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Wednesday, April 5

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.

Duke launching investigations, initiatives in wake of lacrosse allegations

(CNN) -- Duke University President Richard Brodhead said Wednesday he has formed a faculty group to look into a "culture of bad behavior" involving the men's lacrosse team, including a "history of boorish behavior and underage drinking."

The initiative comes in the wake of allegations that several members of the team participated in the sexual assault of an exotic dancer at a March 13 party. No charges have been filed.

In a university statement, Brodhead said he also had formed committees to investigate the Duke administration's response to the sexual assault allegations and the student judicial process and disciplinary procedures. Also, he said, a committee will launch a "Campus Culture Initiative, a rigorous self-examination 'to evaluate and suggest improvements in the ways Duke educates students in the values of personal responsibility.'"

The actions were outlined in a letter to the Duke community, the statement said. It quoted Brodhead as saying in an interview, "in listening to the community leaders, faculty members, students and alumni, it is clear that this episode has touched off angers, fears, resentments and suspicions that range far beyond this immediate cause. It has done so because the episode has brought to glaring visibility underlying issues that have been of concern on this campus and in this town for some time." (Posted 11:15 p.m.)

Senate Republicans float new immigration plan to break impasse

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In an effort to break an impasse on a pending immigration reform bill, Senate Republicans offered a new proposal Wednesday that would allow illegal immigrants to eventually gain legal status -- but would make the process more difficult for those who have been in the United States a shorter period of time.

The measure, sponsored by Sens. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and Mel Martinez, R-Fla., is scheduled to come to the Senate floor for a vote Friday. It was unveiled on the Senate floor Wednesday night by Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.

The Hagel-Martinez plan would be substituted for a proposal now on the floor, from Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., that would allow illegal immigrants to stay in the country and work toward legal status by paying $2,000 in fines, working for six years, learning English, undergoing a background check and paying any back taxes they owe. Critics of that plan insist it is tantamount to giving "amnesty" to illegal immigrants. Supporters call it "earned citizenship."

While the McCain-Kennedy plan would apply equally to all immigrants who arrived in the United States before January 2004, the Hagel-Martinez proposal would make people who arrived between January 2001 and January 2004 climb steeper hurdles to obtain legal status. Neither plan offers legalization to immigrants who have entered the country illegally since January 2004. -- From CNN Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash (Posted 10:30 p.m.)

FEMA employees plead guilty on bribery charges

NEW ORLEANS (CNN) -- Two temporary Federal Emergency Management Agency employees pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges they sought and received bribes from a caterer providing meals for residents displaced by Hurricane Katrina, authorities said.

Andrew Rose and Loyd Holliman entered the pleas in federal court, according to Jim Letten, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana. As FEMA disaster assistance employees, the two were supervisory managers of the supply unit of a base camp in Algiers, on the west bank of the Mississippi River. The camp provided housing needs and assistance to disaster-relief workers.

According to court documents, the two men met with a contractor who provided meals to the camp in December and solicited a bribe from the contractor in exchange for agreeing to inflate the head count for the number of meals served. Rose demanded $20,000 from the contractor for an initial payment, authorities said, and wanted $2,500 per week thereafter, the documents said. -- CNN Producer Laura Dolan contributed to this report. (Posted 9:49 p.m.)

Victims of bloody 1986 hijacking sue Libya for $10 billion

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Victims of a bloody 1986 terrorist airline hijacking drama in which 20 passengers and crew members were killed sued the government of Libya, the country's leader and the terrorists for $10 billion Wednesday.

One hundred seventy-six passengers, estates and family members filed suit in U.S. District Court in Washington seeking the damages from the Tripoli government, President Muammar Qadhafi and the five convicted terrorists for hijacking Pan Am flight 73 in Karachi, Pakistan.

Twenty passengers and crew members were killed and more than 100 seriously injured among the 380 passengers in a hail of bullets as fleeing passengers and hijackers alike leaped from the plane's wings to the tarmac below. Two of the victims were U.S. citizens. The deadly Sept. 5, 1986, hijacking drama captured world attention as it played out over 16 hours at the Karachi airport during a stop on a Bombay-to-New York flight. -- From CNN Justice Producer Terry Frieden (Posted 9:37 p.m.)

