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Saturday, December 2

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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 Daylight.

International community helps Philippines after typhoon kills more than 400

MANILA, Philippines (CNN) -- The Canadian government and the Netherlands Red Cross pledged money Sunday to help residents in the Philippines recover from Typhoon Durian, which slammed into the island chain Friday, killing more than 400 people and injuring nearly 500, the local Red Cross said.

Canada pledged $870 million (1 million CAD) and the Netherlands Red Cross pledged $53,000 (40,000 EUR), Red Cross Executive Assistant Gwendolyn Pang said Sunday. The United States also promised aid, she added but did not say how much.

The donations will help the country deal with the aftermath of a storm that triggered massive flooding, vocanic mudslides and left 406 people dead, 489 injured and another 398 missing, according to the Red Cross. The death toll could eventually be "in the thousands" as more people are believed to be buried under the mud, Pang said.

--CNN Radio's Lee Garen contributed to this report (Posted 2:25 a.m.)

Daschle decides against 2008 presidential run

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle will not seek his party's presidential nomination in 2008, a senior political advisor told CNN Saturday night.

"After many months of looking at a possible run for the presidency, he has decided not to seek that office in 2008," Steve Hildebrand, Daschle's political advisor, said in an interview.

Daschle had visited the early proving grounds of Iowa, New Hampshire and Michigan earlier this year as he considered a possible bid for the White House. The South Dakotan seriously considered seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004, but ultimately decided to seek another term in the Senate. He was defeated by former Republican Rep. John Thune. -- By CNN Political Editor Mark Preston (Posted 10:05 p.m.)

Saudi doctors separating conjoined Iraqi twin toddlers

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (CNN) -- Nearly 30 doctors working in shifts toiled 18 hours Saturday and Sunday to surgically separate twin Iraqi girls who have been joined at the chest and abdomen during their 11 months of life.

The surgery ended early Sunday for Fatma and Zahra Haidar, who are from Sadr City, a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad.

The children were flown to the National Guard King Abdul-Aziz Medical City health complex after Saudi King Abdullah heard a televised message from their parents asking for help. The Saudi government is paying all the medical bills.

"Their chances for recovery are good," although infection is a concern in the early stages after the surgery, said the chief surgeon, Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah. (Posted 6:35 p.m.)

Angry demonstrators protest NYPD groom shooting

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Hundreds of angry demonstrators took to the streets of Queens Saturday demanding justice for the shooting of 23-year-old Sean Bell, who was killed a week ago by police after leaving a Queens nightclub.

The so-called "March of Outrage" was sponsored by a group called the New Black Panthers. It began at the site where police officers fired 50 rounds into Bell's car, killing him and critically injuring two of his friends Nov. 25.

Using a megaphone, activists and others yelled "Black power" and "No justice, no peace" to the crowd of about 300 people. After 45 minutes, the crowd went into the streets, shouting and holding signs saying, "Justice for Sean Bell."

Protesters organized again in front of the 103rd Precinct, shouting profanity and racial slurs. Police reported no arrests during the march. Bell was buried Saturday in Port Washington, Long Island. (Posted 6:05 p.m.)

Venezuelans to choose president Sunday

CARACAS, Venezuela (CNN) -- Venezuelan voters will head to the polls Sunday for what newspaper headlines are calling a "historic decision" -- whether to keep President Hugo Chavez for another term, or elect state Governor Manuel Rosales to the nation's highest office.

Most people predict Chavez, a sworn enemy of the United States, will win easily. Opposition leaders say the election represents a battle between democracy and Chavez's dictatorship. Chavez, 52, claims the contest is between his Socialist plan and capitalism.

With the exception of two days, when he was removed from office during a coup, Chavez has been president since December 1998.

Polls open at 6 a.m. Sunday (5 a.m. ET) and close at 4 p.m. (3 p.m. ET). Election officials said anyone standing in line when polls close will be allowed to cast their ballots. (Posted 5:49 p.m.)

Iraqi, coalition troops detain 44 suspected terrorists, rescue kidnap victim

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A joint Iraqi-Coalition offensive Saturday led to the killings of three suspected terrorists and the arrest of more than 40, and the rescue of a 16-year-old kidnapping victim in Baquba, the U.S. military said in a statement.

The teenager was kidnapped 25 days ago and was being held for ransom, the military said. Authorities said Thanon Mohammed Hussein of Kirkuk kidnapped by insurgents while visiting relatives in Baquba, north of Baghdad.

