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Monday, April 3

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.

Sharon surgery postponed after doctors detect respiratory infection

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Doctors postponed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's scheduled surgery on Tuesday because of a respiratory infection, a Hadassah Hospital spokesman said.

The surgery was to restore a part of Sharon's skull that was removed in previous operations after his debilitating stroke. The operation will take place after the infection is halted.

Sharon, 77, has been in a coma since suffering a massive stroke Jan. 4. He has had several surgeries since he entered the hospital.

On Feb. 11, doctors had to remove nearly 20 inches of his large intestine after it was found to have become gangrenous because of a lack of blood flow. He had a feeding tube inserted in his stomach on Feb. 1. (Posted 2:50 a.m.)

Coalition in Afghanistan probing possibility of friendly fire in fight last week

(CNN) -- The coalition command in Afghanistan is investigating the possibility that friendly fire caused U.S., Canadian and Afghan casualties during an encounter last week in southern Afghanistan between coalition forces and militants, the Combined Forces Command said in a statement Tuesday.

The investigation centers on "an enemy attack on a forward operating base in Helmand Province" on March 29. The attack resulted in the deaths of a U.S. soldier and a Canadian soldier and the wounding of three Canadian service members, a U.S. soldier and an Afghan National Army soldier.

"The Combined Forces Command - Afghanistan commander has determined that an investigation is warranted" and that a U.S.-Canadian-Afghan team will carry out the probe," the statement said.

"The investigation will determine all the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident, including whether any of the casualties may have resulted from friendly fire." (Posted 2:18 a.m.)

DeLay to abandon re-election race, plans to leave Congress

From CNN Correspondents Dana Bash and Ed Henry

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Just a month after easily winning a contested primary for his House seat in suburban Houston, embattled Rep. Tom DeLay has decided to drop out of his re-election race and plans to resign from Congress by the end of May.

Republican congressional sources told CNN that DeLay was calling supporters and colleagues Monday night to tell them of his decision.

In an interview Monday with Time magazine, DeLay -- facing both criminal charges and the political fallout from his close association with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff -- said that even though he still believed he could win re-election, he is a "realist" and did not want to risk losing the seat to a Democratic challenger.

"This had become a referendum on me," DeLay told Time. "So it's better for me to step aside and let it be a referendum on ideas, Republican values and what's important for the district."

A senior DeLay adviser told CNN that DeLay "has just had enough." "The toll on his family has been too great," the adviser said. (Posted midnight)

GOP senators consider giving special treatment to long-term immigrants

From CNN's Deirdre Walsh and Dana Bash

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- GOP senators seeking a compromise that could help them pass an immigration bill emerged Monday night from a meeting with Majority Leader Bill Frist with a plan to craft a bill that would give special treatment to long-term illegal immigrants.

The idea, which the senator from Tennessee floated Sunday on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer," was described by Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter as the "roots concept."

It would treat those illegal immigrants in the United States for at least five years -- and who have likely developed "roots" -- differently from those who have been in the country for less than five years, the Republican from Pennsylvania said.

There would be a series of criteria to determine the fate of illegal immigrants.

Details of this emerging idea are still vague and are being hashed out. It remains unclear whether this can garner enough support.

The concept was first pushed by Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and endorsed by Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., both of whom attended Monday's meeting. It is expected to be discussed Tuesday morning at an immigration meeting with all GOP senators. (Posted 11:45 p.m.)

Sources: Tom DeLay to leave re-election race

From CNN Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Rep. Tom DeLay , who was forced to step down as House majority leader last year after being indicted in his home state of Texas, will drop out of his re-election race, two Republican congressional sources told CNN Monday.

The reason for DeLay's departure was unclear. He was calling supporters and colleagues Monday night to tell them of his decision, the sources said.

He was expected to announce his departure at a news conference Tuesday morning. Last month, DeLay easily won a contested Republican primary for his suburban Houston House seat. (Posted 10:25 p.m.)

New Orleans mayor suspends work on travel trailer sites in dispute with FEMA

From CNN Producer Laura Dolan

NEW ORLEANS (CNN) -- New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is suspending construction on all Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer sites in response to what he says is the mishandling of a group trailer home site in the Algiers section of the city.

"As of today, I'm suspending all new travel-trailer sites in the city of New Orleans," he said.

"All existing approved travel-trailer sites we will take a fresh look at and let FEMA know exactly which ones we want to go forward."

Nagin said FEMA ignored his request to end construction on the site after residents complained that the trailers would be too close to their homes. (Posted 10:15 p.m.)

Officials: Capitol Police refers McKinney case to prosecutors

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Federal prosecutors are discussing whether to file criminal charges against Rep. Cynthia McKinney over an altercation last week between the congresswoman and a U.S. Capitol Police officer at a security checkpoint, federal law enforcement officials told CNN Monday.

