AP Top News at 6:00 p.m. EST

`Wicked storm': Blizzard drops 2 feet of snow on New England
BOSTON (AP) - Its winds howling at more than 70 mph, the Blizzard of 2015 slammed Boston and surrounding parts of New England on Tuesday with none of the mercy it unexpectedly showed New York City, piling up more than 2 feet of snow. The storm punched out a 40-to-50-foot section of a seawall in Marshfield, Massachusetts, badly damaging a vacant home. In Newport, Rhode Island, it toppled a 110-foot replica of a Revolutionary War sailing vessel in drydock, breaking its mast and puncturing its hull.


Secret talks in Jordan try to win release of hostages
BEIRUT (AP) - Secret talks were underway Tuesday in Jordan in the presence of a Japanese envoy to secure the freedom of a Japanese journalist and a Jordanian pilot captured by Islamic State extremists and purportedly threatened with death within 24 hours. The global efforts to free Japanese freelance journalist Kenji Goto and Jordanian Lt. Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh gained greater urgency with the release of the apparent ultimatum from the Islamic State group.


US sees Kobani as key win, but Mosul may require new tactics
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Kurdish recapture of Kobani in northern Syria appears to have provided a blueprint for defeating the Islamic State, bringing together U.S. air power with an effective ground force and protected routes for the movement of fighters and weaponry. Taking back the key Iraqi city of Mosul may be an entirely different matter. As Kurdish fighters, buoyed by their success after months of fighting near Syria's Turkish border, expanded their offensive Tuesday, American officials were able to point at long last to a victory in the battle against the Islamic State. The takeover of Kobani, which the U.S. says is now 90 percent complete, has put the extremists on the defensive.


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Obama sees need to move on drone rules now
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama says the wayward quadcopter that crashed on the White House grounds - flown by an off-duty intelligence employee - shows that the U.S. must take steps to ensure commercial and consumer drones are used safely. It's his own administration that has lagged on the matter. Both Congress and the drone industry have pressed for rules and clarification as the technology of civilian drone use grows apace and the small unmanned craft become ever cheaper.


A US green-energy blueprint, meant to help Liberia, fails
BUCHANAN, Liberia (AP) - On paper, the pitch was simple: A green energy company backed by $217 million in U.S. government loans would convert one of Africa's poorest countries into the world's first biomass-driven economy. But the plan to help Liberia collapsed amid questionable business decisions and oversight. The company, Buchanan Renewables, dismissed 600 workers and left the country amid complaints of workplace injuries, environmental harm and, at times, sexual abuse.


Obama pays respects to Saudis, defends ties to kingdom
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - In a show of solidarity with Saudi Arabia, President Barack Obama led a parade of American dignitaries to the ultraconservative desert kingdom Tuesday to pay respects after King Abdullah's death and take measure of the new monarch. Obama's presence here underscored the key role Saudi Arabia plays in U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and highlighted Washington's willingness to put national security priorities ahead of concerns about human rights issues. Hours before arriving in Riyadh, Obama spoke at length about the importance of women's rights during an address in India, setting up a jarring contrast with his warm embrace of Saudi Arabia, a country where there are strict limits on women's freedom.


On Auschwitz anniversary, leader warns Jews again targets
BRZEZINKA, Poland (AP) - A Jewish leader stood before 300 survivors of the Nazis' most notorious death camp on Tuesday and asked world leaders to prevent another Auschwitz, warning of a rise of anti-Semitism that has made many Jews fearful of walking the streets, and is causing many to flee Europe. Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, made his bleak assessment on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, speaking next to the gate and the railroad tracks that marked the last journey for more than a million people murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenau.


Yahoo to spin off Alibaba stake into separate company
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is spinning off the company's prized stake in China's Alibaba Group Holding in a move that will enable Yahoo to avoid paying billions of dollars in future taxes. A newly formed entity called SpinCo will inherit ownership of Yahoo's 384 million Alibaba shares when the tax-free spin-off is completed toward the end of this year.


Record iPhone sales drive blowout quarter for Apple
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Apple had another blowout quarter thanks to its new plus-sized iPhones, which helped the company smash sales records for the holiday season. Apple said Tuesday that it sold 74.5 million iPhones during the three months that ended Dec. 31, beating analysts' expectations for the latest models of Apple's most popular gadget, introduced in September.


Famed civil rights protesters to have arrest records erased
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Nine black men arrested for integrating a whites-only South Carolina lunch counter 54 years ago may be heroes in the historic record, but in the record of the law they are still convicted trespassers. That criminal record will soon be erased.

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