The teenager told Iraqi soldiers he was tortured by his kidnappers, and other people were tortured and killed in front of him. Hussein said Saturday was the deadline for his family to pay $160,000 ransom for him or he would be killed. (Posted 5:58 p.m.)

Musharraf, Ahmadinejad discuss gas pipeline project

LAHORE, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf on Saturday talked to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by telephone, discussing how to expedite a $7 billion Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, a Musharraf spokesman told CNN.

The two leaders agreed to remove impediments to the 2,600-kilometer (1,616-mile) gas pipeline project, which is aimed at supplying Iranian natural gas to Pakistan and India, government sources told CNN.

The leaders also discussed the tariff issue and called for an early resolution of the gas price mechanism and commencement of the project, the sources said. The U.S. government has voiced opposition to the project and has advised Pakistan and India not to sign any kind of agreement with Iran. (Posted 4:55 p.m.)

Castro a no-show at his own parade

HAVANA (CNN) -- Cuban President Fidel Castro missed his own military parade Saturday. The event culminated five days of celebrations for Castro's birthday, and also marked the 50th anniversary of the date he and other rebels launched the revolution that ousted U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.

Castro's birthday was Aug. 13, but the festivities were delayed because the 80-year-old leader is still recovering from intestinal surgery he underwent July 31. He handed power temporarily to his brother Raul, who appeared Saturday to watch armored vehicles, tanks -- and even a replica of the yacht that carried rebels from Mexico 50 years ago.

Raul Castro, 75, who also is defense minister, made no mention of his brother's absence. In a speech, he stressed Cuba's unity in the face of European and U.S. pressure, and criticized what he called Washington's imperialist policies. (Posted 3:33 p.m.)

Saudis arrest 139 'sleeper cell' suspects

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (CNN) -- Saudi security officials said Saturday they foiled a planned terrorist suicide attack and arrested 139 suspected Islamist militants who were in "sleeper cells" believed to be affiliated with al Qaeda.

A senior official in the Saudi Interior Ministry told CNN that the suspects, who are from several Arab nations, were monitored by Saudi security agents for several months. They rounded the men up just before the expected attack was launched.

The suspects, arrested in different areas of Saudi Arabia, were being interrogated Saturday, the official said. (Posted 3:02 p.m.)

British doctors: Friend of ex-spy shows no signs of poisoning

LONDON (CNN) -- An Italian security agent who met with former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko before he became fatally ill has "very low" levels of radioactive Polonium-210 in his sytem, and shows no symptoms of poisoning, the Italian Health Ministry said Saturday, quoting British doctors.

Mario Scaramella had met with Litvinenko, 43, at a London sushi bar Nov. 1, the day Litvinenko became ill. Scaramella was admitted to University College Hospital Friday night, where he is undergoing more tests. Symptoms of Polonium-210 poisoning include hair loss, organ failure and immune system breakdown. In excess amounts, the substance can penetrate bone marrow.

Before Litvinenko died Nov. 23, doctors said he needed a bone marrow transplant. Traces of Polonium-210 also were discovered in the urine of Litvinenko's widow, Marina, but the amount was "very, very small, and nowhere near the amount Mr. Litvinenko had in his body," doctors said Friday. (Posted 1:15 p.m.)

Iraq's violent Saturday: Car bombs, shootings, crash kill more than 100

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- At least 100 people died and more than 100 hurt in several violent incidents in and around Baghdad Saturday, including car bombings, ambushes and a truck crash, according to Baghdad police.

--Iraq police found 44 bullet-riddled bodies along various Baghdad streets Saturday during their patrols.

--Three car bombs exploded almost simultaneously in central Baghdad Saturday afternoon, killing at least 51 people and wounding 90 others.

-- One Iraqi police officer was killed and six wounded when a roadside bomb exploded south of Baghdad near Yusufiya.

-- Gunmen shot dead Interior Ministry Police Capt. Haider Moussa Alwan while he was driving in southeastern Baghdad's Jadida neighborhood .

-- Gunmen opened fired on an Iraqi police checkpoint outside a hospital in western Baghdad, killing one Iraqi police officer and wounding two others.

-- An elderly man and woman were killed when a truck ran them over as they tried crossing a street south of Baghdad (Posted 12:15 p.m.)