Three federal law enforcement officials familiar with the case said Capitol Police have completed their investigation and presented their findings to federal prosecutors.

However, the officials said no final decision has been made on whether to issue an arrest warrant against the six-term Georgia Democrat, and her attorney told CNN that reports police were seeking an arrest warrant are "not true."

"They are doing no more than any other law enforcement agency does, and that is, simply to file with the prosecutors the necessary paperwork for them to further investigate the case," attorney James Myart told CNN's "The Situation Room." "That's all it is." (Posted 10:13 p.m.)

Bush officials say Bolten has made no final decisions on personnel changes

From CNN White House Correspondents Ed Henry and Suzanne Malveaux

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Incoming White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten has made no final decisions on potential staff and Cabinet changes as he conducts an extensive review of personnel, according to two Bush administration officials and several Republican strategists.

One Bush administration official said Bolten is in a "listening mode" to sound out Republicans for recommendations on how to improve White House operations amid GOP criticism. But this official said Bolten, the current White House budget director, is in no rush to make changes because he does not succeed outgoing White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card until April 14.

A second official said that, while there is speculation about the possible departure of Treasury Secretary John Snow and other officials, such talk is premature. "Josh has not made final judgments on any positions," this official said. (Posted 10:12 p.m.)

Storms, tornadoes spread damage, death over 8 states

DYERSBURG, Tenn. (CNN) -- A line of thunderstorms, spawning ripping winds and howling tornadoes, killed at least 27 people Sunday and left a swath of shredded buildings and downed trees and power lines across at least eight states.

At least 23 people were killed in northwestern Tennessee, 15 of them in Dyer County and eight in neighboring Gibson County, officials in the Volunteer State said Monday.

Three people died in Missouri and another in Illinois, authorities said. Tennessee Emergency Management spokesman Don Smith said at least 1,800 homes and businesses in Dyer and Gibson counties were destroyed.

The high winds and twisters slammed across Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois as well as Tennessee, the National Weather Service said. The service received hundreds of reports of tornadoes, high winds and hail. (Posted 10:10 p.m.)

Inspector general sees danger in FBI, Coast Guard dispute over port security

From Justice Producer Terry Frieden

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI and Coast Guard need to resolve an ongoing dispute over their roles in protecting the nation's 360 seaports, or it could seriously harm the federal response to a terrorist incident, a government report said Monday.

A report by the Justice Department's inspector general said the existing response plan gives both the FBI and the Coast Guard jurisdiction to deal with maritime threats, contributing to the conflict over how seaport incidents are to be handled.

Inspector General Glenn Fine said a memorandum of understanding between the FBI and Coast Guard in 1979 "acknowledges their overlapping jurisdiction and the need for cooperation and coordination in the maritime domain."

A revised plan was completed last October, but failed to adequately address the issue, the report said. --From Justice Producer Terry Frieden (Posted 4:22 p.m.)

Jury decides Moussaoui eligible for death penalty

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CNN) -- In the first U.S. trial related to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a federal jury has decided that admitted al Qaeda terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui is eligible for the death penalty.

"The jury has found that death is a possible sentence in this case," the court's public information officer told reporters.

The government argued that lies to FBI agents made by Moussaoui, who was in prison on that day, kept the government from halting the attacks. As a result, prosecutors said, he bears some responsibility for the nearly 3,000 deaths that occurred when three hijacked airliners were crashed into buildings and a fourth fell into a field in Pennsylvania. --From CNN Senior Producer Phil Hirschkorn (Posted 4:10 p.m.)

Paper acknowledges 'extensive' U.S. effort to find kidnapped reporter

BOSTON (CNN) -- The U.S. government's effort to find reporter Jill Carroll in Iraq during her 82 days in captivity was far greater than what could be acknowledged at the time, her newspaper said Monday.

"We remained silent regarding the efforts of many within the U.S. government to secure Jill's release," said Richard Bergenheim, editor of the Christian Science Monitor, in a written statement.

"As some have assumed the government was lax in its efforts, I'm delighted today to acknowledge how extensive the government's effort was. To note this while Jill was being held could have disrupted those efforts or endangered her life."

He praised U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad "and all the services of the United States that come under the embassy's umbrella," as well as the U.S. military and the FBI. (Posted 3:35 p.m.)

Sharon scheduled for surgery Tuesday

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will undergo surgery Tuesday to restore a part of his skull that was removed in previous operations after his debilitating stroke, Hadassah Hospital confirmed Monday.

Sharon, 77, has been in a coma since suffering a massive stroke Jan. 4. He has had several surgeries since he entered the hospital. (Posted 3:09 p.m.)

