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Saturday, December 17

Editor's Note: CNN News Update is a running log of the latest news from CNN World Headquarters, reported by CNN's correspondents, producers and Wires.CNN editors.

Final draft of WTO agreement proposes ending farm subsidies by 2013

HONG KONG (CNN) -- In the waning hours of the World Trade Organization talks, member states released a final draft of an agreement proposing all countries end agricultural export subsidies progressively by 2013.

The timeline was one issue that was left unresolved as talks headed into the last day. The European Union had suggested 2013 as a possible date to end the subsidies, but Brazil, the United States and other countries were pushing for 2010. The draft appears to be a compromise, calling for subsidies to be progressively ceased.

In addition, the final draft proposes ending all export subsidies on cotton by 2006, seen as a win for west African nations who believed the subsidies were unfair. And there is more detail on duty-free, quota-free market access for the least developed countries. Under the agreement, the access would be for 97 percent of all goods from the poorest nations by 2008. And the draft proposes an April 30, 2006, deadline for the agreement to be finished and a full draft deal formed.

Sunday is the sixth and last day of the WTO's ministerial-level meetings in Hong Kong. Delegates for 149 countries have gathered, and developing countries have demanded that richer nations lower trade barriers. The talks have been marked by debate between the EU and the United States, particularly on the agricultural subsidy issue. --CNN Business Correspondent Eunice Yoon contributed to this report. (Posted 4:26 a.m.)

Human stampede kills 42, injures 13 in southern Indian relief camp

NEW DELHI (CNN) -- A stampede at a flood relief center in southern killed at least 42 people and injured another 13 Sunday, according to police.

The deadly stampede began early Sunday morning when people standing in a relief distribution line ran for shelter when it began to rain, police said. Those people, who had waiting in the line for several hours for rice and kerosene, were victims of recent flooding, police said.

The incident happened outside a school being used as a relief center in the MGR Nagar section of the southern Indian city of Chennai, police said. The injured people were taken to a hospital. -- CNN producer Prithvi Banerjii contributed to this report. (Updated 4:58 a.m.)

Union, transit officials negotiate Saturday in effort to avoid strike

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Negotiators met for about an hour Saturday evening in an effort to avert the first phase of a transit strike in New York and hammer out a contract for 33,000 transport workers, according to a Metropolitan Transit Authority official.

The session, which ended around 9:30 p.m. ET, was the latest in a series of negotiating sessions between the Transport Workers Union and the MTA at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan.

Key issues are remaining on the table such as health benefits, pensions and wages. If negotiators cannot reach an agreement, the first phase of a strike is scheduled to begin after midnight Monday, union officials said.

A strike, which would come during Christmas shopping season, would sock the New York region's economy heavily reliant on buses and subways. (Posted 11:06 p.m.)

Marine in Iraq dies 'from non-hostile gunshot wound'

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A Marine died in Iraq on Friday "from a non-hostile gunshot wound," the U.S. military said on Saturday.

The service member was assigned to the 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).

The Marine died at Camp Falluja, located in Anbar province, where the Marines are headquartered. This brings the number of U.S. troop deaths in Iraq to 2,154. (Posted 3:22 p.m.)

Despite arrests, WTO protesters march on last day of talks

HONG KONG (CNN) -- Despite some 900 arrests made by Hong Kong police, anti-globalization protesters on Sunday marched down one of city's main thoroughfares to gather outside police barricades at the site of the World Trade Organization talks on the last day of negotiations.

Several thousand protesters gathered at a Hong Kong park a few miles from the site of the talks for a rally before setting off on the march. They are on one of the city's biggest commercial streets, which normally would be humming with shoppers, but on Sunday many stores were closed and boarded up.

The protesters, who include farmers, migrant workers and environmentalists, believe the WTO is a symbol for what's wrong about the development of free trade. Globalization, they claim, benefits only rich countries and hurts poor countries.

Several thousand police officers also were gearing up for Sunday's protests. On Saturday, police used tear gas, fire hoses and pepper spray in an attempt to subdue demonstrators trying to edge past police barricades and get closer to the exhibition center. Most of those arrested Saturday were South Korean farmers, who have been among the most militant protesters as they oppose the opening of the country's rice market. Police said on Sunday 96 people, including 23 police officers, had been injured during the protests. (Updated 4:28 a.m.)

Sen. Frist, also a physician, helps Boy Scout at Capitol presser

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., put his experience as a physician in action on Saturday, when a boy scout attending a press conference in the Capitol fainted.

Frist joined national leaders of the Boy Scouts of America, along with a two scouting troops from northern Virginia to highlight a bill supporting the scouts.

During the event, a boy scout started to slump over and Frist helped walk him out of the room.

As the boy stretched out on the floor in the hallway, Frist leaned over, elevated his legs, and checked him out. Frist's aides brought water and a member of the Capitol's attending physician's office remained with the boy so that Frist could rejoin the press conference.

Amy Call, spokeswoman for Frist, reported that the scout is fine. "He just got a little dizzy, I think it happens to kids when they stand for a bit and lock their knees," she said. --From CNN Congressional Producer Deirdre Walsh (Posted, 2:30 p.m.)

