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March 6, 2013 at 7:59 AM
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Huge snowstorm moves into Washington

WASHINGTON, March 6 (UPI) -- The snowstorm that caused cancellation of thousands of flights and zapped electricity for tens of thousands of customers reached Washington Wednesday.

Forecasters said the system could drop a possible 20 inches of snow west of the nation's capital, but become a wintry mix of snow and rain as it closed in on the Atlantic Ocean, CNN reported.

Washington was under a winter storm warning, with accumulations of 6-12 inches possible, the National Weather Service said, adding the highest amounts were likely west of Interstate 95. The temperatures were expected to remain steady in the low- to mid-30s.

The federal government closed offices for Wednesday, as did District of Columbia schools.

Temperatures in the Washington area were expected to hover around the freezing mark of 32 degrees F, making the snow heavy enough that it could cause roof collapses and tree branches snapping onto power lines, The Washington Post reported.

Airlines canceled flights in anticipation of the storm. County and local governments, school districts and other organizations canceled business for Wednesday.

As it powered through the Midwest, the storm left about a foot of snow in parts of Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota and elsewhere.

Holder: Drone strike in U.S. conceivable

WASHINGTON, March 6 (UPI) -- Washington could conceivably launch lethal combat-drone strikes on Americans on U.S. soil without trial, Attorney General Eric Holder said.

"It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the president to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States," Holder said in a letter to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

Paul had sent a letter to President Barack Obama's CIA director nominee, John Brennan, asking for the administration's views on the president's "power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial."

Paul had threatened to block Brennan's confirmation until he got an answer to his question.

Holder responded in a letter Monday that Paul made public Tuesday.

Brennan, who awaits full Senate confirmation after being cleared for the post by the Senate Intelligence Committee 12-3 Tuesday, said in a separate Monday letter to Paul the CIA had no authority to use lethal force against Americans on U.S. soil.

Holder may respond to Colo., Wash. pot use

WASHINGTON, March 6 (UPI) -- Former U.S. drug probers urged a Senate panel to press Attorney General Eric Holder Wednesday to stop Colorado and Washington from legalizing marijuana use.

The eight former Drug Enforcement Administration heads -- along with four former drug czars and assorted anti-drug groups, all under the banner of the Save Our Society From Drugs political action committee -- urged the Senate Judiciary Committee in a letter made public Tuesday to press Holder on why he had taken so long to decide on taking action against the two states, whose voters decided in November to legalize recreational marijuana use.

The letter, which can be found at tinyurl.com/SOSletter, came the same day the U.N. International Narcotics Control Board urged Washington to challenge those states' laws, saying they violated "international drug-control treaties to which the United States is a party."

Holder told a meeting of state attorneys general Feb. 26 he was close to announcing his department's response but was still reviewing the laws.

Venezuelans in national 7 days of mourning

CARACAS, Venezuela, March 6 (UPI) -- Venezuelans mourned President Hugo Chavez's death Wednesday with street crowds, shut businesses, canceled classes and a highly visible police and army presence.

The nation of 27 million was in an official weeklong mourning period, with all schools and universities closed through Friday, Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said.

Jaua said Chavez's body would be taken to the military academy in Caracas, where it would lie in state.

The government plans to hold a ceremony with visiting heads of state Friday, Jaua said, adding officials would announce later where Chavez would be laid to rest.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro, who was close to tears when he announced Chavez's death on national television Tuesday, said the national armed forces and national police were deployed "to accompany and protect the people and ensure peace with the people."

There was scattered violence reported Tuesday.

Duchess Kate hints she's expecting a girl

GRIMSBY, England, March 6 (UPI) -- The former Kate Middleton, visiting an English fishing port Tuesday, dropped an inadvertent hint she and Prince William are expecting a girl.

Witnesses in Grimsby said the slip came when a woman gave the duchess of Cambridge a teddy bear, The Daily Telegraph reported.

"I distinctly heard her say, 'Thank you, I'll take that for my d ... ' then she stopped herself," said Sandra Cook, who told the Telegraph she was standing next to Diane Burton, the teddy bear giver. "I said to her, 'You were going to say daughter weren't you?' and she said, 'No, we don't know.'"

The duchess visited the National Fishing Heritage Center in Grimsby on the east coast and a cancer hospice during her visit.

The baby is due in July. Under the new rules of royal succession, Prince William's first-born child will be his heir, whatever its gender.

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