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NATION IN BRIEF: Nearly half of US households will pay no fed income tax

The Associated Press. Jamie Paulin-Ramirez's defense attorney Jeremy Ibrahim listens to a reporter's question outside the U.S. Courthouse in Philadelphia on Wednesday. Paulin-Ramirez, charged in a global terrorism plot, has pleaded not guilty to aiding terrorists.

The Associated Press. Jamie Paulin-Ramirez's defense attorney Jeremy Ibrahim listens to a reporter's question outside the U.S. Courthouse in Philadelphia on Wednesday. Paulin-Ramirez, charged in a global terrorism plot, has pleaded not guilty to aiding terrorists.

WASHINGTON -- Tax Day is a dreaded deadline for millions, but for nearly half of U.S. households it's simply somebody else's problem.

About 47 percent will pay no federal income taxes at all for 2009. Either their incomes were too low, or they qualified for enough credits, deductions and exemptions to eliminate their liability. That's according to projections by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington research organization.

Most people still are required to file returns by the April 15 deadline. The penalty for skipping it is limited to the amount of taxes owed, but it's still almost always better to file: That's the only way to get a refund of all the income taxes withheld by employers.

Woman silently pleads not guilty in terror case

PHILADELPHIA -- With a shake of the head, a pregnant Colorado woman pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a charge of helping foreign terrorists who authorities said were plotting to kill a Swedish artist.

Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, 31, entered the silent plea to avoid giving prosecutors a sample of her voice. The government evidence includes hard drives and other computer files that may contain voice recordings, and her lawyer did not want to provide a sample for comparison.

Man pleads guilty in 2007 apartment killing

NEW YORK -- A sometime boyfriend pleaded guilty Wednesday to strangling a college student in her professor mother's New York University apartment, a slaying authorities said spurred the killer to try to take his own life.

Michael Cordero sighed, his voice halting and cracking at times, as he apologized in a Manhattan court for killing Boitumelo McCallum in 2007. She was a student at a California college and the daughter of two New York University teachers.

''If I could take it back, I would,'' said Cordero, 25, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in exchange for a promised 25-year sentence.

Bernanke: Jobs, housing biggest economic hurdles

WASHINGTON -- Problems in the housing market and high unemployment are the biggest economic challenges the nation faces, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday.

After suffering through the worst recession since the 1930s, the economy seems to have stabilized and is growing again, Bernanke said. But he warned: ''We are far from being out of the woods. Many Americans are still grappling with unemployment or foreclosure or both.''

In remarks to business people in Dallas, Bernanke said he saw no evidence of a ''sustained recovery'' in the housing market, noting that foreclosures keep rising. Commercial real estate remains a trouble spot, too.

Denali projects Alaska pipeline cost at $35B

JUNEAU, Alaska -- A massive endeavor to move natural gas from Alaska's North Slope to North American markets will cost an estimated $35 billion, according to a plan unveiled Wednesday, potentially setting the stage for a high-stakes showdown with a competing pipeline project and the state.

Details of the Denali project, a joint effort of ConocoPhillips and BP PLC, were released in a filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Denali proposes a pipeline of more than 1,700 miles, with delivery points along the way to help meet gas needs in Alaska and Canada.

Former Ala. mayor begins prison sentence

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Former Birmingham mayor Larry Langford reported to federal prison Wednesday to begin a 15-year sentence for bribery, a term he expects to mean his death behind bars.

Langford, 64, arrived in the company of relatives at midmorning at the Federal Correctional Institution Ashland, a prison in northeastern Kentucky. He was convicted last fall on 60 felony counts of taking some $240,000 in bribes from a former investment banker while serving as president of Alabama's Jefferson County Commission.