Update as of 0900 Eastern Time:
Bottom Line Up Front:
From Fox News (Ike):
As teams continued the biggest search and rescue operation in Texas history, a new phase of the disaster wrought by Hurricane Ike was only beginning as thousands of people faced long stays in crowded shelters because their homes were damaged or destroyed.
The death toll from Ike rose to 28, but many of those were far to the north of the Gulf Coast as the storm slogged across the nation's midsection, leaving a trail of flooding and destruction.
Glass-strewn Houston was placed under a weeklong curfew, and millions of people in the storm's path remained in the dark.
Rescuers said they had saved nearly 2,000 people from waterlogged streets and splintered houses by Sunday afternoon. Many had ignored evacuation orders and tried to ride out the storm. Now they were boarding buses for indefinite stays at shelters in San Antonio and Austin.
From CNN (Iraq):
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Sunday ordered security forces to "find the perpetrators" who abducted and killed four Iraqi journalists in the northern city of Mosul.
Al-Maliki called Saturday's killings a "heinous crime" and called on the security forces to bring the killers "to justice for the punishment they deserve."
The four employees of Iraqi satellite TV station Al-Sharqiya were abducted and killed Saturday as they videotaped a program that airs during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
The show, called "Your Iftar Is On Us," helps poor Iraqi families during Ramadan, which ends September 29 or 30. Iftar is the meal that breaks the Ramadan daily fast.
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said the United States "strongly condemns" the attack, and praised al-Maliki's move to investigate "this reprehensible crime."
"The strength and vitality of a free press is the hallmark of an open and democratic society," Crocker said in a written statement. "Over the past few years, more than 200 journalists in Iraq have given their lives in the pursuit of truth ...
From NY Times (Iraq):
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates landed here Monday declaring that the mission in Iraq had now transformed into one of expanding upon recent security gains, even as the number of American troops decreased.
In an unannounced trip to Iraq, his eighth as defense secretary, Mr. Gates cautioned that significant risks remained. He said Iraqi, American and allied forces must sustain combat pressure on Sunni terrorists and Shia insurgents. And he called on the central government in Baghdad to move forward with provincial elections and other steps to achieve political reconciliation.
“There are still people who would like to see this fail,” Mr. Gates said enroute to Iraq.
Mr. Gates said that pro-government forces must “insure that Al Qaeda isn’t given the opportunity to regather its strength,” and he stressed that equal effort must be given to suppressing Shia special militia groups.
Iraqi army and police forces have taken control of the security mission in 11 Iraqi provinces, and Mr. Gates said more were likely to be handed over to local army and police by the end of the year.
As an increasing number of Iraqi security units take the leading role, Mr. Gates said, American troops would transition to support and “over-watch.”
In describing the challenge of the months ahead, Mr. Gates said the central question is “how do we preserve the gains that have already been achieved, and expand upon them, even as the numbers of U.S. forces are shrinking?”
From Fox News (Pakistan):
Pakistani security forces killed 16 suspected militants and wounded 25 others Sunday in a besieged tribal region — the latest round of a military offensive with no end in sight, officials said.
More than 100 people, most of them militants, have been reported killed in the fighting in the Bajur tribal area in the past five days. The region, which borders Afghanistan, is a suspected hide-out of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri.
The latest clashes also come amid tension between the U.S. and Pakistan over American incursions aimed at eradicating militants in the Muslim nation's territory.
Security forces used helicopter gunships, fighter jets and heavy artillery to attack suspected militant positions Sunday in the Loi Sam, Rashakai, Tang Khata and Gollokass areas of Bajur, said Iqbal Khattak, a government official who provided the death and wounded tolls.
The government said late last month that it would cease military operations in Bajur for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, but reserved the right to retaliate against insurgent activities.
Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said factors including persistent militant mortar attacks and threats to pro-government tribes prompted the military to restart its operation.
From NY Times and Reuters (Pakistan):
Firing by Pakistani troops forced two U.S. military helicopters to turn back to Afghanistan after they crossed into Pakistani territory early on Monday, Pakistani security officials said.
The incident took place near Angor Adda, a village in the tribal region of South Waziristan where U.S. commandos in helicopters raided a suspected al Qaeda and Taliban camp earlier this month.
"The U.S. choppers came into Pakistan by just 100 to 150 meters at Angor Adda. Even then our troops did not spare them, opened fire on them and they turned away," said one security official.
The U.S. and Pakistani military both denied that account, but Angor Adda villagers and officials supported it.
Pakistan is a crucial U.S. ally in its war on terrorism, and its support is key to the success of Western forces trying to stabilize Afghanistan. But Washington has become impatient over Islamabad's response to the threat from al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in Pakistan's tribal regions on the border.
More to follow:
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