Abbas signs onto International Criminal Court after U.N. loss

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas listens to a question during a media briefing at the Union Building in PretoriaBy Noah Browning RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed on to 20 international agreements on Wednesday, including the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), a day after a bid for independence by 2017 failed at the United Nations Security Council. The move, which angered Israel and the United States, paves the way for the court to take jurisdiction over crimes committed in Palestinian lands and investigate the conduct of Israeli and Palestinian leaders over more than a decade of bloody conflict. …

Sydney spectacular leads New Year celebrations – Millions ring in 2015 with fireworks, concerts and light shows

APTOPIX Australia New Years EveHONG KONG: A huge display of fireworks lit up Hong Kong early today with brilliant bursts of color over Victoria Harbor as the Chinese city rang in 2015 in spectacular style, launching the party for millions across Asia.

From New Delhi to Dubai, Johannesburg, New York and Rio, millions around the world will celebrate when the clock ticks past midnight, ringing in 2015 with fireworks displays, concerts and light shows.

In Hong Kong, hundreds of thousands of people crowded the city’s promenades to watch the eight-minute pyrotechnic display after a year which had seen busy thoroughfares paralyzed by pro-democracy protests in the final months of 2014.

“I think a more peaceful year would be good for everybody,” said Louis Ho, 65. Students on one promenade handed out free hugs. Earlier, Australia’s biggest city kicked off the global New Year celebrations with a massive fireworks display that lit up Sydney Harbour, defying terrorist fears days after a deadly siege.

Tons of fireworks exploded over the harbor, watched by a crowd estimated at more than one million, streaming across the sky in one of the world’s first major celebrations to ring in the new year. “We are celebrating that we are a multicultural, harmonious community but we will be thinking about what happened,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said in reference to the drama when an Iranian-born gunman with a history of violence and extremism took 17 hostages in a cafe. Two hostages and the gunman died.

In the aftermath of the siege, Prime Minister Tony Abbott warned that “the terror threat remains high and… at this level, an attack is likely”. But the fireworks display went ahead without incident.

Remembrance for lost AirAsia flight
In China, Beijing’s bid to stage the 2022 Winter Olympics was to be the theme of celebrations. Concert pianist Lang Lang will be the star performer at an extravaganza at Olympic Park. The Chinese capital has held New Year countdowns at the historic Temple of Heaven since 2011, but has moved the event to the site of the 2008 summer games to raise the profile of its winter Olympics bid.

In Taiwan the landmark skyscraper Taipei 101 was at the centre of celebrations, with performances by pop singers and a firework display at midnight expected to attract hundreds of thousands.

And in Japan, the Meiji Jingu shrine in Tokyo brought out stocks of lucky charms and set up large offertory boxes as it prepared to welcome a huge wave of worshippers overnight. The huge shrine expects three million visitors in the first three days of the new year. Hundreds of revellers were due to gather around a popular British-colonial era shopping arcade in central Delhi to greet the New Year, braving unusually chilly weather. Pubs and eateries were festooned with fairy lights and brightly colored balloons.

But in Malaysia, a sombre mood prevailed after the crash of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 carrying 162 people in Indonesia and flooding in the country’s northeast which has displaced almost 250,000 people.

Year-end countdown celebrations have been cancelled, with many companies instead launching fundraising campaigns for flood victims. In Indonesia, Surabaya was holding a candlelight vigil in the hours leading up till midnight to remember the people on the plane which departed that city on Sunday. In Afghanistan, the last French troops in the country held a ceremony in Kabul to mark the end of their deployment after NATO combat operations closed down as a new “train and support” mission takes over.

Hasselhoff in Berlin
The end of another era will be remembered in Berlin with “Baywatch” star David Hasselhoff joining a huge open air concert in front of the Brandenburg Gate, where he famously sang for freedom after the Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago. Dubai has promised to dazzle again with a pyrotechnic and lights show at Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower.

In Paris, the Champs-Elysees will be reserved for pedestrians to let them watch a visual spectacle projected onto the Arc de Triomphe 15 minutes before the start of the new year.

