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Friday, March 10

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.

Pakistani army kills 26 in raid near Afghan border

LAHORE, Pakistan (CNN) -- At least 26 people, including some foreigners, were killed late Friday in an assault by the Pakistani army on a tribal region near the Afghan border where it was believed terrorists were gathered, the military said Saturday.

Pakistani helicopter gunships pounded the compound from air, and were followed by troops on the ground. The military acted after intelligence reports indicated terrorists were gathered at the compound in North Waziristan.

The military said at least 26 people were killed, including some foreigners who have yet to be identified. However, local officials denied terrorists were at the compound. They said local villagers were at a house when the assault began.

The operation comes a week after U.S. President George W. Bush met in Islamabad with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who renewed his pledge to fight terrorists in his nation. -- From CNN Producer Syed Mohsin Naqvi (Posted 2:03 a.m.)

American hostage Tom Fox found dead in Iraq

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The body of Tom Fox, an American Christian peace activist kidnapped with three co-workers Nov. 26, has been found in Iraq, a State Department spokesman said Friday night.

"The FBI has verified the identity of a body found in Iraq this morning," said spokesman Noel Clay. "While additional forensic testing will be completed in the United States, we believe this is the body of Tom Fox."

He said Fox's family has been notified, and he offered them the department's "heartfelt condolences."

Another State Department official told CNN that Fox's body was found near Baghdad and was already en route to the United States.

Fox, 54, of Clear Brook, Va., did not appear in a brief video of hostages that aired Tuesday on Al-Jazeera, the Arabic-language TV network, and his status was not mentioned. He had been abducted with three other members of Christian Peacemaker Teams. (Posted 12:27 a.m.)

Nurse who killed patients gets 7 life sentences in Pennsylvania

(CNN) -- A former nurse who admitted injecting 29 patients under his care in two states with lethal doses of medication received seven life sentences in Pennsylvania Friday in dual court appearances.

Charles Cullen, 46, also faces 11 consecutive life terms with no chance of parole handed down last week in New Jersey, where he pleaded guilty to 22 counts of murder. He admitted to three attempted-murder counts in that state and three in Pennsylvania.

Cullen contended he was an angel of mercy trying to end his patients' suffering, although not all of them were old or extremely ill. As part of a plea agreement reached in New Jersey, Cullen has been working with law enforcement officials to identify additional victims. (Posted 12:24 a.m.)

FBI: Suicide attacks possible at basketball tournaments

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI warned law enforcement and stadium managers Friday of the possibility for suicide bombings at U.S. college basketball tournaments, noting an Internet posting advocating attacks at sporting events.

However, the agency and the Department of Homeland Security, which issue the anti-terror advisories weekly, stressed that they knew of no specific plans.

"We have absolutely no credible intelligence or threats pertaining to this issue," FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko told CNN. "When we get any information, we work closely with our many partners to evaluate it."

Many of the major college basketball conferences are holding tournaments this weekend, in advance of the start of the NCAA's tournament next week. (Posted 12:22 a.m.)

2008 GOP hopefuls gather at Memphis conference, sans Giuliani

MEMPHIS (CNN) -- A half dozen potential Republican presidential candidates have descended on Memphis this weekend to test the political waters and meet with influential activists attending the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.

Saturday, the National Journal's Hotline, in conjunction with the Tennessee Republican Party, will conduct a straw poll of the delegates, with nine potential 2008 GOP nominees on the ballot.

However, notably absent from the conference is former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a favorite for the GOP nomination in early opinion polls. His spokeswoman, Sunny Mindell, said "a long-standing business engagement" kept Giuliani from attending.

Among those attending the conference are Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a potential 2008 presidential hopeful; Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman; Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee; Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; and Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Norm Coleman of Minnesota, David Vitter of Louisiana, George Allen of Virginia and Sam Brownback of Kansas. -- From CNN Political Editor Mark Preston (Posted 12:18 a.m.)

Police investigate brutal killing of NY graduate student

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Police are still investigating the rape and killing of New York graduate student Imette St. Guillen, 24, whose body was found two weeks ago wrapped in a blanket by the side of a road in Manhattan.

