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Wednesday, March 1

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.

Landmark deal reached on India's civilian nuclear program

NEW DELHI (CNN) -- Saying there "are no limits to the Indo-U.S. partnerships," Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday announced a landmark agreement for New Delhi to separate its civilian and military nuclear programs.

The agreement was reached after intense negotiations between both nations, and magnified by U.S. President George W. Bush's relations-building trip to the world's largest democracy.

"I am particularly pleased that we have reached an understanding on the implementation of our agreement on civil nuclear cooperation," Singh said at a joint news conference with Bush.

Bush hailed the agreement as helping "make the world safer," and said he would lobby the U.S. Congress to persuade lawmakers that "this agreement is in our interests." The United States imposed temporary sanctions on India in 1998 after it conducted nuclear tests.

"India and America have built a strategic partnership based upon common values," Bush said. (Posted 2:52 a.m.)

1 American killed in Pakistan bombings

NEW DELHI (CNN) -- President Bush on Thursday said at least one U.S. citizen -- a foreign service officer -- was among those killed at the bombings near the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan.

"I send our country's deepest condolences to that person's loved one and family," Bush said at a news conference with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. "We also send the condolences to the people of Pakistan who lost their lives."

Bush is to travel to Pakistan on Saturday.

"Terrorists and killers are not going to prevent me from going to Pakistan," Bush said.

At least four people were killed in the dual bombings in Karachi and nearly four dozen others were wounded. (Posted 2:29 a.m.)

Leader of Islamic militant group arrested in Bangladesh

DHAKA, Bangladesh (CNN) -- Bangladeshi security forces captured the country's top Islamic militant leader Thursday after a 48-hour standoff in the northeastern city of Sylhet, a senior security official said.

Shayek Abdur Rahman is the leader of the Muslim extremist group Jamayetul Mujahedin, which claimed responsibility for multiple bombings across the country in August that wounded more than 100 people. At the time, police said about 350 bombs bombs exploded in quick succession in and around government facilities.

According to the security official, Bangladeshi security forces intensifid their search for Rahman since the August bombings, and they believe that he has ties with al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. -- Journalist Tasneem Khalil in Dhaka contributed to this story. (Posted 1:17 a.m.)

Car bomb explodes near U.S. Consulate in Karachi, 4 dead

(CNN) -- A pair of explosions ripped through a parking lot Thursday morning behind the Marriott hotel in Karachi and adjacent to the U.S. Consulate, killing four people and wounding 47 others, Pakistani police said.

The first bomb went off around 9:15 a.m. (11:15 p.m. Wed. ET) in the parking lot located right next to the U.S. Consulate. Video from the scene showed flames shooting into the sky from multiple vehicles in the area.

"There was a first blast, then after 5, 10 minutes there was ... a second one," Pakistani Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad told CNN.

The bombing comes just days before U.S. President George Bush is to arrive in Pakistan. Bush is currently in India, and he is to arrive in Pakistan on Saturday. (Posted 1:14 a.m.)

Oklahoma wildfires force 500-plus to evacuate

(CNN) -- A new outbreak of grassland wildfires sprang across the prairies of southern Oklahoma on Wednesday, destroying numerous homes and forcing more than 500 people to evacuate, authorities said.

Two firefighters were caught in the fires and suffered burns, including one who is in critical condition at a burn center in an Oklahoma City hospital, authorities said.

Duncan municipal spokesman Sam Darst said one suspected arsonist was in custody and that a second person was being sought in connection with the fires.

The fires were compounded by winds over 30 mph and temperatures in the 90-degree range. The blazes are spreading across some of the same parts of the state that was hit by fires that charred thousands of acres in December.(Posted 1:10 a.m.)

British charge 3 in record-setting heist

LONDON (CNN) -- British authorities have brought charges against two men and a woman in connection with the record-setting 53 million-pound ($92 million USD) robbery of a cash depot southeast of London, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

The three suspects -- John Fowler, 57; Stewart Royle, 47; and Kim Shackleton, 39 -- are scheduled to appear in court Thursday morning.

They face a variety of charges in connection with last week's heist at the Securitas AB depot in Tonbridge, about 30 miles southeast of London, the Crown Prosecution Service and police in the county of Kent said. (Posted 6:25 p.m.)

