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Monday, October 30

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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.

Chinese FM: North Korea will return to multilateral negotiations -URGENT

BEIJING (CNN) -- North Korea has agreed to rejoin six-party talks on its nuclear weapons program, China's Foreign Ministry announced Tuesday.

The ministry said China and the United States have also agreed to return to the negotiating table, without mentioning South Korea, Russia and Japan.

Citing a foreign ministry source, China's state-run Xinhua news agency said the talks will be held "soon."

After pulling out of the talks nearly a year ago, North Korea has declined returning to multilateral negotiations on its nuclear weapons program while financial sanctions are in place.

Pyongyang has urged the United States to engage in bilateral negotiations instead, something Washington has refused to do outside of the context of the six-party talks. (Posted 6:30 a.m.)

Car bomb kills 3; roadside bomb kills police officer; 10 bodies found

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A car bomb exploded in a busy section of eastern Baghdad Tuesday morning, killing three people and wounding 10 others, Baghdad emergency police said.

The attack took place around 8:30 a.m. (12:30 a.m. ET) in Beirut Square.

An hour later in southern Baghdad, a roadside bomb struck an Iraqi police patrol in the capital's Doura district, killing a police officer and wounding three other members of the patrol, police said.

On Monday, police recovered 10 bullet-riddled bodies in various Baghdad neighborhoods. Police could not immediately identify the bodies.

The deaths are typically attributed to sectarian violence. (Posted 2:40 a.m.)

U.S. soldier dies during combat in western Baghdad

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A U.S. soldier died early Monday evening in western Baghdad when he was hit by small-arms fire while conducting combat operations, a U.S. military statement said.

The soldier was a member of the Army's Multi-National Division - Baghdad.

With the death, 103 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq during the month of October -- the fourth highest since the war began in March 2003. Since the start of fighting, there have been 2,816 U.S. military fatalities. (Posted 12:20 a.m.)

U.S. considering increasing Iraqi troops levels, as well as U.S. trainers

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Pentagon is considering a number of proposals from U.S. commanders in Iraq to increase the overall goal for the total number of Iraqi security forces -- a tacit recognition that more Iraq force will be needed before significant reductions can be made in U.S. troop levels.

According to a Pentagon official, the proposal calls for a "modest increase" in the goal of 325-thousand trained and equipped Iraqi army and police forces. Such a change could require additional U.S. military trainers.

But the official said the increase in U.S. trainers would not affect overall troop levels in Iraq, which vary between 140,000 and 150,000 troops depending on routine force rotations.

Pentagon and military officials said a number reported by CBS news Monday of "up to 100,000" additional Iraqi forces is way too high.

One official suggested a 10-percent increase might be in the works, something on the order of 30,000 additional Iraqi forces. (Posted 11:40 a.m.)

U.S. soldier killed by IED south of Baghdad

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A U.S. soldier was killed Monday evening when a vehicle in which he was riding was struck by an improvised explosive device south of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

With the death, 102 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq during the month of October -- the fourth highest since the war began in March 2003. Since the start of fighting, there have been 2,815 U.S. military fatalities. (Posted 11:08 p.m.)

Libby prosecutors want to limit evidence about original Plame leak

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Prosecutors in the criminal case against former White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby want to bar his defense attorneys from telling jurors in his upcoming trial that neither Libby nor anyone else were charged with leaking the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame -- the leak that started the investigation that eventually led to Libby's indictment.

In a motion filed Monday, the special prosecutor in the Libby case, Patrick Fitzgerald, said letting jurors learn that no one has been indicted for leaking the information about Plame would be "unfairly prejudicial" and "potentially confusing."

"The fact that neither Libby nor anyone else has been charged with a crime for the disclosure of classified information is irrelevant to whether Libby committed the crimes charged in the indictment," Fitzgerald said in his motion.

He also argued that the information "might cause the jury to improperly render a verdict on its evaluation of the government's charging decisions, rather than the facts and the law." (Posted 9:58 p.m.)

