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Monday, May 28

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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.

Israel kills two Palestinians in southern Gaza; Israel arrests Fatah member of Palestinian parliament

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Two Palestinian men were killed and a woman was wounded during an Israeli incursion in southern Gaza near the Sufa Crossing Tuesday, Palestinian security sources said.

An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman confirmed Israeli military activity in the area, where he said two gunmen were killed.

Separately, Israeli troops arrested a Fatah member of the Palestinian parliament, Jamal el-Tirawi, at the Balata refugee camp in the West Bank city of Nablus Tuesday, Palestinian security sources said.

In the Israeli military's account of events, it said four senior "Tanzim" members, militants loyal to the Fatah movement, were arrested, including "Mr. Tirawi."

According to Israeli security sources, those arrested were in possession of three handguns and were taken into custody because they were involved in bombing and shooting attacks against Israeli civilians, which resulted in deaths and injuries. (Posted 2 a.m.)

Antiwar leader Sheehan quits, declares son died 'for nothing'

(CNN) -- Cindy Sheehan, the California mother who became an anti-war leader after her son was killed in Iraq, declared Monday that she was walking away from the peace movement and her son died "for nothing."

Sheehan achieved national attention when she camped outside President Bush's home in Crawford, Texas, throughout August 2005 to demand a meeting with the president over her son's death. While Bush ignored her, the vigil made her one of the most prominent figures among opponents of the war.

But in a Web diary posted to the liberal online community Daily Kos on Monday, Sheehan said she was exhausted by the personal, financial and emotional toll of the past two years, disillusioned by the failure of Democratic politicians to bring the unpopular war to an end and tired of a peace movement she said "often puts personal egos above peace and human life."

Casey Sheehan, a 24-year-old Army specialist, was killed in an April 2004 battle in Baghdad. His death prompted his mother to found Gold Star Families for Peace. (Posted 8 p.m.)

Clinton, other senators skipped reading 2002 Iraq report

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A new biography's suggestion that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton didn't personally read a key intelligence report before her 2002 vote to authorize war in Iraq has raised eyebrows, but Clinton was not alone.

Clinton did not read the 90-page, classified National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which summarized the reports of U.S. intelligence agencies, but was briefed on it multiple times, a spokesman told CNN.

The book, "Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton," is by Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr. It is one of two upcoming biographies of Clinton, the former first lady turned New York senator.

She is one of four current and former Democratic senators who voted for the October 2002 resolution that authorized President Bush to launch the invasion of Iraq the following March. Two Republican senators, John McCain of Arizona and Sam Brownback of Kansas, also voted in favor of the resolution. (Posted 7:17 p.m.)

NFL's Marquise Hill found dead in Lake Pontchartrain

NEW ORLEANS (CNN) -- Searchers have found the body of New England Patriots defensive end Marquise Hill in the water of Lake Pontchartrain, a day after his jet ski capsized in rough water, state authorities announced Monday.

Hill, 24, a New Orleans native, was last seen Sunday evening when his jet ski capsized in rough water just off the north side of New Orleans. A passing boater rescued his female companion about 9:25 p.m. after hearing her cry for help, but was unable to find the 6-foot-6-inch, 300-pound football player, the Coast Guard reported.

Neither Hill nor the woman were wearing lifejackets, the Coast Guard said. (Posted 4:43 p.m.)

Memorial Day sales crucial to retail recovery

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- While plenty of Americans make grilling and beachgoing a priority over the Memorial Day weekend, retailers are keeping their fingers crossed that shopping also made it high on consumers' holiday to-do list.

Historically, Memorial Day tends to be a big sales weekend for a handful of categories such as summer clothes, home furnishings and seasonal outdoor merchandise like patio furniture, garden and grilling products.

Although this three-day weekend typically isn't regarded as a critical shopping holiday for merchants the way July 4th and Labor Day weekends are, that could be a little different this year, said Britt Beemer, chairman of retail market research firm America's Research Group.

