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Tuesday, April 11

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. "Posted" times are Eastern Daylight.

Top GOP leaders back away from language making illegal immigration a felony

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The top Republicans in both the House and Senate indicated Tuesday they don't support language in an immigration reform bill that would make entering the country illegally a felony -- a proposal which has drawn the ire of pro-immigrant groups that have staged a wave of protests in recent weeks.

The provision making illegal immigration a felony was contained in an immigration reform bill passed by the House in December. But in a joint statement issued Tuesday evening, House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist both indicated they wanted the language dropped.

Frist and Hastert also criticized House Democrats, who, they said, opposed efforts by Republicans to strip the provision from the bill before it passed. "Instead, they voted to make felons out of all of those who remain in our country illegally," the statement said.

Frist and Hastert did not specify whether they wanted unlawful presence in the United States to be a misdemeanor or carry a lesser penalty. Their statement was also silent on the question of whether they had come to any agreement on creating a guest worker program, or allowing undocumented immigrants in the country illegally to work their way toward legal status, both of which have split Republican ranks. (Updated 10:32 p.m.)

Flight 93's last moments to be played publicly

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CNN) -- Jurors and spectators at the Zacarias Moussaoui death penalty trial Wednesday will hear the first public playing of the cockpit voice recorder of United Airlines Flight 93, the hijacked plane on Sept. 11, 2001, that missed its target thanks to a passenger uprising.

The 31-minute recording documents the heroic efforts of the passengers and crew to take back the plane from the four hijackers who commandeered the Newark-to-San Francisco flight, according to the families who have heard the tape and the 9/11 Commission. The terrorists wore red bandannas, used knives to stab the pilot and first officer and told passengers one of them had a bomb strapped to his belt, according to the FBI's investigation of phone calls the passengers made to relatives and friends on the ground.

Because Flight 93's departure had been delayed by 45 minutes, passengers calling from the plane were informed about the synchronized suicide hijacking attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. -- From CNN Senior Producer Phil Hirschkorn (Posted 10:01 p.m.)

Radio host dismisses his call to shoot illegal immigrants as 'satirical'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An Arizona radio host dismissed as "satirical" Tuesday his call for illegal immigrants to be shot as they crossed the border, even as a U.S. attorney and the state's attorney general called on the federal government to sanction the radio station.

"I do not in any way advocate the shooting of illegals," Brian James said in a written statement to Phoenix-based KFYI. "My satirical remarks were taken out of context. How much progress are we making on the border issue when more attention is being paid to ramblings on the radio than to the growing problem of illegal immigration?"

On a March 8 broadcast on the radio station, James suggested that listeners along the border shoot illegal immigrants as they crossed the border into the United States.

"We'll call it 'Immigration Roulette,' " James said on the broadcast. "What we'll do is we'll randomly pick one night each week where we will kill whoever crosses the border. Step over there and you die. You get to decide whether it's your lucky night or not. I think that would be more fun."

James made his comments as he was trying out for a regular position on the station, KFYI's Program Director Laurie Cantillo said. She told CNN the station has received no calls complaining about the comments. -- From CNN's Peter Hamby (Posted: 8:44 p.m.)

Pentagon families step up in 9/11 trial

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CNN) -- A pair of families who lost loved ones in the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon shared their stories of loss Tuesday in the death penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the admitted al Qaeda conspirator facing execution for his connection to the nation's worst terrorist attack.

The jury also heard first-hand accounts of the scene inside the military headquarters from two uniformed officers who saw office mates die and then crawled in the darkness, fighting smoke inhalation, to safety.

Shari Tolbert's husband, Vince, a naval intelligence officer, was among the casualties. Tolbert described telling the eldest of their three children, Amanda, who was 9 at the time, that her father was dead.

"Your daddy's not coming home. He's not coming home today. He's not coming home tomorrow. He's not coming home," Tolbert said. She was very composed until a prosecutor asked her what the loss meant to her.

