February 16th, 2013
08:19 PM ET

Playgrounds in storm areas memorialize Newtown victims

A reference to the name "Sandy" can evoke painful reminders of last year's tragedies, be it the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School or an historic storm that wiped out thousands of homes and businesses, and left millions in the dark.

But New Jersey's largest firefighters union is looking to honor those affected by both calamities and join them and their mutual names into something more positive.

Firefighters have begun collecting donations for the "The Sandy Ground Project," with 26 playgrounds to be built in communities recovering from the storm - one for each victim gunned down on December 14 at the elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

"Our only challenge is to raise the money," said Bill Lavin, president of the Firefighters' Mutual Benevolent Association, whose 5,000 members are supporting the $2.1 million initiative on the website thesandygroundproject.org.

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Filed under: Connecticut • New Jersey • New York
February 7th, 2013
08:04 PM ET

Blizzard warnings issued for Boston, New York City

  • Two significant storm systems expected to converge overnight across the Northeast, create what could be a historic blizzard
  • Boston could get up to 3 feet of snow from Friday to Saturday; New York City could get up to 3 feet
  • Read below for updates as we get them; full story here

[Updated at 8:04 p.m. ET] Nearly 3,000 flights have now been canceled in anticipation of the inclement weather, most of which is expected late Friday into Saturday.

Amtrak also has canceled many trips in the Northeast corridor. The rail transit company said on its website that northbound service from New York's Penn Station would be suspended after 1 p.m Friday.

[Updated at 6:51 p.m. ET] Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy says utility companies there are bringing additional crews from out of state to deal with potential power outages. Metro-North rail lines could also be closed at any time should winds exceed 40 mph.

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Guilty plea expected in alleged Fed bomb plot
Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, 21, of Bangladesh, is accused of planning a bombing in New York.
February 7th, 2013
10:46 AM ET

Guilty plea expected in alleged Fed bomb plot

A 21-year-old Bangladeshi man accused of planning to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank of New York with what he allegedly believed was a 1,000-pound bomb is expected to plead guilty Thursday, federal prosecutors said.

Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis was charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda.

He was arrested during a sting operation October 17 and is expected to make his plea during a noon court appearance in New York, according to a statement from the Justice Department.

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Filed under: Courts • Crime • Justice
Philadelphia police arrest man over Liberty Bell threat
January 26th, 2013
06:20 PM ET

Philadelphia police arrest man over Liberty Bell threat

Police arrested a man Saturday for threatening to blow up Philadelphia's iconic Liberty Bell, according to police.

The unidentified man apparently left two black backpacks in front of the Liberty Wheels wheelchair and scooter rental shop in downtown Philadelphia.

Police said a bomb squad was called in and secured the scene but found that the bags did not contain explosives.

"I have no idea why" the man did this, police spokeswoman Christine O'Brien said.

The bell is considered an iconic monument to American independence.

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Filed under: History • Pennsylvania
FAMU pledges reforms after hazing report
Florida A&M University student and band member Robert Champion, 26, died in November 2011.
January 24th, 2013
02:43 PM ET

FAMU pledges reforms after hazing report

Florida A&M University is undertaking reforms to address hazing on and off campus, according to a written response the school released after a scathing report that alleged it had done too little.

The Florida Board of Governors, which manages the state's universities, put out the report after drum major Robert Champion died following a beating he took in November 2011 aboard a school bus after a football game in Orlando, Florida.

The hazing was part of a ritual known as "Crossing Bus C," in which pledges attempt to run down the bus aisle while being punched, kicked and assaulted by more senior members of the school's famed marching band.

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New York governor signs nation's first gun bill since Newtown shooting
A New York gun bill includes a state gun registry, a uniform licensing standard and new limits on ammunition magazines.
January 15th, 2013
05:09 PM ET

New York governor signs nation's first gun bill since Newtown shooting

[Initial post, 5:09 p.m. ET] New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed the nation's first new gun-control bill since last month's massacre at a Connecticut school.

“I am proud to be a New Yorker because New York is doing something, because we are fighting back (against gun violence),” Cuomo told reporters shortly before signing the bill.

The law, among other things, requires background checks for would-be purchasers on all private sales, fortifies the state's existing assault weapons ban, limits the number of bullets in magazines, and strengthen rules that keep the mentally ill from owning firearms. Read more about the bill here. Also, New York's move comes a day before U.S. President Barack Obama is to announce his own gun-control proposals for the country.

[Initial post, 4:27 p.m. ET] Lawmakers in New York have passed the country's first new gun-control bill since last month's massacre at a Connecticut school.

