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News update

Wednesday, February 7

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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 Standard.

Car bomb kills 6 people, wounds 10 in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Six people were killed and 10 wounded when a car bomb exploded outside a mosque in southeastern Baghdad Thursday morning, police said.

The attack took place in the Amin neighborhood around 9:30 a.m. (Posted 2:51 a.m.)

Deputy health ministry arrested in U.S., Iraqi raid

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- U.S. and Iraqi forces raided an Iraqi Health Ministry complex in central Baghdad Thursday morning, arresting the deputy health minister, an Interior Ministry official said.

Taken in the raid was deputy health minister Hakem Abbas al-Zamili -- also a senior member of the political group loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Al-Sadr's Mehdi Army is blamed for a large part of the sectarian violence in Iraq. (Posted 2:51 a.m.)

GOP senators vow to attach Warner-Levin language on Iraq to other bills

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Seven Republican senators who are against President Bush's plan to increase troop levels in Iraq announced Wednesday that they will try to attach language from a resolution opposing the deployment to other legislation, in order to get around a procedural dispute that has stymied debate on the resolution itself.

Sen. John Warner, R-Va., who sponsored the resolution along with Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said he sent a letter to both the Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate calling the current stalemate "unacceptable to us and to the people of this country."

The senators "will explore all of our options under the Senate procedures and practices to ensure a full and open debate," Warner said.

In addition to Warner, other GOP senators signing the letter were Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Gordon Smith of Oregon, George Voinovich of Ohio, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Norm Coleman of Minnesota. (Posted 7:29 p.m.)

Fallon approved to lead Central Command; Casey vote Thursday

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- By unanimous consent, the Senate Wednesday approved the nomination of Adm. William J. Fallon as head of U.S. Central Command, the division of the U.S. military that includes ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fallon had been head of the U.S. Pacific Command.

The nomination of Gen. George Casey to be Army chief of staff will come to a roll call vote Thursday. Several senators, including potential GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., are expected to vote against him because of his perceived failures as head of U.S. forces in Iraq. (Posted 7:28 p.m.)

Alleged drug lord to be deported from Cuba to Colombia

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombian national police and state security police said Wednesday that one of Colombia's biggest drug traffickers will be deported from Cuba back to Colombia Thursday.

"The Cuban government has given its full authorization," a spokesman for the Colombian State Security police said in Bogota.

Luis Hernando Gomez Bustamante was allegedly one of the top two leaders of the so-called Norte del Valle cartel, Colombia's most powerful drug mob. Sources in Colombia's drug underworld said Gomez Bustamante, known by the nickname Rasguno or Scarface, was once responsible for shipping up to 60 percent of Colombia's cocaine to the United States. Colombian law enforcement officials put the percentage at a maximum of around 50 percent.

Gomez Bustamante has been indicted on federal charges of drug trafficking and money laundering in a court in the eastern district of New York. It is not known if or how soon he may be extradited to the United States once he returns to Colombia.

-- From CNN Correspondent Karl Penhaul (Posted 7:18 p.m.)

DOT: Airlines mishandled more than 4 million bags last year

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Airline lose your bag? Stand in line.

Airlines mishandled more than 4,083,054 bags in 2006, well above the 2.9 million that were lost, damaged, delayed or pilfered the previous year, according to the latest government statistics.

On average, 6.7 out of every 1,000 passengers reported their bags were mishandled, says the U.S. Department of Transportation's Air Travel Consumer Report.

The airlines' record of on-time flights also worsened last year. The on-time arrival rate was 75.4 percent in 2006, down from 77.4 percent in 2005. (Posted 7:09 p.m.)

FAA levels the field with new sightseeing flight rules

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Federal Aviation Administration will announce new rules Thursday morning that for the first time will require virtually all sightseeing flights to meet the same safety standards.

Among the new rules will be a requirement that air tour pilots who fly and return to the same point and remain within a 25-mile-radius must comply with drug and alcohol testing, have a letter of authorization and must be a commercial pilot.

