June 9th, 2011
11:54 PM ET

NATO official: Gadhafi a legitimate target

(CNN) - (CNN) - A U.N. resolution justifies the targeting of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, a senior NATO military official with operational knowledge of the Libya mission told CNN Thursday.

The resolution applies to Gadhafi because, as head of the military, he is part of the control and command structure and therefore a legitimate target, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The official was not authorized to talk to the media.

Asked by CNN whether Gadhafi was being targeted, the NATO official declined to give a direct answer.

But NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu disputed the claim, saying the alliance was not specifically targeting Gadhafi.

"We are targeting critical military capabilities that could be used to attack civilians, including command and control centers that could be used to plan and organize such attacks," Lungescu said.

"We are simply not targeting individuals," she said, but noted on CNN's American Morning that those military capabilities are the "nerve center of Gadhafi's kill chain. The war machine that has been consistently attacking, relentlessly attacking and systematically attacking civilians in Libya."

"We've seen just the other day in Misrata that sort of indiscriminate shelling is still continuing. So the Gadhafi regime still poses a threat to its own people."

NATO has been ramping up pressure on the regime, employing helicopters last weekend for the first time against Gadhafi's forces. Explosions are heard often in Tripoli, evidence of allied air strikes.

NATO intervened in March in the months-long civil war under a U.N. mandate to protect civilians as Gadhafi tried to crush the revolt against him.

The resolution adopted by the U.N. Security Council authorized "all necessary measures," with the exception of a ground invasion, to protect civilians.

NATO's goal is to end attacks against civilians, the withdrawal of Gadhafi forces to barracks and bases, and full humanitarian access, Lungescu said.

"There is, of course, a political track and that is what has been going on with the Contact Group in Abu Dhabi," she said, referring to the Thursday meeting of world powers focused on the Libyan crisis.

The group bolstered financial and moral support for the Libyan opposition there and focused on sustaining pressure on Gadhafi.

Updated: 6/10/11, 5:19 pm


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June 9th, 2011
09:44 PM ET

Source: NATO Now Targeting Gadhafi – Join the Live Chat

NATO airstrikes continue to pound Libya tonight and CNN has learned these strikes are going beyond our previous understanding of the U-N resolution to protect innocent civilians and establish a cease-fire. NATO is now not just trying to drive Moammar Gadhafi from power.
The new goal is to kill him. Plus, part three of our investigation into the 'Sissy Boy' experiment and more.

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:

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Bad for Gingrich, good for Perry?
June 9th, 2011
07:15 PM ET

Bad for Gingrich, good for Perry?

(CNN) – Close ties between two of the Newt Gingrich's departing senior staffers and Texas Gov. Rick Perry are fueling speculation about a potential Perry presidential campaign.

Gingrich staff members Rob Johnson, who was the former House Speaker's campaign manager, and David Carney, a Gingrich senior adviser, are two of Governor Perry's top political confidantes.

Their resignation from the Gingrich presidential campaign now frees them to assist Perry should he decide to seek the GOP nomination.

Perry recently said he plans to consider a presidential bid after the Texas legislative session concludes.

One Republican told CNN that while a potential Perry candidacy was not the cause of the Gingrich resignations, it might be the effect.

A senior GOP strategist told CNN's Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger that some of Perry's top donors have been calling around Washington this week asking what Perry should do.

Meanwhile, a Perry adviser in Austin said Johnson and Carney "can now talk to the rest of" Perry's advisers "where they couldn't before."

"Nobody could have discussions because they were working for Newt," the adviser said.

The adviser added, "There have been no decisions or happenings in Texas concerning Gov. Perry. There's been no meetings, no discussions [among Perry's inner circle]."

Despite the 2012 buzz, Perry's office continues to insist that the governor has no current plans to run for president.

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Beat 360° 6/9/11
Prince Harry (L) talks with In-Pensioners at the Margaret Thatcher Infirmary at the Royal Hospital Chelsea on June 9, 2011 in London, England. Prince Harry is attending Founder Day at the hospital for retired military personnel. (Photo credit: Peter Macdiarmid-WPA Pool/Getty Images)
June 9th, 2011
06:41 PM ET

Beat 360° 6/9/11

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!

Joey Gardner
“The Prince snickers at three musketeers."


Kate, NYC
"Can you believe this old chap? He just asked me for Pippa's phone number!"

Beat 360° Challenge

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International powers boost support for Libyan rebels
NATO has stepped up its bombing campaign against key targets in Libya's capital in recent days.
June 9th, 2011
05:45 PM ET

International powers boost support for Libyan rebels

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (CNN) - World powers beefed up financial and moral support for the Libyan opposition Thursday at an international coalition meeting aimed at charting the course of a post-Moammar Gadhafi Libya.

Talk at the meeting in the United Arab Emirates focused on sustaining pressure on the embattled Libyan leader. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said "numerous and continuous discussions" on a transition of power were taking place among people close to Gadhafi.

A spokesman for a Libyan opposition group told CNN that Gadhafi's son, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, was the primary negotiator for an exit plan for his father, but suggested the timing of the talks might not be good.

"I'm not sure there's a lot of people willing to listen right now," said Mohammed Ali Abdallah of the National Front for the Salvation of Libya.

Abdallah said a southern front had opened up in the fighting and that Gadhafi's days were numbered.

"We are in the final phases," Abdallah said. "Gadhafi's military power has significantly been reduced. He is basically rattled."

Clinton announced an additional $26 million in U.S. aid for the victims of Libya's ongoing war and said time was on the international coalition's side so long as Gadhafi faced sustained pressure.

"The violence must stop," she said. "Gadhafi must go."

Financial assistance flowed at the meeting, the third the international Libya group has held since war erupted.

