A winter blast targets Northeast

BUFFALO - Hoods were up and heads were down as a storm that plagued the Midwest for days plodded eastward Tuesday with knifing winds and blowing snow, stranding dozens of motorists on a southern Ontario highway and giving much of the Northeastern United States its first real taste of winter.

The storm brought bone-chilling cold, and more snow was expected or already falling Tuesday in parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. The frigid air stretched into the Deep South, where hard-freeze warnings were in effect in much of Florida.

About 300 people spent a frigid night hunkered down in their cars on a highway near Sarnia, Ontario, about 65 miles northeast of Detroit. They were rescued by buses and military helicopters Tuesday, Canadian officials said. Ontario Community Safety Minister Jim Bradley said he had no reports of injuries.

The storm that has been crawling across the Midwest since Friday night caused dozens of accidents, stranded more than 100 motorists in Indiana, and collapsed the domed roof of an NFL stadium. At least 16 people have died because of the storm, which dumped nearly 2 feet of snow in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin. - AP

Reid vows a push for nuclear treaty

WASHINGTON - Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that he would press ahead on a U.S.-Russia nuclear treaty, President Obama's top foreign-policy priority, despite strong opposition from some Republican lawmakers.

The White House has signaled that Obama would delay his holiday vacation to ensure ratification of the treaty that would limit both nations' nuclear warheads and establish a system for verification. Congress is struggling to complete several top pieces of legislation.

Reid (D., Nev.) told reporters, "We are not going to walk away from any of the work that we have to do." He said he would move for a vote on the treaty and was confident he had the numbers to ratify it. Jim Manley, a spokesman for Reid, had said earlier that the Senate could begin debate as early as Wednesday.

- AP

Murphy puts up 'don't ask' repeal

WASHINGTON - Repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" will move as separate House legislation. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), an Iraq war veteran, Tuesday introduced the bill, and a version is expected in the Senate. The Senate last week failed by three votes to cut off extended debate on legislation that included the repeal.

It was not clear when - or if - Murphy's bill to repeal the ban on gays serving openly in the military would be considered by the full House. Lawmakers hope to wrap up the 111th Congress by the end of this week, and the tax-cut and government-funding measures are pending.

Murphy's bill is expected to draw strong support. The House in May voted to back repeal as part of a broader defense bill. And supporters of the measure feel some urgency - Murphy lost his seat in the November election, and next month, Republicans will control the House.

- McClatchy Newspapers