A police source with intimate knowledge of the case told CNN that a semen stain discovered on the blanket did not match the DNA of Darryl Littlejohn, who has been named as a person of interest in the case.

The source said the DNA test "does raise the possibility there was another person involved." Littlejohn, 41, a bouncer at the Manhattan bar where St. Guillen was last seen, is in police custody for a parole violation. -- From CNN Producer Sophie Sohn (Posted 12:12 a.m.)

Judge orders release of top secret White House notes to help defend indicted aide

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A federal judge has ordered the government to produce a possibly condensed version of top secret White House notes as defense attorneys fight criminal charges against a former top aide to Vice President Cheney, according to an order filed Friday with the court.

The order in the Lewis "Scooter" Libby case sets the stage for a possible clash with the Bush administration over executive privilege, national security, and the workings of the CIA.

Libby, Cheney's onetime chief of staff, is charged with five federal counts of perjury, obstruction and lying to the FBI regarding how he learned the identity of intelligence operative Valerie Plame, and what he did with the information.

His defense lawyers want to review notes from sensitive White House meetings, known as presidential daily briefs, as a way to learn whether Libby's testimony was distracted by urgent national security matters. --From CNN's Paul Courson (Posted 6:20 p.m.)

Jurors find ex-Atlanta mayor guilty of tax violations

ATLANTA (CNN) -- A federal jury found former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell guilty Friday evening on three counts of tax evasion, but cleared him on racketeering and corruption charges.

Prosecutors accused Campbell, a former federal prosecutor, of turning City Hall into a criminal enterprise during his two terms in office from 1994 to 2002.

In addition to the charges of tax fraud, Campbell faced one count of racketeering under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, including allegations of wire fraud and mail fraud, and three counts of receiving bribes from contractors seeking business with the city. (Posted 6:20 p.m.)

Another mistrial for John 'Junior' Gotti

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A federal judge Friday declared a mistrial for John "Junior" Gotti, son of late Gambino family mob boss John Gotti, who faces racketeering charges.

It is the second time in six months that U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin has declared a mistrial in the case.

Last September, Gotti was released on $7 million bond and since then he has been under house arrest at his Oyster Bay, Long Island, home with his wife and five children. (Posted 2:20 p.m.)

Catholic Charities of Boston to halt adoptions because of church opposition to homosexual couples

BOSTON (CNN) -- Because of "a dilemma we cannot resolve," the Catholic Charities of Boston said Friday it will stop providing adoption services because of Massachusetts law that requires it to consider gay and lesbian couples as parents.

The news release from the organization did not not specifically mention the state law or anything about the church's opposition to homosexuality.

Massachusetts became the first state in the country to extend marriage to gay and lesbian couples, after a ruling by the state's highest court in 2003. (Posted 2:01 p.m.)

U.S. military: 5 insurgents in Iraq killed while putting roadside bombs in place

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Five insurgents "emplacing roadside bombs north of Taji" were shot dead Thursday by Iraqi Army "marksmen," the U.S. military reported Friday.

The soldiers were supported by U.S. forces. Taji is north of Baghdad. Troops recovered "two 130 mm artillery rounds and one AK-47 rifle" from the insurgents. (Posted 1:43 p.m.)

Interior secretary to resign

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Interior Secretary Gale Norton on Friday announced she will resign at the end of the month, according to a release from the Department of the Interior.

Norton, 51, is the first woman to serve as the Secretary of the Interior, a position she has held since President Bush took office in 2001.

In the excerpts of her resignation letter to Bush, she gave no reason for leaving her position, but said she plans to "set my sights on new goals to achieve in the private sector."

The former Colorado attorney general also said she and her husband hope to "end up closer to the mountains we love in the West." (Posted 1:30 p.m.)

In UAE media, ports deal seen as resolved

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- While Americans assessed the political impact of Dubai Ports World giving up plans to operate facilities at six U.S. ports -- a blow to President Bush, who had insisted on proceeding with the plan amid mounting pressure -- media in the United Arab Emirates generally portrayed the situation as having come to a smooth resolution.

