Skip to main content
  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print

The CNN Wire: Wednesday, Sep 5

Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

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.

Hyundai chairman given suspended sentence for embezzlement

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- Hyundai Chairman Chung Mong-koo escaped a prison sentence for embezzlement after a South Korean court ruled Thursday to instead impose a suspended five year sentence, according to a company spokesman.

In February, the 68-year-old executive was sentenced to three years in prison after being convicted of embezzling money from the South Korean conglomerate. He appealed that verdict and on Thursday the company said Chung will now only be required to undertake community service.

Chung was accused of funneling $106 million in company money into a slush fund to seek favors from the government and with breach of trust for incurring more than $300 million in damages to the company.

Chung spent two months in jail after his arrest last April before being released on $1 million bail. He admitted using affiliated companies to set up slush funds, but said he knew no details of the arrangements. (Posted 2:55 a.m.)

Interior Ministry: At least 14 Iraqis die in U.S. airstrike

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- At least 14 Iraqis were killed in western Baghdad early Thursday during a U.S. airstrike on the Washash neighborhood, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said.

The U.S. military confirmed an operation was conducted in the area and said it was investigating. (Posted 2:30 a.m.)

Opera tenor Pavarotti dies

ROME (CNN) -- Famed opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti, who appeared on stage with singers as varied as opera star Dame Joan Sutherland, U2's Bono and Liza Minnelli, died Thursday after suffering from pancreatic cancer, his manager Terri Robson said in a statement. He was 71.

"The great tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, died today at 5:00 a.m. at his home in Modena, the city of his birth," according to Robson.

"The Maestro fought a long, tough battle against the pancreatic cancer which eventually took his life. In fitting with the approach that characterized his life and work, he remained positive until finally succumbing to the last stages of his illness."

According to Robson, his wife, Nicoletta; his daughters, Lorenza, Cristina, Giuliana and Alice; his sister, Gabriela; and other relatives and friends were at his side when he died. (Posted 1:20 a.m.)

Thompson makes his official entry into 2008 White House field

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- After months of not-so-coy will-he-or-won't-he political flirtation, Fred Thompson finally and officially announced Thursday that he is a candidate for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

"I'm going to give this campaign all that I have to give, and I hope that you'll join me," Thompson said in an video announcement posted on his campaign Web site at midnight. "Our country needs us to win next year, and I'm ready to lead that effort."

Thompson touted his support for what he termed "common-sense" conservative principles, including low taxes, free markets, balanced budgets and the "sanctity of life."

"These principles made our country great, and we should re-dedicate ourselves to them, not abandon them," he said. (Posted 12:20 a.m.)

FAA to redesign airspace over metropolitan area

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Airspace over New York, New Jersey and the Philadelphia metropolitan area is being redesigned in an effort to reduce delays, fuel consumption, aircraft emissions and noise, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

After extensive analysis and public hearings in five states -- New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Connecticut -- the FAA identified its "preferred alternative," or reached a final decision, Wednesday.

The plan, known as the "Integrated Airspace Alternative" covers a 31,000 square mile area over the five states, which have a combined population of 29 million people. Twenty-one airports were included in the study.

The plan would combine high- and low-altitude airspace to create more efficient flight arrival and departure routes. (Posted 9:15 p.m.)

Law enforcement sources tie bomb threat suspect to bank robbery, other crimes

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The man believed to be responsible for the recent rash of telephoned bomb threats to businesses across the United States has been tied to other crimes including a Miami Beach bank robbery and a wire fraud case in New York, law enforcement sources said Wednesday.

Two federal officials familiar with the investigation said the suspect in the wave of extortion calls demanding money to avoid bombings is a Portuguese citizen they identified as 27-year-old Allan Sharif. CNN has previously reported that the person responsible for the threats was believed to be in Portugal.

The FBI, which is leading the investigation into the threats, refused to comment on the identity of the suspect.

Authorities have tied telephoned threats to at least 24 banks and stores in at least 15 states to Sharif. Authorities have confirmed that in some cases businesses paid ransoms in the face of the bomb threats

-- From Justice Producer Terry Frieden (Posted 9:12 p.m.)

Thompson tells Leno 'I'm running'

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Hours before he was set to officially launch his 2008 presidential bid on the Web, Fred Thompson let the cat out of the bag during an appearance on NBC's "Tonight Show" Wednesday night, where he announced he was getting into the White House chase.

"I'm running for president of the United States," Thompson told host Jay Leno, drawing applause and cheers from the NBC audience.

The actor, lobbyist and former U.S. senator from Tennessee is expected to officially announce his candidacy at midnight ET, via a statement posted on his Web site. His campaign will formally kick off Thursday with a bus tour through Iowa. (Posted 9:03 p.m.)

