The most popular video on CNN.com Tuesday showed a group of daring citizens who proved that, in the face of danger, the average person can become a modern-day hero. On a busy street in Utah, 21-year-old Brandon Wright crashed his motorcycle into a BMW, pinning him underneath the burning car. Seconds later, passers-by sprang into action, lifting the car and dragging him to safety. Last night, CNN's Piers Morgan spoke to three of the men who saved Wright and got an update on Wright's condition from his uncle.
In today's Gotta Watch, we take a look at other good Samaritans helping those in need as fear subsides and adrenaline takes over.
Close call in canal crash – Last summer, 17-year old Jasmine Gonzalez's Chevy Cobalt careened off a Florida interstate into a canal, trapping her inside. A couple saw it happen and rescued her using the only tool they could find.
'A complete team effort' – In 2009, a mother of two crashed her SUV into a tree. It caught fire, but as luck would have it, two off-duty firefighters were among a group of bystanders who helped save the day.
Subway Samaritan: 'I'm no hero' – Wesley Autry's subway rescue earned him an invitation to President Bush's 2007 State of the Union address. He was also named one of TIME magazine's 100 most influential people. Talk about good karma!
Kabul hotel attack – A man suspected of helping to organize this week's deadly hotel attack in Kabul was killed Thursday in an airstrike in southern Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force said. The Taliban claimed credit for the carnage at the Hotel Inter-Continental, a place which has long been popular with politicians, foreign journalists and Westerners. The alleged terrorist is Ismail Jan, the deputy to the senior commander of Haqqani, a group linked to the Taliban. Jan was killed along with several other fighters, ISAF said.
American troops killed in Iraq – Three U.S. service members were killed Wednesday in southern Iraq, the U.S. military said. The military is not giving information about how they were killed. Their deaths happened around the same time Secretary of Defense Robert Gates released his final goodbye to the military.
Wisconsin teacher layoffs – The Milwaukee Public Schools are laying off more than 300 teachers. Their last day is Friday. The move is blamed on $84 million in state budget cuts and the system's efforts to control costs. The layoffs could be repeated throughout the country as states slash funds for education, social services and local governments.
Tropical Storm Arlene – The first named storm of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season made landfall on Mexico's eastern coast around 5 a.m. ET Thursday. It's moving at 9 mph with sustained winds of about 65 mph, slightly under hurricane status. Forecasters warned of possible flash floods and mudslides. On Wednesday, the storm caused heavy rains hundreds of miles away in Florida. News media there reported the drenching was a welcome respite from a long drought which has dropped water levels in the Everglades.
Wisconsin's top court Tuesday reinstated a contentious law that curbs the collective bargaining rights of most state employees.
The state's Supreme Court set aside a ruling by a lower court judge who had placed a permanent injunction against the law.
"The Supreme Court's ruling provides our state the opportunity to move forward together and focus on getting Wisconsin working again," Gov. Scott Walker said in a statement.
The rocker played a show in China on Wednesday night to a crowd who mostly didn't know who he was, just days after artist and activist Ai Weiwei was arrested for alleged "economic crimes." Dylan's set list had to be approved by the Ministry of Culture, and a few of his most popular songs, including "The Times They Are a-Changin'," were not played, the Los Angeles Times reported. "Foreign acts coming into China are watched much more closely than native Chinese bands," said Nevin Domer, booking manager at D-22, a mecca for student rock in Beijing.
Budget battle – President Barack Obama meets Tuesday with congressional leaders to discuss budget negotiations three days before the deadline to avoid a government shutdown. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan also will unveil a 2012 GOP budget proposal with dramatic changes to Medicare, Medicaid and other political lightning rods.
Invitations for the White House meeting went to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada; Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii; and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Kentucky.
Diplomacy – Obama also is set to meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres for a working lunch at the White House. The White House said Obama and Peres will discuss a range of issues, including security cooperation between the two countries and recent turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa.