Contract talks collapse between FAA, air traffic controllers' union

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Lengthy, bitter contract negotiations between the Federal Aviation Administration and a union representing air traffic controllers collapsed Wednesday afternoon, with each side accusing the other of not negotiating in good faith.

After nine months of talks and a month of mediation, the FAA and the National Air Traffic Controllers' Association remained deadlocked over pay. However, the union's president said despite the impasse, there is "no chance" of a strike, which would be illegal under federal law.

"We're not going anywhere. We have a job to do," said John Carr, the union's president. The contract proposal put on the table by the FAA will take effect in 60 days unless Congress intervenes. The union plans a media campaign and will also go to court to try to force the dispute into binding arbitration. -- From CNN Correspondent Kathleen Koch (Posted 9:32 p.m.)

Sources: Grand jury to hear evidence against McKinney

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A federal grand jury will decide whether Rep. Cynthia McKinney will face charges related to an altercation with a U.S. Capitol Police officer last week at a security checkpoint, CNN has learned.

Federal law enforcement sources familiar with the case told CNN Wednesday that federal prosecutors have decided to present the case to grand jurors. They will begin hearing witnesses Thursday and are expected to render a decision soon, probably as early as next week, two sources familiar with the case said.

Both the Justice Department and the office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, which is handling the case, refused comment. McKinney's attorney, James Myart, told CNN he has not been notified that a grand jury would consider the case, but he would "not be surprised" if she was indicted. (Posted 8:23 p.m.)

Arrested in child sex sting, DHS official makes initial court appearance

ROCKVILLE, Md. (CNN) -- Wearing green jail-issue scrubs and a white T-shirt, a deputy press secretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security made an initial court appearance Wednesday after he was arrested in an online child sex sting for allegedly using a computer in attempts to seduce what he thought was a 14-year-old girl.

Brian J. Doyle, 55, appeared in Montgomery County District Court via closed-circuit television. He was arrested Tuesday night at his Silver Spring, Md., home. Authorities in Polk County, Fla., have charged him with 23 felony counts -- seven counts of use of a computer to seduce a child and 16 counts of transmission of harmful material to a minor, according to documents filed in the 10th Judicial Circuit Court in Polk County. Police said Doyle engaged in sexually explicit conversations online and sent pornographic movies to what he thought was a 14-year-old girl, but was really a Polk County computer crimes detective.

Judge Stephen P. Johnson ordered Doyle held without bond at the Montgomery County Detention Center and scheduled an extradition hearing for May 4. -- CNN Producer Mike M. Ahlers contributed to this report. (Posted 8:22 p.m.)

Escape from Louisiana federal prison sparks massive search

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A convicted murderer described as "dangerous" escaped from a federal prison in Louisiana on Wednesday, sparking a massive manhunt by the FBI, U.S. marshals and Louisiana authorities.

Richard McNair, 47, was discovered missing from the U.S. Penitentiary in Pollock, La., the U.S. Bureau of Prisons said late Wednesday. He is serving a life sentence for a series of crimes, including murder, in his native North Dakota.

Officials released McNair's photo, and described him as a white male with blue eyes and brown hair, 6 feet tall, 210 pounds, with scars on his left wrist and both knees. -- From CNN Justice Producer Terry Frieden (Posted 8:20 p.m.)

Jury's decisions split in case involving Vioxx, heart attacks

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Merck & Co. was held liable Wednesday by a New Jersey jury in the heart attack of a 78-year-old man who took the painkiller Vioxx, but not in one suffered by a 59-year-old plaintiff.

Plaintiff John McDarby, 78, of Park Ridge, N.J., and his wife were awarded $4.5 million in their suit against Merck, the second-largest U.S. drug maker. But Tom Cona, 59, of Cherry Hill, N.J., was not awarded damages. Both men blamed their non-fatal heart attacks on the arthritis painkiller.

The outcome in the fifth Vioxx case to reach a verdict could affect thousands of other cases filed against the company. In prior cases in state and federal court, Merck racked up three victories and one loss.

In a statement about the verdict, and the forthcoming punitive phase of jury deliberations, Merck said it will "present evidence it believes shows that the company submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration all relevant and material information concerning Vioxx. Merck will make further statements after the jury completes its deliberations after this phase of the trial." (Posted 6:22 p.m.)

