HURRICANE GUSTAV: U.S. weather forecasters say Hurricane Gustav's outer edge is battering the U.S. Gulf coast as it nears New Orleans, (in the southern state of) Louisiana. The deadly storm has winds of nearly of 185 kilometers per hour and is expected to make landfall by midday today (Monday). Forecasters do not expect Gustav to grow stronger before hitting the Louisiana coast, and expect it to weaken once the center moves inland. The National Hurricane Center says Gustav may dump up to half a meter of rain in some areas. The center also warns tides may be about four meters higher than normal. Authorities say 95 percent of the residents in the threatened area - or about two million people - have fled.
US POLITICS: Republican U.S. presidential candidate Senator John McCain has announced major changes to his party's upcoming national convention because of the possibility of a natural disaster caused by Hurricane Gustav. Republican officials announced Sunday the convention will convene today (Monday) as scheduled, but with an abbreviated schedule that will conduct only necessary official business before adjourning. McCain says it would not be appropriate to appear festive during the weather emergency. The convention will be held in St. Paul, (in the northern state of) Minnesota. Republican officials say they will decide each day which convention activities will be held. White House officials say President Bush will not attend the convention so he can oversee the federal response to the hurricane.
IRAQ: The U.S. military today (Monday) handed control of Iraq's Anbar province to Iraqi security forces. Anbar, once one of Iraq's most dangerous regions, is now one of its most peaceful. It is the 11th of 18 Iraqi provinces the U.S. has returned to Iraqi control. U.S. forces will withdraw to bases and rejoin Iraqi operations in Anbar only at the request of the provincial governor. Anbar is a Sunni-dominated province whose inhabitants turned against U.S. forces soon after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Anbar towns, such as Fallujah and Ramadi became insurgent strongholds, where militants waged fierce battles against U.S. troops.
AFGHANISTAN: Hundreds of Afghans took to the street today (Monday) to protest the killing of three family members in an attack the protesters blamed on an early morning raid by U.S.-led troopsin Kabul. The U.S.-led coalition denied any involvement in the attack on the family's house. Witnesses said a man and his two young sons were killed in the raid. They also said three people were taken away by the troops. In another development, Afghanistan's president has appealed to U.S.-led forces to scale back their air strikes on militant targets because of civilian casualties. Hamid Karzai wants NATO and the U.S.-led coalition forces to use alternatives to air power in pursuit of militants.
EUROPE-GEORGIA-RUSSIA: A top European Union official says the EU hopes to send a monitoring mission to Georgia to ensure a cease-fire with Russia is being honored. The EU's foreign policy chief (Javier Solana) says (Monday) he hopes the 27-member bloc will approve the plan in the coming weeks. The comments came before an emergency meeting of EU leaders in Brussels today (Monday) on how to respond to Russia's military strike against Georgia. Members are expected to voice their support for Georgia and condemn Russia's recognition of the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.