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Friday, March 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 Standard.

Cory Lidle's widow files suit against maker of his doomed plane

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The widow of New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle has filed suit against the company that made her husband's doomed plane, alleging that "catastrophic failure" of its flight control system caused the aircraft's crash into a Manhattan high-rise apartment building last fall.

Lidle, 34, and his flight instructor both died in the Oct. 11 crash of his Cirrus SR-20 plane, the cause of which is still under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Melanie Lidle filed the suit against Cirrus Design Corp. in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Santa Monica on Feb. 22.

The lawsuit alleges design problems with the plane hindered Lidle's ability to make crucial flight turns because a small hinged section of an outboard wing was stuck in the full upright position. The suit charges that Cirrus failed to monitor, control and notify users of foreseeable dangers related to the airplane's component and safety parts. (Posted 10:23 p.m.)

Uneasy conservatives get pitches from Giuliani, Romney

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A standing-room-only crowd of conservative activists crowded into a Washington ballroom Friday to hear, and applaud, Rudy Giuliani, the 2008 GOP White House hopeful with whom they arguably have the least in common.

The former New York mayor faced this challenge head on, telling the audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference that "you and I have a lot of common beliefs that are the same, and we have some that are different."

Then, Giuliani proceeded to heap praise on Ronald Reagan and describe his own record as a crime-fighting, tax-cutting, welfare-reforming leader who knows first-hand why America must be relentless in the war against Islamic terrorism -- all red meat for the CPAC crowd.

But it could be a tough sell, and not just for Giuliani. Anxious conservative activists aren't knocked out by any of the three candidates currently running at the front of the 2008 GOP pack.

-- From CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley (Posted 7:12 p.m.)

Anna Nicole Smith's mom seeks to exhume the body

NASSAU, Bahamas (CNN) -- Even before her daughter was buried Anna Nicole Smith's mother was apparently filing paperwork to exhume the body.

Virgie Arthur was 30 minutes late to the funeral, apparently because she was at the courthouse in Nassau filing paperwork to exhume Smith's body. According to a log book at the courthouse, Arthur signed in a petition with herself as the petitioner and Milstein as the defendant.

While court officials would not release paperwork to anyone not directly related to the case, Arthur's lawyers later told CNN that they are trying to get the Bahamian court to allow Arthur to exhume the body.

Arthur wants Smith buried in Texas with other family members. (Posted 6:48 p.m.)

Clintons, Obama pitch for black support at Selma event

SELMA, Ala. (CNN) -- As they battle for support in the black community in their quest for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will both attend Sunday's commemoration of the historic 1965 Selma voting rights march.

However, Clinton will bring along a not-so-secret weapon -- her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

"There is no white politician in America who is more popular in the African-American community than Bill Clinton," said Jamal Simmons, a Democratic strategist. "So she has a very strong card to play."

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., one of the leaders of the Selma march 42 years ago, said the competition for black voters between the senators is "a very difficult position to be in, but it's a good position to be in. ... We have choices." --From CNN Correspondent Mary Snow (Posted 5:51 p.m.)

Appeals court rejects appeal by German who claimed torture in CIA rendition

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A German Muslim attempting to sue the CIA for his alleged abduction and torture by CIA agents in Europe suffered a major legal setback Friday when a federal appeals court rejected an effort to have his case reinstated.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond agreed with a lower court judge that Khaled el-Masri could not proceed with his lawsuit without damaging national security.

The judges accepted the arguments of government lawyers who claimed el-Masri could not bring his case without forcing the disclosure of vital government secrets.

The court rejected arguments by el-Masri's ACLU attorneys that media reports and foreign government reports had seriously weakened the government's "state secret" defense. --From CNN Justice Department Producer Terry Frieden (Posted 5:03 p.m.)

Months before media reports, memo warned Walter Reed 'at risk of mission failure'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Nearly five months before media reports detailed abysmal conditions in parts of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, an internal memo from the commanding officer expressed concern that care provided there was suffering because of the Army's decision to privatize support services.

A September 2006 memo was signed by a deputy to the medical center's commander, Maj. Gen. George Weightman, and was sent to the Army's Medical Command. A copy was obtained by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

It describes in detail concerns about the loss of "highly skilled and experienced personnel" at Walter Reed and the center's increased workload. It concludes that "WRAMC Base Operations and patient care services are at risk of mission failure."

