WXXI AM News

Amy Held

That white lie about snow on Christmas, "just like the ones I used to know," is probably going to remain a nostalgic lyric for most of the country. But for millions of people along the projected path of a system forming Saturday in the Great Plains that is forecast to become a nor'easter in New England by Monday, a white Christmas is looking more like a reality.

"We are going to have a decent swath of snow," meteorologist Marc Chenard with the National Weather Service tells NPR.

Beginning Saturday, a couple of inches are expected in Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska.

When a fire broke out around 6 a.m. local time Saturday at the ZSL London Zoo, keepers living on-site moved quickly to evacuate the animals' enclosures, moving them to safety before firefighters' arrival, according to the zoo.

Despite their efforts, a 9-year-old aardvark named Misha died in the blaze and four meerkats were missing as of early Saturday afternoon local time.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the eighth episode in the widely popular intergalactic series, ascended to first place among American and Canadian movie-goers in its debut weekend.

From Friday through Sunday, it brought in an estimated $220 million domestically, making it the No. 1 debut of the year, according to Disney. Its weekend haul also earns it the title of the second biggest domestic debut of all time, behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens, its predecessor released in 2015.

Police have launched an investigation after a woman working at the British Embassy was found strangled on a roadside outside the capitol city of Beirut on Saturday, Lebanese officials said.

NPR's Ruth Sherlock has confirmed with the embassy that the victim is Rebecca Dykes, a British national.

"We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Rebecca," her family said in a statement, released by the Foreign Office. "We are doing all we can to understand what happened. We request that the media respect our privacy."

As was her habit, 22-year-old Bethany Stephens took her dogs for a walk in the woods near her childhood home in Goochland, Va., about 30 miles outside Richmond. But when she did not return home by Thursday night, her father grew concerned and called police, who made a terrible discovery. Stephens had been attacked and killed by her own dogs, police say.

As the year winds down, three new crew members are set to begin a mission aboard the International Space Station. Early Sunday, an American, a Russian and a Japanese astronaut blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in a Soyuz spacecraft.

In the video posted to Twitter, Ayrton Little dons Harvard red, the viewer watching him as he peers at his own screen, waiting to see whether he got into his dream school. Everyone seems to sweat. Little's schoolmates crowd around him in anticipation. A big moment to be sure, especially for a 16-year-old. Then a gasp and the room erupts in cheers, screams and embraces.

He did it.

A judge in New York City sentenced the nephews of Venezuela's first lady to 18 years in prison on Thursday, following their convictions on drug trafficking charges.

Tens of thousands of people have been forced from their homes, thousands of acres scorched and hundreds of buildings reduced to ash. It hasn't even been one week since the latest string of wildfires broke out in Southern California, but the toll is staggering.

Even so, by Saturday, some bright spots began to emerge in the fire-ravaged region.

Iraq declared victory over the Islamic State Saturday after its forces drove out the group from its final area of control along the Syrian border, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told a conference in Baghdad.

"Our heroic armed forces have now secured the entire length of the Iraq-Syria border," Abadi later tweeted. "We defeated Daesh through our unity and sacrifice for the nation. Long live Iraq and its people."

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