Snow pushes into New England after causing widespread closures along Eastern seaboard

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- A snowstorm pushed into New England on Tuesday, making for messy travel conditions after causing widespread school and government closures in the nation’s capital and elsewhere along the Eastern seaboard.

With snow totals measured in inches instead of feet, the storm was more nuisance than menace, but it was timed to hit morning and afternoon commutes in the densely populated Northeast.

Hundreds of transportation crews were out treating and plowing highways in New England, where up to 4 inches of snow was expected in some places. State police in Connecticut said there had been more than 80 crashes by late morning, with eight minor injuries.

Public schools were closed in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and parts of Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. Some schools in Connecticut were closed, while a few districts in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts planned early dismissals or canceled afternoon activities.

Flight delays were reported in Philadelphia and New York City-area airports.

2 adults, 4 children found alive in Nevada after disappearing in frigid weather Sunday

RENO, Nev. (AP) -- Two adults and four children who were stranded in sub-zero temperatures in a Nevada mountain range for nearly 48 hours were found alive and well on Tuesday by search crews, authorities said.

The discovery came after a cellphone forensics team picked up a signal from the missing woman’s phone and diverted rescuers to the area.

A searcher with binoculars spotted the group’s Jeep about the same it was seen by a Civil Air Patrol crews, Civil Air Patrol Col. Tim Hahn said.

A ground team then retrieved the couple and four young members of their families.

Authorities said the Jeep had rolled over but it could not be immediately determined if the engine still worked. However, the group was able to build a fire.

GM names product chief Mary Barra CEO, making her 1st woman to run U.S. car company

DETROIT (AP) -- Mary Barra has spent the past three years as General Motors’ product chief, making cars that drive better, last longer and look good in showrooms.

Now she will take on an even bigger job. On Tuesday, the board named the 33-year company veteran CEO, making her the first woman to lead a U.S. car company.

Barra replaces Dan Akerson, who moved up retirement plans by several months to help his wife, Karin, battle advanced cancer.

When Barra starts her new job Jan. 15, she will lead a company that’s made nearly $20 billion since emerging from bankruptcy in 2010, much of it from the cars and trucks she helped develop. But she still faces challenges of paring down GM’s costs and winning over buyers in international markets such as India and South America.

Akerson, 65, said he had planned to stay at least until spring, but his wife’s diagnosis changed that. He said the board unanimously picked Barra from several internal candidates because of the breadth of her experience, her management record, her people skills and her understanding of GM’s operations.

2 French troops die, civilian death toll up as violence ravages
C. African Republic

BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) -- More than 500 people have been killed over the past week in sectarian fighting in Central African Republic, aid officials said Tuesday, as France reported that gunmen killed two of its soldiers who were part of the intervention to disarm thousands of rebels accused of attacking civilians.

Aid workers have collected 461 bodies across Bangui, the capital, since Thursday, said Antoine Mbao Bogo of the local Red Cross. But that latest figure does not include the scores of Muslim victims whose bodies were brought to mosques for burial.

The government of the predominantly Christian country was overthrown in March by Muslim rebels from the country’s north. While the rebels claimed no religious motive for seizing power, months of resentment and hostility erupted last week in a wave of violence.

The French deaths came as French President Francois Hollande arrived for a visit to France’s former colony, heading into the tumultuous capital after attending a memorial in South Africa for Nelson Mandela.

"The mission is dangerous. We know it," Hollande told troops in a huge airport hangar after paying respects at the coffins of the two young soldiers. "But it is necessary in order to avoid carnage."

Gunmen abduct Syrian human rights lawyer who criticized al-Qaida linked rebels

NABEK, Syria (AP) -- Masked gunmen abducted a leading Syrian human rights lawyer and three other prominent activists in a rebel-held Damascus suburb Tuesday in a new sign that al-Qaida linked militants who have joined the fight against President Bashar Assad are trying to silence rivals in the opposition movement.

Razan Zaytouni, one of the most outspoken critics of President Bashar Assad as well as Islamic militants who have gained increasing sway over the fight to oust the government, was seized along with her husband and two other colleagues from her office in Douma.

No group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, but Zaytouni herself had publicly blamed al-Qaida linked rebels for kidnapping activists and colleagues said she had received indirect threats from extremists in recent days.

With just about a month to go before the start of internationally brokered peace talks to end the civil war, Assad’s forces have stepped up a punishing offensive against rebels in a mountainous region near the border with Lebanon.

Local leaders planning for climate effects

WASHINGTON (AP) -- When it comes to climate change, local officials have a message for Washington: Lead or get out of the way.

Local governments have long acted as first responders in emergencies and now are working to plan for sea level rise, floods, hurricanes and other extreme events associated with climate change.

As a presidential task force began its work Tuesday, local officials said they want and need federal support but worried that congressional gridlock and balky bureaucratic rules too often get in the way.

"Government, whether the White House or Congress, is not there to make you whole after a disaster," said Bob Dixson, mayor of Greensburg, Kan., which was leveled by a 2007 tornado.

Federal assistance was crucial after the tornado, which destroyed 95 percent of the town. But federal agencies "are there as a resource. You have to be engaged and involved if you really want your community to thrive afterwards," Dixson said after a meeting of a White House task force on climate preparedness and resilience.

Egypt’s liberal politician Moussa defends draft charter, hopes for ‘yes’ vote

CAIRO (AP) -- The chairman of a panel that wrote Egypt’s draft constitution defended the document Tuesday as guaranteeing democracy and freedoms, but he offered cautious criticism of a recent law restricting street protests.

Amr Moussa, a former longtime Arab League chief and Egyptian foreign minister, spoke with The Associated Press as university students fought pitched street battles with police elsewhere in Cairo. Protesters demanding the reinstatement of Egypt’s ousted president pelted security forces with rocks through white clouds of tear gas, rushing their wounded back inside the campus.

But Moussa was optimistic about the country’s future.

"This is a constitution that answers to the requirements of the 21st century," he said. "The constitution is very clear on democracy and freedoms."

A copy of the draft charter obtained from Moussa’s office states that men and women have equal rights and that the state must ensure "appropriate" representation of women in public jobs and the judiciary. It also criminalizes torture, discrimination and inciting hatred.

Ukraine’s president will seek to free some protesters; opposition says that’s not enough

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Aiming to defuse a political standoff that threatens his leadership, President Viktor Yanukovych called Tuesday for the release of the demonstrators arrested in the massive protests sweeping Kiev and vowed that Ukraine is still interested in integrating with Europe.

His efforts, however, stopped far short of opposition demands that his government resign, and the two sides appeared no closer to a resolution that would chart out a secure future for their economically troubled nation.

Soon after Yanukovych spoke in a televised broadcast, top opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk told demonstrators on Kiev’s central square that the protest leaders were still insisting on their key demands: that Yanukovych fire the government, appoint a new one committed to signing an association agreement with the EU, release all the arrested protesters, and punish the police who beat peaceful demonstrators.

That draws a sharp line between two sides and each still has substantial leverage. Yanukovych has the power of the state, while the opposition has the power to keep up weeks of large protests, some of which have drawn hundreds of thousands of people.

The protests began in late November when Yanukovych backed away from a pact that would deepen the former Soviet republic’s economic ties with the 28-nation EU -- a pact that surveys showed was supported by nearly half the country’s people. The agreement would make Ukraine more Western-oriented and would be a significant loss of face for Russia, which has either controlled or heavily influenced Ukraine for centuries.