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Monday, December 5

Editor's Note: CNN News Update is a running log of the latest news from CNN World Headquarters, reported by CNN's correspondents, producers and Wires.CNN editors.

Saddam Hussein trial resumes in Baghdad, then goes into recess

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- The trial of Saddam Hussein resumed Tuesday after a contentious session the day before that was filed with delays and verbal clashes between witnesses, defendants, attorneys and the chief judge.

Eight defendants, including Hussein, are standing trial in connection with the killing of more than 140 men 23 years ago in the mostly Shiite town of Dujail. The killings are considered retribution for a failed assassination attempt on Hussein.

Tuesday's session went into recess almost immediately after technical problems afflicted a device used to electronically disguise voices.

Witnesses were to testify behind a blue curtain with their voices altered to hide their identities from the defendants, but not the judges or attorneys. (posted 4:10 a.m.)

Zuma faces rape charges

JOHANNESBURG (CNN) -- Former South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma was charged with rape Tuesday in the Johannesburg High Court, prosecutors said.

"Mr. Zuma duly appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court today, the 6th of December 2005, where the indictment and related documentation were served on him," a statement from National Prosecuting Authority said."

After his arraignment, Zuma was released on about $3,000 bail, with his trial scheduled to start February 13, 2006.

Reports of the rape case against Zuma began circulating last month in local media. (posted 3:55 a.m.)

Connecticut State Police arrest man in courthouse threats case

(CNN) -- Connecticut State Police arrested a 28-year-old man man Monday in connection with a series of threatening phone calls that closed 45 of the state's courthouses last week, a police spokesman said.

According to Sgt. Paul Vance, Javier Rodriguez of Willimantic, Conn., was taken into custody at his home Monday evening and has been charged with terrorism, falsely reporting an incident, attempted larceny by extortion and harassment.

The Connecticut courthouses were shut down and evacuated Friday after state police said they received a "non-specific threat" directed toward the state's judicial department. (posted 2:10 a.m.)

Dean: Idea that U.S. can win war in Iraq 'just plain wrong'

(CNN) -- Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean is drawing GOP fire after telling a San Antonio radio station Monday that the United States appears to be repeating the mistakes of Vietnam in Iraq -- and that the idea the war in Iraq can be won is "just plain wrong."

In an interview with WOAI radio, the head of the Democratic Party drew the parallel between efforts to turn security responsibilities in Iraq over to Iraqis and similar efforts in during the Vietnam War to hand off responsibility to the South Vietnamese.

Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman blasted his Democratic counterpart in a statement, accusing Dean of embracing "retreat and defeat" and "predicting that America will lose the war in Iraq." (posted 12:50 a.m.)

U.S. Embassy in Philippines closes to public due to threat

(CNN) -- The U.S. Embassy in the Philippines capital of Manila said Tuesday it was closing temporarily to the public due to "plausible threat information."

The embassy did not provide further information about the nature of the threat.

"The American Embassy in Manila would like to alert all Philippine and American citizens that due to plausible threat information, U.S. public services at the U.S. Embassy in Manila will be temporarily closed to the public on December 6, 2005," the embassy said in a statement.

"The U.S. Embassy will resume all public operations, including visa operations, when deemed appropriate."

Emergency services to Americans in the country will remain available, the statement said. (Posted 10:28 p.m.)

FEMA: Several threats made against Katrina relief workers

NEW ORLEANS (CNN) -- Several threats have been made against federal Katrina relief workers in the past several weeks and six people have been arrested, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency said Tuesday.

But FEMA spokesman James McIntyre said the only time workers were pulled off the job was last Thursday at the site of a levee failure in the flood-devastated lower Ninth Ward after a man told Army Corps of Engineers personnel he held them responsible for the breach that led to the deaths of members of his family.

The man told the workers "he was going home to get a gun," McIntyre said. No arrest was made in that case, he said, and the man has not been heard from since.

Some of the other cases involved threats by e-mail, McIntyre said. (Posted 9:15 p.m.)

Poll shows DeLay faces political trouble in Texas district

(CNN) -- The criminal charges against Rep. Tom DeLay have taken a toll on his political support back home in his solidly Republican House district, where close to half of the registered voters in a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll said they are likely to vote for his Democratic opponent next year.

