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US airlines cancel flights as winter storm bears down

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CHICAGO/ATLANTA – US airlines canceled thousands of flights on Tuesday ahead of a blizzard that has promised near-record snowfall in the U.S. Plains and the central Midwest.

The storm was expected to stretch across 2,000 miles — dumping up to 2 feet of snow in the central and upper Midwest, as well as ice and sleet in the southern Midwest.

The largest US airlines — United Continental, Delta Air Lines, AMR Corp’s American Airlines and Southwest Airlines — had scrapped more than 4,000 flights by midday.

“We are currently at approximately 1,500 total cancellations system wide,” American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith said. “That’s about 45 percent of our operations and it could go higher through the day.”

United Continental, formed from a merger of United and Continental airlines, had canceled 1,450 flights; Delta had canceled 625 flights and Southwest said it eliminated 700 flights through Wednesday afternoon.

“We recommend all customers check united.com before they go to the airport to check the status of their flight,” United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said.

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In Dallas, icy conditions that are part of the same weather system closed Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, a hub for American Airlines, briefly on Tuesday morning. The city’s Love Field Airport, which is primarily served by Southwest, was also closed while crews cleared snow and ice and was expected to reopen later in the day, assistant director Kenneth Gwyn said.

David Magana, public affairs manager at DFW Airport, said one runway was reopened at the airport on Tuesday, and ice was being cleared from six others.

Magana said Dallas-Fort Worth Airport had 300 departures canceled so far for the day; the airport normally has about 850 daily departures.

“We’ve been plowing runways and treating them,” Magana said. “Roadways around the airport are still fairly icy as well.”

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Unpredictable winter weather is a yearly nuisance for airlines and can result in a hit to quarterly earnings. But early flight cancellations can help airlines avoid stranding their passengers at airports and on grounded planes.

In recent years, both JetBlue Airways and American Airlines suffered public relations nightmares when harsh weather forced last-minute cancellations and left passengers stuck at airports.

Last year, the U.S. Transportation Department approved an airline fine of up to $27,500 per passenger for tarmac delays that exceed three hours. Passengers could be let off a plane, if they made that request.

“They’re canceling ahead of time,” said Terry Trippler, owner of travel website Airlinerulestoknow.com. “They can lose the revenue without going further in the hole.

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“They’re getting smart. They’ve figured it out,” he said.

Airline shares were broadly higher with the Arca airline index up 1.2 percent. AMR shares were up a penny at $7.06 on the New York Stock Exchange and Delta rose 7 cents to $11.74.

United Continental shares were down 9 cents at $25.31, and Southwest was off 4 cents at $11.81.

(Additional reporting by Christine Stebbins in Chicago, editing by Maureen Bavdek)

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Source: Reuters US Online Report Top News

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Longtime Ohio news anchor retires after dispute with Sinclair Broadcasting over forced pro-Trump commentaries

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Rob Braun, a fixture on local Cincinnati television for over 35 years, is retiring after stating it was "time to move on" because "I don't fit well with the Sinclair News model," reports WVXU.

The reports states that Braun -- the dean of Cincinnati's WKRC news broadcasting -- made the comments on his Facebook page and assured loyal fans that he was not fired by the conservative news organization.

In a Facebook post, he wrote: "I want you to know that I am not retiring. Ch 12 is NOT forcing me out. In fact, they offered me a generous contract. I am choosing to leave. There is no 'real story but .... Sometimes in life, you just know, it's time to move on. I don't feel I fit well with the Sinclair News model."

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Downed drone was some 34 km (21 miles) from Iran coast: US general

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A US spy drone was some 34 kilometers (21 miles) from the nearest point in Iran when it was shot down over the Strait of Hormuz by an Iranian surface-to-air missile Thursday, a US general said.

"This dangerous and escalatory attack was irresponsible and occurred in the vicinity of established air corridors between Dubai, UAE, and Oman, possibly endangering innocent civilians," said Lieutenant General Joseph Guastella, who commands US air forces in the region.

The Pentagon released a graphic pinpointing the position of the drone on a map of the Strait of Hormuz, the strategic passage through which much of the world's oil passes.

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Alex Jones attacks Sandy Hook families’ lawyer as a ‘little white Jewboy’ in latest unhinged outburst

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Alex Jones is dealing with ongoing legal battles with families of victims and survivors of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Jones is being accused of sending child pornography to the families and leading an ongoing attack on the families using his InfoWars network. However, his legal defense seems to hinge on attacking the plaintiffs' attorney, AboveTheLaw reported Thursday.

It was the child pornography that prompted Jones to lose his mind over attorney Chris Mattei. During the discovery phase of the trial, Mattei found the images and contacted the FBI, which he is required to do by law. But it sent Jones into an outright ragegasm in a video that was shown in court.

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