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Monday, August 14

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 Daylight.

Xinhua: Typhoon Saomai kills 295

BEIJING (CNN) -- China raised the death toll from Typhoon Saomai to 295 people late Monday, with 94 still missing, after last week's landfall in east China's Zhejiang Province, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The typhoon is the eighth to strike China this year, Xinhua said.

It made landfall Thursday afternoon with a top wind speed of 216 kilometers per hour (134 mph) -- the strongest typhoon to hit the southeastern part of the country in the past five decades. (Posted 12:55 a.m.)

Israel reports mortars fired inside Lebanon

(CNN) -- About 4 mortar rounds were fired inside southern Lebanon late Monday, hours after a cease-fire between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas, the Israeli military reported early Tuesday.

The rockets landed inside Lebanese territory, and Israeli forces will not respond to their firing, a military spokesman told CNN's Chris Lawrence.

Hezbollah launched scores of rockets a day into northern Israel during a 34-day conflict, killing at least 41 Israeli civilians. (Posted 11:50 p.m.)

Authorities rule out terror in Michigan cell-phone case

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI said Monday it has no evidence connecting three men arrested in Michigan last week to any terrorist plot, and state authorities have backed away from claims the men were targeting a major bridge there.

Two brothers, Adham Othman, 22, and Louai Othman, 23, and their 19-year-old cousin, Maruwan Muhareb, remain held after their arrest in Caro, Mich., state police said. But investigators have ruled out suspicions that they were casing the Mackinac Bridge, a five-mile span that connects the state's upper and lower peninsulas, said Col. Peter Munoz, the head of the Michigan state police.

The men were arrested Friday after their cash purchase of 80 prepaid wireless "TracFones" aroused suspicion at a Wal-Mart in Caro, and investigators found pictures of the bridge in their van, police said. But the level of detail in the photographs "did not support somebody conducting an attack," Munoz said. (Posted 7:35 p.m.)

From his bed, Castro makes television appearance

HAVANA (CNN) -- Cubans and Cuba watchers got their first glimpse Monday of Fidel Castro since he underwent surgery last week, with state-run television broadcasting video of the Cuban leader talking from his bed with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Chavez was on the island Sunday to help Castro celebrate his 80th birthday, the narrator of the program -- "Round Table" -- said.

Both men were wearing fire-engine red shirts, with Castro appearing pale but speaking animatedly as Chavez joked with him and showed him photographs. (Posted 6:28 p.m.)

Investigators search for forensic evidence as CNN learns new details of alleged airline plot

LONDON (CNN) -- British security sources with knowledge of the investigation revealed details Monday about the alleged plot -- made public last week -- to blow airliners out of the sky, and expressed confidence their investigation would yield results that would stand up in court.

The details emerged as investigators searched for evidence of explosive tests in woods in High Wycombe, west of London, near where they arrested 24 suspects Thursday for their alleged involvement in a plot to detonate bombs aboard trans-Atlantic airliners.

The British security sources told CNN they are confident evidence of explosives will be found, even as police conducted a detailed forensic examination of one suspect's residence. Photographs taken by a neighbor showed police removing plastic containers from the flat.

The security sources said the alleged plotters intended to use an electrical charge to detonate liquid explosives in planes as they flew at maximum cruising altitude over the Atlantic Ocean, thereby ensuring that investigators would have a tough time retrieving evidence.

The source described Rashid Rauf, who is being held without charges in Pakistan, as a leader of the group, and said that others being held in Pakistan played lesser roles. --From CNN's Dan Rivers and Henry Schuster (Posted 5:22 p.m.)

Hezbollah chief declares victory against Israel, hedges on disarming

BEIRUT (CNN) -- Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Monday he is willing to discuss disarming after what he called "a strategic and historic victory" in the 34-day conflict with Israel, but said public airing of those talks would "serve the enemy."