Pilots at certain charity and non-profit community events will face less stringent requirements, though their required hours of flight experience will be boosted from 200 to 500.

There will also be new rules for sightseeing flights over water, requiring passengers to wear life jackets and get a pre-flight safety briefing.

-- From CNN Correspondent Kathleen Koch (Posted 7:03 p.m.)

Austrian police bust massive child porn ring

VIENNA (CNN) -- Austrian police have uncovered a massive child-pornography ring on the Internet, tracking downloads of sexually explicit material to more than 2,300 people in 77 countries, a government official said Tuesday.

None of the people believed to have downloaded the porn have been arrested, though 14 of 23 people questioned in Austria have admitted to taking the material off a Russian-based file-sharing site, said Gerald Hesztera, a spokesman for Austria's federal police service.

A site administrator in Austria tipped police off to eight digital video clips that included scenes of children between the ages of 5 and 14 being sexually molested or raped, Hesztera said. He said police monitored the site for several months beginning in July.

Hundreds of the addresses tracked back to users in Germany, France and the United States. In Washington, the FBI said it is investigating suspects in the United States and is working with authorities in Austria and other countries as part of the probe.

-- From CNN Correspondent Frederik Pleitgen (Posted 6:48 p.m.)

NASA to review how it assesses astronauts' mental health

HOUSTON (CNN) -- NASA announced Wednesday that it will conduct two reviews of the way it screens the mental health of its astronaut corps to determine whether changes need to be made in light of the apparent meltdown of one of its members.

The first will be an internal review requested Tuesday by Administrator Michael Griffin to scrutinize medical screenings of astronauts from the time they apply throughout their careers, Deputy Administrator Shannon Dale told reporters.

Dr. Jeff Davis, director of Space Life Sciences at Johnson Space Center, said astronauts currently undergo "a very detailed psychiatric and psychological evaluation" at the time of selection that includes a standard battery of tests and two two-hour interviews. But once they are admitted, there is no further mandated psychological or psychiatric testing, he said.

The second review is to be led by Dr. Richard Williams, the agency's chief medical officer. It will include health officials from outside the agency, and will touch on both medical and psychological oversight of the astronaut corps, but has no deadline for completion, Dale said. (Posted 6:26 p.m.)

Rep. Norwood declines further cancer treatment

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Republican Rep. Charlie Norwood, who has been battling lung and liver cancer, has decided to forgo further treatment and return home to Georgia for hospice care, his office announced Wednesday.

Norwood, 65, will leave Washington as soon as an air ambulance flight is arranged and will receive 24-hour nursing care at his home in Augusta, according to a statement from his office.

The congressman, who was first elected in 1994, has been battling lung cancer since mid-November, shortly after being re-elected in his northeast Georgia district. (Posted 5:59 p.m.)

FDA approves over-the-counter weight loss drug

NEW YORK ( -- The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday it approved an over-the-counter weight loss drug for overweight adults.

Orlistat capsules, which help weight loss by decreasing the absorption of fat, were initially approved in 1999 as a prescription drug to treat obesity.

GlaxoSmithKline will make the over-the-counter version under the name Alli. The drug will be geared toward adults over 18, with recommendations for a reduced-calorie, low-fat diet, and an exercise program.

The watchdog organization Public Citizen opposed approval, citing studies showing the drug causes pre-cancerous lesions in the colons of rats, as well as the FDA's initial disapproval of the drug because clinical trials found an increased risk of breast cancer for those taking it. (Posted 6:05 p.m.)

Gunfire erupts on Israel-Lebanon border

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Lebanese army troops fired Wednesday on Israeli troops hunting for explosives along the Israel-Lebanon border, Lebanese army and Israeli military sources said.

Israeli military sources said the troops were at the border near Avivim when the Lebanese troops fired into the air. The Israelis warned them to stop, but the Lebanese forces fired at the Israelis, the military sources said. The Israelis responded with "accurate fire" and warned them again to stop.