Jack Anderson, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, dies

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jack Anderson, whose long-running syndicated column exposed government corruption, died Saturday from complications of Parkinson's disease, CNN has learned.

Anderson was 83.

Anderson, who spent more than 50 years exposing corruption and malfeasance in the nation's capital, won the 1972 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting on U.S. policy decision-making during the Indo-Pakistan war of 1971.

His exposes so bedeviled President Richard Nixon during the Watergate years that Anderson was put on Nixon's infamous "enemies list."

Nearly 1,000 newspapers across the country published Anderson's "Washington Merry-Go-Round" column, which focused on political corruption in the nation's capital.

Ailing from Parkinson's disease, he stopped writing the column last year, according to The Washington Post. --From CNN Capitol Hill Correspondent Ed Henry (Posted, 1:22 p.m.)

Protest groups consider withdrawing from Sunday's anti-WTO march

HONG KONG (CNN) -- Protest leaders are considering withdrawing from Sunday demonstrations against World Trade Organization talks in Hong Kong after violence broke out the previous day, according to a spokeswoman for the group organizing the WTO protests.

Elizabeth Tang of the Hong Kong People's Alliance on the WTO said she is contacting the leaders of individual protest groups to determine if they will participate in the anti-WTO march scheduled for 2 p.m. (1 a.m. EST).

A rally, scheduled for the same time, will proceed as planned, she told CNN. (Posted 12:16 p.m.)

Palestinian sources: 1 dead in air strike in Gaza

GAZA (CNN) --A Palestinian militant was killed in an apparent Israeli air strike on Saturday near Khan Younis in Gaza, Palestinian security sources said.

The sources said the strike was carried out by a drone aircraft. The sources identify the victim was 25-year-old Khaled Abu Sitah, a member of the Nasr Ala Adin Brigade, a part of the Popular Palestinian Resistance Movement. That group frequently fires rocket-propelled grenades from Gaza into Israel.

The man was in a car when it was struck. Israel has launched airstrikes in recent days against suspected Palestinian militants in Gaza. There was no immediate response from Israel. (Posted 12:15 p.m.)

Bush acknowledges NSA eavesdropping order, says authorization consistent with his authority

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush on Saturday acknowledged he authorized the National Security Agency to intercept international communications of people in the United States linked to terror groups, and criticized the media for divulging the program.

He said he has reauthorized the wiretap program about 30 times "and I intend to continue doing so as long as we have terror threats."

Such authorization is "fully consistent" with his "constitutional responsibilities and authorities," said Bush, who disclosed details of his actions in a live Saturday morning address, normally the time for his taped weekly radio address.

The New York Times first reported Friday that Bush signed a secret order in 2002 allowing the NSA to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens and others in the United States who are communicating with individuals overseas. And that was since confirmed by other media, including CNN. (Posted, 11:20 a.m.)

Bush calls Senate decision on Patriot Act 'irresponsible'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush called the Senate's decision on the Patriot Act Friday "irresponsible," saying it "endangers the lives" of the American people.

"The Patriot Act has accomplished exactly what it was designed to do. It has protected American liberty, and saved American lives," Bush said. "Yet, key provisions of this law are set to expire in two weeks."

However, he said, "the terrorist threat to our country will not expire in two weeks," saying terrorists plan to attack the United States again as they had on Sept. 11, 2001.

The Senate on Friday rejected efforts to renew expiring provisions of the Patriot Act, dealing a major blow to President Bush and the Republican leadership. (Posted, 11:20 a.m.)

Protests grow heated outside Hong Kong WTO talks

HONG KONG (CNN) -- Clashes erupted Saturday between protesters and police outside World Trade Organization talks being held at Hong Kong's convention center, and authorities were using tear gas, fire hoses and pepper spray in attempts to quell demonstrations as the protesters tried to edge closer to the building where negotiations are taking place.

There were 41 reported injuries in Saturday's clashes, according to Hong Kong Police Commissioner Dick Lee.

Although demonstrations have largely been peaceful this week, with the exception of a few minor scuffles, protesters from South Korea vowed to escalate their actions on Saturday. Many South Korean farmers are desperate to have their view against globalization and imports heard at the WTO. Saturday night, protesters were about 100 meters (328 feet) away from the entrance to the exhibition center -- the closest they have been able to get.

Inside the building, only limited progress was being made. A draft agreement touching on a variety of issues was released Saturday, but no final agreement had been reached as of Saturday night. Among other issues, the draft attempts to reach a compromise on a timeline for eliminating agricultural export subsidies in richer countries -- an issue that has caused a rift between the United States and the European Union during the talks. (Posted 7:26 a.m.)

Election monitoring group reports significant Iraqi expatriate vote

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A group that monitored the Iraqi parliamentary elections said preliminary findings show "there has been a significant increase in voter turnout" among Iraqi expatriates casting ballots in 15 countries across the globe.