"Under the guidance of his highness the ruler of Dubai and in the spirit of friendship between the UAE and the USA, Dubai Ports World announces its decision to turn over management of the U.S. ports to any U.S. business or entity," reported Al-Bayan Newspaper, one of many state-run publications.

While some editorials used the dispute as a fresh opportunity to condemn the United States, the story got relatively little play in Arab media in general. Most newspapers either reported it in their business sections or stayed away from it altogether. (Posted 12:47 p.m.)

Jersey City cops say man arrested in connection with text-messaging teen

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CNN) -- Jersey City police said Friday a man has been arrested in connection with a 13-year-old girl who sent text messages to her mother claiming she had been abducted, but the arrest is for an incident not connected with that alleged abduction.

The girl was reunited with her family Thursday.

Sgt. Edgar Martinez of the Jersey City police said his department had turned over Sebastian Agurar Oscario, 20, whom they are calling a "person of interest," to the Bergen County prosecutor's office sex crime unit. Martinez said the man was arrested Thursday night and will be charged with criminal sexual contact. (Posted 12:45 p.m.)

Hospital: Baby Noor undergoes 'successful' shunt surgery

ATLANTA (CNN) -- Baby Noor, the 5-month-old Iraqi girl brought to the United States for life-saving medical treatment after being discovered by U.S. soldiers in Baghdad, underwent "successful" shunt surgery Friday, according to the hospital.

"The infant is resting comfortably at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and will remain there overnight," the hospital said in a written statement.

A shunt was required because fluid had collected beneath the outer membrane covering her brain, a condition known as a subdural effusion, the hospital said. (Posted 12:43 p.m.)

U.S. trade talks with UAE postponed

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Free-trade talks between the United States and the United Arab Emirates were postponed Friday, a day after a UAE company gave up plans to operate facilities at six major U.S. ports.

But the UAE said the decision was not linked to the ports deal.

"We need additional time to prepare for the next round of negotiations," said Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Commercial Attache at the UAE Embassy in Washington. "This decision is totally unrelated to the issue of Dubai Ports World."

He added, "This relationship is important to both countries and we are continuing to work on our FTA-related negotiating issues."

A U.S. government official refused to comment on whether there was a link. (Posted 11:42 a.m.)

Samarra blast kills 2

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A bombing outside a Sunni mosque killed two people Friday in Samarra, where an attack on a Shiite mosque more than two weeks ago boosted sectarian violence across the country, authorities said.

The early afternoon bombing, which also wounded two people, was one of several deadly attacks Friday across the volatile country, where U.S.-led forces have been fighting an insurgency for nearly three years. At least 15 people died and many more were wounded.

Along with the deadly bombing, another explosive detonated in Samarra, wounding six people -- four police officers, a woman and a child -- around noon, according to an official at the Salaheddin Joint Coordination Center. Salaheddin is a province north of Baghdad in the Sunni heartland. (Posted 11:22 a.m.)

Bush 'concerned' about message ports dispute sends to Middle East

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush suggested Friday that the collapse of a port deal -- which would have put an Arab company in charge of daily operations at some terminals in six major U.S. ports -- could damage important relationships in the international battle against terrorist groups.

"I'm concerned about a broader message this issue could send to our friends and allies around the world, particularly in the Middle East," Bush said at a meeting of the National Newspaper Association in Washington.

"In order to win the war on terror, we have got to strengthen our relationships and friendships with moderate Arab countries in the Middle East."

He also vowed to work with Congress to ensure lawmakers are given "a greater understanding" of how contracts allowing foreign companies to play such a role are approved. (Posted 11:11 a.m.)

GM recalling 900,000 pickup trucks

NEW YORK (CNN) -- General Motors is recalling about 900,000 pickup trucks worldwide to fix problems with tailgate cables that can corrode and fracture when loads are placed on them, the automaker said Friday.