New York's Democratic-controlled Assembly approved a new set of gun regulations Tuesday intended to fortify the state's assault weapons ban.

The measure was approved by the GOP-controlled Senate on Monday and is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo soon.

[Initial post, 11:28 a.m. ET] The nation's first new gun-control bill since last month's massacre at a Connecticut school might be passed in New York today.

The bill, intended to fortify New York's assault weapons ban, limit the number of bullets in ammunition magazines and strengthen laws that keep the mentally ill from firearms, is expected to be taken up by the state's Democratic-controlled Assembly early Tuesday afternoon. The GOP-controlled state Senate approved the measure in a 43-18 vote Monday night.

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85 hurt in New York ferry crash
January 9th, 2013
06:32 PM ET

85 hurt in New York ferry crash

  • 85 people hurt in Wednesday morning ferry crash at lower Manhattan pier, two critically, authorities say
  • Ferry was carrying passengers from New Jersey to New York City's Pier 11 near Wall Street
  • Below are the latest updates as they come to us. You also can read our full story.

[Update 6:32 p.m. ET] Eighty-five people were injured in the crash, including people who were treated and released at the scene, according to Charles Rowe, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman.

Two people had been listed in critical condition, but now authorities are saying only one person's condition remains critical.

[Update 1:46 p.m. ET] Coast Guard records indicate that the same Seastreak ferry has been involved in prior crashes, including one in 2009 when the vessel slammed into a New Jersey dock and tore a 2- to 3-foot gash in the starboard bow of the vessel.

A year later, a collision with a dock pile punctured a hole in the port side of the same boat.

[Update 12:33 a.m. ET] Seastreak LLC, the company operating the ferry, has released a statement on its website. In part, it says that "our thoughts and prayers are with those that were injured."

"Seastreak LLC will work closely with the federal, state and local authorities to determine the cause of the accident," the statement says.

[Update 12:28 a.m. ET] Two of the 57 hurt passengers are critically injured, authorities say.

[Update 11:43 a.m. ET] U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey, releases a statement saying that National Transportation Safety Board chairwoman Deborah Hersman assured him "that this serious accident will receive a full and thorough investigation."

“Ferry systems are crucial for New Jersey commuters, and the public must have every assurance that the ferries they ride are operating safely. I have every confidence in Chairman Hersman and the NTSB, and I know they will conduct a first-rate investigation so we can take steps to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.”

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November 29th, 2012
07:54 PM ET

U.N. approves Palestinian "observer state" bid

The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday endorsed an upgraded U.N. status for the Palestinian Authority, despite intense opposition from the United States and Israel.

The resolution elevates their status from "non-member observer entity" to "non-member observer state," the same category as the Vatican, which Palestinians hope will provide new leverage in their dealings with Israel.

Explaining the Palestinians' U.N. bid

Palestinian leaders had been working with dozens of supporting nations to develop a formal draft, enlisting the backing of European countries such as France and Spain. Germany abstained from the vote.

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Filed under: Israel • Palestinians
Irish Daily Star editor resigns over Kate Middleton topless photos
The front page of the September 15 edition of the Irish Daily Star touts topless pictures of the duchess of Cambridge.
November 24th, 2012
03:13 PM ET

Irish Daily Star editor resigns over Kate Middleton topless photos

The editor of the Irish Daily Star resigned Saturday "as a result of the publication on 15 September 2012" of topless photos of the duchess of Cambridge, according to a statement from the paper.

The images showed Catherine Middleton, the wife of Britain's Prince William, sunbathing, igniting a firestorm of controversy in the British media and stern comments from Buckingham Palace.

The editor, Michael O'Kane, had been suspended earlier after the September 15 edition hit the newsstands.

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NHL puts more games, All-Star weekend on ice due to labor standoff
The NHL season was supposed to start October 11, but league owners have locked out players until the two sides reach a new collective bargaining agreement.
November 23rd, 2012
03:52 PM ET

NHL puts more games, All-Star weekend on ice due to labor standoff

The National Hockey League has scuttled yet more of its season, announcing today that all games through December 14 are cancelled - as are its annual All-Star Weekend festivities - due to a labor impasse.

The season should have started October 11, but league owners authorized a lockout until they and the NHL Players' Association reach a new collective bargaining agreement. Up through this week, the NHL had nixed games through November 30 and its annual outdoor Winter Classic.

Friday's announcement means that 34.3% of the season has been called off. So, too, is the All-Star weekend, which would have been January 26 and 27 in Columbus, Ohio.

