Top Stories: Worldwide

The following are the day's top general news stories:

1. Europe's Cold Snap Disrupts Travel for Third Day as More Snow Is Forecast 2. Iraqi Lawmakers to Vote on Maliki's Cabinet, Nine Months After Elections 3. California Issues Flood Warnings as Rain, Snowfall Plague U.S. Southwest 4. CBS, Couric Said to Discuss Lower Pay, Wider Role for Anchor as CNN Waits 5. Coughlin Says He'll Stick With Giants' Punter After Mistake That Cost Game

1. Europe's Cold Snap Disrupts Travel for Third Day as More Snow Is Forecast

Air travel across Europe was hampered for a third day as airlines urged passengers to stay home and U.S. carriers waived fees with more snowfall and ice forecast for England, France and Germany. Hundreds of flights from London´s Heathrow, City and Gatwick airports, Paris´s Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and Orly, and Frankfurt and Geneva were canceled or delayed. Eurostar Group Ltd. said that trains between London, Paris and Brussels were operating with speed restrictions and station queues have been closed for the rest of today. "It would be silly of me to say at this stage that things are going to be tip top tomorrow," Gatwick airport spokesman Andrew McCallum said in a telephone interview today. "We´re expecting between 4 to 10 centimeters of snow tonight and who knows what the weather forecast will bring for tomorrow and the rest of the week." U.S. carriers, such as United Continental Holdings Inc. and AMR Corp.´s American Airlines, waived some change fees for passengers traveling into Europe. BAA Airports Ltd., the U.K. airport operator owned by Ferrovial SA, has asked passengers not to travel to Heathrow´s Terminal 1 and 3 to avoid overcrowding.

2. Iraqi Lawmakers to Vote on Maliki's Cabinet, Nine Months After Elections

Iraqi lawmakers are scheduled vote on Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki´s Cabinet nominees, putting the country a step closer to having a national-unity government after nine months of post-election wrangling. Lawmakers will begin considering al-Maliki´s partial list of Cabinet choices in a session starting today at 2 p.m. Baghdad time, Speaker Usama al-Nujaifi said late yesterday in a news conference in the capital with the prime minister after al- Maliki presented the list to him. Al-Maliki will keep the defense, interior and national security posts for himself until a deal is reached with other political groups, the government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, said earlier yesterday. Deputy Oil Minister Abdul Kareem al-Luaibi is the choice to become the new oil minister, Hassan al-Sunaid, a member of al- Maliki´s parliamentary bloc, later told state-run Iraqiyah television. Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari was nominated to retain his post, while Deputy Prime Minister Rafih al-Issawi was named to lead the Finance Ministry and Ziad Tareq was proposed as the next electricity minister, according to al-Sunaid, who said there will be 42 Cabinet positions. Political paralysis and disputes followed the March 7 parliamentary vote, which produced no clear winner. The formation of a new government coincides with preparations by the U.S. to withdraw its remaining troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. The Iraqi leadership will have to deal with violence, a struggling economy and long-standing disputes over internal boundaries and rights to the country´s oil and gas reserves.

3. California Issues Flood Warnings as Rain, Snowfall Plague U.S. Southwest

Flood warnings and watches stretch across California and the U.S. Southwest as a powerful storm dumping rain by the inch and snow by the foot has forced thousands to flee their homes across the region. Rain has been falling in Los Angeles since last week, said Jamie Meier, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Oxnard, California. There have been no mudslides so far, she said. "The rain has fallen steadily with no real intense, intense bursts so that has kept any debris flow activity and mudslides at bay," Meier said by telephone. "Tuesday night into Wednesday we´re expecting a more intense burst of rainfall, so that could be the straw that broke the camel´s back." More than 9 inches (23 centimeters) of rain have fallen in the mountains north and east of Los Angeles since the storm began last week, according to the weather service. Mammoth Mountain in California, about 30 miles south of Mono Lake, has received about 12 feet of snow, said John Feerick, senior meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

4. CBS, Couric Said to Discuss Lower Pay, Wider Role for Anchor as CNN Waits

CBS Corp. began preliminary talks on a new contract for Katie Couric, looking to cut the evening news anchor´s $15 million salary and possibly expand her role amid falling viewership, people with knowledge of the situation said. The network and Alan Berger, Couric´s agent at Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles, began talks in early December, said the people, who insisted on anonymity because the discussions are private. Time Warner Inc.´s CNN also has expressed interest in Couric, 53, two people said. Both sides recognize Couric´s salary must be reduced for her to remain at CBS, one of the people said. This season, the "CBS Evening News With Katie Couric" is averaging 5.73 million viewers a night, according to Nielsen Co. data, behind NBC and ABC, and down 24 percent from when she took over in 2006. "Katie is enjoying herself at CBS and is proud of her award-winning show," said Matthew Hiltzik, her spokesman. Gil Schwartz, a CBS spokesman, declined to comment.

5. Coughlin Says He'll Stick With Giants' Punter After Mistake That Cost Game

New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin said he will stay with Matt Dodge as his punter, even after the rookie´s failure to kick the ball out of bounds yesterday led to a game-winning touchdown return by the Philadelphia Eagles. With 14 seconds remaining in a tie game, Dodge was instructed to punt the ball out of bounds to keep it out of the hands of Eagles returner DeSean Jackson. The snap was high and Dodge punted a low ball down the middle. Jackson muffed the catch, then picked up the ball and returned it 65 yards for the game-winning score as time expired. "He´s a young guy and he´s forced to do this under fire," Coughlin said at a news conference today at the team´s practice facility in East Rutherford, New Jersey. "It´s not easy, but he´s going to have to learn from it." The team did not discuss signing another punter and remains confident that Dodge will be able to perform well in a similar situation in the future, Coughlin said. Dodge, 23, was drafted by the Giants in the seventh round of the 2010 draft from East Carolina University.

-0- Dec/21/2010 00:35 GMT

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