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Deflate-gate Investigation Won't Be Complete Before Super Bowl, Patriots Owner Hopes for Apology If No Wrongdoing Found


Patriots Owner Robert Kraft speaks to the media on Monday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images(NEW YORK) - An attorney hired by the NFL to investigate the Deflate-gate scandal acknowledged on Monday that the investigation would last beyond this Sunday's Super Bowl.

"We are in the process of conducting a thorough investigation of the issue of the footballs used in the AFC Championship," Ted Wells said, regarding the game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts for which the Patriots allegedly provided 12 footballs, of which 11 were under-inflated by about two pounds per square inch.

"This work began last week, stretched through the weekend, and is proceeding expeditiously this week notwithstanding the Super Bowl." Wells said he expects his investigation to take "at least several more weeks," saying that "in the interim, it would be best if everyone involved or potentially involved in this matter avoids public comment concerning the matter until the investigation is concluded."

Wells also noted that the results of the investigation will be made public.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had previously told ESPN that he would not be interviewed regarding the incident until after the Super Bowl. Wells' comments represent the first confirmation that the investigation wouldn't be resolved before Sunday, however.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft, however, spoke out on Monday, saying that he had spoken with Brady and head coach Bill Belichick about the matter. Both Brady and Belichick told Kraft that they had no knowledge of what happened. Kraft affirmed his belief in the two men, saying that he "has never known them to lie to him."

Kraft further expressed disappointment that the "reputations and integrity" of Brady and Belichick -- "and by association that of our team" -- has been called into question.

"If the Wells investigation is not able to definitively determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure in the footballs," Kraft said, "I would expect and hope that the league would apologize to our entire team, and in particular to Coach Belichick and Tom Brady, for what they have had to endure this past week."

 

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Flights Canceled, Travel Bans Enacted Ahead of Major Winter Storm


ABC News(NEW YORK) -- As a massive blizzard prepares to engulf the Northeast, some 3,134 flights have been canceled as the storm is expected to bring two feet or more of snow from New Jersey to Maine.

Follow the storm's progress with the ABC Live Blog here.

An additional 4,281 flights have been cancelled for Tuesday and that number is expected to rise, according to FlightAware.com.

The greatest impacts from the storm, which began as a clipper system that brought snow and slick roads to the Midwest on Sunday, are expected Monday evening through Tuesday.

President Obama was briefed on the storm, and White House officials have been in touch with state and local officials on the eastern seaboard, according to White House Spokesman Josh Earnest.

FEMA also has assets in the region ready to assist, Earnest said.

Local leaders in the New York area were warning residents to stay off the roads and planned to shut down or curtail mass transit systems as the storm intensifies.

In Connecticut, Gov. Dannel Malloy issued a travel ban for the entire state effective at 9 p.m. this evening.

"We encourage citizens to stay in place during the duration of the storm," Malloy said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and N.J. Gov. Chris Christie announced at separate briefings that the New York subway, the Long Island Rail Road, Metro North and New Jersey Transit would all be reducing service dramatically leading up to total closures for the subway, LIRR and Metro North at 11 p.m. and for NJ Transit at 10 p.m. Subway and PATH train service were to be curtailed. The MTA said that Monday night was the first time snow has shut down the entire subway system.

Cuomo also said that all non-emergency vehicles would be banned from local, county and state roads in 13 counties including both counties of Long Island beginning at 11 p.m. The Port Authority has also announced that all bridges and tunnels would be closed as of 11 p.m. Monday.

"This is a serious situation," Cuomo said. "If you violate this state order, it's a possible misdemeanor. It's fines up to $300."

New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio told residents not to underestimate the storm.

"Prepare for something worse than we have seen before. Prepare to be safe. Take every precaution," he said. "Now is the time to get ready for this extreme weather."

All vehicles will be barred from New York City roads starting at 11 p.m., as part of an order that will stand until further notice, de Blasio said.

Ahead of the winter storm, New York City residents raced to stock up on food essentials.

De Blasio said crews were readying to keep streets clear, as officials prepare for what could be "one of the top two or three largest storms in the history of this city." He also warned that the storm "will hit very hard and very fast and people cannot be caught off guard."

New York City Public Schools will also be closed Tuesday to more than one million students.