The poll, released Monday evening, also found that 55 percent of the registered voters in Texas' 22nd District believe the charges against the former House majority leader are definitely or probably true, and they are evenly split on the question of whether his prosecution is politically motivated, as DeLay has charged.

When registered voters were asked for their opinion of DeLay, 52 percent said it was unfavorable, while just 37 percent said they viewed him favorably. In 2004, despite negative headlines from a string of ethics complaints, DeLay won 55 percent of the vote in the 22nd District, which includes parts of four suburban counties south of Houston. President Bush also easily carried all four counties.

But when registered voters in the new poll were asked whether they were likely to choose DeLay or an unnamed Democrat in the 2006 midterm election, 49 percent said they would pick the Democrat, while just 36 percent said they would likely support DeLay, who has represented the district since 1984. The poll's sampling error was plus or minus 4 percentage points. (Posted 7 p.m.)

U.S. asks court to throw out Katrina victim lawsuits against FEMA

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Government lawyers in Washington on Monday asked a federal judge in Louisiana to throw out a lawsuit against the Federal Emergency Management Agency filed by Hurricane Katrina victims, whose demands include continuation of the emergency shelter program that pays for hotel and motel rooms for uprooted residents.

"Plaintiffs have no legal basis to compel FEMA to make disaster assistance determinations within a certain period of time, or to continue the hotel/motel program," the Justice Department said in its response to a suit by 25 named hurricane victims "and others similarly situated."

The displaced Louisiana residents are challenging several FEMA decisions, including the plan to end the hotel program on December 15 in some states, and by Jan. 7 in the 10 states where 93 percent of the hotel evacuees are located. --From Justice Producer Terry Frieden (Posted 6:16 p.m.)

Judge dismisses some, but not all, charges against DeLay

(CNN) -- The judge hearing the criminal case against Rep. Tom DeLay issued a split decision Monday, tossing out a conspiracy charge against the former majority leader but allowing the money laundering case against him to proceed.

While the decision by state District Judge Pat Priest is a partial legal victory for DeLay, it will not allow him to reclaim his former job as majority leader, which House GOP rules forced him to give up when he was indicted on criminal charges in October.

DeLay's attorneys had pressed for dismissal of all charges in order to resolve the case and allow him to return to the No. 2 leadership post in the House. (Posted 5:21 p.m.)

Companies hired to do DNA testing on unidentified Katrina victims

NEW ORLEANS (CNN) -- Louisiana officials Monday hired private companies to conduct DNA testing to identify Hurricane Katrina victims whose bodies have been in storage for weeks or months while frantic relatives desperately seek information on their fate.

The bodies of 263 victims still have not been identified, and "testing should begin immediately," said Lt. Lawrence McLeary, spokesman for Louisiana State Police.

Hundreds of people with missing relatives have provided mouth swabs and other DNA materials for use in genetic matching tests, said Bob Johannessen, spokesman for the state coroner, and "by the end of this year, we should have made significant progress" toward identifying many of the victims.

He said examiners already have good leads on the identities of 140 of the victims. The rest, even with DNA testing, will be like "searching for a needle in a haystack," he said. (Posted 4:47 p.m.)

Boy Scout official sentenced on child pornography charge

WASHINGTON (CNN) --A long-time top official with the Boy Scouts of America was sentenced to eight years in prison Monday for receiving and distributing child pornography, according to U.S. Customs officials who investigated the case.

Douglas Smith Jr., 61, of Colleyville, Texas, was sentenced by a federal judge in Fort Worth after pleading guilty to the pornography charge. Under sentencing guidelines he could have received five to 20 years in prison.

Smith served as national director of programs for the Boy Scouts at their national headquarters in Irving, Texas. He had been employed by the BSA for 39 years before retiring when the charges surfaced early this year. (Posted 4:43 p.m.)

3 members of young arson ring sentenced for torching housing development

(CNN) -- The 21-year-old Maryland man convicted of being the ringleader of last year's house-torching spree that destroyed or damaged 35 homes under construction near Washington was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison Monday, and two others were sentenced to lesser terms.