Mexico's Congress calls for resignation of embattled Oaxaca governor

MEXICO CITY (CNN) -- The Mexican Congress Monday called on the embattled governor of Oaxaca state to step aside in a bid to restore order after five months of often violent protests that have paralyzed the state's capital city.

Both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies approved the resolution asking for the resignation of Gov. Ulises Ruiz, who has steadfastly refused to yield to demands by demonstrators that he step aside. The Senate vote was unanimous.

Over the weekend, President Vicente Fox sent federal troops into the state capital, Oaxaca, in an effort to end the violence. His action came after three people -- including American documentary filmmaker Bradley Will -- were killed Friday when plainclothes gunmen opened fire on a blockade set up by demonstrators.

Meanwhile, the State Department Monday warned Americans not to travel to Oaxaca, which had been a popular tourist destination before the unrest. (Posted 8:08 p.m.)

House defense chair Hunter preparing 2008 White House run

(CNN) -- House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter became the first person to formally announce a 2008 presidential bid Monday, telling voters in his San Diego-area district that he will prepare a campaign for the White House as he serves in Congress over the next two years.

"This is going to be a long road. It's a challenging road. There's lots of rough and tumble," Hunter said. "But I think it's the right thing to do for our country."

Hunter, 58, first elected to the House in 1980, is on the ballot for re-election next week in California's 52nd District, a Republican bastion he has routinely swept with about 70 percent of the vote.

He said he decided to announce his presidential intentions before next week's balloting because "I believe in laying my cards on the table." (Posted 6:05 p.m.)

Poll: Americans slightly more receptive to same-sex marriage

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Americans appear slightly more polarized about the issue of same-sex marriage than they were two years ago, when the matter became a hot-button election issue, a CNN poll has found.

Asked which arrangements between gay or lesbian couples they think should be recognized as legally valid, 24 percent of poll respondents said same-sex marriage, 26 percent said civil union and 45 percent said neither. Five percent said they had no opinion.

In November 2004, 21 percent said they thought same-sex marriage should be legally valid; 32 percent said they felt that way about civil union; 43 percent said neither; and 4 percent said they had no opinion.

The CNN telephone poll of 1,014 adult Americans was conducted on Friday through Sunday by Opinion Research Corporation. It had a sampling error of plus or minus 3 points. (Posted 5:58 p.m.)

Support for war rises, but most believe success in Iraq will not be attained

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Support for the war in Iraq has increased slightly during the past week, although a majority of Americans now believe that the United States will never accomplish its mission in Iraq and six in 10 say that the United States should withdraw some or all of its troops.

Overall, 38 percent said they favor the U.S. war in Iraq, up from 34 percent last week, and opposition fell from 64 percent to 59 percent over that same period. The sampling error for this and most other questions was plus or minus 3 points.

Six in 10 also say they are not confident that the Iraqi government can handle the situation in that country. The public is split over whether the U.S. government can handle the situation there.

Support for the war has risen 10 points among Democrats (from 6 percent to 16 percent). Independents have also increased their support for the war, from 29 percent to 33 percent.

One possible explanation for why the current poll shows more support for the war than did last week's poll is that Democrats and Independents have been waiting to hear the White House suggest changes in its Iraqi policy, and are reacting favorably to the administration's decision to no longer "stay the course." (Posted 5:52 a.m.)

Federal investigators: BP knew about dangers at Texas City plant prior to deadly 2005 explosion

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Internal BP documents reveal the oil corporation's knowledge of "significant safety problems at the Texas City refinery," months or years prior to the March 2005 explosion that killed 15 workers there, according to preliminary findings released Monday by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB).

BP has accepted full responsibility for the disaster at its plant and has settled more than 1,000 lawsuits related to claims made by those directly injured on site, by family members of those who died, and by people who suffered shock. More than $1.6 billion was set aside by BP to resolve with those claims, a BP spokesman told CNN.

