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Monday, March 12

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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.

Former President Bush gives speech day after collapsing on golf course

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Former President George H.W. Bush addressed a crowd in Los Angeles Monday night, a day after he collapsed from dehydration at the home of a friend in the Southern California desert.

The 82-year-old former President limped on stage at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion with a cane in hand, but didn't use it to support himself.

Bush spoke about the incident that sent him to the hospital on Sunday, telling the audience that he became tired after playing golf in high temperatures.

"The next thing I remember ... I fainted and I was on the floor," he told the crowd.

He joked: "The ugliest part was my dear friend from Las Vegas (a male friend) was giving me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. We had about six beautiful girls there and there was (my friend) doing his part."

Bush was released early Monday from Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage. His chief of staff said he was kept there overnight simply as a precaution.

Bush addressed a crowd of about 200 people as part of a speaker series at the Music Center of Los Angeles. (Posted 2:35 a.m.)

Japanese airliner makes emergency landing without nose gear

TOKYO (CNN) -- With a national television audience tuned in, an All Nippon Airways plane made an emergency landing in southwestern Japan Tuesday morning after its front landing gear failed to extend.

Flight 1603, with 60 passengers and crew on board, landed safely at Kochi Airport, aviation authorities said.

The plane first touched down on its rear wheels, then gently skidded to a stop as the nose of plane lowered onto the runway.

A few sparks could be seen underneath the Bombardier DHC 8, but fire crews quickly sprayed the plane with water. There were no reports of injuries.

The crew of ANA Flight 1603 discovered the nose gear was not properly working after departing Osaka at 8:10 a.m. local time.

The plane circled Kochi Airport for more than an hour before making the emergency landing. (Posted 11:45 p.m.)

TSA crackdown targets airport workers

TAMPA, Fla. (CNN) -- A week after a baggage handler in Orlando, Fla., allegedly used his airport credentials to smuggle 14 firearms into the cabin of a commercial jetliner, the Transportation Security Administration Monday responded Monday with a series of surprise inspections of workers at five airports in Florida and Puerto Rico.

Some 160 TSA officers, buttressed by Federal Air Marshals local police officers, searched airplanes for contraband, peered into airport vehicles with flashlights, and even patted down contractor employees involved in airport security.

The crackdown at the Florida airports will continue through much of this week, and will move to other regions around the country as the TSA attempts to add randomness and unpredictability to their screening methods and target those who have the means to game the system.

-- From CNN Correspondent Jeanne Meserve and Producer Mike M. Ahlers (Posted 10 p.m.)

Giuliani says D.C. gun ruling 'appears correct'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose past support for gun control has complicated his current quest for the White House, said Monday that a federal appeals court ruling striking down a District of Columbia law barring residents from keeping handguns in their homes appears "to be a correct decision."

Gun control advocates have expressed alarm about Friday's decision by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which marked the first time a federal appeals court has struck down a gun control measure as a violation of the Second Amendment's right to keep and bear arms.

But Giuliani, commenting on the ruling at a news conference in Washington, said that while he had not read the actual decision, "from what I've read in the newspapers, it strikes exactly that balance that I think exists, which is that there's a right to bear arms, that it's a personal right, and that there can be reasonable restrictions, and they largely should be done by states and done by legislatures." (Posted 7:19 p.m.)

Mental illness appears common among veterans of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan

SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- Nearly a third of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who received care from Veterans Affairs between 2001 and 2005 were diagnosed with mental health or psychosocial ills, a study published Monday has concluded.

The study was published in the March 12 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine and carried out by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco and the San Francisco VA Medical Center. They looked at data from 103,788 veterans; about 13 percent of them women, 54 percent under age 30, nearly a third minorities and nearly half veterans of the National Guard or Reserves.

Of the total, 32,010 (31 percent) were diagnosed with mental health and/or psychosocial problems, including 25,658 who received mental health diagnoses. More than half (56 percent) were diagnosed with two or more disorders.

Post-traumatic stress disorder was the most common disorder, with the 13,205 veterans who got the diagnosis accounting for more than half (52 percent) of mental health diagnoses. Others included anxiety disorder (24 percent), adjustment disorder (24 percent), depression (20 percent) and substance abuse disorder (20 percent). (Posted 6:30 p.m.)

