still out on the road in a different configuration with a different Jay (you don't want to know).

But overriding all of this is a splendid truism:

Sometimes, if you have one big hit, it can take care of you for the rest of your life. It can be your life.

Sunday's young Grammy nominees may not imagine, 30 years down the line, still being on tour. But they -- the fortunate ones -- will come to learn something:

They will grow old, but their hits never will -- once people first fall in love with those songs, the songs will mean something powerful and evocative to them for the rest of their lives.

And as long as there are fairground grandstands on summer nights, as long as there are small-town ballparks with stages where the pitcher's mound should be, the singers will get to keep delivering the goods.

That is the hopeful news waiting, off in the distance, for those who will win Grammys Sunday, and for those who won't be chosen.

On the morning after that pool-deck encounter in Florida I headed out for a walk, and in the parking lot of the hotel I saw one of the Tokens loading his stage clothes into his car.

His license plate read:


I said to him:

"You sing lead on 'She Cried,' right?"

"Every night," he said, and drove off toward the next show.

The next show.

That's the prize.

That's the trophy, right there.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Bob Greene.

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Obama coming to Chicago to 'talk about the gun violence'

President Barack Obama will visit Chicago on Friday, when he will discuss gun violence as he focuses on his economic message from Tuesday's State of the Union address, according to the White House.

Obama will "talk about the gun violence that has tragically affected too many families in communities across Chicago and across the country," a White House official said in a statement.

The president's visit answers calls from Chicago anti-violence activists that Obama talk about the recent spate of gun violence in the city, several of the activists said.

"This is an important issue," said Cathy Cohen, founder of the Black Youth Project, which attracted about 45,000 signatures by Sunday night in an online petition that urges Obama to speak up. "We think of this as a victory for all of us."

The group posted the petition on shortly after Hadiya Pendleton, 15, was shot to death last month at a South Side park. The King College Prep student was slain about a week after performing with her school band at Obama's inaugural festivities.

Since Hadiya was shot about a mile from the president's Kenwood neighborhood home Jan. 29, during the deadliest January for Chicago since 2002, pastors, parents and activists have demanded that more be done about the city's violence.

First lady Michelle Obama attended Hadiya's funeral Saturday. Hadiya's mother, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, will also attend the president's State of the Union speech on Tuesday, family spokeswoman Shatira Wilks said late Sunday.

Hadiya's godmother, LaKeisha Stewart, said she hasn't heard whether the president will spend time with the Pendletons during his trip to Chicago.

Stewart said she's happy about Obama's plans. "Any awareness that can be brought to this issue that can prevent any family from ever feeling the pain that we as a family have felt … is awesome," she said. "This city is in pain right now."

Nathaniel Pendleton, Hadiya's father, said his family didn't know much about the president's Chicago trip, but "if he decided to speak with us, we'll be more than happy."

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said the president's remarks in Chicago will play a different role than Michelle Obama's attendance at Hadiya's funeral. The first lady didn't speak publicly about the events surrounding the teenager's death.

"Her being there is very important since it was her neighborhood," Jackson said. "I think the president's coming is important because she did not deal with the politics. … She dealt with the calming concern for a broken-hearted family," he said.

Jackson made a public appeal this month for the president to speak to the bloodshed in Chicago.

Because of the upcoming visit, parents of children who have been shot to death in the city will finally feel heard by Obama, said Annette Nance-Holt, who lost her son Blair Holt in 2007 after he was shot on a crowded CTA bus.

"This sends a message to the parents here that their kids are important too," Holt said. "It may not have been a big shooting with an assault rifle. But to see (Obama) come and hopefully rally some support here means a lot."

The White House said the president's visits to Asheville, N.C., Atlanta and Chicago this week will also press issues that he will raise in his State of the Union speech Tuesday.

"The president will travel to Chicago for an event amplifying some of the policy proposals included in the State of the Union that focus on strengthening the economy for the middle class and the Americans striving to get there," a White House official said in a statement.

Clergy on Sunday praised Obama's decision to speak in Chicago, arguing his speech could bring greater attention to the killings plaguing communities here.

"Hopefully and prayerfully, his coming will make a real impact," said the Rev. Kenneth Giles of Second Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church in the South Austin neighborhood. "Now that the nation is focused on (gun violence), maybe they will hear his voice and hear what he has to say."

The Rev. Michael Pfleger, senior pastor of the South Side's St. Sabina Catholic Church, said he's grateful the president is "zooming in" on the issue.

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Gunbattle rocks Gao after rebels surprise French, Malians

GAO, Mali (Reuters) - Islamist insurgents launched a surprise raid in the heart of the Malian town of Gao on Sunday, battling French and local troops in a blow to efforts to secure Mali's recaptured north.