The CSB report says that the company was warned of potentially hazardous conditions at the plant, and while it improved working conditions, "unsafe and antiquated equipment designs were left in place, and unacceptable deficiencies in preventative maintenance were tolerated," CSB Chairman Carolyn Merritt said.

Responding to the report, a BP spokesman said, "We agree with the CSB in that we, too, believe that the March 23, 2005, explosion was a preventable tragedy. However, we do not understand the basis of some of the comments made by the CSB board members." --From CNN's Katy Byron (Posted 5:28 p.m.)

Poll: Republicans surging but still trail overall as elections approach

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Republicans are moving ahead in suburbs and among men as the mid-term congressional elections approach, but Democrats still have a double-digit lead overall, a CNN poll reported Monday.

Democrats are also more enthusiastic about voting than are Republicans, which may boost their turnout on Election Day.

More than half (53 percent) of respondents who identified themselves as likely voters said they will choose the Democratic candidate for Congress in their district. That's down four points since last week's poll. Republicans got 42 percent support among likely voters, up two points since last week.

While Democratic candidates had an edge among men in previous polls, a bare majority (51 percent) of men in the latest poll said they plan to vote Republican. That question had a sampling error of plus-or-minus 6.5 points.

The same was true in the suburbs, where Democrats had a slight advantage over the GOP in last week's poll (51 percent to 44 percent), but tumbled dramatically in the latest survey (42 percent for Democrats to 53 percent for Republicans). (Posted 5:07 p.m.)

Pentagon developing public relations response team

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Pentagon has begun a new "rapid response" operation to quickly respond to news media stories critical of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the war in Iraq, as well as other stories the Defense Department leadership doesn't like.

The operation is similar to those used in political campaigns, but officials say the new organization was not started specifically because of rising criticism of the war.

Defense Department Press Secretary Eric Ruff could not immediately provide statistics regarding the cost of the new operation or the number of people involved. He confirmed, however, that it is expected some of the new staff members will be political appointees or contractors. "We are staffing up considerably," Ruff told reporters.

He described the new operation specifically as a "rapid response" so that the Pentagon could "get inside the news cycle" of 24/7 operations. (Posted 4:58 p.m.)

Kidnapped aid worker freed in Gaza

GAZA CITY (CNN) -- A Spanish charity worker who was abducted Monday in Gaza was released late at night, the agency he works for said.

Roberto Vila, 34, was forced into a car in southern Gaza and driven away.

Cooperation Assembly for Peace, which goes by its Spanish acronym ACPP, said Vila is its chief representative in the region.

Vila, who lives in Ramallah, was visiting an ACPP project in Gaza when he was kidnapped, said group spokesman Enrique Miravillas. (Posted 4:31 p.m.)

12 arrested outside Mexican Consulate

NEW YORK (CNN) -- About 100 people rallied Monday outside the Mexican Consulate to protest the killing last week in southern Mexico of a New York journalist.

Twelve of the demonstrators were taken into custody, but were not immediately charged, said a New York Police Department spokeswoman.

The activists and friends of Bradley Will, who was killed Friday in the southern state capital city of Oaxaca as he documented a protest there, demanded that the Mexican government withdraw its troops from the area and recognize the new self-governing People's Popular Assembly of Oaxaca.

"Today's action is what Brad would have wanted," said Beka Econompoulos, an activist and friend of Will. "It puts our grief into action supporting the people and the movement he went to Oaxaca to document and help defend." --From CNN's Deborah Brunswick (Posted 4:14 p.m.)

FBI releases analysis of attacks on police officers last year

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A newly released FBI analysis of attacks on law enforcement personnel last year shows a slight decline from the previous year.

Nationwide, 55 officers were slain, down from 57 the previous year. The fatal incidents represent a tiny fraction of the 57,546 assaults on law enforcement officials. That number is also down from 59,692 assaults the previous year. But statistics for the past decade show no evidence of a trend.

The annual report, released Monday, shows that despite the small dips from 2004 to 2005, the risk of danger for law enforcement officials has remained largely constant in recent years. --From Justice Producer Terry Frieden (Posted 3:23 p.m.)

