the nation today

Powerful storm moves across western US

New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE — A powerful storm system that has caused hundreds of accidents across the West marched eastward Saturday with predictions of widespread snow, freezing temperatures, and gusty winds. The fierce weather has caused at least eight deaths and prompted travel advisories Saturday afternoon in New Mexico and Texas. Forecasters said the storm would sweep across the South and toward the Atlantic coast over the next week. (AP)


Ricin suspect reaches plea deal

TEXARKANA — A Texas woman accused of sending ricin-laced letters to President Obama and Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York has reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors, a newspaper reported Saturday. Assistant US Attorney Frank Coan filed a ‘‘notice of plea agreement”
with the court, but the terms have not been made public. Court documents state the then-pregnant Richardson tried to frame her husband for the crime. (AP)


Clergy tax breaks illegal, court says


MADISON — A federal judge has struck down a law that gives clergy tax-free housing allowances in a decision that could have far-reaching financial ramifications for ministers across the United States. US District Judge Barbara Crabb wrote that the exemption ‘‘provides a benefit to religious persons and no one else, even though doing so is not necessary to alleviate a special burden on religious exercise.” (AP)

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