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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- The first major snowstorm of the season began a slow crawl across the Midwest on Thursday, creating treacherous, sometimes deadly driving conditions and threatening to disrupt some of the nation's busiest airports before the holiday weekend. Heavy snow and strong winds combined for blizzard conditions in areas from Kansas to Wisconsin - and guaranteed a white Christmas in some places - after the storm blanketed the Rocky Mountains earlier in the week.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The worst U.S. drought in decades continues its iron-fisted grip across much of the nation's key farming states, though some relief could come from the first major snowstorm of the season trekking eastward across the Midwest. Thursday's weekly U.S. Drought Monitor update shows that roughly 62 percent of the continental U.S. remains in some form of drought, unchanged from the previous week. That number has been above 60 percent largely since July.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.1 percent over the summer as consumers spent more and state and local governments added to growth for the first time in nearly three years. But the economy is likely slowing in the current quarter. The Commerce Department's third and final estimate Thursday of growth for the July-September quarter was revised up from its previous estimate of a 2.7 percent annual growth rate.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week by 17,000, reversing four weeks of declines. But the number of people seeking aid is consistent with a job market that continues to grow modestly. Unemployment claims rose the week of Dec. 15 to a seasonally adjusted 361,000 from a revised 344,000 the week before.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- It's a health care change that President Barack Obama and Republicans both embrace: Expand a current, little-known law so more retirees the government considers well-off are required to pay higher Medicare premiums. That plan is likely to be part of any budget deal to reduce the overhang of federal debt, raising $20 billion or more over 10 years. It could come as a shock to many seniors who will have to pay the higher premiums even though they consider themselves solidly middle-class, and by no means wealthy.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- One early focus of new gun regulations by President Barack Obama and some lawmakers would reinstate a federal ban on assault weapons, a law widely regarded as imperfect.
EDEN PRAIRIE — Adrian Peterson has been a threat to score from anywhere on the field this season, the kind of performance that makes a fan hold his breath every time he touches the ball. Blair Walsh hasn’t been quite that dynamic. But as soon as the Minnesota Vikings cross midfield, they know they’re in his range. And the rookie kicker has been so good that no breath holding has been necessary.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — An infectious disease specialist with the Minnesota Department of Health says an increasing number of schools across the state are reporting flu-like illnesses. Karen Martin said Wednesday 47 schools have reported flu-like outbreaks so far this week. She says that's up from 12 last week and four the week before that. In St. Cloud, a Catholic school has canceled classes for Thursday and Friday due to a large number of students being out sick.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Spurred by a horrific elementary school shooting, President Barack Obama vowed to send Congress new policy proposals for reducing gun violence by January. "This time, the words need to lead to action," Obama said Wednesday. He tasked Vice President Joe Biden with leading an administration-wide effort to create the new recommendations and pledged to push for their implementation without delay.
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) -- For a third straight day Wednesday, funeral processions rolled through a grieving Connecticut town trying to make sense of the massacre of 20 first-graders and six adults in an elementary school less than two weeks before Christmas. Dr. Joseph Young, an optometrist, said he has already been to one funeral and plans to attend two or three more.