Editor's note: CNN's Ben Wedeman reports from eastern Libya after crossing into that country from Egypt. He is the first Western television correspondent to enter and report from Libya during the current crisis.
"Your passports please," said the young man in civilian clothing toting an AK-47 at the Libyan border.
"For what?" responded our driver, Saleh, a burly, bearded man who had picked us up just moments before. "There is no government. What is the point?" He pulled away with a dismissive laugh.
On the Libyan side, there were no officials, no passport control, no customs.
I've seen this before. In Afghanistan after the route of the Taliban, in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Government authority suddenly evaporates. It's exhilarating on one level; its whiff of chaos disconcerting on another.
Across the Middle East and North Africa, CNN's reporters and iReporters are covering protests, many of them inspired by revolts in Tunisia and Egypt that toppled those countries' longtime rulers. Check out our story explaining the roots of the unrest in each country. Have a story to tell from the scene? Click here to send an iReport.
Developments on unrest in the Middle East and North Africa:
LIBYA 11:45 p.m. ET, 6:45 a.m. local: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on Libya to immediately stop the "unacceptable" attacks on anti-government demonstrators.
"Like you and many others around the world, I have seen very disturbing and shocking scenes, where Libyan authorities have been firing at demonstrators from warplanes and helicopters," Ban said from Los Angeles. "This is
unacceptable. This must stop immediately. This is a serious violation of international humanitarian law."
LIBYA, 11:22 p.m. ET, 6:22 a.m. local: At the request of Libya's deputy ambassador to the United Nations - who earlier today called the crackdown in Libya a "genocide" - the U.N. Security Council scheduled a Tuesday morning meeting on Libya. This will be the first time the council has held consultations over any of the revolts that have swept Arab nations since January.
LIBYA, 11:09 p.m. ET, 6:09 a.m. local: A Libyan woman, speaking on condition of anonymity to CNN's Anderson Cooper, recounts a massacre near her home in Tripoli:
BAHRAIN, 8:51 p.m. ET, 4:51 a.m. local: CNN's Tim Lister reports from Bahrain, where he walked among protesters in the capital's Pearl Roundabout. Thousands of demonstrators were in the roundabout on Monday, preparing for a massive demonstration on Tuesday. Lister says the demonstrators' encampment has taken on an air of permanence, with tents, makeshift kitchens, even a rudimentary field hospital.
More on the Bahrain protests:
LIBYA, 7:40 p.m. ET, 2:40 a.m. local: About 15,000 of Libya's 2 million to 3 million Egyptians returned Monday across the border, border officials said.
The Egyptian military has set up refugee camps near its border with Libya and set up two mobile hospitals at the Salloum border crossing to assist Egyptians fleeing the protests in Libya, Egypt's state-run news website EgyNews
reported late Monday.
LIBYA, 7:33 p.m. ET, 2:33 a.m. local: Here is more on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's 40-second appearance - in which he said he still was in Libya - on state-run TV Tuesday morning:
"I want to have some rest," the embattled Libyan leader told a reporter in front of what Libyan television said was his house as he pulled out an umbrella in the rain. "Because I was talking to the young man at Green Square,
and I want to stay the night with them but then it started raining. I want to show them that I am in Tripoli, not in Venezuela. Don't believe those dogs in the media."
Green Square is where pro-government demonstrators in Tripoli have been located.
LIBYA, 6:49 p.m. ET, 1:49 a.m. local: Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said Tuesday morning on state-run television that he is not in Venezuela as rumored, but in Tripoli.
Earlier today, British Foreign Secretary William Hague told Reuters that Libyan leader Gadhafi may have been on his way to Venezuela.
Here is video of Gadhafi's comments to Libyan state-run TV:
LIBYA, 6:46 p.m. ET, 1:46 a.m. local: CNN's Cairo bureau chief Ben Wedeman has entered eastern Libya and is the first western television reporter to enter and report from inside Libya during the current crisis. He says much of eastern Libya appears to be in opposition control.
"What we saw as we were driving in is that this part of eastern Libya is clearly under the controls of the rebels - the forces that are opposed to Col. Gadhafi," Wedeman by phone on CNN's "The Situation Room."
