High court rejects Miller election claim
The Alaska Supreme Court has upheld a lower court decision in the disputed U.S. Senate race, saying the state correctly counted write-in votes for Sen. Lisa Murkowski. The decision Wednesday followed a hearing on Republican Joe Miller's appeal of a state judge's decision to toss out his challenge to the state's counting of ballots for Murkowski, his election rival. The state said it relied on case law to use discretion in determining voter intent, allowing ballots with misspellings to be counted toward Murkowski's tally. Murkowski lost to Miller in the Republican primary, but led by more than 10,000 votes as a write-in candidate in last month's general election. She leads by 2,169 votes when ballots challenged by Miller's campaign are excluded.
Jury urges death in bank bombing
A jury Wednesday recommended that a father and his son be sentenced to death for planting a bomb that exploded inside an Oregon bank two years ago, killing two police officers and maiming a third. Prosecutors portrayed Bruce and Joshua Turnidge as bigoted men who hated authorities, were desperate for money and feared that newly elected President Barack Obama would take away their guns. Marion County Circuit Judge Tom Hart will formally sentence them Jan. 24. Hart is bound by the jury's death sentence and cannot impose a lesser penalty. Cases involving capital punishment are automatically appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court.
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Couple charged in Iran funds inquiry
A McAllen doctor and his attorney wife are free on bond after being charged with secretly sending more than $1.8 million to Iran in funds meant for a children's charity. Dr. Hossein Lahiji and Najmeh Vahid are charged with violating the U.S. trade embargo on Iran. The FBI arrested the couple Tuesday in San Antonio. The two were named in a federal indictment last week in Portland, Ore. They are charged with conspiring to defraud the government and conspiring to launder money. They were released on unsecured bonds and face arraignment Jan. 4 in Portland.
Pandas to stay longer at zoo
The National Zoo said Wednesday that China has granted an extension of its lease of Washington's two giant pandas, Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, while details of a new agreement are worked out. Zoo director Dennis Kelly was in China last week seeking to negotiate a new panda arrangement to replace the 10-year, $10 million lease that expired Dec. 6. China owns and leases all giant pandas in U.S. zoos. The zoo said no new agreement has yet been signed, but details are being worked on and a new arrangement could be unveiled next month.
'Large Guy' guilty of racketeering
A reputed Chicago mobster accused of orchestrating the bombing of a rival video gaming company was convicted of racketeering Wednesday, along with four members of his crew. Jurors in Chicago had deliberated since late Monday before convicting Michael "The Large Guy" Sarno and his co-defendants. Sarno, who weighs about 300 pounds, was known for using his bulk to collect mob gambling debts as an enforcer.