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February 18th, 2011
11:53 PM ET
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09:43 PM ET

New Video of Crackdown: Join the Live Chat

Breaking News tonight on 360°. We have shocking evidence of peaceful protesters gunned down in Bahrain. All of it caught on tape. Plus, thousands of protesters converge on Wisconsin's state capital this Friday, like other days. Will their anger push the governor to drop his proposal to cut benefits for public workers, including their collective bargaining rights? We'll have a live report from Madison and talk it over with our political panel.

Scroll down to join the live chat during the program. It's your chance to share your thoughts on tonight's headlines. Keep in mind, you have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules.

Here are some of them:

1) Keep it short (we don't have time to read a "book")
2) Don't write in ALL CAPS (there's no need to yell)
3) Use your real name (first name only is fine)
4) No links
5) Watch your language (keep it G-rated; PG at worst - and that includes $#&*)


Filed under: Live Blog
February 18th, 2011
09:12 PM ET

At least 4 dead in Bahrain as violence continues

CNN Wire Staff

Manama, Bahrain (CNN) - Government forces fired Friday on protesters in Bahrain's capital, killing at least four of them, an ambulance worker told CNN. The violence was the latest in a series of confrontations in this Persian Gulf island nation that began Monday.

"I told everyone to put their hands up as a sign of peace," said one man who was covered in blood. "Then I saw the military crouch down."

Medical sources at a hospital said at least 50 people were treated Friday for injuries in Manama, and five of them were in critical condition, including one with a bullet wound to the head.

Friday's deaths brought to at least 10 the number of people killed since protesters took to the streets Monday in Bahrain, one of several countries in the Middle East and North Africa to face a surge of dissent following the revolts that toppled longtime autocrats in Tunisia and Egypt.

The casualties here occurred when security forces fired shots and tear gas at a few hundred anti-government protesters who were trying to make a push on Pearl Roundabout, the focal point of the demonstrations this week.

The area had been cleared Thursday in a harsh crackdown and security forces had then cordoned it off. But the violence resumed there Friday as security forces unleashed a massive and sustained barrage of tear-gas canisters and gunfire, witnesses said.

That was followed by "complete chaos" as demonstrators ran for cover, said CNN's Arwa Damon, in the capital.

Afterward, witnesses reported seeing bodies loaded into ambulances.

One man vowed to keep up his protest, whatever the cost. "There would be nothing more honorable than to be killed fighting for freedom for my country," he said.

Bahrain's special envoy to the United States, Abdul Latif Al Zayani, said that if Bahraini forces did fire live rounds, "Probably they were warning shots only."

But he acknowledged to CNN that the protesters were not using live ammunition.

Told that ambulance workers had confirmed the deaths of protesters by live rounds, he said those reports needed to be confirmed. "The reports are still coming in. ... We have great nation and we are a small country. We cannot divide. We have to unite. It's time that we get together. Investigations will happen. And they will continue."

Full story


Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Middle East
February 18th, 2011
07:00 PM ET

20 reported dead Friday in Libya as thousands take to streets

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - Thousands of Libyans took to the streets Friday to voice their discontent over leader Moammar Gadhafi, witnesses said.

At least 20 people were killed and 200 were injured Friday in the northern Mediterranean city of Benghazi, Libya's second-largest, said a medical source in Benghazi who was not identified for security reasons.

Friday's killings brought to 50 the number of people killed since Tuesday, when the protests began, the medical source said.

Amnesty International said security forces had killed at least 46 during the past three days, with sources at al-Jala Hospital in Benghazi saying that the most common injuries were bullet wounds to the head, chest and neck.

"The alarming rise in the death toll, and the reported nature of victims' injuries, strongly suggests that security forces are permitted to use lethal force against unarmed protesters calling for political change," said Malcolm Smart, the Amnesty's director for the Middle East and North Africa.

CNN was unable to independently verify the information.

Also on Friday, the bodies of those killed in clashes with security forces earlier this week were carried to a cemetery by a crowd of protesters, said a protester whose name also has been withheld for his safety.

Full story


Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Middle East
February 18th, 2011
06:05 PM ET

Beat 360° 2/18/11

Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:

Justin Bieber attends the "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never" Paris premiere on February 17, 2011 in Paris, France. (Photo credit: Francois Durand/Getty Images for Paramount)

Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.

Update: Beat 360° Winners:

Staff
Isha Sesay
"Um, sorry, I got distracted... I thought I saw a mirror"


Viewer

Sally Stark
"Help, Mom! She's asking questions I don't even understand. We haven't had 'that talk' yet."