Giuliani opens up clear lead, gets conservative endorsements

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has established himself as the clear front-runner in the GOP presidential field, opening up a double-digit lead over his nearest rival, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, whose support has slumped in the past six weeks, according to a CNN poll released Monday.

The poll, conducted by Opinion Research Corp., showed Giuliani was the choice of 34 percent of likely Republican voters, compared to 18 percent for McCain, a margin well outside the poll's sampling error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

The poll released Monday found a marked shift in the GOP race from late January, when Giuliani polled at 32 percent and McCain at 26 percent, putting them statistically neck-and-neck. In the past six weeks, McCain's support has dropped 8 points, to its lowest point in six months.

However, McCain's campaign insisted the senator is happy with the role of underdog because it will allow him to surprise the front-runner, as he did during his unsuccessful campaign against President Bush in 2000, when he won the New Hampshire primary. (Posted 6:25 p.m.)

Bush approval up slightly in latest CNN poll

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush's approval rating has seen a slight increase in the past two months, according to a CNN poll out Monday, but the survey also found lingering doubts in his ability to run the country.

The president's overall approval rating went up to 37 percent in the latest survey, conducted Friday through Sunday by Opinion Research Corp. That's a 3-percentage-point increase from a poll taken Jan. 19-21, and the highest score Bush has recorded in that poll since early December.

Fifty-six percent of those polled said they disapproved of the president's job performance, down from 63 percent in mid-January.

Pollsters talked to 1,027 adults in the survey, which had a sampling error of 3 percentage points. (Posted 5 p.m.)

Poll: 69 percent oppose pardon for Libby in CIA leak case

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Nearly 70 percent of Americans oppose a presidential pardon for former White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby after his conviction on perjury and other charges related to a CIA agent's exposure, according to a CNN poll out Monday.

Just 18 percent said they would support a pardon for Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, while 69 percent said they opposed the idea. Meanwhile, a narrow majority said they believe Cheney was part of a cover-up in the case.

The new poll was conducted for CNN by Opinion Research Corp. between Friday and Sunday. Pollsters quizzed 1,027 adults for the survey, which had a sampling error of 3 percentage points.

Cheney's approval rating in the survey fell from 39 percent in a January poll to 34 percent in the latest survey, while 54 percent said they disapproved of the vice president's job performance. (Posted 4:11 p.m.)

Bush, in Guatemala, hails free trade

GUATEMALA CITY (CNN) -- President Bush used the latest stop on his week-long trip through Latin America to plug a free-trade pact that barely passed the previous Republican-controlled Congress.

Wearing a colorful jacket presented to him by locals at a packing station, Bush loaded crates of lettuce onto a truck, while first lady Laura Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stood nearby holding vegetables as well

"Free trade is important for a lot of people. It's important for our country," Bush told the business' owner, Mariano Canu. "It creates jobs in America just like it creates here."

The photo opportunity was set up for media and designed to counter the widespread protests Bush is facing on his trip. While the president praises the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), many in Latin America -- as well as in the United States -- say it has been used to benefit only the United States and the wealthy in the countries that signed onto it. Many also say it contributes to environmental degradation. Supporters deny the complaints. (Posted 3:53 p.m.)

House oversight chairman wants Rice to answer Niger uranium questions

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The new chairman of a House investigative committee is demanding answers to questions he put to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice nearly four years ago about President Bush's assertion that Iraq once sought uranium from Africa.

In a letter released Monday, Rep. Henry Waxman said Rice responded to only five of 16 letters about the issue when he was the committee's ranking Democrat -- only those that had been co-signed by congressional Republicans.

"I am now renewing my request as the chairman of the chief oversight committee in the U.S. House of Representatives," he wrote.

The uranium claim, which Bush made in his 2003 State of the Union address, was a key element in the administration's case for the invasion of Iraq. Rice was President Bush's national security adviser at the time.

"As a result of your failure to respond, the committee still does not know what you knew about the fabricated Niger claim and when you knew it," Waxman, D-Calif., wrote to Rice on Monday. "We also do not know how the fabricated claim made it into the president's State of the Union address. We continue to learn in a piecemeal fashion about other explicit warnings received by the White House about this bogus claim." (Posted 3:11 p.m.)

Firefighters close in on Anaheim wildfire

IRVINE, Calif. (CNN) -- All mandatory evacuations were lifted Monday as firefighters contained 80 percent of the Anaheim Hill wildfire. Voluntary evacuations remained in a small portion of the Hidden Canyon area where firefighters battled the last of a blaze that had burned 2,036 acres.