Local residents hid in their homes or crouched behind walls as the crackle of gunfire from running street battles resounded through the sandy streets and mud-brick houses of the ancient Niger River town, retaken from Islamist rebels last month by a French-led offensive.

French helicopters clattered overhead and fired on al Qaeda-allied rebels armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades who had infiltrated the central market area and holed up in a police station, Malian and French officers said.

The fighting inside Gao was certain to raise fears that pockets of determined Islamists who have escaped the lightning four-week-old French intervention in Mali will strike back with guerrilla attacks and suicide bombings.

After driving the bulk of the insurgents from major northern towns such as Timbuktu and Gao, French forces are trying to search out their bases in the remote and rugged Adrar des Ifoghas mountains, far up in the northeast.

But with Mali's weak army unable to secure recaptured zones, and the deployment of a larger African security force slowed by delays and kit shortages, vast areas to the rear of the French forward lines now look vulnerable to guerrilla activity.

"They infiltrated the town via the river. We think there were about 10 of them. They were identified by the population and they went into the police station," said General Bernard Barrera, commander of French ground operations in Mali.

He told reporters in Gao that French helicopters had intervened to help Malian troops pinned down by the rebels, who threw grenades from rooftops.

Malian gendarme Colonel Saliou Maiga told Reuters the insurgents intended to carry out suicide attacks in the town.


No casualty toll was immediately available. But a Reuters reporter in Gao saw one body crumpled over a motorcycle. Malian soldiers said some of the raiders may have come on motorbikes.

The gunfire in Gao erupted hours after French and Malian forces reinforced a checkpoint on the northern outskirts that had been attacked for the second time in two days by a suicide bomber.

Abdoul Abdoulaye Sidibe, a Malian parliamentarian from Gao, said the rebel infiltrators were from the MUJWA group that had held the town until French forces liberated it late last month.

MUJWA is a splinter faction of al Qaeda's North African wing AQIM which, in loose alliance with the home-grown Malian Islamist group Ansar Dine, held Mali's main northern urban areas for 10 months until the French offensive drove them out.

Late on Saturday, an army checkpoint in Gao's northern outskirts came under attack by a group of Islamist rebels who fired from a road and bridge that lead north through the desert scrub by the Niger River to Bourem, 80 km (50 miles) away.

"Our soldiers came under heavy gunfire from jihadists from the bridge ... At the same time, another one flanked round and jumped over the wall. He was able to set off his suicide belt," Malian Captain Sidiki Diarra told reporters.

The bomber died and one Malian soldier was lightly wounded, he added. In Friday's motorbike suicide bomber attack, a Malian soldier was also injured.

Diarra described Saturday's bomber as a bearded Arab.

Since Gao and the UNESCO World Heritage city of Timbuktu were retaken last month, several Malian soldiers have been killed in landmine explosions on a main road leading north.

French and Malian officers say pockets of rebels are still in the bush and desert between major towns and pose a threat of hit-and-run guerrilla raids and bombings.

"We are in a dangerous zone... we can't be everywhere," a French officer told reporters, asking not to be named.

One local resident reported seeing a group of 10 armed Islamist fighters at Batel, just 10 km (6 miles) from Gao.


The French, who have around 4,000 troops in Mali, are now focusing their offensive operations several hundred kilometers (miles) north of Gao in a hunt for the Islamist insurgents.

On Friday, French special forces paratroopers seized the airstrip and town of Tessalit, near the Algerian border.

From here, the French, aided by around 1,000 Chadian troops in the northeast Kidal region, are expected to conduct combat patrols into the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains.

The remaining Islamists are believed to have hideouts and supply depots in a rugged, sun-blasted range of rocky gullies and caves, and are also thought to be holding at least seven French hostages previously seized in the Sahel.

The U.S. and European governments back the French-led operation as a defense against Islamist jihadists threatening wider attacks, but rule out sending their own combat troops.

To accompany the military offensive, France and its allies are urging Mali authorities to open a national reconciliation dialogue that addresses the pro-autonomy grievances of northern communities like the Tuaregs, and to hold democratic elections.

Interim President Dioncounda Traore, appointed after a military coup last year that plunged the West African state into chaos and led to the Islamist occupation of the north, has said he intends to hold elections by July 31.

But he faces splits within the divided Malian army, where rival units are still at loggerheads.

(Additional reporting by Tiemoko Diallo and Adama Diarra in Bamako; Writing by Joe Bavier and Pascal Fletcher; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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