Patrick Walsh of Fort Washington, Maryland, who was convicted on September 2, and the others were sentenced on the eve of the anniversary of the blazes, which claimed rows of homes in the upscale Hunter's Brooke development in Charles County.

Aaron Speed, 22, of Waldorf, Maryland, was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison, and Jeremy Parady, 21, of Accokeek Maryland, was sentenced to seven years and three months behind bars. They pleaded guilty earlier this year.

All three were ordered to share in paying the $3,275,000 in property damage caused when the nearly completed half-million-dollar homes were burned on December 6, 2004. (Posted 4:40 p.m.)

French national abducted in Baghdad

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A French national working for an engineering firm engaged in sewage projects in the Iraqi capital was kidnapped by gunmen Monday, police said.

The abduction took place around 9:20 a.m. (1:20 a.m. ET) in the upscale Mansur district of western Baghdad. The district has been the location of many high profile kidnappings.

According to police, witnesses said gunmen pulled the man from a vehicle in front of his residence.

In Paris, the French Foreign Ministry identified the kidnapped man as Bernard Planche, who was working for AACCESS, a non-governmental organization. (Posted 3:35 p.m.)

NSA documents, study revive questions over Gulf of Tonkin incident

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Government officials in 1964 "deliberately skewed" reports of an attack on U.S. warships in North Vietnam's Gulf of Tonkin, a National Security Agency researcher has determined.

Those reports spurred Congress to grant former President Lyndon Johnson broad power to wage the Vietnam War.

A 56-page report by NSA historian Robert J. Hanyok concludes that while there was no evidence to support the idea that analysts were pressured to deliver intelligence to suit the Johnson administration's position, subsequent reports were "deliberately skewed" to support the claim that an attack had taken place on the night of Aug. 4, 1964.

Hanyok also concludes that after reviewing all of the available evidence on American and Vietnamese actions, no attack happened that night. --By CNN News Assistant David de Sola (Posted 1:20 p.m.)

Former 9/11 commission members say Congress, President Bush still not doing enough to prevent another terror attack

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The former members of the bipartisan 9/11 commission issued a new report Monday blaming Congress and the president for not doing enough to enact reforms to prevent another terrorist strike.

"Four years after 9/11 it is a scandal that police and firefighters in large cities still can't talk to each other reliably when they are hit with a major crisis," said Thomas Kean, the Republican chairman of the committee.

"It is scandalous that airline passengers are still not screened against all names on a terrorist watch list. It is scandalous that we still allocate scarce homeland security dollars on the basis of pork barrel spending and not on risk."

The bipartisan panel, which looked into U.S. security efforts before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the government's response after them, produced a final report in July 2004 containing a slew of recommendations. But the former commission members said the response to that report has not been adequate to prepare the United States for another attack. (Posted 11:45 a.m.)

Dec. 19 hearing set on whether Lionel Tate is competent, he is accused of violating probation

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CNN) -- A judge considering whether Lionel Tate has violated his probation Monday set a hearing on whether Tate is competent after Tate wrote a letter saying he was hearing voices and threatened to kill himself.

Tate is before Broward County Circuit Judge Joel Lazarus on accusations that he robbed a pizza delivery man at gunpoint on May 23.

Tate is on probation as part of a plea agreement that followed the overturning of his murder conviction by an appeals court. If he is found in violation of his probation, he could be sent to prison for life.

He was given a life sentence in the 1999 killing of family friend Tiffany Eunick. Tate, who was 12 when the girl was killed, was the youngest person to be sentenced to life in prison in modern American history. He claimed during that trial that he accidentally killed Eunick, 6, while imitating wrestlers he had seen on television. (Posted 9:56 a.m.)

Quake hits East Africa

JOHANNESBURG, S. Africa (CNN) -- A 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck East Africa Monday.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey the epicenter of the quake was in the Lake Tanganyika region on the Congo-Tanzania border.

In Nairobi, Kenya, hundreds of people fled from office buildings in fear as the initial shock and several aftershocks hit the city.

Trembling was also felt in the Republic of Congo, Burundi, Zambia, and Tanzania. There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries. -- From CNN's Jeff Koinange (Posted 9:13 a.m.)

