Snow, winds hit Upper Midwest

MINNEAPOLIS - A powerful snowstorm socked the upper Midwest with as much as 20 inches of snow on Saturday, forcing authorities to close roads across five states as heavy winds made for treacherous driving conditions.

The storm, which started in the Rocky Mountains, spread Saturday to Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The snow was expected to be followed by dangerous cold.

A wind-chill advisory covered most of North Dakota on Saturday morning. North winds of 15 m.p.h. or more combined with air temperatures at or below zero would drop wind-chill readings to 20 degrees below zero, the National Weather Service said.

- AP

Obama and GOP in sync on taxes

WASHINGTON - President Obama on Saturday called his tax-cut agreement with Republicans far from perfect but a good deal overall for Americans while acknowledging that many fellow Democrats aren't happy about what he negotiated with the GOP.

Pressing for passage by year's end, he told lawmakers in his radio and Internet address that "our recovery will be strengthened or weakened based on the choice that now rests with Congress."

The deal would extend for all earners cuts in income-tax rates that are set to expire next month. It would renew jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed and trim Social Security taxes for one year.

In the GOP weekly address, Republican Rep.-elect Kristi Noem of South Dakota applauded the deal and said it was good for small businesses. "With unemployment still rising, the No. 1 thing our family-owned small businesses need right now is certainty," she said.

- AP

Boyfriend held in designer's death

NEW YORK - An Oscar-winning songwriter's son was held without bail Saturday after being accused of choking his swimsuit-designer girlfriend at a swanky New York hotel.

Nicholas Brooks, 24, was charged Saturday with attempted murder and strangulation in the investigation into Sylvie Cachay's death. Attorney Jeffrey Hoffman has said Brooks was not guilty and that Cachay was "absolutely fine" when his client last saw her.

Cachay, 33, was discovered dead in a tub at the Soho House hotel early Thursday. An autopsy found signs of choking.

Brooks is the son of Joseph Brooks, who won an Academy Award for best original song for the 1977 ballad "You Light Up My Life."

- AP

Elsewhere:

Rahm Emanuel is expected to be the first witness at an administrative hearing on Tuesday aimed at determining whether he is eligible to run for Chicago mayor. More than two dozen people have challenged his candidacy on the grounds that he has not been a Chicago resident for at least a year. Emanuel, a former Illinois congressman, left his post as chief of staff to President Obama in October to run for the job being vacated by Mayor Richard Daley.