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Hundreds of flights canceled because of nor'easter
A schedule board at New York's LaGuardia Airport shows flights canceled becausue of a nor'easter on Wednesday.
November 7th, 2012
04:10 PM ET

Hundreds of flights canceled because of nor'easter

[Updated at 8:46 p.m.] A wintry mix of heavy rain, wind and snow hitting the weary East Coast a week after Superstorm Sandy prompted a cancellation of hundreds of flights in the New York and Philadelphia regions.

More than 780 flights have been canceled in the New York City area's three major airports, said Chris Valens, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Still, the airports were open, "and we expect that they will stay open," Valens said.

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Sunday's New York City Marathon called off due to Sandy
Tens of thousands of runners annually hit New York City’s streets for the marathon – though not this Sunday.
November 2nd, 2012
05:23 PM ET

Sunday's New York City Marathon called off due to Sandy

The New York City Marathon - scheduled for Sunday - was called off Friday due to lingering effects from Superstorm Sandy, the city's mayor said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg had said earlier in the week the race would go on - despite transportation, power and other issues - contending, among other things, that businesses could use the economic boost the event provides.

But on Friday, he and the New York Road Runners issued a joint statement saying city officials and race organizers decided to cancel the race because they did "not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants."

Read the full story here on CNN.com.

Ex-NFL star, actor Alex Karras dies, 77
Alex Karras starred in the 1980s TV show "Webster" after playing 12 years with the Detroit Lions.
October 10th, 2012
10:15 AM ET

Ex-NFL star, actor Alex Karras dies, 77

[Updated at 11:32 a.m. ET] Alex Karras, the former Detroit Lions defensive tackle turned actor in the ABC sitcom "Webster," died Wednesday in his Los Angeles home following a battle with kidney disease, heart disease, dementia and stomach cancer, according to a family spokesman.

He was 77.

Karras, a Gary, Indiana native, was an All-American at the University of Iowa before becoming a  four-time Pro Bowl selection in the NFL, playing for the Detroit Lions from 1958 to 1970. He went on to star in the 1980s' sitcom “Webster” he played George Papadapolis, the guardian of the newly orphaned Webster, played by actor Emmanuel Lewis and also played the horse-punching Mongo in the 1974 movie “Blazing Saddles."

In April, he joined hundreds of  former NFL players suing the league over concussion-related injuries, serving as lead plaintiff for what was then the 12th concussion-related complaint filed against the NFL by the Locks Law Firm in Philadelphia.

Karras “sustained repetitive traumatic impacts to his head and/or concussions on multiple occasions” during his NFL career, and “suffers from various neurological conditions and symptoms related to the multiple head traumas,” the lawsuit said.

His wife, "Webster” co-star Susan Clark, said in April that Karras suffered from dementia.

The more than 2,000 NFL players who are suing the league claim the NFL misled players concerning the risks associated with concussions. The NFL has repeatedly said that player safety is a priority and that any allegation that the NFL intentionally sought to mislead players has no merit.

According to his family, "Karras had always dreamed of being an actor," and got a boost when Lucille Ball "took him under her wing and allowed him to train in small parts."

Karras also co-wrote autobiographies called "Even Big Guys Cry" and "Alex Karras by Alex Karras."

"His love of nature and most especially of the ocean, where he spent many happy days on his fishing boat, led him to support numerous organizations committed to protecting our environment for future generations," his family said.

Memorial services are being planned and will be announced soon, his family said.

September 6, 2012: Football players more likely to develop neurodegenerative disease, study finds

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September 25th, 2012
10:22 AM ET

Obama: Slain envoy's legacy 'will live on in the lives he touched'

Editor's note: President Barack Obama addressed the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. You can read a live blog of his remarks below or see his remarks in full here.

[Updated at 10:51 a.m. ET] President Obama pointed to all of the Libyans who supported America and showed their love of Ambassador Chris Stevens as further hope for the world. He's bringing the speech full circle by going back to the attacks in Benghazi.

"Today I promise you this – long after these killers are brought to justice, Chris Stevens’ legacy will live on in the lives he touched. In the tens of thousands who marched against violence through the streets of Benghazi; in the Libyans who changed their Facebook photo to one of Chris; in the sign that read, simply, Chris Stevens was a friend to all Libyans,'" Obama said. "They should give us hope. They should remind us that so long as we work for it justice will be done; that history is on our side; and that a rising tide of liberty will never be reversed.""

[Updated at 10:50 a.m. ET] President Obama is talking about the hope he sees in the communities around the world like Jakarta, Seoul, Prague and others.