Rice says U.S. has captured and held terrorists through 'renditions,' says European countries have cooperated, denies torture

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday the United States has captured and held terrorists through "renditions," and that governments, including European governments, have cooperated with the United States.

But, in answer to an inquiry by European countries, Rice said, "The United States does not transport, and has not transported detainees from one country to another for the purpose of interrogation and torture."

Rice spoke as she prepared to leave for visits to European capitals. The European Union, the Council of Europe, and several individual countries have asked the United States about media reports that it has transported terrorists on clandestine flights and has used secret prison facilities to hold and interrogate them. (Posted 7:32 a.m.)

Hussein trial resumes after 90-minute delay; witness describes torture, rape of Dujail residents

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- After a 90-minute delay, the trial of Saddam Hussein resumed Monday morning with arguments from the defense on the legitimacy of the court and gripping testimony about torture and rape from the first witness to appear in person.

Eight defendants, including Hussein, are standing trial in connection with the killing of more than 140 men 23 years ago in the mostly Shiite town of Dujail. The killings are considered retribution for a failed assassination attempt on Hussein.

Ahmed Hassan Mohammed, a resident of Dujail, named his torturers and their relations to the defendants and graphically -- and at times tearfully -- described what he saw. "They broke him," he said of one man. "Broke his arm, his leg. This is during torture. They also shot at his foot, all of that during interrogation. He died under torture. They broke all his body parts." (Posted 7:31 a.m.)

Explosion at mall in northern Israel; 5 dead, 35 injured

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- A suicide bomber exploded outside a shopping mall in the northern Israeli city of Netanya Monday, killing five people, injuring 35 others, 14 of them seriously, said Regional Deputy Police Commander Avi Sasson. The bomber also died in the attack.

Sasson said the bomber had been pulled from a security screening line outside the mall by police and a security guard when he detonated.

Israeli security officials planned to meet to assess the situation later in the day.

"As long as this extremist terrorist groups remain armed, they will continue to kill innocent civilians and kill the chance for peace -- kill the chance of moving forward," Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

The Islamic Jihad militant group claimed responsibility for the attack, which Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat immediately condemned on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. (Posted 7:02 a.m.)

Clark: Protection given Hussein defense team is 'absurd'

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- The trial of Saddam Hussein, delayed Monday morning when the defense walked out because the presiding judge refused to hear their complaints, resumed after the judge reversed himself and agreed the attorneys could present oral arguments about the fairness and legitimacy of the proceedings.

Chief Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin gave former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, a member of the defense team, five minutes to address the court. Clark said the protection afforded the defense was "absurd."

After Clark and another member of the defense team, ex-Qatari Justice Minister Najeeb al-Nuaimi, spoke, the first witness was sworn in. (Posted 6:59 a.m.)

U.S. helicopters make emergency landings, 5 U.S. soldiers injured

(CNN) -- A pair of U.S. helicopters made emergency landings in Afghanistan Sunday after being hit by enemy fire, a U.S. military statement said, injuring five U.S. soldiers and one Afghan National Army soldier.

According to the Coalition Press Information Center, the two CH-47 Chinook helicopters were involved in offensive operations in southern Afghanistan at the time they were attacked and were forced to make hard landings.

"One of the helicopters had to make an immediate controlled landing. The other aircraft was able to return to a nearby forward operating base," Monday's statement said.

None of the injuries were serious, according to the U.S. military, and all of the injured soldiers have been treated and released. (posted 2:55 a.m.)

Roadside bombs kill 3 U.S. troops in Iraq

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A U.S. soldier died Sunday in the eastern section of the Iraqi capital when his patrol hit an improvised explosive device, a U.S. military statement said.

Two other American troops were killed earlier Sunday when a roadside bomb struck their patrol in Baghdad, a U.S. military spokeswoman said. That attack, in the southeastern Baghdad neighborhood of Juruf al-Naddaf, also destroyed two U.S. Humvees.

Since the start of the conflict, 2,130 U.S. troops have died in Iraq.

In a separate incident, three U.S. soldiers were wounded Sunday when a roadside bomb exploded near their convoy as they conducted combat operations southwest of Deh Chopan, a military statement said.

The soldiers are in stable condition and are receiving medical treatment at Kandahar Airfield. (posted 12:20 a.m.)

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