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  |   Feb. 2, 2011 at 12:02 PM
Storm rocks Midwest, pushes into Northeast

TULSA, Okla., Feb. 2 (UPI) -- The snow and ice storm that paralyzed the U.S. midsection turned its eye toward the Northeast Wednesday, creating more havoc for snow-weary residents.

Heavy snow and ice were expected to hammer the Northeast during the day on Groundhog Day before pushing into New England, AccuWeather.com reported.

The storm has been blamed for two deaths, one in Oklahoma and the other in Michigan.

While blizzard conditions endured Tuesday by Oklahoma City and Chicago won't be repeated in the Northeast, AccuWeather.com forecasters said snow totals would reach or exceed the 12-inch mark.

The storm impacted more than 100 million people from the southern Plains to the Northeast, turning highways into ice rinks, grounding thousands of flights, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power, and forcing the cancellation of innumerable school and community events.

In Chicago, stranded motorists and bus riders had to be rescued after being stuck for hours along busy Lake Shore Drive at the height of the blizzard Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune reported. Some were still being rescued in the early morning hours.

The entire length of Lake Shore Drive was closed Tuesday night because of blowing and drifting snow, ice and whiteout conditions, city officials said. Snow fell at 2 to 3 inches an hour at times during the storm with 55 to 70 mph wind gusts.

"At least no one is getting hurt," said stranded motorist Mark Van-Veen, who at 3 a.m. said he spent nine hours in his vehicle.

A portion of a structural panel above the Wrigley Field press box "broke away" during the storm, scattering debris outside of the ball park, officials said.

In Oklahoma, officials said one person died in the blizzard, which caused isolated power outages, damaged a casino roof, and closed roads, airports, businesses and schools, The Oklahoman in Oklahoma City reported. Oklahoma City police said a 20-year-old woman died in a sledding accident after she was thrown off the sled being pulled by a vehicle.

Tuesday's storm dumped about a foot of snow in some parts of central Oklahoma, with northeastern portions of the state getting more.

The Tulsa World newspaper announced it would not print its Wednesday edition.

Part of the roof at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino near Tulsa collapsed under the weight of accumulating snow, causing a gas leak but no injuries, officials said.

In Michigan, state police said icy roads led to a crash near Lansing in which a 73-year-old Danville man was killed, The Detroit News reported.

The snow event in Michigan was expected be substantial but brief, forecasters said.

"It's going to be a heavy dump and then go," National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Deedler said.

New York posted a winter storm warning Wednesday, with forecasters predicting a mix of snow, sleet and ice. In Washington, non-emergency federal employees were allowed to work from home or take unscheduled leave because roads were icy from freezing rain.

AccuWeather.com said another winter storm could bring an icy mix to East Texas and the lower Mississippi Valley Thursday, and snow could visit the Northeast on Saturday.


Violence concentrates in central Cairo

CAIRO, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Violence between anti- and pro-government activists seemed to be limited to central Cairo, officials said Wednesday.

A crowd of supporters of embattled President Hosni Mubarak pushed across an area separating them from anti-government crowds and overturned a military vehicle, drawing a roar from onlookers, CNN reported.

Witnesses said tear gas also was fired near the entrance of Tahrir Square.

Egyptian military officials have called on anti-government demonstrators to go home.

"You have the power to bring stability back to the country. We are urging you as respectful citizens to go back home," the Wall Street Journal quoted an Egyptian military spokesman saying.

U.S. officials, citing information they received from various sources, said the Egyptian government wants to use police to subdue the demonstrations in Cairo, a senior U.S. official said.

"That may be why you do not see the Army reacting," the official said.

Internet connections were also restored throughout the county with some Egyptian Web sites once again accessible, the U.S. newspaper said.

Despite Mubarak's announcement on state television Tuesday night that he would not seek re-election in the upcoming elections, thousands of protesters remained in Cairo's Tahrir Square Wednesday, the ninth day of protests against the 82-year-old leader's 30-year rule.

In Alexandria, local television reported clashes between protesters and Mubarak supporters.

Mubarak said he wanted to push through political and economic changes before stepping down.

Opposition leaders rejected Mubarak's offer to step down after elections this fall, demanding he leave now. The opposition, which includes the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and has coalesced behind Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, said it would stop the protests only when Mubarak leaves office.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Mubarak's concession was not enough, declaring an "orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now."


48-hour snapshot of Juarez: 14 deaths

JUAREZ, Mexico, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- At least 14 people were killed in a 48-hour period in Juarez, Mexico, including a municipal police officer and a newspaper vendor, police said.

Federal police said they think the female vendor killed Tuesday was targeted by an area gang that viewed her as a threat to the gang's control of street vendors, CNN reported Wednesday

"La Linea (a drug gang) thought she was discriminating against newspaper vendors they were extorting," municipal police spokesman Adrian Sanchez said.

Police said suspect under arrest told them he was paid $250 for killing Maribel Hernandez, who distributed the El Diario de Juarez newspaper, the largest newspaper by circulation in the city.

Juarez city police officer Ciro Puga Cruz, was killed Tuesday after armed gunmen shot him 15 times at an intersection as he waited for a stoplight to change, CNN said. A witness said the shooting occurred in front of dozens of people and caused a panic.

The gunmen remained at large, police said.


Poll: Huge majority favor alt-fuel bill

PRINCETON, N.J., Feb. 2 (UPI) -- A bill that would push alternative energy did the best among eight possible actions the U.S. Congress could take this year, a Gallup Poll indicated.

Eighty-three percent of respondents said they favored an energy bill that would provide incentives for using alternative forms of energy, followed by an overhaul of the federal tax code, pulling 76 percent; and speeding up the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, at 72 percent, results released Tuesday indicated.

The two least popular proposals tested concerned immigration issues, the Princeton, N.J., polling agency said. By a 55 percent to 43 percent margin, U.S. residents surveyed said they oppose legislation that would give some illegal immigrants living in the United States a path to legal status. By a 54 percent to 44 percent margin, respondents said they oppose taking steps to deny automatic citizenship to children born in the United States whose parents are illegal immigrants.

Falling in the middle were measures that would expand oil and gas exploration, passage of a free-trade agreement with South Korea and gun control, Gallup said.

The proposals tested in the Gallup-USA Today poll include some of the actions Congress could take, but aren't meant to be a comprehensive list, pollsters said. The survey also reflects how Americans view the idea of each policy, not necessarily a specific bill.

Results are based on nationwide telephone interviews conducted with 1,032 adults Jan. 14-16. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.

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