CHICAGO

Blagojevich appeal may hinge on political behavior

Judges considering an appeal by imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich spent much of oral arguments Friday focusing on one question: At what point does run-of-the-mill political horse-trading veer into corruption?

During an hour-long hearing, three judges of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals frequently interrupted a prosecutor and pressed her to explain just how the former Democratic governor’s actions had strayed beyond what is otherwise acceptable in politics.

Attorneys for Blagojevich, who was convicted of trying to sell an appointment to President Obama’s vacated Senate seat, among other things, want the court to toss his convictions or at the very least, to slash years off of his 14-year sentence, one of the longest ever imposed for corruption in a state where four of the last seven governors went to prison.

Blagojevich, who turned 57 on Tuesday, remains at the Colorado prison where he’s serving his sentence.

But his wife Patti watched the proceedings, and later told reporters she held out hope that her husband will win his freedom and return home to her and their two school-aged daughters.

SANAA, Yemen

Officials: Drone strike killed al-Qaida members

Yemen’s official security committee said on Friday that people targeted in an airstrike in a central city were al-Qaida militants, including those who planned attacks on vital institutions, the police and army.

The Friday statement by the Supreme Security Committee, headed by Yemen’s president, referred to a drone strike Thursday believed to have targeted a convoy heading to a wedding party in Radda, killing 13 people.

It said the airstrike targeted one car belonging to al-Qaida leaders. “Inside the car, there were members and leaders who masterminded attacks.”

“This is part of ongoing efforts to chase and track al-Qaida members,” the committee said in its statement, adding, “the security apparatus will not allow those elements to spread chaos and threaten security, stability and general order.”

– From news service reports