The Israelis had no information about casualties.

Lebanese army sources said their troops fired at an Israeli bulldozer that had crossed the Blue Line into Lebanese territory in Maroun a-Rus about 10:30 p.m. There was an exchange of fire, they said, but there were no casualties on the Lebanese side.

The situation on the border is "very tense," the Lebanese sources said. (Posted 5:08 p.m.)

Blackwater manager warned about shortages before fatal Falluja run

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A manager for a private security contractor warned executives that he lacked hardened vehicles, radio gear and ammunition in Iraq a day before four of its employees were slaughtered in Falluja, a House committee disclosed Wednesday.

The manager's e-mail was read during a congressional hearing into the use of private contractors in Iraq, which featured emotional testimony from relatives of the slain men.

"They did not provide anything for him," said Donna Zovko, whose son Jerry was one of the four Blackwater USA contractors killed in the 2004 ambush in Falluja, west of Baghdad.

"He had his discipline, he has his know-how, knowing the Middle East as he did," Zovko said. "But they didn't give him the tools to work with. They just simply sent him out there to die."

Blackwater has denied the allegations and argued that the men agreed to assume the risks of working in a war zone. (Posted 5:05 p.m.)

Russert testifies he passed no details on operative to Libby

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- NBC's Tim Russert, the last prosecution witness in Lewis "Scooter" Libby's perjury trial, testified Wednesday he did not inform Libby of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson's identity, as Libby has claimed.

Libby, the former top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, told FBI investigators and a grand jury he first learned Wilson's identity from Russert during a conversation on July 10, 2003.

He later recanted, saying a note he found had jogged his memory, and that he initially heard the name from Cheney about a month before.

Russert was asked by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald whether the two discussed Wilson.

"No, that would be impossible because I did not know who that person was until several days later," Russert said.

Asked whether Libby told him about Wilson, Russert responded, "no." (Posted 3:04 p.m.)

Libby said he didn't believe CIA operative's name was 'classified'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In audio recordings played Wednesday from Lewis "Scooter" Libby's 2004 testimony in a secret grand jury probe, Libby said he didn't believe the name of a CIA operative that was leaked to the media was classified information.

The last two and a half hours of the recorded testimony was played in U.S. District Court, preceding testimony from the prosecution's star witness, Tim Russert, host of NBC's "Meet the Press."

Libby initially testified that he first learned of Valerie Plame Wilson's identity during a July 10, 2003, conversation with NBC's "Meet the Press" moderator Tim Russert, and after that, he shared the information with several reporters.

However, later in the tape he said he came across a note dated on or about June 12 which indicated he hadn't first learned the information from Russert -- he had heard it from Vice President Dick Cheney, for whom he was chief of staff at the time. --From CNN's Paul Courson (Posted 2:35 p.m.)

Indictments returned against military personnel, contractors accused of fraud in Iraq

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Three former U.S. Army Reserve officers and two civilians were indicted Wednesday with conspiracy, money laundering and bribery in the latest wave of criminal charges stemming from the alleged fraudulent use of U.S. funds in Iraq.

The 25-count indictment says the conspiracy included more than $8 million in reconstruction funds that were steered by the military officials to a contractor in exchange for kickbacks that included gifts of vehicles, jewelry and real estate.

The charges involve bid-rigging that allegedly occurred while the Coalition Provisional Authority was attempting to establish control of Iraq in the wake of the toppling of the Saddam Hussein.

The top military official indicted is U.S. Army Reserve Col. Curtis Whiteford, who was the second highest ranking official in the office overseeing construction funds in the South Central office of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Hilla, Iraq. --From CNN Justice Producer Terry Frieden (Posted 2:02 p.m.)

British authorities investigate string of letter bombings

LONDON (CNN) -- British authorities are trying to determine who sent a series of letter bombs to businesses and a government agency in the past three weeks, and whether the attacks were carried out by the same person.