The ticking of the clock past midnight will be significant for Lithuania as it adopts the euro. Another Baltic state, Latvia, takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union, putting it on the front line of negotiations with neighboring Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.

In Spain, millions of revellers will descend on Madrid’s Puerta del Sol while in Barcelona a massive fireworks display will be held. London stages New Year’s Eve fireworks along the Thames and Edinburgh will be holding its traditional Hogmanay street party.

Marking 2015 on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, more than two million people are expected to attend a huge fireworks show that will open celebrations marking 450 years since the founding of the city. And in New York about one million revellers are expected to descend on Times Square to watch the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop. -AFP

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Palestinians turn to ICC after UN bid fails

UN-ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS-CONFLICT-VOTERAMALLAH: President Mahmud Abbas yesterday signed a Palestinian request to join the International Criminal Court, seeking a new avenue for action against Israel after a failed UN resolution on ending the occupation. The Palestinians hope ICC membership will pave the way for war crimes prosecutions against Israeli officials for their actions in the occupied territories.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu swiftly hit back, saying the Palestinians have “more to fear” than Israel from the Hague-based court. He cited the Palestinian leadership’s links to Hamas, the militant group which Israel describes as a “terrorist organization” and which is part of a unity government with Abbas’s Fatah movement. The ICC can prosecute individuals accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and Palestinian plans to become a party to the court have been strongly opposed by Israel and the United States.

Abbas signed the request along with applications to join 20 other international conventions during a meeting broadcast live on Palestinian television. It came one day after the UN Security Council rejected a resolution on ending the Israeli occupation. The resolution would have set a 12-month deadline for Israel to reach a final peace deal with the Palestinians, and called for a full withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Palestinian territories by the end of 2017.

Israel hailed the rejection as a victory, saying it dealt a blow to Palestinian efforts to diplomatically “embarrass and isolate” the Jewish state. The Palestinians denounced as “outrageously shameful” the failure of the text to win the necessary nine votes for passage.

French envoy summoned
Council heavyweights China, France and Russia were among eight countries voting in favour, while the United States and Australia voted against. Nigeria, which had been expected to support the resolution, was among five abstentions, which included Britain, Rwanda, Lithuania and South Korea.

Nigeria had assured the Palestinians it would support them, but abstained after lobbying efforts by Israel and Washington.  Israel yesterday summoned the French ambassador, saying it was “disappointed and perplexed” by his country’s support for the UN resolution. The failure to win the nine votes necessary for adoption spared Washington having to wield its veto, which would have caused it embarrassment with key Arab allies.

But it was also a diplomatic blow for the Palestinians, who had counted on the symbolic victory of nine votes, even though the resolution would in all likelihood have been vetoed by the United States. Speaking Wednesday, Netanyahu extended his special thanks to Nigeria and Rwanda. “This is what tipped the scales,” he said.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the resolution’s failure “should teach the Palestinians that provocations and attempts to force Israel into unilateral processes will not achieve anything-quite the opposite.” But Russia denounced the outcome of the UN vote as “a strategic error.” Arab League chief Nabil Al-Arabi also expressed regret, criticizing the

African nations that abstained and pledging to continue “intensive Arab diplomatic activity” in support of the Palestinian cause. The Palestinians reacted furiously to the vote.  “The UN Security Council vote is outrageously shameful,” said senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi. “Those countries that abstained demonstrated a lack of political will to hold Israel accountable and to act in accordance with the global rule of law and international humanitarian law.” The Islamist movement Hamas blamed Abbas for the setback, demanding he  “make good” on threats to cut security cooperation with Israel and join the ICC. -AFP

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India halts KD720 bank guarantee

headline3KUWAIT: The India government has decided to suspend the KD720 bank guarantee measure that was implemented for the welfare of the Indian domestic workers coming to Kuwait, an Indian embassy press release here said.

“After discussing this issue with Kuwaiti authorities, it has been agreed to suspend with effect from 12 December 2014 taking any bank guarantees from sponsors in Kuwait, while keeping in abeyance the attestation of employment contracts of Indian female domestic workers,” the press release said.

