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The CNN Wire: Friday, Nov. 30

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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.

Chavez ends referendum campaign with threats to opponents, U.S.

CARACAS, Venezuela (CNN) -- President Hugo Chavez on Friday wrapped up his campaign to push through broad constitutional changes with a broadside attack against adversaries at home and abroad -- including a threat to cut off oil exports to the United States.

Chavez told a crowd gathered in the center of Caracas that if the referendum was approved and the result was questioned, "if the 'yes' vote wins on Sunday and the Venezuelan oligarchy, playing the (U.S.) empire's game, comes with their little stories of fraud," then he would order oil shipments to the United States halted first thing Monday.

Chavez spoke after tens of thousands, brought on buses from throughout the country, marched down the capital's principal boulevard to rally support for Sunday's referendum, which would free Chavez from term-limit restrictions and move the country toward institutionalized socialism.

Friday's rally acted as a counterpoint to an opposition march down the same streets Thursday that brought out tens of thousands who fear that the 69 constitutional changes would serve to undermine basic democratic freedoms. (Posted 9:49 p.m.)

Amtrak and freight trains collide in Chicago

CHICAGO (CNN) -- Two Amtrak crew members were seriously injured Friday when their train collided with a Norfolk Southern freight train on the same track, the Chicago Fire Department said.

The Amtrak employees were among 10 people rushed to the trauma unit of Cook County Hospital, Sean Howard, a spokesman for the hospital said. He said a child may be among the 10. (Posted 9:39 p.m.)

Man surrenders after holding hostages at N.H. Clinton campaign office

ROCHESTER, N.H. (CNN) -- A man complaining about his inability to get mental health treatment held hostages for more than five hours Friday inside Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign office in Rochester, N.H., before finally surrendering to police.

Leeland Eisenberg, 46, of Somersworth, N.H., walked into the office with what he said was a bomb strapped to his chest, which turned out to be road flares held with duct tape, police said.

Five people inside the office at the time, including a small child, were eventaully released unharmed.

Clinton, who was in Washington at the time, said afterward she was "grateful this day has ended so well."

During the standoff, Eisenberg had three conversations with CNN staffers in Washington and Atlanta, during which he said he had mental health problems and could not get the help he needed. He also said he wanted to speak with Clinton.

While negotiating with police, Eisenberg also asked to speak with Clinton, but Rochester Police Chief David Dubois said the request was denied. (Posted 8:20 p.m.)

'Baby Grace' identity positively confirmed

(CNN) -- DNA tests conducted in Galveston, Texas, confirmed that a toddler whose body was found in the West Bay earlier this month was Riley Ann Sawyers, the daughter of Robert Thomas Sawyers and Kimberly Dawn Trenor, the Galveston County Sheriff's Department said Friday in a statement.

Trenor, 19, and her husband, Royce Clyde Zeigler II, 24, were arrested Saturday and charged with injuring a child and tampering with physical evidence. The Sheriff's Department said that the Galveston County District Attorneys Office would be reviewing the case to decide about other possible charges. (Posted 6:51 p.m.)

U.S. State Department defends political progress in Iraq

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. State Department ended the week defending political progress in Iraq after new criticism that Iraqi national leaders are moving too slowly.

Just a few days earlier, all the focus was on the Mideast, the Annapolis Conference on Tuesday and the re-launch of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. But by Friday the spotlight shifted back to the war in Iraq.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Friday "there has been substantial progress" in Iraq, as a result of both a military and diplomat surge. "It may not be headline-grabbing, but it is very meaningful."

Earlier in the day, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., blasted the Iraqi government. "The military surge has created a window of opportunity for the Iraqi government," Murtha said in a statement. "Unfortunately the sacrifice of our troops has not been met by the Iraqi government and they have failed to capitalize on the political and diplomatic steps that the surge was designed to provide." (Posted 6:27 p.m.)

2007 Atlantic hurricane ends; least powerful in five years

(CNN) -- The 2007 Atlantic hurricane season entered the history books Friday, and, for the second year in a row, fewer storms developed than forecasters predicted before the tropical season began.