House hearings on 9/11 trials – A House Judiciary subcommittee will hold a previously scheduled hearing on where and how Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others will be tried for their alleged roles in the September 11, 2001, attacks. Attorney General Eric Holder announced Monday that the suspects would be referred to military commissions at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, military base for trial. David Beamer, whose son Todd Beamer died on United Airlines Flight 93 on 9/11, is set to testify at the House hearing.
Wisconsin Supreme Court race – Wisconsin residents will vote Tuesday in a Supreme Court race that has become a sort of referendum on Republican Gov. Scott Walker's collective-bargaining bill. Justice David Prosser, a conservative who is considered a supporter of Walker's agenda, and Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg, described as a liberal, are vying for a 10-year term on the high court.
Hearing in slaying of Jennifer Hudson's relatives – William Balfour will appear in an Illinois court for a deposition hearing on a 77-count indictment in the 2008 shooting deaths of singer Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and nephew.
Mine accident anniversary – Massey Energy will halt production and hold a "safety stand-down" at all its operations at 3:02 p.m. Tuesday in honor of the 29 miners who died a year ago in an explosion at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in Montcoal, West Virginia. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will participate in a memorial service at 6 p.m.
Ivory Coast – Fighters loyal to Alassane Ouattara surrounded the presidential palace of Laurent Gbagbo on Tuesday, hoping to capture the embattled leader. Fighting has escalated in recent days as Ouattara's fighters pressed closer to ousting Gbagbo from power. Ouattara has been recognized by the United States and United Nations as the winner of last fall's presidential election, but Gbagbo has refused to give up power. The aid group Oxfam reports tens of thousands of people have fled into neighboring countries to escape violence.
Libya – Rebel envoy Ali Aujali dismissed as "a ridiculous offer" a rumored proposal to have Moammar Gadhafi pass power to his son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, who then would lead reform efforts in Libya. Aujali said the rebels are willing to offer Moammar Gadhafi and his family safe passage out of Libya in exchange for an end to the fighting – but that's as far as their offer goes. Meanwhile, rebels were calling for more coalition help in Misrata and al-Brega, where loyalist forces were pushing back hard.
A Wisconsin judge issued a temporary restraining order Friday halting the state's controversial budget repair law that curbs the union power of most public employees, the Dane County district attorney's office said.
Gov. Scott Walker, who championed the measure and signed it into law last week, said he was confident the initiative would eventually prevail in the court system, a spokeswoman said.
"This legislation is still working through the legal process. We are confident the provisions of the budget repair bill will become law in the near future," Cullen Werwie, the governor's press secretary, said in a statement.
Wisconsin Senate Democrats called the law, which reduces the collective bargaining rights of most state employees, an attack on workers and filed a complaint with the Dane County district attorney, claiming that the Senate's Republican-led vote violated Wisconsin's open meetings law.
The ruling by Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi came in response to a lawsuit filed by District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, charging such a violation of the law.
If you've been following the reaction to the controversy over the Wisconsin bill to restrict collective bargaining rights, you're probably aware of the sentiments permeating comment boxes and social media. If not, let's bring you up to speed:
- Solidarity with union workers: "I stand with the SLOBS who teach my kids, empty my trash, protect my neighborhood, put out my fires, fix my roads." - linc0lnpark
- Support for the measure: "I live in Wisconsin, I voted for Governor Walker, and I support him and what the Senate did last night 100%. All of the Democrats that fled the state need to be recalled. All of the Union supporters that have infiltrated my state from other places, can pack their crap up and leave – NOW. Oh, and fire all the teachers that called in 'sick' too." - kat101160
- Comparisons to uprisings in the Middle East: "Thanks to Twitter, I can watch the beginning of democracy in the Middle East and the end of it in the Midwest." - achura
There's also a deeper, equally pervasive thread making the rounds accompanied by the hashtag #Koch. Such comments are full of insinuation, speculation, rumor and innuendo over Gov. Scott Walker's connection to Koch Industries, a private, Kansas-based company with diverse holdings in nearly 60 countries, including a presence in Wisconsin.
