[Updated at 11:12 p.m. ET] Tropical Storm Katia was strengthening in the Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday and could become a hurricane on Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said.
In its 11 p.m. ET advisory, the hurricane center said Katia has maximum sustained winds of 60 mph – up from 45 mph 12 hours earlier. The storm was in the open Atlantic about 1,700 miles east-southeast of the Caribbean Sea's Leeward Islands.
Katia was moving west-northwest near 22 mph. That general motion was expected to continue for the next two days, though the forward speed could decrease, the hurricane center said.
Katia could grow into a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph by Saturday evening, perhaps more than 500 miles east of the Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico, the hurricane center said. It is too early to predict whether the storm will threaten land.
Comment of the day:
“Huntsman would have been a moderate Republican 40 years ago, now he's a socialist to his own party.” - pus512
In his column this week, LZ Granderson says GOP Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman should flee his party and run as an independent. He says he’s disappointed by some of President Obama’s choices but can’t support any of the other GOP candidates. Feeling politically trapped, Granderson says an independent Huntsman could help.
And many CNN.com readers agreed:
elperroguapo said, “I would vote for Huntsman. I voted for Obama last election. And I'll vote for him again, because the GOP is going to offer some moron who believes the job of the POTUS is to Evangelicalize the nation.”
slowshow responded, “I'll probably vote for Obama again, but Huntsman and Mitt are the only Republican candidates that don't scare the hell out of me.”
Irene’s winds uprooted thousands of trees in and around New York on Sunday, leaving plenty of debris to clean up this week. Fallen branches littered communities for hundreds of miles around. At least 2,000 trees were downed in New York City, according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“Let me remind New Yorkers: It really is a bad idea to cut down or remove trees yourself. Leave it to the professionals,” the mayor said during Monday morning’s update on the storm cleanup.
One of those professionals is Anthony Dragonetti. He and his family own Dragonetti Brothers, a landscaping and tree removal business in the city. Shortly after the storm had passed, Dragonetti was cleaning up the mess in Brooklyn, New York.
“Every tree that’s leaning down or down on the floor, we’re cutting it up, putting it in the chipper and getting out of here,” Dragonetti said. He expected to be busy for a few weeks. “There’s a lot of downed trees, downed trees all over the place,” he said.
Dragonetti’s services don’t come free of charge. There is money to be made in storm cleanup. An informal survey of several landscaping business found that the going rate for the removal of a small tree lying in a front yard is a few hundred dollars. But the bill can increase dramatically. If a very large, old tree fell through the back wall of a home, and it’s not easily accessible, that’s a more complicated job. A crane would need to be called in, and a crew would have to work slowly to not cause any more damage. A job like that can cost up to $5,000.
Click the audio player to hear the rest of the story:
Some highlights from the day's business news:
Investors were more optimistic Tuesday afternoon after the Federal Reserve's minutes from its most recent meeting indicated that some Fed members favored more stimulus.
Stocks had a rough day, opening slightly lower, only to sink sharply following a weak consumer confidence report. But the knee jerk reaction was short lived, and stocks bounced back into positive territory before settling into a malaise for much of the day.
All indices closed the day in positive territory, but still remained down for the year. The Dow Jones industrial average moved up 20 points, or 0.2%, to 11,559.95.
[Updated at 6:42 p.m. ET] The death toll from Hurricane Irene stands at 43 across 12 states, with officials in New Hampshire reporting a death linked to the storm.
Here is a state-by-state tally of the deaths:
New York - 8
New Jersey - 7
North Carolina - 6
Pennsylvania - 5
Virginia - 4
Vermont - 3
Connecticut - 2
Delaware - 2
Maryland - 2
Florida - 2
Massachusetts - 1
New Hampshire - 1
Authorities are trying to determine whether an additional death reported in New York is connected to the storm.
Nutrition professor Mark Haub, who lost 27 pounds eating mainly Twinkies, powdered donuts and Oreo cookies, is back to an average American diet.
Since ending his junk food experiment in November, he has gained 2 pounds and his cholesterol has also increased a little bit, he said. He also has gained a new insight into the debate over healthy eating.
"People have a hatred towards (processed) foods," he said. "I like them. I eat them. It's amazing how people believe if it's processed, it's not food."
What also caught Haub by surprise was "how vitriolic people can be when they take a stance, whether it's low-carb or paleo diet. It's like politics. Those discussions can get heated. It's the same thing with religion, I'm right. You're wrong."
Last fall, Haub shed 13% of his weight over two months restricting his diet to 1,600 calories while eating "junk food." Surprisingly, his cholesterol readings improved and his level of triglycerides, which are a form of fat, decreased. This could have been explained by the decreased consumption of calories.
November 8, 2010: Twinkie diet helps nutrition professor lose 27 pounds
Today he eats three meals a day, consuming about 2,200 calories with food choices like turkey sandwiches, peanut butter, and snacking on pears.