All told, 14 named storms developed in the Atlantic basin, of which six became hurricanes and three major hurricanes, with winds in excess of 111 mph. While those numbers are near historical season averages, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center had predicted above-average activity before the season began in June.

And when evaluated on the collective duration and intensity of storms, the 2007 season was the weakest in five years, even with two hurricanes making landfall at Category 5 intensity for the first time in recorded history, according to the hurricane center. That occurred in Mexico and Nicaragua.

Only one hurricane -- Humberto -- made landfall in the United States, striking the upper Texas Gulf Coast on Sept. 13. One death was blamed on the storm. (Posted 6:25 p.m.)

Man holding hostages in Clinton office taken into custody

ROCHESTER, N.H. (CNN) -- A man who had been holding hostages inside Hillary Clinton's New Hampshire campaign office was taken into custody Friday evening. (Posted 6:23 p.m.)

3 hostages freed at Clinton campaign office; one believed still inside

(CNN) -- A man who claimed to have a bomb strapped to his chest walked into the presidential campaign office of Sen. Hillary Clinton in Rochester, N.H, on Friday, taking several hostages.

By 4 p.m., three people, including a young child, had been released. At least one more person, a woman, was believed to still be inside. The man has been identified as Lee Eisenberg, according to Earl Sweeney, the assistant commissioner of the state Department of Safety. Sweeney said Eisenberg is known to local police and is supposedly upset about the mental healthcare situation in the United States.

Maj. Michael Hambrook of the New Hampshire State Police said the man walked into the office about 1 p.m. One woman was seen walking out of the office with police shortly before 3:30 p.m. and another woman, carrying a young child, was released shortly after the man entered the office.

Clinton, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, was in the Washington area. She was scheduled to speak at 3 p.m. at a Democratic National Committee event in Virginia, but canceled the talk because of the situation, DNC Chairman Howard Dean said. (Posted 6:06 p.m.)

Judge releases brothers held in Holloway case

ORANJESTAD, Aruba (CNN) -- A judge has ordered the release of two brothers re-arrested last week in connection with the 2005 disappearance of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway, according to Hans Mos, Aruba's chief public prosecutor.

Deepak and Satish Kalpoe appeared Friday before a judge, and prosecutors asked that they be held for another eight days, but the judge denied the request, Mos said. The brothers, ages 24 and 21, will be released by 4 p.m. Saturday (3 p.m. ET). The brothers, from Suriname, were previously jailed in the case, but were re-arrested last week and charged with being involved in the "voluntary manslaughter" of Holloway, as well as assault and battery leading to her death.

In the Kalpoes' case, prosecutors said the judge reasoned Friday that "the new evidence, together with the existing evidence in this case, produce serious grounds for the suspicion of some kind of aiding and abetting, of covering up the traces of a crime committed or of the disposing of a corpse." But, Mos told reporters, people accused of those crimes do not qualify for pretrial detention under Aruban law.

The prosecutor noted that on Monday, the same judge approved Van der Sloot's continuing detention based on the same evidence. "Apparently, the judge sees a difference between the third suspect and these two suspects," he said, since he concluded the evidence against the Kalpoes was not strong enough to warrant their continued detention. (Posted 6:05 p.m.)

U.S. to miss deadline for new U.N. resolution against Iran

WASHINGTON -- (CNN) The United States is going to miss an end-of-November deadline for a new U.N. resolution against Iran and its nuclear program.

The United States had hoped to work with other countries to push through a new demand that Iran halt its nuclear enrichment that the Bush administration says could lead to a nuclear bomb. State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said talks will continue this weekend in Paris on what would be the third Iran resolution.

"Would we have preferred to have already had a resolution signed, sealed and delivered, voted on and implemented? Yeah, absolutely," McCormack told reporters Friday. But as its self-imposed midnight deadline nears, the United States still can't reach agreement among the members of the so-called P5 plus 1 -- the five permanent members of the United Nations Security council, the United States, Britain, Russia, France and China plus Germany.