The International Mission for Iraqi Elections, based in Canada, said in a Friday news release about 320,000 ballots were cast among Iraqi expatriates voting for the country's new parliament.

That figure would surpass the 265,000 votes cast in the Jan. 30 vote for a transitional national assembly. There was no out-of-country vote for the October constitutional referendum.

This number is another indication of what U.S. and Iraqi authorities are calling a high voter turnout on Thursday for the four-year Council of Representatives, a 275-seat national parliament. (Posted, 11:20 a.m.)

Sunni politician: Party open to alliances after election results in

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A Sunni politician who heads a Sunni Arab bloc expected to gain power in Iraq's parliament once results from this week's election are in said Saturday his party is open to making alliances with any group willing to work toward unity, regardless of religion or ethnicity.

"We'll form alliances with any group who will work on protecting the best interests of all Iraqis," Adnan al-Dulaimi said in a news conference carried by Arab networks.

Al-Dulaimi heads an alliance called the Iraqi Accordance Front. He praised the largely peaceful election, saying its success was due to security measures taken by the government, as well as a pledge from some militia groups not to attack, but protect, polling stations in some areas.

In addition, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad on Friday released a joint statement from U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and Gen. George Casey, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, congratulating Iraqis on the success of the elections and also calling for national unity. (Posted 4:10 a.m.)

39 bodies retrieved from flooded Chinese coal mine

BEIJING (CNN) -- The bodies of 39 workers trapped in a Chinese coal mine when it flooded earlier this month have been recovered, and rescue operations were ongoing, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported Saturday.

The flood occurred Dec. 2, as 76 miners were changing shifts at the unlicensed private coal mine in Shisi Township of Xin'an County, in central China's Henan Province, Xinhua said. Thirty-four miners were able to escape, and 42 were trapped underground.

Three miners remained unaccounted-for, Xinhua reported. A local rescue team told the news agency most of the victims were residents of the town. Ten mine officials were found to be responsible for the accident and have been detained, Xinhua said. (Posted 1:41 a.m.)

Remains of U.S. Navy seaman killed in Pearl Harbor identified

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The remains of a U.S. Navy seaman listed as missing in action after the attack on Pearl Harbor have been identified and will be returned to his family, the Department of Defense said Friday.

Seaman 2nd Class Warren P. Hickok of Kalamazoo, Mich., was assigned to the USS Sicard when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. He was unaccounted for following the attack, and records were unclear about which ship he had been dispatched to assist. He was interred as an unknown soldier, according to a statement from the Defense Department's POW/Missing Personnel Office.

Last year, an avocational historian contacted the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) in Hawaii and suggested the remains in the grave might be Hickok's, the Defense Department statement said. The grave was exhumed in June, and the remains were determined to be Hickok's by forensic anthropologists. (Posted 12:13 a.m.)

Padilla pushes for Supreme Court hearing government says is moot

(CNN) -- Attorneys for "enemy combatant" Jose Padilla, who has been detained for three-and-half-years in U.S. military custody, said Friday the Bush administration has consistently "manipulated" courts to evade judicial review of its controversial handling of the case.

In a brief filed before the 4th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, the lawyers asked the court to allow the constitutional questions raised by the case to proceed to the Supreme Court.

At the same time, the Justice Department filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court saying the justices should reject the case.

The dueling court filings come a month after the government finally levied criminal charges against Padilla -- charges that were unrelated to the alleged "dirty bomb" plot that officials had accused him of publicly.

A week ago, prosecutors asked the appeals court to approve Padilla's transfer to Florida, where he was indicted last month. In response, the court asked the government to explain why the indictment made no mention of the radioactive "dirty bomb" plot and other allegations cited by the federal government to detain Padilla for more than three years.

For the entire time Padilla has been held at the Charleston, S.C., naval brig, Bush administration officials contended he was an associate of al Qaeda who had plotted in the United States either to detonate a crude atomic bomb or blow up apartment buildings with natural gas.

The Florida indictment includes no mention of such allegations. But the terrorism conspiracy charges are so serious they could bring a life sentence. (Posted 11 p.m.)

Fugitive who may have posed as firefighter, assaulted woman -- stabs self

(CNN) -- A man believed to have entered a woman's home posing as a New York City firefighter and sexually assaulting her for 12 hours on Halloween stabbed himself in the neck Friday in Memphis, Tenn., as authorities approached him, police and other law enforcement officials said.

Peter Braunstein, a 41-year-old freelance writer, was in fair condition at Regional Medical Center, said hospital spokeswoman Kathy Stringer. Witness Wesley Gifford said he was walking in the area of the University of Memphis campus when he saw an officer draw his gun on the suspect and try to pepper spray him.

Linda Bonnin, the university's associate vice president for marketing communications, said a university employee spotted Braunstein on campus at 2 p.m. and alerted police. Another official said the employee had seen Braunstein on television, and knew he was a fugitive.

New York police said they received a tip after Braunstein was featured Monday on "America's Most Wanted." Someone who saw the show reported that Braunstein had donated blood in Memphis on Nov. 28.

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