USA

A powerful "nor'easter" left much of New England buried deep in snow Sunday, paralyzing road and air travel. Hurricane-force gusts of wind created whiteout conditions and snowdrifts of at least six feet in some areas, causing Boston's Logan Airport to shut down. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney declared a state of emergency Saturday and activated the National Guard in case flooding-prone coastal areas need to be evacuated.

Michael K. Powell (right), whose four-year chairmanship of the Federal Communications Commission has been marked by dramatically increased enforcement of broadcast decency standards, announced Friday he would step down in March. Powell, son of Secretary of State Colin Powell, may be best known for fines meted out by the FCC in response to Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" during last year's Super Bowl halftime show.

The US Defense Department has created a new spy branch and is reinterpreting US law to give Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wide authority over spy operations abroad, including those traditionally conducted by the CIA, the Washington Post reported Sunday. In a statement posted on the Internet, the Defense Department denied many of the newspaper's claims, including the suggestion that the department is "'bend[ing]' statutes to fit desired activities."

The tipster who told federal officials about an alleged terrorist conspiracy to explode a "dirty bomb" in Boston may have fabricated the story out of revenge, a federal law enforcement official said Friday. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the tipster may have been angry because a group of illegal immigrants had failed to pay for smuggling them into the country.

For the time being at least, the Bush administration says its counternarcotics strategy in Afghanistan won't call for destroying the country's poppy crop by aerial spraying, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday. The decision, made in deference to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, will pursue other avenues, including working with farmers to develop alternative crops and burning opium fields.

A federal judge has set Monday to begin a trial in Miami stemming from Elian Gonzalez's 2000 custody case. The latest dispute takes up the claims of a dozen people who said they were wrongly assaulted by federal officers during the raid that removed the young boy from the home of relatives to unite him with his Cuban father.

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