McCormack blamed what he called "tactical differences" with both China and Russia, but he predicted the group would work through those. (Posted 6:03 p.m.)

U.S. government files suit to detain ship that damaged SF harbor

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Justice Department lawyers Friday filed suit to prevent the departure of the container ship that spilled thousands of gallons of heavy fuel into the San Francisco Bay earlier this month.

The Hong Kong-flagged Cosco Busan, which struck the Bay Bridge on Nov. 7, is currently in dry dock for repairs to a gash in the vessel's side. In Washington, the Justice Department said prosecutors went to federal court in San Francisco Friday to make sure that when the ship is seaworthy it is not allowed to leave unless it has paid for all the clean-up costs to damaged natural resources.

A Justice Department official said the ship is insured for damages up to $39 million, and that costs are rapidly approaching that figure. The lawsuit says the government wants to be certain all costs will be recovered. The government filed what amounts to a request to the court to impound the ship, and arrest the parties if the costs are not paid.

The Cosco Busan is owned by Regal Stone and Fleet Management headquartered in Hong Kong. The firms are named as defendants along with Shipowners Insurance and Guaranty Company, which insured the ship for damages and the pilot of the vessel, John Cota. (Posted 5:32 p.m.)

Judge releases brothers held in Holloway case

ORANJESTAD, Aruba (CNN) -- A judge has ordered the release of two brothers re-arrested last week in connection with the 2005 disappearance of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway, according to Hans Mos, Aruba's chief public prosecutor.

Deepak and Satish Kalpoe appeared Friday before a judge, and prosecutors asked that they be held for another eight days, but the judge denied the request, Mos said. The brothers, ages 24 and 21, will be released Saturday.

In making his decision regarding the Kalpoes on Friday, the judge indicated there was suspicion against them relating to a lesser crime, such as "making a body disappear," Mos told reporters. Under Aruba's system of justice, a person accused of that crime cannot be kept in pretrial detention.

The prosecutor noted that on Monday, the same judge approved the continuing detention of a third suspect, Joran Van der Sloot, based on the same evidence. "Apparently, the judge sees a difference between the third suspect and these two suspects," he said, since he concluded the evidence against the Kalpoes was not strong enough to warrant their continued detention. (Posted 5:30 p.m.)

Motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel dead at 69

(CNN) -- Evel Knievel, the motorcycle daredevil whose stunts -- including an attempted leap over Idaho's Snake River Canyon -- made him a popular cultural figure, is dead, according to his Web site, evelknievel.com. He was 69.

Robert Craig "Evel" Knievel, born in Butte, Mont., was known for his daredevil stunts. Over his career, Knievel was said to have broken practically every bone in his body -- some multiple times. With his red-white-and-blue jumpsuits, shock of hair and stone-faced mein, he was a fixture on ABC's program "Wide World of Sports" in the 1970s, his stunts perennial ratings-grabbers.

Knievel's most famous stunt was probably an attempt to jump the quarter-mile wide Snake River Canyon in 1974 on his rocket-powered "Sky-Cycle." He had hoped to jump the Grand Canyon, but couldn't get permission. The attempt failed, but the publicity was priceless.

Although his jumps were often successful, the daredevil was perhaps as well known for his spectacular crashes -- in addition to the Snake River crash, which saw Knievel walk away with only minor injuries -- a bad landing on a 1967 jump of the fountains as Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas put him in a coma for nearly a month. (Posted 5:28 p.m.)

Judge releases brothers held in Holloway case

ORANJESTAD, Aruba (CNN) -- A judge has ordered the release of two brothers re-arrested last week in connection with the 2005 disappearance of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway, according to a prosecution spokesman.

Deepak and Satish Kalpoe appeared Friday before a judge, and prosecutors asked that they be held for another eight days, but the judge denied the request, the spokesman said. The brothers, from Suriname, were previously jailed in the case, but were re-arrested last week and charged with being involved in the "voluntary manslaughter" of Holloway.

