Blizzard Snarls East Coast Travel; Russian Oil Tycoon Found Guilty

BY Francine Uenuma  December 27, 2010 at 9:30 AM EDT

Winter Storm Strands Travelers, Blankets East Coast

Canceled flights and snow-covered roads are creating frustrating conditions for travelers on the East Coast as airport closures in New York City and other hubs compounded the misery of post-holiday transport.

Snow emergencies were in effect in Portland, Maine; Philadelphia; and Boston; even the Carolinas received a rare accumulation of snowfall, with 6.5 inches reported at the Raleigh-Durham airport.

Transportation delays created a host of logistical nightmares as airports shut down — passengers at Philadelphia International Airport were given blankets and pillows as they settled in for indefinite delays — as the National Weather Service warned of a “significant” winter storm continuing to dump snow and create strong winds.

Putin Opponent Khodorkovsky Found Guilty in Second Trial


Former Yukos oil company chief executive officer Mikhail Khodorkovsky speaks with his lawyer Vadim Klyuvgant from inside the defendant’s glass booth in a Moscow courtroom on Nov. 2, 2010. (Dmitry Kostyukov/AFP/Getty Images)

Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, already serving an eight-year sentence imposed in his 2005 trial, was found guilty of embezzlement in Moscow in a trial Khodorkovsky and his supporters have insisted was politically motivated. The 47-year-old former head of the oil firm Yukos, along with a business partner, face extended jail sentences.

Police arrested demonstrators outside the courtroom. Inside Khodorkovsky appeared inside a glass booth, as he has in previous appearances.

Once Russia’s wealthiest man, Khodorkovksy has spent more than seven years jailed in Moscow and Sibera. His imprisonment has elicited international criticism that the government has trumped up the charges in order to eliminate his financial clout and seize his assets. Many saw the verdict as a punishment for opposing then-president Vladimir Putin. Putin has maintained that Khodorkovsky was prosecuted only for his crimes, saying earlier this month that “thieves should sit behind bars.”

Suspected U.S. Missiles Kill 18 Suspected Militants in Pakistan

Missiles struck two vehicles in Pakistan, near the border with Afghanistan, reportedly killing 18 suspected militants, according to Pakistani officials. The attack comes amid increased efforts to root out Taliban strongholds outside of Afghanistan; there have been some 110 similar strikes this year, most in North Waziristan. There has been little official acknowledgment but the unmanned drone attacks are believed to be part of U.S. efforts to combat extremist safe havens within Pakistan itself, with tacit permission from Pakistani officials.

On Saturday a female suicide bomber, concealed under a burqa, blew herself up at a food distribution center in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 45 and injuring 76 more. The U.N.’s World Food Programme suspended aid indefinitely. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing, which took place near the border with Afghanistan.

Miller Says He Won’t Fight Murkowski Certification in Alaska Senate Race


Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska (File photo by Getty Images)

Republican and tea-party favorite Joe Miller said he will continue to push for a vote count in court, but won’t block his opponent, incumbent Lisa Murkowski, from being certified in the months-long battle for the state’s Senate seat. Murkowski lost to Miller in the Republican primary but mounted a write-in candidacy, declaring victory in November.

Though the move allows Murkowski to be sworn in on Jan. 5, Miller said his suit was important for future races, saying “election integrity is vital.”

The haggling has stretched out for two months after the midterm elections that handed Republicans control of Congress and showcased the emerging political clout of the tea party movement.