Rep John Tierney, D-Mass., who will chair a congressional field hearing Monday at Walter Reed, told CNN Friday that the decision to "outsource" care from federal employees to IAP Worldwide Services, a private contractor, could have contributed to the deteriorating conditions at the facility. (Posted 4:48 p.m.)

Astronaut charged with kidnapping, battery

ORLANDO, Fla. (CNN) -- A NASA astronaut who drove hundreds of miles to allegedly accost a romantic rival won't be charged with attempted murder, as recommended by police who arrested her last month.

Instead, Lisa Marie Nowak, 43, will face charges that she attempted to kidnap Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman from an Orlando International Airport parking lot. Orange-Osceola State Attorney Lawson Lamar also filed charges of burglary of a vehicle with a weapon and battery against Nowak.

Nowak's attorney, Donald Lykkebak, said that Nowak denies all charges.

"After having had some time and opportunity to review the allegations originally filed by the police, the state attorney appears to recognize that the initial charges were overreaching," Lykkebak said in a written statement. "Unfortunately, as demonstrated by the charges now filed, the state's current assessment still overstates the conduct." (Posted 4:25 p.m.)

Bush to form panel to review military medical care

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush, who said Friday he is "deeply troubled" by recent reports of substandard conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, will form a bipartisan panel to assess medical care for wounded U.S. service members.

Bush's announcement came one day after the general in charge of the Army's top hospital was removed from that post. Friday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates also announced that he had accepted the resignation of the secretary of the Army, Dr. Francis Harvey.

Troops recuperating from wounds they received in Iraq and Afghanistan were discovered to be living in substandard conditions in Building 18, an adjunct structure that was once a hotel. There also were complaints of too much bureaucratic red tape.

"This review will examine their treatment from the time they leave the battlefield through their return to civilian life as veterans, so we can ensure that we are meeting their physical and mental health needs," Bush says in his weekly radio address, which airs Saturday. A transcript was released by the White House on Friday. (Posted 4:08 p.m.)

Movie makers looking at story of Joe and Valerie Plame Wilson

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The life story of former ambassador Joe Wilson and his wife, former CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson, could become the subject of a Hollywood film.

Warner Brothers has acquired the rights the Wilsons' story and is in the beginning stages of putting together a movie based on it, a spokeswoman for the studio confirmed to CNN. She said the project is in the early development stages; she would not predict when a movie might actually be produced or hit theaters.

Joe Wilson was a former ambassador tapped by the CIA to go to Africa in 2002 to investigate claims Iraq was trying to acquire uranium there. He reported back that he didn't believe the reports were legitimate. He later criticized the Bush administration for continuing to cite the claims as a justification for the invasion of Iraq. Wilson has said the criticisms of the former ambassador could have been one reason that Valerie Wilson's identity as a CIA operative was leaked to the media.

The movie could be based in part on a book Valerie Wilson is working on, although it is not clear if the CIA would clear it for publication. --From CNN Senior Producer Kevin Bohn (Posted 3:37 p.m.)

Aircraft maker moves to shut down production of C-17 military cargo jet, citing lack of orders

NEW YORK ( -- The Boeing Co. on Friday took the first step toward shutting down production of the C-17 military jet, a move that could cost 7,000 jobs by 2009, due to lack of additional orders for the aircraft.

Boeing said it is stopping procurement of parts for any new C-17s not under contract or firmly committed.

The aircraft has been the center of federal probes into improper relations between Boeing officials and military officials. Former Air Force acquisition chief Darleen Druyun went to prison for conducting improper employment talks with Boeing while she negotiated the C-17 contract adjustment. (Posted 2:11 p.m.)

Libby trial judge writes memorandum outlining reasons behind decisions on evidence

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The judge in the criminal trial of Lewis "Scooter" Libby is making it clear for the historic record that he thought the defendant would take the stand, and that the presumption figured strongly into his decisions about classified material he would have allowed into evidence.

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton also suggests the defense could have improved the prospects for acquittal of their client had they called Vice President Dick Cheney to the stand.

The jury has deliberated eight days so far on a five-count indictment against Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff.