Weaker winds and higher humidity levels had given firefighters the upper hand in containing the wildfire that had raced up and through Anaheim Hills, about 35 miles south of Los Angeles, aided by record-breaking temperatures and super-dry conditions plaguing the area.

Most of the 500 residents in the area who had left their homes when the fire broke out on Sunday -- some voluntarily and some under mandatory orders -- had returned early Monday. (Posted 2:23 p.m.)

Official: Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley forced out amid Walter Reed scandal

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Fallout from the scandal involving conditions at Walter Reed Medical Center continued Monday, with what one senior Pentagon official said was the firing of Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley from his position as surgeon general of the Army.

Acting Army Secretary Pete Geren asked for Kiley's resignation, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates approved the action, the official said.

But Kiley instead announced his immediate retirement.

"I submitted my retirement because I think it is in the best interest of the Army," Kiley said Sunday, according to the Army's news release.

Kiley had been made temporary head of the army's premiere medical institution after Army Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman was ousted in the wake of a series in the Washington Post that found soldiers living in deplorable conditions. However, he was very quickly replaced by Gen. Eric Schoomaker amid criticism that Kiley, who was head of Walter Reed before Weightman, had been aware of the problems at the facility. --CNN's Jamie McIntyre contributed to this story (Posted 2:19 p.m.)

17 wounded in Ramadi suicide attack; Red Crescent official kidnapped in Tikrit

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- At least 17 people were wounded -- including nine in critical condition -- when a suicide bomber exploded his vehicle early Monday evening near an Iraqi police checkpoint and an outdoor market in Ramadi, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official told CNN.

The official would not say whether the wounded were security forces or civilians. Ramadi is about 68 miles (110 km) west of Baghdad,

Separately, an official with Tikrit police told CNN that Jassim Mohammed Mahmoud, the head of the Iraqi Red Crescent, Salaheddin branch, was abducted by gunmen after they killed his driver in northern Tikrit Monday around 7:15 p.m. (12:15 p.m. ET). Mahmoud is also a member of the Sunni Arab Iraqi Islamic Party. (Posted 2:16 p.m.)

Texas congressman announces White House bid

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, announced Monday that he will seek the GOP presidential nomination.

Paul, who ran for president in 1988 as the Libertarian Party nominee, made his announcement on C-SPAN's call-in program "Washington Journal." The congressman established a presidential exploratory committee with the state of Texas in January, and will create a federal campaign committee Monday, according to his campaign.

He was elected to his ninth full term in November 2006, and has served in Congress off and on since 1976. -- From CNN Political Research Director Robert Yoon (Posted 1:14 p.m.)

BBC reporter missing in Gaza, may have been kidnapped

GAZA CITY (CNN) -- The British Broadcasting Corporation said Monday it believes its correspondent in Gaza may have been kidnapped in the Palestinian territory.

"We are aware of reports concerning the whereabouts of BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston," the network said in a written statement. "We are currently unable to contact him and are concerned for his safety.

"We are trying to gather as much information as possible. Alan is a highly experienced and respected reporter. He has been based in Gaza for the past 3 years."

Johnston's armored car was found abandoned on a street in Gaza City, Palestinian security sources told CNN. The sources said he is the only one who drove that car and they surmise that he was abducted on the way from his apartment to the BBC office in Gaza City. (Posted 1:07 p.m.)

Kidnapped infant's family: 'We're just happy to have her back'

LUBBOCK, Texas (CNN) -- The family of the 5-day-old infant girl taken from Lubbock's Covenant Medical Center expressed their joy Monday at having her back and their thanks to the agencies that aided her recovery. The child was found in Clovis, N.M., about 100 miles from Lubbock.

The grandfather of Mychael Dawodu, Darrell Darthard, thanked the Amber Alert program, the Lubbock and Clovis police departments and the Covenant Crisis Management team. The family declined to take questions from reporters.

Authorities were extremely concerned about the baby's health because she was born with jaundice, a common condition in newborns that can become serious without treatment, but Clovis Police Chief Dan Blair told CNN the baby appeared to be in good condition.

The suspect in the kidnapping -- Rayshaun Parson, 21 -- waived extradition at a hearing Monday in Clovis and is expected to be returned withint 10 days to Lubbock, where she faces an aggravated kidnapping charge and possible federal charges. (Posted 1:06 p.m.)

