The world at 6 p.m. Times EST.
At the Nerve Center, news producers Amir Bibawy, Suzanne Boyle McCrory and Mike Stewart can be reached at 800-845-8450 (ext. 1600). For photos, Dan Goodman (ext. 1900). For graphics and interactives, ext. 7636. Expanded AP Content can be obtained from http://www.apexchange.com. For access to AP Exchange and other technical issues, contact customersupport(at)ap.org or call 877-836-9477. A selection of top photos can be found at http://bit.ly/APTopPhotos
NEW & DEVELOPING
— Adds KERRY-SYRIA, OBAMA-SPENDING CUTS, EGYPT.
— MENENDEZ — Sen. Robert Menendez defends actions that may have benefited donor, says no one can buy him.
— HAGEL — Senate chairman says GOP financial request to Hagel exceeds committee standards.
— JAPAN CONCERNS — Judo abuse scandal threatens to undermine Tokyo 2020 Olympic bid; federation suspends team.
— CONN CONGRESSMAN-LINCOLN — Conn. congressman welcomes 'Lincoln' screenwriter's concession on accuracy of slavery vote.
BOSTON — A storm that forecasters warn could be a blizzard for the history books begins spreading snow across the New York-to-Boston corridor, crippling air travel, closing offices and sending people rushing to get home and off the streets. Much of the region could get 1 to 3 feet of snow by Saturday morning. By Jay Lindsay.
AP photos, video.
— NORTHEAST SNOW-PHOTO GALLERY.
LA POLICE SHOOTINGS
BIG BEAR LAKE, Calif. — All that was left were footprints leading away from Christopher Dorner's burned-out pickup truck, and an enormous, snow-covered mountain packed with skiers and dotted with cabins that police need to search to find the former Los Angeles police officer suspected of killing three people in a rampage against those who wronged him. More than 100 officers in glass-enclosed snow machines and armored personnel carriers, and bloodhounds, are going door-to-door to find him in the frigid temperatures, aware that they could be walking into a trap set by well-trained former Navy reservist who knows their tactics as well as they do. By Tami Abdollah.
AP photos, video.
— LA POLICE SHOOTING-PROFILE — Christopher Dorner sees himself as a crusader, a 6-foot, 270-pound whistleblower who confronted racism early in life and believes he suffered in his career and personal life for challenging injustices from bigotry to dishonesty.
— POLICE SHOOTING-BIG BEAR-GLANCE — Big Bear Lake offers both a pleasant weekend getaway and a good place to hide.
— LA POLICE SHOOTING-TIMELINE.
HOUSTON — A hacker apparently accessed private photos and emails sent among members of the Bush family, including both former presidents, proving that even a retired commander in chief can fall prey to an electronic scam. The Secret Service was investigating the breach, which appeared to yield little more than a few family snapshots. But the incident illustrated how easily hackers can pry into private lives, even those of one of the nation's most prominent and closely protected clans. By Michael Graczyk.
GUN CONTROL-BACKGROUND CHECKS
WASHINGTON — A cornerstone of President Barack Obama's drive to check gun violence is gathering bipartisan steam. Four senators, including some of the National Rifle Association's staunchest allies — and foes — are privately seeking compromise on a proposal to require more gun buyers to undergo background checks. By Alan Fram.
AP photos, video, audio.
WASHINGTON — Lawmakers are considering whether Congress can set up a court to decide when drones can kill U.S. citizens overseas, much like the secret courts that now grant permission for surveillance. It's another sign of the U.S. philosophical struggle over remote warfare, raised after CIA head nominee John Brennan's vigorous defense of the drones. By Intelligence Writer Kimberly Dozier.
AGING AMERICA-ASSISTED SUICIDE
HARTFORD, Conn. — A push for the legalization of physician-assisted suicide is under way in a half dozen states where proponents say they see strong support for allowing doctors to prescribe mentally competent, dying individuals with the medications needed to end their lives. The number of baby boomers facing end-of-life issues themselves has made the issue more prominent in recent years. By Susan Haigh.