U.S. government audit reports thousands of weapons missing in Iraq

(CNN) -- A federal report issued over the weekend said neither U.S. nor Iraqi officials are able to account for the whereabouts of thousands of small-arms weapons intended for use by Iraqi security forces.

In addition, the report said not enough spare parts or repair manuals for many of the weapons had been ordered.

The Iraqi Relief and Reconstruction Fund (IRRF) has spent about $133 million to buy more than 370,000 small-arms weapons, including semiautomatic pistols, assault rifles, heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

As of August, the United States had issued 277,600 of the weapons to Iraqi Security Forces, said the 24-page report, titled "Iraqi Security Forces: Weapons Provided by the U.S. Department of Defense Using the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund." (Posted 2:01 p.m.)

Former Italian prime minister, British attorney ordered to stand trial on corruption charges

MILAN, Italy (CNN) -- Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and British lawyer David Mills have been ordered to stand trial on charges of corruption, a Berlusconi representative told CNN Monday.

Berlusconi, who was Italy's prime minister before his loss to Romano Prodi, is accused of paying Mills $600,000 in exchange for favorable testimony in two cases involving the former prime minister. Both Berlusconi and Mills deny any wrongdoing.

Berlusconi's Mediaset company is the largest private broadcaster in Italy. Prosecutors contend that he paid Mills not to disclose damaging details related to Mediaset.

The trial is set to begin March 13. -- From CNN's Flavia Taggiasco in Rome (Posted 1:25 p.m.)

Poll: Public loves Fox over Limbaugh, but stem cell stance unchanged

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Actor Michael J. Fox trumps radio talker Rush Limbaugh 3-to-1 in popularity, but their public dispute involving stem cell research does not appear to have swayed many Americans on the issue, according to a new CNN poll.

The survey, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, found 54 percent of Americans support federal funding for stem cell research. That's up 3 points from August, but within the poll's sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Three-quarters of respondents said they have a favorable opinion of Fox; only 26 percent felt that way about Limbaugh, while a majority, 58 percent, said they have an unfavorable opinion of the conservative talk-show host.

Of the 1,014 adult Americans interviewed by phone between October 27 and 29, 19 percent said they have a family member who they believe could be cured by stem cell research. Of that 19 percent, two-thirds support federal funding for stem cell research; among the rest, 53 percent support such funding. The sampling error on that question was plus or minus 7 percentage points. (Posted 1:18 p.m.)

California wildfire full containment expected Monday night

BEAUMONT, Calif. (CNN) -- Benefiting from calmer winds, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry predicted a fire that has killed four firefighters and charred dozens of buildings would be fully contained by Monday night.

The Esperanza fire in Southern California is 90 percent contained by Monday morning, Mike Mohler of the Riverside County Fire Department said.

The more sanguine outlook led officials to cancel all evacuation orders and send 300 firefighters home, leaving 2,000 for what could be the final day's effort.

The cost of the four-day firefighting effort was put at $8.3 million.

Authorities on Sunday revised downward their estimate of the acreage burned from 40,450 to 40,200. The fire, which authorities contend was set, has destroyed 34 homes and 20 outbuildings and threatened 500 homes -- mainly in the Twin Pines and Poppet Flats areas, which had been under mandatory evacuations. (Posted 1:05 p.m.)

Poll: Bush approval remains low

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush's popularity has not been buoyed by a series of public events in recent days, a new CNN poll has found. Bush's approval rating still hovers in the high 30s, where it has been throughout the month.

The poll, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, found 37 percent of Americans approve of how Bush is handling his job as president; 58 percent disapprove.

The president's approval dropped slightly from the poll taken a week earlier, from 39 percent down to 37 percent, but the change was within the poll's sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

A total of 1,014 adult Americans were interviewed for the latest poll between October 27 and 29. (Posted 1 p.m.)

U.S. soldier killed by sniper in Baghdad

A U.S. soldier was killed Monday by a sniper in eastern Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

The soldier was assigned to the 89th Military Police Brigade.