High court hears Texas redistricting case

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Jumping forcefully into a nasty political feud with the potential to affect the November mid-term elections, the Supreme Court on Tuesday appeared highly reluctant to throw out the Texas congressional map crafted four years ago that eventually made the state's congressional delegation majority GOP.

But concerns were expressed by the justices over several districts that Democrats say disenfranchised Hispanic voters.

The justices spent a rare two-hour afternoon session trying to sort out the controversy over the Texas voter redistricting plan promoted by Republicans, including former majority leader Rep. Tom DeLay. The measure led to the 2004 ouster of five Democratic incumbents from Congress, and sparked a bitter partisan battle.

Underlying the appeals are claims the Texas congressional map unfairly reduced minority voting strength. However, the justices focused many of their questions more narrowly: whether courts can fashion a proper remedy when partisan gerrymandering is judged excessive; and whether states can remake their congressional map when a valid plan already exists based on that decade's census numbers. --From CNN Supreme Court Producer Bill Mears (Posted 5:19 p.m.)

Antibiotic use linked to potentially fatal changes in blood sugar

(CNN) -- A commonly used antibiotic has been associated with potentially fatal changes in blood sugar, raising questions about whether its labeling ought to be tightened or if it should even be withdrawn from the market altogether, researchers said Wednesday.

The study, released ahead of schedule because of the possible implications for treatment, was published in the March 30 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

It looked at cases of low and high blood sugar among people who had been given Tequin -- known generically as gatifloxacin -- among residents of Ontario, Canada, age 66 and older.

When compared with other antibiotics, gatifloxacin was associated with a more than quadrupled risk of low blood sugar and a more than 16-times increased risk of high blood sugar, the study found. No such increased risk was noted with other antibiotics and the presence or absence of diabetes did not appear to seem to influence risk, the authors said. Posted 5 p.m.)

U.S. worried about coca growth in Bolivia, Peru

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A State Department report issued Wednesday voices concern about heightened political influence by coca-growing associations in Bolivia and Peru, resulting in an increase in coca cultivation in those countries.

The International Narcotics Control Strategy Report also portrays a mixed picture for Afghanistan, warning the country's major opium crop and heroin production threaten the country's development, and praising the government of President Hamid Karzai for demonstrating the political will to deal with the problem.

The report examines progress in counternarcotics efforts worldwide and is used to determine which countries belong on the U.S. list of major drug producing and trafficking nations and are subject to U.S. sanctions for failing to meet counternarcotics requirements. --From CNN State Department Producer Elise Labott (Posted 4:52 p.m.)

Gonzales letter seeks to 'clarify' NSA testimony; Leahy issues angry reply

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The bitter dispute over the legality of the National Security Agency's eavesdropping program continued Wednesday, with the attorney general attempting to "clarify certain of my responses" from his Senate testimony last month, and the panel's top Democrat blasting the explanation as "stonewalling" and demanding more information.

In a six-page letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday night, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said he was attempting to answer lingering questions stemming from his Feb. 6 appearance before the panel and to further explain some of his testimony.

But Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the committee's ranking Democrat, Wednesday issued a stinging response charging Gonzales was "modifying his live testimony."

"Regrettably but predictably this is more of the same stonewalling, steamrolling and intimidation the administration has used to impose its unilateralism at the expense of constitutional checks, balances and safeguards," Leahy said in a letter replying to Gonzales. --From CNN Justice Producer Terry Frieden (Posted 4:39 p.m.)

U.N. General Assembly president cool toward U.S. human rights push

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The U.N. General Assembly president said Wednesday major problems lie in the way of modifying a draft proposal opposed by the United States that would create a new Human Rights Council.

Jan Eliasson, the General Assembly president, said that there would be "grave difficulties" in renegotiating and changing the current text of a proposal that would create an improved organization to monitor human rights abuses.

The draft, which took months to negotiate among the 191 U.N. member states, came under attack by the United States this week. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton said if it came up for a vote soon, the United States would vote no.

U.S. representatives are holding bilateral meetings with nations in an effort to reopen the negotiations and correct what Bolton termed the "manifold deficiencies" in the text. (Posted 4:08 p.m.)

U.S. hostage released in Nigeria

WARRI, Nigeria (CNN) -- Militants Wednesday released six of the nine foreign oil workers they have been holding captive since Feb. 18.

