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Sunday, December 24

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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.

James Brown is dead

ATLANTA (CNN) -- James Brown, the legendary entertainer known as the "Godfather of Soul," died early Monday, his manager confirmed. Brown, 73, died at 1:45 a.m. at Emory Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta, said Super Frank, Brown's manager.

His longtime friend Charles Bobbitt was by his side when Brown died, Frank said.

Brown was in Atlanta for a dental appointment when he fell ill and was admitted to the hospital over the weekend for treatment of "severe pneumonia," his agent said.

Brown is one of the pioneers of soul music, famous for his frenetic dance moves and his piercing vocal style. "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," "Please Please Please" and "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud" are among his many hits. (Posted 3:01 a.m.)

British, Iraqi soldiers raid Basra police station

BASRA, Iraq (CNN) -- British and Iraqi soldiers raided an Iraqi police station in Basra Monday morning where they suspected a rogue police unit was planning the killing of 76 prisoners held there. "The serious crimes unit themselves were guilty of serious crimes," said British Major Charlie Burbridge.

Major Burbridge said the rogue unit "would take people in the middle of the night and they would never appear again." Monday's raid, involving 1,000 troops, was ordered based on information they were "likely to start executing the prisoners, so we had to move fast," he said. He said Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki authorized the raise through the Basra City Security Coordinator General Hamadi.

Although the police resisted the soldiers with small arms fire, there were no casualties, Burbridge said. The action was made easier by the arrest two nights earlier of key leaders of the police unit, he said. After the 76 prisoners were removed, the soldiers destroyed the Jamiyat police station, Burbridge said. (Posted 3:00 a.m.)

Man shot during argument outside California store; deputies search for shooter

PERRIS, Calif. (CNN) -- Authorities were searching for a man who shot and wounded another man during an altercation on Sunday in a Wal-Mart parking lot in Southern California, a sheriff's deputies investigator told CNN.

The incident took place in the Riverside County town of Perris. Matt Diaz, a Riverside County sheriff's department investigator, said an argument ensued inside the Wal-Mart around 1:30 p.m. between two men and continued outside the store.

One of the men pulled a gun and shot the other in the chest three times. The victim was taken to a local hospital, and he was treated and released.

The shooter was described as a Hispanic male, described as about 5 feet 6 inches tall and 200 pounds.

He fled the scene in a black Dodge Durango with California license plate 4SWU618.

The store remained open after the shooting. (Posted 11 p.m.)

Singer James Brown hospitalized with pneumonia

ATLANTA (CNN) -- James Brown, the legendary singer known as "the Godfather of Soul," is being treated for "severe pneumonia" at an Atlanta hospital, his agent told CNN Sunday.

Brown -- who is 73-years-old -- was admitted to Emory Crawford Long Hospital over the weekend. He is not in intensive care, said Super Frank, his agent.

The singer canceled shows this week in Waterbury, Conn., and Englewood, N.J., but is expected to be ready to perform again on Saturday at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, N.J., Super Frank said.

Brown is scheduled to perform two shows New Year's Eve at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill and is then headed to Canada, where he will perform across that country next month.

And, he will be performing a song for Anderson Cooper's New Year's Eve special on CNN.

Super Frank said Brown was in Atlanta for an appointment with his dentist when his health problems were detected.

Brown is one of the pioneers of soul music, famous for his frenetic dance moves and his piercing vocal style. "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," "Please Please Please" and "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud" are among his many hits. (Posted 8:17 p.m.)

One person dead after shooting at mall in South Florida

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. (CNN) -- One man was killed and another was in custody Sunday after a shooting at a mall crowded with shoppers north of Miami, police said.

Two other people were being questioned, said Mario Bryant, communications supervisor for the Boynton Beach Police Department.

The mall, which had been mobbed with last-minute Christmas shoppers, was evacuated when the shooting began shortly after 2:30 p.m., Bryant said.

"We feel pretty strong that the person who has been shot was targeted by the suspect," said Maj. Frank Briganti of the Boynton Beach Police Department.

Asked the possible motive, he said, "It's way too early to tell. We could only speculate at this time and I'm not about to do that."

The 23-acre mall, located just west of I-95, features a Macy's, Dillards, JCPenney and Sears, and more than 135 specialty stores and eateries.

"To the best of my knowledge, the shooting was outside of a store but inside the mall property," said Sam Yates, a spokesman for the mall.