"We saw along the road a lot of groups of men with shotguns - with machine guns - in civilian clothing. They call themselves basically the popular committees that are trying to maintain some sort of order along the way.
"Clearly the situation is very unstable. What we saw was that there are a lot of people – mostly Egyptians – who are leaving Libya at the moment. At the Egyptian border we were told by Egyptian officials that 15,000 Egyptian s left Libya, returning to Egypt."
"There are some signs of normal life. Gas stations are open. Stores are open. We saw … what looked like kebab shops that are functioning. There is a fair amount of traffic on the road, although I was told that was mostly Egyptians leaving the country."
Editor's note: Nancy Grace's new show on HLN, "Nancy Grace: America's Missing," is dedicated to finding 50 people in 50 days. As part of the effort, which relies heavily on audience participation, CNN.com's news blog This Just In will feature the stories of the missing.
This is the 26th case, and it was shown Monday night on HLN.
Rachel Mellon was 13 when she disappeared from Bolingbrook, Illinois, on January 13, 1996.
She had stayed at home with her stepfather instead of going to school that day because she had a sore throat. Her stepfather said that he left the house while she was taking a nap, and that when he returned, she was gone.
Also gone were pillows from Rachel’s bedroom and a blue blanket. The temperature outside was below zero, and police say they believe the girl didn’t leave on her own. There was no forced entry to the home and the honor roll student’s coat, shoes and purse were all left behind.
A roundup of today's CNNMoney news:
Libya: Why the oil market is nervous: Libya produced about 1.65 million barrels per day of crude oil in 2010, making it Africa's third-largest crude producer. It’s not the biggest producer, by far, but oil prices surged by more than 6% on Monday, and further chaos in the region could send crude prices spiking more.
U.S. oil prices don’t matter at the pump: Gasoline prices in the United States have jumped 5 cents in a week, according to AAA.
Editor's note: CNN's Tim Lister reports the following from Bahrain, where thousands of protesters have been in the capital's Pearl Roundabout, preparing for a massive demonstration on Tuesday. Protesters took to the streets of the capital last week 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 state since the 18th century.
I was down at the Pearl Roundabout on Monday - the epicenter of Bahrain's protest movement, where the demonstrators' encampment has taken on an air of permanence, with tents, makeshift kitchens, even a rudimentary field hospital.
And some dark humor. We bumped into one young man who wore a placard saying "Wake Me Up Before You Kill Me," a reference to the security forces' assault on the roundabout in the early hours of last Thursday. Nearby, a cartoonist had set up a "Democracy Wall" - Gulf style - with all sorts of sketches lampooning the royal family. Relatives of those injured or killed last week carry photographs of their loved ones. Above it all, a giant Bahraini flag hoisted by a crane.
Not to be outdone, thousands of government supporters rallied in another part of the city on Monday night - thankfully, a long way from Pearl Roundabout. While there has been no violence reported since Friday night, and the crown prince has committed himself to dialogue with opposition groups, there is still plenty of tension here.
Two Libyan Air Force pilots on Monday defected to Malta in apparent protest after being asked to bomb Libyan civilians, a Maltese government source said.
In a separate statement, Malta's government said two Libyan Air Force Mirage F1 single-seat planes landed on the island on Monday afternoon.
"The military aircraft are being held at the Malta International Airport according to usual practices," the statement said. "The two pilots are being held by the police for further investigations."
[Updated at 8:47 p.m. ET] New Zealand police say there have been "multiple fatalities" after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch Tuesday afternoon.
The deaths were reported at several locations, police said, and two buses were crushed by collapsing buildings.
The quake struck just before 1 p.m. Tuesday (7 p.m. Monday ET).
The New Zealand Herald reported that phone lines in the area were out, roads were cracked and water mains had burst.FULL STORY
Many readers are wondering why CNN’s coverage of protests in Libya isn’t teeming with the photos, videos and first-person accounts that made our reports out of Tunisia and Egypt so riveting.
The easy answer? They’re different animals.