Also on Monday night, Amtrak announced the cancellation of its service between New York and Boston for Tuesday. Service south of New York City will also be reduced, Amtrak said.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency was also preparing for the storm.

"All of the things that come into play during these events, we want to make sure there are no surprises and everybody is on the same page," said MEMA spokesman Peter Judge.

Boston Public Schools are slated to be closed both Tuesday and Wednesday due to the storm.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency and implemented a statewide travel ban beginning at midnight.

"Driving will be virtually impossible for extended periods of time starting late tonight," Baker said. "Please stay off the roads. Everyone should expect impassible roads starting at midnight tonight."

In Boston, which was expected to get two feet of snow, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority announced that it will run until about midnight and will be closed Tuesday

In all, seven states -- Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island -- have declared states of emergency.

The highest snowfall amounts are currently expected between just east of New York City and Boston, where up to two feet of snow is expected.

New York City can expect 12-18 inches of snow, with cities southwest on I-95, like Philadelphia seeing 6-12 inches.

Winter storm watches, warnings, and advisories are in effect from the mid-Atlantic through New England, with blizzard watches posted for cities closer to the coast, including New York City and Boston, where blizzard conditions are expected during the height of the storm.

In anticipation of the dangerous winter weather, several major U.S. airlines have issued travel advisories, including Jet Blue, US Airways, American, Southwest and Delta.

Many airlines are also waiving their flight change and cancellation fees for any flights that are scheduled to arrive in cities expected to be affected by the storm this evening and Tuesday.

Travelers can check with their specific airline for how to change or cancel their flight and get the latest updates on any travel advisories.


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Former CIA Officer Convicted of Illegally Disclosing National Defense Information


Kuzma/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A former CIA officer was convicted of illegally disclosing national defense information on Monday.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling broke the law by providing information on an unidentified country's weapons capabilities to a reporter. FBI Director James Comey said that Sterling "violated his sworn duty to protect our nation's secrets and he betrayed our country."

Attorney General Eric Holder called the conviction "a just and appropriate outcome," adding that Sterling's actions "compromised operations undertaken in defense of America's national security" and "placed lives at risk."

According to evidence presented at trial, Sterling was employed by the CIA from May 1993 through January 2002. For a portion of that time, he was assigned to a classified clandestine operational program that was intended to undermine the Iranian nuclear weapons program.

The DOJ says that Sterling "pursued administrative and civil actions against the CIA" in 2000. When the CIA refused to settle those actions on terms he deemed favorable, Sterling "disclosed information concerning the classified operational program and [a] human asset" to a New York Times reporter.

Sterling is set to face sentencing in April.

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Sixth Body Found at Annapolis, Maryland, Mansion Fire


Obtained by ABC News(ANNAPOLIS, Md.) -- A sixth body was recovered Monday from the scene of a mansion fire in Annapolis, Maryland, and all occupants of the home are now believed to be accounted for, the Anne Arundel County Fire Department said.

The first two bodies were found Jan. 21 and others were found on the following days.

Tech executive Don Pyle, his wife, Sandy Pyle, and four of their grandchildren were believed to have been inside the 16,000-square-foot mansion on Jan. 19 when the fire broke out, according to relatives and neighbors.

Operations at the scene will continue for two more days, the Fire Department said Monday.

Officials have not released a cause of the four-alarm blaze.

Relatives of the victims thanked well-wishers last week in a statement. Attributed to "the Boone and Pyle families," the statement referenced four children -- Alexis (Lexi) Boone, 8, Kaitlyn (Katie) Boone, 7, Charlotte Boone, 8, and Wesley (Wes) Boone, 6 -- and the Pyles, who records list as the mansion's owners.

"We wish to express our gratitude and appreciation for the love and support being shared with us during this tragic event," the families said. "We are blessed that so many family, friends, and neighbors have come together for us in our time of need."

The statement added, "Our love for our family is boundless. Our loss demands time and quiet reflection to process these feelings. We ask that you respect our need for privacy."

”Life is fragile," the statement concluded. "Make time today to embrace your loved ones."

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Bodies, Vehicle Found in Georgia Case of Missing Craigslist Car Couple


The Runion Family | Telfair County Sheriff's Office(ATLANTA) -- Investigators have found the unidentified bodies of a male and a female, as well as an SUV owned by a Georgia couple who vanished last week while going to meet someone to buy a vintage car they found on Craigslist.