"These men, women and children of every race and every faith remind me that for every angry mob that gets shown on television, there are billions around the globe who share similar hopes and dreams. They tell us that there is a common heartbeat to humanity," he said. "So much attention in our world turns to what divides us. That’s what we see on the news, and that consumes our political debates. But when you strip that all away, people everywhere long for the freedom to determine their destiny; the dignity that comes with work; the comfort that comes from faith; and the justice that exists when governments serve their people – and not the other way around."

[Updated at 10:48 a.m. ET] President Obama says that while he has seen a lot of troubling things in recent times, he believes he has witnessed a similar amount of progress that leaves him hopeful.

"The war in Iraq is over, and our troops have come home. We have begun a transition in Afghanistan, and America and our allies will end our war on schedule in 2014," Obama said. "Al Qaeda has been weakened and Osama bin Laden is no more. Nations have come together to lock down nuclear materials, and America and Russia are reducing our arsenals. I’ve seen hard choices made – from Naypyidaw to Cairo to Abidjan – to put more power in the hands of citizens."

[Updated at 10:46 a.m. ET] President Obama is now addressing the concerns about a  nuclear Iran and the policies and ideology of leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"In Iran, we see where the path of a violent and unaccountable ideology leads. The Iranian people have a remarkable and ancient history, and many Iranians wish to enjoy peace and prosperity alongside their neighbors. But just as it restricts the rights of its own people, the Iranian government props up a dictator in Damascus and supports terrorist groups abroad," Obama said. "Time and again, it has failed to take the opportunity to demonstrate that its nuclear program is peaceful, and to meet its obligations to the United Nations."

Obama said that he would like to solve these issues with diplomacy - and it is still possible.

"But that time is not unlimited. We respect the right of nations to access peaceful nuclear power, but one of the purposes of the United Nations is to see that we harness that power for peace," Obama said. "Make no mistake: a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained."

[Updated at 10:45 a.m. ET] Obama is now talking about the conflict in Syria.

"The future must not belong to a dictator who massacres his people. If there is a cause that cries out for protest in the world today, it is a regime that tortures children and shoots rockets at apartment buildings," Obama said. "And we must remain engaged to assure that what began with citizens demanding their rights does not end in a cycle of sectarian violence. "

Deaths mounting in Syrian towns; children being tortured, U.N. official says 

[Updated at 10:44 a.m. ET] Obama is now addressing the peace process in Israel.

"Among Israelis and Palestinians, the future must not belong to those who turn their backs on the prospect of peace. Let us leave behind those who thrive on conflict, and those who reject the right of Israel to exist," he said. "The road is hard but the destination is clear – a secure, Jewish state of Israel; and an independent, prosperous Palestine. Understanding that such a peace must come through a just agreement between the parties, America will walk alongside all who are prepared to make that journey."

[Updated at 10:42 a.m. ET] President Obama is referencing a quote by Gandhi: "Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit."

Obama says that we must all not just condemn the recent video and slander of Islam.

"Yet to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see when the image of Jesus Christ is desecrated, churches are destroyed, or the Holocaust is denied. Let us condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims, and Shiite pilgrims," he said.

[Updated at 10:40 a.m. ET] President Obama warned that while violence may initially be voiced against the West it will eventually spread if nothing is done.

"The same impulses toward extremism are used to justify war between Sunnis and Shia, between tribes and clans. It leads not to strength and prosperity but to chaos," Obama said. "In less than two years, we have seen largely peaceful protests bring more change to Muslim-majority countries than a decade of violence. Extremists understand this. And because they have nothing to offer to improve the lives of people, violence is their only way to stay relevant. They do not build, they only destroy."

He called on leaders and those who have protested during the Arab spring to reclaim the future.

"The future must not belong to those who target Coptic Christians in Egypt – it must be claimed by those in Tahrir Square who chanted 'Muslims, Christians, we are one.'  The future must not belong to those who bully women – it must be shaped by girls who go to school, and those who stand for a world where our daughters can live their dreams just like our sons," Obama said. "The future must not belong to those corrupt few who steal a country’s resources – it must be won by the students and entrepreneurs; workers and business owners who seek a broader prosperity for all people. Those are the men and women that America stands with; theirs is the vision we will support."

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September 5th, 2012
12:02 PM ET

Hantavirus warnings sent to Yosemite visitors from 39 other countries

Health officials said Wednesday that they've sent warnings to Yosemite National Park visitors from 39 other countries about a potentially deadly hantavirus uncovered at some of the park's cabins this summer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said up to 10,000 people were at risk, after estimating the number of friends and family members of those who stayed with visitors who booked reservations at the cabins.

"All guests who made reservations to stay in the 'Signature Tent Cabins' from June 10 through August 24, 2012 (approximately 2,900 persons) were emailed or mailed a health advisory urging them to seek immediate medical attention if they or other persons in their party exhibit symptoms of HPS," or hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, the CDC reported last week.

