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Monday, April 02

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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 Time.

Solomons quake, tsunami: 20 dead, 20 towns destroyed

(CNN) -- Rescue workers combed the remote coastline of the northern Solomon Islands on Tuesday, trying to rescue victims of two powerful earthquakes and a tsunami that destroyed at least 20 villages, according to local police.

At least 20 people have been confirmed dead in Monday's disaster, and the numbers are increasing as the search continues, said Mick Spinks, a police spokesman in the Solomon Islands, a South Pacific archipelago of more than 1,000 islands northeast of Australia. Getting information about causalities is difficult because the area is very remote and has limited power and phone service, Spinks said.

Monday morning, an 8.0-magnitude earthquake hit about 25 miles south-southeast of Gizo, a town of 1,000 people, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. A short time later, a second 6.7-magnitude earthquake stuck in the same general area, about 75 miles west-southwest of Chirovanga, on the northern island of Choiseul, the USGS said. (Posted 9:55 p.m.)

Yuschenko dissolves Ukraine's parliament, calls new elections

(CNN) -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko dissolved his parliament Monday and called for new elections, accusing the country's governing coalition of passing "illegitimate and unconstitutional laws."

"The parliamentary coalition does not even conceal its major goal to usurp power and preserve its rule," Yuschenko said. "Society is tired of seeing this power struggle and how their daily needs are ignored. "

The pro-Western, reform-minded Yuschenko has clashed with lawmakers over land distribution, privatization and ties with the NATO alliance in the former Soviet republic. He has accused Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych's governing coalition of adding members to its share of the 450-member parliament in violation of the country's constitution.

Leaders of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, countered by blocking funds for a new election. Yanukovych called on Yuschenko to rescind Monday's decree, warning it would "cause the situation in the Ukraine to significantly deteriorate." (Posted 9:45 p.m.)

Cheney to Congress: Military reports to Bush, not you

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney on Monday blasted "self-appointed strategists" on Capitol Hill for trying to force the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, declaring the U.S. military answers to the president, not Congress.

Speaking to a fund-raising luncheon for Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Cheney repeated President Bush's promise to veto an upcoming emergency war-spending bill if it contains any timetable for a withdrawal.

"It's time the self-appointed strategists on Capitol Hill understood a very simple concept: You cannot win a war if you tell the enemy you're going to quit," he said.

Stern drops appeal, clearing way for test results on Smith's baby

NASSAU, Bahamas (CNN) -- An answer to the burning question of just who fathered the late Anna Nicole Smith's infant daughter could be one step closer, after one of the potential fathers Monday dropped a bid to halt release of DNA results.

Howard K. Stern, Smith's attorney and companion at the time she died, withdrew his appeal of a Bahamian judge's ruling ordering DNA testing to determine the paternity of Smith's 7-month-old daughter, Dannielynn, after a three-member appellate panel sharply questioned the claims Stern raised.

Stern was ordered to pay $10,000 in court costs for the abandoned appeal.

Another hearing in the paternity case is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. The lawyers involved would not comment on whether the identity of the father will be revealed during that hearing. (Posted 5:50 p.m.)

U.S. citizen reported missing in Iran

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The State Department is investigating a report of an American citizen who has been missing in Iran for a several weeks, spokesman Sean McCormack said Monday.

"We don't see any linkage whatsoever between this case and any other ongoing cases that may have been in the news recently," McCormack said, referring to the 15 British sailors and marines who were seized by Iran more than a week ago.

Paul Bresson, a spokesman for the FBI, told CNN the missing man retired from the FBI about 10 years ago. As a former FBI agent, he followed organized crime in the United States, but was not involved in intelligence matters, Bresson said.

The American -- described as older and retired-- is believed to have been in Iran working for an independent author/producer, trying to set up an interview, several senior U.S. officials told CNN. He has been missing for several weeks and hasn't been in touch with his family or his employer, according to the State Department.

The officials said the man went missing on Kish Island -- located off the southern coast of Iran -- which is a free-trade zone under Iranian authority. Under most circumstances non-Iranian nationals do not need a visa to visit Kish, which is a popular tourist destination. --From CNN State Department Producer Elise Labott and State Department Correspondent Zain Verjee (Posted 4:47 p.m.)

