Brown decides against Senate bid

Scott Brown says he won't be a candidate to fill the Senate seat vacated by Democrat John Kerry. The decision leaves the Massachusetts GOP without a candidate yet for the special election set for June 25, and it could leave the seat in Democratic hands. Other potential GOP candidates have been waiting for a signal from Brown, who was seen as the strongest Republican despite his loss last year to Elizabeth Warren.


White House: Hagel will win confirmation

The White House has dismissed criticism of Chuck Hagel's hesitant congressional testimony and insisted that it expects the Senate to confirm him as defense secretary. One day after Hagel was roughed up in a grueling confirmation hearing, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that Hagel did a "fine job" and that the Obama administration would be stunned if Republicans tried to block the nomination of a decorated Vietnam combat veteran and former two-term GOP senator.

Secret Service head is set to retire

Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan, who oversaw the agency during tumultuous and challenging times, will retire on Feb. 22 after nearly 30 years of service. His nearly seven years as head of the Secret Service makes him the agency's third-longest-serving director. In his last year, Sullivan had to confront a prostitution scandal involving numerous Secret Service agents preparing for President Obama's arrival in Colombia.


Tunnel covered at nuclear test site

North Korea has put a cover over the entrance of a tunnel at its underground nuclear test site to foil U.S. intelligence efforts to determine whether a detonation is imminent, a South Korean official reported. The news came a day after a South Korean general said "brisk" activity had been spotted at the site. North Korea has said it would conduct a third nuclear test to retaliate against the U.N. Security Council's unanimous decision to respond to a rocket test by tightening sanctions.


Death toll from explosion rises to 33

Hundreds of rescue workers ended their search for survivors at the site of an explosion that tore through an office building of Mexico's state-owned oil company a day earlier, as the death toll rose to 33. The head of the company said early indications suggest that the blast was an accident. Emilio Lozoya Austin, chief executive of Petroleos Mexicanos, emphasized that the investigation is continuing.


Scotland Yard cop gets 15 months

A senior police officer in Scotland Yard's counter-terrorism command was sentenced to a 15-month prison term for seeking cash from Rupert Murdoch's News of the World tabloid in return for information about a Scotland Yard investigation into phone hacking at the paper. Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn, 53, is the first person to be convicted of a criminal offense in the phone hacking scandal.


Fireworks cause highway to collapse

An elevated portion of highway in central China collapsed after a truck loaded with fireworks for Lunar New Year celebrations exploded, killing at least nine people, injuring 13 and sending vehicles plummeting 100 feet to the ground. The collapse smashed and buried at least 25 vehicles. Photos posted online by Xinhua News Agency showed a stretch of elevated highway gone, with one truck's back wheels perched at the edge of a shorn-off section of the highway.