By Peter Baugher
Storm system crosses country
A storm system moved across the United States during the first week of March, causing snow, sleet and strong wind throughout different parts of the country.
The storm started in California, with some areas of the state receiving about 7 feet of snow, before moving south. In Texas and Louisiana, the storm caused tornadoes which damaged homes, businesses and some Louisiana State University buildings. Some areas in the southern U.S. experienced winds of 80 mph.
At the same time, northern Arkansas and southern Missouri experienced severe rainfall and flooding which prompted an evacuation of people living along the Spring River in Arkansas.
The storm brought snow, sleet and freezing rain to Michigan and Indiana as it headed east. Tennessee, Kentucky and the Ohio valley are expected to see high winds with a possibility of tornados as the storm travels toward New England.
Meteorologists predict that parts of New England will likely experience up to 3 feet of snow and 40 mph wind gusts.
Utah to ban abortion clinics
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox said he plans to sign a bill which will ban abortion clinics from operating in the state.
Such a law would mean that only hospitals could provide abortions of any kind. In 2020, Utah banned abortion during all trimesters with certain exceptions for situations of rape or incest.
However, that law has not gone into effect due to a pending review by the Utah Court of Appeals.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah and the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah oppose the new ban, arguing that restricting abortion access interferes with human rights.
South Carolina attorney gets life sentence
South Carolina attorney Alex Murdaugh was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of the murder of his wife and son.
The jury found Murdaugh guilty after just three hours of deliberation. He was convicted of killing his 22-year-old son Paul with a shotgun and his 52-year-old wife Maggie with a rifle.
Prosecutors admitted they lacked direct evidence that Murdaugh was responsible for the crime, but claimed to have strong circumstantial evidence.
Prosecutors also opted not to pursue a capital sentence for Murdaugh, although it is available under South Carolina law.
New crew arrives at the International Space Station
Four astronauts boarded the International Space Station on March 3, replacing a crew that has been living on the station since October.
While aboard the SpaceX shuttle which brought them to the station, the four new astronauts were forced to wait 65 feet from the station for around an hour after the docking hooks on the capsule malfunctioned.
Mission control had to correct a software problem on the ground before the astronauts could begin the process of linking up with the station.
The new crew included two American Astronauts, a Russian cosmonaut and an astronaut from the United Arab Emirates.
Sultan al-Neyadi, the astronaut from the UAE, is the first person from the Arab world to live in space for an extended period and the second person from the UAE to go into orbit.
U.S. sends more aid to Ukraine
The United States will be providing $400 million of military aid to Ukraine, including armored bridge launching vehicles, defense officials said on March 3.
Russian and Ukrainian forces are currently at a standstill, with both sides holding positions on either side of the Dnieper River. The Armored Vehicle Launched Bridges being provided to Ukraine are tanks that each carry a 60-foot bridge, helping troops to cross rivers or other gaps.
The aid package also included replacement ammunition rounds, demolition equipment and equipment to clear obstacles. The U.S. will provide equipment from pre-existing stockpiles in order to expedite the aid.
Bishop testifies against abuse disclosure bill, citing seal of confession.
A Catholic bishop in Vermont testified before the state Senate Judiciary Committee against a bill that would remove an exemption allowing clerics not to disclose evidence of crimes that they hear while acting as spiritual advisers.
Bishop Christopher Coyne told the committee that this law would require Catholic priests to disclose evidence admitted under the seal of confession and said that the law would result in excommunication for priests who abide by it.
Coyne added that the Constitution protects the right of citizens to worship and freely exercise their religion.
Coyne also said that all other communications, such as office conversations, counseling sessions and spiritual direction which falls outside the seal of confession could permissibly be subject to disclosure laws. Coyne asserted that protecting children from abuse is essential, but not at the expense of violating the seal of confession.
The bishop also said that priests can encourage those who confess such crimes to get counseling, report themselves and avoid contact with children.