Iranian official: 'No need' to put British captives on trial

TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- A top Iranian security official said Monday that his country sees "no need" to put 15 seized British sailors and marines on trial and that the ongoing dispute between Iran and Britain over their captivity can still be resolved diplomatically.

However, Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, also told Britain's Channel 4 television that in order to resolve the impasse, Britain would have to admit its military personnel had intruded into Iranian territorial waters and "guarantee this violation would not be committed again."

"We would be interested in diplomatic discussions, and, in my view, it is quite resolvable," said Larijani, who also said he believes "there should be a delegation to clarify" whether the British personnel intruded into Iranian waters.

Responding to Larijani's interview, a spokeswoman at the British foreign office said officials were still "studying" Larijani's remarks. "There remain some differences between us, but we can confirm we share his preference for early bilateral discussion to find a diplomatic solution to this problem. We will be following up with the Iranian authorities tomorrow, given our shared desire to make early progress," the spokeswoman said. (Posted 4:35 p.m.)

Two U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Two U.S. soldiers died in Iraq on Monday, including one who died of wounds suffered in a truck bombing in the northern city of Kirkuk, the U.S. military announced.

The second was killed during fighting in western Iraq's al Anbar province, the heart of the Sunni Arab insurgency, according to a statement from the U.S. command in Baghdad.

Earlier, a Kirkuk police official said seven people were killed and 178 wounded in the Kirkuk bombing, which went off near a police station. The wounded included police, civilians and several children at a nearby primary school, the official said.

Monday's deaths bring the number of American military personnel killed in the 4-year-old war to 3,257. (Posted 4:28 p.m.)

2 new victims identified from WTC rubble

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The remains of two more victims from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center have been identified by the city's medical examiner.

Although a renewed search is under way at the site, the identifications were a result of the resampling and retesting of extracts of original samples from the rubble. --From CNN's Mythili Rao (Posted 4:14 p.m.)

Clinton, Romney lead '08 fund-raising pack

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney flexed his political fund-raising muscles Monday by announcing that he had raised more than $20 million in the first three months of 2007, the largest amount declared so far by a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

But Romney and all other presidential hopefuls trail Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the "fund-raising primary" as the New York Democrat collected $26 million in contributions to add to an additional $10 million she transferred from a Senate account to her presidential committee, her committee reported.

On the Democratic side, according to their campaigns, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards raised $14 million; New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson raised $6 million; Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd raised $4 million; and Sen. Joe Biden, raised between $1 million and $2 million.

For the Republicans, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani raised $14 million; Sen. John McCain has raised $12.5 million; Sen. Sam Brownback has raised $1.3 million; and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee raised $500,000, according to their campaigns.

The initial fund-raising deadlines are generally considered to be an early indicator of a candidate's viability. But given the fund-raising options available to the candidates -- such as raising money for both the primary and general elections -- it is difficult to compare these figures until the campaigns file detailed financial reports to the Federal Election Commission. The campaigns have released rough estimates of their fund raising, but the complete reports are not due until April 15.--By CNN Political Unit's Mark Preston and Robert Yoon (Posted 4:11 p.m.)

Chicago police chief out amid taped beatings scandal

CHICAGO (CNN) -- Chicago Police Superintendent Phillip Cline announced Monday he is stepping down amid allegations that officers beat up citizens in off-duty scuffles caught on camera, a scandal the city's mayor says has tarnished the department.

Cline said it is difficult to leave during "times of challenge," but praised the street cops he said have cut sharply into the city's crime rate during his three-and-a-half-year tenure.

"I've heard many reporters talk about a blue wall or blue line," he said in a news conference. "Well, let me tell you about the blue line. There is a blue line, and it's the line that Chicago police officers walk every day to separate the criminals from the good citizens. Even though these officers have families themselves, they pin a star on their chest, strap a gun on their hip, and leave their families behind to walk that line."

Cline's retirement announcement comes as one officer, Anthony Abbate, faces aggravated battery charges in the February beating of a female bartender that was caught on videotape by the tavern's security camera. And six officers have been suspended in connection with a December confrontation with a group of businessmen at another bar. A Cook County judge Monday ordered police to release the names of the officers involved. --From CNN's Ismael Estrada (Posted 3:52 p.m.)

