Top Stories: Worldwide

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

1. Storm Delays Won't Advance U.S. Plan for Tarmac Limits on Foreign Flights 2. Australian Prime Minister Gillard Tours Flood-Stricken Areas of Queensland 3. Former Yukos Head Khodorkovsky to Spend 14 Years in Prison on Convictions 4. To Heal a Hangover, Doctor Says Skip the `Hair of the Dog' and Hit the Gym 5. Vandergriff, Former Dallas Mayor Who Brought Rangers to Texas, Dies At 84

1. Storm Delays Won't Advance U.S. Plan for Tarmac Limits on Foreign Flights

International airlines may be subject to U.S. tarmac-wait limits in April -- more than three months too late for hundreds of passengers stranded on planes by this week´s snowstorm in New York. Regulators have no plans to accelerate the rules, proposed by the U.S. Department of Transportation in June, said Olivia Alair, a department spokeswoman. All of the passengers stranded on the ground at John F. Kennedy International Airport were on international flights, according to airline industry officials. U.S. carriers have been subject to a three-hour limit on tarmac delays since last April, a rule credited with reducing such waits by 98 percent. "If those international flights knew there was a penalty and were fined the way the domestic airlines are, they wouldn´t have put those people´s lives in peril like they did," said Kate Hanni, a passengers´ rights advocate for flyersrights.org, based in Napa, California.

2. Australian Prime Minister Gillard Tours Flood-Stricken Areas of Queensland

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is in Queensland to assess damage in areas stricken by floods, which forced residents from homes and halted mining. Towns in the region, inundated by weeks of rain, have been cut off by water and thousands of people have been evacuated. Mines have shut, crops have been destroyed, rail lines have been cut and companies including BHP Billiton Ltd., Xstrata Plc, Rio Tinto Plc and Peabody Energy Corp. said they may not be able to fulfill contracted deliveries because of circumstances beyond their control. Eleven sites in Queensland remain under a flood warning today, according to Australia´s Bureau of Meteorology. The bureau said showers and storms are forecast to continue across the region until at least Jan. 5. Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said yesterday she expects the flooding damage will be in the billions of dollars. "There are still people being evacuated from Emerald," Chantelle Rule-Murphy, a spokeswoman at Queensland Emergency Management, said in a phone interview today. Emerald, with a population of 11,000, is about 800 kilometers (500 miles) northwest of the Sunshine Coast.

3. Former Yukos Head Khodorkovsky to Spend 14 Years in Prison on Convictions

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former head of Yukos Oil Co., may serve an additional six years in prison following his conviction in a trial that heightened U.S. and European concerns about the rule of law in Russia. Khodorkovsky, once Russia´s richest man, will spend a total of 14 years in prison, including the eight years he is serving on previous charges, Moscow Judge Viktor Danilkin said today, after finding him guilty of money laundering and embezzling oil. The 47-year-old will appeal, said defense attorney Yuri Schmidt. Khodorkovsky has called the charges retribution for his opposition to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Originally due for release in 2011, Khodorkovsky will now remain in prison until after the 2012 presidential election that may return Putin to the Kremlin. Putin has denied any involvement in the case. Platon Lebedev "and I have shown by example that you cannot count on the courts to protect you from government officials in Russia," Khodorkovsky said in a statement distributed by his lawyers. "But we have not lost hope, nor should our friends."

4. To Heal a Hangover, Doctor Says Skip the `Hair of the Dog' and Hit the Gym

New Year´s revelers in need of a hangover remedy should skip the conventional wisdom advising they swill coffee or another alcohol drink, and head for the gym. The body gets rid of alcohol and its toxic by-products four ways: breathing, via the liver or kidney and from sweating, said Aaron Michelfelder, a family physician from Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Illinois. Exercise speeds breathing, increases sweat, and moves alcohol-laden blood to the liver and kidneys more quickly. "That´s why you should stay hydrated as well," Michelfelder said in a telephone interview. "It takes a lot of water to process alcohol in your body." Drinking plenty of water, especially between every glass of wine, whiskey or beer, has another benefit -- it can reduce the amount of alcohol consumed, he said.

5. Vandergriff, Former Dallas Mayor Who Brought Rangers to Texas, Dies At 84

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-0- Dec/31/2010 00:35 GMT

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