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NATION -- Government OKs 1st US offshore wind farm

Government OKs 1st US offshore wind farm

BOSTON -- The Obama administration has approved what would be the nation's first offshore wind farm, off Cape Cod, inching the U.S. closer to harvesting an untapped domestic energy source -- the steady breezes blowing along its vast coasts.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced his decision Wednesday in Boston,

clearing the way for a 130-turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound. Cape Wind was in its ninth year of federal review, and Salazar stepped in early this year to bring what he called much-needed resolution to the bitterly contested proposal.

''We are beginning a new direction in our nation's energy future,'' Salazar said.

Nearly two feet of snow falls in NY, New England

MONTPELIER, Vt. -- A rare late-season snowstorm dumped up to 2 feet of heavy, wet snow on northern New York and northern New England on Wednesday, giving school children an unexpected day off and forcing others to seek refuge from homes darkened by downed power lines.

The National Weather Service reported more than 20 inches of snow fell on the western slopes of Vermont's Green Mountains northeast of Burlington.

Plea deals expected to close four strip clubs

SEATTLE -- The federal government would become the owner of four notorious Seattle-area strip clubs under plea agreements being filed Wednesday.

Under the deals, three business associates of Frank Colacurcio Sr. were expected to plead guilty to racketeering charges stemming from a federal investigation into his decades-old strip club empire.

The three associates also would close the clubs by May 5 and turn them over to the federal government, according to a court filing unsealed Tuesday.

The Seattle Times reported the men would pay hefty fines but avoid prison time.

Man gets life for burning homeless man to death

LOS ANGELES -- A former barber was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison for murdering a mentally ill homeless man by splashing him with gasoline and setting him ablaze to settle a grudge.

Ben Matthew Martin, 31, pleaded guilty last month to the 2008 murder of John McGraham.

The attack horrified the central Los Angeles neighborhood where McGraham had lived on a sidewalk for years, befriending many residents.

Attorneys ask judge to halt firing squad

SALT LAKE CITY -- Attorneys for a Utah inmate scheduled to be killed by firing squad have asked a judge to put the execution on hold while they appeal.

Ronnie Lee Gardner is scheduled to die June 18, after 3rd District Judge Robin Reese last week signed the warrant for his execution. Gardner requested the sentence be carried out by firing squad instead of lethal injection.

FBI: Man claimed he had dynamite on plane

BANGOR, Maine -- An airline passenger who caused a Delta Air Lines jetliner to be diverted to Maine aroused attention with a note claiming he had a fake passport before telling federal air marshals that he had dynamite in his boots and in his laptop computer, the FBI says in court documents.

Derek Stansberry, a former Air Force member, told the FBI after the plane landed in Maine that he had taken the sleeping aid Ambien, that he thought he was being followed and that fellow passengers were talking about him, according to an affidavit filed in U.S. District Court on Wednesday.

Air marshals and flight attendants kept Stansberry in the back of the Airbus A330. A search of the plane later indicated there were no explosives.