Also re-arrested was Joran Van der Sloot, son of an Aruban judge, who remained jailed Friday. Van der Sloot is next set to appear before a judge Dec. 7, and prosecutors have said they will ask that he be detained another 60 days. Prosecutors said when the arrests took place Nov. 21 they had new incriminating evidence against the three.

They were the last people seen with Holloway, 18, as she left an Oranjestad nightclub on May 30, 2005. Holloway, who was on a trip to Aruba with about 100 classmates celebrating their graduation from Mountain Brook High School in suburban Birmingham, Ala., did not show up the following day for her flight home. (Posted 4:28 p.m.)

Three hostages freed at Clinton campaign office

(CNN) -- A man who claimed to have a bomb strapped to his chest walked into the presidential campaign office of Sen. Hillary Clinton in Rochester, N.H, on Friday, taking several hostages.

By 4 p.m., three people, including a young child, had been released. At least one more person, a woman, was believed to still be inside. No injuries were reported.

Maj. Michael Hambrook of the New Hampshire State Police told WMUR-TV the man walked into the office about 1 p.m.

One woman was seen walking out of the office with police just before 3:30 p.m. and another woman, carrying a young child, was released shortly after the man entered the office.

Clinton, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, canceled an appearance in Virginia, and her staff said she was in close contact with police.

Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and former Sen. John Edwards, both Democratic candidates, evacuated their offices in Rochester as a precaution. Both offices are near Clinton's. (Posted 4:25 p.m.)

Judge releases brothers held in Holloway case

ORANJESTAD, Aruba (CNN) -- A judge has ordered the release of two brothers re-arrested last week in connection with the 2005 disappearance of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway, according to a prosecution spokesman.

Deepak and Satish Kalpoe appeared Friday before a judge, and prosecutors asked that they be held for another eight days, but the judge denied the request. (Posted 4:07 p.m.)

YouTube reinstates account of Egyptian human rights activist

(CNN) -- YouTube has reinstated the account of an award-winning Egyptian human rights activist whose account was suspended over videos about police abuse he posted on the popular video-sharing Web site.

Wael Abbas, an anti-torture watchdog, will have to repost his videos, YouTube told CNN, and must include context explaining what each video is about. The videos were removed because of complaints that they contained "inapppropriate material."

"We are committed to preserving YouTube as an important platform for expression of all kinds, while also ensuring that the site remains a safe environment for our users," a YouTube spokesman said.

CNN was not able to reach Abbas for comment. (Posted 4:02 p.m.)

Feds: Atlanta police didn't investigate officer's husband on child sex allegations

ATLANTA (CNN) -- Atlanta police were told seven years ago that the husband of a police sergeant may have been paying young girls for sex and producing child pornography, but failed to investigate, federal authorities said.

Terrill Marion Crane, 47, was arrested Thursday by the FBI's Safe Child Task Force, according to David Nahmias, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.

He faces a federal charge of producing child pornography "relating to photographs that depict his explicit sexual activity with numerous young girls," says a statement from Nahmias' office.

Crane appeared before a U.S. magistrate Friday afternoon, said Patrick Crosby, a spokesman for Nahmias' office.

An employee of a photo processing company alerted Atlanta police to Crane in 2000, saying he was concerned about photos he developed for him. (4 p.m.)

Source: Three detained in death of Sean Taylor

MIAMI (CNN) -- Three people have been detained in connection with the Tuesday shooting death of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor, said a source close to the investigation.

Miami-Dade Police were tight-lipped about the reported detentions, however, saying only that there was an ongoing operation in Fort Myers, about 118 miles from Miami, and that it might be connected to the case.

Taylor, 24, died Tuesday, a day after he was shot during an apparent burglary at his Miami home. (Posted 3:45 p.m.)

Two hostages freed at Clinton campaign office

(CNN) -- Two hostages were freed Friday about two hours after police say a man who claimed to have a bomb strapped to his chest walked into the presidential campaign office of Sen. Hillary Clinton in Rochester, N.H.

Shortly before 3:30 p.m., police negotiators sent a cell phone to the man, who remained inside the headquarters.