"Don't engage in discussions about the future of Hezbollah's arms outside of the rightful places, and I am sure that we can reach the rightful solutions," Nasrallah said in a televised address Monday night.

Nasrallah said Hezbollah had agreed to lay down its weapons south of the Litani River as part of the U.N.-brokered cease-fire that ended the war. But he said the Shiite Muslim militia would discuss full disarmament, as previous U.N. resolutions have demanded, only in private talks with national leaders -- and he blasted politicians who shared details of talks about Hezbollah's future while the fighting was still going on.

After his speech -- in which he said, "We are facing a strategic and historic victory ... for all of Lebanon, for the resistance, for the whole nation" -- fireworks and celebratory gunfire echoed over Beirut. The capital's largely Shiite southern suburbs are a Hezbollah stronghold, and they were pounded by Israeli airstrikes during the conflict. (Posted 4:50 p.m.)

Bush calls Lebanon a front in terror war

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush declared Lebanon a front in the "global war on terrorism" Monday, equating the Israeli battle against Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas to the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and criticizing Iran for its support of Hezbollah.

Bush said Hezbollah and its supporters in Iran and Syria were responsible for the 34-day war, in which a cease-fire took effect Monday, and called that conflict "part of a broader struggle between freedom and terror." He said the conflict was a win for his administration's policy of encouraging democracy in the Middle East and a defeat for Hezbollah, discounting the claim of victory issued by the Shiite Muslim militia's leader earlier Monday.

"How can you claim victory when you were state within a state in southern Lebanon, and now you're going to be replaced by an international force?" he asked.

Speaking after a day of meetings with Pentagon and State Department officials, Bush said the leaders of armed groups must choose between armed conflict and democracy. And he warned Iran against meddling in both Lebanon and Iraq. (Posted 4:23 p.m.)

Identical locks on FEMA trailers pose security risk

NEW ORLEANS (CNN) -- As many as 110,000 FEMA trailers housing hurricane victims along the Gulf Coast may have to be fitted with new locks after it was discovered that one key can be used to open many trailers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Monday.

FEMA has received no reports of trailer break-ins because of the duplicate locks, agency spokesman Aaron Walker said. But as a precaution, FEMA workers will add a second lock to all trailers and increase security at trailer group sites.

Although the federal agency buys trailers from 13 manufacturers, each unit is fitted with one of just three types of locks, Walker said. (Posted 3:01 p.m.)

U.S. military reveals new Iraqi police uniforms

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- In an effort to stop insurgents from donning Iraqi police uniforms and carrying out kidnappings and attacks, the U.S. military Monday unveiled new uniforms with a pattern that "is very difficult to duplicate," said Maj. Gen. Joseph Peterson, who is in charge of training Iraqi police.

"All of our national policemen will transition from their more woodland green camouflage uniform to this new uniform, to again make it very distinctive," Peterson said.

Later, he added, "The current uniform that is being worn by our national policemen is easy to obtain."

The uniforms are expected to be available in early October, said Peterson. The U.S. military also plans to limit the number of uniforms available to each police officer, he said. (Posted 1:38 p.m.)

Possible cases of low-risk H5N1 bird flu found in Michigan

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A possible strain of the H5N1 influenza virus has been detected in wild swans in Michigan, but it appears to be a low-pathogenic strain that is dangerous neither to animals nor to people, federal officials said Monday.

"Testing has ruled out the possibility that this is the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus that has spread through much of Asia, Europe and Africa," said Dr. Ron DeHaven, administrator for the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Pathogenicity is a measure of the ability of a virus to cause disease, and the virus found in Michigan appears low on that scale, DeHaven told reporters Monday, adding, "We do not believe that this virus represents a risk to human health." (Posted 12:26 p.m.)

U.S. military, Iraqi government disagree over what caused deadly Baghdad blast

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- The U.S. military and Iraqi government Monday are offering different versions of what caused a series of explosions that leveled a building in Baghdad on Sunday, killing 57 people and wounding 150.