Indian and Kuwaiti sides are constantly engaged in finding a long-term resolution of this issue. India implemented the KD 720 bank guarantee measure in September 2014.

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Seven tips to reduce eye puffiness

lifestyleWe’ve all went through ups and downs with our skin. We sometimes realise that we are exhausted and overworking ourselves by noticing the changes in our skin and overall appearance. That’s when you know you are definitely overwhelmed. Having enough sleep and drinking enough water are essential to having good energy levels, and which can affect your wellbeing in the future.

Ever noticed your eyes being puffy first thing in the morning, or at the end of the day? This is definitely a sign of exhaustion. First thing you can do about this is figure out a way to organise your time and day better. We all need some “me time” every now and then. Pampering yourself is never something you should feel guilty about, if you love yourself you can love others. If you’re healthy and well, you can take care of others. Always start with yourself! (Since this is the beginning of a new year, add this to your list of resolutions!)

How to reduce under eye puffiness:
The easiest way to get rid of under eye puffiness is water. Drinking more water will not only get rid of the toxins in your body, but it will also reduce the swelling by hydrating your body. 8-10 glasses of water a day is considered a good amount of water to drink daily.

Cold spoons: Grab two spoons and let them chill in the fridge for about 10 minutes, then place them on your eyes for a few minutes till the spoons get warm. This will relief the puffiness as well as tighten the skin around your eyes for a more fresh and awake look.

Tea Bags: Green or plain black tea bags both do well for puffy eyes. They also relief the redness and are anti-irritant. You can do this by soaking tea bags in hot water for 10-15 minutes then lay down and place them on your eyes. You can do this a few times a day. ( Also works for any eye infections)

Cucumbers: We’re used to seeing those at spas, but you should also try these at home. Cut up some chilled cucumbers to help you tighten the skin around your eye and reduce inflammation, place them over your eyes for 10-15 minutes, you can also do this several times a day.

Cold Water: After a sleepless night, splash your face with ice cold water throughout the day. You can also crush up some ice and put it in a plastic bag, wrap it in a washcloth or towel and place it on your eyes to reduce swelling by constricting your blood vessels.

Salt Water: Now, a few of you might feel hesitant trying this, because you can simply burn your eye, but it really isn’t that scary! Salt water gets rid of fluid retention (this is when fluid is absorbed in your tissues, causing swelling), which means less puffiness. All you have to do is, mix half a teaspoon of salt in warm water. Soak cotton balls with the salt water and place them on your eyes (closed of course!).

Aloe Vera : Aloe Vera is known its many purposes in the beauty world. I’ve even used it to reduce any burns from tanning. The Vitamin E and antioxidants also reduces wrinkles and fine lines. Use aloe vera gel under your eyes to make the swelling go away, make sure it doesn’t go into your eyes.

Strawberries: Look smoother and younger with strawberries! The acid in the strawberries helps you get healthier skin too! This is also fun to do, because I usually do this and end up eating the strawberries! Put some strawberries in the fridge for about 30 minutes, then cut them into thick pieces or have them whole and place them on your eyes for as long as you want. They smell and feel good so doing this daily isn’t harmful either.

At the end of the day, all of these remedies can improve your appearance for a day or two, however, taking care of yourself and actually listening to your body is what will improve your overall health in the far future. I am probably the worst person to type about this because I too sometimes exhaust myself till I don’t even look like the same person! But, no one will take care of you other than yourself, and being healthy is the most important thing in life. We sometimes take advantage of the fact that we are healthy and well, forgetting about those who are less fortunate. So, let’s make it a priority this new year to put us first, if not, always make time for ourselves.

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Deportation rumors keep expats in jitters – MoI officials seeks to allay fears

382936MOILogoKUWAIT: As the country ushered in New Year, the expats in Kuwait, who make up about 70 percent of the country’s population, remained in jitters as rumors about new deportation rules gripped communities in the country. For the last one week, the local media has been springing surprises on a daily basis with reports about new regulations or proposals by the government to harass, penalize and eventually deport expats. To make matters worse, rumors are float across social media networks about the purported government moves to curtail the number of expat labor force in Kuwait by bringing about new drastic measures.