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August 23rd, 2012
07:13 PM ET

British tabloid to publish nude photos of Prince Harry

British tabloid The Sun announced on Thursday that it plans to publish photographs of a vacationing Prince Harry in the nude, making it the first mainstream British paper to do so.

The pictures of the prince, showing him naked in a hotel suite while he was on vacation last week in Las Vegas, were widely available on the Internet after website TMZ published them Tuesday. But British newspapers initially declined to publish them.

David Dinsmore, managing editor of The Sun, said Thursday that his group "thought long and hard about this," but ultimately decided to publish the images because news consumers could access them elsewhere.

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August 23rd, 2012
03:17 PM ET

Strauss-Kahn settlement talks under way, source says

(CNN) - A year ago Thursday, a high-profile criminal case over attempted rape allegations in New York came to an end when a judge dismissed all charges against the former chief of the International Monetary Fund.

Now, there are talks of an out-of-court financial settlement over a civil suit that Dominique Strauss-Kahn still faces in Bronx Supreme Court, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions.

"Negotiations are under way," the source said.

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July 19th, 2012
03:33 PM ET

Former Egyptian VP Suleiman dies, officials say

Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian vice president under Hosni Mubarak who announced the president’s resignation to the world, has died in a U.S. hospital, officials said Thursday.

He was 76.

An Egyptian official who asked to remain unnamed because he wasn’t authorized to talk with the media said the former spy chief had cancer and traveled to Germany for medical reasons before for heading to a medical center in Cleveland on Monday.

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July 17th, 2012
05:02 PM ET

NCAA not ruling out tough sanctions on Penn State football

It's still not clear what the future holds for Nittany Lions football after a child sex abuse scandal implicated top Penn State officials and placed a former assistant coach behind bars.
That was the message from National Collegiate Athletic Association President Mark Emmert, who spoke with PBS in his first public comment on the matter during an interview broadcast Monday. 
Emmert said he doesn't want to "take anything off the table" regarding NCAA-imposed penalties, adding that he'd "never seen anything as egregious as this in terms of just overall conduct and behavior inside a university."
"What the appropriate penalties are, if there are determinations of violations, we'll have to decide," he said.

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Filed under: College football • Joe Paterno • Penn State • Pennsylvania
5 arrested in alleged plot to blow up Cleveland-area bridge
The FBI released these images of the defendants Tuesday morning.
May 1st, 2012
10:18 AM ET

5 arrested in alleged plot to blow up Cleveland-area bridge

[Updated at 12:06 p.m. ET] Five men have been arrested on suspicion of trying to use what they thought were explosives to destroy a bridge near Cleveland, Ohio, the FBI said Tuesday morning.

Some of the men on Monday planted what they thought were two remotely activated C-4-based explosive devices which they allegedly bought from an undercover FBI employee  at the base of  a Route 82 bridge that crosses from Brecksville to Sagamore Hills over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the FBI said in a news conference Tuesday.

The devices actually were inoperable and posed no threat to the public, and the FBI arrested the men shortly after the devices were planted, authorities said.

Douglas L. Wright, 26; Brandon L. Baxter, 20; and Anthony Hayne, 35, were arrested by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force on Monday evening on charges of conspiracy and attempted use of explosive materials to damage physical property affecting interstate commerce, the FBI said.

Also arrested were Connor C. Stevens, 20; and Joshua S. Stafford, 23. Their charges were pending.

Three of the men are self-proclaimed anarchists, the FBI said in a news release.

"The public was never in danger from explosive devices," the FBI said.

The group initially planned to "topple financial institution signs atop high rise buildings in downtown Cleveland" while co-conspirators used smoke grenades to distract law enforcement, according to the FBI. But the plot evolved into plans for using explosive to destroy bridges or other targets, and the group finally decided on the Brecksville-Northfield High Level Bridge, which carries Route 82 over the national park, the FBI said.

Some of the defendants, after they planted the devices, intended to detonate them from a remote location that they believed was safe and could provide them with an alibi, authorities said at Tuesday's news conference.

The FBI learned of the plots through a confidential source who met Wright at a Cleveland-area protest event in November, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. district court. Wright told the source that Wright and a group of anarchists "had been discussing plans involving violence and destruction to physical property ... to send a message to corporations and the United States government," the complaint reads.

“The complaint in this case alleges that the defendants took specific and defined actions to further a terrorist plot,” U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach said in the news release. “The defendants stand charged based not upon any words or beliefs they might espouse, but based upon their own plans and actions.”

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