Italy pledged up to $580 million to the Libyan opposition's Transitional National Council - which is facing a budget shortfall - to cover its expenses, but not weapons, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Maurizio Massari said.

And Kuwait is donating the $180 million it promised in April for humanitarian needs, said Sheikh Mohammed Sabah al Salman al Sabah, the Gulf nation's deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs.

France, Italy and Qatar are among a small number of countries that have recognized the Transitional National Council as the legitimate government of Libya.

While the United States has yet to officially recognize the rebel government, President Barack Obama "has invited them to open an office in Washington," a senior administration official told reporters traveling with Clinton to the meeting in Abu Dhabi.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity as a matter of practice for a press background briefing.

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Top Gingrich aides abandon campaign
June 9th, 2011
05:30 PM ET

Top Gingrich aides abandon campaign

Washington (CNN) – At least seven members of Newt Gingrich's senior campaign staff resigned Thursday, sources told CNN, but the Republican presidential candidate pledged he would start his campaign "anew."

In addition, one of his national campaign co-chairs defected Thursday to former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty's presidential campaign, according to a Pawlenty campaign release. Former Gov. Sonny Perdue of Gingrich's home state of Georgia moved over to the competing campaign.

The staff resignations included his campaign manager Rob Johnson and long-time Gingrich spokesman Rick Tyler. Also departing are Gingrich strategists Dave Carney and Sam Dawson. Consultants Katon Dawson, who is based in South Carolina, Craig Schoenfeld, who is based in Iowa, and Scott Rials, who is based in Georgia, have left as well as six staff members in Iowa and Perdue.

Gingrich held a meeting Thursday with Johnson and Dawson to discuss disagreements between the candidate and his staff. Tyler said the discussion was about "Newt as a candidate and control of the campaign and scheduling."

The aides resigned when an agreement was not reached, but Tyler said aides are "always hopeful for a mutually agreeable path forward."

But when a campaign and a candidate do not see eye to eye "they've got to part ways," Tyler told CNN.

"The professional team came to the realization that the direction of the campaign they sought and Newt's vision for the campaign were incompatible," Carney told CNN.

Gingrich responded to the events on his Facebook page Thursday.

"I am committed to running the substantive, solutions-oriented campaign I set out to run earlier this spring. The campaign begins anew Sunday in Los Angeles," Gingrich wrote.

An aide told CNN that "Newt will participate in Monday's debate in New Hampshire as originally planned."

CNN, WMUR and the New Hampshire Union Leader are sponsoring a GOP presidential debate Monday in Manchester.

FULL STORY on the CNN Political Ticker
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June 9th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Casey Anthony trial ends early as judge says she's ill

(CNN) - The Casey Anthony murder trial ended an hour and a half early on Thursday, with Orange County Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr. telling members of the media in the courtroom that Anthony was ill.

Jurors were not told why the trial ended early Thursday, and Perry asked them not to speculate. He said court would be in recess until Friday.

After the jurors left, Perry spoke to members of the media in the courtroom, saying that Anthony was ill and that neither the prosecution nor the defense had any comment on the matter. The judge asked reporters not to question either side about it. The details of Anthony's illness were not given.

During a short break before the announcement, Anthony drank a bottle of water quietly as attorneys spoke together and went back to Perry's chambers, according to In Session's Michael Christian. She was escorted out of the courtroom during the break, then brought back in, but lay her head down on her arms at the defense table. She did not stand as the jurors left the courtroom.

Earlier Thursday, testimony centered on the recovery of the skeletal remains of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, from a wooded area in December 2008. Anthony cried as photographs of the remains were displayed in the Orlando courtroom and avoided looking at the screen where they were displayed.

Anthony, 25, faces seven counts in Caylee's death, including first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and misleading investigators. If convicted, she could face the death penalty.

The toddler's family last saw her on June 16, 2008, but no one alerted police until July 15, when the girl's maternal grandmother tracked down Casey Anthony and demanded answers.

Prosecutors allege Casey Anthony used chloroform on her daughter and suffocated her by putting duct tape over the little girl's mouth and nose. They allege she put her daughter's body in her car trunk before disposing of it. Caylee's skeletal remains were found on December 11, 2008, less than a mile from the home of Casey Anthony's parents.

Casey Anthony has pleaded not guilty and denied having anything to do with her daughter's death. Defense attorney Jose Baez has said that when all the facts are known, it will become clear his client is innocent.

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June 9th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #871 'Weiner's last stand'

Reporter's Note: I’m pretty sure President Obama has not said anything about the whole business of Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner tweeting risqué pictures. Still, it seems like something I ought to address in my daily letter to the White House today.

Dear Mr. President,

As I write this, the sharks are swirling all around Rep. Anthony Weiner. After that gaping, horrifying, still water silence that followed his admission of “le singe brille,” your fellow Democrats are rising from the political depths with their teeth laid bare.

They are calling for him to resign; pack up his Twitter account; and paddle up the Eastern seaboard back to New York, or better still, just keep going to Nova Scotia. They want investigations. They want evidence collected. But they mostly want the embarrassment and political liability to go away. That’s all there is to it.

June 9th, 2011
01:32 AM ET

The Connection: Twitter has place in classroom

Editor's note: CNN's Dan Simon reports on one high school teacher's effort to integrate Twitter into his classroom.

Related: Twitter finds a place in the classroom

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June 9th, 2011
12:55 AM ET

Video: Researcher responds to man's suicide

Editor's note: After years of citing him as a positive case study, Dr. George Rekers learns of Kirk Murphy's suicide.

Related: Reporters find tragic story amid embarrassing scandal

Related: Therapy to change 'feminine' boy created a troubled man, family says

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