With the death, 101 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq during the month of October -- the fourth highest since the war began in March 2003. Since the start of fighting, there have been 2,814 U.S. military fatalities. (Posted 12:53 p.m.)

U.S. national security adviser meets with Iraqi PM

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- U.S. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley is meeting Monday with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to discuss accelerating the training of Iraqi security forces and the transfer of security responsibilities to the Iraqi government, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.

The visit follows a weekend video conference between President Bush and al-Maliki in which the two leaders agreed to form "a high level working group to put forward recommendations for achieving these goals in the best way," according to a joint statement from the prime minister's office and the White House.

The high-level group will include Iraq's National Security Adviser Muwaffak al-Rubaie, the ministers of defense and interior, U.S. Gen. George Casey and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.

Hadley also met with al-Rubaie on Monday to discuss security coordination and the working group. --From CNN's Jomana Karadsheh (Posted 9:30 a.m.)

Bombs rock Baghdad, killing 35, most in Sadr City attack

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- At least six bombs rocked Baghdad Monday, killing 35 people and wounding nearly 100, most of them from a single attack in the Sadr City neighborhood in eastern Baghdad.

The attack in the densely populated Shiite slum of Sadr City killed 26 people and wounded 60 when a bomb ripped through Mudhfar Square near the bustling Jamila market , Baghdad emergency police said.

Authorities believe the bomb was left beside a trash container in a plastic bag. It detonated around 7:50 a.m. Monday near an area where day laborers gather, police said.

Jamila market was the site of a deadly car bomb in May, which killed five people and wounded 15. (Posted 8:38 a.m.)

Hussein's attorney walks out of court, again; verdict in other trial scheduled for Sunday

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- After a brief appearance before the court, Saddam Hussein's chief defense lawyer, Khalil al-Dulaimi, Monday again walked out after chief judge Mohammed al-Ureybi refused to grant the attorney's list of demands.

The defense team in the trial began its boycott on Sept. 20 when the Iraqi government removed chief judge Abdullah al-Almiri, after his comment in court that Hussein was not a dictator. That comment was deemed to be sympathetic to the defendant and the government ruled that al-Almiri could no longer be considered impartial.

On Monday, al-Dulaimi again stated his list of demands for the court, to which Al-Ureybi said the court had already ruled against under his predecessor, al-Almiri.

Al-Dulaimi and a privately retained defense lawyer then walked out, less than an hour into Monday's session. They were immediately replaced by court appointed defense attorneys.

Hussein and seven other co-defendants also face a verdict in the Dujail case, expected to be announced on Sunday. (Posted 8:20 a.m.)

Bangladeshi national arrested for Muslim holiday bombings in India

NEW DELHI (CNN) -- Indian authorities Monday arrested a Bangladeshi national for a string of blasts nearly two months ago that killed 37 people on a Muslim holiday in the predominantly Muslim city of Malegaon, police said.

Members of India's newly formed Anti Terror Squad (ATS) arrested Nurul-ul-Hooda in Malegaon in the western state of Maharashtra, according to the state's police chief P.S. Pasricha.

While Hooda has been charged in connection with the Sept. 8 bombings, Pasricha did not give any specifics about his suspected role in the attack which took place on the Muslim holiday of Shab-e Baraat.

Two of the bombs exploded outside of a Muslim cemetery and the other ripped through a crowded market. Many of the casualties were Muslims leaving Friday prayer services. -- CNN New Delhi Producer Tess Eastment contributed to this report (Posted 7:02 a.m.)

Terror trial for 6 Algerian men begins

MADRID (CNN) -- Under tight security, a terror trial for six Algerian men, one of whom is charged in an alleged failed plot to attack a U.S.-Spanish military base in southern Spain, began in the capital Monday.

The prosecution seeks a combined 132 years in prison for the six. All are charged with belonging to an Islamic terrorist group, possession of explosives and document forgery. T

he trial before a three-judge panel started midmorning at the National Court in central Madrid.

