The first big hurricane in years to threaten the East Coast is getting ready to batter it. We'll have the latest developments on Hurricane Earl. Plus, the raw politics of a debate debacle in Arizona and more.
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Hurricane Earl is headed for North Carolina tonight, where in the next few hours the state is expected to get hit with hurricane force winds and pounding surf. The monster storm, larger than the state of California, will brush the Outer Banks overnight.
"It's a serious storm, and we all need to treat it like a serious storm. We're watching very carefully and will all night," said North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue.
After threatening North Carolina, Earl will head north where hurricane or tropical storm watches are in effect from Virginia to Nova Scotia, Canada.
Chad Myers will have the latest on the storm's path from the CNN Weather Center. We'll also check in with meteorologist Rob Marciano in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina to see how residents and visitors at the popular beach destination followed the mandatory evacuation order. We'll also take you to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where CNN's Susan Candiotti has a look the preparations underway in that vacation destination.
You'll also hear from the Congresswoman at the center of a scholarship scandal in Texas we told you about earlier this week. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson said she didn't know about the rules against giving donated money to her relatives. How could that be? We're keeping them honest.
And, have you seen the video of the debate debacle in Arizona? If not, you will tonight on the program. Gov. Jane Brewer had an awkward opening statement in last night's gubernatorial debate. At one point she just stopped talking. She told a Phoenix radio station it was "the longest 16 seconds of my life." We've got the raw politics.
Join us for these stories and much more at 10 p.m. ET. See you then.
CNN Wire Staff
Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina (CNN) - Even as Hurricane Earl weakened Thursday afternoon, East Coast residents scrambled to ready themselves ahead of its arrival.
Earl is now barely a Category 3 hurricane, with sustained winds of 115 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in its 5 p.m. ET advisory.
Hurricane warnings and watches stretched from North Carolina to Delaware and into Massachusetts, where a hurricane warning was issued for Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and the surrounding area. A hurricane watch was also issued for the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada.
At 5 p.m. ET, Earl's center was about 185 miles (300 kilometers) south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and about 670 miles (1,080 kilometers) south-southwest of Nantucket, Massachusetts.
Updated: 6:19 p.m.
Ready for today's Beat 360°? Everyday we post a picture you provide the caption and our staff will join in too. Tune in tonight at 10pm to see if you are our favorite! Here is the 'Beat 360°' pic:
Model Naomi Campbell arrives for the screening of 'Miral' during the 67th Venice Film Festival on September 2, 2010 in the Palazzo del cinema at Venice Lido. (Photo credit: ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Have fun with it. We're looking forward to your captions! Make sure to include your name, city, state (or country) so we can post your comment.
Update: Beat 360° Winners:
"No pictures please! Tomorrow I’d like to claim this moment never happened"
John P. from Dallas, TX
"It was at this moment, Naomi realized that more than one cell phone would be needed to fend off these photographers."
CNN Ticker Producer
(CNN) – Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer sparred with her Democratic opponent in an at-times contentious debate Wednesday night, but it was what the Arizona Republican didn't say that is making waves the day after.
Brewer – who has become a prominent leader in the fight against illegal immigration with her steadfast support of Arizona's controversial immigration law – wouldn't address statements she made earlier this summer suggesting illegal immigrants are responsible for beheadings in the Arizona desert.
Full story on the CNN Political Ticker
CNN Justice Department Producer
Washington (CNN) - Justice Department civil rights lawyers filed suit against Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona on Thursday after talks collapsed on a deal to provide federal investigators with documents they requested.
The suit, filed in federal court in Phoenix, Arizona, claims the Maricopa County sheriff has failed to cooperate with the investigation into alleged discrimination against Hispanics by Arpaio's law enforcement officials.
The Justice Department expressed dismay at the sheriff's office's "refusal to cooperate with the investigation."
"The actions of the sheriff's office are unprecedented," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez, chief of the Civil Rights Division. "It is unfortunate that the (Justice) Department was forced to resort to litigation to gain access to public documents and facilities."
The federal action became virtually certain after the sheriff's office last Friday rejected the government's demands in an open letter posted on the county's website.
CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - Chris Meek put his motorcycle in storage in Wilmington, North Carolina, to protect it from Hurricane Earl as the Category 4 hurricane headed toward the North Carolina coast.
He fought crowds at the grocery store to stock up on supplies and tried to soothe anxieties among students in his sixth-grade class.
About 175 miles away, in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Sarah Baker was bracing Thursday for her first hurricane. "The locals have been really nice, telling me what I needed to buy to get ready," the recent college graduate said.
Meek and Baker are two of millions of people watching and waiting as Hurricane Earl looms offshore, moving closer and closer to land.
CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - A production platform has exploded 80 miles off the central coast of Louisiana, with 13 people overboard, including one injured, the Coast Guard said Thursday morning.
All 13 people have been accounted for, said Petty Officer Bill Colclough of the Coast Guard. All are headed to a hospital in Terrebonne Parish, he said.
Colclough told CNN that authorities are trying to determine the cause of the blast, and that the platform apparently is still on fire. Asked whether a leak has resulted from the explosion, he said the structure "was not actively producing any product."
"We do not know if there are any additional concerns of pollution," Colclough said.
He said Coast Guard helicopters and cutters are en route to the scene.
Updated: 12:38 p.m.
Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: The White House has a launched the latest effort to gain peace in the Middle East, and I have launched my latest letter to the president. Let’s see which one arrives first …
Dear Mr. President,
Good luck on the Mideast peace talks. I mean, what else can I say? I’m an optimistic guy. I always hope for the best. But considering the state of things in that part of the world, this seems like one of those wacky sports you see late at night on ESPN 5 where someone tries to jump a pool table while riding a bicycle backward down a ski hill. You know from the “get-go” that the chances of success are slim.
Now, I don’t fault you for trying. I mean, pretty much every modern president at some point takes a stab at this. They send out the call to the Israelis and the Palestinians. The staff tells reporters they know a long, difficult road is ahead, but they are optimistic.
Everyone gets together, photos are snapped, hands are shaken, the leaders go home with a whole new suitcase of frequent flier miles, and nothing changes.
I guess that’s not entirely fair. Little things change, but they are so small it’s like emptying a lake with a thimble. I don’t think I’ve ever really seen a profound commitment from the two opposing sides to reach a true settlement. I have faith that both want peace, but they’ve fought for so long and allowed so many hard feelings to fester into pure hatred, that it seems impossible. What each side would require out of an acceptable deal is unacceptable to the other. So…deadlock.