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Monster snowstorm to blanket more than half of United States

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 A massive winter storm hit the U.S. Rockies and Plains on Friday then punched east, with snow set to assault a 1,800-mile (1,609 km) corridor through the weekend, creating transportation “havoc” in the middle of the country.

The system started as rain from Mexico and turned to snow as it met icy air. Up to 18 inches (45 cm) of snow were expected in the Sangre de Cristo mountains south of Denver, according to the National Weather Service.

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As the storm heads east, up to 16 inches (41 cm) of snow were likely in western Missouri and St. Louis. Areas to the east could get about 6 inches (15 cm) with ice developing in Kansas, and Arkansas, and up to 4 inches (10 cm) of snow in Washington, D.C., before the system heads out to sea late on Sunday, AccuWeather said.

“The storm is expected to create havoc over the central part of the country, then extend eastward into the Mid-Atlantic states,” said Randy Adkins, an AccuWeather meteorologist.

The FlightAware.com flight tracking website reported 1,431 flight cancellations on Friday and 12,465 delays, with problems at snow-hit airports like Denver causing knock-on effects around the country.

While the storm will spare the heavily populated Northeast, it likely will disrupt air and auto travel from Kansas City to Indianapolis, and will bring the heaviest snowfall so far this winter to Cincinnati and the Ohio River Valley, said AccuWeather meteorologist Paul Walker.

Although the Kansas City area is expected to get up to 6 inches of snow, it should be over by the time the Kansas City Chiefs begin their National Football League playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday afternoon.

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St. Louis emergency management officials are bracing for auto travel disruptions and possible power outages, but based on current forecasts, are not expecting to be overwhelmed, spokeswoman Tracy Panus said.

“This is not the first storm we’ve had in the St. Louis area,” Panus, who is with the St. Louis County Police Department of Emergency Management, said by telephone.

As the system moves eastward, it will hand off to a second coastal storm on Sunday that will bring 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) of snow to the Washington, D.C., area before it moves off the coast that night, Walker said.

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“There could be a period of ice that we’re concerned about across portions of central North Carolina and back into the mountains,” he added.

Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York and Andrew Hay in Taos, N.M.; Editing by Matthew Lewis

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FBI investigating Chinese businessman who bankrolled media company linked to Steve Bannon

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A Wall Street Journal expose revealed that a Chinese businessman is under investigation by the FBI after he used funds to bankroll a media company with ties to a former aide to President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon.

"Federal Bureau of Investigation national security agents in recent months have asked people who know both men for information on Mr. Guo’s activities, including the source of funds of a media company linked to him that hired Mr. Bannon in 2018 as a consultant, the people said," according to the Journal. "As recently as last week, the FBI met with one person familiar with the companies tied to Mr. Guo, the people said. The probe has been underway for more than six months, and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn have been involved.

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Mike Pompeo asks Egypt to stop harassing US citizens

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday welcomed Egypt's release of a US citizen but urged the ally to stop harassment of others.

Mohamed Amashah, 24, was freed Monday, nearly 16 months after he was arrested in Cairo's Tahrir Square for holding up a sign seeking the release of prisoners, according to human rights campaigners.

A dual US-Egyptian citizen who lives in New Jersey, he had gone on a hunger strike this year to protest his conditions.

"We thank Egypt for securing his release and his repatriation," Pompeo told a news conference.

"But at the same time, we urge Egyptian officials to stop unwarranted harassment of US citizens and their families who remain there," he said.

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More than 100 Roger Stone accounts, pages removed from Instagram and Facebook

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A network of more than 100 social accounts and pages related to former Trump adviser Roger Stone were removed Wednesday. The under the radar raid reportedly consisted of 54 Facebook accounts, 50 Facebook pages and four accounts on Instagram, a photo-sharing platform owned by Facebook.

Approximately 260,000 accounts followed one or more of these Pages and 61,500 people followed one or more of these Instagram accounts. Several of the pages were also linked to the Proud Boys, a far-right group banned from Facebook in 2018.

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