"The main thing I did was reduce portion size," he said about what he learned from the diet. "It's that concept of mindfulness or mindful eating - I eat relatively the same. I just eat less."
And he still munches on an occasional Twinkie or snack cake.
Janet Jackson joined brothers Jermaine and Randy on Tuesday in opposing the October tribute concert for Michael Jackson because it takes place during the trial of the doctor charged in their brother's death.
While Janet Jackson stopped short of criticizing the promoters or other members of her family who support the tribute, she did put to rest any rumors that she would perform in it.
"Because of the trial, the timing of this tribute to our brother would be too difficult for me," she said in a statement sent to CNN by her representative Tuesday.FULL STORY
A faulty weld was the cause of the 2010 pipeline explosion that killed eight people outside San Francisco, but the problem should have been caught long before the blast, federal safety officials concluded in a scathing report Tuesday.FULL STORY
Kenneth Melson, the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who came under criticism for the "Fast and Furious" program involving illegal weapons sales, is being reassigned to the Department of Justice as a senior adviser on forensic issues, the department announced Tuesday.
The announcement said that Todd Jones, a U.S. attorney from Minnesota, will become the acting director of ATF.
At least 25 people were killed in flooding that hit the city of Ibadan in southwestern Nigeria over the weekend, the Nigerian Red Cross said Tuesday.
More victims could still be found in remote areas that rescue teams have not reached, the government's National Emergency Management Agency said in a statement released Monday.
Visiting the area, the agency's chief, Alhaji Muhammad Sidi, was shocked by the devastation and said the flooding was some of the worst the country had seen in recent times, the statement said.
The government is delivering aid to people displaced by the flooding in Ibadan and surrounding areas in Oyo state, the agency said.FULL STORY
Hurricane Irene severed North Carolina Highway 12, the route that connects the islands of the Outer Banks, in four places, raising questions about how many times taxpayers will have to pony up to fix the roadway.
In 2003, Hurricane Isabel cut a gap in the road that took two months and $5 million to fix, according to a report in the Raleigh News & Observer. This time, the damage to the road is worse, officials said.
(See a North Carolina Department of Transportation map of the breaches.)
North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue told CNN affiliate WRAL-TV that two of the breaches are bigger than what has been seen before and that the surf is continuing to erode them.
One of the four breaches presents a particular problem, CNN affiliate WAVY-TV reported. It is a gap about 250 feet wide in which the foundation of the road has been washed away, meaning repairs will be more extensive.
But Perdue says no matter how bad the damage, the road will be repaired.
"There are going to be those from across the country saying, 'Why are (you) investing in that road again?' " she is quoted as saying by CNN affiliate WRAL-TV. "Until we can find a better way to move on and off (the islands), they are North Carolina citizens, they pay taxes and they have got to have a highway, road or bridge to travel on the same as the rest of us."
Then expect to be paying for repairs frequently, East Carolina University geology professor Stanley R. Riggs tells the News & Observer.
"If we get one or two more of these (storms) in September and October, you're going to have a whole bunch of holes in the Outer Banks out there," the paper quotes him as saying.
They know they missed it. Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami say when it comes to the strength of Hurricane Irene as it approached North Carolina, they know they were off. Way off.
“At least in the guidance we were looking at there was no indication of anything that would cause the storm to weaken. So, we thought we would have a Category 3 at landfall,” said Bill Read, the director of the Hurricane Center. Irene came in at a Category 1, the weakest. Read said there’s good reason they were so far off.
The science of forecasting how strong or weak a storm will become is simply not very good. With Irene, forecasters say they weren’t even as good as their five-year average.
“Every storm comes up with a surprise,” Read said. “In this case it was one where it went downhill. Charlie a few years ago is one that went uphill. Neither case did we see that coming, and that’s my measure of the fact that we have a long way to go.”
Hurricane forecasters say they want to get it right all the time. But if you are going to be wrong, they say it's better to be wrong in weakening storms like Irene.
“I’d say a bigger worry than one weakening at landfall is the ’35 hurricane that came through the Keys," Read said. "Charlie if it’s a little bigger. Audrey in 1957. Get the picture?”
In all of these cases, the storms rapidly intensified as they neared the coastline. By then, it’s too late to order massive evacuations.
CNN's severe weather expert Chad Meyers said when Hurricane Irene smashed into the Outer Banks of North Carolina, the contact weakened the storm.
So, forecasters had the path right, but the impact of landfall changed what the amount of destruction would be in some areas. Wind shear helped knock down velocity, and unexpected dry air sucked some of the power out of the storm.
"It literally knocked the stuffing out of the eye," Myers said. "It never got its mojo back."
The nation's most popular celebrity dancing show is ready to launch with a new crazy cast of characters. The upcoming season of "Dancing with the Stars" will include HLN's own courtroom diva Nancy Grace along with personalities like Chaz Bono, actor David Arquette and basketball star Ron Artest. We'll have to wait to see who two-steps away with the Mirrorball trophy, but you've gotta watch these most memorable "Dancing with the Stars" personalities.
