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Sunday, November 12

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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.

Bird flu kills 2 year old

JAKARTA (CNN) -- A two-year-old Indonesian boy became the country's 56th fatality from bird flu, dying Monday morning, an official with the Bird Flu Information Center said.

According to the official, the boy was admitted to the hospital on Sunday and had been in contact with fowl. (Posted 1:50 a.m.)

Calif. man arrested in white powder probe

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Federal agents have arrested a California man suspected of sending threatening letters containing white powder to celebrities and politicians, including talk-show host David Letterman and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, the FBI announced Sunday.

Chad Conrad Castagana, 39, of Woodland Hills, Calif., is expected to make an initial appearance before a federal magistrate on Monday, the bureau said. Investigators said he mailed a series of letters that contained threats and a white powder, determined to have been harmless, to numerous high-profile figures.

A suspicious white powder also turned up at the New York office of former President Bill Clinton in late October, the Secret Service said. Laura Eimiller, an FBI spokeswoman in Los Angeles, said she had no indication that Castagana was behind that incident -- but she added, "It's under investigation what additional letters may have been sent."

A series of letters laden with anthrax spores were sent to Democratic senators and news outlets in October 2001, infecting 22 people and killing five, including two postal workers. The case remains unsolved. (Posted 10 p.m.)

Pelosi backs Murtha for majority leader

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Likely House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will back prominent Iraq war critic John Murtha over her current deputy, Steny Hoyer, for the post of majority leader in the Democratic-led Congress, Murtha's office announced Sunday.

In a letter released by Murtha's office, Pelosi told the Pennsylvania congressman that his surprise call for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq in 2005 "changed the national debate and helped make Iraq the central issue of this historic election."

Hoyer, of Maryland, said Pelosi's endorsement of his rival was no surprise -- but predicted he would win the job.

"Nancy told me some time ago that she would personally support Jack," Hoyer said. "I respect her decision, as the two are very close. I am grateful for the support I have from my colleagues, and have the majority of the caucus supporting me." (Posted 8:35 p.m.)

Democrats push to keep Iraq watchdog agency open

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Congressional Democrats, aided by a leading Republican, will push this week to extend the life of the independent watchdog agency that monitors billions of dollars of reconstruction spending in Iraq, aides said Sunday.

Investigations led by Stuart Bowen, the special inspector-general for Iraq reconstruction, have questioned how billions of U.S. dollars have been spent and led two U.S. officials and a contractor to plead guilty to corruption charges. But, in a provision in the latest Pentagon spending bill, the Republican-controlled Congress gave him until next September to wrap up his work.

This week, Democrats will introduce a bill in the lame-duck session of Congress that would extend that mandate, a Democratic leadership aide told CNN.

Sen. Russ Feingold, who earlier this year pushed the Senate to extend the inspector-general's mandate, wants Bowen's office to stay in business as previously planned -- until 10 months after 80 percent of the reconstruction money Congress has authorized is spent, Feingold spokesman Zachary Lowe said Sunday. And Sen. Susan Collins, the outgoing chairwoman of the Governmental Affairs Committee, will introduce a bill reinstating that timetable as well, her office said. (Posted 6:50 p.m.)

Senators question Iraq war's course after U.S. vote

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Five days after Democrats won control of the House and the Senate and four days after Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was unceremoniously marched toward the exit, politicians agreed Sunday that something must be done about Iraq, but not on what that should be.

"I believe that there are a lot of things that we can do to salvage this, but they all require the presence of additional troops," said Sen. John McCain, who is mulling a 2008 presidential bid.

But Sen. Carl Levin, who is in line to become chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee with the Democratic takeover of Congress, said both parties are moving toward a phased redeployment of troops in four to six months.

Levin, D-Mich., said Americans "don't buy" Bush's assertions that the United States is winning in Iraq, and last week's elections sent a clear message that voters want a change of policy.

"We've got to put pressure on them to do what only the Iraqi leaders can do, which is work out a political solution in Iraq," Levin told ABC's "This Week." (Posted 6:30 p.m.)

Despite successes, Dean defends his post

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Coming off a week of major successes for Democrats, you wouldn't expect to find the party's chairman defending himself. But Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean on Sunday was rejecting a prominent call for his ouster.

Last week Democratic strategist James Carville, a CNN contributor, told the New York Times that the Republican National Committee "did a better job than the DNC this year," and suggested the committees specifically overseeing Senate and House races made up for Dean's shortcomings.