One of the rumors that has unnerved people is about the reported punishment of deportation for parking a vehicle in a slot that is earmarked for the handicapped. A KD10 was previously charged for this traffic offence. But now the violation will result in towing away the vehicle along with confiscation of documents including driving license.

Major Naser Buslaib, Head of the Security Media Department at the Ministry of Interior explained that the ministry applies the same measure on citizens as well and the news was nothing but rumors. “The Traffic law set deportation for expats for three serious offences, such as drunk driving, crossing red light and overspeeding. This rules were issued many years ago. Parking in the place of a disabled is not one of these violations and was not added to it. So if the expat committed two serious traffic violations, he may be ready for deportation after the third one,” he told the Kuwait Times.

Ineffective measure
Another scary news about deporting expats for barbecuing on seaside was published two days ago in the local press. According to an official in the Kuwait Municipality who sought to stay anonymous said this is still a proposal and was not applied yet. He thinks that such proposal is not effective and may even cause more problems.

“The fine for barbecuing on beaches was increased from KD 5 up to KD 100. Yet people didn’t stop this habit or refrain from barbecuing. This is due to the negligence of the municipality inspectors who are not doing their job properly. So what’s the use of increasing the penalty if it is not executed properly,” he asked. “I even believe that this may cause more problems for inspectors who go to implement this rule. The erring person can even attack the officer in defiance if he thinks that he will be deported eventually, ” he said.

The official also narrated the story behind the proposal. “The Director General of Kuwait Municipality Ahmad Al-Subaih came with this proposal after receiving a complaint from a woman who sustained burns from the burning charcoal after she fell asleep on a beachside. She showed medical reports to Al-Subaih stating that she sustained charcoal burns due to barbecuing. After listening to her story, Al-Subaih decided to propose the rule. But I believe if the fines are imposed rigorously, nobody would dare to violate the rule,” he said.

No mistreatment
Meanwhile, Director of Public Relations and Security Information Brig Adel Al-Hashash denied that expats were being mistreated in cases of deportation saying that nobody was being deported without a proper crime punishable under Kuwaiti law. He also denied any plan to deport expats on a selective basis during celebrations of New Year’s eve.

There are orders to ensure security year round especially in areas frequented by families for entertainment, Hashash said in statements published by Al-Rai yesterday. He added that policemen are working on protecting the country and people against any violations.

Hashash said the Interior Ministry prepared an integrated plan to patrol different areas. Detectives will patrol all areas including farms, jakhoors, cafes and restaurants. He asked citizens and expats to cooperate with the instructions of the police. The official said the government will apply the law on all without any discrimination during New Year celebrations.

By Nawara Fattahova

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5 things to know: Obama health law again in play

healthWASHINGTON: New episodes in the nation’s long-running political drama over health care are coming via your news feed in 2015. The fate of President Barack Obama’s health care law again hangs in the balance as the Supreme Court weighs another legal challenge to the program, now covering millions of people. And a Republican-led Congress prepares for more votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, ignoring threatened vetoes by the president. Five things to know about health care in the year ahead:

The main event
The biggest health care news of 2015 probably won’t come from Congress or the White House, but the Supreme Court. The court has agreed to hear another lawsuit that goes to the heart of Obama’s strategy for providing health insurance to people who can’t get coverage through their jobs.  The case will be argued early in March, with a decision expected late in June.

The plaintiffs contend that the law as written only allows the government to subsidize coverage in states that have set up their own their own health insurance markets, or exchanges. With Washington currently running the markets in 37 states, much of the law’s coverage expansion could unravel if the Supreme Court agrees. It would be a moment of truth for the law’s opponents and its supporters alike.

Does anybody have a plan B?
If the Supreme Court rules against Obama, both sides would need a fallback plan, and quickly. Opponents of the health care law would face the prospect of more than 4 million people losing federal subsidies that cover about 75 percent of their premiums. Most of those consumers would wind up uninsured again, and presumably none too happy.