Walton's comments were made in a "memorandum opinion" written to "memorialize" the basis for some of his decision-making during the trial. Although somewhat unusual, the written record elaborating on bench discussions may help an appeals court explore his decisions should any jury verdict be challenged. --From CNN's Paul Courson (Posted 2:06 p.m.)

Georgia hospital 'gone, just gone' after tornado

AMERICUS, Ga. (CNN) -- When nurse Dana Rylander arrived for work at Sumter Regional Hospital on Friday, she was stunned.

She had no idea that a tornado had ripped through Americus the night before -- killing two people, shredding parts of the hospital, tossing cars on top of each other and severely damaging more than 200 homes in this town of 17,000.

"It's gone. It's just gone," she said, standing amid broken glass as she looked up at the hospital where dozens of windows were blown out and part of the facade was sheared off.

The damage wasn't limited to the hospital. Across the town, trees were uprooted and tossed like sticks. "This is the worst we've seen in this area in a long time," said sheriff's department Col. Eric Bryant. (Posted 12:38 p.m.)

FDA to review children's cough, cold medicines linked to overdoses

NEW YORK ( -- The FDA is launching a broad review of children's cough and cold medicines -- including some of the most popular brands sold over the counter -- after a report blamed the medications for overdoses in infants, three of them fatal.

The review was prompted by a citizens' petition sent to the Food and Drug Administration, said FDA spokeswoman Susan Cruzan.

The petition cited a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that blamed the use of cold medicine for emergency room visits by 1,519 toddlers and infants, ages 2 years or younger, between 2004 and 2005, Cruzan said.

Three babies -- ages 6 months or less -- were found dead in their homes, according to the report. In two of the deaths, prescription medications were found in the infant's blood. Overdoses were responsible for some -- but not all -- of the adverse events, said the CDC. The report did not mention specific products. --By's Aaron Smith (Posted noon)

School swarmed by deadly tornado: 'They started screaming ... it went black'

ENTERPRISE, Ala. (CNN) -- Students inside Enterprise High School huddled together, some joking around, after word reached them that a tornado was spotted in the area. The fear didn't fully set in until the lights went out and the glass from a skylight hit the ground.

"Everyone got really quiet -- we knew it was serious. No more than five seconds later, it was just like a big explosion and everything -- debris started hitting us," Mitchell Mock, injured in the storm, told CNN Friday.

The mother, Kim Lewis, who had come to the school to pick up her two sons, told CNN Friday that school officials "were screaming for us to get in the guidance counselor's office and shut the door, and so we did. In a few seconds they started screaming, 'There's a tornado!' It went black -- it hit right that fast."

In the wake of the storm, she said, "there was just hundreds of kids coming down the hallway, and a lot of them were covered with blood."(Posted 11 a.m.)

Anna Nicole would have loved the flourishes at her funeral

NASSAU, Bahamas (CNN) -- Even in death, Anna Nicole Smith was afforded the pomp and ceremony she always craved.

Her body received a police escort Friday to Miami International Airport, where it was flown to Nassau in the Bahamas for a private service at Mount Horeb Baptist Church -- to be attended by about 300 friends and family.

In Nassau, the white hearse was the focus of another motorcade traveling to the church.

Among the mourners are Howard K. Stern, Smith's attorney and partner, and his family; and photographer Larry Birkhead. Both men and at least two others claim to be the father of Smith's baby. (Posted 10:56 a.m.)

6 killed when bus plunges off Georgia interstate overpass

ATLANTA (CNN) -- Six people were killed and 29 injured, six of them critically, when a charter bus carrying members of a college baseball team plunged off an overpass onto Interstate 75 in Atlanta early Friday, police said.

The bus was carrying 35 people, most of them students from Bluffton University in Bluffton, Ohio, according to Atlanta police spokesman Joe Cobb. The crash occurred about 5:30 a.m.

The fatalities included the bus driver, his wife and four students, Cobb told CNN.

The community of Bluffton held a prayer vigil at the university, a Mennonite school, CNN affiliate WTOL reported. It was the last day of classes at the university before spring break. (Posted 10:46 a.m.)

Two U.S. soldiers die in routine security sweep of road

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Two American soldiers and an interpreter died Friday northwest of Baghdad when a roadside bomb exploded while they were routinely clearing a route northwest of the capital, the military said.

A third U.S. soldier was wounded.