"If sales are bad over the weekend, then the fear is that retailers will have no momentum going into the July 4th holiday," Beemer said. This is especially worrisome given that retailers suffered disastrous sales last month. --From Money.com's Parija B. Kavilanz (Posted 2:41 p.m.)

U.S. ambassador: Historic meeting with Iran found 'broad agreement' on Iraq

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Diplomatic meetings between the United States and Iran -- the first such dialogue in nearly three decades -- were "business-like" and found "broad agreement" in the two nations' goals for Iraq, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said Monday.

Iran offered a similar impression. Ambassador Hassan Kazemi Qomi, who led the delegation, said the two sides "agreed upon mutual stance to support the elected Iraqi government concerning the national unity, national territories and authorize the full sovereignty to the Iraqi government," according to an Associated Press translation.

Speaking after the trilateral meeting with Iraqi diplomats, which he said lasted four hours, Crocker told reporters that in terms of policy for Iraq "there isn't much to argue about." But he said Iran needs to bring its actions in line with its "declaratory policy."

"I laid out before the Iranians a number of our direct specific concerns about their behavior in Iraq: their support for militias that are fighting both the Iraqi security forces and coalition forces; the fact that a lot of the explosives and ammunition that are used by these groups are coming in from Iran and that such activities led by the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) Quds force needed to cease, and that we would be looking for results."

Crocker said the Iranian representatives "did not respond directly to that," but emphasized that they support the Iraqi government. (Posted 2:10 p.m.)

Lebanese army sources: 2 killed in checkpoint shooting near Beirut airport

BEIRUT (CNN) -- Lebanese military forces Monday shot at a car that refused to stop at a checkpoint near Beirut International Airport, killing two people in the car, army sources told CNN.

Another person who was in the car was arrested, the sources said. Those killed were a Lebanese and a Syrian.

Security has been tight in the Lebanese capital, which has experienced a series of bomb blasts in recent weeks. A grenade blast Sunday night targeted a police patrol in Beirut, wounding four people -- two police and two civilians.

It is unclear if the attacks are related to recent fighting between Lebanese forces and Islamic militants in the northern part of the country. (Posted 1:2 p.m.)

Bush invokes 'destiny' in Memorial Day ceremony

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNN) -- President Bush marked Memorial Day with a call for Americans to stand firm in their efforts against U.S. enemies around the world, saying it is "our country's destiny" to emerge victorious.

"Nothing said today will ease your pain, but each of you need to know that your country thanks you and we embrace you and we will never forget the terrible loss you have suffered," Bush told a crowd that included relatives of the dead, veterans, military officials and members of Congress and the public.

"I hope you find comfort knowing that your loved ones rest in a place even more peaceful than the fields that surround us here," he said after a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington, Va.

Bush noted that Arlington National Cemetery contains the bodies of seven generations of Americans, including 360,000 from the Civil War, 500,000 from World Wars I and II, and 90,000 from the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

"Now, this hallowed ground receives a new generation of heroes," he said. "Men and women who gave their lives in such places as Kabul and Kandahar, Baghdad and Armadi." (Posted 1:03 p.m.)

Refugees from Bhutan, divided over repatriation plan, clash with police in Nepal

KATHMANDU, Nepal (CNN) -- For a second day, refugees from the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan clashed with Nepalese police on Monday near a refugee camp in eastern Nepal, according to the United Nations and local police.

Police said the refugees were defying a curfew on Monday and, in the ensuing clash, police killed one refugee. The curfew was imposed after a refugee was killed in police firing on Sunday.

"Fourteen armed policemen and six refugees were also injured in clashes Monday," police spokesman Sushil Bar Singh Thapa told CNN.

Sunday's violence was sparked when Bhutanese refugees at the camp disagreed over whether it is best to return to Bhutan or be resettled in the United States, according to the U.N. high commissioner for refugees office in Kathmandu. (Posted 11:48 a.m.)

Pace: Troop reduction part of 'whole spectrum of thought' on Iraq war strategy

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Reducing U.S. troops in Iraq is one of many options that are being discussed ahead of an assessment of the U.S. military strategy in Iraq, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Gen. Peter Pace, said on CNN's "American Morning" on Monday.

