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NATION IN BRIEF: Monster winter storm aims at US

COLUMBIA, Mo. — A monster winter storm took aim at a third of the nation Monday, threatening to lay a potentially deadly path of heavy snow and ice from the Rockies to New England, followed by a wave of bitter, bone-rattling cold that could affect tens of millions of people.

Cities including St. Louis, Kansas City and Milwaukee could be hardest hit, with expected midweek snowfalls of up to 2 feet and drifts piled 5 to 10 feet. Even hardy Chicago could be in for its third-worst blizzard since record-keeping began.

‘‘I wouldn’t want to be on the road in open areas tomorrow night,” WGN forecaster Tom Skilling said. “I don’t think I’d want to be driving in the city either. The fact is people die in these things.”

Lesbian students enter to cheers

CHAMPLIN, Minn. — Two lesbian high school students who fought for the right to walk together as part of a royalty court made their entrances Monday to the cheers of hundreds of classmates.

Sarah Lindstrom and Desiree Shelton wore matching black suits with pink ties and held hands as they entered the Snow Days Pep Fest at Champlin Park High School in Minneapolis’ northwest suburbs.

The reaction came as a relief to the couple and school administrators. The district has been stung by criticism of its policies toward homosexuality and the alleged bullying of a gay student who killed himself.

“It felt amazing,” said Shelton, adding that she was too nervous to notice dozens rise to give her a standing ovation as she walked in with Lindstrom.

Fla. judge strikes down Obamacare

PENSACOLA, Fla. — A federal judge declared the Obama administration’s health care overhaul unconstitutional Monday, siding with 26 states that argued people cannot be required to buy health insurance.

Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson agreed with the states that the new law violates people’s rights by forcing them to buy health insurance by 2014 or face penalties. He went a step further than a previous ruling against the law, declaring the entire thing unconstitutional if the insurance requirement does not hold up.

Attorneys for the administration had argued that the states did not have standing to challenge the law and that the case should be dismissed.

Model to pay for Reno crash

LAS VEGAS — A fashion model pleaded no contest Monday in Reno to careless driving and agreed to pay damages after crashing a rented motorhome into the city’s landmark downtown arch.

Rosemary Vandenbroucke, 28, of Hong Kong agreed to pay $385 in fines and $985 for damage to the “Biggest Little City in the World” arch and a fire hydrant, said Dan Wong, criminal division chief for the city attorney’s office.

Reno Municipal Court Judge Jay Dilworth accepted the plea with no other penalties, Wong said.

Nobody was injured in the crash, but authorities said the 40-foot motorhome was substantially damaged.

Vandenbroucke was originally charged with three misdemeanors — vehicular hit-and-run, failure to maintain insurance and making an improper right turn.

The Labor Day crash occurred a day after the model was arrested at the Burning Man counterculture festival and charged with possession of a controlled substance.

6 teens accused of bullying

UPPER DARBY, Pa. — Police in a Philadelphia suburb say they have arrested six teenagers and are seeking a seventh in connection with an assault in which a 13-year-old student was kidnapped and hung from a fence post, but not seriously hurt.

Upper Darby Township Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said Monday’s arrests at Upper Darby High School are related to an assault that happened Jan. 11 in an apartment complex courtyard.

Chitwood said the suspects, ages 13 to 17, kidnapped the victim on his way home from school, dragged him through the snow, stuffed him in a tree and hung him by his jacket from a 7-foot-high fence post.

Plane lands on I-80 in N.J.

HACKENSACK, N.J. — Authorities said a federally owned plane being used for local homeland security training made an emergency landing on Interstate 80 in northern New Jersey.

The Bergen County prosecutor’s office said the plane landed on the eastbound express lanes around 2:30 p.m. Monday after a fuel line malfunction.