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Biden to mark transfer of U.S. command in Iraq
(CNN) - After more than seven years of American military operations in Iraq, Vice President Joe Biden will help mark the transfer of U.S. military command in Iraq on Wednesday.
The historic ceremony is scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. (8 a.m. ET).
While the U.S. combat mission is ending, roughly 50,000 American troops will remain in the country until the end of 2011. Their mission will be to train, assist and advise the Iraqis.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates is also in Iraq to help mark the transfer.
The U.S. combat mission in Iraq officially ended at 5 p.m. ET Tuesday. The drawdown and end to the U.S. combat phase is a new page in what has been a controversial seven-year conflict. Weapons of mass destruction, a major justification by the Bush administration for going to war, were never found. Saddam Hussein was toppled along with his massive Baghdad statue, but sectarian violence soon erupted.
On Tuesday night, President Obama addressed Americans about the transition in a televised speech. Read more
Another evacuation ordered as Hurricane Earl approaches U.S.
(CNN) - As Hurricane Earl continues to spin toward the East Coast, authorities in North Carolina are ordering more people to get out of the way.
But at least one bartender there insists on weathering out the storm on a sliver of land reachable only by ferry.
"A lot of times when [residents] evacuate, it's hard to get back on the island," said Brandon Benecki, who tends bar at Howard's Pub in Ocracoke Island. "It's simpler to just stay here and kind of ride it out."
Emergency management coordinators ordered the mandatory evacuation of Ocracoke late Tuesday.
The order, which was issued for all visitors and residents of the island, goes into effect at 5 a.m. on Wednesday, said Lindsey Mooney, interim emergency management coordinator with Hyde County Emergency Management. He added thousands of people would likely be affected by the decision.
As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, Earl was located about 130 miles (210 km) northeast of Grand Turk Island and about 910 miles (1,460 km) south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida.
The cyclone packed winds of 135 mph (215 kph) and was headed northwest at about 15 mph (24 kph). Read more
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