HARI SREENIVASAN: Hurricane Sandy tracked toward the East Coast of the U.S. today after leaving at least 40 people dead across the Caribbean. It battered the Bahamas as a Category 1 storm today, knocking down trees and power lines as it went. And Sandy is already stirring up strong winds and pounding surf along the Florida coastline.
Where exactly the storm lands in the U.S. next week is still a question, but preparations for heavy rains and high winds were under way from the Mid-Atlantic to New England. Forecasters say the hurricane could spawn a superstorm, after colliding with a cold front from the north and a winter storm in the west.
For more, we turn to Jeannette Calle of AccuWeather.com.
So, Jeannette, heading into this weekend, what do people on the Eastern Seaboard have to be concerned about?
JEANNETTE CALLE, AccuWeather: Hari, Sandy will continue to head northward tonight into tomorrow.
An area that should be on the lookout over the next 24 hours include northeast Florida to coastal Georgia, including eastern sections of the Carolinas. We're talking squally weather beginning later tonight into tomorrow from Jacksonville to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. And we're also talking about wind gusts from 40 to 50 miles per hour in this corridor, and also flooding tides from the outer banks of North Carolina to coastal sections of South Carolina over the next 24 hours, Hari.
HARI SREENIVASAN: OK. There's also been a lot of talk about this becoming a superstorm as it goes further northeast. what is happening, what is behind it, what are the forces at work?
JEANNETTE CALLE: Hari, one of the reasons why this storm is so different, so to speak, is because of the time of the year that it is occurring.
We're looking at tropical moisture coming in from the south with Sandy colliding with the cooler air coming in from the north and west. And that cool air is associated with this jet stream which is going to dip pretty far south. We also have a blocking high centered over Greenland. And this will help to steer Sandy towards the Eastern Seaboard. And this trough will also serve as a magnet that will also help to pull Sandy inland as we head into early next week.
HARI SREENIVASAN: OK, so, what are some of the effects that people in that Northeast area, where Sandy might make landfall, what can they expect?
JEANNETTE CALLE: Hari, it looks like Sandy will continue its northward track, potentially heading a little farther east over the next couple of days.
But, as I mentioned, it looks like it is going to curve farther west as we head on into early next week, potentially making landfall as a Category 1 hurricane late Monday night into Tuesday, anywhere from the Mid-Atlantic coast to the southern New England coast. And we're talking catastrophic damage here, Hari, heavy rainfall which will cause severe flooding, severe beach erosion, a significant storm surge.
We're talking upwards of five feet in some places and also widespread power outages that could last days, if not even weeks.
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right, Jeannette Calle from AccuWeather, thanks so much for joining us.
The death toll in a fungal meningitis outbreak grew to 25 today, when the Centers for Disease Control reported another victim in Tennessee. And the total number of cases of people who became ill from tainted painkilling injections reached 331, spanning 18 states. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration released a report today that found the Massachusetts pharmacy linked to the outbreak had bacteria and mold growing in supposedly sterile rooms.
A four-day cease-fire truce in Syria scheduled to start this morning didn't appear to hold, with violence happening across the country. The truce between government forces and rebels was slated to last through the Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha. A powerful car bomb tore through a neighborhood in Damascus, killing at least 10 people and reducing nearby buildings to rubble. More than 30 people, including children, were wounded. Witnesses also reported new shelling in the central city of Homs.
A suicide bomb outside a mosque in Northern Afghanistan killed 41 people today. Plumes of smoke rose in front of the mosque as people gathered to celebrate Eid. Many of the dead were policemen and soldiers; 56 others, including civilians, were wounded.
In Kabul, Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack and made this appeal.
PRESIDENT HAMID KARZAI, Afghanistan (through translator): I call on the Taliban and other government opposition to stop the destruction of their own country, stop the killing of their people, stop destruction of their mosques, hospitals and schools, and stop working for the aims of foreigners.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Also today, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the killing of two U.S. troops in an insider attack on Thursday. A member of the Afghan security forces shot the troops and then escaped to join the Taliban.
The father of a teenage Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban had encouraging words about his daughter's recovery today. Malala Yousafzai's family flew from Pakistan to Britain to be with her at a hospital where she's receiving specialized treatment.
We have a report from Penny Marshall of Independent Television News.
PENNY MARSHALL: Malala's recovery has astounded her doctors and defied her attackers. But, above all else, it has bought joy to her family, who've flown to England to be at her side.
"Smile for the cameras," Malala's little brother was told by his father. And, in the circumstances, that was easy.
ZIAUDDIN YOUSAFZAI, father of Malala Yousafzai: I love her. And, of course, this morning, last night, when we met her, they were tears in our eyes, and they were out of happiness, I say, out of happiness.
PENNY MARSHALL: Happiness born of relief, for only three weeks ago, Malala was fighting for her life after being shot by Taliban extremists. So serious was her condition that, as she arrived in the U.K., her father was preparing for the worst.
ZIAUDDIN YOUSAFZAI: I told to my brother-in-law that you should make preparations for her funeral. There was a stage -- but I'm thankful to God.
PENNY MARSHALL: Malala was targeted by the Taliban because of her outspoken support for girls education. But within days of being shot, she allowed herself to be photographed to send a defiant signal to her attackers. Doctors now say her recovery has been miraculous.
But it isn't just Malala's physical recovery which is impressing the doctors. At her own request, her father brought with him from Pakistan her school books, so that she can continue her education from her hospital bed.
Her answer to the Taliban bullets is books.
ZIAUDDIN YOUSAFZAI: The person who attacked her, they wanted to kill her. But I will simply say that she fell temporarily. She will rise again.
PENNY MARSHALL: Her family will now remain with her. As her physical strength returns, her moral courage strength, it appears, never left her.
HARI SREENIVASAN: The Taliban have vowed to try to kill Yousafzai again if she returns to Pakistan. But her father has denied reports the family might seek asylum abroad.
The former prime minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, was convicted of tax fraud today and sentenced to four years in prison. A court in Milan ruled the media mogul and others were behind a scheme to buy the rights to broadcast U.S. movies on Berlusconi's TV networks, using offshore companies and avoiding taxes.
Berlusconi immediately denounced the ruling and vowed to fight it. He will remain a free man while he goes through the appeals process.
In U.S. economic news, stocks finished flat on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than three points to close at 13,107. The Nasdaq rose nearly two points to close just under 2,988. For the week, the Dow lost nearly 2 percent; the Nasdaq fell more than half-a-percent.
Those are some of the day's major stories.