The aftereffects of a winter storm and complications related to airline staffing shortages and computer problems led to hundreds of flight cancellations and a huge backlog of stranded luggage over the holiday weekend. Comair, a regional carrier of Delta Air Lines Inc., grounded about 1,100 flights when a computer crash caused a system-wide shutdown. Some of its passenger planes began flying again Sunday, and the airline said it hoped to be fully operational by the end of the week. Meanwhile, US Airways cancelled more than 300 flights mainly because of what a spokesman called an "unusually high number" of absent workers. The company and the union say there was no organized "sick out" of flight attendants and other workers despite known anger over bankrupt US Airways' calls for steep cuts in wages and benefits.
Cold, wintry conditions affected much of the nation over the weekend. Victoria, Texas, experienced its first white Christmas in 86 years and in New Orleans, the city recorded its first snowfall at any time during the past 15 years. In Indiana, where motorists had to be rescued from highways clogged with nearly two feet of snow, conditions were improved Saturday, two days after a major storm hit the Midwest.
On the fifth day of deliberations, a Houston jury convicted two men on multiple counts in the deaths of 19 illegal immigrants trapped in a tractor-trailer in May 2003. The trailer had been abandoned at a truck stop near Victoria, Texas, after the immigrants began succumbing to temperatures in excess of 170 degrees F. Victor Jesus Rodriguez and Fredy Giovanni Garcia-Tobar were found guilty of the most serious charge, conspiring to smuggle the immigrants. Sentencing is set for March.
With the International Space Station running short on supplies, an unmanned Russian supply ship managed a successful docking Saturday, delivering food, water, and Christmas presents to American astronaut Leroy Chiao and Russian Sali-zhan Sharipov. The crew would have had to cut short its six-month mission and return to Earth if the supplies hadn't arrived.
An anonymous Denver man who said he had once been homeless distributed $35,000 in $100 bills at a downtown homeless shelter on Christmas Eve.
In a much-publicized meeting of estranged superstars and former National Basketball Association teammates, Kobe Bryant scored 42 points for the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday, but Shaquille O'Neal was on the winning side. Despite fouling out in his first game against the Lakers since being traded to the Miami Heat last summer, O'Neal scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds before the Heat went on to win in overtime in LA, 104-102.