We'll have more on each of these topics shortly, but first we want to quickly pass on the main headlines related to the day's three major stories:
-- Libya: "From Hiding, Gadhafi Tells Libyans To Free Tripoli."
"A defiant Moammar Gadhafi vowed Wednesday to fight on "until victory or martyrdom" and called on residents of the Libyan capital and loyal tribesmen across his North African nation to free Tripoli from the "devils and traitors" who have overrun it." (The Associated Press)
On Morning Edition, NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reported from Moammar Gadhafi's compound in Tripoli, which opposition forces overran Tuesday — and from which they carried away loot and weapons. "There's a real sense here that the war is almost over," Lourdes reported.
-- Hurricane Irene: "Irene Strengthens, Just Short Of Major Hurricane Status."
"Irene neared major hurricane status early Wednesday as the strengthening storm continued to pound the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, the National Hurricane Center said. ... The storm is forecast to become a powerful Category 3 hurricane with winds of more than 110 mph by Wednesday afternoon, according to the hurricane center forecast map. It could threaten large sections of the Eastern Seaboard, from the Carolinas northward." (CNN.com)
As the Charlotte Observer reports, "North Carolina emergency management officials said Wednesday morning they are readying for what is expected to be a hit Saturday from one of the strongest hurricanes on the U.S. East Coast in several years. ... A mandatory evacuation order will go into effect Thursday morning on Ocracoke Island, a 16-mile-long barrier island. Other evacuations are possible, but officials say they want more information on which way the storm will move."
-- East Coast Quake: No Known Deaths Or Injuries; Some Damage.
The 5.8-magnitude earthquake that shook much of the East Coast on Tuesday, from the Carolinas to New England, ended up causing "no known deaths or serious injuries, but cracks appeared in the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral, which had three capstones break off its tower. Windows shattered and grocery stores were wrecked in Virginia, where the quake was centered. The White House and Capitol were evacuated." (The Associated Press)