SUPER BOWL-POWER OUTAGE
NEW ORLEANS — Nearly a week after the lights went out at the Super Bowl, utility officials blame the outage on a piece of equipment that was installed expressly to prevent a blackout. The device, called a relay, apparently performed with no problems during January's Sugar Bowl and other earlier events. So how did it fail in the middle of the nation's most-watched sporting event? By Kevin McGill.
AP photos, video, graphic, interactive.
MORE ON THE NORTHEAST STORM
NORTHEAST SNOW-AIR TRAVEL
U.S. airlines are giving up on flying in and out of Northeast cities as a massive storm threatens to dump snow by the foot on the region. The carriers are shutting down operations at the three big New York-area airports as well as Boston, Providence, Portland, Maine, and other Northeastern airports. They're hoping to resume flights on Saturday. By Airlines Writer Joshua Freed.
— NORTHEAST SNOW-AIRLINES-Q&A — As the Northeast braces for its largest winter storm in more than a year, airlines are already employing a strategy that has served them well in recent years: Cancel flights early and keep planes and crews — and passengers — away from snowed-in airports.
WASHINGTON — Waiting for a big storm has become almost as hyped as the Oscars or Super Bowl. Because of better satellite imagery and more accurate computer models, we now know days ahead of time when a "big one" is about to hit and where. Just as they accurately forecast Superstorm Sandy well ahead of time, meteorologists are able to predict the blizzard headed for the Northeast. And some weather experts don't mind hyping the most extreme possible outcomes, adding to the buildup. By Science Writer Seth Borenstein.
NEW YORK — Phone companies are topping up fuel at cell-tower generators in Northeastern states, preparing for a storm that could bring power outages, and with them, a loss of cell service. By Peter Svensson.
— NORTHEAST SNOW-TELECOMS TIPS — How to stay connected during power outages.
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry says that the United States is evaluating new options to halt Syria's civil war, but he refuses to weigh into administration debates over whether to arm the rebels fighting President Bashar Assad's regime. By Bradley Klapper.
— OIL PIPELINE-KERRY — Kerry promises 'fair, transparent' review of planned Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.
WASHINGTON — Trying to ratchet up pressure on Congress, the White House details what it says would be the painful impact on the federal workforce and certain government assistance programs if "large and arbitrary" scheduled government spending cuts are allowed to take place beginning March 1. By Tom Raum.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. trade deficit narrowed sharply in December because exports rose while oil imports plummeted. The smaller trade gap means the economy almost surely grew in the October-December quarter — an improvement from the government's estimate last week that it shrank in the final months of 2012. The Commerce Department says the trade deficit fell nearly 21 percent in December, to $38.6 billion, the smallest in nearly three years. By Christopher S. Rugaber.
TUNIS, Tunisia — The funeral of a slain leftist politician draws hundreds of thousands of mourners chanting anti-government slogans — as well as gangs of armed youth who smash cars and clash with police just outside the cemetery. Tunisia's transition from dictatorship to democracy is being undermined by religious divides, political wrangling, rising crime and a struggling economy. By Bouzza Ben Bouzza and Greg Keller.
AP photos, video.
BEIRUT — Syrian rebels seize army checkpoints in northeast Damascus and cut a key highway with a row of burning tires as part of a campaign that fighters say is meant to secure their future assault on the heavily guarded capital. The clashes bring the fighting to within a mile of the heart of the city, the battle for which is considered the most likely endgame in the country's civil war. By Zeina Karam.
AP photos, video.
CAIRO — Egyptian security forces backed by water cannons fire tear gas at rock-throwing protesters outside the presidential palace in Cairo while demonstrators clash with riot police in cities across the country in marches against Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. By Maggie Michael.
PARIS — A former U.S. ambassador to Mali alleges that France paid a $17 million ransom to free hostages seized from a French mining site — cash she said ultimately funded the al-Qaida-linked Islamist militants its troops are now fighting. French officials deny paying any ransoms. By Lori Hinnant.