Firefighters have Anaheim wildfire almost tamed

IRVINE, Calif. (CNN) -- A southern California wildfire is now 80 percent contained, fire officials said Monday, after weaker winds and higher humidity levels let firefighters get the upper hand.

The 2,000-acre wildfire had raced up and through Anaheim Hills, about 35 miles south of Los Angeles, aided by record-breaking temperatures and super-dry conditions plaguing the area.

Most of the 500 residents in the area who had left their homes on Sunday -- some voluntarily and some under mandatory orders -- had returned early Monday.

Video showed spectacular orange flames against the pre-dawn black hills. Images from Sunday, when the fire broke out, showed a wall of flames licking at a home. (Posted 1:03 p.m.)

Hagel to decide his political future 'later this year'

OMAHA, Neb. (CNN) -- Sen. Chuck Hagel, an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq, announced Monday that he is delaying until later in the year any decision about whether to run for the Republican nomination for president in 2008.

"I believe there will still be political options open to me at a later date," the two-term senator told reporters at the University of Nebraska, his alma mater. "I am leaving my options open."

Hagel, 60, had harsh words for the Republican Party. "I think we have come loose of our moorings," he said.

Hagel said the party he first voted for in 1968, when he became old enough to vote, was one of fiscal responsibility, strong national defense, personal responsibility, international engagement and free trade. "I don't see that same party today," he said. (Posted 12:08 p.m.)

Former President Bush treated for dehydration

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (CNN) -- Former President George H.W. Bush was released Monday morning from a California hospital where he was treated for dehydration after fainting on a Palm Springs golf course, his chief of staff said.

He is "back to 100 percent" and is expected to make a previously scheduled speech Monday night in Los Angeles, Jean Becker said.

Bush, 82, was taken to Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., on Sunday.

"It was simply a case where he was playing golf in 93 degree heat and he had a fainting spell," Becker told CNN. (Posted 12:05 p.m.)

Cheney: Troop withdrawal would leave U.S. vulnerable to attack

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney offered a sharp rebuke to congressional Democrats Monday, warning that a drawdown of forces in Iraq would invite more attacks on the United States.

Cheney's warning comes as Democrats are girding for a fight over more spending in Iraq -- a push planned even before President Bush's weekend request to deploy an additional 8,200 troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. House Democrats are leading a charge this week to set a deadline for withdrawal by August 2008.

In a speech to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, Cheney said even discussion of a withdrawal tells "the enemy to watch the clock and wait us out."

And an actual pullout would send an even worse message, he said.

"If terrorists conclude attacks will change the behavior of a nation, they will attack the nation again and again," he said. "The only option for our security and survival is to go on the offensive ... until our enemy is destroyed." (Posted 11:33 a.m.)

Freight train derails, explodes in upstate New York

NEW YORK (CNN) -- An 80-car freight train carrying propane fuel derailed early Monday outside Oneida in upstate New York, creating an explosion that sent flames and black smoke high into the air.

Everyone within a mile of the blast was evacuated, including children from two elementary schools, Lt. Kevin Solerno of the Oneida Fire Department told CNN.

The three-locomotive train, owned and operated by CSX, was traveling from Buffalo to Albany when it derailed around 7 a.m., according to Bob Sullivan, a company spokesman. Forty of the cars were carrying propane, and two cars were carrying hazardous materials, one flammable, the other corrosive, according to Sullivan.

There were no injuries, and the fires were being allowed to burn out --From CNN's David Miller (Posted 10:57 a.m.)

Mayan leaders to 'cleanse' ancient site after Bush visit

GUATEMALA CITY (CNN) -- As President Bush works his way through Latin America on a seven-day, five-nation tour, he is being met by all sorts of protests -- but perhaps none as striking as one set for Monday.

A group of Mayan leaders has vowed to "spiritually cleanse" an ancient Mayan site after the president stops by.

Bush's visit to the ruins at Iximche, a one-time capital of a Mayan group, is part of an effort to show the administration is interested in all its neighbors in the hemisphere.

The president is working to shore up U.S. allies amid the widespread perception that his administration has neglected Latin America since September 11.

Bush was in Colombia on Sunday, marking the first visit by a U.S. president to the capital city, Bogota, since Ronald Reagan in 1982. (Posted 9:39 a.m.)