The president would have to contemplate going hat-in-hand to the Republican leadership of Congress to ask for fixes to his signature legislation, possibly opening up other contentious issues in the law. Republican governors and state legislators would have a choice, too. They could establish insurance exchanges, or watch many of their constituents lose coverage.

Repeal-a-thon
With the Senate and the House both under Republican leadership, expect dozens more congressional votes to repeal “Obamacare,” whether in whole or in part. It’s not clear that full repeal can get through the Senate, where Democrats retain sufficient strength to block legislation by using procedural maneuvers.

But some provisions of the law are also unpopular with significant numbers of Democrats, and bills to roll those back may emerge from Congress. Examples: a requirement that 30 hours per week counts as fulltime employment, a tax on medical device manufacturers, and a Medicare cost control board.

Thought health care was complicated? Try taxes
Obama’s health care law uses the income tax system to deliver carrots and sticks. The subsidies that have made premiums affordable for millions are distributed as tax credits. And the penalties imposed on those who ignore the law’s mandate to get health insurance are collected as additional taxes.

In 2015, the law’s connection to the tax system will become clearer for most people. All taxpayers will have to report on their 2014 tax return whether or not they had insurance. Those who got subsidies will have to show they got the right amount. If they received too much, their refunds will get dinged. Those who remained uninsured will either have to pay the taxman, or show that they qualify for an exemption. Tax preparation companies are expecting lots of new business.

How many covered, anyway?
At last count, about 6.7 million people got private coverage through the insurance exchanges in 2014. Another 9.7 million got on Medicaid, the insurance program for low-income people, expanded under the law by more than half the states. Some of those people would have switched from other coverage.

Still, the number of uninsured Americans has dropped significantly – by more than 10 million people as of mid-2014. While the economic recovery doubtless contributed, Obama’s law does seem to be delivering on a core promise.-AP

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88-year-old Essebsi sworn in Tunisia president

middleast2TUNIS: Anti-Islamist Beji Caid Essebsi, 88, was sworn in as Tunisia’s first freely elected president yesterday, four years after an uprising that triggered the Arab Spring. The election of Essebsi, a veteran of previous regimes, is seen as a landmark for the North African nation, where longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was toppled in 2011.

Essebsi’s victory over outgoing president Moncef Marzouki capped Tunisia’s sometimes troubled transition to democracy and has won praise from Western leaders. Essebsi told parliament after a swearing-in ceremony that he would be “the president of all Tunisians” and “the guarantor of national unity”.

“There is no future for Tunisia without consensus among political parties and members of civil society,” he said. “There is no future for Tunisia without national reconciliation.” Essebsi also attended a handover ceremony at the presidential palace where he was embraced by the outgoing leader.

Marzouki, an exiled human rights activist during Ben Ali’s rule, was elected president at the end of 2011 by an interim assembly under a coalition deal with the then-ruling moderate Islamist movement Ennahda. Opponents have accused Essebsi of seeking a return to the era of Ben Ali, who clung to power for 23 years, combining authoritarian rule with a degree of prosperity and stability for his people.

During campaigning the new leader accused Marzouki of representing the Islamists, whom he says have “ruined” the country since the revolution, and many voters appeared to be seeking a return to stability. Following independence from France in 1956, Essebsi became an adviser to the country’s founding father and first president, Habib Bourguiba, holding a number of key jobs under him and then Ben Ali.

He later returned to the public stage as a supporter of the 2011 uprising and served as prime minister briefly after Ben Ali’s ouster while elections were organised for the interim assembly.

‘Moment in history’
Essebsi’s Nidaa Tounes movement, which won landmark parliamentary elections in October, includes many members of Ben Ali’s old ruling party. Even so, the anti-Islamist lawyer has vowed a fresh start for Tunisia. Essebsi took 55.68 percent of the presidential vote in a December 21 runoff against Marzouki-the first time Tunisians have freely elected their head of state since independence in 1956.