The suspects arrested in connection with a Mexico casino fire told investigators that civilians were not their target, but that the blaze "got out of control," killing 52 people and injuring others, including some of the alleged perpetrators, officials said Tuesday.
The governor and attorney general of Nuevo Leon state, which shares a border with Texas, revealed new details in the investigation into last week's fire before presenting the five suspects arrested so far to the media.
"The people were not the target, it was the casino," Nuevo Leon Attorney General Adrian de la Garza said. "It was a chaotic situation that got out of control."
The alleged arsonists shouted at patrons to leave the casino as they set it on fire, he said.
The five suspects are members of the Los Zetas drug cartel and carried out the attack because the owners of the casino had not complied with their extortion demands, officials said.FULL STORY
Moammar Gadhafi's daughter, a former U.N. goodwill ambassador who has kept a low profile during Libya's violent uprising, has given birth in Algeria, sources close to her family told CNN.
The baby, whose gender has not been disclosed, was born shortly after Aisha entered Algeria. Gadhafi's only daughter is doing all right, the sources told CNN.
Algeria's Foreign Ministry announced Monday that Moammar Gadhafi's wife, Safia, and three children, including Aisha, had entered that country. The family members arrived in Algeria via the Libyan border, state media reported, citing the ministry.
Aisha had been expected to give birth in September, sources close to the family told CNN.FULL STORY
The head of Libya's interim council set a Saturday deadline for remaining loyalist towns to surrender or face fierce military battles.
Mustafa Abdul Jalil, head of the National Transitional Council, told reporters Tuesday that the rebels are in negotiations with tribal elders and hope that by the end of the Eid holidays, loyalists will surrender in places like Sirte, Moammar Gadhafi's hometown.
Jalil said the rebels hope to "avoid more bloodshed and to avoid more destruction and damage."
But in the end," he said, "it might have to be decided militarily. I hope this will not be the case."
As fighting continued for the last bastions of Gadhafi's grip, the strongman's whereabouts still were unknown. Members of his family, including Gadhafi's wife Safia, two sons - Moahamed and Hannibal - and daughter Aisha escaped to Algeria.
Mourad Benmehidi, Algeria's ambassador to the United Nations, said his nation allowed them to enter on "humanitarian grounds."
Unlike Libya's other neighbors, Algeria has not recognized the authority of the National Transitional Council and that nation's authoritarian government has much to fear with Arab revolutions so close to home.
Jalil said Tuesday that the rebels would ask Algeria to extradite members of the Gadhafi family back to Libya. He also said that once Libyan liberation was complete, the country would set up courts to hear people's complaints against the Gadhafi regime.
Rebel fighters forged ahead Tuesday toward Sirte, situated along the Mediterranean coast between the capital, Tripoli, and the opposition nerve center of Benghazi.FULL STORY
Hurricane Irene may have come and gone, but residents up and down the East Coast continue to clean up from the storm. Watch CNN.com Live for continuing coverage of Irene's aftermath.
Today's programming highlights...
8:00 am ET - NATO briefing on Libya - NATO officials will brief reporters on the ongoing situation in strife-torn Libya.
A former nanny to grandchildren of Moammar Gadhafi, who was allegedly burned by boiling water, was receiving medical treatment Tuesday, according to CNN's Dan Rivers, who visited the woman at a hospital in Tripoli. The former nanny said she was burned for failing to keep a child quiet.
Three things you need to know today.
Vermont flooding: Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate plans to tour flood-damaged communities in Vermont on Tuesday.
Rain from Hurricane Irene spawned raging floodwaters that washed out or otherwise damaged 263 roads and bridges, Gov. Peter Shumlin said. Hundreds of people remained trapped in communities, he said Monday.
"It's just devastating," Shumlin said. "Whole communities under water, businesses, homes, obviously roads and bridges, rail transportation infrastructure," he said. "We're tough folks up here but Irene ... really hit us hard."
Obama to address vets: President Obama travels to Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, on Tuesday to speak at the 93rd American Legion National Convention.
Mostly veterans are expected to be in attendance at the Minneapolis Convention Center event.
As the president continues to push his economic recovery message, a senior administration official told CNN “I am sure a good chunk of it [speech] will be about how service members and their families have been impacted by the economy.”
New Japanese PM: Japan's parliament elected Yoshihiko Noda as the country's new prime minister Tuesday, making him the country's sixth new leader in five years.
Noda won 308 out of 476 possible votes.
The prime minister-elect will officially take over his new post after a ceremonial endorsement by Japan's emperor, which is expected to happen Wednesday.
Ahead of the vote, former Prime Minister Naoto Kan officially submitted his resignation, as did his Cabinet, clearing the way for Noda's election.