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Saturday, January 28

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

At least 14 arrested after fight involving police in Las Vegas

(CNN) -- At least 14 people were arrested after a street fight involving partygoers and police officers on the Las Vegas Strip, police said. Several people, including officers, sustained minor injuries.

The incident began at a party at the Hawaiian Marketplace on the Strip, said Lt. John Farrell of the Las Vegas Metropolitan police. About 10 to 20 people were involved in the initial altercation among partygoers. When officers arrived and attempted to break up the fight, Farrell said, "the people started fighting with the officers."

The arriving police called for help, and about 70 or 80 police responded, he said. The section of the Strip that is home to the MGM Grand Hotel and the Bellagio and Aladdin casinos was closed to traffic for about 20 minutes as police attempted to get the situation under control.

About 14 people were arrested for "a bunch of tiny charges," he said, but the number could increase as police were still wrapping up loose ends early Sunday. (Posted 4:51 a.m.)

Defense attorneys, defendants in Hussein trial walk out amid judge's efforts to establish order

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- The new chief judge in the trial of Saddam Hussein and other defendants wielded a heavy hand Sunday in establishing order in the courtroom, resulting in the expulsion of one defendant -- Barzan Hassan -- and a defense attorney.

The expulsions prompted other members of the defense team to walk out, followed by Hussein and two other defendants. The former Iraqi leader and seven co-defendants face charges for killing more than 140 Shiite males during a crackdown after an attempt on Hussein's life in Dujail in 1982.

In the opening moments of the proceedings, Judge Raouf Rasheed Abdel-Rahman told the court that "political speeches" would not be tolerated. "Any accused who oversteps the line will be thrown out of court and will be tried in absentia," he said. But Hassan, Hussein's half-brother and former chief of intelligence, almost immediately began to speak and challenged the court's legitimacy. After an exchange, Hassan was forcibly removed from the courtroom, CNN International Correspondent Aneesh Raman reported. The defense attorneys followed.

Hussein and two other defendants left after another exchange with the judge. The trial resumed with witness testimony. (Posted 4:24 a.m.)

1 Iraqi police officer killed, 4 wounded in patrol attack

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- An Iraqi police officer was killed Sunday and four others were wounded when gunmen attacked a police patrol in Baquba, according to an official with Diyala Joint Coordination Center (JCC).

In a separate incident, insurgents fired four mortar rounds in central Baquba, the JCC official said. Two landed near a hospital, but did not detonate, and Iraqi police later defused them. The other two exploded in al-Belda Square, the official said. Four people, including two police officers, were wounded. Baquba is about 60 kilometers (37 miles) north of Baghdad. --CNN Producer Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report. (Posted 3 a.m.)

Death toll from roof collapse in southern Poland rises to at least 60

KATOWICE, Poland (CNN) -- At least 60 people were killed when the roof of an exhibition center in southern Poland collapsed during a national racing pigeon exposition, local officials said Sunday.

The death toll was expected to rise, as the local fire chief told reporters bodies could still be seen sticking out of the rubble of the International Exhibition Hall near the city of Katowice.

The collapse came during the annual three-day National Exhibition of Racing Pigeons. The event is attended by thousands of people, including families, breeders and exhibitors from Poland and other nations. About 500 people were believed to be inside when the collapse occurred about 5 p.m. Saturday. About 140 were injured, officials said, and 128 had been taken to 15 area hospitals. Some 1,300 rescuers, including coal miners, were on the site, but heavy machinery had not yet been brought in, as authorities held on to faint hope some of those trapped might still be alive.

The cause of the collapse was undetermined. Some blamed heavy snow, but others wondered if the temperature difference between the heated exhibition center and the bitter cold outside could have weakened the structure. (Updated 2:23 a.m.)

Police investigating whether child abuse suspects have more victims

EVERGREEN, Ala. (CNN) -- A couple arrested in Alabama in connection with what authorities call a horrific child abuse case may have also abused several other children in their nationwide travels, authorities said.