"I get to raise three kids alone. I never get to have a 50th anniversary. My daughter gets to go to father-daughter dances with her grandfather and uncle," Tolbert said, breaking down in tears. "I get to go to bed alone." --From CNN's Phil Hirschkorn (Posted 5:08 p.m.)

Red Cross unveils disaster response plan

(CNN) -- Less than three months before hurricane season begins, the American Red Cross on Tuesday announced plans to improve its disaster response by ensuring that essential supplies will be immediately available to victims of a catastrophe.

The agency was roundly criticized, along with the federal government, for its initial response to Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast last August.

In addition, a federal investigation, led by the FBI office in New Orleans, is looking into allegations of fraud concerning the Red Cross' role in distributing and warehousing food in the New Orleans area during the Katrina relief effort.

The organization's new blueprint for disaster relief, which is expected to go into effect July 1, focuses on two key areas for change -- increasing its capacity to serve and building new partnerships. (Posted 3:52 p.m.)

Joint Chiefs chairman defends Rumsfeld from ex-brass

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff defended Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from new criticism by former Pentagon brass Tuesday, telling reporters that "nobody works harder than he does."

"He does his homework. He works weekends. He works nights," Gen. Peter Pace said. "People can question my judgment or his judgment, but they should never question the dedication, the patriotism and the work ethic of Secretary Rumsfeld."

In the past month, three former generals have accused Rumsfeld of bungling the occupation of Iraq by refusing to commit enough troops to secure the country after taking Baghdad. In a Time magazine essay published this week, retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold said the war plan was "fundamentally flawed," and many senior officers "acted timidly when their voices urgently needed to be heard."

Rumsfeld said Tuesday that Newbold "never raised an issue publicly or privately when he was here that I know of," and Pace said he was unaware of any objections Newbold raised as well. (Posted 2:54 p.m.)

3 U.S. soldiers killed in roadside bombing

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Three U.S. soldiers were killed Tuesday in a roadside bombing, the U.S. military said.

The incident took place at 3:45 p.m. north of Baghdad.

The vehicle they were in was struck by a roadside bomb, the military said in a written statement. They were from Multi-National Division-Baghdad. (Posted 2:53 p.m.)

Berlusconi refuses to concede in Italian elections

ROME (CNN) -- Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Tuesday refused to concede in the country's elections, despite official results showing opposition leader Romano Prodi's center-left coalition taking control of both houses of Parliament.

"There are big discrepancies and all these discrepancies have to be looked at and checked, so I don't think that these could be called the final results," Berlusconi said in a live television address.

The next step is for Italy's highest court to certify the vote. More than 43,000 of the 2 million ballots that were deemed blank or spoiled are being contested; Berlusconi's allies have demanded a scrupulous check of the counting.

Prodi's margin of victory in the lower house was around 25,000 votes, a tiny fraction of the 38 million votes cast. The high court has until April 20 to certify the vote. (Posted 1:52 p.m.)

Iranian leader: Iran has power plant nuclear technology

(CNN) -- Iran has successfully produced low-grade enriched uranium at a level used in nuclear power plants, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced Tuesday.

"I officially announced that Iran has joined countries with nuclear technology," he said.

Denying his country is working to develop nuclear weapons, Ahmadinejad said that Iran seeks "peace and calmness."

"Our nation is a peaceful nation," he said.

The enrichment took place Sunday, the president said, adding that "our nuclear activities have been under complete supervision, unprecedented supervisions" by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"And today we are interested in operating under IAEA supervision," he said. (Posted 1:35 p.m.)

Moussaoui praises God as he watches video of Pentagon inferno

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CNN) -- As the jury in the death penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui watched video Tuesday of the crash of an airliner into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, Moussaoui could be seen nodding and mouthing the words "Allahu Akbar" -- God is great.

FBI Agent Jacqueline Macguire told the jury the nose of the Boeing 757 penetrated to the building's third ring, known as the "C" ring. Photos showed a black gaping hole on the ring's outer wall.