Since Jan. 18, seven explosive devices in padded envelopes sent to various locations across Britain have detonated, causing minor injuries to those who opened the letter and some bystanders, said Britain's national coordinator for domestic terrorism, Anton Setchell.

No one has been seriously hurt in any of the explosions. "The intention clearly seems to be to cause shock and relatively minor injuries," Setchell said.

The most recent bombing happened Wednesday at a driver's license office in south Wales, the third bombing in three days that appeared to target agencies that regulate motor vehicles. Three of the letter bombs detonated on Jan. 18, targeting companies that provide forensic science services. Those attacks have been linked to animal rights extremists, Setchell said. (Posted 1:49 p.m.)

Senators cool to official touting administration's action against global warming

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A federal scientist tried to tell skeptical senators Wednesday that the Bush administration has aggressively fought climate change for six years, saying the White House believes "the Earth is warming and humans are the leading cause."

Bill Brennan, an assistant secretary at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), testified before the Senate Commerce Committee. He told senators that Bush White House has spent $29 billion on climate change, insisting that's more than all other nations combined.

His words followed a similarly worded White House press release sent out last week and indicate a new phase in the administration's public relations approach to the issue.

Democratic senators fired away at Brennan's assertions, pointing to program budget cuts and questioning whether the administration has launched any serious plan to combat climate change. "You guys are not responding," said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. "This is the most serious dereliction of public responsibility I've ever seen." (Posted 1:23 p.m.)

Wal-Mart, others join labor union in call for universal health-care coverage

NEW YORK ( -- In a partnership of unlikely allies, Wal-Mart's CEO and other corporate leaders joined the head of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) called Wednesday for universal health-care coverage for all Americans by 2012.

During a news conference in Washington. the group announced the formation of a coalition called "Better Health Care Together" and listed several objectives. They included achieving "quality, affordable health insurance coverage" for every American and "having businesses, governments, and individuals all contribute to managing and financing a new American health-care system."

The coalition members, who also include former Reagan administration chief of staff Howard Baker and John Podesta, former chief of staff to President Clinton, pledged to convene a national summit by the end of May to recruit other leaders from business, labor, government and non-profit organizations.

Other companies represented at the news conference were Intel and AT&T. --By staff writer Parija B. Kavilanz (Posted 12:51 p.m.)

7 killed in Iraq chopper crash

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Seven people were killed when a Marine Sea Knight CH-46 helicopter went down in Anbar province on Wednesday morning during "routine operations," the U.S. military said.

Both crew members and passengers were on board.

While a militant group claimed responsibility for shooting down the craft, the military said "the cause of the incident is under investigation." (Posted 12:35 p.m.)

British health authorities test 2nd vet service worker for bird flu

LONDON (CNN) -- Britain's Health Protection Agency Wednesday is testing a second veterinarian service worker who responded to a recent avian flu outbreak on a English poultry farm for the deadly strain of the bird flu virus.

The agency believes the patient may simply be suffering from the annual flu season, but is taking no chances.

"We are not expecting any workers to test positive for avian flu as they have followed all the necessary precautions in terms of protective clothing, hygiene measures and have been offered antiviral drugs," flu expert Dr. Jonathan Van Tam said in a statement released by the agency.

"We are, however, expecting to see a number of workers with symptoms caused by other non-flu respiratory viruses over the coming week as this is the time of year when we see an increase in these infections."

Lab results from the latest test are expected to be released on Thursday, HPA said. (Posted 12:15 p.m.)

Astronaut accused of attempted murder returns home to Houston

HOUSTON (CNN) -- Astronaut Lisa Nowak returned to Houston Wednesday, a day after court appearances on charges of attempted murder, attempted kidnapping, battery and attempted auto burglary with battery after police said she accosted a woman she considered a rival in a love triangle.

Nowak left the Continental plane by stairs to the tarmac with a coat over her head and was put into a waiting police car, which sped away after the door shut.

