Update as of 0730 Eastern Time:
Bottom Line Up Front:
1. Hurricane Ike continues.
2. Sarkozy seeks Russian pull-out from Georgia.
3. Missile strike in Pakistan.
From Fox News:
Hurricane Ike's winds and massive storm surge ripped apart houses and toppled trees Monday as the deadly storm roared across Cuba toward Havana and its historic but decaying old buildings.
Forecasters said it could enter the Gulf of Mexico next, with Louisiana among the likely targets.
More than 770,000 Cubans evacuated to shelters or higher ground ahead of the Category 3 hurricane, which earlier raked the Bahamas and worsened floods in Haiti that have already killed at least 319 people.
"We are preparing for a strong hit," Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage told state television.
On Florida's Key West, tourists and residents alike were ordered to evacuate ahead of Ike's expected arrival Tuesday and a steady stream of traffic filled the highway from the island. Ike was forecast to make landfall later in the week between the Florida Panhandle and the Texas coast — with New Orleans once again in the crosshairs.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy was in Moscow on Monday with European Union leaders in an attempt to persuade Russia to fulfil its promise to pull troops out of Georgia.
Almost one month after Sarkozy, whose country holds the European Union presidency, negotiated a truce to a five-day war between Russia and the former Soviet republic, Russian troops remain deep inside the Georgian territory.
Sarkozy will urge Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to withdraw his country's troops from the two breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which Moscow has recognized as independent states.
Georgia and the West say Russia has reneged on its pledge to withdraw from Georgia. However, Russia says the troops are peacekeepers who are permitted under the accord to remain.
The EU is also seeking to deploy several hundred EU monitors to Georgia, but a Russian foreign ministry spokesman said Moscow opposed this, The Associated Press reported.
Andrei Nesterenko said the deployment of EU monitors would lead to unnecessary "fragmentation" of international monitoring efforts by the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
From NY Times:
Five missiles fired from an American pilotless drone aircraft Monday hit a large compound in North Waziristan belonging to one of Pakistan’s most prominent Taliban leaders, a Pakistani intelligence official and a local resident said.
The missile attack at about 10:20 Monday morning killed nine people, including two children, and injured up to 18, according to the account from the intelligence official. A spokesman for the Pakistani army, Maj. Murad Khan, said the military knew of explosions near the compound, and was investigating further.
The strike targeted the compound run by Sirajuddin Haqqani, the son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, who the United States has accused of organizing some of the most serious recent attacks in Afghanistan against American and NATO forces and of masterminding a failed assassination attempt against the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai.
The two Haqqanis protect Al Qaeda forces in their enclaves in North and South Waziristan, provide logistics and intelligence for Al Qaeda operatives, and act as a bridge between the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban who share the common mission to drive American and NATO troops from Afghanistan, according to American officials.
From NY Times:
Chafing at the reactivation in recent weeks of an American naval fleet in Latin American waters, President Hugo Chávez said Sunday that Venezuela could engage in naval exercises with Russian ships in the Caribbean before the end of the year.
Mr. Chávez’s words echoed news reports here over the weekend that four warships with as many as 1,000 sailors from Russia’s Pacific Fleet could take part in a training exercise in November off Venezuela’s coast. Salvatore Cammarata Bastidas, Venezuela’s chief of naval intelligence, said the exercises were aimed at strengthening military ties.
“Go ahead and squeal, Yanquis,” Mr. Chávez said in a mocking tone on his Sunday television program, adding, “Russia’s naval fleet is welcome here.” But Mr. Chávez qualified his remarks by saying that planning for the maneuvers was in the “preparation phase,” pending decisions by the Russian government. Official confirmation of the exercises was not available from Moscow; Russian military officials released no information on Sunday about planned naval maneuvers.
But after the war in Georgia, the Kremlin has expressed increasing frustration over the presence of NATO and American ships in the Black Sea. On Saturday, after an American ship delivered humanitarian aid to Georgia at its Black Sea port of Poti, President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia suggested that the United States was encroaching on Russia’s sphere of influence.
A few days before the conflict in Georgia, Russia’s prime minister, Vladimir V. Putin, announced that Russia would bolster its relations with Cuba, Venezuela’s top ally. But Russian officials at the same time denied that they would deploy military hardware there.
More to follow:
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