Rescue workers are still searching for bodies beneath the rubble of the building in Baghdad's Zafraniya neighborhood.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki insists that Sunday's explosions were the result of rockets and car bombs from a nearby Sunni neighborhood, where Iraqi and U.S. forces are trying to restore order and end sectarian violence.

However, the U.S. military's initial information indicates an "internal gas explosion" on the building's first floor set off the blasts, spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said at a news conference Monday morning. (Posted noon)

Chief justice names new chief of staff

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A Justice Department lawyer is Chief Justice John Roberts' choice to be his new chief of staff, the person who helps manage the Supreme Court's various administrative duties.

Jeffrey Minear will begin his duties as administrative assistant to the chief justice on Sept. 11, the court announced Monday.

He is currently a senior attorney at the solicitor general's office, which is responsible for handling various appeals to the federal courts. He has worked in various positions at the Justice Department since 1983, and has argued 56 cases before the Supreme Court. (Posted 11:38 a.m.)

10 dead in Baghdad, Baquba violence

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Gunmen and roadside bombs in and around Baquba on Monday killed seven Iraqi civilians and police and injured 27 others, an official with Diyala Joint Coordination Center told CNN. Three were killed by car bombs in Baghdad, another official said.

The Diyala official said there were at least eight attacks in the span of 17 hours in the Baquba area , which is about 37 miles (60 km) north of the Iraqi capital.

Monday morning in Baghdad, two car bombs detonated in the eastern neighborhood of Zayuna around 10 a.m. (2 a.m. ET), killing two and wounding four, the emergency police official said.

About 30 minutes later, a third car bomb exploded in the Karrada neighborhood of southern Baghdad, killing one person and wounding three, the official said. (Posted 11:15 a.m.)

Olmert says key aims achieved, but conflict with Hezbollah will go on

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert took sole responsibility for the month-long war with Hezbollah Monday, saying key immediate aims were achieved, but also vowing to scrutinize "failings and shortcomings."

"The responsibility for this operation lies with me as the prime minister," he told the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.

Olmert said Hezbollah remains committed to destroying Israel, and Lebanese militia's leaders continue to present a danger.

"We will continue pursuing them," he vowed. "This is our ethical duty with respect to ourselves. And we have no intention whatsoever of apologizing or asking for permission to do this."

The conflict "did not start yesterday, nor will it finish in the foreseeable future. It's a long, hard, arduous, complex fight," he added. (Posted 11:04 a.m.)

IDF: Hours after cease-fire, 4 clashes between Hezbollah and Israeli troops; 4 Hezbollah fighters killed

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Since the U.N.-brokered cease-fire took effect Monday morning, there have been four clashes between Hezbollah and Israeli ground forces in which four Hezbollah fighters have been killed, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

In one incident, Israeli forces shot an armed man who approached Israeli troops in the village of Farun, the IDF said.

Earlier, Israeli forces near the village of Hadata identified an approaching group of three Hezbollah gunmen and opened fire, hitting one, the IDF said.

There were no details on the other two incidents.

Despite the clashes, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the cease-fire agreement -- which went into effect at 8 a.m. local time (1 a.m. ET) -- "appears to be generally holding."

"I urge the parties to make every effort, in the interest of the civilian population on both sides, to continue to consolidate the cessation," Annan said in a taped address. (Posted 10:53 a.m.)

Hospital: Sharon's condition worsens

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Nearly three weeks after he was transferred to the intensive care unit of Sheba Hospital in Tel Aviv, the condition of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon has further deteriorated, a hospital spokesperson told CNN on Monday.

Sharon, 78, has been comatose since suffering a massive stroke in January. (Posted 10:28 a.m.)

Annan: Mideast cease-fire appears to be holding

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah "appears to be generally holding," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday.

In a taped message in New York, Annan said, "I am relieved to note that the cessation of hostilities in Lebanon called for by the Security Council, which came into effect at 0500 hours GMT today, appears to be generally holding. I urge the parties to make every effort, in the interest of the civilian population on both sides to continue to consolidate the cessation."