Bomb in western Afghanistan kills 8 police

FARAH, Afghanistan (CNN) -- A roadside bomb in western Afghanistan struck an Afghan police vehicle on Monday, killing eight policemen, an interior ministry spokesman told CNN.

The incident, which is under investigation, happened in Farah province, Zemarai Bashari said.

NATO and Afghan forces began a major push against Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan.

The Taliban, former rulers of Afghanistan, have shown a resurgence in heated battles against multi-national forces across the country and have promised a spring offensive. (Posted 9:39 a.m.)

Iraqi VP to meet with Iranian president

TEHRAN (CNN) -- A day after extensive and frank dialogue with Iranian officials on regional security, Iraq's Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi will meet Monday with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran, according to al-Hashimi's office.

It is al-Hashimi's first visit to Iran. He is the head of the Iraqi Islamic Party, which is part of the Iraqi parliament's largest Sunni Arab political bloc.

Al-Hashimi arrived in Tehran on Sunday, a day after Iraq hosted a security conference in Baghdad which was attended by Iran and other neighboring countries well as representatives from the United Nations and the United States.

Iran's role in Iraq has been criticized by the United States, which says the regime in Tehran has not done enough to stop the flow of weapons into Iraq. The U.S. military says it has evidence those weapons are ending up in the hands of Shiite insurgent groups. (Posted 7:08 a.m.)

Dubai International Airport reopens after Bangladeshi airliner accident

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (CNN) -- Dubai International Airport reopened Monday afternoon, after an accident involving a Bangladeshi airliner shut the busy airport down for several hours.

Fourteen people suffered minor injuries when the the nose gear of Biman Bangladesh Airlines Flight 006 apparently collapsed during take-off around 6:30 a.m. local time (10:30 p.m. ET Sunday), Dubai aviation officials said.

There were 236 passengers and crew on board the flight, which was headed to the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka.

The airport -- one of the world's busiest -- was immediately closed as safety officials inspected the runway where the accident occurred. (Posted 6:40 a.m.)

Gunmen fire on agriculture minister's convoy; 21 bodies found

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Gunmen fired on the convoy of Iraq's agriculture minister Monday, killing one of his bodyguards and wounding another, police said.

According to police, the minister had been dropped off at his office shortly before the attack took place in eastern Baghdad.

In eastern Baghdad's Zayouna neighborhood, two Iraqi police were wounded when a roadside bomb hit their patrol.

South of the capital, two children were killed and two others wounded Sunday afternoon when a mortar landed near them in Iskandariya, a Hilla police official said.

Iraqi police recovered 21 bodies from various Baghdad neighborhoods on Sunday, a police official said. Some of the bodies showed signs of torture and their hands were bound behind their backs.

Authorities generally attribute such deaths to sectarian violence between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. (Posted 5:35 a.m.)

U.S. Soldier dies from non-combat related cause

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A U.S. soldier died Sunday due to a non-combat releated cause, a U.S. military statement said.

The soldier was a member of the Army's Multi-National Division-Baghdad.

Since the start of the war, the U.S. military has suffered 3,193 fatalities in Iraq. (Posted 4:40 a.m.)

U.S. Marine killed in Anbar province

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A U.S. Marine was killed Sunday during combat operations in Anbar province, west of Baghdad, a U.S. military statement released Monday said.

The Marine was assigned to Multi National Force-West. (Posted 4:15 a.m.)

Kidnapped Texas infant reunited with mother; suspect held in N.M.

LUBBOCK, Texas (CNN) -- A newborn girl was reunited with her mother on Sunday at a Lubbock hospital after police in New Mexico arrested a woman in connection with her kidnapping, authorities said.

Police in Clovis, N.M., found 4-day-old Mychael Dawodu early Sunday, a day after her abduction from Covenant Medical Center in Lubbock. Authorities were extremely concerned about the baby's health because she was born with jaundice, a common condition in newborns that can become serious without treatment.

"The baby looks to be in good condition," Clovis Police Chief Dan Blair told CNN.

The suspect, 21-year-old Rayshaun Parson, was under arrest in Clovis, about 100 miles away, and faces a Monday extradition hearing before a judge there, said Matt Chandler, the district attorney for Curry County, N.M. There is no indication that she had any ties to the baby's family, Lubbock police spokesman Lt. Scott Hudgens said. (Posted 10:05 p.m.)


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