Update as of 0900 Eastern Time:
Bottom Line Up Front:
1. Hanna and Ike
2. US backs Ukraine in NATO.
3. More on US Strike in Pakistan.
4. Report by NY Times states that US to shift troops from Iraq to Afghanistan.
From Fox News:
Tropical storm watches or warnings were extended to areas just south of New York City on Friday as states along the Atlantic braced for Tropical Storm Hanna.
And forecasters said Hanna could still become a hurricane before its expected arrival on U.S. shores after roaring past the edge of the Bahamas on Thursday.
A tropical storm warning was in effect stretching from Altamaha Sound in Georgia northward to Chincoteague, Va., just south of Maryland. And a tropical storm watch was in effect for areas between Chincoteague and Sandy Hook, N.J., including Washington.
A tropical storm warning means tropical storm conditions are expected within 24 hours. A watch means tropical storm conditions are expected in the area within 36 hours.
Meanwhile, disaster planners eyed ferocious-looking Hurricane Ike, which weakend to a Category 3 storm early Friday but was still considered a dangerous hurricane by the National Hurricane Center.
The United States has backed Ukraine's bid for NATO membership a day after similarly supporting Georgia, in a move which may further stoke tensions with Russia.
U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney met with Ukraine's pro-Western president Victor Yushchenko in the capital of Kiev on Friday, the third stop of a tour that has already taken him to two other former Soviet republics -- Georgia and Azerbaijan.
The meeting came on the same day as the United States' top warship arrived in the Georgian port of Poti to deliver humanitarian supplies, fueling Russia's fears that its superpower rival is making its presence felt in the Baltic region.
Russia said the vessel's technical characteristics raised questions about whether it should be allowed into the area, Russian news agency Interfax reported.
Russia is unhappy that its former states are seeking to join the 26-nation NATO defense alliance, and last month's conflict with Georgia over two disputed territories was seen by many as an attempt to assert its power.
Cheney repeated the statement he made a day earlier that Russia's military actions in Georgia last month cast "grave doubts" on Moscow's intentions and reliability as an international partner.
The USS Mount Whitney is the third American naval ship to deliver supplies to Georgia.
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dallas and the USS McFaul delivered more than 230,000 pounds of aid to the port of Batumi, south of Poti, when they arrived in recent weeks, the Navy said.
The Mount Whitney is the command ship for the Sixth Fleet of the U.S. Navy, which calls it the most sophisticated vessel of its kind ever commissioned. It will also coordinate the work of a group of NATO ships currently in the Black Sea, Interfax reported
The Pakistani foreign minister accused the United States of perpetrating "cowardly acts against innocent civilians."
U.S. military officials agree the attacks took place, saying they were targeting al Qaeda and Taliban militants, but disagree on the number of civilians killed.
It is rare for the U.S. military to send troops into Pakistan's lawless tribal region, where al Qaeda and Taliban insurgents have established bases. Militants launch attacks on Afghanistan from the mountainous region.
According to a senior U.S. official, U.S. helicopters dropped troops Wednesday in the village of Angoor Adda in South Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan.
The operation was launched quickly, without a formal blessing from Pakistan's government, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue.
He said the U.S. launched the operation only after it had sufficient intelligence to send troops into a potentially hostile area.
The senior U.S. official said American troops attacked three buildings where they believed top suspects were housed. They believe the targets were responsible for attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan.
There may have been women and children in the vicinity, but when the mission began, "everybody came out firing" from the compound, the official said.
Coalition and NATO forces have become frustrated with Pakistani leaders, saying they have not been proactive enough against militants, a claim denied by Pakistan -- a nation in political flux after the resignation of President Pervez Musharraf.
Also, Karzai spoke to President Bush on Wednesday about a separate airstrike on August 22 that killed a disputed number of Afghan civilians in a province that borders Iran, according to the White House.
Afghanistan and the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan concluded that 90 civilians were killed in the strike in the western Afghan province of Herat. But the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan said 30-35 Taliban militants and five to seven civilians were killed.
From NY Times:
The United States would carry out a modest shift of American forces from Iraq to Afghanistan by early next year under a confidential recommendation to President Bush by the Pentagon’s top civilian and military leaders, according to Bush administration officials.
The number of American combat brigades in Iraq would shrink to 14 in February from 15, according to the recommendation. All told, the number of American forces in Iraq, currently about 146,000, would drop by nearly 8,000 by March.
The reduction is smaller than some officials had earlier suggested might be possible before President Bush leaves office in January, given the significant decline in violence in Iraq. But it reflects the caution of Gen. David H. Petraeus, who is leaving his post as the senior American commander in Iraq this month, about the still-unsettled situation in Iraq.
The recommendation on the troop shift was presented to Mr. Bush on Wednesday in a video conference by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. American officials said the recommendation was the product of extensive consultations between the Pentagon officials and General Petraeus.
More to follow:
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