In Egypt, CNN was able to walk among the protesters and gather their stories (and even be attacked by them), but practical and legal restrictions in Libya make such open coverage impossible. With the exception of a handful of accounts out of Benghazi, CNN cannot immediately confirm most reports.
The Libyan government maintains a firm grip on communications and has not responded to repeated CNN requests for access. We have interviewed numerous witnesses over the phone, but on Monday, it appeared that the country's internet connections and mobile phone networks had either slowed considerably or been shut down.
We’re not the only media outlet experiencing difficulties.
Video has been posted on YouTube of what CNN is told are six badly burned bodies of Libyan soldiers in open body bags.
The video, taken on a cell phone, was posted on Monday. It is not known when it was taken. Opposition sources in Libya say the bodies are of soldiers who refused to shoot at anti-government demonstrators.
The video, which is just over a minute long, shows a crowd gathered around the bodies. With sirens wailing in the background, the person with the camera pushes through the crowd to the bodies laid out in a line, charred beyond recognition. The sources say many more bodies were found in an adjacent military barracks. CNN staff say the accents heard on the video are North African. It has not been possible for CNN to otherwise independently verify the video.
Warning: Due to the graphic nature of this video, viewer discretion is advised.
After he had just driven 500 mentally exhausting miles to win NASCAR’s most prestigious race, Trevor Bayne needed to ask for directions Sunday evening. He wasn’t sure how to get to Victory Lane. Well, he made it there eventually.
You see, 20-year-olds aren’t supposed to win the Daytona 500. The race is about working closely on the track with another driver, and rookies don’t have the history for other racers to be comfortable around them at 200 mph.
At least, that’s how it usually works. Driving a car with the number 21 – made famous by one of the greatest drivers ever, David Pearson – Bayne became the youngest winner of the race and only one of two drivers to win an event in his second Cup start. ESPN’s Ed Hinton says it’s exactly what a struggling sport could hope for.
Elisa Baker, the stepmother of 10-year-old Zahra Baker, was indicted Monday on second-degree murder charges in the girl's death, a Catawba County, North Carolina, court clerk told CNN.
The family made international news late last year after the freckled-faced young girl went missing from their home in Hickory, North Carolina.
The girl lost part of her left leg at age 5 and lost hearing in both ears while being treated for cancer.
Police found Zahra's remains on November 11, just over a month after she was reported missing.
Though observers wonder if Libyan protests could mean the end for leader Moammar Gadhafi's reign, his son has warned on state television that there could be "a fierce civil war" if demonstrations continue. Continue they did, as the central government lost control of the coastal city of Banghazi, and protests continued in Tripoli.
Though CNN has not yet been granted access to report on the ground, there were several reports of violence Monday. Protesters set a government building in Tripoli ablaze the day after ransacking the state TV headquarters, according to media accounts. In the capital, hundreds of pro-government protesters gathered to listen to a speaker in Green Square, an eyewitness said. Another group of protesters who tried to make their way to the square dispersed when confronted by security forces with tear gas.
Crowds topped 50,000 people this weekend as demonstrators continue to express their frustration with the state's budget bill. Gov. Scott Walker, however, is not retreating. The bill is vital and complaints that it is union-busting are a "red herring," he said.
Tom Morello, formerly Rage Against the Machine's guitarist, has called Walker "the Mubarak of the Midwest," likening the governor to the recently toppled Egyptian leader. Morello will perform solo for protesters Monday. The budget repair bill was proposed by Walker to address a $137 million shortfall through June 30. It increases state workers' contributions to their pensions and health insurance benefits, requires collective bargaining units to conduct annual votes to maintain certification and eliminates the right of unions to have dues deducted from worker paychecks. Fourteen Democratic state senators essentially boycotted the Legislature and went to Illinois to prevent a quorum from passing the bill. Walker has said powerful public employee unions are behind the blocking of the bill.