NASA spokeswoman Kylie Clem told CNN Wednesday that Nowak was taken straight from the airport in Houston to the Johnson Space Center for a medical evaluation, which would also include a psychological evaluation.

The astronaut was arrested early Monday after police said she accosted Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman in the parking lot at Orlando International Airport over a mutual relationship with another astronaut, Navy Cmdr. Bill Oefelein. She was freed Tuesday on $25,500 bond and was ordered to wear a satellite-tracking device while awaiting trial. (Posted 11:33 a.m.)

Guns, bombs in Iraq leave 6 dead

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Gunmen and bombers in Iraq targeted government employees, Iraqi forces and civilians in attacks on Wednesday, leaving six dead and 18 wounded, authorities said.

An Iraqi Interior Ministry official told CNN an employee of Iraq's state-run television network al-Iraqia was shot to death outside the company's headquarters in central Baghdad. A second employee standing nearby was wounded in what police dubbed a "sniper attack."

In northeastern Baghdad one Iraqi civilian was killed and seven were wounded when two mortar rounds slammed into a residential area, Baghdad police said. In central Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded near a vehicle carrying Iraqi police officers. One was killed and three were wounded, police said.

In addition, Baghdad police told CNN a roadside bomb exploded near a joint U.S.-Iraqi police convoy in eastern Baghdad, killing one Iraqi officer and wounding three.

Police in Mosul said a woman working for the Mosul passport office and her husband were shot dead in the western part of the city. (Posted 10:55 a.m.)

Militant group says it shot down chopper in Iraq

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- The umbrella insurgent group called Islamic State in Iraq has claimed responsibility for shooting down a coalition helicopter in Iraq Wednesday.

The claim was posted on various Islamic Web sites by the group, which includes al Qaeda in Iraq.

The U.S. military confirmed that one of its helicopters went down Wednesday northwest of Baghdad, but said the cause of the incident is not known. A Pentagon official said there are early indications that fewer than 10 people were aboard the craft -- a CH-46 Sea Knight. However, there was no word on casualties.

Military officials said they believe there was enemy action in the vicinity.

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, speaking at a press briefing, said a quick reaction force is now at the site. (Posted 10:41 a.m.)

U.S. commanders hopeful over Baghdad security plan

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Despite failures in the past to secure the capital, American military commanders on Wednesday expressed confidence in Iraq's leaders and military and the retooled Iraqi plan to restore law and order to war-torn Baghdad.

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell stressed that the plan is Iraqi-run, that Iraqi security forces display skills and resolve they didn't have before and that the plan is well-organized and neighborhood-centered.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth W. Hunzeker, commanding general of the Coalition Police Assistance Training Team, said that while the plan will take time to achieve, he believes Iraqis are surmounting sectarian divisions and embracing Iraqi identity. (Posted 9:54 a.m.)

Military: Marine killed in Iraq

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A U.S. Marine was killed on Tuesday in Iraq's Anbar province, the U.S. military said on Wednesday.

The Marine -- assigned to Multi-National Force - West -- died from wounds sustained due to enemy action while operating in the Sunni-dominated province.

The number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq is now at 3,103, and the number of troops killed in February stands at 20. (Posted 9:21 a.m.)

Italian judge indicts U.S. soldier for 2005 fatal shooting in Iraq

ROME (CNN) -- An Italian judge Wednesday indicted a U.S. soldier on charges of homicide and attempted homicide for the fatal shooting of an Italian intelligence agent participating in a hostage rescue operation in Iraq nearly two years ago.

The trial date has been set for April 17, Rome prosecutor Franco Ionta told CNN. The soldier will be tried in absentia and there has been no request to have him extradited, Ionta said.

Italian intelligence agent Nicola Calipari was killed in the March 4, 2005, incident shortly after he secured the release of journalist Giuliana Sgrena, who had been held by insurgents in Iraq. U.S. soldiers fired on their vehicle as it approached a checkpoint en route to Baghdad International Airport. Sgrena and the driver were injured in the shooting.

