National briefs: Storm swirls across nation

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CHICAGO -- A late winter storm packing up to 10 inches of snow sent officials in weather-hardened Chicago into action Tuesday to prevent a repeat of scenes from two years ago, when hundreds of people in cars and buses were stranded on the city's marquee thoroughfare during a massive blizzard.

The storm was part of a system that started in Montana, hit the Dakotas and Minnesota on Monday and then barreled through Wisconsin and Illinois on its way to Washington, D.C., where it was expected late Tuesday night. As the storm pushed toward the mid-Atlantic region, people were gathering supplies and airlines were canceling flights.

Schools were closed in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois, where officials urged caution on slick roads. In western Wisconsin, a semi-trailer slid off a snow-covered interstate near Menomonie and into the Red Cedar River, killing one person. The search for a second person, believed to be a passenger, was suspended overnight.

FDA panel sees risk

WASHINGTON -- A panel of the Food and Drug Administration says a long-established bone strengthening drug, calcitonin salmon, should no longer be used by women because there is little evidence it works and it may actually increase the risk of cancer.

The inhalable drug, marketed as Miacalcin and Fortical, has been prescribed for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women since the 1980s. But health authorities around the world have been reviewing the drug's safety after two recent studies showed a slightly higher rate of cancer among patients taking calcitonin pills.

Stewart denies wrongdoing

NEW YORK -- Home decor and food guru Martha Stewart testified in court on Tuesday that she did nothing wrong when she signed an agreement to open shops within most of J.C. Penney's stores across the country.

Stewart testified in New York State Supreme Court in a trial over whether the company she founded breached its contract to sell cookware, bedding and other items exclusively at Macy's when she signed the deal with J.C. Penney. She said she was only looking to expand her brand.

Warnings on legal pot

CHICAGO -- Eight former U.S. drug chiefs warned the federal government Tuesday that time is running out to nullify Colorado's and Washington's new laws legalizing recreational marijuana use, and a United Nations agency also urged challenges to the measures it says violate international treaties.

The Justice Department's review of the measures has been under way since shortly after last fall's elections. It could sue to block the states from issuing licenses to marijuana growers, processors and retail stores on the grounds that doing so conflicts with federal drug law. Alternatively, Attorney General Eric Holder could decide not to mount a court challenge.

Also in the nation ...

Deputy Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard J. Ross Jr. is calling "bold, reckless, and absolutely brazen" a woman who stole a police cruiser in Camden Tuesday morning, took police on a wild chase into North Philadelphia, where she crashed, ran away, then stole a second cruiser as she was being arrested. ... Two students are being investigated for possible involvement in racist graffiti at Oberlin College and are facing discipline, but no criminal charges have been filed, city police Chief Thomas Miller said.

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