The soldiers, from Multi-National Division - Baghdad, were on a routine route-clearance patrol, or assessing the safety of the route, when the blast occurred. The military said soldiers from that division have found 173 weapons caches and 372 improvised explosive devices in the last 30 days. (Posted 9:42 a.m.)

Bombing at Baghdad car lot kills 10; 2 U.S. soldiers die in separate incident

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A bomb exploded at a popular used-car lot in Baghdad's Sadr City Friday, killing 10 people and wounding 17, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said.

The blast at the Habibiya car lot occurred just after 4 p.m.

Also Friday, two American soldiers and an interpreter died and a third U.S. soldier was wounded when a roadside bomb exploded northwest of the capital, the military said.

The soldiers, from Multi-National Division - Baghdad, were on a routine route-clearance patrol northwest of the capital when the incident occurred. The military said soldiers from that division have found 173 weapons caches and 372 improvised explosive devices in the last 30 days. (Posted 9:34 a.m.)

Toll in Enterprise tornadoes now 9

ENTERPRISE, Ala. (CNN) -- Enterprise Mayor Kenneth Boswell said Friday morning that a series of tornadoes that tore through southern Alabama killed eight teenagers at Enterprise High School.

In addition to those killed at the school, there was another fatality in the town, he said, bringing the toll to nine.

FEMA Director David Paulison told CNN the school "did the right thing" by moving students to the center of the building, into the basement and a safe room, Paulison thing.

"It was just a tragedy that nobody could have predicted was going to happen," he said.

Urban search and rescue teams "did a great job" getting people out who had gotten trapped, Paulison said. "Everything was done that was supposed to be done," he said. (Posted 7:57 a.m.)

FEMA teams assisting in wake of deadly storms

ENTERPRISE, Ala. (CNN) -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent 14 teams to areas hit by the powerful storms that crossed through the South Thursday, FEMA Director David Paulison told CNN Friday.

The most immediate needs are sheltering people who lost homes and taking care of families, he told "American Morning."

FEMA is assisting the states, which are leading the efforts, he said.

The FEMA teams will assess whether there is enough damage to warrant natural disaster declarations, he said, noting that the states had not yet requested the declarations. (Posted 7:52 a.m.)

Coalition forces kill 12 Taliban extremists

KABUL (CNN) -- Afghan National Army and NATO forces killed 12 Taliban "extremists" during a firefight in Zabul province, near the Pakistani border, a military statement released Thursday said.

According to the statement, coalition forces came under "heavy-small arms and rocket propelled grenade fire" on Tuesday from about 30 Taliban fighters, northeast of Rubagak.

Afghan and NATO troops responded with close-air support and heavy-weapons fire.

According to the statement, one NATO soldier was wounded during the engagement. (Posted 4:35 a.m.)

9 dead as storms roar through south Georgia

AMERICUS, Ga. (CNN) -- A string of deadly storms ripped through southern Georgia Thursday night, killing at least nine people and injuring an unknown number others, authorities said.

According to Buzz Weiss with Georgia Emergency Management, tornadoes killed six people in Baker County, two in Sumter County and one in Taylor County.

No details were immediately available on the Baker County deaths.

In Sumter County, at least two people were killed and an unknown number injured when a tornado roared through the heart of Americus Thursday evening, according to Sheriff Pete Smith.

The twister also slammed into the city's hospital, Sumter Regional Medical Center, shutting it down after staff treated patients in the immediate aftermath of the storm. All of the patients have since been transferred to other hospitals.

The dead were killed elsewhere in the city, not at the hospital. (Posted 3:40 a.m.)

U.S. Marine killed in Iraq combat

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A U.S. Marine assigned to Multi National Force-West was killed Wednesday while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, the U.S. military said.

Since the start of the war the U.S. military has suffered 3,164 fatalities in Iraq. (Posted 1:40 a.m.)

Coalition, Afghan forces arrest 8 terror suspects in eastern Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Coalition and Afghan forces arrested a "known terrorist" and seven other terror suspects during an operation in eastern Afghanistan early Friday, a military statement said.

The raid in the Gorwek Valley of Paktika province took place without a shot being fire.

"Reliable information led the combined force to the compound, where the inhabitants complied with a request for peaceful surrender," the military said.

The region is along the border with Pakistan. (Posted 1:3 5 a.m.)

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