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In brief

Fun amid brutal Northwest weather Jeff Olson puts the finishing touches on an eight-foot snowman he built with his girlfriend, Veronica Nim, in front of Nim’s house on Faunteleroy Way in West Seattle, Wash. on Monday. "It’s not the biggest one we’ve done," said Olson, whose snowmaking came amid reports of thousands of travelers still stranded by snow Monday across the Pacific Northwest.

DENVER Jet’s runway woes probed

Investigators took photos and measurements at the charred wreckage of a Continental Airlines jet Monday, searching for clues about why the plane veered off a runway and skidded into a shallow ravine.

The twin-engine Boeing 737-500 still sat in a shallow, snow-covered ravine where it came to rest after its aborted takeoff Saturday at Denver International Airport.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators made preliminary reviews of the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder on Sunday, agency spokesman Peter Knudson said.

No information has been released, but Knudson said “we do have good data” from the recorders.

Investigators planned to interview the captain and the first officer later Monday. Both had clean safety records with the Federal Aviation Administration, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said. He wouldn’t release their names.

NEW YORK Ex-‘Sopranos’ actor cleared

A former “Sopranos” actor has been cleared of second-degree murder in the 2005 shooting death of an off-duty policeman.

Lillo Brancato was convicted of a lesser charge of attempted burglary. He faces a minimum of three years in prison on that count, but the former actor could get credit for time served because he has been behind bars about that long.

Prosecutors say Brancato and his accomplice Steven Armento broke into a basement apartment to steal prescription drugs after a night of drinking at a strip club. Officer Daniel Enchautegui, who lived next door, came out to investigate.

WASHINGTON Russia-Iraq link looked at

U.S. officials say they want answers from Russia on whether it is selling advanced surface-to-air missiles to Iran. The U.S. insists such a move could threaten American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A senior military intelligence official said Monday the U.S. believes the sale of Russian long-range S-300 missiles is taking place. However, the official said it appears that no equipment has yet been delivered to Iran. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Russia’s state arms export agency said Monday it is supplying Iran with defensive weapons, including surface-to-air missiles.

Lyme, Conn. ‘Mockingbird’ director dies

Robert Mulligan, the Academy Award-nominated director of “To Kill a Mockingbird” who later helped launch the career of Reese Witherspoon, has died at 83.

Mulligan died early Saturday at his home in Lyme, Conn., after a battle with heart disease, his wife, Sandy, said Monday.

Mulligan was nominated for an Oscar for “Mockingbird,” the 1962 movie adaptation of Harper Lee’s best-selling novel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning look at a child’s world shaken by the racism of a Southern town.

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