"Burn all Pentagon next time," Moussaoui said, outside the jury's presence, as he left court for the lunch break.

Families who lost loved ones in the attack on the Pentagon will have the opportunity to share their stories of loss Tuesday afternoon. One-hundred eighty four people were killed when five hijackers commandeered American Airlines Flight 77 and flew it into the U.S. military headquarters. --From CNN's Phil Hirschkorn (Posted 1:30 p.m.)

Pakistan media: Blast at religious rally in Karachi; at least 42 dead

(CNN) -- An explosion at a celebration of Prophet Mohammed's birthday Tuesday killed at least 42 people and sparked a confrontation between Muslims and Karachi police, according to Pakistan's interior minister and local media reports.

Speaking on Pakistani television, Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Shairpao said 42 people were killed and 100 were injured in the blast, but the number is expected to rise. Other media reported 70 killed.

The explosion, which happened shortly before 5 p.m. (8 a.m. ET) at Nishtar Park in the port city of Karachi, ripped through a stage set up by Jumaat Ahle Summat, a predominantly Sunni group, Pakistani media reported.

At least 70 others were injured and all hospitals were put on high alert, according to the reports. (Posted 1:12 p.m.)

Bomb on bus kills 3 in Iraq; 11 bodies found near Hilla

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A bomb detonated Tuesday on a minibus in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood, killing three people and wounding nine, according to Iraqi emergency police.

The incident took place about 1 p.m. No further information was immediately available.

Additionally, Iraqi police in Babil province found 11 bodies, none with identification and all shot in the head, in Kifil, a town close to Hilla, which is about 60 miles south of Baghdad.

Later, around 8 p.m., a parked car bomb detonated near a restaurant in northern Baghdad, wounding four police officers and five civilians, emergency police told CNN. (POsted 12:38 p.m.)

District attorney says case is 'not over' despite lack of DNA evidence

DURHAM, N.C. (CNN) -- The district attorney considering charges in the case of a woman who accuses three members of the Duke University lacrosse team of sexually assaulting her said Tuesday that the case is not over, despite reports from defense attorneys that none of the DNA samples taken from the players match material taken from the woman.

"My presence here means that this case is not going away," said Durham County District Attorney Michael Nifong. The prosecutor's comments came during a forum at North Carolina Central University to educate students about violence against women.

He quoted a student at that university who told local media that the absence of DNA "doesn't mean nothing happened, it means nothing was left behind."

That's the case in "75 to 80 percent of all sexual assaults," Nifong said. (Posted 12:25 p.m.)

(CNN) -- Two people are dead and two are in a hospital Tuesday after a four-alarm fire engulfed a Franklin Township, N.J., home, a Somerset County official told CNN.

The elderly female occupant of the home and a fireman died, according to Jack Bennett of the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office. The woman's male companion and another fireman were hospitalized, he said. Names, ages and details of the injuries were not released. --From CNN News Assistant Katy Byron in New York (Posted 11:36 a.m.)

Merck ordered to pay $9 million in punitive damages in Vioxx-related case

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- A New Jersey jury found Merck liable Tuesday of misrepresenting Vioxx to federal regulators and ordered the drug giant to pay $9 million in punitive damages to a man who suffered a heart attack after taking the painkiller.

The plaintiff, former Vioxx patient and heart attack survivor John McDarby, was awarded $3 million in compensatory damages by the same jury last week in Atlantic City, N.J., and his wife was awarded $1.5 million. The $9 million is on top of the compensatory damages.

Merck, the nation's second-largest drug maker, faces nearly 10,000 lawsuits from people who blame Vioxx, the arthritis painkiller that Merck pulled off the market, for their heart attacks. Merck lost one case, won two, and there was a split verdict in the case involving McDarby and another plaintiff, Thomas Cona.

Merck said it would appeal the punitive and compensatory damages. (Posted 10:46 a.m.)

