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In other news Friday, U.S. markets rose ahead of the holiday weekend on news of the latest unemployment reading.
Wall Street took some encouragement from the jobs numbers. The Dow Jones industrial average gained more than 127 points to close near 10448. The Nasdaq rose more than 33 points to close above 2233. In all, the markets had their best week since July. The Dow gained nearly 3 percent. The Nasdaq rose more than 3.5 percent.
Hurricane Earl lost a lot of its punch today as it churned north off the East Coast. The storm's winds dropped to 80 miles an hour after swiping at the North Carolina coast.
The storm's western edge blew over the Outer Banks in the middle of the night. But, apparently, hurricane-force winds never reached land, and the sun rose to reveal only minimal damage and choppy surf. Road crews worked to clear sand, in some places, three feet deep, but there was no major flooding. North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue voiced relief that Earl stayed farther offshore than feared.
GOV. BEVERLY PERDUE (D-NC):
Purely and simply, North Carolina dodged a bullet, and we're glad that the bullet is now out of our state, for the most part.
The hurricane still had the potential to do damage as it headed north, on course to pass New England tonight. And a series of states remained on alert. In the Mid-Atlantic, both Virginia and Maryland saw stronger waves and wind as Earl passed.
It's almost like you're in a sandstorm.
This is my first hurricane, or somewhat hurricane. We didn't — I was expecting more wind and more rain, but the waves are pretty ominous.
Lifeguards watched over swimmers in New Jersey, where one person had already drowned and another was missing. On Long Island, New York, officials said they still expected heavy rain, flooding, and power outages.
STEVE LEVY, Suffolk County Executive:
The storm has actually slowed a bit, which you might think is good news, but it means that it may linger over us for longer than we had thought, which means more rain.
And, in Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick warned against under-rating the storm.
GOV. DEVAL PATRICK (D-Mass.: The public should continue to take precautions. In particular, stay indoors and off the roads during the height of the storm. Exercise extreme caution this afternoon during the times when the winds begin to pick up.
Out on the Bay State's coast, inmates from the Plymouth County Jail shoveled and stacked sandbags. Nearly 400 out-of-state utility crews were staged and ready. But, as Earl kept moving, officials up and down the coast hoped to salvage tourist revenue through Labor Day weekend.
Another bombing in Pakistan has killed 54 people. It happened in Quetta in the southwest, the latest in a series of such attacks. A suicide bomber targeted Shiites staging a pro-Palestinian rally and procession through the city. Police said 160 people were wounded. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility, and a spokesman claimed that the group will launch attacks in America and Europe very soon.
In Afghanistan, the U.S. death toll rose again, with another American killed today. It came as Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited U.S. troops in Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban. He said he saw progress there and in Pakistan, where government forces have attacked insurgents in their safe havens.
U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ROBERT GATES:
If you had asked me two years ago if I thought the Pakistani army would have 140,000 troops on their western border fighting some of these extremists, be in South Waziristan, be in Swat, be in places like that, I would have thought you were smoking something.
Pakistani officials reported today that U.S. airstrikes killed seven people in the border region. They said drone aircraft fired missiles in two separate attacks.
There have been more battles in Mexico's drug war. Soldiers killed 25 suspects Thursday in a border town not far from McAllen, Texas. They killed five more today in a shoot-out in Juarez. All of the gunmen were believed to be members of the Zetas gang. That group is suspected in the massacre of 72
migrants last month.
Those are some of the day's major stories — now back to Judy.
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