Typhoon Durain death toll tops 300 in the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines (CNN) -- Philippine officials in Manila reported Saturday the deadly typhoon that slammed into the island chain Friday easily killed at least 303 people and injured 163 others.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council also said 293 people were missing and 38,473 displaced people were in evacuation shelters in the wake of Typhoon Durian, which triggered massive flooding and volcanic mudslides.

Many provinces lost power, which made communication practically impossible and some of the areas were in "neck-deep" water, said Gwendolyn Pang, executive assistant to the Red Cross director.

According to the Red Cross, rescue boats ushered people to shelters and were used to survey the damage. Durian is the fourth devastating typhoon to strike the Philippines in the past four months. (Posted 10:30 a.m.)

3 car bombs kill 51, wound 90 in central Baghdad

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Three car bombs exploded in central Baghdad Saturday afternoon, killing at least 51 people and wounding 90 others, an Iraqi Interior ministry official said.

All three bombs exploded in quick succession around 4 p.m. along squares near Baghdad's busy Shurja market. One of the bombs appeared to target an Iraqi Army patrol, police said. At least a dozen cars and 10 stores were damaged, police said.

^--CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report. (Posted 11:24 a.m.)

Hotel security video shows 9/11 Pentagon blast, but no plane

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A hotel security camera video released by the U.S. government showed the explosion that followed the crash of American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, but the low-quality recording did not capture an image of the 757 jetliner.

The video, recorded by a security camera at the Doubletree Hotel in Arlington, was released to public interest group Judicial Watch and others who filed a lawsuit seeking the tape and other videos from that day.

CNN filed a Freedom of Information request for the video in February 2002, after the manager of the hotel disclosed its existence to CNN Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre and said it had been confiscated by the FBI. CNN's FOI request was denied because at the time the tape was considered evidence in the investigation of Zacarias Moussaoui, who has since been convicted.

There was speculation that this video might show the American Airlines 757 jetliner before it crashed, but a close examination by CNN only revealed the subsequent explosion and no image of the jet. The only known record of the plane is on images from the Pentagon security camera, first broadcast by CNN in March of 2002, and officially released in their entirety May of this year. (Posted 8:43 a.m.)

British jets cleared for service after radiation check

LONDON (CNN) -- Three British Airways airplanes, grounded while authorities examined them for possible traces of radiation connected to the mysterious death of former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko, have been cleared to return to service and are not considered to be a risk to public health, according to officials with Britain's Health Protection Agency.

Health officials said none of the estimated 33,000 passengers and 3,000 crew aboard the 221 trips flown by those jets since Oct. 25 were believed to be a risk.

Pathologists took extreme precautions Friday performing an autopsy on the body of Litvinenko, who died after ingesting a fatal dose of the rare radioactive element polonium-210, according to the coroner's office. Doctors completed the autopsy, but results won't be known until the criminal probe into Litvinenko's death is complete.

The former KGB spy, 43, died Nov. 23, three weeks after claiming he had been poisoned. High doses of polonium were found in his body, and pathologists were trying to determine how the poison was ingested. (Posted 8:14 a.m.)

U.S. soldier killed in Iraq

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A U.S. soldier died from wounds suffered "due to enemy action" in Iraq's Anbar province Friday, according to the U.S. military.

The name of the soldier -- assigned to the U.S. Army's 1st Battalion, 1st Armored Division -- has not released, pending notification of his family, the military said.

With this death, 2,890 U.S. military personnel have died in the Iraq war. (Posted 8:06 a.m.)

Iraqi Shiite leader says lack of al-Sadr's political support will not affect Iraq's security

AMMAN, Jordan (CNN) -- An Iraqi senior Shiite leader brushed off the concern that Iraq's security will be threatened by the withdraw of cabinet and parliament members associated with Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's political bloc.

"The al-Sadr political bloc did withdraw from the Iraqi parliament and government but they only suspended their membership and I do not think this will have an affect on the security situation," Head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq Abdul Aziz al-Hakim told reporters at a news conference in Amman Saturday.

Al-Sadr's group -- which has 30 parliament members and six Cabinet ministers -- suspended its membership in the government Thursday a day after Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki met with President George Bush in Jordan, a meeting the cleric vehemently opposed.

--From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq (Posted 7:25 a.m.)

3 dead, 8 wounded in violence around Iraq

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Violence throughout Iraq left three dead and eight wounded Saturday, a Baghdad emergency official.