The basement courtroom is layered with bulletproof glass, separating the court from the public and the defendants from the court.

First to testify was the man the prosecution alleges is the leader of the cell, Mohamed Tahraoui, 24, of Algeria -- a charge defense lawyer Sebastian Salellas has denied.

Tahraoui is the only one of the six charged in the alleged plot on the military base, Rota, near the Strait of Gibraltar, Salellas said. (Posted 5:50 a.m.)

Car bomb kills 5; gunmen kill professor; suicide bomber kills 1

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Two people were killed and five were wounded when a car bomb exploded in Baghdad's Harthiya neighborhood late Monday morning, police said.

Also in western Baghdad, Essam al-Rawi, the head of the University Professor's Union and a senior member of the influential Association of Muslim Scholars, was killed Monday morning when gunmen sprayed his car with machine-gun fire while he was driving to work, police said.

He was gunned down in the capital's Dawoodi neighborhood.

An official with the Sunni muslim scholars group said two of al-Rawi 's bodyguards were critically wounded in the attack.

In Kirkuk, ab out 150 miles (240 km) north of Baghdad, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives belt outside Iraqi police headquarters, killing one person and wounding three others, police said. The attack took place around 12:20 p.m. (Posted 5 a.m.)

Tommy Suharto is released from prison

JAKARTA (CNN) -- Tommy Suharto, the youngest son of former Indonesian dictator Suharto, was released from prison Monday, an official with the prosecutor's office said.

In an interview on a local radio station, Pak Sitra Sani, head of the East Jakarta prosecutor's office, said Suharto had left the prison and was briefed by his office before being set free.

Suharto, whose legal name is Hutomo Mandala Putra, had nothing to say as he left the prison grounds at about 2 p.m. (3 a.m. ET).

Know for his lavish lifestyle, Suharto was found guilty in 2002 of ordering the assassination of a judge who had earlier convicted him of corruption. (Posted 4:30 a.m.)

Pakistani military: militant training camp destroyed; unknown number of militants killed

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Security forces on Monday destroyed a militant training camp in the Bajore tribal district in northwestern Pakistan, near the Afghan border, according to an army spokesman.

"Several miscreants have been killed, however, the body count is yet to be known," Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan, an army spokesman, said.

According to an intelligence source, 70 to 80 militants were in the compound when it was targeted by security forces backed by helicopter gunships. (Posted 2:35 a.m.)

Iraqi police, coalition forces apprehend bomb-making suspects

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Iraqi police, working with U.S.-led coalition advisers, captured nine suspected members of a bomb-making cell in Kut, a U.S. military statement released Monday said.

According to the military, Sunday's raid also netted "a cache of weapons, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and components for making IEDs, which target Iraqi security forces and civilians."

Kut is about 100 miles southeast of Baghdad. (Posted 2:15 a.m.)

Death of U.S. Marine marks 100th military fatality for October

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A U.S. Marine died Sunday in Iraq's Anbar province, a U.S. military statement released Monday said.

According to the military, the Marine, assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5, died from "injuries sustained due to enemy action" in the province west of Baghdad.

With the death, 100 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq during the month of October -- the fourth highest since the war began in March 2003. Since the start of fighting, there have been 2,813 U.S. military fatalities in Iraq. (Posted 1:25 a.m.)

Outcry from Gallaudet students is heard as presidential appointment withdrawn

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The board of trustees at Gallaudet University announced Sunday that it has withdrawn the appointment of Jane K. Fernandes as president of Gallaudet University, the prestigious school for the deaf.

In a statement posted on the school's Web site, the board members said they made the announcement "with much regret and pain."

Fernandes is to give up her position as president-designate and will not replace the current president, I. King Jordan, on Jan. 1, as had been planned. "The struggle during the past several months has been very painful for all of us," Jordan said in a written statement. "I am deeply troubled by the divisions among us and by the anger that overtook reason, respect, and civility. (Posted: 10:04 p.m.)


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