Duke University men's lacrosse team coach resigns

DURHAM, N.C. (CNN) -- In the midst of a police investigation into allegations an exotic dancer was raped by three members of the Duke University men's lacrosse team at a party, and after the unsealing of a search warrant Wednesday, lacrosse coach Mike Pressler has resigned, effective immediately, according to a statement from the university's president on the Duke Web site.

The search warrant, which details an e-mail allegedly sent by a lacrosse team member in which he threatens to kill strippers and skin them, is "sickening and repulsive," President Richard Brodhead said in the statement.

The men's lacrosse season and all associated activities have been canceled, the statement said. (Posted 5:47 p.m.)

3 Republicans join Democratic push for Iraq war debate in House

WASHINGTON (CNN) --Three House Republicans announced Wednesday they will join congressional Democrats in pushing for a debate on the Iraq war on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., argued: "We owe the American people, and certainly these troops who are on the ground in Iraq, that we in Congress are not sleeping on this issue."

Jones appeared with Rep Ron Paul, R-Texas, and Wayne Gilchrest, R-Md. They, along with Rep. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, and 79 House Democrats, have signed a "discharge petition," a procedural motion to bring a bill to the House floor over the objections of the House GOP leadership.

The bipartisan group faces an uphill battle. To be successful, the group needs support from a majority of House members -- 218 signatures. (Posted 4:14 p.m.)

9/11 cockpit voice recorder to be heard

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CNN) -- The lone cockpit voice recorder recovered from the four planes hijacked on September 11, 2001, will be played publicly for the first time in the death penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the presiding judge has decided.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema ordered Wednesday that the CVR from United Flight 93, the Newark-to-San Francisco flight that crashed in a reclaimed coal field near the rural western Pennsylvania town of Shanksville, Pa., can be played for jurors who are deciding whether to sentence Moussaoui to execution or life in prison.

Prosecutors don't intend to play the recording before next Wednesday, and Brinkema said Flight 93 families have until 5 p.m. next Tuesday to object to the playing. --From CNN Senior Producer Phil Hirschkorn (Posted 4:08 p.m.)

'America's mayor' to testify in 9/11 trial

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CNN) -- The man who led New York through the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack is expected to be among the first witnesses when the death penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui resumes Thursday, CNN has learned.

Rudy Giuliani, the mayor who won acclaim for his leadership during the city's darkest days, is to be called as a government witness to offer his perspective on the attacks.

Besides the impact of the 2,749 deaths caused by dual hijacking crashes that brought down the World Trade Center, prosecutors intend to show jurors how the attacks disrupted the functions of New York's government and economy. --From CNN Senior Producer Phil Hirschkorn (Posted 4:08 p.m.)

Judge firms up plans for classified documents in defense of former Cheney aide

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A federal judge has refined the rules for the use of highly classified White House meeting notes to defend a former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, according to orders the court released Wednesday.

Lewis "Scooter" Libby faces trial next January on a five-count indictment related to the disclosure in 2003 of the identity of a covert operative for the CIA, Valerie Plame. Prosecutors believe Cheney's former chief of staff misled investigators and a grand jury as they pursued his knowledge of her employment status, and what he did with the information. He is not charged with disclosing classified information.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton's action formalizes prosecution and defense agreements on usage of sensitive documents known as presidential daily briefs (PDBs), limiting who may see the material and affirming that the White House can challenge how it is used. -- From CNN's Paul Courson (Posted 2 p.m.)

DHS deputy press secretary arrested in child sex sting

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A deputy press secretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security who was arrested Tuesday at his Maryland home on charges he used his computer in an attempt to seduce a child and transmitted harmful materials to a minor has been placed on administrative leave without pay, according to a DHS statement.

His security clearance, employee badge and facility access permissions also have been suspended, according to the statement.

Brian J. Doyle, 55, is charged with seven counts of use of a computer to seduce a child and 16 counts of transmission of harmful material to a minor, according to documents filed in the 10th Judicial Circuit Court in Polk County, Florida. But the minor -- thought by Doyle to be a 14-year-old girl -- was actually a computer crimes detective for Polk County.

In interviews with police, Doyle had confessed and has agreed to waive extradition to Florida, said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. (Posted 1:16 p.m.)

Oink ... Oink ... congressional 'pork' spending revealed

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The soaring deficit and mounting bills for hurricane damage and the war in Iraq are apparently no obstacles for members of Congress intent on wasting money to please the people back home.