Bombs kill 20-plus in northern Iraq, Baghdad

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Bombs in Baghdad, Kirkuk and the northern town of Khalis left more than 20 people dead and wounded scores, while another 20-plus bodies turned up in towns outside the capital, Iraqi authorities reported Monday.

The deadliest attack was in Khalis, northeast of Baghdad, where a roadside bomb went off in a crowded commercial district Monday afternoon. At least 10 people were killed and 31 were wounded in the blast, a police official there told CNN.

The district includes a bank, shops and an outdoor market in central Khalis, located about 20 km (13 miles) north of the provincial capital Baquba.

In Kirkuk, a truck bomb killed seven people and wounded 178 when it went off near a police station Monday, a Kirkuk police official told CNN. The wounded included police, civilians and several children at a nearby primary school, the official said. The explosives were hidden beneath bags of flour in the truck, which detonated around 11:15 a.m. (Posted 3:22 p.m.)

Pentagon says some troops headed for Iraq leaving early

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Some of the 9,000 U.S. troops heading to Iraq as part of scheduled troop rotations this year will leave home earlier than expected, according to a Pentagon announcement Monday.

In announcing its next troop rotations for Iraq, the U.S. Army said it will deploy some 7,000 troops between June and November of this year, with two of those units deploying before their full year at home is up.

One unit already in Iraq, the 25th Infantry Division, will be forced to stay 45 days past the end of their one-year tour to cover gaps in the rotational scheduling, according to Pentagon officials.

The Army also announced that some 2,000 combat support troops will be sent into Iraq to assist with detention operations. The majority of the rotational troops and the 2,000 additional troops will be replacing units now operating as part of the "surge," or Baghdad security plan. --From CNN Pentagon Producer Mike Mount (Posted 1:38 p.m.)

Somali human rights group reports 381 Mogadishu residents killed in 4 days of fighting

MOGADISHU, Somalia (CNN) -- In the past four days, fighting in the Somali capital has killed 381 civilians and left 565 wounded, Elman Human Rights Group, a local organization, announced Monday.

The fighting is mainly between Ethiopian troops, who are supporting Somalia's transitional government forces, and remnant fighters from the Islamic Courts Union, which was ousted from power late last year.

The insurgent forces are trying to oust Ethiopian-backed interim President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed.

It is unclear how many fighters from either side have died in the fighting, which the International Committee for the Red Cross recently described as the worst in 15 years. (Posted 12:42 p.m.)

Environmental groups, states win high court victory on clean air standards

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Environmentalists and states won a significant victory at the Supreme Court on Monday over federal regulation of clean air standards.

In a 5-4 decision, the justices gave states the right to sue the Bush administration to force officials to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from new cars. And it ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to re-evaluate its conclusion that tailpipe emissions do not constitute a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, requiring federal regulation.

"Judged by any standard, U.S. motor-vehicle emissions make a meaningful contribution to greenhouse gas concentrations and hence, according to petitioners, to global warming," Justice John Paul Stevens concluded for the majority. "EPA has offered no reasoned explanation for its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gases cause or contribute to climate change." He was supported by Justices Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer.

Twelve states, led by Massachusetts, sued the Bush administration. --From CNN Supreme Court Producer Bill Mears (Posted 12:22 p.m.)

Senate majority leader threatening vote to end Iraq war funding

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The standoff between Congress and the White House over Iraq ratcheted up another notch Monday as the Senate's Democratic leader threatened to shut off war funds if President Bush vetoes a more loosely worded timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is cosponsoring a new Iraq bill with war opponent Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis. Their bill would stop most war funding after March 31, 2008, allowing spending in just three areas: fighting al Qaeda, training Iraqis and protecting the U.S. Embassy and other personnel.

Reid's spokesman, Jim Manley, admits the bill would require heavy political lifting. "This is an uphill battle," he told CNN, "but it's part of an attempt to try and force a change in policy."

This is the latest chess move in a tricky standoff with the White House over withdrawal dates and funding. Last week, the Senate passed a $123 billion Iraq spending measure that recommended a final withdrawal date of March 31, 2008, and Senate and House negotiators are now merging that measure with a House version that sets an August withdrawal date.