Palestinian boy dead, 3 others wounded, Palestinian security sources say

RAMALLAH, West Bank (CNN) -- Israeli soldiers shot and killed a 16-year-old Palestinian during a military operation in a refugee camp near Ramallah on Monday, Palestinian security sources said.

They said three other Palestinians were wounded. However, Israeli military sources said no force entered the camp but, instead, soldiers saw a number of Palestinian trying to open a fence.

The Israeli sources said the Palestinians began throwing rocks at the Israeli soldiers, who responded with fire. (Posted 2:44 p.m.)

Thai leader claims victory in election, but political crisis continues

BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra claimed victory Monday in the weekend's general election but said he may resign amid mass protests and a political crisis that has thrown the future of the government into question.

Thaksin had called the election three years early, as demonstrators filled streets demanding his ouster.

His Thai Rak Thai party was the only major one participating in the vote, as three opposition parties launched a boycott, hoping to make it impossible to fill all 500 parliamentary seats. All the seats must be filled for a new government to be formed.

The effort appears to have worked. In at least 38 districts, the party could not muster the required minimum of 20 percent of ballots cast. Many people voted "no" -- particularly in affluent areas, including Bangkok's oldest business district. (Posted 1:53 p.m.)

Suicide bomb kills 10 at Shia mosque

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A suicide truck bomb in northeastern Baghdad Monday killed 10 people and wounded 38, Baghdad emergency police sources told CNN.

Police said the pick-up truck struck concrete barriers near the main entrance of al-Shurofi Shia mosque in the Shaab district. At the time of the blast -- 7:45 p.m. -- worshipers were leaving evening prayers.

Elsewhere in Iraq Monday, four gunmen in a car opened fire on a Basra public market, killing six people, including two police officers, a naval officer and a child, an official at the southern city's al-Ashar police station told CNN.

All six people were relatives from an al-Sadoon Sunni tribe, the official said. (Posted 1:49 p.m.)

U.N. protests Sudanese denial of entry to relief coordinator

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The United Nations is protesting the decision of the Sudanese government to deny entry into Darfur to U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland, a move it said came after several months of deteriorating conditions for refugees in Darfur.

Egeland's flight into the country was "not given authorization to land" Sunday, the U.N. mission in Sudan said. It added that Sudan's mission to the United Nations in New York said Egeland also would not be welcome in Sudan's capitol, Khartoum, where he had been scheduled to have discussions with authorities.

Stephanie Bunker, spokeswoman for Egeland in New York, said that Egeland had been issued visas for all locations in advance of the trip and there was no explanation for why he was being denied access to Darfur and Khartoum. (Posted 12:27 p.m.)

Airline industry quality down overall, mishandled baggage claims up 25 percent

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Airline Quality Rating's 2006 annual report finds an industry-wide decline from 2004 to 2005 with mishandled baggage a chronic problem.

According to Dean Headley, one of the report's co-author's, "Unless we fix a few things, we probably will have poorer and poorer performance as the years go by."

The report, released Monday, is the result of studies conducted annually by the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Wichita State University.

The measured categories, which include on time performance, customer complaints, baggage mishandling and "involuntary denied boardings", or overbooking, were all worse than in 2004 and among the lowest ratings of the last five years.(Posted 12:14 p.m.)

C-5 crashes at Dover Air Force Base

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A military C-5 cargo plane crashed near Dover Air Force Base in Delaware Monday morning.

The plane landed short of the runway as it tried to return to the base after its crew declared an emergency shortly after taking off, federal sources told CNN.

The C-5 jet, assigned to the 436th Airlift Wing, had 17 on board, according to an FAA source.

Fourteen of the crew were taken to Bayhealth Medical Center-Kent General Hospital, according to hospital communications director Pam Marecki, all with non-life threatening injuries. Most will be released soon, she said, but some will be admitted.

The other three crew members also survived the crash, but their conditions were unknown, the Air Force said. The crew belonged to the 436th and the 572nd Airlift Wing. (Posted 11:56 a.m.)

Taylor in war crimes court

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (CNN) -- Former Liberian President Charles Taylor, a former warlord accused of fueling a bloody civil war in the region, appeared Monday at a U.N.-backed tribunal in Sierra Leone, where he pleaded not guilty to 11 war crimes charges.

Taylor is the first African head of state ever to be tried on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The charges -- reduced from the original 17 -- include the recruitment of child soldiers, sexual slavery, maiming and more. Taylor is accused of supporting rebels in Sierra Leone who committed atrocities against civilians during a bloody civil war that devastated much of the West African country.

Outside the court, many called the event a reckoning that they thought they'd never see. Others, however, said a former African head of state should not be treated this way. (Posted 11:54 a.m.)