“It’s not the outcome we had hoped for, but obviously it’s one we have to deal with,” Telfair County Sheriff Chris Steverson told reporters.

Bud Runion, 69, and his wife, June, 66, disappeared Thursday, authorities said. The pair had posted an ad seeking to buy a vintage 1966 Ford Mustang convertible. Relatives said the Mustang was the couple’s dream car, one they’d wanted to buy since they were married decades ago.

The couple's 2003 GMC Envoy was found submerged in a lake, the Telfair County Sheriff's Office said on its Facebook page. The unidentified bodies were found at another location, near property affiliated with the family of a suspect in the case who turned himself in to law enforcement earlier Monday, officials said.

That suspect, Ronnie “Jay” Towns, 28, was the alleged owner of the phone that last communicated with the Runions' phone, according to the sheriff's office.

The couple, after finding what they believed was a seller, reportedly set out on a 180-mile road trip from Marietta, Georgia, to McRae, Georgia.

The Runions haven't been heard from since, and never showed up to babysit their grandchildren Friday. Their three daughters had grown increasingly worried by their parents’ disappearance.

“Whoever has them, we hope that they will let them come home to us,” daughter Stephanie Bishop said. “We miss them.”

The Runion family has set up a Facebook page -- “Find Bud and June Runion” -- and it has about 100,000 supporters, a growing group desperately searching for the couple.

“We are unbelievably grateful for all of the media support and to each of you for sharing the page. We ask that you please keep sharing the page and spreading the word so we can find Bud and June Runion,” the couple's relatives wrote.

Officials with Craigslist referred to the safety page on the company’s website, which notes, “Be especially careful when buying/selling high value items.”


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Feds: Russian Spy Posing as Banker Nabbed in NYC


Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An alleged Russian spy posing as a banker in Manhattan has been arrested, federal officials said Monday.

The banker, identified in a criminal complaint as Evgeny Buryakov, is accused of working with agents of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the SVR, as a “non-official cover” agent.

“Specifically, Buryakov is posing as an employee in the Manhattan office of a Russian bank,” the complaint, unsealed Monday, says.

Buraykov was arrested as part of an alleged spy ring that involved two other individuals, the Department of Justice said. The other two, identified as Igor Sporyshev and Victor Podobnyy, had worked in the U.S. before on behalf of Russia and were protected by diplomatic immunity. Sporyshev worked as a Trade Representative for Russia in New York until late last year and Podobnyy was an attaché to Russia’s Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, the complaint says.

“These charges demonstrate our firm commitment to combating attempts by covert agents to illegally gather intelligence and recruit spies within the United States,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. “We will use every tool at our disposal to identify and hold accountable foreign agents operating inside this country -- no matter how deep their cover.”

Buryakov is listed as the Deputy Representative in the U.S. for Russia's Vnesheconombank, based in Manhattan. A spokesperson at the state-run bank declined to comment to ABC News.

Federal officials say the spy ring was tasked by Moscow with gathering information on, among other things, potential U.S. sanctions against Russia and U.S. efforts to develop alternative energy resources. The three allegedly worked for a particular division of Russian intelligence called “Directorate ER,” which “focuses on economic issues,” according to the complaint.

The FBI began tracking the trio after the 2010 arrests of Anna Chapman and nine other spies known as the “Illegals.” The trio is accused of trying to recruit female spies for Russia.

The three newly uncovered alleged spies regularly met and communicated using clandestine methods and coded messages, in order to exchange intelligence-related information while shielding their associations with one another as SVR agents. To pass information court records say they held clandestine meetings outdoors where they passed bags, magazines or slips of paper.


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Lance Armstrong on Doping: 'I Would Probably Do It Again'


George Burns/Oprah Winfrey Network via Getty Images(LONDON) -- Lance Armstrong said his life has been "brutal" since he admitted to doping during his pro cycling career, but he said he would still use banned performance-enhancing drugs and methods if transported back to his heyday.

"If I was racing in 2015, no I wouldn't do it again because I don't think you have to do it again. If you take me back to 1995, when it was completely and totally pervasive, I would probably do it again. People don’t like to hear that," Armstrong told BBC Sports in his first TV interview since he confessed to doping.

