Storm dumps more than a foot of snow in Northeast; flights canceled, schools send kids home
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A swirling storm clobbered parts of the mid-Atlantic and the urban Northeast on Tuesday, dumping a foot or more of snow, grounding thousands of flights, closing government offices in the nation's capital and making a mess of the evening commute.
The storm stretched 1,000 miles between Kentucky and Massachusetts but hit especially hard along the heavily populated Interstate 95 corridor between Philadelphia and Boston, creating perilous rides home for millions of motorists.
The National Weather Service said Manalapan, N.J., got 13 inches of snow and Philadelphia got a foot. It said parts of New York City had 10 inches.
The snow came down harder and faster than many people expected. A blizzard warning was posted for parts of Massachusetts, including Cape Cod.
Highways in the New York City metropolitan area were jammed, and blowing snow tripled or even quadrupled drive times.
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife indicted on federal corruption charges
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, once viewed as a rising star in the GOP, and his wife were indicted Tuesday on federal corruption charges accusing the couple of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in loans, shopping sprees, money for their daughter's wedding — and even a joyride in a Ferrari — from the owner of a company that makes health supplements.
The 14-count indictment portrays the former governor as deeply entrenched in credit card debt even before he took office and willing to accept lavish gifts from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams, who hoped the first couple's endorsement for his products would yield big profits for his company.
McDonnell appeared Tuesday night at a hastily called news conference in Richmond to strongly deny any wrongdoing and denounce what he said was an "unjust overreach" by federal prosecutors.
"I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams in exchange for what I believed was his personal friendship and his generosity," said McDonnell, who was flanked by his wife, daughter and son-in-law as he read from prepared remarks.
McDonnell vowed to "use every available resource and advocate" to fight the charges.
10 Things to Know for Today
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday:
1. BEHIND PEACE TALKS, A BLOODY BACKDROP
The Syrian conflict has evolved into one of the most savage civil wars in decades, making reconciliation ever more difficult.
Documents: Chicago archdiocese spent decades hiding priest sex abuse, putting children at risk
CHICAGO (AP) — Top leaders at the Archdiocese of Chicago helped hide the sexual abuse of children as they struggled to contain a growing crisis, according to thousands of pages of internal documents that raise new questions about how Cardinal Francis George handled the allegations even after the church adopted reforms.
The documents, released through settlements between attorneys for the archdiocese and victims, describe how priests for decades were moved from parish to parish while the archdiocese hid the clerics' histories from the public, often with the approval of the late Cardinals John Cody and Joseph Bernardin.
Although the abuse documented in the files occurred before George became archbishop in 1997, many victims did not come forward until after he was appointed and after U.S. bishops pledged in 2002 to keep all accused priests out of ministry.
George delayed removing the Rev. Joseph R. Bennett, despite learning that the priest had been accused of sexually abusing girls and boys decades earlier. Even the board the cardinal appointed to help him evaluate abuse claims advised George that Bennett should be removed.
"I realize this creates a rather awkward situation, but I believe I need to reflect on this matter further," George wrote in a Nov. 7, 2005, letter to an archdiocese child protection official. Also against the advice of his board, George had Bennett monitored by another priest who was a friend and who vacationed with Bennett.
Obama and Pope Francis to meet in the Vatican in March with focus on shared economic view
WASHINGTON (AP) — When President Barack Obama meets Pope Francis in the Vatican in March, both men will speak a common economic language rooted in similar views about poverty and income inequality, giving prominence to an issue that the U.S. president wants to be a central theme of his second term.
In the complicated relationship between the Obama administration and the Catholic Church, the White House sees the popular new pontiff and his emphasis on the plight of the poor as a form of moral validation of the president's economic agenda. When Obama delivered a major address on the economy last month, he cited the growth of inequality across the developed world and made sure to note that "the pope himself spoke about this at eloquent length."
The White House and the Vatican announced Tuesday that Obama will meet with the pope on March 27 during a four-day European trip that includes a nuclear security summit in the Netherlands and a U.S.-European Union summit in Brussels. The meeting is the first between the president and Pope Francis.