High court refuses to accept appeal of accused terrorist

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Supreme Court passed up an opportunity Monday to become reinvolved in a highly contentious appeal over accused terrorist and U.S. citizen Jose Padilla, who is contesting his former "enemy combatant" status in a case that goes to the heart of the president's executive authority against global terrorism.

The denial of jurisdiction by the court was a major victory for the Bush administration, which had suffered a series of legal setbacks over its anti-terror policies.

One justice noted that Padilla's appeal was "hypothetical" at this stage, since he is no longer in military custody.

The court's rejection of further consideration had been debated internally by the justices for weeks. The decision means a separate criminal trial on conspiracy charges will move forward without a constitutional review over his previous three-and-a-half year military detention. --From CNN Supreme Court Producer Bill Mears (Posted 10:42 a.m.)

Storms, tornadoes spread damage, death over 6 states

DYERSBURG, Tenn. (CNN) -- A line of thunderstorms, spawning ripping winds and howling tornadoes, killed at least 24 people Sunday and left a swath of shredded buildings and downed trees and power lines across six states.

Twenty people were killed in northwestern Tennessee, 12 of them in Dyer County and eight in neighboring Gibson County, officials in the Volunteer State said Monday.

Three people died in Missouri and another in Illinois, authorities said. Dyer County Sheriff Jeff Holt said his county saw "absolute total destruction of homes."

"There's nothing left but a foundation on some houses," he said, adding that large trees across roadways had slowed the deployment of emergency equipment early on. (Posted at 10:14 a.m.)

France: No contacts with Hamas until it changes its positions

PARIS (CNN) -- The French Foreign Ministry Monday denied having established any type of contact with Hamas, confirming a similar statement made by the French ambassador in Tel Aviv.

Hamas needs to renounce violence and recognize Israel and the Oslo Accords, the ministry said in a statement.

Hamas, a militant group that has carried out numerous terrorist attacks, won the Palestinian legislative elections in January and formally took control of the Palestinian Authority last week.

A Hamas spokesman said Monday that Hamas leaders had met with French officials two months ago.

French Amb. Gerard Araud said in an interview on Israeli Army Radio Monday that France does not have and will not have contact with Hamas until the group changes its stands. (Posted 8:24 a.m.)

6 dead in Basra shooting

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Four gunmen in a car opened fire on a Basra public market Monday, killing six people, including two police officers, a naval officer and a child, an official at the southern city's al-Ashar police station told CNN.

All six people were relatives from the same al-Sadoon Sunni tribe, the official said.

The incident took place at 11 a.m. -- From CNN Producer Mohammed Tawfeeq (Posted 6:55 a.m.)

Rice, Straw underscore need for Iraqi politicians to form new government

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- The top U.S. and British diplomats on Monday bluntly restated the purpose of their day-and-a-half visit to Baghdad -- to exhort stalemated Iraqi politicians that the time has come to form a national unity government.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw emphasized that setting up a new government will help bring about efforts to restore law and order in the war-torn country.

"There is, frankly, no doubt the political vacuum that is here at the moment is not assisting the security situation," Straw said.

Rice said pushing forward with the political process "will disable those who wish to engage in violence against the Iraqi people."

She said a prime minister needs to be a "strong leader" who is "a unifying force" -- someone who can deliver "stability" and meet the challenges of the job. (Posted 4:03 a.m.)

1 dead, 11 wounded in two Baghdad car bombings

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A civilian was killed and 11 others were wounded when two car bombs exploded on Monday in Baghdad, police said.

The first car bomb exploded at 9:30 a.m. in Alwiya, in south-central Baghdad. It wounded five people.

The second detonated in Sadr City in eastern Baghdad, apparently targeting but missing a police patrol. One civilian died and six others were wounded. (Posted 2:56 a.m.)

Sources: McClellan, Snow could be victims of White House shakeup

CRAWFORD, Texas (CNN) -- White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan and Treasury Secretary John Snow could become victims of a shakeup at the White House, according to White House and GOP sources.

The possible departure of both men from their current posts could be among "several senior level staff" announcements to come within the next couple of weeks, according to several former White House staff, and current GOP strategists, and Bush administration officials.

"You're going to have more change than you expect" says one GOP insider.

Several Republican officials say one scenario being floated is having White House Counselor Dan Bartlett replace McClellan, who some people believe has outlived his usefulness and should be moved somewhere else in the administration. At the same time, other sources say McClellan's job is secure.

Despite the administration's public comments of support for Snow, numerous sources in and outside the White House say Bush has been ready to replace Snow for the past year and has been searching for an "acceptable alternative."

The White House also is mulling the selection of an "elder statesman type" to handle affairs in Congress. (Posted 12:30 a.m.)

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