A U.S. investigation into the incident found that the vehicle was traveling about 50 mph and failed to stop at a checkpoint when ordered to do so. It concluded that no disciplinary action should be taken against any soldier involved in the shooting.

However, an Italian investigation found that no clear warning signs were given to the vehicle, said the vehicle was traveling at only 20 to 30 mph and noted there were no speed limit signs posted on the road. -- CNN Rome Bureau Chief Alessio Vinci contributed to this report (Posted 8:56 a.m.)

3 children killed, 12 civilians wounded in mortar fire north of Baghdad

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Three children were killed and 12 civilians were wounded on Wednesday when insurgents fired three mortar rounds into a village north of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

The village is called Mzerat, and the attack occurred about 9:45 a.m.

U.S. soldiers were at the scene, providing medical aid to the wounded. The incident is under investigation. (Posted 8:47 a.m.)

Avalanche kills Australian skier on Kashmir mountain

SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir (CNN) -- Police recovered the body of an Australian tourist hours after an avalanche engulfed him while skiing in Indian-administered Kashmir Wednesday afternoon.

The 31-year-old Victoria resident was poised at an altitude of over 13,000 feet on Mount Afarwat in the north Kashmiri ski resort of Gulmarg when the avalanche struck.

"We have recovered the body of the killed Australian skier from under the avalanche this afternoon and we are bringing it down to the Gulmarg town," superintendent of police, Sheikh Junaid Ahmad told CNN. He did not give the name of the tourist.

Well known for its slopes and lack of restrictions for off-trail skiing, Gulmarg is typically busiest in the peak winter months of January and February. Head of Gulmarg development, Farooq Ahmad, said about 50 skiers from various countries are currently in the ski town. --From Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar(Posted 8:40 a.m.)

Sister of Spanish princess dies

MADRID (CNN) -- Erika Ortiz Rocasolano, the sister of the princess who is one day expected to become the Queen of Spain, died Wednesday in Madrid at age 31, the Royal Household press office told CNN.

The Royal Household did not specify the cause of death and the press office said it would have no further comment.

Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano, 34, married Spain's Crown Prince Felipe in 2004 and became the Princess of Asturias. The couple are expected to one day become the king and queen of Spain, succeeding Prince Felipe's parents, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia.

The unexpected announcement of Erika Ortiz's death dominated Spanish news coverage, although she was not a member of the royal family, unlike her sister, Letizia. Erika Ortiz worked for a television production company and is survived by a 6-year-old daughter, Spanish media reported. --From CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman (Posted 8:33 a.m.)

Talks between Hamas and Fatah could involve hammering out national unity government

MECCA, Saudi Arabia (CNN) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his political rival, exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, will negotiate details on forming a national unity Palestinian government during Wednesday's meetings in Saudi Arabia's holy city Mecca, Saudi officials said.

The meetings began shortly after midday prayers.

Abbas will offer Hamas his "agreement to forming a Palestinian government without a Fatah minister on the condition that it will accept all international agreements signed by previous Palestinian governments," Palestinian Parliament member Nabil Shaath told Arabic in an exclusive interview conducted in Dubai Tuesday. (Posted 7:38 a.m.)

Taliban mortars accidentally strike southern Afghanistan village

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Three children in southern Afghanistan were wounded -- one critically -- when Taliban insurgents misfired mortar rounds meant for a NATO base and hit a local village instead, NATO's International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) said Wednesday.

A NATO statement said the mortar rounds hit about half a mile south of the ISAF base and struck the children. They were emergency air lifted to a nearby medical facility in Helmand province.

"The casualties were caused by Taliban insurgents and this is another example of their reckless disregard for human life," NATO spokesman and squadron leader Dave Marsh said. (Posted 7:37 a.m.)