Citizens Against Government Waste released its "2006 Congressional Pig Book" Wednesday -- 53 pages of pork barrel projects they say the nation could have done without in fiscal 2006, which ends Oct. 1.

The 375 projects total $3.4 billion, and "symbolize the most egregious and blatant examples of pork," the report says.

Among them: $13.5 million for the International Fund for Ireland, which helped finance the World Toilet Summit; $6.4 million for wood utilization research in 11 states; $1 million for the Waterfree Urinal Conservation Initiative in Michigan; and $500,000 for the Sparta Teapot Museum in Sparta, N.C. (Posted 11:05 a.m.)

Doctors reattach section of Sharon's skull

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon successfully underwent surgery Wednesday to reattach a section of his skull, which had been removed during an earlier procedure, a spokeswoman for the Hadassah Hospital said.

Doctors had removed the section of Sharon's skull as they attempted to stop bleeding in his brain after a massive stroke Jan. 4.

The reattachment surgery had been scheduled to take place on Tuesday but was postponed when doctors determined Sharon, 77, was suffering from a light respiratory infection. (Posted 10:56 a.m.)

Indonesian demonstrators turn to violence

JAKARTA (CNN) -- Thousands of laborers vandalized public property Wednesday, smashing lamp posts, bus stop shelters and concrete flower pots that line central Jakarta's main thoroughfare after a protest of the Indonesian parliament's move to revise the country's 2003 labor bill.

Parliament has moved to revise the bill after employers complained it gave workers too many benefits and too much freedom to stage strikes.

In a bid to entice investors to Indonesia, the government wants to allow companies to outsource temporary work and to recruit contract-based employees. Officials also plan to ease some of the restrictions on employers.

But labor unions complain this will mean decreased pay and benefits and no security for current workers. (Posted 10:15 a.m.)

Unions will press for full repeal of controversial labor law before French parliament goes on recess April 17

PARIS (CNN) -- French union leaders said Wednesday they will press for the full repeal of a controversial new labor law -- a law that would allow for easier hiring and firing of some younger workers -- before the French parliament adjourns April 17 for its Easter break.

The union leaders are scheduled to meet with senators from the UMP -- Union for a Popular Movement, France's ruling party -- on Wednesday afternoon.

They believe they are bargaining from a position of strength because of massive demonstrations across France on Tuesday against the law. More than 1 million people turned out for the protests, according to the Interior Ministry, during the fifth "day of action."

The law, signed Sunday by French President Jacques Chirac but not yet implemented, would allow employers to hire and fire workers 26 years old and under for any reason during the first two years of their first job contract.

In signing the law, Chirac said he wanted it amended immediately to shorten the period when workers could be fired to one year and to require employers to tell workers why they are being fired. The French parliament must still debate and pass those amendments to the "first jobs contract" law or CPE, as it is called in French. (Posted 10:04 a.m.)

White House leaves door open for legalization process for illegal immigrants

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Before heading to Connecticut to push his health savings account initiative, President Bush Wednesday urged the Senate to "come to conclusions as quickly as possible" on another thorny issue: immigration reform.

Speaking in front of the White House, Bush reiterated his support of a "comprehensive bill" that includes a guest worker provision "that is not amnesty."

In a statement of administration policy issued Tuesday night to GOP congressional leaders, the White House said the Bush administration "firmly opposes amnesty" for illegal immigrants and wants Congress to pass legislation that "does not create an automatic path to permanent residency or citizenship" for them.

However, the statement does not repudiate a provision in the Senate Judiciary Committee's bill that provides a legalization process for more than 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. (Posted 9:57 a.m.)

U.S. military reaffirms 2 deaths in recent chopper crash; calls purported insurgent video 'despicable'

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- The U.S. military Wednesday reaffirmed the deaths of two helicopter pilots in an April 1 crash and said it has removed "all available remains found on the scene," noting what it called "the catastrophic nature of the crash."

In a written statement, the military said it could not confirm the authenticity of an Internet video purporting to show insurgents removing "part of a body from the crash site."

"We are outraged that anyone would create and publish such a despicable video for public exposure," military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington said in the statement. "The terrorists continue to demonstrate their immoral disregard for human dignity and life."

The video, dated April 2, shows what appears to be a helicopter ablaze, and later with no flames, and insurgents dragging what appears to be a burning body away from the wreckage. (Posted 8:53 a.m.)

