Morning Brief: Ike poised to strike U.S. Gulf Coast

Top Story Scott Olson/Getty Images As Hurricane Ike menaces Texas, the U.S. National Weather Service is warning many Gulf Coast residents to evacuate lest they face “certain death.” Oil companies are bracing for the worst. Crude oil for October delivery rose to slightly above $102 overnight, however — hardly a sign of panic. The storm, ...

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592628_080912_ike5.jpg

Top Story

Scott Olson/Getty Images

As Hurricane Ike menaces Texas, the U.S. National Weather Service is warning many Gulf Coast residents to evacuate lest they face "certain death." Oil companies are bracing for the worst. Crude oil for October delivery rose to slightly above $102 overnight, however -- hardly a sign of panic.

Top Story

Scott Olson/Getty Images

As Hurricane Ike menaces Texas, the U.S. National Weather Service is warning many Gulf Coast residents to evacuate lest they face “certain death.” Oil companies are bracing for the worst. Crude oil for October delivery rose to slightly above $102 overnight, however — hardly a sign of panic.

The storm, currently a Category 2 that may grow into a Category 3, is projected to slam into the coast near Galveston early Saturday morning and continue north through the state. “Greater Houston faces the real possibility of a direct hit,” the Houston Chronicle warns, citing the storm’s anticipated 100-mph winds. Further south, a 20-foot “storm surge” threatens to breach coastal walls that are only 17 feet high in most places. “Science Guy” Eric Berger is hoping for a near-miss.

Follow the official forecast here and the Chronicle’s Ike liveblogging here.

Decision ’08

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin appeared Thursday evening on ABC’s World News with Charlie Gibson and Nightline. Excerpts here and here. Video here.

The candidates put aside the partisan gunslinging for CNN’s forum on national service Thursday.

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama will reportedly take a sharper tone in the weeks to come, amid growing fears among Democrats that he is losing the race.

Americas

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez moved to expel the U.S. ambassador to Caracas, alleging the envoy was involved in a U.S.-backed coup.

Congressional Democrats are grudgingly accepting offshore drilling.

The Pentagon yesterday unveiled a memorial to the victims of 9/11.

Asia

Fresh U.S. airstrikes aimed at Taliban and al Qaeda militants have reportedly killed at least 12 people in North Waziristan, Pakistan. The United States is using sophisticated new drones, the LA Times reports.

China’s Health Ministry ordered a recall of a popular baby formula for containing melamine, a poisonous industrial chemical.

China may be using its foreign-exchange reserves as a diplomatic weapon against Taiwan.

Thailand’s ruling party is not renominating Samak Sundaravej to be prime minister.

Middle East and Africa

Under the terms of Zimbabwe’s power-sharing deal, President Robert Mugabe would appoint a 31-member cabinet but the opposition would get most of the seats, Bloomberg reports.

Jacob Zuma, the leader of South Africa’s ruling party, has been cleared of corruption charges.

Time looks at why the jihad is losing steam in Saudi Arabia.

Europe and the Caucasus

Russian PM Vladimir Putin, speaking to Russia scholars gathered in Sochi, lamented the Western media’s coverage of the war in Georgia and stressed, “There is no basis for mutual animosity … Russia has no imperialist ambitions.”

A major fire in the English Channel tunnel injured 14 people and disrupted train traffic.

Global Economy

As Lehman Brothers confronts a hurried government-assisted sale before the Asian markets open Monday, the mood at the Wall Street investment bank is grim. “Everyone is walking around like they have just been Tasered,” one employee told the New York Times. Lehman Brothers is no Bear Stearns, however, according to Bloomberg.

Today’s Agenda

Pope Benedict has arrived in France for a four-day visit. French churches hope the pontiff can spark a religious revival.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick headlines the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Global Strategic Review conference in Geneva.

Couples in Ulyanovsk, Russia, have the day off in order to procreate.

ABC’s 20/20 airs more Palin interview footage.

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