The first man freed was Macon Hawkins of Texas, a 69-year-old diabetic who said he believes he was released because the militants have respect for their elders.

Shortly afterward, a spokesman for James Ibori, governor of the Delta State, said five more hostages had been released: two Egyptians, two Thais and one from the Philippines. That leaves three still held: a Briton and two more Americans, said spokesman Abel Oshevire. --From Journalist Christian Purefoy (Posted 3:12 p.m.)

Police ambushed in northern Iraq; 4 dead, 11 wounded

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Insurgents in northern Iraq on Wednesday ambushed a convoy of Iraqi police officers, killing four and wounding 11, an Iraqi army officer told CNN.

Maj. Gen. Anwar Mohammed Amin, commander of the army in Kirkuk, said the incident took place at 5 p.m. on a road between Kirkuk and Tikrit, around 40 miles northeast of Tikrit.

About 40 police personnel were traveling to Tikrit on vacation. They had been attending a training session in Sulaimaniya. Gunmen wielding small armaments and traveling in a white BMW ambushed the convoy of five minibuses, according to an official with the Joint Coordination Center in Salaheddin. (Posted 3 p.m.)

Suspected al Qaeda members arrested in Jordan

AMMAN (CNN) -- Three suspected al Qaeda members have been arrested in Jordan, a senior Jordanian government official confirmed to CNN Wednesday.

The two Iraqis and one Libyan were arrested for plotting attacks on vital facilities in Jordan, the official said.

Authorities are still looking for four other suspects -- three more Iraqis and one Saudi national. It's believed they may have fled to neighboring countries, the official said.

The Jordanian news agency Petra reported the suspects were planning to launch a suicide attack against a vital facility inside Jordan. (Posted 2:10 p.m.)

Coast Guard official defends U.S. port security

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Facing tough questioning from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the U.S. Coast Guard's vice commandant Wednesday defended the current state of U.S. port security but acknowledged more work remains to be done.

"I don't think there's any question that our ports are far more secure now than they were prior to 9/11," Vice Admiral Terry M. Cross told a congressional subcommittee.

Cross expressed confidence in domestic port security, noting that the time for advance notification of arrival has increased from 24 hours to 96 hours, giving port security officers more time to vet a ship's crew, passenger list, cargo manifest and vessel history before it arrives.

But Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., faulted the Bush administration for not doing enough. She noted that $4.4 billion has been spent on aviation security, "but only $36 million in all surface transportation." (Posted 1:56 p.m.)

Tate will be sentenced to 10-30 years for armed robbery parole violation

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CNN) -- Lionel Tate, who had been the youngest person in the country ever to be sentenced to life in prison before his conviction was overturned, will soon be heading back to prison for violating his parole.

Tate, now 19, agreed Wednesday to plead guilty to one count of armed robbery for holding up a pizza delivery man at gunpoint last year.

On April 3, a judge will decide his sentence, which will be a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 30. Tate has been in custody since his arrest May 24.

Tate was convicted in 2001 of killing a 6-year-old playmate in 1999, when he was 12, and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. After that conviction was overturned on appeal, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and was released on probation. (Posted 1:30 p.m.)

Senate votes to block further amendments to bill accompanying Patriot Act

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Senate on Wednesday voted to block any further amendments to a bill that would make changes to the Patriot Act.

The procedural vote of 81-18 means the so-called Sununu Bill may be voted on later this afternoon. That bill would make changes to the reauthorization of the Patriot Act provisions, but is separate from the Patriot Act bill that includes those provisions.

The vote to reauthorize some contentious provisions of the act may come later this week.

A version of the reauthorization bill, which makes most of the act's expiring provisions permanent, was passed by the House last year. But in December, Senate GOP leaders were unable to muster the 60 votes required under Senate rules to break a filibuster blocking the measure. (Posted 12:23 p.m.)

Pakistani forces kill militants near Afghan border

(CNN) -- Pakistani army helicopter gunships fired on militants near the border with Afghanistan, killing at least 45 of them Wednesday morning, according to Pakistani security forces.

One Pakistani soldier was killed and 10 more were wounded in the confrontation, Pakistani officials said.

According to a local government official, the militants had crossed the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region when security forces attacked them near Miran Shah. (Posted 11:55 a.m.)

Bombs kill nearly three dozen in latest Iraq violence

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Violence shook Baghdad and dangerous areas outside the capital Wednesday as strikes thought to be fueled by sectarian animosity persisted.