The White House has pledged to veto any bill with a specific timetable for pulling troops out of Iraq, even if the bill contains vital war money. Now, Reid apparently is trying add pressure on the White House. --From CNN Radio's Lisa Goddard (Posted 11:38 a.m.)

EMI partners with Apple to sell music catalog free from copy protection; Beatles not part of deal

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- EMI Group PLC. announced a deal Monday with Apple Inc.'s iTunes to sell its music catalog without the anti-piracy protection known as DRM restrictions.

But Beatles fans have to keep waiting for songs from the Fab Four to be available online. EMI, which owns the Beatles catalog, said music from the Beatles is not part of the deal with Apple.

The Beatles are one of the few remaining digital music holdouts and there had been speculation that Monday's announcement would be about the Beatles' albums finally becoming available on iTunes.

The London-based music company said it would make the downloads, including songs from top artists such as Coldplay, Norah Jones, Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones, available for retail on a global basis. --By CNNMoney.com's Paul R. La Monica (Posted 11:04 a.m.)

Tancredo announces run for GOP presidential nomination

(CNN) -- Speaking on a conservative talk radio show in Iowa, Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo announced Monday that he will seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2008.

The outspoken advocate of clamping down on illegal immigration said talk radio has given him a "megaphone" to speak out on the topic. He said that is why he decided to announce his candidacy on Jan Mickelson's "Mickelson in the Morning" show on WHO Radio.

"They're the ones who brought me to the party," Tancredo said, referring to conservative talk radio. (Posted 10:53 a.m.)

Justices refuse to review latest appeal from Guantanamo detainees

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Supreme Court refused Monday to jump back into an ongoing legal fight over how dozens of foreign terror suspects detained by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will face justice before upcoming tribunals, the latest showdown over the president's war power authority.

The justices, by a 6-3 vote, denied appeals from two groups of prisoners. Preliminary hearings before military commissions in Guantanamo have already begun.

In a brief order written by Justices John Paul Stevens and Anthony Kennedy, the court noted the detainees had not gone through the usual legal routes for relief before appealing to the high court.

"Despite the obvious importance of the issues raised in these cases, we are persuaded that traditional rules governing our decision of constitutional issues ... and our practice of requiring the exhaustion of available remedies as a precondition to accepting jurisdiction." --From CNN Supreme Court Producer Bill Mears (Posted 10:11 a.m.)

Official: Tuesday's Tal Afar suicide bombing was the deadliest single attack since 2003

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A high-ranking interior ministry official said Monday the death toll from last week's suicide truck bombing in the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar is 152 -- much higher than originally reported -- making it the deadliest single attack since the start of the Iraq war in 2003.

The previous announced death toll from Tuesday's attack on a Shiite area of Tal Afar was 85. In a separate attack following the bombing, gunmen fired on Sunni areas of the city in retaliation for the attack, killing 70.

The truck was rigged with two tons of explosives that were hidden under bags of flour, the official said. The resulting explosion created a huge crater and damaged over 100 buildings. Hundreds more were wounded in the bombing, the official said. -- From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq and Jennifer Deaton (Posted 9:18 a.m.)

Iraqi prosecutors ask for 'Chemical Ali' to be executed for role in 1988 killings

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Iraq's chief prosecutor Monday asked for the death penalty for Ali Hassan al-Majid, commonly known as "Chemical" Ali, for his role in gassing up to 100,000 Kurds in the 1980s "Anfal campaign."

Monkith Alfaroon made the request during the prosecution's closing arguments in the Anfal trial.

Al-Majid, a cousin of the late Saddam Hussein and a former senior member of his regime, faces genocide charges for his role in the military campaign code-named Operation Anfal during the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war.

He was governor of the region where the gas attacks occurred and is alleged to have ordered the killings. (Posted 9:12 a.m.)

Earthquakes, tsunami kill at least 13

(CNN) -- Two earthquakes and a tsunami that hit the western part of the Solomon Islands Monday caused extensive damage to tourist town of Gizo, and killed at least 13 people, the country's chief spokesman said.