Maj. Michael Hambrook of the New Hampshire State Police told WMUR-TV the man walked into the office about 1 p.m. Clinton, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, was in Virginia, where she canceled a speech.

Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and former Sen. John Edwards, both Democratic candidates, evacuated their offices in Rochester as a precaution. Obama's office is near Clinton's. (Posted 3:33 p.m.)

Astor son's lawyer surrenders

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The attorney who was indicted on criminal charges of plundering the $198 million-dollar estate of the late New York socialite and philanthropist Brooke Astor surrendered to authorities Friday, said the New York district attorney's office.

Francis Morrissey and Anthony Marshall, who is Astor's son, were indicted Tuesday by Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau on charges of criminal possession of stolen property, forgery, conspiracy and grand larceny.

A statement from Morgenthau's office alleges both men swindled Astor "out of millions of dollars and valuable property" by "taking advantage of Mrs. Astor's diminished mental capacity" and forging her signature. Astor died in August at age 105.

Marshall surrendered to authorities and was arraigned Tuesday. Morrissey was being arraigned later Friday afternoon. . (Posted 3:10 p.m.)

Amtrak and freight trains collide in Chicago

CHICAGO (CNN) -- At least five Amtrak crew members were critically or seriously injured Friday when their train collided with a freight train on the same track, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said.

The five employees were among 10 people rushed to the trauma unit of Cook County Hospital, Sean Howard, a spokesman for the hospital said. He said a child may be among the 10.

About 100 of the 150 passengers were "walking wounded," Langford said, injured when the train came to a sudden stop.

The Amtrak No. 371 train was coming from Grand Rapids, Mich. It was making its daily trip to Chicago. The National Transportation Safety Board said it will investigate the crash. (Posted 2:44 p.m.)

Source: 3 detained in Sean Taylor's death

MIAMI (CNN) -- Three people have been detained in connection with the Tuesday shooting death of Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor, according to a source close to the investigation. (Posted 1:46 p.m.)

Bush: Faith is key to international AIDS fight

MOUNT AIRY, Md. (CNN) -- President Bush on Friday stressed the role of faith-based groups in the worldwide effort to treat and prevent AIDS, calling the fight against the disease one of conscience and morals.

Bush was speaking at Calvary United Methodist Church after meeting with representatives of religious and community groups on the eve of World AIDS Day.

According to the United Nations, 33.2 million people worldwide have HIV -- the virus that can lead to AIDS. More than 2 million people have died of AIDS this year -- including 330,000 children.

Bush is asking Congress for an additional $15 billion to continue and expand the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. (Posted 1:10 p.m.)

Top general pressing to move Marines from Iraq to Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The top general in the Marine Corps said he is meeting Friday with Defense Secretary Robert Gates to press his case for shifting all Marine combat operations from Iraq to Afghanistan, the officer told CNN.

Marine Corps Commandant James Conway said if the proposal is approved, the shift would be at least a year away, and would be accomplished during the routine rotation of forces.

Conway believes al Qaeda has been defeated in Iraq and that peace agreements are likely to hold in Anbar province, the area where U.S. Marines have been operating.

The general is arguing that the mission in Afghanistan is better suited to the Marine Corps' combat doctrine, and that having the Army concentrate on Iraq and the Marines on Afghanistan would make sense. (Posted 1:07 p.m.)

EU 'disappointed' over Iran nuclear talks

LONDON (CNN) -- The European Union's foreign policy chief said Friday he was "disappointed" by the latest talks with Iran over the nation's nuclear program, a failure that could result in more sanctions for the Middle Eastern nation.

The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany, had agreed to draft a new resolution imposing further financial and visa restrictions if there were no new steps forward in the nuclear stand-off by the end of November.

The council already has imposed sanctions on Iran for failing to meet requirements set out by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

"I have to admit that after five hours of meetings, I expected more," said Javier Solana after Friday's meeting in London.

Saeed Jalili, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, made clear that his country is adamant about advancing its nuclear activities. Tehran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful, civilian purposes. (Posted 12:29 p.m.)