As Felix dissipates, cleanup and assessment begins

SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras (CNN) -- As once-mighty Hurricane Felix fizzled to a tropical depression and continued weakening as it encountered the mountains of Central America, authorities in Honduras and Nicaragua were trying to assess the damage and casualties left in its wake after it slammed into the nations' eastern coasts.

Felix killed 21 people in Nicaragua and another 200 were missing, said the U.S. military's Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), citing Nicaraguan officials.

No deaths or serious injuries were reported in Honduras, Air Force Lt. Marco Rodriguez of COPECO, the Honduran disaster response agency, told CNN earlier Wednesday, although 123 homes had been destroyed.

A total of 23,770 people had evacuated ahead of the storm, Rodriguez said, and 9,500 residents were still in shelters. (Posted 7:48 p.m.)

Fossett search continues after disappointment

MINDEN, Nev. (CNN) -- The search for famed aviation adventurer Steve Fossett continued Wednesday afternoon after searchers were disappointed when wreckage they thought was his aircraft turned out to be from an old crash.

It could take a week, under ideal conditions, to cover the 600 square miles where it is thought Fossett might be, but there is still room for optimism, Maj. Cynthia Ryan of the Nevada Civil Air Patrol told reporters.

"We had what we thought was a pretty hard sighting," she said. "I have to tell you, the excitement level in the emergency operations center was high. ... People were cheering and patting each other on the back. We thought we had it nailed."

A helicopter was sent in, she said, and "they put a man on the ground and verified it was not the target we were looking for. It was not Mr. Fossett or his aircraft." Instead, she said, the wreck site was one of many dozens of unmapped sites from previous years.

The search will continue until about 6 p.m. Wednesday (9 p.m. ET), she said. (Posted 6:31 p.m.)

GOP senators criticize, support leaders' reaction to Craig matter

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Republican senators held what one participant called a "passionate" and "spirited" closed-door discussion Tuesday afternoon about how their leaders responded to the sex scandal involving their colleague Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho, CNN has learned.

At least three senators complained their leaders "rushed to judgment" while others defended the leaders for quickly pulling their support from the disgraced senator, according to one Republican senator in the room and two GOP aides familiar with the meeting.

"We had to discuss it," the senator said. --From CNN's Ted Barrett and Dana Bash (Posted 6:17 p.m.)

Federal agency warns more toy recalls likely

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Americans should expect more Chinese-made toys to be recalled in coming months, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said Wednesday after it and the Mattell company announced a new recall of 848,000 toys that contain excessive levels of lead paint.

It was the third such recall of Chinese-manufactured toys by Mattel this summer.

"If I were a betting person I'd bet on more lead-paint recalls," the agency's director of information, Julie Vallese, told CNN Wednesday. "It's clear that lead paint on toys is not isolated just to Mattel."

The CPSC anticipates Mattel's smaller competitors will be announcing similar recalls as they complete thorough testing of their products, she said. --From CNN's Kelly Marshall and CNNMoney.com's Rob Kelley (Posted 4:40 p.m.)

Heat claims 27 lives in Southern California

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- A heat wave that pushed temperatures into the triple-digits throughout much of Southern California in the past week is being blamed by officials for at least 27 deaths, according to a CNN survey of county officials.

Los Angeles County suffered the most fatalities with 15 possible heat-related deaths since Sept. 1, said coroner's Capt. Ed Winter.

Imperial County Deputy Coroner Henry Proo reported seven deaths in the county, where temperatures typically soar into the hundreds for a large part of the summer months.

San Bernardino County had four heat-related deaths from Aug. 29 through Sept. 4, said Sandy Fatland of the San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Department.

Riverside County Sheriff's Investigator Jerry Franchville reported only one heat-related death, that of an 80-year-old hiker on Aug. 29. (Posted 4:38 p.m.)

DHS announces steps against smuggling of nuclear devices into U.S.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Saying that terrorists could use private aircraft or small boats to smuggle a "dirty bomb" or nuclear device into the United States, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told Congress Wednesday he will propose tightening rules regulating such craft

Under the plans, general aviation aircraft would be required to provide a passenger list before departing from overseas locations, and nuclear detection gear will be tested in the ports of Seattle and San Diego.

"We do worry about the fact that somebody could ... lease or occupy a private plane overseas and then use that as a way to smuggle in a dirty bomb or a weapon of mass destruction into the United States," Chertoff said in a written statement. "We do worry that having locked the front door, so to speak, against dangerous containers, someone could simply put the dangerous cargo in a private ocean-going vessel and take it into a U.S. port."