Parliament speaker Mohamed Ennaceur described the oath-taking ceremony as “an exceptional moment in history”. The revolution that began in Tunisia spread to many parts of the Arab world, with mass protests in Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

In every country except Tunisia the revolution was followed by violent turmoil or, as in Syria’s case, a devastating civil war. Essebsi and the new government will face major challenges. Tunisia’s economy is struggling to recover from the upheaval of the revolution and there is a growing threat from militants long suppressed under Ben Ali. Essebsi said it was his duty to address economic problems “to realize the promises of the revolution: dignity, employment, health and regional equality.”

One of Essebsi’s first tasks will be to instruct his party to form a government with a prime minister able to command a majority in parliament. His party failed to secure an absolute majority in the October polls, winning 86 of 217 seats. Ennahda, which came second, has not ruled out joining a governing coalition. Tunisian newspapers urged the new leadership to uphold the dreams of the revolution. “All the vicissitudes of history during the past 40 years show the importance of respect for human rights,” Le Temps said.

It said there was “no question of backtracking on respect for freedoms”. La Presse said Tunisia’s experience showed that “democracy is compatible with Arab-Muslim culture”. It added: “Now we must demonstrate that this democracy can be turned into economic opportunity and prosperity.” – AFP

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Lakers stop Nuggets, Cavs stumble

Damian Lillard, Kyle LowryDENVER: Kobe Bryant had 23 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds for his 21st career triple-double, and the Los Angeles Lakers held off the Denver Nuggets 111-103 Tuesday night to end a three-game losing streak. Bryant shot 6 of 11 from the floor, giving him 25,000 field goal attempts for his career. The only players who’ve attempted more shots in NBA history are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (28,307) and Karl Malone (26,210), according to STATS.

The Lakers star played nearly 32 minutes in his second game back. He missed three games around Christmas because of overall soreness. Carlos Boozer had 19 points and Ronnie Price added a season-high 18.Ty Lawson and Jusuf Nurkic both finished with 16 points for the Nuggets, who have lost four of five.

HAWKS 109, CAVALIERS 101
Paul Millsap took over for Atlanta in the fourth quarter to help hold off a Cleveland comeback, and the Hawks beat the Cavaliers, who were without LeBron James. James, celebrating his 30th birthday, was held out with a sore left knee. The Hawks led by 17 points early in the second half but had to hold off a comeback by Cleveland, which got 35 points from Kyrie Irving.

After a jam by Tristan Thompson cut the Atlanta lead to 93-90, Millsap scored Atlanta’s next eight points. Millsap led the Hawks with 26 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. Jeff Teague had 23 points and 11 assists, and Kyle Korver sank five 3-pointers while scoring 19 points. Thompson had 18 points and 13 rebounds for Cleveland. James’ status is day to day.

GRIZZLIES 95, SPURS 87
Mike Conley had 30 points and six assists, and Marc Gasol added 17 points to help Memphis defeat San Antonio. Conley connected on 10 of 13 from the field, and missed only one of his five shots from outside the arc as the Grizzlies won their second straight and claimed at least a tie with the Spurs in the season series. Tayshaun Prince added 12 points for Memphis. Marco Belinelli and Cory Joseph scored 18 apiece for the Spurs. San Antonio went 5 of 22 from outside the arc.

WARRIORS 126, 76ERS 86
Marreese Speights scored 23 points, Stephen Curry added 13 points and nine assists, and Golden State beat Philadelphia. Draymond Green had 10 points and 10 rebounds and Leandro Barbosa scored 17 off the bench for the Warriors, who won their 10th straight home game to improve to an NBA-best 25-5.

Golden State led by as many as 47 in a game that was even more lopsided than the final score. Warriors coach Steve Kerr pulled his starters early in the fourth quarter, only to see his reserves add to the lead. Henry Sims had 19 points and seven rebounds for Philadelphia. The 76ers (4-26) have dropped three straight following back-to-back road wins over Miami and Orlando.