Last-minute shoppers who failed to complete their purchases before the shooting had to go elsewhere; the stores did not reopen Sunday. (Posted 7:42 p.m.)

Six U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq combat on Saturday

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Bombings and explosions in the Baghdad area and Diyala province killed six U.S. soldiers in Iraq on Saturday, the U.S. military said on Sunday.

An improvised explosive device detonated in eastern Baghdad, killing three 89th Military Police Brigade soldiers and wounding another.

A roadside bomb southwest of Baghdad targeted a Multi-National Division-Baghdad patrol carrying supplies to combat units. One soldier was killed.

A second U.S. Multi-National Division soldier was killed and four were wounded in combat operations southeast of the capital.

Also Saturday, a U.S. soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, died and another was wounded in an explosion during combat operations in Diyala province, the military said.

The soldiers names will be released after next-of-kin are notified.

These bring the total number of U.S military deaths this month to 80 and the total during the Iraq war to 2,969. (Posted 4:02 p.m.)

Nigeria's VP denies resignation

(CNN) -- Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar insisted Sunday that he remains vice president, despite word from the president's office that Abubakar had technically given up his post.

Abubakar, speaking to CNN by phone during a trip outside the country, said, "Indeed I'm still the vice president."

But when he returns to Nigeria, President Olusegun Obasanjo may have already replaced him.

The dispute arises from Abubakar's decision to quit the ruling People's Democratic Party and join the opposition Action Congress. He was selected a presidential candidate from the AC Party in the upcoming elections in April.

Obasanjo, who is barred by law from running again, said Saturday -- through spokespeople for his office -- that under Nigerian law, departure from the ruling party automatically means resignation from the post of vice president. But Abubakar told CNN the Constitution does not give the president the authority "to declare the seat of the vice president vacant." (Posted 3:02 p.m.)

Police station bombing kills 7; attacks wound dozens

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A suicide bomber walked into a police station in the Iraqi town of Muqdadiya in Diyala province Sunday morning and detonated his explosives, killing at least seven police officers and wounding 30 more, according a security official in Diyala.

Muqdadiya, about 55 miles northeast of Baghdad, is a mixed Sunni-Shiite town that has been the stage for several bombings and kidnappings in the past year. North of Muqdadiya, in the eastern part of Diyala province, a security source said two roadside bombs exploded Sunday, wounding 18 people in the town of Khaneqain.

Five police officers have been killed in the city of Samawa in Iraq's southern Muthanna province since fighting broke out between gunmen and police Saturday, Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Brigadier General Abdul Karim Khalaf said Sunday.

Four separate attacks in Baghdad wounded 21 Iraqis on Sunday, including seven soccer players with the Al-Zawra club who were hit by three mortar rounds that exploded in a western Baghdad field where they were playing a match, an Interior Ministry official said.

Roadside bombs targeting U.S. military convoys in two attacks in Baghdad wounded eight Iraqis, the official said. Another five civilians were wounded in a mortar attack in a northwestern section of the capital, the official said. Also, gunmen kidnapped two doctors in Baghdad, authorities said. And a roadside bomb on a main road in Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad, wounded three civilians.

Iraqi police reported finding 29 bullet-riddled bodies in different areas of Baghdad on Sunday. All were apparent victims of sectarian violence. Many of the bodies showed signs of torture with their hands tied and were blindfolded, police said. (Posted 1:19 p.m.)

Iran says it resumed nuclear work and may drop out of IAEA

TEHRAN (CNN) -- Iran said Sunday it was immediately starting some of its most controversial nuclear activities and will decide within 48 hours whether to drop out of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency -- two moves sending the message that Tehran will not be deterred by U.N. sanctions.

"This measure is Iran's response to Resolution 1737 of the U.N. Security Council," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini, announcing that his country was starting the production of 3,000 centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear facility. "We will go ahead with our peaceful activities," he added, according to state-run news agency IRNA.

Iran insists it only wants nuclear energy. But U.S. and other Western officials are concerned Tehran is trying to build nuclear weapons. U.S. leaders point to remarks by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling for the eradication of Israel.

On Saturday, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to impose sanctions against the country for failing to suspend its nuclear program. (Posted 12:59 p.m.)

Israeli motorist shot

RAMALLAH, West Bank (CNN) -- An Israeli civilian was moderately wounded Sunday when shots were fired at the car he was driving near the West Bank city of Ramallah, an Israel Defense Forces spokesman told CNN.

The shooting northwest of Ramallah occurred about 4:40 a.m. (11:40 a.m. ET), the IDF spokesman said.