Annan also urged the parties to "move swiftly to turn it into a lasting cease-fire."

"Millions around the world have pinned their hopes for peace on the implementation of this agreement," Annan said, "Neither side should have any reason to disappoint those hopes, and if either were to do so it would pay a heavy price in terms of world public opinion." (Posted 10:03 a.m.)

Olmert: We grieve for 159 Israelis killed

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Speaking to the Israeli parliament, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday that the death toll in more than a month of fighting stands at 159 Israelis, including civilians and soldiers.

Olmert offered his condolences to the families of those killed on behalf of the Israeli government, the Israeli people and himself.

"We are indeed a people who count their dead, we count our dead every single day," Olmert said to the Knesset. "We grieve for their passing and we mourn for every single one of them."

Previously, the Israel Defense Forces reported 167 deaths, including 114 military personnel and 53 civilians, since hostilities began on July 12. (Posted 9:32 a.m.)

Cars packed with Lebanese families jam southbound roads, despite Israeli warnings

NABATIYE, Lebanon (CNN) -- Driving through bomb craters with mattresses piled high on their cars, hundreds of Lebanese civilians jammed the southbound lanes of Lebanon's roads with a grim determination to return home to southern Lebanon, hours after a cease-fire went into effect Monday morning.

The Israeli military continues to warn civilians not to travel south of the Litani River, a region where an estimated 200,000 people have fled the month-long fighting between Israel and Hezbollah fighters.

"IDF forces are still operating on a defensive basis as Hezbollah terrorists are still in the area," an Israel Defense Forces statement said. "There are also unexploded ordnances in the area."

That unexploded ordnance has killed two returning civilians in the village of Habboush -- including a child -- and wounded nine others in other villages and towns in the southern Nabatiye province, according to Lebanese civil defense officials.

The Lebanese civilians are aware of the military's warnings broadcast over their car radios, which the IDF confesses it cannot enforce. Meanwhile, the Lebanese army has set up checkpoints along the main roads in an effort to control traffic.

In one hour, some 1,200 cars had crossed the main route from Beirut to Nabatiye, a U.N. team reported. Along the Syrian border, some 4,500 people had crossed back into Lebanon, another U.N. team said. (Posted 9:25 a.m.)

U.N.: Israeli and Lebanese military officials discuss cease-fire with UNIFIL chief

BEIRUT (CNN) -- Hours after a U.N.-brokered cease-fire took effect, senior military representatives from the Lebanese and Israeli armies met Monday with the head of U.N. forces in southern Lebanon to discuss implementing the agreement, according to a statement from a U.N. spokesperson.

The meeting with UNIFIL chief Gen. Alain Pellegrini took place at a U.N. position at a southern border crossing near Ras Naqoura around noon (5 a.m. ET), the U.N. said.

It was not clear if the Lebanese and Israeli military officials met with each other.

The Israel Defense Forces confirmed its senior military officials met with UNIFIL representatives near the Israeli border town of Rosh Hanikra, the Hebrew translation of Ras Naqoura.

The U.N. statement said the talks were "open" and "fruitful." (Posted 8:38 a.m.)

Israel defense ministry to probe war; Hezbollah 'weakened considerably'

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- The Israeli defense ministry said Monday it will conduct an "in-depth" investigation into the war with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

"As minister of defense, I plan to establish a team that will conduct an in-depth examination of all the events, before the outbreak of and during hostilities," Defense Minister Amir Peretz said at a Labor Party meeting in the Israeli parliament.

He also said he believes the war could lay the groundwork for peace efforts.

"I hope the fact that the extremist elements have been weakened considerably will lead to a process in which the moderate elements will be strengthened, and that this process will open the door to negotiations with the Lebanese government on the northern border and also renew talks with the Palestinians in the south," Peretz said. (Posted 8:38 a.m.)