Chertoff said the tightened security standards for general aviation operators would increase screening for nuclear materials overseas and require private aircraft coming in from overseas to send U.S. authorities a list of passengers and crew members before starting their flight. Planes departing from Canada, Mexico and Caribbean nations would be included, a DHS spokesman said. --From Homeland Security Producer Mike Ahlers (Posted 4:16 p.m.)

DHS burdened by congressional demands

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The constant demands from Congress for testimony and reports is distracting Homeland Security officials from the job of securing the homeland, Secretary Michael Chertoff said in a letter to Congress Wednesday.

Chertoff said DHS "takes seriously" its responsibility to keep Congress informed, but the demands of responding to 86 committees and subcommittees that claim jurisdiction over parts of the department is hindering the department's effectiveness.

"In my view, the problem is getting worse rather then better," Chertoff wrote to Rep. Peter King, the majority leader on the House Homeland Security Committee. "The number of very detailed written reports required of DHS by Congress is proliferating at an alarming rate."

In the summer of 2004, the 9/11 commission recommended that Congress create "a single, principal point of oversight and review" for homeland security. To date, however, it remains one of the few recommendations that Congress has chosen to ignore. --From Homeland Security Producer Mike Ahlers (Posted 4:14 p.m.)

3 Marine officers sanctioned in connection with Haditha incident

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Three senior U.S. Marine Corps officers have been sanctioned for actions associated with the reporting and investigation into the November 2005 killings of 24 Iraqi citizens in Haditha, the Marine Corps said Wednesday.

Maj. Gen. Richard A. Huck, former commanding general of the 2nd Marine Division; Col. Stephen W. Davis, former commanding officer of Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division; and Col. Robert G. Sokoloski, former chief of staff of 2nd Marine Division (Forward) all received letters of censure from the secretary of the Navy.

Huck's letter was "for the actions he took and failed to take in response to the circumstances" surrounding the Haditha incident, the Marine Corps said in a written statement. Davis was sanctioned for failing to take appropriate action when informed of the incident, and Sokoloski was censured "for his unsatisfactory performance of duty."

The letters of censure will be filed in the officers' official military records, the Marine Corps said, but it added that it was determined that the three committed no crimes. (Posted 4:02 p.m.)

McConnell: Craig won't resign if case is overturned

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that embattled Sen. Larry Craig will not resign if he's able to get the disorderly conduct case against him dismissed in the next 25 days.

"He said that he is going to try to get the case in Minneapolis dismissed. That if he is unable to have that disposed of, prior to Sept. 30, it is his intention to resign from the Senate as he expressed last Saturday," McConnell told reporters.

"If he is able to get the case favorably disposed of in Minneapolis, it would be his intention to come back to the Senate to deal with the Ethics Committee case that he knows that he will have and to try to finish his term," he added.

Craig's seat will be up for re-election in 2008. (Posted 3:11 p.m.)

Felix weakens but massive flooding still a concern for Central America

LA CEIBA, Honduras (CNN) -- Felix, downgraded to a tropical depression early Wednesday, was rapidly weakening as it crossed the mountains of Central America less than a day after making landfall as a fierce Category 5 hurricane.

But the storm still has enough punch to dump an expected 6 to 10 inches of rain on northern Nicaragua and El Salvador, while most of Honduras could up to 15 inches of rain.

Isolated maximum amounts of 25 inches are possible in mountainous areas, the center said, and these rains will "likely produce life-threatening flash floods and mud slides."

The storm killed nine people on Nicaragua's Miskito Coast, the country's civil defense told CNN. Authorities said the number is preliminary because assessment teams are in the early stages of their work. No deaths or serious injuries were reported in Honduras, according to Air Force Lt. Marco Rodriguez of COPECO, the Honduran disaster response agency. (Posted 3:06 p.m.)

Military admits bomber mistakenly flew nukes across country

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A B-52 bomber mistakenly carried six nuclear warheads on air-launched cruise missiles on a flight from North Dakota to Louisiana last week, prompting a major investigation, military officials have confirmed.

The plane took the cruise missiles last Thursday from Minot Air Force Base to Barksdale Air Force Base for decommissioning, but the warheads should have been removed from the missiles before they were attached to the B-52, according to military officials. The crew was unaware that they were carrying nuclear weapons, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the extraordinary sensitivity and security surrounding the case. The mistake was discovered after the plane's flight to Louisiana.

While declining to confirm that the incident involved nuclear weapons, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morell made clear that concerns about the "error" had been escalated to the highest levels.