Jack Wiley, 58, and Glenna Faye Marshall, 40, were arrested earlier this week and charged with abusing two children living with them -- a 17-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl. Police said Wiley is charged with raping the girl and sodomizing the teenager. The arrests came about because of the efforts of an Atlanta woman, Tracie Dean. Dean saw the girl, accompanied by an older man, in a gas station south of Evergreen in rural south Alabama and sensed something was wrong.

Deputies went to the couple's mobile home, also south of Evergreen, Friday morning. Conecuh County Sheriff Tracy Hawsey said the teen at first told deputies he was Marshall's, but then claimed he was her son. "A lot of red flags went up when investigation started," Hawsey said. Marshall has also said she is the girl's mother, and has admitted there was sexual contact between Wiley and the girl, he said. -- CNN Producer Mike Phelan contributed to this report. (Posted 1:18 a.m.)

Doctor: Off-duty NYPD officer shot by fellow policeman in grave condition

NEW YORK (CNN) -- An off-duty New York police officer was in critical condition Saturday after being shot outside a Bronx fast-food restaurant by a fellow officer, in an apparent case of mistaken identity, police said.

Dressed in civilian clothes, NYPD Officer Eric Hernandez, 24, was assaulted inside the White Castle restaurant early Saturday by a group of men while waiting in line, police said. An employee called 911.

While police headed to the scene, Hernandez chased one of his attackers, and held him at gunpoint outside the restaurant. An officer responding to the call, who was unaware of Hernandez's identity, opened fire on him, police said.

Several of the shots struck major arteries in Hernandez's legs, according to physicians at St. Barnabas Hospital. Dr. Stephen Dirusso said Hernandez's condition was extremely grave. (Posted 5 p.m.)

Police: Candy store bomb kills 10 south of Baghdad

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A bomb detonated late Saturday inside a candy store in a predominantly Shiite town south of Baghdad, killing 10 people and wounding three others, Hilla police told CNN.

Police believe the bomb was planted inside the store in Iskandriya, just north of Hilla, about 50 miles (80 km) south of Baghdad. (Posted 4:58 p.m.)

U.S. soldier killed in Baghdad roadside bombing; Marine dies in accident

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- The U.S. military on Saturday reported the deaths of two U.S. troops in Iraq.

A U.S. soldier was killed on Saturday in central Baghdad when his "vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb," the U.S. military said.

A Marine was killed "in a non-hostile vehicle accident" on Friday in Falluja.

This brings the number of U.S. troop deaths in the Iraq war to 2,240. (Posted 2:13 p.m.)

Human Rights Watch criticizes political interference in Saddam Hussein trial

(CNN) -- The Saddam Hussein trial set to resume on Sunday has drawn criticism from a humanitarian watchdog group over the Iraqi government's "interference with the independence of the judges in the trial."

Human Rights Watch issued a report on Friday that said recent moves involving the judges threaten the "fairness of the proceedings" and raise "serious concerns about the court's ability to safeguard its independence."

The trial -- in which the former Iraqi leader and seven co-defendants face charges for killing more than 140 Shiite males during a crackdown after an attempt on Hussein's life in Dujail in 1982 -- had been set to start last Tuesday but has been delayed amid changes in the makeup of the tribunal. (Posted 1:43 p.m.)

Humanitarian group 'heartened' that 4 Iraq captives still alive

(CNN) -- The humanitarian group whose four abducted members were seen in a militant group's video on Saturday said it is "grateful and heartened' that the hostages apparently are still alive in Iraq.

"This news is an answer to our prayers. We continue to hope and pray for their release," according to a statement issued by Christian Peacemaker Teams.

The Christian Peacemakers' statement said "we are so grateful and heartened to see James, Harmeet, Norman and Tom alive on the video tape dated January 21" and it said that "we pray that those who hold them will host them with the grace that so many of us in CPT have received as guests in Iraq."

James Loney and Harmeet Sooden of Canada, Tom Fox of the United States and Briton Norman Kember were abducted on Nov. 26 by kidnappers calling themselves the Swords of Righteousness Brigades. (Posted 12:35 p.m.)