British police release 2 Birmingham terror suspects; 7 still in jail

BIRMINGHAM, England (CNN) -- A pair of men arrested in connection with an alleged plot to kidnap British Muslim soldier a week ago were released without charges early Wednesday, a statement from the West Midlands police said.

"Seven other men arrested last Wednesday remain in custody following their appearance before a judge at Coventry Magistrates Court" on Tuesday, the statement said. The court granted West Midlands police another 72 hours of detention time to continue their investigation of the others who were arrested under British terrorism laws.

Under British law, police must apply for a magistrate's approval to hold suspects up to 28 days before charging them. (Posted 6:23 a.m.)

Gunmen, bombs leave 6 dead, 18 wounded in violence throughout Iraq

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Gunmen and bombers targeted government employees, Iraqi forces and civilians in attacks Tuesday night through Wednesday morning, leaving six dead and 18 wounded throughout Iraq, authorities said.

An Iraqi Interior Ministry official told CNN an employee of Iraq's state-run television network al-Iraqia was shot to death outside the company's headquarters in central Baghdad Wednesday. A second employee standing nearby was wounded in the incident, which police dubbed a "sniper attack."

In central Baghdad a roadside bomb exploded near a vehicle carrying Iraqi police officers. One was killed and three were wounded in the blast, police said. In addition, Baghdad police told CNN a roadside bomb exploded near a joint U.S.-Iraqi police convoy in eastern Baghdad, killing one Iraqi officer and wounding three.

Late Tuesday night Mosul police said they found two bodies that had been shot to death and dumped north of the capital in eastern Mosul. The first body was identified as a government employee and the second was an unidentified woman. (Posted 5:57 a.m.)

Libby prosecutor fights request for details of negotiations for Russert testimony

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- NBC's Tim Russert did not receive any special "leniency" as part of negotiations leading to his 2004 deposition to the FBI in the criminal probe of Vice President Cheney's former aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, according to documents prosecutors filed early Wednesday.

Libby's attorneys have asked the federal judge in the case to order Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald to disclose any details and notes they may use to undercut Russert's credibility on the stand in testimony expected Wednesday. The defense tactic is a routine part of the trial process as Libby fights a five-count indictment accusing him of perjury and obstruction of justice. --From CNN's Paul Courson (Posted 5:49 a.m.)

British vet service worker tests negative for bird flu

LONDON (CNN) -- A worker for Britain's state veterinary agency, who was hospitalized for a "mild respiratory illness" after working on a weekend outbreak of avian flu, does not have the deadly strain of the virus, authorities said Wednesday.

According to the British the Health Protection Agency, "the HPA can confirm that tests for avian flu and normal seasonal flu were negative and this patient will now be treated under normal clinical care".

Ahead of the results, Dr. John Watson, the chief of respiratory illnesses for Britain's Health Protection Agency, said safety precautions taken by workers leave a low risk for being exposed to the H5N1 virus found on a turkey farm northeast of London, and there was no risk to those treating the employee. (Posted 3:28 a.m.)

Jakarta flooding leaves 430,000 homeless, 38 dead

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- Severe flooding fueled by torrential rains has displaced more than 430,000 people in the Indonesian capital Jakarta and left at least 38 people dead, the city's flood crisis center reported early Wednesday.

Many residents forced to flee their homes have taken refuge in hundreds of refugee camps that have opened around the the low-lying coastal city of 8.8. million people. Others were still sitting on top of their inundated residences.

Peter Cameron with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said he is "very concerned" about outbreaks of water-borne illnesses.(Posted 1:23 a.m.)

Raid nets two suspected al-Qaeda members in eastern Afghanistan

KABUL (CNN) -- Coalition forces took a pair of suspected al Qaeda members into custody early Wednesday during a raid in eastern Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan, a military statement said.

The operation took place near the town of Hakimabad in Nangarhar province and was "based on information provided about an al-Qaeda member known to pass correspondence for al Qaeda senior leaders."

According to the coalition, the Afghan men will be questioned to determine their association with al Qaeda. (Posted 12:29 a.m.)



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