But Pace said media reports are portraying the issue as "a little more definitive than it really is."

"It is a whole spectrum of thought that is going on, as it should, to ensure that we're properly prepared to take the next steps once we receive the assessment from the ambassador and the general some time in September," Pace said.

The New York Times Saturday reported U.S. combat forces in Iraq could be reduced to about 100,000 next year under various options being weighed by the Bush administration. The report cited unnamed senior administration officials. (Posted 10:38 a.m.)

Police: 6 dead, 25 wounded -- mostly civilians -- in blast targeting Sri Lankan police commandos

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (CNN) -- A remote-controlled mine detonated Monday near a truck carrying police commandoes in a suburb of the Sri Lankan capital, killing six civilians and wounding 25 people, most of them civilian bystanders, police said.

Police immediately blamed the attack in the southern suburb of Ratmalana on the Tamil Tiger rebel group.

The claymore mine was placed on the roof of a nearby building and activated by a remote control, police said. Four police commandos were among the wounded.

The commandos targeted in the attack belong to the Police Special Task Force, a unit that was set up 20 years ago and trained by retired officers of Britain's Special Air Services. --From Journalist Iqbal Athas (Posted 10:16 a.m.)

Gunmen abduct minibuses in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Police are still looking for a group of gunmen who hijacked two minibuses filled with passengers in central Baghdad's Bab al-Muadham neighborhood, and took them hostage, the ministry official said. It is the same area where another bus was taken a day earlier.

U.S. forces and Iraqi police thought they tracked the gunmen to an abandoned building where a gun battle erupted, but neither the passengers nor then gunmen turned out to be inside the building in the Fadhil section of northern Baghdad.

Three police were killed and four were wounded in the clash, the official said.

It is unclear how many hostages were seized, but the buses normally hold about 10 passengers each. (Posted 10:05 a.m.)

Police: 20 wounded in blast targeting Sri Lankan police commandos

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (CNN) -- A remote-controlled mine detonated Monday near a truck carrying police commandoes in a suburb of the Sri Lankan capital, wounding 16 civilian bystanders and four police commanders, police said.

Police immediately blamed the attack in the southern suburb of Ratmalana on the Tamil Tiger rebel group.

Monday's attack has raised fears that the Tamil rebels are stepping up attacks in the capital city and its immediate suburbs.

The explosion comes three days after a similar attack on an army vehicle in Colombo, which left one soldier dead and seven others injured -- three soldiers and three civilians. --From Journalist Iqbal Athas (Posted 9:18 a.m.)

Spanish police arrest 15 Islamic terrorist suspects

MADRID (CNN) -- Spanish policeearly Monday arrested 15 suspected Islamic terrorists believed to be supporting attacks on American forces and their allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Spanish Interior Ministry and an anti-terrorism official.

The suspects --- 13 Moroccans and two Algerians -- are thought to be involved in the recruiting, training and financing of terrorists from North Africa to be sent to fight Western forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the official and a statement from the ministry.

Most of the suspects were arrested in and around Barcelona.

Police seized computers, cell phones, books, agendas and "documentation linked to Islamic jihad," the ministry statement said. --From CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman (Posted 8:50 a.m.)

Powerful car bomb strikes central Baghdad; 21 civilians killed

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A powerful car bomb detonated Monday afternoon in a busy commercial district in central Baghdad, killing 21 civilians and wounding 66, an Interior Ministry official said.

The bomb, in a parked car, exploded shortly after 2 p.m. (6 a.m. ET) and the force of the blast could be felt in a wide surrounding area, police said.

Video of the aftermath showed debris littering the streets near the blast site, where a plume of black smoke reached up into the sky. Iraqi firemen in yellow helmets doused the flames with a hose, as Iraqi men and boys crowded the streets.

The blast went off near a Sunni mosque which was damaged by the attack, but police believe civilians on the street were the target. (Posted 8:23 a.m.)