VIDEO: The two most influential names in politics you've never heard of
The company also has a long history of supporting free-market principles through its political action committee, KOCHPAC, which contributed $43,000 to Walker’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
Tweets and comments such as, "Welcome to #FitzWalkerStan we used to be called Wisconsin. We are a division of Koch Industries," or "Walker is deaf to the voice of people. He is a puppet of Koch brothers" speak to speculation that Walker is in the pocket of Koch Industries.
The Wisconsin state Assembly on Thursday afternoon passed a controversial bill that curtails most state workers’ collective bargaining rights, one day after state Senate Republicans used a technical procedure to get around the intentional absence of 14 Democrats and pass the measure in their chamber.
Throngs of people upset at the developments have been protesting on the grounds of the Capitol throughout the day.
The bill will reach Gov. Scott Walker's desk for final approval. The bill would, among other things, allow public workers to collectively negotiate wages only and bar unions from taking dues from public workers’ checks. Walker has argued the bill is necessary to help the state correct its deficits and avoid massive layoffs and property tax hikes.
Here is a running account of some of the latest developments:
5:02 p.m. ET: Detail on the vote: The Assembly passed the measure 53-42.
4:47 p.m. ET: The Assembly has passed the bill.
4:41 p.m. ET: The Assembly appears to be voting.
4:33 p.m. ET: Still debating the bill, Democrats in the state Assembly are arguing that the Senate's move to pass the measure yesterday was illegal in part because the bill still addresses fiscal matters.
Senate Republicans, before passing the measure yesterday, stripped the bill of appropriations so that they could vote for the bill without a quorum. This way, they could vote without the presence of the 14 Democrats who fled the state.
Assembly Democrats, however, are arguing that the measure still has changes in appropriations, inclduing a change in appropriations for a tax credit.
4:22 p.m. ET: Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has received two death threats, Fitzgerald spokesman Andrew Welhouse said. Both threats were e-mailed from the same address, according to Welhouse.
4:04 p.m. ET: Although Democratic state Sen. Jim Holperin apparently is returning to Wisconsin, one of his fellow Democrats in the state Senate, Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, says she and other Senate Democrats are staying in Illinois. She says the matter of whether the Wisconsin Senate legally passed the measure last not hasn't been settled.
She said that because the legality of the Senate's move last night still has to be determined, she and other Senate Democrats still will stay away from Wisconsin because they don't want to be forced to appear in the Senate to deal with the measure.
Vinehout told CNN's Brooke Baldwin that she doesn't know where Holperin is, but she said that if he is on his way back to Wisconsin, he doesn't have the most current information. She added that the courts will need to decide whether yesterday's "legislative trickery" by Senate Republicans was legal.
Public unions -- Pro-union demonstrators plan to rally outside the Wisconsin capitol Thursday - the morning after the state's Republican-led Senate passed Gov. Scott Walker's proposed restrictions on collective bargaining for public employees. Senate Republicans got around a long-running Democratic walkout on Wednesday evening by stripping financial provisions from the bill.
Lohan plea - Actress Lindsay Lohan heads back to court Thursday to say if she will accept a plea deal on a felony charge of stealing a $2,500 necklace. At her last appearance in February, the judge warned Lohan that any plea deal would involve jail time.
NATO and Libya - NATO officials scheduled a meeting Thursday to discuss a response to Libya's civil war. Alliance defense ministers gathering in Brussels, Belgium, will discuss whether to implement a no-fly zone over Libya to minimize civilian casualties from the Libyan air force attacks.
Miami Heat – The NBA franchise that added league MVP LeBron James and Chris Bosh last summer finds itself in a five-game losing streak. Breaking that skid may be a tough task as Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers come to Miami for a 7 p.m. ET game. SI's Zach Lowe looks at what might be behind the Heat's problems.
Are you there? Share photos and video of the protests, or your views on the issue with the CNN iReport community.