In the two years since he came clean on the Oprah Winfrey Show, "The fallout has been heavy, maybe heavier than I thought," Armstrong said. "It was, you know, pretty brutal afterwards. It's been tough."

Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles in 2012 in the wake of the scandal and banned from professional cycling for life, said his biggest fear was the possibility of facing questions from his kids as they got older.

"You'd have that day when a 13-year-old or a 15-year-old would come home and just be in pieces. 'Dad, I heard this in the hallway' or 'I read this on social media, is this true?'" Armstrong said. "Yeah, that would rock me."

Asked whether he deserved forgiveness, especially in light of his bullying and intimidation of his accusers and former teammates, Armstrong said, "some of that's true, some of that's not true. There was certainly a dishonesty there that I think is totally regrettable and inexcusable -- the ring leading, the bullying, not totally true."

Armstrong added that he thinks he should be forgiven and his lifetime ban lifted.

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WATCH: Pilot Pulls Parachute in Dramatic Plane Escape over Ocean


US Coast Guard(MAUI, Hawaii) -- The U.S. Coast Guard captured the suspenseful moment when a pilot ran out of fuel and his plane quickly plummeted to the ocean.

The pilot had to ditch his aircraft about 253 miles northeast of Maui, Hawaii, on Sunday, when his single engine Cirrus SR-22 aircraft ran out of fuel.

Fortunately, the pilot was safe after the ordeal.

"At approximately 4:44 p.m. the pilot was able to deploy the aircraft’s airframe parachute system and safely exit the aircraft into a life raft," according to the Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System.

The Flight Academy released a statement on Monday saying that "the safety of the Cirrus SR22 aircraft was demonstrated again yesterday when our pilot, Lue Morton, successfully deployed the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System over the Pacific Ocean."

Morton, the statement said, chose to deploy the parachute after failing to troubleshoot a fuel system malfunction. The aircraft, the academy said, had adequate fuel reserves for the flight and had fuel remaining when Morton deployed the parachute, but the fuel "was unable to reach the engine for unknown reasons."

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Suspect Surrenders in Case of Missing Craigslist Car Couple


aijohn784/iStock/Thinkstock(MARIETTA, Ga.) -- A suspect has turned himself in to authorities investigating the disappearance of a Georgia couple, who vanished last week while going to meet someone to buy a vintage car they found on Craigslist.

Bud Runion, 69, and his wife, June, 66, disappeared Thursday, authorities said. The pair had posted an ad seeking to buy a vintage 1966 Ford Mustang convertible. Relatives said the Mustang was the couple’s dream car, one they’d wanted to buy since they were married decades ago.

Ronnie “Jay” Towns, 28, a suspect in the couple’s disappearance, has surrendered to authorities, Telfair County Sheriff Chris Steverson said. He had not been accused of harming the Runions.

The couple’s last call was to Towns, police have said.

The Runions, after finding what they believed was a seller, reportedly set out on a 180-mile road trip from Marietta, Georgia, to McRae, Georgia.

The couple hasn’t been heard from since, and never showed up to babysit their grandchildren on Friday. The Runions’ three daughters have grown increasingly worried by their parents’ disappearance.

“Whoever has them, we hope that they will let them come home to us,” daughter Stephanie Bishop said. “We miss them.”

The Runion family has set up a Facebook page -- “Find Bud and June Runion” -- and it has about 100,000 supporters, a growing group desperately searching for the couple.

“We are unbelievably grateful for all of the media support and to each of you for sharing the page. We ask that you please keep sharing the page and spreading the word so we can find Bud and June Runion,” the couple's relatives wrote.

Officials with Craigslist referred to the safety page on the company’s website, which notes, “Be especially careful when buying/selling high value items.”

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Remembering the Storm that Shut Down New York City


Man standing by snow hut, after the Great Blizzard of 1888, with U.S. Capitol in background, Washington, D.C. (Buyenlarge/Getty Images)(NEW YORK) -- More than 125 years later, the Great Blizzard of 1888's legacy still resonates. The storm is drawing new attention as the East Coast prepares Monday for a devastating winter onslaught, with 12 to 18 inches of snow possible in New York City in the coming days.

The city has been hit hard before -- including March 11 to 14, 1888. The blizzard remains one of the worst storms in U.S. history, dumping 50 inches of snow in some areas, according to the National Weather Service, with drifts up to 50 feet high reported and residents from Maryland to Maine impacted.