— MALI-FIGHTING — French forces surge into another town in north Mali, wresting it from Islamic insurgents. AP photos.
RIO DE JANEIRO — As samba queens get final touch-ups on their sequins and feathers and revelers take command of Rio's streets, Leo Name is hunkering down. The self-avowed Carnival Scrooge has stocked up on TV dinners and hopes he won't have to set foot outside his apartment during the five days of Carnival. Appalled by monumental street parties, many locals flee Rio or lock themselves away. By Jenny Barchfield.
NORFOLK, Va. — Over the course of two wars and more than 10 years, military families have gotten used to hearing that their loved ones will have to remain on missions longer than they'd planned. Now, just as relatives had begun to hope that the drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan might mean fewer extended deployments, the prospect of drastic defense spending cuts may force those who do ship out to stay gone for longer stretches. The added uncertainty has real-life consequences for families trying to figure out when they'll have to move in with relatives, cancel cell phone contracts and put their belongings in storage. By Brock Vergakis.
GOP GOVERNORS-HEALTH CARE
DES MOINES, Iowa — Once largely united in resisting the federal health care overhaul, more Republican governors are buying into parts of the system as the financial realities of their states' medical costs begin to counterbalance fierce election politics. Michigan's Rick Snyder this week became the sixth GOP governor to propose expanding state health care programs to cover more low-income residents, in line with the Democratic administration's strong recommendation. About two dozen Republican governors have rejected the idea or not announced a decision. By Thomas Beaumont.
CLEVELAND — Denying he ran an Amish cult, the 67-year-old ringleader in hair- and beard-cutting attacks on fellow members of his faith in Ohio is sentenced to 15 years in prison, while family members convicted of carrying out his orders get one to seven years. By Thomas J. Sheeran.
HELENA, Mont. — Just weeks after a University of Montana student claimed she was raped by the quarterback of the football team, the coach enthusiastically welcomed him back to spring drills and lauded his "character and tremendous moral fiber." The case has played out against a backdrop of NCAA and federal investigations of the school athletic department and the manner in which rape allegations are reported on campus and investigated by police. The situation has left some worried that the football program — while successful on the field — was out of control off it. By Amy Beth Hanson.
WALL STREET WEEK AHEAD
NEW YORK — It looks a little too familiar. Stocks scamper to historical heights to start the year then get knocked down. Last year, worries about Greece and the U.S. economy helped flatten a rally by June. The year before it was Japan's disaster and a political fight in Washington. This year, the stock market raced off to its best start since 1997. So, what could squash the good cheer this time? The same culprits: Europe and Washington. By Matthew Craft.
NEW YORK — The worst of the flu season appears to be over. The number of states reporting intense or widespread flu dropped again last week. By some measures, flu activity has been ebbing for at least four weeks. Deaths from the flu or pneumonia have been dropping for two weeks. By Medical Writer Mike Stobbe.
NY FASHION WEEK-DAY 2
NEW YORK — Mother Nature is clearly not a fashionista. An impending blizzard forces Michael Kors to arrive at New York Fashion Week's Project Runway show on Friday in — gasp — Uggs. Marc Jacobs postpones his Monday night show until Thursday, citing delivery problems, but for the most part Fashion Week goes on with the show. By Samantha Critchell.
ALSO GETTING ATTENTION
— NIGERIA-POLIO ATTACKS — Gunmen kill at least nine women taking part in a polio vaccination drive in Nigeria.
— AFGHAN-FASHION SHOW — Afghan models parade down a catwalk in a rare Kabul fashion show, part of a local group's efforts to empower women by breaking down barriers in this conservative Islamic society.
— PAPUA NEW GUINEA-SORCERY — Woman accused of witchcraft tortured and burned alive by mob in Papua New Guinea.
— CELEBRITY PRIVACY-HAWAII — Rock stars Steven Tyler, Mick Fleetwood attend Hawaii hearing on celebrity photo privacy bill. AP photos.