"This is a date that will live in infamy."
President Franklin D. Roosevelt's oft-quoted assessment of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 surfaced on Twitter Wednesday night, as reaction to the Wisconsin Senate's vote to pass proposed restrictions on collective bargaining for public employees began to flood the social media site.
Accompanied by the hashtag, #AshWednesdayMassacre, the sentiment captured the anger and disbelief of many around the Wisconsin capitol – and in the Twitterverse – who feel that the Republicans manipulated the vote by stripping the budget bill of all things budget-related to get around the need for a quorum in the absence of 14 Democratic senators. The move, some believe, lays bare their true motive from the start: to gut the unions, pure and simple.
"Either #Wisconsin GOPers just violated the constitution, or Scott Walker lied," the pro-labor publication Mother Jones said in another oft-retweeted sentiment.
Not everyone's upset with the vote, which would bar public workers other than police and firefighters from bargaining collectively for anything other than wages, in what Walker and GOP lawmakers say will help close a $137 million budget shortfall.
"wisconsin gop reminds unions that collective bargaining is a privilege, not a right," brooksbayne tweeted.
Here's some more reaction to Wednesday's vote:
"Nothing says democracy like voting with no notice, preventing the public from observing, and locking the doors of the capitol" – mirerony.
"Still waiting for @BarackObama to stand the picket line as promised. This is class warfare of the worst kind." – ericming5
"Tonight #WI GOP showed their true aim: undermining workers' rights. I continue to stand in solidarity with #wiunion." - NancyPelosi
"Hey, Governor KOCH! Some of your shareholders, err, constituents aren't too happy right now. That's bad business." - mariannesp
"This is EXACTLY why we need collective bargaining. Would you trust these legislators to determine your working conditions?" - shankerblog
"Repubs freaked out abt czars, but claim rt 2 dissolve towns. wht planet did I wake up on? Planet Plutocrat?" – XicanaMama
"Furious beyond belief. What happens now? This can not be abided & will not be forgotten. It has only just begun." – HarryWaisbren
"Has anyone else noticed that the state of #Wisconsin looks like a clenched fist?" – Red_Ben89
"Apparently Gov. Walker is giving up democracy for Lent." – blissfulfun
"Since there don't appear to be any rules/laws in WI government now, let's skip the 1 year rule and recall Walker's ass right now." – AnnieRauh
"Hey, things happen. RT @TeresaKopec: I guess the Kochs got their money's worth. And the middle class just got kicked in the teeth." – umarsattar
Wisconsin's Republican-led state Senate passed Gov. Scott Walker's proposed restrictions on collective bargaining for public employees Wednesday, getting around a Democratic walkout by stripping financial provisions from the "Budget Repair" bill.
"Tonight, the Senate will be passing the items in the Budget Repair Bill that we can with the 19 members who actually do show up and do their jobs," Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, the chamber's Republican majority leader, said in a statement announcing the move.
Senators were able to move ahead by voting only on the non-financial aspects of Walker's proposed bill, which requires fewer members for a quorum. But the move drew howls of outrage from outside the chamber, where pro-union demonstrators chanted "Shame, shame," as the bill passed.
– CNN's Ed Lavandera contributed to this report.
Protesters have been converging on the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin, since mid-February to protest the governor’s budget bill. Their voices are angry, energetic, accusatory.
The bill, which proponents say reels in spending but critics say is an overt attempt at union-busting, prompted 14 Democratic state senators to leave the state so they wouldn’t be forced to vote on the bill.
Despite reports of progress in the negotiations, there are still several bones of contention. The original bill by Gov. Scott Walker requires all public workers but police officers and firefighters to increase contributions to their pension and health insurance, and it prohibits unions from collecting dues.
It also restricts the unions’ collective bargaining power, caps wages and requires annual votes for unions to remain certified, which critics say would be costly.