Couric announces she's leaving NBC's 'Today' show

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Calling it "the worst kept secret in America," Katie Couric told "Today" show viewers Wednesday she's leaving to join the "CBS Evening News" and "60 Minutes." "I wanted to tell all of you out there ... that after listening to my heart and my gut ... I've decided I'll be leaving "Today" at the end of May," she said. "I really feel as if we've become friends through the years."

Couric used the occasion of her 15th anniversary to make the announcement, which was followed by tears and laughter. The 49-year-old journalist is the longest-serving anchor in "Today" show history. She called it "an honor and a privilege" to hold that role for so long.

Couric will become the first woman to solo anchor a network evening newscast.(Posted 8:18 a.m.)

Prosecutors say no foul play in Milosevic's death

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (CNN) -- The results of an independent inquest into the death of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic confirm he died of natural causes and was not killed, contrary to accusations from his family and supporters, the Public Prosecutor's Office at The Hague said Wednesday.

Judge Fausto Pocar, president of the U.N. tribunal that was trying Milosevic for war crimes, said that as a result of the findings, prosecutors have closed their investigation into Milosevic's death on March 11 in the tribunal's detention unit.

However, an investigation into Milosevic's medical treatment while in detention is continuing, said tribunal president Judge Fausto Pocar.

Those results are due shortly, he said. "The district attorney concluded that Mr. Milosevic died of natural causes and there is no indication that his death was the result of a crime," they said. (Posted 7:55 a.m.)

Saddam Hussein answers questions

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein faced cross-examination Wednesday for the first time in his six-month-long trial for crimes against humanity, answering some of the prosecution's questions, dodging others and engaging in tirades against the court.

Hussein, who appeared alone in the courtroom Wednesday, is charged along with seven co-defendants in connection with a crackdown against Shiites in Dujail, a town north of Baghdad, after a failed assassination attempt against the ex-Iraqi leader in 1982.

Nearly 150 Shiites, some of them teenagers, were executed and hundreds more were jailed in the crackdown.

Before a lunch break, Hussein told the court that he would never have ordered the execution of teenagers. But after lunch, the prosecution showed photo identification cards of the children who were killed. Hussein called the cards "hostile propaganda" and said the evidence against him was provided by agents of the Shia-led government. (Posted 7:52 a.m.)

Baghdad car bombs kill 3

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A pair of car bombs exploded within 20 minutes of each other Wednesday in Baghdad, killing three people and wounding 18 others, an official with Baghdad emergency police told CNN.

The blasts occured in two locations, the first at about 1:30 p.m. near a public restaurant in the Shiite Shu'la neighborhood in northwestern Baghdad. That bomb wounded 13 people. The second blast occured 20 minutes later in eastern Baghdad'd Beirut Square, killing three people and wounding five others.

No further details were immediately available. -- From CNN Producer Mohammed Tawfeeq (Posted 6:39 a.m.)

Amnesty International: More proof that CIA uses secret flights for terror suspects

LONDON (CNN) -- The CIA has used private aircraft operators and front companies -- sometimes using European airspace -- to detain terror suspects at secret locations or transfer them to countries that condone torture, Amnesty International said in a report released Wednesday.

In a summary of "Below the radar: Secret flights to torture and 'disappearance,'" the humanitarian organization accuses the CIA of using the practice of "rendition," or illegally transferring people from one country to another to bypass judicial and administrative oversight.

Washington has denied that terror suspects are transferred to other nations to avoid U.S. and international laws on torture.

Amnesty International said it has records of nearly 1,000 flights directly linked to the CIA, most of which have used European airspace. "These are flights by planes that appear to have been permanently operated by the CIA through front companies," the organization said. (Posted 4 a.m.)

Thai prime minister resigns, appoints temporary successor

BANGKOK, Thailand (CNN) -- Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra cleaned out his office Wednesday and turned his duties over to Deputy Prime Minister Chidchai Vanasatidya until a new leader is chosen, a government spokesman said.

Thaksin, the target of mass protests, announced Tuesday that he would resign because of his party's poor showing in Sunday's election. Critics accused the prime minister of abusing his power.

As head of the Justice Ministry, Chidchai has been responsible for security in the Muslim south where an insurgency has raged since 2004. The retired police general will continue in his caretaker role until the new parliament convenes, and the ruling party names a permanent prime minister. (Posted 3:45 a.m.)

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