U.S. ambassador: Historic meeting with Iran found 'broad agreement' on Iraq

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Diplomatic meetings between the United States and Iran -- the first such dialogue in nearly three decades -- were "business-like" and found "broad agreement" in the two nations' goals for Iraq, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said Monday.

Speaking after the trilateral meeting with Iraqi diplomats, which he said lasted four hours, Crocker told reporters that in terms of policy for Iraq "there isn't much to argue about." But he said Iran needs to bring its actions in line with its "declaratory policy."

"I laid out before the Iranians a number of our direct specific concerns about their behavior in Iraq: their support for militias that are fighting both the Iraqi security forces and coalition forces; the fact that a lot of the explosives and ammunition that are used by these groups are coming in from Iran and that such activities led by the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) Quds force needed to cease, and that we would be looking for results."

Crocker said the Iranian representatives "did not respond directly to that," but emphasized that they support the Iraqi government.

Iran has repeatedly denied U.S. accusations that it is fomenting violence in Iraq. (Posted 8:23 a.m.)

Powerful car bomb strikes central Baghdad; at least 20 civilians killed

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A powerful car bomb detonated Monday afternoon in a busy commercial district in central Baghdad, killing at least 20 civilians and wounding 46, an Interior Ministry official said.

The parked car bomb exploded shortly after 2 p.m. (6 a.m. ET) and the force of the blast could be felt in the surrounding areas, police said.

The blast went off near a Sunni mosque which was damaged by the attack, but police believe civilians on the street were the target. Video showed damage to the mosque's tower. A nearby Shiite mosque was unscathed. -- From CNN's Jomana Karadsheh (Posted 7:35 a.m.)

Powerful car bomb strikes central Baghdad; at least 12 civilians killed

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A powerful car bomb detonated Monday afternoon in a busy commercial district in central Baghdad, killing at least a dozen civilians and wounding 48, an Interior Ministry official said.

The force of the blast could be felt in the surrounding areas, police said.

The parked car bomb exploded shortly after 2 p.m. (6 a.m. ET) and police believe the target was Iraqi civilians. (Posted 6:57 a.m.)

Gunmen abduct minibuses in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Gunmen commandeered two minibuses filled with passengers in central Baghdad's Bab al-Muadham neighborhood Monday, the same area where another bus was taken a day earlier, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said.

U.S. forces and Iraqi police have tracked the gunmen to an abandoned building in the Fadhil section of northern Baghdad where gunfire is being exchanged.

According to the official, four police have been killed and four others wounded in the clash.

Separately, a female student at al-Mustansiriya University was shot dead by a sniper, police said. The university has been the target of a number of violent attacks, including a pair of near simultaneous bombings last January. (Posted 6:40 a.m.)

Spanish police arrest at least 14 Islamic terrorist suspects

MADRID (CNN) -- Spanish police arrested at least 14 suspected Islamic terrorists early Monday, mainly around the city of Barcelona, a Spanish anti-terrorism official told CNN.

The suspects are thought to be involved in the recruiting and training of terrorists to be sent to fight Western forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, the official said.

Eleven of the suspects were arrested in Barcelona and nearby towns in northeastern Spain. Two others were detained in Aranjuez, a town about an hour south of Madrid. The other suspect was arrested in the southern coastal city of Malaga, the official said.

Spanish media reported a 15th person was arrested in the ongoing operation.

The official said many of those arrested were of Pakistani origin. But another source told CNN that most of the detainees apparently are Moroccans. --From CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman (Posted 6:40 a.m.)

U.S., Iranian diplomats meet at PM's residence in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- U.S. diplomats and their Iranian counterparts met at the residence of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki Monday for talks about Iraq's security, even as other issues threatened to overtake the agenda.

"Achieving any progress in this meeting will strengthen the bridges of trust between these two countries and create a positive atmosphere in the region," al-Maliki told the gathered diplomats in his opening address, according to state-run Iraqia TV.