___________________________________________________________________________Beat 360° Challenge


Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
February 18th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Why Wisconsin matters for President Obama

CNN Political Unit

Washington (CNN) - President Obama knows that the ongoing budget protests in Wisconsin are just round one in the national battle for control of the budget message. So he's reportedly sent his outside political team, Organizing for America, to help build even larger crowds.

It's something that drew ire from House Speaker John Boehner on Friday.

"His political organization is colluding with special-interest allies across the country to demagogue reform-minded governors who are making the tough choices that the president is avoiding," Boehner said in a statement. "Rather than inciting protests against those who speak honestly about the challenges we face, the president and his advisers should lead."

When asked about the situation in Wisconsin, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said aboard Air Force One on Friday that Obama is "very understanding" for state governments and politicians to "reduce spending to make tough choices to be fiscally responsible."

"He's doing that at the federal level, and he understands that states need to do that at the state level," Carney added. "But he also feels very strongly that we need not to make this an assault on the collective bargaining rights of workers in any given state. He understands public employees need to make sacrifices just like everyone else."

Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker, staring at a $3.6 billion state deficit, says he needs to cut somewhere.

And he's getting cover from Boehner, who, like the president, knows that Wisconsin is really just a proxy for their own showdown coming March 4 - when funding for the federal government runs out and a possible shutdown is looming.

Full story


Filed under: 360° Radar • Raw Politics
February 18th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Unrest in the Middle East and North Africa - country by country

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - Two months ago, a Tunisian fruit vendor struck a match that started a fire that has spread throughout the much of North Africa and the Middle East. Muhammad Bouazizi's self-immolation prompted anti-government protests that toppled regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. Here are the latest developments, including the roots of the unrest, as well as a look at previous events in affected countries.

Friday developments:

LIBYA

Tens of thousands of Libyans took to the streets Friday to air their discontent with four decades of Moammar Gadhafi, the longest-ruling non-royalty head of state in the world, witnesses said. At least 20 people were killed and 200 were injured in the northern Mediterranean city of Benghazi, Libya's second largest, said a medical source in Benghazi, who was not identified for security reasons. CNN was unable to independently verify the information. U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the outbreak of violence in Libya.

Roots of unrest:

Protests in Libya, ruled by Gadhafi since a 1969 coup, began in January when demonstrators, fed up with delays, broke into a housing project the government was building and occupied it. Gadhafi's government responded with a $24 billion fund for housing and development. A month later, more demonstrations were sparked when police detained relatives of those killed in an alleged 1996 massacre at the Abu Salim prison, according to Human Rights Watch. High unemployment has also fueled the protests, as have anti-Gadhafi groups

BAHRAIN

Four people were killed in the center of Bahrain's capital Friday, where shots were fired after demonstrators gathered, an ambulance worker in Manama told CNN. U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the violence. The new protests came a day after a violent police and military crackdown left four dead and scores wounded. What seemed like thousands of people - some chanting anti-government slogans - marched in the town of Sitra to attend the funerals of three of the four people killed Thursday. Two other people died during disturbances earlier in the week. The tiny island nation is a U.S. ally and houses the headquarters of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.

Roots of unrest:

Protesters initially took to the streets of Manama on Monday to demand reform and the introduction of a constitutional monarchy. But some are now calling for the removal of the royal family, which has led the Persian Gulf island state since the 18th century. Young members of the country's Shiite Muslim majority have staged violent protests in recent years to complain about discrimination, unemployment and corruption, issues they say the country's Sunni rulers have done little to address. The Bahrain Center for Human Rights says authorities launched a clampdown on dissent in late 2010. It accused the government of torturing some human rights activists.

Full story


Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Middle East
February 18th, 2011
04:02 PM ET

Letters to the President: #760 'What's up in Wisconsin?'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: The president’s team is apparently weighing in on the clash in Wisconsin over budget cuts. Meanwhile, I’m cautioning in today’s letter that even presidents have to pick their fights.

Dear Mr. President,

As you know, I am usually quite encouraging, but there are times when I feel the need to sound a note of caution. This is one of those.

I have been watching the kerfuffle in Wisconsin over the state’s budget and planned cuts to various employees and their pension plans. And I’m not entirely sure if your team ought to be weighing in on this the way they apparently are, in terms of encouraging the organization of opposition.

Hear me out. You have every right, of course, to do whatever you want. You are, after all, the president. I can understand the urge to protect the jobs of government workers, especially those who belong to unions which supported your candidacy. I can even respect the suspicion of many Democrats that this is a sneaky move by the Republicans to attack the unions in the name of budget woes.

My main concern is just this: There are a lot of states with serious budget problems (heck, almost all of them) and whatever good intentions you may have in apparently stepping up in Wisconsin, what are you going to do when the next one, and the next one, and the next one rolls around?
FULL POST

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