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News Wrap: Protesters Continue to Pressure Governments in Bahrain, Yemen, Oman

February 28, 2011 at 6:48 PM EST
In other news Monday, protesters in Bahrain, Yemen and Oman continued pressuring their governments for reforms. In Saudi Arabia, 100 academics and activists called for sweeping changes, including the creation of a constitutional monarchy. In Afghanistan, four NATO troops were killed by roadside bombings and insurgent attacks.
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HARI SREENIVASAN:  Protesters kept the pressure on several other Arab governments today. 

In the Persian Gulf region, protesters in Bahrain blocked Parliament and massed at the state broadcast facility demanding political concessions.  Next door, in Saudi Arabia, 100 academics and activists called Sunday for sweeping reforms allowing a constitutional monarchy.  And in Oman, protesters were out in force for a third day, after one person was killed on Sunday. 

In Yemen, hundreds of women joined ongoing protests against longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh.  He offered to form a unity government, but opposition leaders rejected that idea. 

Across Afghanistan, four NATO troops were killed in roadside bombings and insurgent attacks.  One was Italian, but there was no word on the nationalities of the others.  A total of 34 NATO troops have died this month in Afghanistan.  That is up slightly from January. 

The stalemate in Wisconsin showed no signs of abating today.  Democratic senators again boycotted the legislature to block a bill that strips public employees of most bargaining rights.  And Republican Gov. Scott Walker warned if they’re not back by tomorrow, the state might face deeper spending cuts. 

In Washington, President Obama defended public workers at a meeting of the nation’s governors. 

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:  I don’t think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated, or vilified, or their rights are infringed upon.  You know, we need to attract the best and the  brightest to public service.  These times demand it. 

HARI SREENIVASAN:
  Gov. Walker has said he will start laying off state workers in Wisconsin within days if his bill is not passed. 

In economic news, consumer incomes rose in January by the most in nearly two years, thanks to a cut in Social Security taxes.  But the Commerce Department said consumer spending managed only a small gain. 

Wall Street rallied today amid signs that oil prices have stabilized.  The Dow Jones industrial average gained nearly 96 points to close at 12,226.  The Nasdaq rose one point to close at 2,782. 

Former opposition parties in Ireland have begun talks on forming a new coalition government.  They swept to huge wins in Friday’s national election, fueled by voter anger over Ireland’s financial collapse.  The leader of the main center-right party voiced optimism about reviving the economy, as votes were
counted over the weekend. 

ENDA KENNY, Fine Gael Party:  We stand on the brink of fundamental change in how we regard ourselves, in how we regard our economy, and in how we regard our society, change that will require a gigantic leap, a leap of faith, in a time when the idea of hope, even the idea of future itself, are being tested. 

HARI SREENIVASAN:  The new government is expected to demand better terms on its bailout by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. 

The last surviving American veteran of World War I has died at the age of 110.  Frank Buckles passed away Sunday at his home in Charles Town, W.V.  He enlisted in the Great War when he just 16 after lying about his age.  Later, Buckles survived more than three years in Japanese POW camps during the Second World War.  He was honored with a White House visit in 2008 with then-President Bush.  In a statement today, President Obama said Buckles’ life reminds us of the true meaning of patriotism. 

Those are some of the day’s major stories.