One Iraqi police officer was killed and six more were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near two Iraqi police vehicles traveling on a road south of Baghdad near Yusufiya. Both vehicles were damaged.

Gunmen shot dead Interior Ministry Police Capt. Haider Moussa Alwan when he was driving in southeastern Baghdad's Jadida neighborhood.

Gunmen opened fired on an Iraqi police checkpoint outside a hospital in western Baghdad, killing one Iraqi police officer and wounding two others. The Yarmouk hospital director said staff are treating the two wounded officers and received the dead officer's body.

--From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq (Posted 7:14 a.m.)

Iraqi Shiite leader blasts U.N. idea for international conference on Iraq

AMMAN, Jordan (CNN) -- A senior Shiite leader who is arguably one of the most powerful people in Iraq called U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's suggestion for an international conference on Iraq "illegal" and "unrealistic" Saturday.

At a news conference in Amman the Head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq Abdul Aziz al-Hakim balked at Annan's suggestion that an international conference could prevent an all out civil war that Annan said Iraq was "almost" mired in.

Al-Hakim characterized the situation in Iraq as a "political crisis" and denounced the idea that the violence in Iraq was a result of civil war, adding that if war did erupt there would be no winners.

--From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq (Posted 5:57 a.m.)

Iraqi police: Empty fuel tanker 'accidentally' plows down old couple and crowd at bus stop

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- An elderly man and woman were killed when a large speeding truck unable to stop in time accidentally ran them over as they tried crossing a city street south of Baghdad Saturday morning, according to an Iraqi police official and witnesses said.

In addition, 14 others were wounded when the driver overcorrected and flipped his truck -- an empty fuel tanker -- which then careened into a crowd waiting by a bus stop.

The driver of the truck sustained minor injuries in what the official called an "accident," not an attack. He was hospitalized and was listed in stable condition.

Witnesses said the couple were at first hesitant to cross the street, but once they did the speeding truck was too close to stop. The two reportedly died on impact.

--From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq (Posted 5:43 a.m.)

Iraqi and coalition troops launch operation in Baquba aimed at stopping insurgents

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Iraqi army troops backed by coalition forces launched an operation targeting insurgents in Baquba, a regular hotspot of violence, enabling police officials to "enforce the rule of law," the U.S. military said.

"These operations... target specific terrorist cells that are attempting to destabilize the government and economic growth in the province," a senior U.S. Army officer in Diyala province said.

Troops are specifically targeting insurgents responsible for planting bombs, orchestrating sniper operations, kidnapping and murder in the city, which is about 37 miles north of Baghdad. (Posted 5:43 a.m.)

Officials sift through wreckage after deadly typhoon sweeps through Philippines

MANILA, Philippines (CNN) -- Philippine officials in Manila reported Saturday the deadly typhoon that slammed into the island chain Friday easily killed more than 100 people and wounded more than 200 others.

Red Cross officials in Manila listed 145 people as dead and 294 as missing in the wake of Typhoon Durian while a spokesman for the country's office of civil defense announced a higher death toll of 208 and a missing toll of 261.

In addition, the Red Cross said 179 people were wounded, but the civil defense spokesman said the number was more like 90.

Both agencies' tolls differed Saturday as various assessment teams updated their findings after plowing through the wreckage caused by the devastating storm which triggered massive flooding and volcanic mudslides.

Gwendolyn Pang, executive assistant to the Red Cross director said she expects the death and wounded tolls to increase throughout the day. (Posted 4:48 a.m.)

Record year for CEO departures

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The number of chief executive officer departures reached 1,347 in November, making 2006 a record year for CEO turnover, according to a study conducted by consulting firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas. The previous record for CEO changes was 1,322, set in 2005.

Almost half of the CEOs who departed in November resigned or stepped down, Challenger's report said. Eight CEOs left their positions over backdating scandals. So far this year, 17 CEOs, 11 chief financial officers and one president have either resigned, retired or were fired from their posts after reports of irregularities in the granting of stock options.

"It is rare for a CEO to be officially fired," said Challenger, Gray and Christmas head John Challenger. "Boards may apply pressure or force a chief executive to leave, but they often allow the executive to announce his resignation, thus sparing his or her dignity. It takes a major infraction for a CEO to be publicly fired." -- By CNN's Zak Sos (Posted 10:04 p.m.)

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