The recall involves 1999-2000 models of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks. GM said there have been 84 injuries, most of them minor scrapes and bumps.

Owners will receive letters in April and the tailgate cable will be replaced with a stainless steel cable. (Posted 11:05 a.m.)

Dutch court sentences 9 Muslims for belonging to group inciting terror

(CNN) -- Nine Muslims were convicted by a Dutch court Friday on charges of belonging to a terrorist group that incited hatred against non-Muslims and threatened terrorist activity.

Wim de Bruin, a spokesman for the national prosecutor's office, said it was the first time in the Netherlands that Islamic fundamentalists were convicted for promoting a violent ideology rather than pursuing violent activity.

De Bruin said the men were found to have disseminated material "that incited violence or spread hate or threatened" non-Muslims. Two of the men were convicted of attempted murder for hurling hand grenades during a standoff with police. They received sentences of 15 and 13 years.

Most were arrested in sweeps after filmmaker Theo van Gogh was killed in 2004, de Bruin said. (Posted 10:47 a.m.)

Jobs report surprises

NEW YORK ( -- Job growth picked up in February, topping forecasts on Wall Street, according to a government report Friday.

The economy generated 243,000 new jobs last month, up from a revised 170,000 in January, the Labor Department reported. Economists surveyed by had forecast a gain of 210,000 jobs.

It marked the second best gain in U.S. payrolls over the last 12 months, trailing only November, when job growth bounced back after being depressed by the impact of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Still, even with strong job growth last month, the unemployment rate edged up to 4.8 percent from 4.7 percent rate in January, as more people who had stopped looking for work started looking again. --From Senior Writer Chris Isidore (Posted 10:44 a.m.)

Pentagon defends Abizaid comments on ports deal

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A spokesman for Gen. John Abizaid, commander of the U.S. Central Command, said the general was not interfering in political events Thursday when he commented about critics of the Dubai port deal and the United Arab Emirates.

Abizaid told reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday, "I'm very dismayed by the emotional responses that some people have put on the table here in the United States that really comes down to Arab and Muslim bashing. That was totally unnecessary. I don't want to comment on the port issue, but I will say that the UAE is a good friend, and we need to keep them that way."

A spokesman for Central Command said, "It's not a political statement. It's a broad observation he is making concerning the overall dialogue. The statement stands on its own merit."

A military official directly familiar with Abizaid's thinking said the general is "adamant about the type of support the UAE has provided" to the U.S. military. "It has been unwavering. They have been there since the day of 9/11." --From CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr (Posted 10:31 a.m.)

Jersey City cops say man arrested in case of text messaging teen

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CNN) -- Jersey City police said Friday a man has been arrested in the case of a 13-year-old girl who sent a text message to her mother saying she had been abducted.

The girl was reunited with her family on Thursday. Sgt. Edgar Martinez of the Jersey City police said that his department had turned over a "person of interest" to the Bergen County Prosecutor's office sex crime unit, which then arrested the man.

He said the man will be charged with criminal sexual contact.

Martinez said the man arrested is one of the three men who were being questioned over the past couple of days. (Posted 10:02 a.m.)

Hospital: Baby Noor to have shunt surgery

ATLANTA (CNN) -- Baby Noor, the 5-month-old Iraqi girl brought to the United States for life-saving medical treatment after being discovered by U.S. soldiers in Baghdad, is scheduled to have surgery on Friday "to drain an increased fluid build-up that was detected in a routine evaluation this week," according to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

Roger Hudgins, M.D., chief of neurosurgery at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, "will insert a sturdy but flexible tube into the left side of Baby Noor's subdural face, allowing one-way flow to the tube's other end in the abdominal cavity, where the fluid will be absorbed."

The surgery was scheduled for 10 a.m. Since the girl's initial surgery on Jan. 9, "shunt surgery remained a possibility and thus required regular appointments at Children's for CT scans and MRIs, which detected the fluid build-up on Wednesday.

According to Dr. Hudgins, her prognosis remains very good. (Posted 9:33 a.m.)