At least 34 people died in the latest violence. They are among more than 400 Iraqis killed amid sectarian fighting that ripped through the tense country after Al-Askariya Mosque, a Shiite shrine in Samarra, was bombed on Feb. 22, setting off reprisals against Sunnis that led to counter-reprisals against Shiites.

U.S. and Iraqi officials are trying to persuade local and regional leaders to work quickly and furiously to put a lid on the hatreds, fearing that the tit-for-tat bloodshed will deteriorate into a civil war.

Police said 23 of Wednesday's deaths occurred came in the midday detonation of a car bomb in the heart of New Baghdad, a mixed neighborhood of Sunnis, Shiites and Christians in eastern Baghdad. (Posted 10:11 a.m.)

Saddam says he alone is responsible for government acts in Dujail; trial adjourned until March 12

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Saddam Hussein on Wednesday said he alone should be tried for government actions in Dujail in 1982 and acknowledged that he signed orders for the destruction of orchards and farmland after the failed assassination attempt on him.

The acts that took place in the aftermath of that incident led to widespread government retribution against people considered responsible for the failed assassination attempt in Dujail, north of Baghdad.

"Saddam Hussein is telling you he is responsible," said the former Iraqi president, who told the court that others shouldn't be blamed for actions he authorized.

The former dictator made the remarks as the court adjourned until March 12. In the two days of the latest phase in the trial, prosecutors submitted documents to the court that they said linked Hussein and other co-defendants to the deaths of more than 140 Shiite males during the government crackdown in Dujail in 1982. (Posted 9:25 a.m.)

Bush trip to India to focus on civilian nuclear agreement

NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- U.S. President George Bush arrived Wednesday in India, where he and other top officials will try to hammer out a deal that would separate India's civilian and military nuclear programs.

The United States says that move is essential in bringing New Delhi in line with other nuclear powers.

"This is a difficult issue for the Indian government. It's a difficult issue for the American government. And so we'll continue to dialogue," Bush said during a surprise stop in Afghanistan on his way to India. "Hopefully we can reach an agreement. If not, we'll continue to work on it until we do."

Ahead of Bush's arrival, thousands of Muslims protested in the streets, chanting anti-Bush slogans, waving signs against his trip and burning at least one effigy of the American president. "Bush you are a global terrorist," one sign said. (Posted 9:19 a.m.)

German authorities order cats to be kept indoors and dogs kept on leashes in bird-flu affected areas

BERLIN (CNN) -- German authorities decided Wednesday to order all domestic cats kept indoors and dogs kept on leashes in bird flu-affected areas to avoid the spread of the disease among pets, a government spokeswoman said.

The order, which comes out of a meeting of the government's bird flu crisis group, covers three kilometers (about two miles) around areas where bird flu was discovered in five German states.

It is to be enforced with a fine of up to 10,000 euros (about $12,000 U.S.), and is to take effect in the coming days after certain administrative details are completed, said spokeswoman Tanja Thiele.

The regulation was already put in effect earlier this week on Ruegen Island on the Baltic coast, after a dead cat was diagnosed with the H5N1 virus in the area where bird flu was first discovered in Europe last month. (Posted 9:09 a.m.)

Jordanian prison riots over

(CNN) -- The last of three overnight prison riots and a hostage situation have ended peacefully, the Jordanian Interior Ministry told CNN Wednesday.

Violence racked the three prisons overnight as inmates loyal to al Qaeda rioted, demanding that all al Qaeda members be kept at one prison.

Prisoners at the Juyidi prison in southern Amman held several guards hostage for a while before releasing some of them, and the unrest ended shortly after that.

Riots at the Qafafa prison in northern Jordan and Suaka prison in the south began Tuesday and ended overnight. No other details were available. --From Editor Caroline Faraj (Posted 8:28 a.m.)

2 Israelis shot, critically wounded in West Bank

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Two Israelis were in critical condition Wednesday after being shot in separate incidents on the West Bank, Israeli medical and police sources said.

The sources said an Israeli was shot in the northern West Bank at the Jewish settlement of Migdalim near Nablus. Separately, an Israeli was shot by Palestinians from a passing car near the city of Qalqiliya. (Posted 8:12 a.m.)

Saddam Hussein, in court, urges Iraqis to be united against U.S.

