Snow socks the Midwest
ST. LOUIS -- Powdery snow, up to a foot and a half in some places, bombarded much of the nation's midsection Thursday, impeding travel and shutting down airports, schools and state legislatures.
The widespread winter storm system swirled to the north and east Thursday night, its snow, sleet and freezing rain prompting winter storm warnings in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Illinois.
Corey Mead, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., said the winter storm would be centered in the upper Midwest by this morning.
Hagel gets key support
WASHINGTON -- Barring any new, damaging information, Chuck Hagel has secured the necessary votes for the Senate to confirm him to be the nation's next defense secretary.
A vote ending the bitter fight over President Barack Obama's choice for his revamped second-term, national security team is expected next week.
Mr. Hagel cleared the threshold when five-term Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama said he would vote for the former GOP senator from Nebraska after joining other Republicans last week in an unprecedented filibuster of the Pentagon nominee.
Shooting leads to 3 deaths
LAS VEGAS -- Bullets were flying from a black Range Rover at a gray Maserati as the vehicles raced toward a red light on the Las Vegas Strip.
Beneath the neon lights, police say, the Maserati ran a red light at one of the Strip's busiest intersections and smashed into a taxi that exploded into flames early Thursday, killing the two people inside.
Three more cars and a utility truck also collided near Bellagio, Caesars Palace and Bally's, leaving at least six more people injured as the Range Rover sped off in the predawn darkness. The Maserati driver was pronounced dead at the hospital.
38 years for Peterson
JOLIET, Ill. -- Drew Peterson, the Chicago-area police officer who gained notoriety after his much-younger fourth wife vanished in 2007, was sentenced to 38 years in prison on Thursday for murdering his third wife.
The sentence came moments after Peterson, 59, shocked the courtroom with a rare public outburst of anger as he proclaimed his innocence in the death of Kathleen Savio, 40.
Illinois does not have the death penalty.
Jurors convicted Peterson in September in Ms. Savio's 2004 death.
Neighbors found her body in a dry bathtub at home with a gash on her head -- her hair soaked in blood.
Also in the nation ...
Four former employees of the Peanut Corporation of America were charged late Wednesday in federal court in Albany, Ga., with scheming to manufacture and ship salmonella-tainted peanuts that killed nine, sickened hundreds and prompted one of the largest recalls in history. ... More testing must be done to determine the cause of death of a 21-year-old Canadian tourist whose body was found Tuesday wedged in a water tank atop a downtown Los Angeles hotel, authorities said Thursday. ... Ford Motor Co. is adding 450 jobs and expanding an engine plant in Cleveland to feed the growing demand for more fuel-efficient cars and SUVs in the U.S. market. ... Gov. Brian Sandoval signed legislation Thursday legalizing online gambling in Nevada on the same day when both chambers of the Legislature passed the bill.
-- Compiled from news services