The Democratic Party won both houses of Congress in Tuesday's midterm elections. Carville suggested Rep. Harold Ford, fresh off losing his senatorial bid in Tennessee, replace the former Vermont governor as party head.

"I have to say I get a laugh out of that one," Dean told "Fox News Sunday." The committees overseeing House and Senate races "did do a wonderful job," he said. "But the truth is we got six additional governors. We got nine additional legislative chambers. New Hampshire now has a Democratic House and Senate for the first time in a century.

"We did great. And I think the time really has come now, now that we're in power, at least in the Congress, to pull together, to be unified." Dean said he spoke with Ford Saturday night, and "He doesn't want the job. This is some kind of inside the Beltway silliness." (Posted 4:57 p.m.)

Lebanese cabinet to move ahead with Hariri tribunal

BEIRUT (CNN) -- Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora indicated Sunday he will move ahead with plans to endorse an international tribunal to try those accused of involvement in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The endorsement would come at a cabinet meeting Monday. But a constitutional crisis threatens to delay the international tribunal.

Lebanese President Emile Lahoud said Siniora's government lacks constitutional authority to make decisions because of Saturday's resignation of all five Shiite ministers from the 24-member cabinet. Lebanon's constitution requires that all sects be represented in the cabinet.

Saad Hariri -- leader of the top Lebanese parliamentary bloc and son of the slain former prime minister who was killed last year -- said the ministers' resignations were part of a Syrian-Iranian plot to obstruct formation of a tribunal into his father's death.

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said last week that there was mounting evidence that Syria was working with the militant group Hezbollah to topple the Lebanese government in an effort to prevent establishment of the tribunal.

Hezbollah has been seeking to control at least a third of the cabinet, enough for veto power over the international tribunal. (Posted 2:41 p.m.)

22 Iraqis dead in Iraq

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Iraqi police found 22 bullet-riddled bodies on streets in Baghdad Sunday, a Baghdad police official said. A high-ranking Iraqi Interior Ministry official, who asked to remain unidentified since he is not authorized to release information, told CNN that 1,460 bodies were taken last month to Baghdad's central morgue. Most of the victims, gathered from Baghdad and its environs, had been shot, the official said. (Posted: 1:08 p.m.)

4 British troops killed in southern Iraq

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Four British servicemen were killed and three others suffered serious wounds Sunday when their patrol boat was attacked on a waterway in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, Britain's Ministry of Defense said.

This brings to 125 the number of British military deaths in the Iraq war, according to the Defense Ministry. (Posted 12:49 p.m.)

3 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq's Anbar province

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Three U.S. soldiers died Saturday from wounds suffered due to enemy action while operating in Anbar Province, the U.S. military said Sunday.

The soldiers, whose names have not been released, were assigned to the U.S. Army's 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, the military said.

With the deaths, 2,847 U.S. military personnel have died in the Iraq war. Twenty-nine military personnel have died in November as of Sunday's announcements, bringing total U.S. military deaths in Iraq during 2006 to 667. (Posted 12:38 p.m.)

10 suspected insurgents arrested

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Coalition forces captured 10 suspected leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq in a Baghdad raid Sunday, the U.S.-led military said.

The captures came a day after a U.S.-led coalition patrol repelled an insurgent attack in the Euphrates River city of Hit, about 100 miles northwest of Baghdad, the military said. Three insurgents were killed and three escaped. (Posted 12:17 p.m.)

Feingold won't wage 2008 presidential campaign

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Russ Feingold, a D-Wis., sent a letter to supporters this weekend telling them he will not run for president in 2008.

He said he lacks the enthusiasm to wage a campaign.

Feingold wrote that the Democrats' takeover of the Senate gives him a chance after 14 years as a senator to "advance progressive solutions to such major issues as guaranteed healthcare, dependence on oil, and our unbalanced trade policies." (Posted 11:40 a.m.)

Iraqi prime minister seeks cabinet overhaul

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called on his parliament Sunday to allow him to replace some of his cabinet, according to sources in the prime minister's office and a Kurdish member of the parliament.

Maliki made the request during a closed-door session, said parliament member Mahmoud Othman.

After the session, Prime Minister al-Maliki noted that the cabinet, which includes Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish representatives, was already formed before he was chosen to be prime minister in April.

Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffak al Rubaie said some ministers were incompetent and some considered their party leaders, not the prime minister, to be their boss. Rubaie denied that political affiliations had anything to do with the push for changes. (Posted 11:32 a.m.)

Israeli prime minister arrives in Washington for talks with President Bush

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert arrived in Washington Sunday for scheduled talks with President Bush on Monday.

Talking points will include the post-election U.S. policy towards Israel as well as regional and international issues, a statement from the White House said.

Last week Israel's offensive in the northern Gaza town Beit Hanoun killed 18 Palestinians -- mostly women and children. Then on Saturday the United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have condemned Israel for its military operations in Gaza under the basis that it was "biased against Israel and politically motivated."

Tehran's nuclear ambitions and its threat to Israel are other possible topics for discussion. (Posted 8:40 a.m.)

Violence kills 49, wounds 118 wounded within approximately 5 hours throughout Iraqi capital

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Two suicide bombers strapped with explosives killed at least 35 Iraqis and wounded 60 more Sunday while the recruits stood outside the main gates of the Iraqi National Police headquarters' in western Baghdad, a Baghdad emergency police official said.

The men were among dozens waiting to join the police force outside the recruitment center in the Qadessiya district when the suicide bombers detonated their explosives belt.

In other violence around Baghdad Sunday, Baghdad emergency police said:

-- Four Iraqis killed, 10 wounded when a car bomb exploded near the Interior Ministry complex in central Baghdad.

-- One Iraqi killed, 5 wounded when a car bomb exploded near an outdoor market in central Baghdad's Karrada district.

-- Three Iraqis were killed, 15 wounded when a car bomb exploded in a crowded street south of Baghdad in Yusufiya.

-- Two Iraqis were killed, 15 wounded when a roadside bomb exploded on a busy street in southwestern Baghdad's Radhwaniya district.

-- Three civilians were killed, 7 wounded when a car bomb and a roadside bomb detonated within minutes of each other near Tayaran Square, a busy area where day laborers gather located in central Baghdad.

-- One civilian was killed, 6 wounded when a car bomb exploded in southwestern Baghdad's Um al-Maalif neighborhood.

South of the capital on Saturday morning gunmen killed a truck driver and kidnapped 11 Iraqis after stopping four vehicles at a fake checkpoint on a road in Latifiya, about 25 miles south of the Baghdad, Hilla police said.

Gunmen took the four vehicles -- three minibuses and a truck -- along with the kidnapped Iraqis.

The Iraqis -- 11 men and three women -- were driving from Diwaniya to Baghdad for shopping when they were stopped. The gunmen left the three women and kidnapped the 11 men, the official said.

-- From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq in Baghdad (Posted 6:25 a.m.)

U.S. vetoes U.N. resolution condemning Israel for Gaza operations

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution Saturday that would have condemned Israel for its military operations in Gaza.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said the resolution, which also called for Israel to immediately cease military operations in the Palestinian territory, was "biased against Israel and politically motivated."

The U.S. veto angered Hamas government spokesman Ghazi Hamad, who called the veto "shameful" and "not the first time" the United States has used a veto "just to protect Israel."

The veto, Hamad said, is to "give Israel covering in order to continue its massacres and killings among our people. It is giving legitimacy to Israel to continue the aggression against our people."

The resolution, proposed by the Qatar delegation, particularly condemned Israel for Wednesday's shelling in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun that killed 18 people, mostly women and children.

The proposal also condemns Palestinians who fire missiles from Gaza into Israel. (Posted 4:37 a.m.)

Palestinian medical sources: Israel launches rocket into Gaza, kills 16-year old Palestinian

GAZA (CNN) -- An Israeli rocket launch into Gaza killed a 16-year-old and wounded a Palestinian national guard soldier Sunday morning, Palestinian medical sources said.

Israel Defense Forces confirmed they had conducted a strike on a Palestinian militant and an unspecified number of rocket launchers. The IDF said the rocket launchers were used to launch three rockets into Israel in an earlier attack.

Israel's rocket launch took place near the town of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, the IDF said.

Beit Hanoun has been the scene of much international attention since Israel's increased military raids and an artillery barrage into the Gaza border city last week. That attack killed 18 Palestinian civilians -- including women and children.

Israel's military said it has been targeting militants in the northern Gaza town that have been firing Qassam rockets into Israel, but blamed a "technical failure" for the misfire that killed those 18 civilians.

--From CNN's Avivit Dalgoshen (Posted 3:40 a.m.)


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