Number implicated
in Air Force nuke missile cheating
probe has doubled

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The cheating scandal inside the Air Force’s nuclear missile corps is expanding, with the number of service members implicated by investigators now roughly double the 34 reported just a week ago, officials said Tuesday.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the additional 30-plus airmen suspected of being involved in cheating on proficiency tests are alleged to have participated in the cheating directly or were involved indirectly.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the information by name while the investigation is ongoing.

The Air Force announced on Jan. 15 that while it was investigating possible criminal drug use by some airmen, it discovered that one missile officer at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., had shared test questions with 16 other officers. It said another 17 admitted to knowing about this cheating but did not report it.

The 34 officers had their security clearances suspended and they were taken off missile launch duty. The Air Force did not respond to questions by The Associated Press on Tuesday about whether the additional people implicated in the investigation have also been taken off launch duty.

Mexican government takes gamble with plan to legalize anti-cartel vigilante movement

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- After months of tacit cooperation with rural vigilantes trying to drive out a cult-like drug cartel, the Mexican government is seeking to permanently solve one of its toughest security problems with a plan to legalize the growing movement and bring it under the army’s control.

But the risks are high.

To succeed, the government must enforce military discipline and instill respect for human rights and due process among more than 20,000 heavily armed civilians, then eventually disband them and send them back home in the western state of Michoacan.

In other Latin American countries, similar experiments have created state-backed militias that carried out widespread human rights abuses as armed civilians turned to vengeance, or assisted in mass killings. The Mexican army itself has been accused of rights abuses during the more than seven-year war against organized crime that has seen it deployed as a police force in much of the country.

Vigilante leaders met Tuesday with government officials to hash out details of the agreement that would put avocado and lime pickers with AR-15 semi-automatic rifles under army command. The Mexican military has a century-old tradition of mobilizing "rural defense corps" manned by peasants to fight bandits and uprisings in the countryside.

Brahimi: Syria peace talks slow but ‘still at it’ as negotiators await government proposal

GENEVA (AP) -- Syrian government anger over a U.S. decision to resume aid to the opposition prompted the U.N. mediator to cut short Tuesday’s peace talks, but he said no one was to blame for the impasse and that the negotiations would continue.

A deal to allow humanitarian aid into Homs remained stalled, with the Syrian delegation demanding assurances the U.S. aid will not go to "armed and terrorist groups" in the besieged city.

U.N.-Arab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said he was relieved that the government and opposition said they will remain in the daily talks through Friday, as planned.

"Nobody’s walking out. Nobody’s running away," he told reporters. "We have not actually made a breakthrough, but we are still at it, and this is enough as far as I’m concerned."

Tuesday’s talks were the fifth day of negotiations regarding the civil war, focusing on opposition calls for the formation of a transition government in Syria and help for Homs.

Ukraine PM resigns, parliament overturns anti-protest laws in effort to defuse crisis

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- In back-to-back moves aimed at defusing Ukraine’s political crisis, the prime minister resigned Tuesday and parliament repealed anti-protest laws that had set off violent clashes between protesters and police.

The two developments were significant concessions to the anti-government protesters who have fought sporadically with police for the last 10 days after two months of peaceful around-the-clock demonstrations.

The protests erupted after President Viktor Yanukovych turned toward Russia for a bailout loan instead of signing a deal with the European Union and have since morphed into a general plea for more human rights, less corruption and more democracy in this nation of 45 million.

The departure of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov removes one of the officials most disliked by the opposition forces whose protests have turned parts of Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, into a barricaded maze.

However, Azarov’s spokesman told the Interfax news agency that another staunch Yanukovych ally, deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Arbuzov, will assume temporary leadership of the Cabinet, a move that is unlikely to please the opposition.

Winter storm socks the Deep South with snow, ice; students stranded in Ala. schools

ATLANTA (AP) -- Atlanta highways instantly became clogged with commuters who left work at the first sign of snow, bronze statues of civil rights heroes were encrusted, and snowplows that hardly ever leave the garage were sent rolling through the city.

At one point, traffic in the business capital of the South was so bad that security guards and office doormen took to the streets to direct cars amid a cacophony of blaring horns.

A winter storm Tuesday that would probably be no big deal in the North all but paralyzed the Deep South, where folks have little experience driving on snow and ice.

"My family is from up north and we’re use to driving in the snow and stuff, and seeing everyone freak out, sliding and stuff, it’s pretty funny," said Alex Tracy, a Georgia State University student who was watching the gridlock in downtown Atlanta.

Many cities across the region don’t have big fleets of salt trucks or snowplows, and it showed. Dozens of wrecks happened from Georgia to Texas. Two people died in an accident in Alabama.

Super Bowl Media Day brings some zany characters to an unusual venue

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- Internet star Lil Terrio danced with cheerleaders, an Austrian man dressed as Mozart, another guy wore a Waldo costume and Nickelodeon’s Pick Boy was in the house.

Welcome to Media Day, the annual Super Bowl circus.

It seems fitting this event was held at a hockey rink, of all places, because there’s nothing ordinary about it. More than 6,000 journalists, pseudo-journalists and other credentialed "media" from all over the world gathered at the home of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils on Tuesday to meet the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.

Strange questions were the norm instead of football ones. A man asked Seahawks center Max Unger if he could touch his long, scruffy beard. He said yes. A woman asked Seahawks defensive lineman Brandon Mebane for a kiss. He said no.

Perhaps the only player who felt at home was Seattle tight end Luke Wilson. He grew up in Canada, played hockey through his sophomore year of high school and was genuinely psyched to be in an NHL arena.

A man both simple and complicated: Pete Seeger, folk music
and the modern era

Pete Seeger was a complicated man with a simple message: Make the world better, and be kind while doing it. To accomplish these goals, he harnessed hundreds of years of musical tradition into a single banjo and a single, unyielding human voice.

It is tempting, from the short-memory vantage point of today, to see only the white-haired grandfather, mellowed with age, already accustomed to (if slightly uncomfortable with) being treated as an American icon. But that would be unwise. The belly fire inside Seeger -- the one that drove the musical movement that propelled him, and that he propelled -- was that of a young rebel unsatisfied with anything but energetically chasing his dreams of a more just America.

Make no mistake: He was a pacifist through and through, but music was his weapon.

"My own biggest thing in life," he said once, "was simply being a link in a chain."

Seeger, who died Monday, was many things. Sometimes he lived in the country, sometimes he lived in town. He was equally at home on the range and in the union hall, on top of Old Smoky and in the apartments of Greenwich Village as a skinny teenager making music on World War II’s eve with men who would become legends and end up on postage stamps.

Flavor Flav pleads not guilty to N.Y. charges in traffic stop for speeding to mother’s funeral

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -- Flavor Flav pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges stemming from a traffic stop earlier this month as he raced to his mother’s funeral in suburban New York.

State police said the rapper and reality TV star, whose real name is William Drayton, was speeding and driving without a license, a felony, on Jan. 9 as he drove on the Meadowbrook Parkway not far from where the Freeport, N.Y., native grew up. He was ticketed and told to appear for his arraignment Tuesday.

His attorney, Indji Bessim, told Nassau County District Court Judge Norman St. George that over the past several days she and her client have worked to clear up the 16 outstanding traffic matters that sparked the unlicensed driving charge.

The judge released Drayton without bail, although the rapper has not been in custody, and scheduled a return court date for Friday, as is routine following an arraignment.

Wearing his trademark clock around his neck -- removing it to pass through metal detectors walking into the courthouse -- Drayton smiled and hugged relatives and fans, stopping once or twice to sign an autograph or have a photo taken with a fan.