Alfred Maesulia, the Solomon Islands' government spokesman, told CNN that 13 bodies have been recovered and "a lot of people" are missing. He suggested it may be in the range of 10 to 20 people. He said it would likely to a day or two before more accurate information is known about the deaths and damage in the scattered island villages.

It was fortuntate that the tsumani hit during daylight hours when the early warning signs of receding tides were noticed, causing people to seek higher ground, Sogavare said.

In the South Choiseul, waves 10 meters high swept through the Sasamunga village northeast of Gizo, destroying villages, food gardens and a hospital, the government's Web site reported. Health centers and schools in surrounding villages were also devastated, the government said. (Posted 8:10 a.m.)

Iranian TV says all British captives have confessed on video to trespassing

TEHRAN (CNN) -- Iran Monday showed no sign of bowing to diplomatic pressure to release 15 British sailors and Marines detained for over a week, saying all the captives have confessed to illegally entering Iranian waters.

Iran's state-run IRIB network reported Monday that all 15 confessed on video, but "due to certain changes in the last two days in the sensational British policies, the detailed interviews will not be aired."

On Sunday, Iran's government-run networks aired video of two of the detainees admitting to trespassing in Iranian waters on March 23.

Two other British sailors appeared in similar videos last week, prompting outrage in London. The British Foreign Office called it unacceptable for such pictures to be aired and speaking last week, Prime Minister Tony Blair accused Iran of parading and manipulating the detainees.

Britain and Iraq say the sailors and marines were well inside Iraqi waters when they were seized by the Iranians. (Posted 7:10 a.m.)

5 AU peacekeepers killed in Darfur

(CNN) -- Five African Union peacekeepers were killed Sunday by unidentified gunmen in Sudan's Darfur region, the deadliest single day for the peacekeepers since they began their mission in late 2004, an AU spokesman told CNN.

The shooting happened in Umbaro, in northwestern Darfur near the border with Chad, said AU spokesman Nureddine Mezni. All five were from Senegal, according to an AU news release.

The peacekeepers, part of the AU's African Mission in Sudan (AMIS) were guarding a water point when they were attacked. Four died instantly and the fifth died later from his wounds, Mezni said. Three of the gunmen were killed while the others ran away, he said.

AMIS is composed of more than 7,000 personnel -- both military and civilian. According to the mission's Web site, the peacekeeprs "are working hard to help bring lasting peace in Darfur," where Sudan is accused of supporting a genocide campaign. -- CNN's Roya Shadravan in Atlanta contributed to this report (Posted 6:50 a.m.)

Vehicle bombs kill at least 8, hurt 136 in Iraq

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A bomb carried inside a truck exploded outside a police station in the northern Iraq city of Kirkuk about 11:15 a.m. Monday, killing five people and wounding 116, according to Kirkuk police.

Earlier Monday, a bomb inside a parked car exploded killing three people and wounding 10 in southeastern Baghdad, a Baghdad police official said. The blast, near the land registry office in al-Baia, also destroyed five cars and six shops, the official said. (Posted 4:52 a.m.)

Blast kills 15 in eastern Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, Sri lanka (CNN) -- An explosion at an army checkpoint in Sri Lanka's eastern district Amparia killed at least 15 civilians and wounded 25 Monday.

Military sources said a bomb hidden inside a bus detonated as it was being checked by soldiers.

Many of the dead were passengers who had stepped off the bus at the military checkpoint. Most were relatives of soldiers and were travelling from the hill country town of Badulla to Amparia to attend a parade of new Army recruits, the military source said. --From journalist Iqbal Athas (Posted 4:35 a.m.)

U.S. and South Korea reach bi-lateral trade deal

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- The United States and South Korea have reached agreement on a bi-lateral trade deal that could increase trade between the two countries by 20 percent.

The agreement, which must still be approved by the U.S. Congress and South Korea's National Assembly, was the result of 10 months of negotiations. Negotiators worked day and night over the last week to reach agreement.

South Korean farmers and laborers, worried their jobs would be threatened by an agreement, took to the streets of the South Korean capital in the last week to protest against the possible deal. --From CNN correspondant Sohn Jie-ae in Seoul (Posted 2:58 a.m.)


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