February 21st, 2011
06:15 PM ET
February 21st, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Beat 360° 2/21/11

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:

Zoo-keepers dressed up as giant pandas attempt to put Cao Gen the panda cub into a basket on February 20, 2011 in Wolong, Sichuan Province of China. The panda was released into the wild on Sunday, as part of a program to work towards the training of pandas to live independently in the wild. (Photo credit: ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)

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:

Eli Lazar
"First the rabbit suit, now this?"


Tony, New Hampshire
"The Bigfoot Hoax team decided to try something a bit more believable this year."

___________________________________________________________________________Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360° • T1
February 21st, 2011
02:15 PM ET

Wisconsin governor blasts public-sector unions as wasteful

CNN Wire Staff

Madison, Wisconsin (CNN) - Embattled Republican Gov. Scott Walker fired back at opponents of a budget bill that would increase the costs of benefits to public employees and curb their collective bargaining rights, describing in a written statement how current agreements give too much power to unions.

Walker highlighted questionable uses of taxpayer money as advocated by unions, noting a Milwaukee teachers union that last summer tried to negotiate health insurance using taxpayer dollars to pay for erectile dysfunction pills.

Unions have argued that collective bargaining - a process of negotiations meant to regulate working conditions - has instead served to protect wages and health care, enforce workplace safety and serve as a means to arbitrate employee grievances.

The bills' supporters say union contracts have hamstrung efforts to address the state's swelling deficit.

Some 385,000 workers belonged to a union in Wisconsin, accounting for more than 15 percent of wage and salary workers in 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

The budget repair bill proposed by Walker to address a $137 million shortfall through June 30 would increase contributions of state workers to their pensions and health insurance benefits. It also requires collective bargaining units to conduct annual votes to maintain certification, a costly procedure, and eliminates the right of unions to have dues deducted from worker paychecks.

Walker says the measures are needed to head off a $3.6 billion budget shortfall by 2013 that could result in thousands of layoffs.

Meanwhile, the number of protesters gathering daily in Madison - it exceeded 50,000 on Saturday - had dwindled by Monday as a winter weather advisory was in effect for much of the state.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Raw Politics
February 21st, 2011
01:30 PM ET

Witnesses describe violence, chaos in Libyan cities

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - While state TV bounced between scenes of serene concert footage and orderly rallies in support of leader Moammar Gadhafi, eyewitnesses describe a far different, far more chaotic Libya - one with arms-toting mercenaries, demonstrators ramming stolen tanks into a military base and masked men firing guns and blasting pro-government tunes from their sport utility vehicles.

Sporadic gunfire continued to ring out early Monday in parts of the North African nation, albeit a far cry from the tumult seen at other times since demonstrations and clashes began Tuesday night in Benghazi.

Obtaining independent confirmation on events in Libya is very difficult. The Libyan government maintains tight control on communications and has not responded to repeated requests from CNN for access to the country. CNN has, however, interviewed numerous witnesses by phone.

Several people noted that major unrest came to Gadhafi's doorstep in the capital Tripoli for the first time on Sunday, where crowds of anti-government protesters loudly decried Libya's current government, set fires to cars and braved gunfire by uniformed and self-styled security forces.

Gunfire rang out in the capital's streets, some of it coming from the barrel of masked men driving through the streets, said one witness - who, like many others, isn't identified for safety reasons.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
February 21st, 2011
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #763 'I hope you are enjoying your day'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: The president, like all other Americans, is celebrating the holiday. Unlike everyone else, however, he gets to do so with a letter from me.

Dear Mr. President,

Congratulations on this Presidents Day! I trust it will find you well and happy.

Does it ever occur to you when you are hanging out in the Oval Office or puttering around the Rose Garden what a very unusual position you are in? What am I saying? Ha! Of course it occurs to you. But I mean in the bigger, cosmic, “Holy cow, I’m keeping company with John Adams, Theodore Roosevelt, and Richard Nixon!” kind of way.

Think about this: When we celebrate the office of the presidency today, despite all the silhouettes of Washington and Lincoln on the paper cups, you are also part of the legacy we are commemorating. What an astonishing thing!

You will be, for all practical purposes, forever enshrined in this very elite group. (Well, forever is a long time…I guess I mean for as long as there is an America, which I hope is a very long time.) You could wind up on a coin, or with some kind of big marble statue of yourself on the National Mall, or maybe a building with your name on top. The rest of us can’t count on anything like that. Frankly, I’m delighted that I got away with scratching my initials onto the bathroom wall at my favorite barbeque joint, and I fully expect my descendents to poke at photos of me in just 50 years and say, “Now, who was this guy again?”

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