Today’s edition of quick hits:

* All eyes on Hurricane Irene: “As Hurricane Irene began to pelt the North Carolina coast Friday afternoon, its winds picked up speed to 100 miles per hour and the threat of danger magnified up the East Coast.”

* NYC prepares: “Nearly 300,000 people were ordered Friday to evacuate flood-prone areas and subways, buses and trains prepared to shut down a day later as Hurricane Irene steamed toward New York, the most powerful storm to target the city in decades.”

* President Obama is cutting his vacation short and will return to the White House tonight.

* On a related note, the president ordered an aircraft carrier group out to sea to avoid the storm, and convened the second day of coordination meetings with DHS and FEMA. Agencies have been “setting up outposts in coastal communities stocked with water, meals, cots, blankets and other supplies for those displaced” since last weekend.

* Terrorism in Nigeria: “A suicide bomber rammed a vehicle packed with explosives into the United Nations headquarters in the Nigerian capital of Abuja on Friday, blasting an enormous hole in the building with a thunderous detonation that left at least 18 dead, witnesses and officials said. As many as 400 people may have been inside during the attack, the first time United Nations offices have been a bombing target in Nigeria.”

* Dylan Matthews put together an impressive analysis on independent research, hoping to determine whether the 2009 Recovery Act worked. His conclusion: “I’m inclined to believe that the preponderance of evidence indicates the stimulus worked.”

* Remember the sheep replacing lawnmowers at those schools in Pennsylvania? The Rachel Maddow Show now has video.

* Weekly Standard staffers are calling in NATO airstrikes in Libya? That doesn’t strike me as a very good idea.

* A Fox News personality told viewers today that if the Washington Monument fell, “it would be a big problem.” I agree with that.

* Was Martin Luther King a popular national figure in the early- to mid-60s? No, and his popularity suffered when he turned his attention to anti-war activism and housing issues in the North.

* Prominent media figure Pat Buchanan is concerned about the “overrepresentation of white men in the body bags and caskets coming home” from the Middle East.

* It’s Women’s Equality Day.

* And for some reason, Politico published a piece from actor/activist Chuck Norris this week, which argued that the unfinished Arms Trade Treaty pending at the United Nations would impose “restrictions on our Second Amendment rights.” What Politico‘s editors failed to realize is that Norris has no idea what he’s talking about.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.