Tonight, airport chaos. Four jumbo jets stranded for hours on the tarmac in New York. Hundreds of passengers with little to eat or drink. Who's to blame? No one is taking responsibility, and there's plenty of finger-pointing. We're Keeping Them Honest. Plus an American aid worker jailed in Haiti. The allegations sound outrageous...turning a baby into a zombie and kidnapping him. The accusations from a grief-stricken father have landed Paul Waggoner in jail despite no criminal charges. We'll have the very latest. And in our Extreme Living series we're looking at what drives elite athletes to new heights. Tonight we focus on a woman who is making a name for herself in the male-dominated world of Nascar.
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CNN Political Ticker
As the start of the next presidential campaign nears, a new national poll suggests that President Barack Obama's tax-cut compromise with congressional Republicans did not hurt his standing among Democrats, while former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin may be dropping in the eyes of Republicans.
According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday, 78 percent of Democrats questioned in the poll say they want to see Obama at the top of their party's ticket in 2012, with only 19 percent saying they would prefer someone else as the Democratic presidential nominee. The 19 percent figure is the lowest figure since March, when the question was first asked.
Many liberal Democrats opposed the tax rate compromise because it included provisions that helped the wealthy. Although previously released numbers indicate the president's approval rating among self-described liberals dropped from 79 percent in November to 72 percent in December, the survey suggests that when it comes to the next presidential election, the tax deal may not be hurting him with the progressive wing of the party.
"Among liberal Democrats, 85 percent say they want to see the party re-nominate Obama in 2012," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Among moderate Democrats, his support is almost that high."
In the battle for the GOP presidential nomination, the survey suggests Palin may have some work to do if she throws her hat in the ring. Only 49 percent of Republicans say that they are likely to support Sen. John McCain's running mate in 2008 for the Republican nomination in 2012.
Close to 10,000 total flights have been canceled since the beginning of a holiday blizzard that blanketed much of the U.S. northeast with snow and left thousands stranded.
Airline representatives from AirTran, American, Continental, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, United, U.S. Airways, Spirit and Southwest reported a total of at least 9,726 trips were called off due to weather since Saturday.
Of those, at least 1,335 flights were canceled on Tuesday as major airports across the region slowly got back to normal.
"With all the cancellations and delays, it'll be two to three days before the airlines are at a regular schedule," said Thomas Bosco, general manager of New York's LaGuardia Airport.
By early Tuesday evening, LaGuardia was still operating well below its normal 70 flights per hour, he said.
John F. Kennedy Airport, in the New York City borough of Queens, and Newark Liberty International, in northern New Jersey, opened to incoming and departing traffic at 6 p.m. Monday, Port Authority spokeswoman Sara Joren said.
AirTran spokesman Christopher White said his airline didn't plan any more cancellations Tuesday after dropping 81 flights on Monday. Instead, White said, AirTran planned to operate additional flights out of LaGuardia, Boston's Logan Airport and White Plains, New York's Westchester County Airport to get people home.
Airline passengers who spent 11 hours stuck on the tarmac at John F. Kennedy International Airport were unloaded Tuesday afternoon in the latest example of the frustrating effects of a massive blizzard that delayed thousands of would-be holiday travelers.
"There were a lot of people on the plane crying," said passenger Christina Edgar. "It was really a tough situation."
She called the situation "just a bad judgment call."
"They kept trying to get us to go, and they kept us on the plane with no choice," Edgar said.
Travelers aboard the Cathay Pacific Airways flight from Vancouver, British Columbia, arrived in New York at 2:12 a.m. ET on Tuesday.
They got off the plane shortly after 1 p.m. ET.
"It wasn't fun with three children sitting there," said passenger Vincent Butcher. "No one has admitted to making any mistakes."
Cathay Pacific spokesman Gus Whitcomb said the airline's intention was "to get passengers to New York as quickly as possible, and we anticipated to have gate space available."
He said the gate typically assigned to the airline had been moved "because of what became a very fluid situation at JFK due to the weather."
Four international flights were stranded at JFK on Tuesday without gates available to unload passengers, officials said.
"We also had four flights come into LaGuardia, but because they were domestic flights we were able to get them off," said Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman.
Coleman said that because the JFK flights were international, they had to be unloaded in specific customs areas to undergo screening.
"There is just no place that you can dump 1,000 people in a secured area for a period of time," Coleman said.
He said the planes were stranded because the airlines brought them in without checking with terminal operations to see if there was a place to put them.
Anderson Cooper debuts some new accessories as he and Kathy Griffin preview their live New Year's Eve show.
Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
Zoo owner Manny Tangco holds up a rabbit and a tiger cub while surrounded by local children at the Malabon Zoo in Malabon, in northern Metro Manila on December 28, 2010 to illustrate the shift from the 'Year of the Tiger' to the 'Year of the Rabbit'. (Photo credit:NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.
Update: Beat 360° Winners:
“Whoa Whoa Whoa....What's with the tiger? Was told I would run with a tortoise."
"Cage match. Two will enter. One will leave."
Editor's Note: Find out more about ultramarathon runners in “The Distance of Truth.”
Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: I continue to enjoy a few days off, except for writing my daily letter to the White House. Hey, it can’t be all fun and games.
Dear Mr. President,
So I understand from your press secretary that you are not planning any big changes in your Cabinet. Well, I guess that's fine. I suppose I didn't really expect you to call, but finding out this way stings a bit, fyi.
How about a "Hey, Tom, just called to let you know how much I've enjoyed your letters and how important you are to me as an unofficial advisor. Truth be told, you're so valuable to the success of my team, and heck, to the health of the nation, that as much as I'd like to have you in my Cabinet, I just can't risk upsetting the incredibly important work you’re doing right where you are. And after all, who would want to be cooped up in stuffy meetings, when he can be a 'secret weapon' instead!"
To be honest, I'm not sure what department I'd want to head up anyway. Commerce? Not good enough at math. Education? Nah. If you had a Department of Watching Sports and Old Movies, I think that would interest me. So if that comes up, just let me know.
CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - After referring to himself online only as "The Patriot Pilot," a California-based aviator revealed his identity Monday and explained his crusade to expose what he described as the nation's faulty airport security.
Chris Liu, 50, who has worked as a pilot for American Airlines, said he took and broadcast a video online presenting his view of San Francisco International Airport security because he "saw a potential problem," but didn't foresee the resulting uproar.
"Janet Napolitano did state that if you see something, say something," he said Monday night on CNN's "AC 360," referring to the nation's Homeland Security department chief. "I think (the public) already knows (about security issues) personally."
His footage, posted in late November and later removed from the popular video-sharing website YouTube, detailed his view of San Francisco International Airport security. On it, he said, "As you can see airport security is kind of farce."
On Christmas, the airport fired back deriding what it described as the pilot's "misleading" information and like-minded critics who had rallied behind him.
A statement attributed to the airport said it was proud to be "both an innovator and a trendsetter in aviation security."
"SFO meets, and in many cases, exceeds every federal security requirement," the statement said.
Liu said Monday that the videos, which he narrated, aim to show the contrast between the passengers, who were heavily scrutinized, and airport employees who just passed through a single door.