NATION IN BRIEF: Second blizzard howls through weary Okla., Ark.

Second blizzard howls through weary Okla., Ark.

OKLAHOMA CITY — Another powerful blizzard howled through the nation’s midsection Wednesday, piling up to 2 feet of new snow on parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas still struggling to clean up from last week’s epic storm.

The blowing snow brought traffic to a halt, and the National Guard was summoned to rescue stranded motorists. Subzero wind chills forced ranchers to work desperately to protect their herds.

As the storm barreled out of the Plains, it took aim at the Deep South, which was expected to get up to five inches of snow. At least two traffic deaths were blamed on the system.

Giffords speaks for first time since shooting

PHOENIX — Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords spoke for the first time since she was shot in the forehead, her spokesman said Wednesday, yet another significant milestone in her recovery from a traumatic brain injury.

Giffords first spoke within the past few days and is speaking “more and more,” spokesman C.J. Karamargin said Wednesday. He didn’t know what her first words were, but said that at breakfast one morning she asked for toast.

‘‘She’s working very hard and it’s paying off,’’ he told The Associated Press. ‘‘We’re elated at this. We always knew Gabby is a fighter and that she’s not going to let this thing win. And you know, every day is proof of that.’’

Mom: Woman who left baby in toilet can’t remember

GREENVILLE, S.C. — A South Carolina woman accused of giving birth in an arena toilet and leaving her baby to die didn’t know she was pregnant and can’t remember the birth, her mother told a judge Wednesday.

Blackham, 24, felt ill during a circus performance and went to the arena’s bathroom, McAuliffe said. She told the judge that her daughter can’t remember what happened next and later went to a hospital, where she was treated for bleeding.

Blackham gave birth to the 6-pound boy and left him in the toilet’s cold water Friday night, police said.

Blackham was charged Tuesday with one count of felony child abuse and one count of unlawful neglect toward a child. Her bond was set at $30,000.

Arena workers found the asphyxiating child and called authorities. The infant, now in the care of the state Department of Social Services, was in good condition at a hospital.

Wis. woman pleads not guilty to ’57 infant death

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — A Wisconsin woman accused of killing her infant more than 50 years ago has pleaded not guilty.

Seventy-four-year-old Ruby Klokow of Sheboygan was ordered Wednesday to stand trial in the case.

Her 7-month-old daughter died of a head injury in 1957. Klokow told authorities at the time that her daughter fell 16 inches from a couch, and an investigation produced no charges.

However, her son came forward to police in 2008 alleging that Klokow abused him and his siblings. Police reopened the investigation into the baby’s death, and Klokow was charged after investigators said she admitted to causing the death.

Garth Brooks concerts raise $5M for flood relief

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Garth Brooks’ December concert series at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena is expected to bring in $5 million for flood relief in Tennessee.

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee on Wednesday announced the expected total take from the nine sold-out concerts. The nonprofit already has received $4.35 million and the money is still coming in.

The proceeds will go to The River Fund, a charitable fund within the Community Foundation. The fund already has given out $1.4 million to Hands on Nashville, the Tennessee Conference of the United Methodist Committee on Relief and the Community Resource Center.

Coroner: Busch’s girlfriend OD’d on oxycodone

ST. LOUIS — The girlfriend of former Anheuser-Busch CEO August Busch IV died at his home after accidentally overdosing on the painkiller oxycodone, the St. Louis County medical examiner said Wednesday.

Adrienne Martin, 27, of St. Charles, was found dead on the morning of Dec. 19 at Busch’s sprawling estate in suburban St. Louis after spending the night at his home. He has said he woke up around 11 a.m. and tried to awaken Martin, but couldn’t.