NORTH CAROLINA
Storm heads toward
Outer Banks

Emergency officials have ordered a mandatory evacuation of a fragile barrier island along North Carolina’s Outer Banks as Tropical Storm Arthur approaches.

Dare County officials said Wednesday that the mandatory evacuation of Hatteras Island would begin at 5 a.m. Thursday. After that time, no one will be allowed on the island.

The officials said residents and out-of-town visitors who may already have arrived for the Fourth of July weekend should evacuate during daylight hours before the tropical storm brings high winds, rough seas, dangerous rip currents and possible flooding on North Carolina Highway 12. The two-lane highway is the only way on and off the island other than ferries to the south.

The National Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane warning for all of Dare County. Arthur, the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season is expected to become a hurricane by Thursday.

— Associated Press

CALIFORNIA
Immigrants land
without incident

A flight shuttling Central American immigrant children and families from the Texas border arrived Wednesday in Southern California without trouble, a day after flag-waving protesters blocked another group in buses from entering a suburban Border Patrol facility.

The latest arrivals included roughly 140 immigrants who were taken to a facility in El Centro for processing, said Lombardo Amaya, president of the local union of Border Patrol agents.

Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) traveled to meet with the group that was flown to the state to ease crowding in the Rio Grande Valley as thousands of people seek entry to the United States after fleeing violence and extortion by gangs in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

The scene was markedly different from the one that unfolded Tuesday in Murrieta, where American-flag waving protesters forced the rerouting of Department of Homeland Security buses to a different facility. Murrieta officials have voiced opposition to the transfers. But some community advocates were collecting food and donations to assist the immigrants.

More than 52,000 unaccompanied children have been detained after crossing the Texas-Mexico border since October in what President Obama has called a humanitarian crisis. Many are under the impression they will receive leniency from U.S. authorities.

— Associated Press

SPACE EXPLORATION
Carbon-research rocket lifts off

A rocket carrying a NASA satellite lit up the pre-dawn skies Wednesday on a mission to track atmospheric carbon dioxide, the chief culprit behind global warming.

The Delta 2 rocket blasted off from California at 2:56 a.m. and released the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 satellite in low Earth orbit 56 minutes later, bringing relief to mission officials who lost a similar spacecraft five years ago.

The launch was canceled on Tuesday morning because of a failure in ground equipment. NASA tried in 2009 to launch a satellite dedicated to studying carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas caused by the burning of fossil fuels. A satellite plunged into the ocean off Antarctica after a hardware failure with the Taurus XL rocket.

— Associated Press

NEW JERSEY
Officials aim to block ocean-floor research

New Jersey environmental officials will seek a court order blocking a plan to carry out seismic research by blasting the ocean floor with sound waves.

The state Department of Environmental Protection said the department will seek an injunction Thursday in federal court to block the plan, which opponents say could harm or kill whales, dolphins and other marine life.

Environmentalists, fishing groups and elected officials gathered Wednesday on Long Beach Island to oppose the plan by Rutgers University, the University of Texas and the National Science Foundation for research on sediments deposited on the ocean floor by changing global sea levels dating back 60 million years.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration issued a permit Tuesday allowing marine animals to be disturbed as part of the research. The National Science Foundation still needs to issue a final environmental assessment and a document that addresses whether the research is authorized to go forward.

— Associated Press

Mo. governor vetoes abortion bill: Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) vetoed legislation Wednesday that would have required a 72-hour wait for women seeking abortions, asserting that legislators showed a “callous disregard for women” by granting no exception for rape and incest victims. Republican legislators quickly vowed to override the veto when they convene in September.

Harvard creates office to investigate sexual assaults: Harvard University said Wednesday that it had created an office to investigate all claims of sexual harassment or sex assault, a move that comes as campus sex crimes are receiving greater scrutiny across the United States. Harvard’s new investigating body will use a “preponderance of evidence” standard to determine whether sexual assault or harassment occurred in the cases it reviews. That is a lower standard of proof than its current approach.

Bergdahl allowed to venture off Texas base: Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was a prisoner of war in Afghanistan for five years, has been allowed to venture off the Texas military base where he is receiving care as part of his “reintegration process” into society, an Army spokeswoman said Wednesday. Bergdahl has been allowed to go, with supervision, to a grocery store, restaurants, shopping centers and a library as part of the process of getting him comfortable with being out in public, Army spokeswoman Arwen Consaul said. Bergdahl, 28, has been receiving care at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio since returning to the United States on June 13.

— From news services