Rapper 'Proof' killed in nightclub shooting

DETROIT (CNN) -- Rapper "Proof," whose real name was DeShaun Holton, was killed early Tuesday in a shooting at a night club, police and a hospital spokeswoman said.

Two men were shot in the incident around 4:25 a.m. at Club CCC on east Eight Mile Road, police said. The other man is in critical condition, a hospital spokeswoman said. No suspects are in custody, police said.

Holton was one of Eminem's proteges and appeared in "8 Mile," as well as the 2005 film "The Longest Yard." He released a solo album, "Searching for Jerry Garcia," last year, but previously recorded with the group D-12. (Posted 10:27 a.m.)

3 injured in UK scaffolding collapse

LONDON (CNN) -- Emergency workers Tuesday rescued three people trapped after the scaffolding around a building under construction collapsed north of London, according to the Buckinghamshire fire and rescue service.

Police and rescue officials were contacted after the scaffolding collapsed in Milton Keynes -- about 60 miles (about 100 km) north of London -- shortly after 12:30 p.m. (7:30 a.m. ET).

Construction workers have accounted for all of their staff, including the three who were injured and taken to a hospital, according to assistant chief fire officer Des Williamson. (Posted 10:23 a.m.)

Briton pleads not guilty to slaying wife, child in U.S.

(CNN) -- Neil Entwistle, a British national who was charged last month by a grand jury with murdering his wife and infant daughter, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to two counts of murder in Massachusetts's Middlesex Superior Court.

He stood silently as his attorney entered the not guilty pleas. In addition to pleading not guilty to two counts of murder, Entwistle plead not guilty to one count each of illegal possession of a firearm and illegal possession of ammunition. (Posted 9:49 a.m.)

Average cost for a gallon of regular to be 25 cents higher than last year, federal government says.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - The government said Tuesday that the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline will average $2.62 this summer, up 25 cents from last summer's $2.37 average.

The Energy Information Administration also said prices for the whole of 2006 are expected to average $2.50 per gallon for regular, and $2.40 a gallon for regular in 2007.

Diesel isn't expected to get a break either, with prices averaging $2.62 a gallon this summer.

EIA blames the high cost of two primary factors -- near-record crude prices and additional costs associated with producing lower-sulfur gasoline and phasing out the chemical component MTBE. (Posted 9:13 a.m.)

More violence in Nepalese pro-democracy protests

KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNN) -- Nepal security police Tuesday opened fire on protesters in the Nepalese capital -- injuring dozens -- on the sixth day of demonstrations calling on the country's king to step down from power.

Police fired as many as 70 rounds of ammunition as the protesters burned an effigy of King Gyanendra, according to local reporters. Since the nationwide protests began Thursday, three demonstrators have been killed.

The protests were called by major political parties to demand that the king give up the power he seized in February 2005.

The United States is also demanding King Gyanendra loosen his grip on power and "begin a dialogue" with the country's political parties, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Monday. (Posted 8:42 a.m.)

Mine attack kills at least 12 Sri Lankan sailors

COLOMBO (CNN) -- At least 12 Sri Lankan sailors died and eight others were wounded Tuesday when suspected Tamil Tiger rebels detonated a Claymore mine near a bus that was taking them on leave, military sources said.

The incident took place at the village of Tampalakamam near the northeastern port city of Trincomalee.

The attack cast further doubts on the latest round of talks scheduled to start April 18 in Switzerland between a government delegation and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and follows the shooting death of a rebel activist by gunmen late last week. The rebels accused the Sri Lankan military of colluding with paramilitary groups to carry out the attack. (Posted 8:36 a.m.)

Italian mafia boss arrested

ROME (CNN) -- Bernardo Provenzano, an Italian Mafia boss who had been sought for 42 years, has been arrested, Italian authorities told CNN Tuesday. Provenzano, 73, is the suspected head of the Corleonesi Mafia family. (Posted 8:34 a.m.)

