AP Top News at 5:06 a.m. EST

Millions hunker down as Northeast storm totals downgraded
NEW YORK (AP) - Tens of millions of people along the East Coast hunkered down for a storm that for most failed to live up to predictions that it would be one of the worst they'd ever seen. Forecasters originally said the storm could bring 1 to 3 feet of snow and punishing hurricane-force winds. But early Tuesday, they downgraded most of those numbers, saying New England would fare the worst, but even then not as bad as expected.


The latest on the Northeast snowstorm
4 A.M. Maine Gov. Paul LePage declares a state of emergency and announces that all state offices are closed Tuesday. LePage cites the forecast for winter storm and blizzard conditions, as well as the potential coastal flooding in southwest Maine.


Japan special envoy hopeful about release of hostage, pilot
TOKYO (AP) - A Japanese envoy in Jordan expressed hope that both Japanese hostage Kenji Goto and a Jordanian pilot held by Islamic militants will return home "with a smile on their faces," as questions rose Tuesday over the government's handling of the crisis. In the Jordanian capital, Amman, Deputy Foreign Minister Yasuhide Nakayama seemed determined, saying he believed there were "firm ties" between Japan and Jordan.


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Obama promotes religious and gender equity in India speech
NEW DELHI (AP) - President Barack Obama gently nudged India Tuesday to fulfill its constitution's pledge to uphold the "dignity of the individual," drawing on his own experience as a minority in the United States as he closed out a three-day visit to New Delhi. Obama said that while he has had extraordinary opportunities, "there were moments in my life where I've been treated differently because of the color of my skin." As he touted the importance of religious tolerance, he noted the persistent false rumors that he is a Muslim, not a Christian.


US loans fueled insider deal, failed power plan in Liberia
BUCHANAN, Liberia (AP) - A failed U.S. government-backed plan to produce environmentally friendly energy in one of Africa's poorest countries was marred by insider connections and questionable planning, an Associated Press investigation found. The federal agency at the center of the deal is one of the government's biggest secrets and routinely escapes public scrutiny. That agency, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, approved three loans totaling $217 million to help a company, Buchanan Renewables, convert nonproducing rubber trees into biomass chips that would help power Liberia.


Facebook: Internal glitch caused hour-long global outage
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Facebook said it suffered a self-inflicted outage lasting an hour on Tuesday that made its site inaccessible to users worldwide. The glitch reported in Asia, the United States, Australia and the U.K. affected access from PCs and Facebook's mobile app. The social media giant's Instagram service was also inaccessible.


Leaders mark Auschwitz liberation 70 years on without Putin
OSWIECIM, Poland (AP) - When the Soviet army entered Auschwitz exactly 70 years ago, finding piles of corpses and prisoners close to death, a Russian soldier took a small and hungry 11-year-old girl into his arms and rocked her tenderly, tears coming to his eyes. That girl, today the 81-year-old Paula Lebovics, doesn't know who that soldier was, but still feels enormous gratitude to him and the other Soviet soldiers who liberated the camp on Jan. 27, 1945.


US announces charges in New York Russian spy ring case
NEW YORK (AP) - Three Russian citizens were charged Monday in connection with a Cold War-style Russian spy ring that spoke in code, passed messages concealed in bags and magazines, and tried to recruit people with ties to an unnamed New York City university, authorities said. The defendants were directed by Russian authorities to gather sensitive economic intelligence on potential U.S. sanctions against Russian banks and efforts here to develop alternative energy resources, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan.


Obama leading delegation of US dignitaries to Saudi Arabia
NEW DELHI (AP) - President Barack Obama was leading a bipartisan delegation of lawmakers, senior U.S. officials and two former secretaries of state to Saudi Arabia Tuesday to pay respects to the royal family following King Abdullah's death. Obama cut short the final day of his visit to India to make the trip, departing New Delhi Tuesday afternoon without making his planned visit to the Taj Mahal. Obama's four-hour stop in Saudi Arabia was to include a meeting with new monarch King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud and a dinner with other Saudi officials.


Failed Iraqi bomber named in Islamic State hostage crisis
BEIRUT (AP) - In the moments after her husband blew himself up in the ballroom of a Jordanian hotel as part of an al-Qaida plot, Sajida al-Rishawi fled the scene of chaos wearing her own explosive belt. The 2005 assault on three hotels in Amman, the worst terror attack in Jordan's history, killed 60 people. Al-Rishawi, an Iraqi, was sentenced to death. But now, almost a decade later, she has emerged as a potential bargaining chip in negotiations over Japanese hostages held by the Islamic State group, a breakaway group from al-Qaida in Iraq that orchestrated the Jordan attack.

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