Former GM CEO Smith dead at 82

(CNN) -- Roger Smith, former chairman and CEO of General Motors, has died, GM spokesman Gary Smith said Friday. He was 82.

In addition to leading GM throughout the 1980's, Smith was known for being the title character in the Michael Moore documentary "Roger & Me." (Posted 11:25 a.m.)

China turned down third U.S. port call request

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- For the third time this month, the Chinese government turned down a request from the U.S. Navy to allow its ships to make port calls in Hong Kong. There have been a series of snubs for routine requests that puzzle the Bush administration.

Senior Navy officials told CNN that Beijing refused entry for USS Reuben James, a Navy frigate, to make a holiday port call for sailors at the end of December.

The turndown was made just before Thanksgiving, at the same time China refused to allow the USS Kitty Hawk battle group into Hong Kong for a Thanksgiving holiday port call.

The Kitty Hawk battle group was eventually given permission to enter Hong Kong. However, the ships already were well on their way back to their home port in Japan. (Posted 10:31 a.m.)

One-day transit strike called Italy's 'Black Friday'

ROME (CNN) -- Much of Italy's transit network came to a halt Friday when about 300,000 employees stayed home from work to protest what they say is a lack of investment in the transport sector. The one-day strike grounded planes, buses, trains and ferries.

It is Italy's biggest general transportation strike since at least 1990, according to labor union leaders.

Labeled 'Black Friday' in the Italian media, train and ferry services were halted between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. local time, Franco Nasso from the national trade union CGIL, or Italian General Confederation of Labor.

In Rome, some commuters stayed home rather than find alternative transportation, while others walked to work. (Posted 10:10 a.m.)

Two Vick co-defendants sentenced

RICHMOND, Va. (CNN) -- A judge sentenced two of suspended NFL star Michael Vick's three co-defendants Friday to 18 and 21 months in prison for their role in a dogfighting conspiracy.

Purnell Peace, 35, of Virginia Beach, Va., received 18 months, while Quanis Phillips, 28, of Atlanta, faces 21 months.

Vick is to be sentenced next month. He pleaded guilty to the federal conspiracy charge after Peace, Phillips and a third associate, Tony Taylor, 34, of Hampton, Va., admitted their roles in the operation and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. (Posted 9:59 a.m.)

UN: About 600 Iraqis a day returning home from Syria

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- The U.N. refugee agency says a trickle of the Iraqis living in Syria are beginning to go back home, but it's too soon for the agency to advocate a return.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said in a news release Friday that "an average of 600 Iraqis returning to their country daily over the past week" from Syria -- where up to 1.5 million Iraqi refugees live.

On Tuesday, the Iraqi government organized a convoy that brought home about 800 Iraqis. Officials maintained that around 46,000 Iraqis returned from Syria in October.

The UNHCR noted that many returnees "had run out of money and their visas had expired." Others were buoyed by reports of improved security in Baghdad and other cities. (Posted 9:23 a.m.)

Hundreds denounce teacher jailed in Sudan over teddy bear's name

KHARTOUM, Sudan (CNN) -- Hundreds of angry protesters -- some waving ceremonial swords from trucks equipped with loud speakers -- gathered outside the presidential palace Friday to denounce a teacher whose class named a teddy bear "Mohammed." Some of the demonstrators called for her execution.

The number of demonstrators was estimated by witnesses, with some people saying there were closer to 1,000 people there. The protesters swore to fight in the name of their prophet.

Gillian Gibbons, 54, was convicted late Thursday of insulting religion, but cleared of two other charges of inciting hatred and showing contempt for religious beliefs, her lawyer, Ali Ajeb, said. She was given 15 days in jail.

Ajeb said they planned to appeal the sentence, which begins from the date she was detained, Nov. 25. Including Friday, she has 10 more days in jail. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said he was "extremely disappointed" that the charges were not dismissed. (Posted 8:44 a.m.)

Car bomb found outside Baghdad compound of Sunni parliamentarian

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Iraqi and coalition troops on Thursday found a car bomb outside the western Baghdad office compound of a prominent Sunni member of Iraq's parliament, Adnan al-Dulaimi, the U.S. military said on Friday.