Report: Iran, Russia to include other nations in uranium plan

(CNN) -- A report in Iran's official news agency on Saturday said Iran and Russia have agreed to expand the number of countries involved in a plan to enrich Iranian uranium in Russia.

The plan has been cited as an effort that could assuage Western fears over Iran's nuclear program. Iran says its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes, but the West is concerned that it has been intent on developing weapons.

Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki is quoted in the Islamic Republic News Agency as saying that "thus far, Tehran and Moscow have reached agreement on certain points such as increasing the number of partners."

Iran would send its uranium to Russia under such a plan. The uranium would be enriched there and shipped back to Iran -- which would use the material to generate electricity. Mottaki made his comments in Tehran after meeting with his counterpart from Bahrain. (Posted 12:35 p.m.)

Bush touts Alito nomination in radio address

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush on Saturday called Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito "a man of great character and integrity" with impressive judicial experience and said he is looking "forward to the Senate voting to confirm" him.

He made these comments in his weekly radio address, as the fight over Alito heads toward a Monday climax. The Gang of 14 agreement that ended Democratic filibusters against President Bush's judicial nominations last year is holding together, apparently dooming an effort by some Senate Democrats to talk his nomination to death.

"Sam Alito is a man of great character and integrity," Bush said. "He has more prior judicial experience than any Supreme Court nominee in more than 70 years. He understands that the role of a judge is to strictly interpret the law, not to advance a personal or political agenda. And throughout his extraordinary career, Sam Alito has earned the tremendous respect of his colleagues and attorneys across the political spectrum." (Posted 12:35 p.m.)

Palestinian protests pick up steam on Saturday

GAZA CITY (CNN) - Hundreds of armed demonstrators Saturday surrounded Palestinian government buildings in the West Bank and Gaza, protesting the militant group Hamas' victory in this week's election and the failure of the leading Fatah party to make reforms.

The second day of violence has largely been met with silence from Palestinian leaders, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. On Friday, protests in Gaza left seven wounded.

Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department and Israel, won 76 of the 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council, compared with 43 for Fatah, which has headed Palestinian government for years.

Anger with corruption and failure inside the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority was largely credited for the Hamas victory. One protester told CNN's Ben Wedeman that they would like to mount a coup d'etat to prevent Hamas from taking over the Palestinian Authority.

Many of the protesters are Palestinian security forces, which raises questions about how the Palestinian leadership can bring the ongoing violence under control.

Senior Fatah member Nabil Shaath said the party's main committees will meet to discuss reform, but it is unclear what effect that will have on protesters who are demanding the party's leaders resign or face annihilation. (Posted, 11:40 a.m.)

U.S. soldier in Afghanistan sentenced in striking of detainees

(CNN) -- A U.S. soldier in Afghanistan was sentenced Friday in connection with the striking of two detainees at a forward operating base in the country's Uruzgan Province last summer, the coalition command in Kabul said in a statement on Saturday.

Spc. James R. Hayes -- who had been assigned to Company C, 926th Engineer Battalion when the incident took place -- has been found guilty of "one count of conspiracy to maltreat and two counts of maltreatment" in a court-martial

He had been "sentenced to reduction in rank to private (E-1), total forfeiture of all pay and allowances for four months and confinement for four months." Hayes is being "held in custody at Bagram Airfield pending transfer to Kuwait for detention." (Posted 9:32 a.m.)

Al-Jazeera airs video of 4 abducted humanitarian workers; reissues demand

(CNN) --Al-Jazeera aired video of four Western humanitarian workers abducted in Iraq in November and an anchor read the group's message -- that it will provide one "last chance" for its demand -- free all Iraqi prisoners under U.S. or Iraqi custody or the four will be executed.

A new videotape of the four -- two Canadians, an American and a Briton working with the Christian Peacemaker Teams -- was aired on the Arabic-language news network Saturday, but was dated Jan. 21. The kidnappers call themselves the Swords of Righteousness Brigades.

The four were abducted Nov. 26. The four are James Loney and Harmeet Sooden of Canada, Tom Fox of the United States and Briton Norman Kember. (Posted 8 a.m.)

