March 23rd, 2011
11:54 PM ET
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11:22 PM ET
March 23rd, 2011
09:45 PM ET

Target Tripoli: Join the Live Chat

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/02/liveblogfinal.copy.jpg]

There a reports of new explosions in Tripoli.  We've covering the breaking news. Plus, new radiation concerns in Japan. And, workers returns to the damaged nuclear plant after being evacuated when smoke was spewing from reactor No. 3. We're also remembering actress Elizabeth Taylor.

Want more details on what covering? Read EVENING BUZZ

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")
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Filed under: Live Blog
March 23rd, 2011
08:55 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Gadhafi's Inner Circle Reaches Out to U.S.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/03/23/t1larg.libyarebels.gi.jpg caption="Libyan rebels deploy near the city of Ajdabiya to try to attack government forces that have encircled the town." width=300 height=169]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Members of Moammar Gadhafi's inner circle are reaching out to the U.S. and Arab States, senior U.S. officials said. This includes Gadhafi's close confident and brother-in-law, Adullah Sanussi, who they said has been calling the U.S. State Department almost daily.

But does this mean Gadhafi is considering leaving Libya? We'll have the latest on this development tonight on AC360°.

On day five of the airstrikes by coalition forces 175 sorties were flown in Libya, 113 by U.S. warplanes. Coalition forces are also putting more pressure on pro-Gadhafi forces on the ground, which are targeting rebel-held towns to the east of Tripoli.

"Our primary focus is to interdict those (pro-Gadhai) forces before they enter the city, and again I said they were targeting population centers in the city, interdict those forces before they enter the city, cut off their lines of communication and cut off their command and control," Rear Adm. Gerard Hueber, Chief of Staff of Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn told reporters today.

Tonight you'll hear from an eyewitness to the fighting in Misrata. We'll also talk with CNN's Arwa Damon in Benghazi and David Kirkpatrick in Tripoli.

Should the U.S. even be part of the coalition fighting in Libya? You'll hear two sides of that debate tonight. Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, says U.S. intervention is a bad idea. While Princeton University’s Anne-Marie Slaughter, former Director of Policy Planning at the State Department and others say it's the right move.

We'll also look at the growing uprisings across the Middle East. 15 people were killed in clashes with Syrian security forces today. While Yemen's embattled president has accepted opposition demands for constitutional reforms and elections by the end of the year. There's also been violence in Bahrain. What could all of this mean for the region and the U.S.?  We'll ask our panel of experts.

In Japan, there are new fears over one of life basic necessities - water. In Tokyo, 150 miles south of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, new testing shows radioactive material in tap water at levels two times higher than what the government says is safe for infants.

Plus, officials evacuated some workers from the plant today when black smoke rose from the No. 3 reactor. That reactor is a priority because its fuel rods have a mix of plutonium and uranium, which experts say could cause more harm in a meltdown.

The death toll from the earthquake and tsunami is now 9,487 and at least 15,617 people are missing. And, Japan's Kyodo News Agency reports that 387,000 survivors are staying at 2,200 shelters in northeast Japan.

Join us for these stories and much more starting at 10 p.m. ET.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
March 23rd, 2011
06:37 PM ET

Beat 360° 3/23/11

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:

Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush attend the Points of Light Institute Tribute to former President George H.W. Bush at The John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts on March 21, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo credit: Kris Connor/Getty Images)

Update: Beat 360° Winners:

Ben Finley
"Whatever you do Clinton…DO NOT ask him about Rihanna."


Elaine, PA
Bill: "I STILL get chest pains standing this close to a Republican."

___________________________________________________________________________Beat 360° Challenge

Filed under: Beat 360°
March 23rd, 2011
06:15 PM ET

15 killed in clashes between protesters, security forces in Syria

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - Escalating violence between Syrian security forces and anti-government protesters claimed 15 people Wednesday in the city of Daraa, witnesses and rights activists said. Syrian state television reported the government fired the governor of Daraa province, a flash point of anti-government protests.