The discovery was made when Iraqi and coalition forces conducted an operation spurred by the report of a killing of a "concerned local citizen" member. "Concerned local citizens" are volunteers who assist troops with security tasks, such as manning checkpoints.

The incident took place in the Khadra neighborhood. More than 40 people were detained in the operation.

Troops destroyed the car bomb in a "controlled detonation," but five coalition soldiers and an Iraqi civilian were wounded in a secondary explosion. The troops received minor injuries. (Posted 7:46 a.m.)

American student protests her innocence in Italian court

PERUGIA, Italy (CNN) -- Amanda Knox, the American student held in connection with the death of Meredith Kercher, protested her innocence to a court in Perugia on Friday, her lawyer said.

Knox's Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito (soh-LEH-chee-toh), 23, was also in court for the hearing to decide whether the two can continue to be detained by police.

Investigators looking into the death of British student Kercher say they have clear evidence that ties both suspects to the crime scene. (Posted 7:07 a.m.)

2 NATO soldiers die while on patrol in southern Afghanistan

(CNN) -- Two NATO soldiers were killed on Thursday while on patrol in southern Afghanistan, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said on Friday. (Posted 6:55 a.m.)

2 sick Palestinian children, adult die as they wait for resettlement

(CNN) -- Three Palestinians, including two sick children, have died recently while waiting for resettlement from Iraq, the U.N. refugee agency said on Friday.

This reflects the severe problems faced by Palestinian refugees in Iraq, about 2,000 of whom have been stranded in camps along the Syrian border. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has publicized the problem and issued an appeal for the resettlement of "vulnerable and sick" children in Al Waleed refugee camp at the Iraqi-Syrian border.

One was a 3-year-old Palestinian boy who was suffering from rickets and pneumonia. He died a few days ago in Ramadi hospital and then was buried Al Waleed. The other was a 14-year-old suffering from Hodgkin's disease who died in Baghdad last week.

A 50-year old man who was waiting to be resettled died earlier this month in Al Waleed refugee camp. The agency says seven people, including three children, have died at the camp since refugees fleeing attackers began arriving at the border in March 2006. (Posted 6:48 a.m.)

U.S. monthly troop death toll in Iraq low again

(CNN) -- The U.S. troop death toll in Iraq for the month of November stands at 36, a fact that buttresses the military's assertion that progress is being made in the war effort.

And if this toll stands -- and more fatality reports could trickle in over the next couple of days -- October, with 38 deaths, and November will be the lowest two-month stretch of American fatalities in the war since early 2004, when there were 20 in February and 52 in March.

This year's death toll, the bloodiest year since the war began, reflects in part the fortunes of this year's U.S. troop escalation called the "surge," in which nearly 30,000 more troops were this year deployed in and around Baghdad to take on insurgents.

The year started out with 83 deaths in January and 81 in both February and March. The numbers jumped dramatically in the spring, with 104 in April, 126 in May and 101 in June. Those three months were the deadliest three-month stretch in the war for U.S. troops.

As the military established its new counter-insurgency strategy, the attacks began dropping, with 78 in July, 84 in August, 65 in September, 38 in October and 36 at present in November. (Posted 5:45 a.m.)

Video seized by Colombia government shows hostages held by rebels

(CNN) -- The Colombian government has seized five videotapes from suspected members of a rebel group, showing a number of hostages, including Colombian Sen. Ingrid Betancourt and three American contractors, a government statement released Thursday said.

The tapes are the only recent evidence that the hostages kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Force of Colombia (FARC) may still be alive. Four of the five videos show recording dates in late October, while the fifth is branded Jan. 1, 2007.

In addition to Betancourt and the contractors, several kidnapped members of Colombia's security forces appear in the tapes.

Earlier this month, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, acting on behalf of the Colombian government, held talks with Luciano Marin Arango, a member of the high command of FARC, and Colombian Sen. Piedad Cordoba in a bid to broker the exchange of as many as 50 kidnapped civilians, including Betancourt. (Posted 3:10 a.m.) E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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