The shooting occurred the same day that Israel's cabinet approved the transfer of $100 million to Palestinians for humanitarian needs following an ice-breaking first meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The money represents part of the revenue from tax rebates and other sources that Israel froze after the Islamic militant group Hamas came to power in March. (Posted 12:55 p.m.)

Newspaper: Cuba calls for a Spanish surgeon to treat Castro's illness

(CNN) -- A Spanish surgeon has traveled to Havana to consider what steps should be taken to halt the deterioration of President Fidel Castro's health, a Spanish newspaper reported Sunday, citing health sources.

Dr. Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido, chief of surgery at the public hospital Gregorio Maranon de Madrid, departed Thursday for the Caribbean island aboard an airplane chartered by the Cuban government, El Periodico de Catalunya reported.

The Cuban Embassy in Spain oversaw all details of the visit, the paper said.

The 80-year-old Cuban leader has not been seen in public since summer, when he underwent intestinal surgery. In late July, he temporarily handed over power to his brother Raul, the country's longtime defense minister, and speculation over his health has abounded. (Posted 12:46 p.m.)

Man linked to dead former Russian spy arrested on other charges

ROME (CNN) -- An Italian man who met with former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko the day Litvinenko was poisoned was arrested Sunday on other charges, police said.

Mario Scaramella was arrested at Naples airport as he arrived on a flight from London, where he was hospitalized earlier this month and treated for suspected radiation poisoning, police said.

Scaramella was arrested in connection with an investigation by a Rome prosecutor looking into allegations that Scaramella was involved in arms trafficking and violating secrets from an investigative file, the police spokesman said.

Scaramella was one of the last people to meet with Litvinenko, who died last month of radiation poisoning. (Posted 12:38 p.m.)

Nearly half of Americans give in to holiday overeating

(CNN) -- If you toss aside your inhibitions and stuff yourself with holiday goodies, you have lots of company.

Nearly half, or 47 percent, of Americans admit to indulging themselves with food during the Christmas season, while 36 percent say they watch what they eat to avoid gaining weight, a poll released Sunday shows.

Opinion Research Corporation surveyed 1,019 Americans Dec. 15-17 about their eating habits.

The sampling error for the survey was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

-- CNN Polling Director Keating Holland contributed to this report. (Posted 7:28 a.m.)

Israeli cabinet approves transfer of $100 million for aid

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel's cabinet approved the transfer of $100 million to Palestinians for humanitarian needs Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's spokeswoman said.

The now-frozen funds were to be released on the condition that they go directly to the Palestinians without going through the Hamas-led government, Olmert's spokeswoman Miri Eisin said.

The $100 million is only part of the revenue from tax rebates and other sources that Israel froze after the Islamic militant group Hamas came to power in March.

(Posted 5:27 a.m.)

Suicide bomber kills seven officers, wounds 30 more in attack on Iraqi police station

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A suicide bomber walked into a police station in the Iraqi town of Muqdadiya in Diyala province Sunday morning and detonated his explosives, killing at least seven police officers and wounding 30 more, according a security official in Diyala.

Muqdadiya, located about 55 miles northeast of Baghdad, is a mixed Sunni-Shiite town that has been the stage for several bombings and kidnappings in the past year.

North of Muqdadiya, in the eastern part of Diyala province, a security source said two roadside bombs exploded, wounding 18 people in the town of Khaneqain.

-- From CNN's Sam Dagher (Posted 6:17.m.)

Longtime rebel leader in Myanmar dies

BANGKOK (CNN) -- After battling an illness for three years the leader of the world's longest-running insurgency, General Bo Mya died late Saturday at age 79, a spokesman said.

Bo Mya, who led the Karen National Union for 30 years, died at a hospital in Mae Sot-on near Myanmar's border with Thailand.

The KNU has been fighting the central government -- seeking autonomy for the Karen minority in eastern Myanmar -- since that country gained independence from Britain in 1948.

-- CNN Producer Narunart Prapanya contributed to this report (Posted 1:12 a.m.)

Schwarzenegger fracture leg in skiing accident

SUN VALLEY, Idaho (CNN) -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger fractured his right leg Saturday while skiing in Idaho with his family, and will undergo surgery after Christmas, a statement from his office said.

The California Republican was taken to a hospital for X-rays of his femur, or upper leg, then returned to his home in Sun Valley.

"No one else was involved in the skiing accident," the statement said. (Posted 1:12 a.m.)


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