"Secretary (of Defense Robert) Gates was quickly informed of this incident ... and he has been receiving daily briefings from Gen. Buzz Moseley, the Air Force chief of staff, on actions that the Air Force is taking and the progress of their investigation," Morell told reporters Wednesday.

"I can also tell you that it's important enough that President Bush was notified of it." --From Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr (Posted 3 p.m.)

Fossett searchers intent on finding star aviator

MINDEN, Nev. (CNN) -- It could take a week, under ideal conditions, to cover the 600 square miles where famed aviation adventurer Steve Fossett might be, but there is still room for optimism, a spokeswoman for the Civil Air Patrol said Wednesday.

Search and recovery flight teams from three states, aided by sophisticated technology, were focusing on an area east of the Sierra Nevada mountains in the hope of finding Fossett, missing since midday Monday, Maj. Cynthia Ryan of the Nevada Civil Air Patrol told reporters.

Fossett took off in a single-engine Bellanca Super Decathlon, with tail number N240R, in search of possible test sites for an attempt to break the world land speed record. He left Yerington, Nev., at 9 a.m. Monday with four to five hours of fuel and no parachute, authorities said. He told friends he would return at noon.

The California and Utah wings of the CAP joined the search Wednesday, Ryan said. Searchers had one Airvan aircraft with Archer technology, which can compare parameters fed into it with what is seen on the ground. It is different from thermal imaging. (Posted 2:57 p.m.)

U.S. military announces 8 U.S. troop deaths in Iraq

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- The U.S. military has announced the deaths of eight American soldiers in Iraq -- four on Wednesday and four on Tuesday.

Two soldiers were killed and another was wounded in combat Wednesday in eastern Baghdad, the military said.

Two other soldiers died Wednesday as a result of injuries sustained in an explosion near their vehicle in Iraq's northern Salaheddin province. Three others were wounded, the military said.

Three soldiers were killed and two were wounded Tuesday when an explosively formed penetrator detonated as they were on patrol during combat operations in eastern Baghdad, it said. The military says Iranian operatives supply explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, to insurgents in Iraq.

In western Baghdad on Tuesday, a soldier was killed and two were wounded during combat, the military said. (Posted 2:43 p.m.)

Judge stays Noriega's extradition to France

MIAMI (CNN) -- The extradition of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega to France was stayed Wednesday by a judge who asked Noriega's attorneys to produce credible evidence to support their allegations that France would not abide by the Geneva Conventions in their treatment of Noriega as a prisoner of war.

Noriega, 69, is scheduled to be released Sunday from a prison in Florida after serving 17 and a half years of his original 40-year sentence. He has been convicted in absentia in France on money laundering charges.

In his order staying the extradition, U.S. District Judge William Hoeveler asks the defense to produce the evidence by 9 a.m. Thursday.

In addition, prosecutors were told to provide all of their confidential communications with France regarding the issue by noon Thursday. The court will not make them available to the public or to Noriega, the judge said. --From CNN's John Zarrella (Posted 2:32 p.m.)

Ohio congressman found dead in his D.C. apartment

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Rep. Paul Gillmor of Ohio was found dead in his apartment in the nation's capital Wednesday, leadership aides for both the Republican and Democratic parties confirmed to CNN.

Gillmor, a Republican, was 68 years old. The leadership aides did not say how Gillmor died.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, told fellow congressmen on the floor of the House that their colleague "died suddenly overnight."

"He was a good friend to all of us," said a somber Boehner. "He's going to be missed by us all."

A tribute to Gillmor will be held in the House later Wednesday afternoon, Boehner said. (Posted 1:01 p.m.)

Ohio congressman found dead in his D.C. apartment

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Rep. Paul Gillmor of Ohio was found dead in his apartment in the nation's capital Wednesday, leadership aides for both the Republican and Democratic parties confirmed to CNN.

Gillmor, a Republican, was 68 years old. The leadership aides did not say how Gillmor died.

Gillmor, the deputy minority whip, was in his 10th term in the House, representing the 5th Congressional District in the northwest part of the Buckeye state. (Posted 12:52 p.m.)

Report: Security report on Iraq slams Interior Ministry, police forces

(CNN) -- A new report assessing the status of Iraqi security forces contains stinging criticism for Iraq's Interior Ministry and police, calling the government entity "a ministry in name only" and the National Police an "operationally ineffective" group that should be "disbanded and reorganized."

The report also had promising words for the country's armed forces but said they won't be ready to perform independently over the next 18 months.

The report, the Independent Commission on Security Forces in Iraq, was obtained by CNN Wednesday before its scheduled release Thursday. The commission, established by Congress, is headed by Gen. James L. Jones, the former top United States commander in Europe,

The report slams the Interior Ministry and the National Police force it operates -- both of which have long been regarded by observers as being infiltrated by sectarian Shiite militias. (Posted 12:43 p.m.)