The crowds have thinned since the protests first began, but many remain adamant that Walker’s bill must be defeated. Here is what some of them are saying:
The 58-year-old from Madison said he’s worn out from walking 5 or 6 miles a day during the last 12 days of the protests.
He accuses the statehouse of “bully politics” and said he doesn’t appreciate “the way they’re trying to change things, ram things down our throat without a chance of really seeing the bill.”
An e-mail exchange released by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's office on Tuesday revealed a series of potential Republican concessions to a three-week stand-off over a budget bill that would restrict the collective bargaining rights of most public workers.
The e-mails show a discussion between Walker's deputy chief of staff, Eric Schutt, and Democratic state Sens. Tim Cullen and Bob Jauch.
Francis Clark walked away from the Wisconsin capitol building in Madison with protest signs under his arms and leaned against a stone ledge.
"Man, we're tired. We need a day off," the chef from Madison said Tuesday to anyone walking by who would listen.
For three weeks, tens of thousands of protesters and union supporters from around the Midwest have flocked to Madison to rally against Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to eliminate most collective bargaining powers from state worker unions.
The crowds have thinned since the ferocious early days of protests, but protest chants still echoed through the golden halls of this gorgeous capitol building on Tuesday.
In the rotunda, union supporters took turns leading the crowd in protest chants. A woman held up a sign that read, "Walker's Bill is Sick. I know, I'm a nurse." And a small group of firefighters marched around the rotunda showing solidarity with the union protesters. (Police and firefighters will not lose their collective bargaining powers under the governor's proposal.)
Charlie Sheen sacked - It probably didn’t surprise anyone but Charlie Sheen to learn that the actor was canned from “Two and a Half Men” on Monday. The firing comes after a series of bizarre public appearances that included attacks on the show’s creator. We’ve been waiting on a response, but the last we heard – via Twitter – was that the self-professed warlock was seeking a winning intern “with #TigerBlood.”
The filmmaker behind the Oscar-winning documentary "Bowling for Columbine" appeared before union activists in Wisconsin and praised them for "arousing a sleeping giant," the Wisconsin State Journal reported. Moore addressed at least 30,000 protesters, urging them to continue their demonstrations against Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposals. "America is not broke," he told the crowd, according to the Madison newspaper. "The only thing that's broke is the moral compass of the rulers."
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has issued union layoff notices that could take effect as early as April 1, a governor spokesman said Friday.
The measure "may be able to be rescinded and layoffs avoided" if 14 Senate Democrats return to the state capitol.
"Without Senate action within 15 days, individual employees may begin to receive potential termination notifications," said spokesman Cullen Werwie.
A high school basketball player in Michigan collapsed and died Thursday night after making the winning shot in overtime to cap his team's 20-0 regular season.
An autopsy will be conducted to determine a cause of death for Fennville High School player Wes Leonard, 16, CNN affiliate WOOD-TV reported.
Wisconsin Senate Republicans have voted on a resolution that would fine missing Democrats $100 every day they remain away from the state capital, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told reporters.
Fourteen Democratic state senators have fled to Illinois to prevent a
quorum on a budget bill that would curtail the collective bargaining rights of most public sector workers. Wisconsin state constitution says they only need a quorum of 20 votes for fiscal issues.
The measure would take effect Friday and could also force the absentee lawmakers to forfeit their parking spaces and discretionary spending accounts.
As Wisconsin's pro-union protests rage, a huge crowd in Ohio is gathering Tuesday for the event "Rally to Save Ohio's Middle Class." The movement, which reportedly could draw 20,000 people, is being documented live on Facebook. The AFL-CIO also is tweeting the event.
Protesters are demanding lawmakers drop a bill that would end Ohio public employees' right to collective bargaining. An Ohio Senate committee has said it will revise and vote this week on the legislation that would affect about 350,000 state workers, teachers, public safety employees and others.
And in Indiana, lawmakers have stooped to name-calling in a debate that pits union forces against legislators who want to undo union rights.
Are you in the middle of any of it? Send an iReport.
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