There was no breakdown on the casualties. According to activists and witnesses, seven people died shortly after dawn prayers near al Omari mosque. Security personnel tried to storm the area where protesters took positions to demand government reforms, an opposition spokesman said.

Later, about 3,000 protesters from neighboring towns gathered outside Daraa and clashed with an army unit known for its loyalty to President Bashar al-Assad, activists and witnesses said. The army unit is headed by a family member, Maher al-Assad, said the opposition spokesman.

Eight more people died in the later clashes, bringing the death toll Wednesday to 15, according to the sources. Overall, at least 21 people have died in unrest in the city since Friday.

Army tanks are positioned in the city, including near al Omari mosque, the opposition spokesman said. Mobile and regular telephone service from Daraa has been cut off, witnesses told CNN.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
March 23rd, 2011
06:15 PM ET

Gadhafi's aides in touch but unclear on intentions

Elise Labott
CNN Senior State Department Producer

Washington (CNN) - Members of Moammar Gadhafi's inner circle are contacting the United States and other Arab states, but have been unclear about their intentions, senior U.S, officials said.

In an inteview on Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton raised the prospect that Gadhafi and his inner circle were exploring their options, including seeking a way to leave Libya to escape a sustained bombing campaign by U.S.-led forces.

"We've heard about other people close to him reaching out to people that they know around the world," Clinton told ABC News. She described the communications as the Libyans exploring options and asking "What do we do?" "How do we get out of this?" "What happens next?"

In the interview, Clinton cautioned that some of what U.S. intelligence was picking up was probably "game playing" and "theater," and that the Libyan leader was unpredictable.

Abdullah Sanussi, Gadhafi's close confidant and brother-in-law, has called the State Department almost daily, and Foreign Minister Musa Kusa has also reached out several times, senior U.S. officials told CNN. Additionally, Arab allies have told U.S. officials they have been contacted by members of Gadhafi's inner circle.

However, the officials said that none of Gadhafi's inner circle have indicated Gadhafi was ready to leave, nor have any of them suggested they are ready to abandon Gadhafi.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
March 23rd, 2011
05:45 PM ET

Gadhafi troops attack main hospital in Misrata

CNN Wire Staff

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) - Despite coalition airstrikes, troops loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi continued to terrorize residents of the besieged rebel-held city of Misrata Wednesday.

In the city's main hospital, where 400 people - about half of them patients - were located, one witness said Gadhafi's forces had attacked. The push began at 8 p.m. (2 p.m. ET), when "heavy tanks for Gadhafi troops start attacking the hospital - the bombs falling here 20 meters (66 feet) around us," said one person inside the hospital. He said two deaths had occurred "around the hospital."

At one point, shelling occurred without respite for 40 minutes, he said. "Now, fortunately, no more shelling, but the situation is so serious that all the teams here - the doctors, the patients - are paralyzed, scared."

He called for international intervention to protect the civilians inside the institution. "Nobody can work here," he said. All the doctors here are completely paralyzed." Ambulances were not able to leave the hospital, which had lost its electricity and was running on generator power, he said.

During the last day, the international coalition has flown 175 sorties over Libya - 113 of them by U.S. planes and the remainder from other nations participating in the U.N.-backed mission, U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Gerard Hueber told reporters Wednesday.

The Libyan air force has been crippled, and the no-fly zone spans Libya from east to west along its coastline, said Hueber, the chief of staff for U.S. operations. But the coalition has had no indication that Gadhafi was complying with a United Nations mandate to stop attacks against civilians.

With Gadhafi's air power rendered ineffective, coalition airstrikes were focusing on his ground forces in Ajdabiya and Misrata.

Coalition jets are using smart bombs to target mechanized forces and mobile surface-to-air missile sites and impede supply lines for their "beans and bullets," Hueber said. The targets include Libya's premier 32nd Brigade, commanded by one of Gadhafi's sons and fully engaged in the fighting.

Full story

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow
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