Hundreds of people died. Public transportation was frozen, telegraph and telephone wires were down, and electricity was lost.

“It has been thus far the greatest storm that this section of the country has ever known,” wrote The New York World on March 13, 1888. “From midnight of Sunday to midnight of Monday this blizzard completely paralyzed the life-blood of this city and turned its avocations into a by-word and a force. Business stood still and millions of money were the damages."

Elevated trains were stuck between stations and ladders were used to get passengers down to the street below. Newly-arrived immigrants were paid to shovel, and horse carts were used to clear the snow from the streets.

The 1888 storm maintains the third-highest snow accumulation recorded in New York City at 21 inches. The Great Blizzard started as rain, turning to sleet and snow as the temperature dropped into the single digits. What set the storm apart was the wind, with some gusts reaching 75 miles per hour.

“The vast machinery of the great city was stopped short by the storm, and the consequent financial loss was enormous,” wrote the Hornellsville Weekly Tribune.

Everett Hayden, a scientist, wrote about the blizzard in the first issue of National Geographic magazine in 1889.

“The great storm...has furnished a most striking and instructive example of a somewhat unusual class of storms, and this on such a grand scale, and in a part of the world where the data for its study are so complete, that it must long remain a memorable instance,” he wrote.

A group of survivors -- the Blizzard Men of ’88 -- helped to maintain the storm’s visibility, continuing to meet into the mid-1900s. One of the group members, Theodore Van Wyck, wrote a poem to commemorate the historic storm.

“Our blizzard sure must take the prize/ In spite of all the yarns and lies/ Our snow was nearly two feet deep/ Piled up and down in one big heap,” he wrote in the mid-1930s.

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Two Dead in Murder-Suicide at Home Depot in NYC's Flatiron District


Chad Lomax(NEW YORK) — A Home Depot in New York City's Flatiron District was evacuated Sunday after police say two employees were killed in a murder-suicide.

Two men died in the shooting at the store on 23rd Street in Manhattan, according to the New York Police Department.

Police got the report of shots fired inside the store at about 2:45 p.m., and when officers arrived they found two men who were shot inside.

The NYPD identified the shooter as Calvin Esdaile Jr., 31. He was pronounced dead at the scene of a gunshot to the head.

A 38-year-old male who was shot in the abdomen and the chest was transported by EMS to Bellevue Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.

Police said they recovered a .38-caliber revolver at the scene.

The store was full of shoppers stocking up on supplies ahead of Monday's nor'easter at the time of the shooting.

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Deflate-gate: Patriots Players Support Coach's Scientific Explanation


John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Several New England Patriots said Sunday they missed their coach's scientific explanation for why footballs the team used in the AFC championship lacked enough air, but they seemed to agree: If Bill Belichick said it, there was probably something to it.

Defensive end Chandler Jones said he didn't see the presentation about the science experiment Belichick gave at an impromptu press conference Saturday, but he saw no reason to doubt what he said.

"Coach Belichick is a very brilliant coach and I understand that he's a smart man," he said. "I feel like if he has an explanation for something then it helps."

Jones added, "But I don't really touch the ball. So I don't know too much about it."

Wide receiver Julian Edelman said he also wasn't aware of Belichick's press conference.

"Coach [has] always got his own thing going and I've moved on to Seattle last Sunday. That's how I feel about that whole thing," Edelman said.

Fullback James Develin said Belichick has the "fire" and "emotion" needed in the NFL.

"Any time I see that kind of fire out of anybody, whether it's our quarterback or anybody, it always kind of inspires me," he said. "Football is an emotional game and I think whenever you wear your heart on your sleeve and show that emotion, it's always great."

The players said they are instead focusing on next weekend's Super Bowl.

Belichick talked about many things in the rambling press conference Saturday, including "atmospheric" and "climatic" conditions, that could have affected the air pressure in 11 of the 12 footballs the Patriots used in the AFC Championship game.

"If there's activity in the football relative to the rubbing process, I think that explains why when we gave them to the officials and the officials put it at, let's say 12.5, if that's in fact what they did, that once the football reached its equilibrium state, it probably was closer to 11.5," he said.

The NFL's guidelines dictate that a ball must be inflated to about 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch and weigh between 14 and 15 ounces.