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- The weeklong eruption of Sunni-Shiite sectarian violence across Iraq has compelled Iraqi and U.S. leaders to issue urgent calls for national unity among the country's diverse people -- Sunni Arabs, Shiite Arabs, Kurds, Turkmens, Christians, and Yazidis.

On Wednesday, there was another call for unity -- from Saddam Hussein.

The former Iraqi dictator, now on trial in the killings and mistreatment of people from a village north of Baghdad in the 1980s, said Iraqis should be united -- united against the U.S. invasion. (Posted 7:16 a.m.)

3 workers in Baquba shot dead

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Three men were shot dead in southwestern Baquba on Wednesday in another flurry of violence in Iraq's Diyala province -- a mixed jurisdiction northeast of Baghdad.

An official with Diyala Joint Coordination Center said the three were walking to their carpentry jobs when gunmen in a car shot them around 11:30 a.m. Police are investigating.

On Tuesday, nine bodies were found in a town near Baquba and two police officers were shot in the city. -- From CNN Producer Mohammed Tawfeeq (Posted 6:44 a.m.)

Bombs kill 26 in latest Baghdad violence

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A car bomb detonated in the heart of a mixed neighborhood of Sunnis, Shiites and Christians in eastern Baghdad Wednesday, killing 23 people and wounding 58 others, emergency police said.

The bombing came about an hour after a roadside bomb ripped through a different area of Baghdad killing three people and wounding seven others.

The car bomb exploded near a cinema in eastern Baghdad's New Baghdad neighborhood around midday. It went off only a few hundred yards away from a post office that was bombed Tuesday, killing four people and wounding 40.

More than 400 Iraqis have been killed -- at least 350 in Baghdad alone -- amid sectarian fighting that ripped through the tense country after the Al-Askariya Mosque, a Shiite shrine, was bombed on Feb. 22, setting off reprisals against Sunnis, which led to counter-reprisals against Shiites. (Posted 6:33 a.m.)

Islamic Jihad military commander killed in airstrike

GAZA CITY (CNN) -- A Palestinian militant military commander was killed in an airstrike in the heart of Gaza City late Wednesday morning, Palestinian security sources said.

Witnesses said the attack on Khaled Dahdoh, a senior military commander for Islamic Jihad, was launched from an Israeli aircraft and took place near Islamic University.

The Israeli military said it had no involvement and there was no Israeli military airstrike.

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for five suicide bombings in Israel last year. (Posted 6:30 a.m.)

Agreement reached to end public works strike in Hamburg

BERLIN (CNN) -- Union and state officials in the northern German port city of Hamburg reached an agreement Wednesday aimed at ending a two-week-old strike by sanitation workers.

The Hamburg workers are among public workers who walked off the job in more than half of Germany's states last month to protest longer work weeks and cuts in bonuses, a union spokeswoman said.

Verdi spokeswoman Sabine Bauer, speaking from Hamburg, declined to disclose details of the agreement, but said they would be released at a news conference later in the day. (Posted 6:25 a.m.)

Bush arrives in Afghanistan on surprise visit

KABUL (CNN) -- U.S. President George Bush arrived in Afghanistan Wednesday on an unannounced visit -- his first trip to the nation where U.S. forces toppled the Taliban shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

"One of the messages I want to say to the people of Afghanistan, it's our country's pleasure and honor to be involved with the future of this country," Bush said at a joint news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

"People all over the world are watching the experience here in Afghanistan. I hope that the people of Afghanistan understand that as democracy takes hold, you're inspiring others."

Bush made his stop on a detour of his four-day trip to India and Pakistan. Standing on the same soil where Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda lieutenants plotted the 9/11 attacks, Bush said he remains confident bin Laden "will be brought to justice." (Posted 6:18 a.m.)

2 police killed in ambush in Indian-controlled Kashmir

SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir (CNN) -- Suspected militants ambushed a party of the elite special operations group of the Jammu and Kashmir police Wednesday, killing two policemen, according to an officer.

The incident happened at Chankhan Sopore in north Kashmir. A senior police officer said the militants fired automatic weapons on a special operations group that was on a routine patrol in the congested area.

The two police were critically injured and died later of their bullet wounds, the officer said. -- From CNN Stringer Mukhtar Ahmad (Posted 2:37 a.m.)

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