Sri Lanka denies bombing orphanage where rebels say 43 died

COLOMBO (CNN) -- The Sri Lankan government denied Monday that its air force jets had bombed an orphange in Tamil Tiger rebel held Mullaitivu area in Sri Lanka's northeast, an attack that rebels say killed 43 school girls and wounded 60.

A spokesman for the Media Center for National Security said Air Force jets carried out a bombing raid on a rebel training camp at 7.30 a.m. He said the attack was launched after surveillance flights earlier confirmed the existence of such a camp.

Representatives of UNICEF and UNHCR, who are based in the rebel stronghold of Kilinochchi, said teams were on their way to the scene of the bombing.

Scandinavian truce monitors said they had received complaints from Tamil Tiger rebels that Sri Lanka Air Force bombers had hit an orphanage. (Posted 7:05 a.m.)

7 die in suicide attack on Pakistani diplomat's convoy

COLOMBO (CNN) -- A suicide car bomb attack on a military convoy escorting Pakistan's high commissioner to Sri Lanka killed at least seven people Monday, an army spokesman said.

Pakistani High Commissioner Bashir Mali and his family escaped the attack in central Colombo, but three army commandoes serving in the security detail died. The other victims were civilians. (Posted 5:25 a.m.)

3 die in Israeli airstrike in northern Gaza

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Three members of a family were killed and one was wounded during an Israeli airstrike in northern Gaza early Monday, Palestinian security and medical sources said.

Those killed were ages 13, 17 and 45.

Israel Defense Forces said it targeted and hit Palestinian militants in Beit Hanoun, who launched Katyusha rockets on the Israeli port city of Ashkelon from northern Gaza.

Palestinian security sources said the militants were members of Islamic Jihad. (Posted 3:50 a.m.)

Filipino oil workers released in Nigeria

LAGOS, Nigeria (CNN) -- Three Filipino oil workers, who were taken hostage in the Niger Delta 10 days ago, were freed Monday, a regional government spokesman said.

According to River State spokesman Emma Okah, the trio work for Baker Overseas Technology Services and were taken captive on August 4. (Posted 3 a.m.)

Cease-fire begins; Israel says air, sea embargo still in place

BEIRUT (CNN) -- A U.N.-brokered cease-fire took effect Monday morning after 33 days of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, although both sides launched final attacks only minutes ahead of the deadline.

In the meantime, Israel promised to keep a tight rein on the region with military officials saying the army will continue enforcing the air and sea embargo on Lebanon.

Just two hours before the truce started, Israel papered Beirut with propaganda leaflets, blaming Hezbollah for bringing "destruction, displacement and death" to Lebanon and calling the militant group a puppet of Iran and Syria.

Israel and Hezbollah continued to trade blows across southern Lebanon and northern Israel as the clock ticked toward the 8 a.m. deadline (1 a.m. ET), trying to inflict as much maximum damage as possible in the final hours of the conflict. (Posted 1:25 a.m.)

11 Egyptian students in U.S. custody

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Federal agents apprehended the final two of 11 Egyptian students who went missing in the United States two weeks ago, a Department of Homeland Security statement said Sunday evening.

"At roughly 8:45 p.m. Eastern Time tonight, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents arrested Egyptian nationals Mohamed Saleh Ahmed Maray, age 20, and Mohamed Ibrahim Fouaad El Shenawy, age 17, at an apartment building in Richmond," the statement said.

A preliminary investigation "has not identified any credible or imminent threat posed by any of the 11 Egyptian students," the FBI said last week. The agency also stressed that there are no ties between the Egyptians and the suspected terror plot announced Thursday by British and U.S. authorities, The Associated Press reported.

The 11 male students were part of a group of 17 that arrived at New York's John F. Kennedy airport July 29 for an exchange program at Montana State University. All had valid student visas, but only six showed up on campus, authorities said. (Posted 1:30 a.m.)

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