Military admits bomber mistakenly flew nukes across country

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A B-52 bomber mistakenly carried six nuclear warheads on air-launched cruise missiles on a flight from North Dakota to Louisiana last week, prompting a major investigation, military officials have confirmed.

The plane took the cruise missiles last Thursday from Minot Air Force Base to Barksdale Air Force Base for decommissioning, but the warheads should have been removed from the missiles before they were attached to the B-52, according to military officials. The crew was unaware that they were carrying nuclear weapons, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the extraordinary sensitivity and security surrounding the case. The mistake was discovered after the plane's six-hour flight to Louisiana.

Lt. Col. Ed Thomas said that while the military does not publicly discuss nuclear weapons procedures, in this case the Air Force decided to acknowledge the incident in order to reassure the public.

"The public was never in any danger," Thomas said. But officials also said the incident was a major breach of security rules surrounding nuclear weapons. One Air Force official said that he could not recall anything similar happening. The Air Force announced that all flights of fighters and bombers in the United States will be halted on Sept. 14 to allow for a review of procedures. --From Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr (Posted 11:56 a.m.)

Fossett searchers intent on finding star aviator

MINDEN, Nev. (CNN) -- Flights resumed Wednesday over western Nevada's high desert in the search for multimillionaire aviator Steve Fossett, missing since he left a private air field Monday morning on a scouting mission for one of his future adventures.

Search organizers, who held a briefing before teams left the command base at Minden-Tahoe Airport in Douglas County, expected better flight conditions than Tuesday.

"The winds have cooperated much more today, so that will allow the helicopters -- the three being dispatched out here today -- to fly much closer to the ground to get a better look at what's going on," said Chuck Allen, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Public Safety.

"The five fixed-wing (aircraft) that will be flying out there will be flying at about 1,000 feet, enabling them and their observers to get a better look." (Posted 11:47 p.m.)

Noriega attorney files emergency motion to stay former dictator's extradition

MIAMI (CNN) -- An attorney for former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega on Wednesday filed an emergency motion to stay the scheduled extradition of his client to France, where he's been convicted in absentia on money laundering charges.

Noriega, 69, is scheduled to be released Sunday from a prison in Florida after serving 17 and a half years of his original 40-year sentence.

Attorney Frank Rubino filed a motion in U.S. District court to stay the extradition "because there is substantial reason to believe that the Republic of France, contrary to the representations of the United States, has no intention of applying the protection of the Geneva Convention, intending to instead treat General Noriega as a common criminal." --From CNN's John Zarrella (Posted 11:36 a.m.)

Federal agency warns more toy recalls likely

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Americans should expect more Chinese-made toys to be recalled in coming months, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said Wednesday after it and the Mattell company announced a new recall of 844,000 toys that contain excessive levels of lead paint.

It was the third such recall of Chinese-manufactured toys by Mattel this summer.

"If I were a betting person I'd bet on more lead-paint recalls," the agency's director of information, Julie Vallese, told CNN Wednesday. "It's clear that lead paint on toys is not isolated just to Mattel."

The CPSC anticipates Mattel's smaller competitors will be announcing similar recalls as they complete thorough testing of their products, she said. --From CNN's Kelly Marshall and CNNMoney.com's Rob Kelley (Posted 11:30 a.m.)

Attorney: Overturning guilty plea could allow Craig to remain in Senate

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Embattled Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho could remain in the Senate if he manages to get his conviction on disorderly conduct overturned, an attorney for Craig told CNN Wednesday.

Stanley Brand, who is representing Craig in the Senate Ethics Committee investigation into the matter, said the committee has never disciplined a lawmaker for "private misdemeanor conduct."

Craig, 62, announced Saturday that he intended to resign by the end of September, following revelations that he had pleaded guilty last month to a disorderly conduct charge for allegedly making sexual advances to an undercover police officer in a restroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in June.

Craig spokesman Dan Whiting told KTVB in Boise, Idaho, Wednesday the senator is fighting the charge: "He is innocent, and he believes that there's a good chance that he eventually will have this charge overturned and that the (Senate) Ethics Committee won't act against him." (Posted 11:05 a.m.)

More than two dozen Taliban militants killed in southern Afghan fighting

(CNN) -- Afghan police and coalition troops Wednesday battled Taliban militants in southern Afghanistan and killed more than two dozen of the insurgents, the U.S.-led coalition said.