Top Hamas leader: Our movement 'succeeded in resistance, will succeed in reforms'

(CNN) -- A leader of the militant group Hamas, which swept the Palestinian parliament in elections this week, said Saturday his party has "succeeded in resistance and it will succeed in reforms."

"The international community carried the banners of democracy. Let them respect this democracy," said Khaled Mashaal, the Damascus-based Hamas leader.

He noted some countries, including the United States, have threatened to cut aid to the Palestinian territory because of the election results, and asked those countries not to punish the Palestinian people. "If you want to punish the Palestinian people for practicing democracy, then the American administration should punish Americans for choosing President Bush," he said. "Please remember that you were the one who created the Palestinians' crisis."

Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department and Israel, won 76 of the 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council, compared with 43 for Fatah, which has headed Palestinian government for years. (Posted 7:15 a.m.)

6 dead in Iraq violence; Operation Koa Canyon ends

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Four people, including an employee of the Iraqi army intelligence department, were shot dead Saturday in separate incidents, authorities said.

Additionally, two high-ranking Iraqi police intelligence officers were shot to death Friday in western Baghdad.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military said Saturday it had wrapped up Operation Wadi Aljundi (Operation Koa Canyon) along the western Euphrates River Valley. The operation, which began Jan. 15 north of Hit, yielded 45 weapons caches and the detention of 20 suspected insurgents, according to a military statement. --CNN Producer Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report. (Posted 6:30 a.m.)

Georgia strikes emergency deal with Iran for natural gas

MOSCOW (CNN) -- Suffering through an energy crisis in the midst of an unusually cold winter, the former Soviet republic of Georgia on Saturday said Iran has agreed to provide it with emergency natural gas.

Officials hope natural gas will begin flowing Sunday into Georgia from Iran through Azerbaijan, said George Arveladze, a presidential administration official. Iran has agreed to provide Georgia with 4 million cubic meters daily, which should provide the country with some relief, he said.

Meanwhile, some electricity had been restored, but was being rationed throughout the capital, Tblisi. Authorities believe the crisis will be over by Monday, Arveladze said. The energy crisis began Sunday, when a series of explosions destroyed the Russian pipeline supplying Georgia with natural gas. Wednesday night, the main power lines connecting east and west Georgia went down, plunging the eastern half of the country -- except for some vital facilities such as hospitals -- into darkness. -- CNN International Correspondent Ryan Chilcote contributed to this report. (Posted 6:20 a.m.)

FEMA: Deadline approaching for evacuees to lengthen hotel stays

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Evacuees from hurricanes Katrina and Rita who are still living in hotels paid for by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have until Monday to request an authorization code that will lengthen their stays for at least one week, the agency said.

"Evacuees in hotels and motels must contact FEMA by Jan. 30, 2006, at 1-800-621-FEMA to receive a unique authorization code that must be presented to a hotel or motel to extend the federal subsidy for their hotel stay beyond Feb. 7, 2006," said a FEMA statement issued Friday.

If a code is received by an evacuee by Monday, FEMA will continue to fund their hotel room until at least Feb. 13. Evacuees who have applied for temporary housing, but have not received an eligibility decision by Jan. 30, will be allowed to stay in hotel rooms until March 1, FEMA said. (Posted 4:04 a.m.)

9 killed in gun battle between militants and Indian security forces

(CNN) -- Nine people were killed early Saturday in a gun battle that erupted after Indian security forces caught a group of militants sneaking across the line of control into Indian-controlled Kashmir, a senior Indian army official told CNN.

The dead included seven militants, an Indian army major and an army soldier, he said. The incident occurred about 3 a.m. local time at Krishnaghat in the border district of Poonch, about 240 kilometers (150 miles) from Jammu, the winter capital of the Indian-controlled Jammu-Kashmir state. Two Indian soldiers were injured.

The officer told CNN the militants "were spotted and were immediately surrounded by the Indian security forces. The militants opened heavy fire on the surrounding troops, which was returned. In the heavy gun battle, seven intruders have been killed." He said the operation has since ended. --From Journalist Mukhtar Ahmed (Posted: 12:15 a.m.)

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