AP Top News at 2:40 p.m. EST

Friends and relatives chant anti-government slogans during the funeral of Mahmoud Maki Abu Taki, 22, who died during clashes between Bahraini anti-government protesters and riot police on Thursday, in Sitra village, Bahrain, Friday, Feb. 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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Friends and relatives chant anti-government slogans during the funeral of Mahmoud Maki Abu Taki, 22, who died during clashes between Bahraini anti-government protesters and riot police on Thursday, in Sitra village, Bahrain, Friday, Feb. 18, 2011.

Soldiers opened fire Friday on thousands of protesters defying a government ban and streaming toward the landmark square that had been the symbolic center of the uprising to break the political grip of the Gulf nation's leaders. Officials at the main Salmaniya hospital said at least 50 people were injured, some with gunshot wounds. Some doctors and medics on emergency medical teams were in tears as they tended to the wounded. X-rays showed bullets still lodged inside victims.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Democrats on the run in Wisconsin avoided state troopers Friday and threatened to stay in hiding for weeks, potentially paralyzing a state government they no longer control. The party's stand against balancing the state's budget by cutting the pay, benefits and collective bargaining rights of public workers is the boldest action yet by Democrats to push back against last fall's GOP wave.

PARIS (AP) — Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Friday urged countries with large trade surpluses like China to let their currencies rise in value to help prevent another global financial crisis. He also called on nations with persistent trade deficits like the United States to narrow their budget shortfalls and save more.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Upping the ante in the budget faceoff, the Obama administration warned Friday that workers who distribute Social Security benefits might be furloughed if congressional Republicans force cuts in federal spending. In a letter the Social Security Administration sent to its employees' union, agency officials said that while no decision about a furlough had been made, one was possible "given the potential of reduced congressional appropriations."

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman intends to retire at the end of his term, his office announced on Friday, the latest in a string of departures to hit the Democrats as they look ahead to the 2012 elections. A formal announcement was expected later in the day, according to Bingaman aide Jude McCartin.

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Anti-government demonstrators clashed with supporters of Yemen's longtime ruler and riot police, who fired tear gas and gunshots to disperse the crowd on what organizers called a nationwide "Friday of Rage." Three people were killed by police in the port of Aden and 48 were wounded in the southern city of Taiz when someone threw what appeared to be a hand grenade into a crowd, witnesses said. It was the ninth straight day of protests in Yemen inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. Demonstrators are calling for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh — a key U.S. ally in fighting al-Qaida terrorists — who has ruled the country for 32 years.

Republicans who swept into power in state capitols this year with promises to cut spending and bolster the business climate now are beginning to usher in a new era of labor relations that could result in the largest reduction of power in decades for public employee unions. But as massive public protests and legislative boycotts in Wisconsin this week have shown, the Republican charge can be fraught with risk and unpredictable turns as politicians try to transform campaign ideas into action.

BEIJING (AP) — Surgeons in southern China successfully removed a rusty, 4-inch (10-centimeter) knife from the skull of a man who said it had been stuck in there for four years, the hospital said Friday. Li Fuyan, 30, had been suffering from severe headaches, bad breath and breathing difficulties but never knew the cause of his discomfort, said the senior official at the Yuxi City People's Hospital in Yunnan Province.

An Iowa wrestler who became the first girl to win a state tournament match when her favored opponent refused to face her says she has no problem with his decision. Cedar Falls freshman Cassy Herkelman said Friday that she feels Joel Northrup was entitled to default on their Thursday match because he believes boys should not wrestle girls because it's a combat sport.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The contentious NFL labor negotiations went in front of a federal mediator Friday, two weeks before owners could impose a lockout on players and threaten the 2011 season. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, players' union executive director DeMaurice Smith and their bargaining teams arrived at the Washington office of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service shortly before 11 a.m. It was not known how long the meeting would last.