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Holiday power outages challenge Christmas cheer
Written by ALANNA DURKIN, Associated Press COREY WILLIAMS, Associated Press   
Tuesday, 24 December 2013 15:46

DETROIT (AP) — A massive ice storm blacked out homes from the Plains to the far Northeast of the U.S., dealing a big "bah humbug" to thousands of families whose Christmas Eve was shaping up to be very cold and very dark.

Utility crews worked around the clock Tuesday to restore service to the more than half a million homes and businesses still without power since the deadly arctic blast slammed much of the country over the weekend. Some hardy revelers prepared to hunker down for the holiday, despite the lack of electricity, while others packed up their wrapped gifts and headed off to stay with family or friends.

The Potbury family was among nearly a quarter-million Michigan residents without power Tuesday. The family of four, of Mount Morris Township near Flint, lost electricity at 6 a.m. Sunday and has since stayed in a single bedroom warmed by generator-powered space heaters.

Lights on the Christmas tree of course were dark — one of several festive frustrations.

"Even though the house is freezing cold, the freezer items were starting to thaw out," John Potbury said.

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NSA leaker Snowden: 'Mission's already accomplished'
Written by Associated Press   
Tuesday, 24 December 2013 15:33

WASHINGTON (AP) — After six months when he was rarely heard from except through the documents he leaked, fugitive former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden says his "mission's already accomplished" after leaking NSA secrets that have caused a reassessment of U.S. surveillance policies.

Snowden told The Washington Post in an interview published online Monday night that he was satisfied because journalists have been able to tell the story of the government's collection of bulk Internet and phone records, an activity that has grown dramatically in the decade since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"For me, in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission's already accomplished," he said. "I already won."

"As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated," Snowden told the Post. "Because, remember, I didn't want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself."

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Storm death toll reaches 11
Written by ALANNA DURKIN, Associated Press   
Tuesday, 24 December 2013 08:45

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Roads remained slick and utility crews were busy Tuesday trying to turn the lights back on from the Midwest to the Northeast on one of the busiest travel days of the year after a messy storm rolled across the country.

At least 11 people have been killed in the storm that started Saturday and lingered into late Monday, ice building up on tree branches and power lines and causing travel headaches in several states.

While the rain, freezing rain and ice was expected to subside, forecasters said cold temperatures would stick around for most of the week in areas socked by the wild weekend storm. There will be snow moving into the Northern High Plains and Central Rockies on Tuesday then sliding into the Great Lakes and Midwest by Wednesday morning.

States kept emergency shelters open for people who would be without power, some through Christmas.

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Jimmy Stewart museum rebounds from adversity
Written by Associated Press   
Tuesday, 24 December 2013 14:11

INDIANA, Pa. (AP) — For a time it looked like the Jimmy Stewart Museum wasn't going to make it.

It's in the actor's hometown of Indiana, Pennsylvania — an hour's drive from Pittsburgh and off the radar of many fans who might want to attend. And the pool of fans is shrinking as those who grew up during the era of Stewart's films die out.

The number of tour buses that made special trips to the museum began to decline in 2009 and 2010, said Timothy Harley, the museum's director. "The situation became very dire. That caused some pretty considerable concern, he said.

But the outlook has improved, at least of the next few years he said, thanks to loyal fans who began sending donations as the word got out about the plight of the museum.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 December 2013 14:59
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Utah turns to higher court to halt gay marriage
Written by BRADY McCOMBS, Associated Press PAUL FOY, Associated Press   
Tuesday, 24 December 2013 07:43

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah state lawyers have again turned to a Denver-based federal appeals court in their bid to put a stop to gay couples getting married, saying the state should not be required to abide by one judge's narrow view of a "new and fundamentally different definition of marriage."

About 700 gay couples have obtained wedding licenses since U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby on Friday declared Utah's gay marriage ban unconstitutional, but lawyers for the state are trying every legal avenue to halt the practice. Shelby on Monday denied their bid to temporarily stop gay marriage while the appeals process plays out, and they quickly went to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Utah is the 18th state where gay couples can wed, and the sight of same-sex marriages occurring just a few miles from the headquarters of the Mormon church has provoked anger among the state's top leaders.

"Until the final word has been spoken by this Court or the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of Utah's marriage laws, Utah should not be required to enforce Judge Shelby's view of a new and fundamentally different definition of marriage," the state said in a motion to the appeals court.

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