Obama had an audience with the previous pope, Benedict XVI, in July 2009. At the time, the Vatican underscored the deep disagreement between them on abortion. Benedict gave the president a copy of a Vatican document on bioethics that asserted the church's opposition to using embryos for stem cell research, cloning and in-vitro fertilization. Obama supports stem cell research.
Francis has made it clear that Catholic positions on homosexuality, same-sex marriage and abortion haven't changed.
Syria peace talks hyped as crucial, downplayed as incremental — often by the same people
MONTREUX, Switzerland (AP) — In nearly the same breath, the world's most powerful diplomats have talked about the importance of this week's peace conference on Syria and downplayed expectations for a breakthrough.
The timeframe for the talks is a week to 10 days, and then a break — but for what, and for how long?
Syria's Western-backed opposition and President Bashar Assad's handpicked representatives have never spoken face-to-face and it's not at all clear how much either side — or their proxy powerbrokers — really want an end to the war. A look at the goals of the participants and how the conference, which opens Wednesday, could unfold.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
New video of Toronto mayor Ford slurring his words emerges
TORONTO (AP) — A new video of Mayor Rob Ford emerged Tuesday that shows him swearing and slurring his words while apparently trying to imitate a Jamaican accent.
In the video — one of two new ones that have been posted on YouTube — Ford is shown in a fast food restaurant rambling and talking about police surveillance and calling police chief Bill Blair a derogatory name.
Ford, who said in November that he quit drinking, said outside his office Tuesday that he drank on Monday night "a little bit" and acknowledged it was him in the video. When asked if he also did drugs, Ford said no.
"I was with some friends and what I do in my personal life with my personal friends, that's up to me," Ford said. "It really has nothing to do with you guys."
Ford said he did not think the language he used was offensive or discriminatory.
ASU fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon under scrutiny for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day party
PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona State University fraternity's operations have been suspended following accusations that the local Tau Kappa Epsilon chapter hosted a distasteful party in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, replete with racist stereotypes and offensive costumes.
University officials planned to meet Tuesday with fraternity representatives regarding the off-campus party over the weekend.
"We regard the behavior exhibited as completely outrageous, extraordinarily offensive and wholly unacceptable," said James Rund, ASU's senior vice president for Educational Outreach and Student Services. "This kind of behavior is not tolerated by the university, and we intend to take swift and immediate action.
"We just don't have room at the university to tolerate that kind of conduct."
Alex Baker, a spokesman for the national fraternity organization, said the group does not condone racist or discriminatory behavior.
Words, words, words: 'Picture' book by 'The Office' actor B.J. Novak will be words only
NEW YORK (AP) — B.J. Novak has his own ideas about how to tell a children's story.
The actor and author known for his work on "The Office" has a deal with Penguin Young Readers Group for "The Book With No Pictures," billed as a "picture book" with words only. As Novak explained in a statement issued Tuesday by the publisher: Words are just as much fun as pictures. Plus, he can't draw.
"The Book With No Pictures" is scheduled for the fall. Next month, Alfred A. Knopf will publish Novak's debut fiction collection, "One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories." He is also under contract with Penguin for a second "picture" book, which may or may not have pictures.
The 34-year-old Novak appears as songwriter Robert Sherman in the film "Saving Mr. Banks."
Durant scores 14 of 46 in 4th quarter to lead Thunder past Trail Blazers, 105-97
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Kevin Durant scored 11 of his 46 points in the final 3:23 to help the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Portland Trail Blazers 105-97 on Tuesday night.
Durant has scored at least 30 points for eight consecutive games, the longest such streak of his career. He made 17 of 25 field goals, including 6 of 7 3-pointers.
Reggie Jackson added 15 points for Oklahoma City (32-10), which took a one-game lead over Portland in the Northwest Division. Portland had won the previous two meetings this season.
Oklahoma City improved to 9-5 since point guard Russell Westbrook was taken out of the lineup after having surgery on his right knee.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 29 points and 16 rebounds and Wesley Matthews added 21 points for Portland (31-11).