"The atmospheric conditions, as well as the true equilibrium of the football is critical to the measurement," Belichick added.

On Good Morning America Sunday, "Science Guy" Bill Nye said Belichick's scientific explanation "didn't make any sense."

"Rubbing the football? I don't think you can change the pressure," Nye said. "To really change the pressure, you need the inflation needle."

But the chairman of the Department of Physics at Boston College, Michael Neughton, says Belichick's thesis is possible.

"Pressurized inside, brought outside and played in colder temperatures, my answer to that is the pressure in the balls must have changed," he said.

Whatever caused the footballs to be underinflated, Belichick said it was not anything the team did intentionally.

"At no time was there any intent whatsoever to try to compromise the integrity of the game or to gain an advantage," he said.

The NFL acknowledged for the first time Friday that the Patriots used under-inflated balls in the first half of Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots beat the Colts 45-7 and will play the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

Patriots owner Bob Kraft said he told the team staff to be "completely cooperative and transparent with the league's investigators," and said the team takes it seriously.

The NFL is still investigating.

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Winter Weather Expected to Hit Northeast


ashleymatheny/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With winter weather and a possible blizzard heading for the northeast, many are worried about the potential travel nightmare.

From northern Virginia up through Maine, the National Weather Service has issued winter storm watches and winter weather advisories. "Heavy snow and strong wind, even blizzard conditions, are possible in parts of the northern mid-Atlantic and New England," the NWS said.

Two to six inches of snow are expected in the Ohio Valley, with four to eight inches in northern Maryland and southern Pennsylvania. From New Jersey up through eastern Massachusetts could see between six and 12 inches of snow.

Conditions are expected to be worst between New York City and Boston.

On Sunday, in advance of the storm, JetBlue announced it would waive change and cancel fees and fare differences for passengers traveling on Monday or Tuesday in 14 northeastern cities. Passengers can rebook flights for travel through January 30, and any passengers whose flights are cancelled may elect to take a refund.

Similar travel advisories were released by American Airlines, U.S. Airways, Southwest Airlines and Delta detailing policies allowing passengers scheduled to fly Monday or Tuesday to change their flights to later in the week.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urged residents to prepare for the possibility of closed roads and delayed or cancelled public transportation, as well as potential utility outages.

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Three Killed, 10 Injured in Omaha Shooting


aijohn784/iStock/Thinkstock(OMAHA, Neb.) -- Three people were killed and 10 more injured in a shooting at a house party in Omaha, Nebraska Saturday.

According to a press release from the office of Mayor Jean Stothert, dozens of people may have witnessed the shooting.

Two women and one man were killed and five others were shot. The incident occurred at about 1:45 a.m. Saturday, and when officers arrived at the scene, found more than 40 people at the home. Two victims were pronounced dead at the scene, while a third died at a hospital on Saturday afternoon.

Police believe there may have been multiple shooters.

Four of the individuals shot were documented gang members. "The violence is a product of gang members with no regard for human life," Police Chief  Todd Schmaderer said.

Police were later cdalled to Nebraska Medicine when large crowds gathered and a fight broke out. Two people were arrested for disorderly conduct and one person was subdued with a stun gun.

Police said a separate shooting hours earlier left two people wounded. It was not clear if the two shootings were connected.

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F-16s Scrambled to Escort Jets After Twitter Bomb Threat


Ivan Cholakov/Hemera/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) --Two F-16 fighter jets were scrambled on Saturday to escort two airliners enroute to Hartsfeld-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta for a possible bomb threat, NORAD said.

The fighters from McEntire Joint National Guard Base in South Carolina were dispatched at 1 p.m. ET and escorted the planes to Hartsfeld, where they both landed safely, NORAD spokesman Preston Schlachter said.

The fighters escorted both aircraft from a distance behind until they landed.

After landing teams swept the planes for explosive devices and passengers were scheduled to be interviewed by investigators. Video of the scene appeared to show passengers leaving the plane with their carry-on luggage.

The two passenger flights were Delta 1156 from Portland and Southwest 2492 from Milwaukee.

The threats appear to have originated from the Twitter handle @kingZortic, according to officials familiar with the incident. The account only has 11 tweets, 10 of which appear to be related to threats against Delta and Southwest Airlines.

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