MAVERICKS 114, WIZARDS 87
Monta Ellis scored 20 points in 27 minutes, and Dallas handed Washington its most lopsided loss of the season. Nine of Ellis’ points came in the final 2:35 of the second quarter, when the Mavericks outscored the Wizards 36-21 for a 63-45 halftime lead. He shot 8 of 15 and finished with four steals without playing in the fourth quarter.

The Mavericks’ 10 straight wins over Washington represent their longest active winning streak against any team. Chandler Parsons had 14 points, Dirk Nowitzki added 13 despite shooting 2 for 8 from the field, and Rajon Rondo had 11 points and five assists. Washington’s John Wall had 11 points and eight assists. Dallas, which forced 23 turnovers, extended its winning streak to three games and ended the Wizards’ three-game winning streak.

TRAIL BLAZERS 102, RAPTORS 97
Damian Lillard had 26 points and nine assists to help Portland rally past Toronto in overtime. LaMarcus Aldridge, who returned after missing three of the last four games because of an upper respiratory illness, had 23 points and 13 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who won their fourth straight.

The Blazers (26-7) rallied in the fourth quarter after trailing by 13 points, but Amir Johnson’s short jumper for the Raptors tied the game at 87 and sent it to overtime. Portland took a 96-90 lead in the extra period on consecutive 3-pointers from Lillard, Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum. Kyle Lowry finished with 24 points, and James Johnson had 14 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double of the season for Toronto (24-8).

PELICANS 110, SUNS 106
Tyreke Evans scored 24 points, including eight straight for New Orleans in the final 2 minutes, and the Pelicans stopped Phoenix’s winning streak at six games. Anthony Davis had 19 points with a season-high 18 rebounds, and Jrue Holiday scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half for New Orleans.

Evans’ step-back jumper with 49.9 seconds left, coupled with a late steal by Dante Cunningham, helped the Pelicans hang on. The Pelicans made their last eight free throws after hitting only 10 of their previous 21 attempts. Goran Dragic led Phoenix with 22 points, and Eric Bledsoe added 21.

NETS 96, BULLS 82
Brook Lopez had a season-high 29 points, Joe Johnson had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Brooklyn snapped Chicago’s seven-game winning streak. Lopez, playing his fifth game since returning from a lower back strain, started in place of Kevin Garnett and was 13 for 21 from the field.

Johnson was 8 for 14. Mike Dunleavy led the Bulls with 23 points on 9-for-15 shooting, including 5 of 9 on 3-pointers. Jimmy Butler, who averaged 26.4 points during the winning streak, had just eight points. Derrick Rose managed only four. Brooklyn had just one previous win this season against a team with a winning record.

PISTONS 109, MAGIC 86
Jodie Meeks scored a season-high 34 points off the bench, shooting 9 for 11 on 3-pointers, and Andre Drummond added 17 points and 22 rebounds to lead Detroit over Orlando.

Drummond, the NBA’s No. 2 rebounder, sat out the final 14 minutes after coming within three rebounds of the league’s season high. The Pistons (8-23) have won three straight for the first time since February last season. Reserve guard D.J. Augustin had 11 points and 10 assists. Victor Oladipo led the Magic, who were also seeking a third straight win, with 16 points. Tobias Harris added 15 points and eight rebounds.

JAZZ 100, TIMBERWOLVES 94
Gordon Hayward scored 11 of his 26 points in the final 4 minutes to rally Utah past skidding Minnesota. Trey Burke set a career high with 26 points and Derrick Favors had 15. Before the game, the Jazz announced that starting guard Alec Burks will have shoulder surgery and miss the rest of the season. Shabazz Muhammad scored a career-best 30 points, including a jumper that gave the Timberwolves a 92-84 lead with 4:22 to play.

Utah then mounted its comeback with Hayward’s 3-pointer and a steal-and-dunk sequence. Hayward capped the 11-0 run that gave the Jazz their first lead of the fourth quarter with another steal and layup with 1:38 remaining. Andrew Wiggins scored 21 points but the Timberwolves have lost nine in a row – their worst skid since dropping 11 consecutive games in 2012. Meanwhile the Jazz have won six of eight, extending their best stretch of the season.-AP

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