The incident occurred more than 10 miles northwest of the Sangin District Center in Helmand province when militants ambushed Afghan National Auxiliary Police officers and coalition advisers on a combat patrol, the coalition said.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan on Wednesday, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said two NATO soldiers were killed and a soldier and an interpreter were wounded while on patrol in southern Afghanistan. It didn't provide details.

In eastern Afghanistan's Ghazni province, U.S.-led coalition forces and Afghan soldiers killed "several militants" after armed insurgents attacked the troops early Wednesday. (Posted 10:58 a.m.)

In Mosul, 1 dead, 28 wounded in suicide car bombing

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A suicide car bomb detonated at a checkpoint in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, killing a policeman and wounding 28 other people, police said.

The bombing occurred around 3 p.m. in the southeastern part of the city, police said. Two of the injured were police and 26 civilians, including street vendors and people in nearby houses, they said. --From CNN's Raja Razek (Posted 10:30 a.m.)

July drop was biggest ever for pending home sales

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The meltdown in the mortgage market caused the biggest drop on record in July for pending home sales, taking the index down to the lowest level since the month that included the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack.

The National Association of Realtors pending home sales index, which measures contracts to buy existing homes, fell 12.2 percent to a reading of 89.9. It the second lowest reading on record for the seven-year-old index, trailing only the 89.8 reading in September 2001.

"Our members are telling us some sales contracts aren't closing because mortgage commitments have been falling through at the last moment," said Lawrence Yun, the Realtors' senior economist, in the index report.

The pending home index is more forward looking than the group's existing home sales report, which measures home sales at the time a deal is closed, typically a month or two after a sales contract is signed. (Posted 10:14 a.m.)

Air Force admits bomber mistakenly flew nukes across country

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A B-52 bomber mistakenly carried six nuclear warheads on air-launched cruise missiles on a flight from North Dakota to Louisiana last week, prompting a major investigation, the Air Force has confirmed.

Lt. Col. Ed Thomas said that while the military does not publicly discuss nuclear weapons procedures, in this case the Air Force decided to acknowledge the incident in order to reassure the public.

"The public was never in any danger," he said.

The plane was taking the cruise missiles from Minot Air Force Base to Barksdale Air Force Base on Thursday for decommissioning, but the warheads should have been removed from the missiles before they were attached to the B-52, according to military officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the extraordinary sensitivity and security surrounding the case. --From Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr (Posted 10:10 a.m.)

Military: Coalition troops kill 1, detain 18 in raids

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Coalition troops Wednesday killed "an al Qaeda in Iraq leader and detained 18 suspected terrorists" in a series of raids, the U.S. military said.

"The al Qaeda in Iraq emir of the Arab Jabour area" south of Baghdad was killed, it said. The militant, who wasn't named by the military, "managed all terrorist attacks in the area south of Baghdad."

The death occurred "when coalition forces approached" a building" and "received small arms fire," the military said.

They returned fire and killed one person, determined later to be "the terrorist emir." Eight other people were detained and weaponry was found. (Posted 10:59 a.m.)

4 U.S. troops die in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Three U.S. soldiers were killed Tuesday in roadside bombings in Baghdad, the U.S. military said Wednesday. A fourth died in a separate incident.

The three soldiers, part of a Multi-National Division-Baghdad unit, were killed and two were wounded when an explosively formed penetrator detonated as they were on patrol during combat operations in eastern section of the Iraqi capital.

In western Baghdad, a Multi-National Division-Baghdad soldier was killed and two were wounded during combat.

The number of U.S. military deaths in the Iraq war now stands at 3,748. Six troop deaths have occurred so far in September. (Posted 8:31 a.m.)

Two NATO soldiers killed, 2 wounded in southern Afghanistan

(CNN) -- Two NATO soldiers were killed while on patrol in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said.

In addition, a NATO soldier and interpreter were wounded.

NATO did not provide any further details. (Posted 6:33 a.m.)

German authorities: terror suspects planned 'massive' and 'imminent' attacks

BERLIN (CNN) -- German police Tuesday arrested three suspected Islamic militants who were planning "massive" and "imminent" attacks on Frankfurt's international airport and the U.S. air base in Ramstein, German authorities said at a news conference Wednesday.

The suspects, two Germans and a Turk, received terrorist training in Pakistan and had close ties to al Qaeda, according to Jorg Ziercke, president of Germany's Federal Criminal Investigation Office.

The group had amassed 1,500 pounds of hydrogen peroxide to use for making bombs, German federal prosecutor Monika Harms told reporters.

According to Ziercke, the group was united by a "hatred against American citizens" as it planned attacks against the airport, a popular international travel hub, and the air base, a major transit point for the U.S. military into the Middle East and Central Asia. (Posted 6:19 a.m.)

