CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: After a day off to celebrate Presidents Day, CNN Student News is back! So am I. Thanks for spending some of your Tuesday with us. I'm Carl Azuz. Let's get to today's headlines.
AZUZ: Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the United Nations, has a message for Libya: the violence must stop immediately. The situation has boiled over in that country with protesters and the government facing off against each other. That government is run by Moammar Gadhafi, who's been in power for 42 years. Libya is located in northern Africa. And it's literally between two countries -- Tunisia and Egypt -- where long-time leaders have stepped down after recent protests.
During a speech on local TV, one of Gadhafi's sons made what seemed like an offer. He said, "we can speak rationally, we can spare the blood, we can stand all together for the sake of Libya." But he also added that if the protests continue, "forget about democracy, forget about reform... it will be a fierce civil war."
It's very hard for us to confirm some of the events that are reportedly happening in Libya. The government has a tight control on communications, and it hasn't responded to CNN's requests for access to the country. But based on the reports that are coming in, Don Lemon explains how we got to this point.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR, ATLANTA: February 14th: Peaceful demonstrations, fueled through Facebook, are planned against Libya's leader, Moammar Gadhafi, who supported Mubarak before his exit.
February 16: About 200 demonstrators hit the streets in the coastal city of Benghazi to rally for human rights activist Fethi Tarbel. Police make few arrests.
February 17: State-run media outlets report 110 political prisoners are released, but the move doesn't stop calls for a "Day of Rage," meant for the fifth anniversary of a bloody protest that left 12 dead. Medical sources say seven die on this day after clashes between demonstrators and security forces.
February 18: Gadhafi supporters rally back in Tripoli. But on the coast in Benghazi, security forces reportedly attack anti-government backers numbering in the tens of thousands. Medical sources report 20 die and 200 are hurt.
February 19: Benghazi gets worse. Reports leak out of tear gas and bullets. A doctor says his hospital has seen at least 30 bodies. And Human Rights Watch tallies 84 dead over the last five days.
February 20: Benghazi boils over. Violence surges and protesters strike, demanding change. Eyewitnesses say demonstrators have taken the city and much of Tripoli. A ban on foreign reporters makes the claim difficult to confirm. But Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam, warns the protesters to stop or, "blood will flow. Rivers of blood in all the cities of Libya."
Rise in Gas Prices
AZUZ: We've done some reports about the potential long-term effects of the political protests happening in the Middle East. But there's another effect that some of you might be noticing right now: gas prices. According to a study that came out on Sunday, the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded is $3.18. That's an increase of 5 cents from two weeks ago, and 55 cents from a year ago. The study says part of the reason for the increase is the tension in the Middle East, where a lot of the world's oil comes from. Experts predict that gas prices could keep going up over the next couple weeks.
What's the Word?
TOMEKA JONES, CNN STUDENT NEWS: What's the Word?
it's the term for an organization that represents a group of workers
That's the word!
AZUZ: Unions in Wisconsin don't like a new budget bill. Republican Governor Scott Walker says his state is facing a financial crisis and has a really big shortfall in terms of money. And so to try and make up that money, he's proposing a budget bill that would charge public employees more for the benefits they get. It would also make collective bargaining harder. That's when employees use unions to negotiate their conditions of employment. Thousands of people have been protesting the proposal. They say it's designed to break up the unions. And another part of this political fight: a group of Democratic state senators left Wisconsin in order to keep the bill from passing. Ed Henry explains why the issue of a budget battle isn't confined only to Wisconsin.
WISCONSIN PROTESTERS: Kill the bill! Kill the bill!
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Think this is just a narrow budget fight in one state?
WISCONSIN PROTESTERS: Not a badger!
HENRY: Think again.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Some of what I've heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you are just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain, generally seems like more of an assault on unions.
HENRY: The president knows Wisconsin is just round one in the national battle for control of the budget message. So, he sent his outside political team, Organizing for America, to help build even larger crowds. And union officials are vowing to keep up the fight in key 2012 political battlegrounds.
And this is beyond Wisconsin, it seems.
ARLENE HOLT BAKER, AFL-CIO EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT: Absolutely. It is beyond Wisconsin. It is, quite frankly, throughout the country. Whether it's in Ohio, New Jersey, New Hampshire, you see these attacks on workers.
HENRY: Labor officials charge teachers in Wisconsin are being unfairly targeted for deep cuts. They get smaller raises, pay more out of pocket for pensions and health care, and lose collective bargaining rights for both.
Wisconsin's Republican Governor Scott Walker, staring at a $3.6 billion state deficit, says he needs to cut somewhere. And he's getting air cover from House Speaker John Boehner who, like the president, knows Wisconsin is really just a proxy for their own showdown coming March 4th, when funding for the federal government runs out and a possible shutdown is looming.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R-OH) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: He was elected to lead, not to sit on the sidelines.
HENRY: Boehner aides privately tell CNN they believe Democrats are trying to stop Walker because they are worried he and other governors will be able to "pull a Chris Christie," as in the Republican in New Jersey who faced down unions.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY: We have two choices: to either stand up and do the right thing, to speak the truth and speak it bluntly and directly. Or to join the long parade of leaders who have come before us and failed.
HENRY: White House aides note that in his interview with the Wisconsin station, the president did say leaders at all levels will have to make tough choices.
OBAMA: Everybody has got to make some adjustments to new fiscal realities. We had to impose, for example, a freeze on pay increases for federal workers.
JOHN LISK, CNN STUDENT NEWS: Today's Shoutout goes out to Mrs. Graber's classes at Boonville High School in Boonville, Indiana! Kurt Angle, Cael Sanderson and Rulon Gardner are known for their achievements in what sport? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Boxing, B) Football, C) Wrestling or D) Track & Field? You've got three seconds -- GO! All three men won gold medals for wrestling. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
AZUZ: Joel Northrup isn't in the Wrestling Hall of Fame, like those guys. But he was a favorite to win his weight class at the Iowa state wrestling tournament. Except when it came time for his first match, Joel decided not to wrestle. That's because his opponent was Cassy Herkelman, one of the first girls ever to qualify for the event. Joel's decision was based on his religious beliefs. He said, "I have a tremendous amount of respect for Cassy. However, wrestling is a combat sport. As a matter of conscience and my faith, I do not believe that it is appropriate for a boy to engage a girl in this manner." Cassy won by default. Joel dropped down to the consolation bracket. Both of them have since been eliminated from the tournament.
AZUZ: A lot of people are speaking out about this story, though. At CNN's Belief Blog, there were at least 47 pages of comments coming in, everything from praising Joel Northrup's decision to criticizing him for it. What do you think? Tell us on our blog at CNNStudentNews.com or over on our Facebook site at Facebook.com/CNNStudentNews.
Presidents Day Quiz
AZUZ: Right above the blog on our home page, you'll find our Spotlight section and a quiz on Presidents Day. Some of you got the day off of school for it, but do you know when the holiday started? Or what its official name is? Here's a hint: it's not "Presidents Day." Head to the Spotlight section at CNNStudentNews.com; see if you can score a perfect 10.
Before We Go
AZUZ: And before we go, it can be hard to find a quiet place to study. You're trying to get some reading done, and boom! Some guy hits your book with a football! Of course, it's a trick shot from the University of Connecticut's backup quarterback. And it's obviously not his only one. Basketball goals. Knocking stuff off of his friend's head, William-Tell style right here. This YouTube video has it all. The quarterback's been making trick shots since high school.
AZUZ: We bet he started with one or two, and then all of it just spiraled out of control from there. Time for us to throw it to your teachers. For CNN Student News, I'm Carl Azuz.