Before the meeting -- which lasted four hours -- aide Hasan al-Sneid told CNN that al-Maliki would call for dialogue on Iraq between Washington and Tehran, urging them to clear contentious issues between them, with the hope that Monday's meeting will pave the way for broader talks. Al-Sneid also said the prime minister will reiterate that Iraq will not be used as a launch pad for terrorism in the region. (Posted 6:40 a.m.)

Israel hits Hamas targets in Gaza as more Hamas rockets fly

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- The Israeli military targeted three suspected Hamas terrorist targets in Gaza overnight, even as militants launched another volley of rockets across the border Monday morning, an Israel Defense Forces representative said.

According to IDF, the Israeli air force hit sites near Dier Al-Balah, in the southern Gaza Strip, as well as northern Gaza sites in Jabaliya and Beit Lahiya.

"The IDF will continue to defend the citizens of Israel, while doing the utmost to preserve the daily life of the Palestinian population," the IDF said.

Since May 15, Gaza militants have launched more than 250 rockets into Israel, the IDF said Monday. At least five Qassam rockets were fired into Israel Monday morning -- two landing in the southern Israeli city of Sderot. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

On Sunday, militants in Gaza fired a rocket into Sderot, wounding two people including a 36-year-old man who later died from his injuries, according to Israeli medical services and a hospital spokeswoman. (Posted 3:45 a.m.)

Japanese minister dies

TOKYO (CNN) -- Japanese Agriculture Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka died Monday afternoon only hours after being found unconscious in his parliamentary residence, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki said during a nationally broadcast news conference.

Matsuoka was rushed to a Tokyo hospital for treatment, according to Shiozaki, but died at 2 p.m. (1 a.m. ET)

Japanese media reported that the minister was found by his office staff after he attempted to hang himself.

A key member of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet, Matsuoka has been strongly criticized over a series of scandals involving political funding and falsified expense reports. (Posted 2:05 a.m.)

Japanese minister found unconscious

TOKYO (CNN) -- Japanese Agriculture Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka was found unconscious in his parliamentary residence early Monday afternoon and was rushed to a Tokyo hospital for treatment, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki.

Japanese media reported that the minister was found by his office staff after he attempted to hang himself.

A key member of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet, Matsuoka has been strongly criticized over a series of scandals involving political funding and falsified expense reports. (Posted 1:15 a.m.)

RCTV forced off the air by Chavez

CARACAS, Venezuela (CNN) -- At the stroke of midnight, Venezuela's most-watched television station -- and outlet for the political opposition -- went off the air after the government refused to renew its broadcast license.

President Hugo Chavez announced in January that the government would not renew the license for Radio Caracas Television (RCTV). He has accused the station of supporting the failed 2002 coup against him and violating broadcast laws.

RCTV, which has been broadcasting for 53 years, was replaced by a state-run station -- TVes -- on Monday. The new station's logo began running immediately after RCTV went off the air.

Leading up to the midnight deadline, police used water cannons and what appeared to be tear gas Sunday night to disperse people protesting the government's decision to force the station off air. (Posted 12:30 a.m.)

Group asserts terrorism claims by administration are exaggerated

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Claims of terrorism represented only a tiny fraction of the charges filed in recent years in immigration courts by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to a report issued Sunday by an independent research group.

This, despite the fact the Bush administration has repeatedly asserted that fighting terrorism is the central mission of DHS. Transactional Records Action Clearinghouse said it analyzed millions of previously undisclosed records obtained from the immigration courts under the Freedom of Information Act.

Of the 814,073 people charged by DHS in immigration courts during the past three years, only 12 faced charges of terrorism, TRAC said. The dozen cases of terrorism represents only 0.0015 percent of the total number of cases filed.

DHS spokesman Russ Knocke called the TRAC report "ill-conceived" and said the group "lacked a grasp of the DHS mission." Knocke said that by clamping down on all forms of immigration, DHS has made it difficult for terrorists to come to the United States. --From Senior Investigative Producer Scott Bronstein (Posted 11:21 p.m.)


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