Felix remnants dumping rain on Central America

LA CEIBA, Honduras (CNN) -- Felix, downgraded to a tropical depression early Wednesday, was rapidly weakening as it crossed the mountains of Central America less than a day after making landfall as a fierce Category 5 hurricane.

In its 5 a.m. ET advisory, the National Hurricane Center estimated the storm's maximum sustained winds topped out at 30 mph and placed its center "very near" to the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa.

The storm was moving at about 9 mph in a westward direction and would continue to do so throughout the day, forecasters said, adding the once-powerful storm could produce heavy rain for the region.

Felix is expected to dump between 6 and 10 inches of rain on northern Nicaragua and El Salvador, while most of Honduras will get soaked with up to 15 inches of rain. (Posted 6:18 a.m.)

Allawi calls for al-Maliki to step down

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Iraq's first post-Saddam era prime minister says the current prime minister needs to step down from his post.

Ayad Allawi made the call for embattled Nuri al-Maliki to leave his job during an interview with CNN on Wednesday.

"If I were in his shoes, I would resign, I would not stay for a single second in office," said Allawi -- the first mainstream Iraqi politician to call for al-Maliki's resignation.

Allawi is making a major push to challenge al-Maliki's Shiite-dominated government and provide an alternative path to marginalized Sunnis, wavering Shiites and influential Kurds. --From CNN's Aneesh Raman (Posted 6:15 a.m.)

11 killed, 20 wounded in Baghdad roadside bombing

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A roadside bombing near Baghdad's volatile Sadr City neighborhood on Wednesday killed at least 11 civilians and wounded 20, an Interior Ministry official said.

The incident occurred about 10:45 a.m. in Habibiya, a Shiite district at the southeast edge of Sadr City -- a densely populated and predominantly Shiite neighborhood in Iraq's capital. (Posted 4:27 a.m.)

U.S. military: 'highly sought' individual arrested near Baghdad

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- U.S.-led coalition forces captured a "highly sought" individual with alleged ties to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force early Wednesday during a precision raid south of Baghdad in the Shiite Muslim holy city of Karbala, a U.S. military statement said.

According to the military, the detainee was suspected of coordinating with high-level Quds force officers, whose goal it was to transport Iraqis into Iran for terrorist training.

Although the coalition is still assessing the individual's connection with the Quds force, Multi-National Force-Iraq spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Garver described the arrest as an "integral part of dismantling terror networks that seek to kill innocent Iraqis and security forces." (Posted 4:21 a.m.)

Spokesman: Craig 'may' reconsider resignation

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Embattled Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho could reconsider his resignation if he is cleared of a disorderly conduct charge to which he pleaded guilty last month, his spokesman told CNN Tuesday.

Dan Whiting said it is still the GOP senator's intention to resign Sept. 30, "however, he is fighting these charges and should he be cleared before then, he may -- I emphasize may -- not resign."

Craig announced his resignation Saturday after almost a week of speculation. The senator was arrested in a restroom in June at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on suspicion of making sexual advances to an undercover police officer in the next stall. He initially denied the accusation, according to an audiotape released by police, but on Aug. 8 he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. (Posted 4:19 a.m.)

Coalition soldier serving in Afghanistan found dead at military base

(CNN) -- A coalition soldier Tuesdaty was fuond dead from non-combat injuries at a coalition military base in the southeastern Afghan province of Paktia near the Pakistan border, the U.S.-led coalition command said in a Wednesday statement.

The soldier's nationality was not immediately released and the cause of death is under investigation. (Posted 4:12 a.m.)

China: Pentagon hacking allegations are 'groundless'

BEIJING (CNN) -- The Chinese government called "groundless" allegations that its military hacked the Pentagon's computer network over the summer, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported late Tuesday

"The Chinese government has always opposed any Internet-wrecking crime, including hacking, and cracked down on it according to the law," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters.

Officially, the United States has not accused Beijing of cracking into the military e-mail system that serves Defense Secretary Robert Gates and hundreds of other department employees. (Posted 4:12 a.m.)

U.S.-led coalition: 'several militants' killed in eastern Afghanistan operation

(CNN) -- U.S.-led coalition forces and Afghan soldiers killed "several militants" after armed insurgents attacked the troops early Wednesday near a compound in eastern Afghanistan's Ghazni Province, the coalition command said.

In response to the insurgents, who used small-arms fire and grenades, troops "returned fire and employed precision munitions -- resulting in the death of several militants and significant damage to the compound," the coalition said.

There was no immediate word on possible casualties to coalition or Afghan forces.