Talabani issues official statement: Parliament to convene March 19

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, on Friday issued an official statement confirming that the first session of Iraq's 275-member parliament will convene on March 19.

Sunnis, Kurds and secular politicians oppose the UIA's selection of transitional Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari to be the new prime minister. The UIA wanted time to resolve the dispute.

The UIA gets first crack at nominating a prime minister because it won the December election. (Posted 9:20 a.m.)

Spain revokes arrest warrants for U.S. soldiers in connection with shooting death in Iraq

MADRID (CNN) - A Spanish court has revoked international arrest warrants for three U.S. soldiers in connection with the death of a Spanish TV cameraman in Iraq in 2003, saying that Spain has "no jurisdiction" to pursue the case, according to a copy of the court order viewed by CNN.

A three-judge panel at the National Court ruled that U.S. tank fire directed against the Palestine Hotel, where Spanish cameraman Jose Couso was videotaping the U.S. assault on Baghdad, was "an act of war carried out against an apparent enemy, incorrectly identified," the court said in a nine-page ruling dated Wednesday but made public on Friday.

It revoked the arrest warrants issued by an investigating magistrate at the same court, last Oct. 19, against the U.S. Army troops, who were identified as officers Philip de Camp and Philip Wolford, and Thomas Gibson, a sergeant. --From CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman (Posted 9:17 a.m.)

9 dead in Iraq attacks; 9 bodies found in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Eight people in Falluja and an Iraqi soldier in the Baghdad area were killed in bombings on Friday, and nine slain people were discovered in the capital over the last 24 hours, according to police.

A suicide truck bomber detonated his vehicle at a joint Iraqi police and military checkpoint in Falluja on Friday, killing eight people and wounding 11. The bombing was carried out in the eastern part of the city. Police said a number of civilian cars were damaged in the blast.

An Iraqi soldier was killed and three were wounded when a car bomb exploded near their patrol in Rudwaniya on the southwestern outskirts of Baghdad. (Posted 6:55 a.m.)

Land mine blast kills 26 in Pakistan

LAHORE, Pakistan (CNN) -- At least 26 people in a wedding party were killed Friday when their bus hit a land mine near Dera Bughti in southwest Pakistan, a local government official told CNN. (Posted 4:55 a.m.)

Jury hears Moussaoui's lies before Sept. 11

ALEXANDRIA, VA. (CNN) -- After his arrest in the summer of 2001, Zacarias Moussaoui did not confess that he was a radical Muslim fundamentalist bent on flying a plane into a landmark building, and he concealed his membership in al Qaeda, the terrorist group then on the verge of hijacking multiple jetliners and crashing them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a witness said Thursday.

Instead, Moussaoui told federal agents his presence that year at U.S. flight schools was purely innocent.

"For enjoyment. For his own personal ego," FBI agent Harry Samit told jurors who will decide Moussaoui's fate. "He denied he was involved in terrorism," Samit said during hours of prosecution-led testimony on Thursday.

Moussaoui's defense attorneys will cross examine Samit on Monday. (posted 2:15 a.m.)

Michael Jackson's ranch employees told to stay home, after workers' comp lapses

(CNN) -- State officials have fined Michael Jackson nearly $170,000 and ordered employees at the pop star's Neverland Ranch to stop working, after finding that employees had not been paid since December and the ranch's workers' compensation coverage had been allowed to lapse.

Thursday, the California Department of Industrial Relations slapped a "stop order" on Neverland, which prohibits employees from going back to work until workers' compensation coverage is restored. It also fined Jackson $69,000 for the lapse.

Tuesday, the same agency sent a letter demanding that Jackson pay employees at least $306,000 in back wages by next week, as well as a fine of more than $100,000 for failing to pay wages.

If the back wages and penalties aren't paid by March 14, the department "will pursue appropriate legal action," the letter said. Jackson has not been living at Neverland in recent months.

Shortly after he was acquitted on child molestation charges in June, he relocated to Bahrain, a small nation in the Persian Gulf. (posted 2:10 a.m.)

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