It was one of the bloodiest 72 hours in recent memory, authorities said after 53 people, including four policeman, were killed in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. It began Thursday when 14 people were killed. Twenty more were killed Friday - a state police investigator en route home, among them. Saturday brought 19 killings, including a patrolman killed by a driver whom he'd just given a citation. He was shot 10 times in broad daylight. The violence was not exclusive to Ciudad Juarez, either. Mexico's Public Security Secretariat reported that 13 taxi drivers were killed in Acapulco in a rash of violence that began Friday.
Suspected drug traffickers are believed to be behind the violence in addition to setting cars ablaze and destroying street lights and security cameras. Among the casualties, a human head was discovered on a street and another body was found near a charred vehicle.
Call it the "tale of two states." Protests in Wisconsin against Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget cuts continue today, but teachers in another U.S. school district are taking a different approach.
Educators in one New York school district are being applauded by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for agreeing to a one-year salary freeze - even though they were due a pay raise - to make up for state budget shortfalls during tough economic times. With the pay freeze, the district can keep class sizes small and half as many teachers will lose their jobs.
Monday on "American Morning," T.J. Holmes spoke with John Christian, math teacher and president of the West Genesee Teachers Association, and Chris Brown, the West Genesee School District superintendent. He asked why their school district was able to come to a compromise where others haven't.
On Sunday, NASCAR had its version of the Super Bowl: the Daytona 500. And this year, a 20-year-old became the first rookie and the youngest driver to win it.
Trevor Bayne, who turned 20 the day before the race, won the event and joined "American Morning's" Kiran Chetry and T.J. Holmes to explain how it felt to win big.
"You set the bar high when you win your first ever Daytona 500. There is still a lot of history to be written," he said.
"It is cool to be the winner," he added. "It is because of everybody around me ... we got to work with Jeff Gordon in that race. That was incredible."
Watch the entire interview here:
[Updated: 3:17 a.m. Tuesday, Libya; 10:17 a.m. Monday ET]: U.S. authorities were keeping a close watch on Libya's rapidly unfolding political crisis Monday in part to see what possibilities might exist for meaningful reform, a senior Obama administration official said.
[Updated: 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, Libya; 7:30 a.m. Monday ET]: Britain is summoning the Libyan ambassador to London to the Foreign Office "to convey in the strongest terms our absolute condemnation of the use of lethal force against demonstrators," the British Foreign Office said in a statement Monday.
[Updated: 11:58 p.m. Monday, Libya; 6:58 a.m. Monday ET]: The Libyan ambassador to India has resigned in light of recent events in his country, a source in the Indian government said Monday.
[Updated: 9:59 p.m. Monday, Libya; 4:59 a.m. Monday ET]: BP is preparing to evacuate families and non-essential staff from Libya, according to the company's press office in London. BP said no operations have been impacted yet, but preparations for onshore drilling in Ghadames are being suspended.
[Updated: 9:51 p.m. Monday, Libya; 4:51 a.m. Monday ET]: Protesters in the Libyan capital of Tripoli have ransacked the headquarters of Libyan state television and set fire to at least one government building in the capital, according to multiple media reports quoting witnesses. CNN has not independently confirmed the information.
[Updated: 9:20 p.m. Monday, Libya; 4:20 a.m. Monday ET]: The European Union said the responsibility lies with member states to decide whether to evacuate their citizens from Libya, though the EU has the mechanism to support such evacuations.
[Updated: 8:10 p.m. Monday, Libya; 3:10 a.m. Monday ET]: Sporadic gunfire continued to ring out early Monday in parts of the North African nation.
[Updated: 8:01 p.m. Monday, Libya; 3:01 a.m. Monday ET]: The estimated death toll from four days of protests across Libya has reached at least 233, according to a statement Sunday from Human Rights Watch. The group cited information from hospital sources.
[Updated: 6:49 p.m. Monday, Libya; 1:49 a.m. Monday ET]: Hundreds of Libyans stormed a South Korean-operated construction site near the Libyan capital Tripoli on Monday, wounding 17 and causing a stand-off between police and rioters, the South Korean Foreign Ministry said.
[Updated: 6:41 p.m. Monday, Libya; 1:41 a.m. Monday ET]: Hundreds of Libyans stormed a South Korean-operated construction site near Tripoli.FULL STORY ON PROTESTS IN LIBYA