The operation came a day after coalition and Afghan forces in the same province killed 16 militants in a firefight. According to a police official, a Taliban commander who was one of the masterminds of the July kidnapping of South Korean aid workers was among those killed. (Posted 3:46 a.m.)

German attorney general: 3 terror suspects arrested

BERLIN (CNN) -- German authorities have arrested three men on suspicion of planning attacks on Frankfurt's international airport and the U.S. air base in Ramstein, according to a statement from the German attorney general's office issued Wednesday.

The suspects are said to be members of an "Islamist-motivated terrorist group" and are expected to appear before a federal magistrate.

The statement said police conducted overnight raids in several German states, but provided no additional details.

At U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Capt. Jeff Gradec said German authorities had alerted them of a possible terrorist threat to American installations, but not specifically Ramstein.

Gradec said EUCOM had no plans to raise its force protection levels in light of the plots. (Posted 3:35 a.m.)

Australian Prime Minister mirrors White House stance on troops in Iraq

SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Australian Prime Minister John Howard, a strong U.S. ally, told reporters on Wednesday that the military effort in Iraq is scoring gains and that Australia's military would maintain its presence there.

"We believe that progress is being made in Iraq and we do not believe this is the time to be setting any proposal for a scaling down of Australian forces," the Aussie leader said at a joint news conference with President George Bush.

His comments came ahead of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit -- where Iraq, climate change and trade are expected to dominate the agenda -- and shortly after meetings with Bush, where discussions focused on U.S. troop presence in Iraq, CNN's John Vause reported. (Posted 2:50 a.m.)

German attorney general: 3 terror suspects arrested

BERLIN (CNN) -- German authorities have arrested three men on suspicion of planning attacks on Frankfurt's international airport and the U.S. air base in Ramstein, according to a statement from the German attorney general's office issued Wednesday.

The suspects are said to be members of an "Islamist-motivated terrorist group" and are expected to go before a federal magistrate.

The statement said police conducted searches in several German states, but no additional details were immediately available.

Ramstein Air Base is located in western Germany's Rhineland-Palatinate state and is a major transit point for the U.S. military into the Middle East and central Asia. (Posted 2:35 a.m.)

China: Pentagon hacking allegations are 'groundless'

BEIJING (CNN) -- The Chinese government called "groundless" allegations that its military hacked the Pentagon's computer network over the summer, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported late Tuesday.

"The Chinese government has always opposed any Internet-wrecking crime, including hacking, and cracked down on it according to the law," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters.

Officially, the United States has not accused Beijing of cracking into the military e-mail system that serves Defense Secretary Robert Gates and hundreds of other department employees.

But, behind the scenes, a senior Bush administration official told CNN that China is the No. 1 suspect in the June hacking incident. On Monday, the Financial Times of London also reported that Washington believed China was responsible. (Posted 1:55 a.m.)

Birkhead dismisses book's allegations as 'pure fiction'

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Photographer Larry Birkhead, who was proved in April to be the biological father of former Playboy playmate Anna Nicole Smith's daughter, said Tuesday he will sue the author and publisher of a new book on Smith's death that contains allegations he called "pure fiction."

"I've instructed my attorney to sue Rita Cosby, the publisher and any source that spits out some of that false, defamatory information that's in there," Birkhead said Tuesday on CNN's "Larry King Live." "If I were Rita Cosby, I'd be very concerned."

Among the allegations in Cosby's "Blond Ambition: The Untold Story Behind Anna Nicole Smith's Death," are that Birkhead and Howard K. Stern, Smith's attorney and companion, had an affair -- and that an intimate moment between the two was caught on videotape.

"That's totally false and it's defamatory," Birkhead said. "I've heard the sources from that, and those sources are people that don't -- that haven't been in Anna's life and haven't even met me."

Cosby, a former MSNBC anchor, and her publisher, Grand Central Publishing, did not provide statements to CNN on the matter despite requests to do so.(Posted 11:35 p.m.)

Third recall of Mattel toys announced

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with Mattel Inc., announced a recall of 844,000 toys that contain excessive levels of lead paint Tuesday night -- the third such recall of Chinese-manufactured toys by Mattel this summer.

In a statement issued by Mattel, the company apologized to consumers and said that it had spent more than 50,000 hours investigating its vendors and testing its toys. It said that 11 additional types of toys had been discovered that needed to be recalled.

"We've promised consumers that we'd tell them efficiently and openly if we found any additional affected toys, and that is what we are doing today," said Mattel.

Two Fisher-Price brand toys and various Barbie accessory toys were named in the recall, though the Barbie toys make up the majority of the affected toys. No Barbie dolls were involved in the recall, the company said. (Posted 10:45 p.m.) E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print