Berlusconi challenges Prodi's claim of victory

ROME (CNN) -- Italian opposition leader Romano Prodi claimed victory Tuesday for his center-left coalition, appearing before a large crowd of supporters outside his party headquarters in Rome to say his party had taken control of the lower house of Parliament by winning 340 of 630 seats.

But Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi -- who has ruled the country for the past five years with a large majority in Parliament -- disputed that claim, saying that his center-right coalition won control of the 315-seat upper house, the Senate, by one seat. Still, power there could shift because six of the Senate seats that are to be allocated to Italians who live abroad, and those ballots have not yet been counted.

In the lower house, the margin of victory was around 25,000 votes, a tiny fraction of the 47 million Italians eligible to vote. The next step in the process is for Italy's highest court to certify the vote -- and with about a million disputed ballots in the tight race, Berlusconi's allies have demanded a scrupulous check of the counting.

Prodi, however, claimed the victory and promised his policies would benefit "the whole of Italy ... not only those who voted for us but even those who have not voted for us." (Posted 8:33 a.m.)

Bomb on bus kills 3 in Iraq

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A bomb detonated Tuesday on a minibus in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood, killing three people and wounding nine, according to Iraqi emergency police.

The incident took place at about 1 p.m. No further information was immediately available.

Additionally, Iraqi police in Babil province found 11 bodies, none with identification and all shot in the head, in Kifil, a town close to Hilla, which is about 60 miles south of Baghdad.

In other incidents earlier in the day, a roadside bomb in southern Baghdad's Khadmiye neighborhood wounded three Iraqi police, and another in Zararaniye wounded one policeman and one civilian. A third roadside bomb, this one in eastern Baghdad, wounded four Iraqi police commandos. (Posted 8:31 a.m.)

Judge issues 29 indictments in Madrid train bombings

MADRID (CNN) -- A Spanish judge issued indictments Tuesday against 29 people for their involvement in the Madrid train bombings -- including five who are charged directly with the deaths of 191 victims and the attempted murders of 1,755 people who were wounded in the March 11, 2004 coordinated blasts on morning rush-hour commuter trains.

According to Gonzalo Boye, 29 suspects were indicted, some of them on charges of mass murder, as alleged direct participants who placed bombs on the trains. One of the alleged ringleaders of the attack, Jamal Zougam, was among those charged.

The documents supporting the indictments totaled more than 1,100 pages.

The total is far below the 116 suspects who faced preliminary charges, and lower than what some analysts and court sources had speculated would be indictments against as many 40 suspects.

Any trial is months away, possibly more than a year. --From CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman (Posted 8:30 a.m.)

Rocket attack kills 6 children, wounds 14 in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- An insurgent rocket smashed into a school in eastern Afghanistan Tuesday, killing six children and wounding 14 others, U.S. military officials said.

The attack took place at the Salabagh School in Assadabad in Kunar province.

"Coalition service members and local authorities helped rush the wounded to the nearby provincial reconstruction team hospital for emergency treatment," the military said in a written statement. (Posted 6:43 a.m.)

Israeli Cabinet: Sharon is permanently incapacitated

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Three months after suffering a massive stroke, the Israeli Cabinet Tuesday declared Prime Minister Ariel Sharon permanently incapacitated, formally ending his premiership.

Sharon, 78, has been in a coma since suffering a massive stroke Jan. 4. He has had several surgeries since he entered the hospital.

Ehud Olmert has been serving as acting prime minister and is likely to take over the post officially when a new government is formed.

Olmert's Kadima party won 29 of the Knesset's 120 seats in last month's parliamentary election and is charged with forming a new coalition government.

Rocket attack kills 6, wounds 14

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- A rocket smashed into a school in eastern Afghanistan Tuesday, killing six people and wounding 14 others, government officials said.

The attack took place in Assadabad in Kunar province.

"So far we have six people confirmed killed and 14 injured. There are no further details at the moment," said Gen. Nasir Azimi, a Defense Ministry spokesman.

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