**Philippines Preparing for Powerful Typhoon**
A powerful typhoon is taking aim at the central Philippines, where thousands of residents have heeded government warnings to evacuate.
Typhoon Haiyan already has wind gusts of up to 250 kilometers per hour and is expected to strengthen further before making landfall Friday.
Residents, such as Grace Macion, say they will not be taken by surprise by the storm, which is expected to be the region's strongest this year.
Forecasters expect Haiyan to bring heavy rains and powerful winds as it passes the central islands, some of which are still recovering from last month's deadly 7.2-magnitude earthquake.
Authorities have suspended ferry operations and told fishing boats to seek shelter. Army troops are also on standby to distribute emergency supplies.
**Kerry Sees Progress in Mideast Peace Talks Despite Tensions**
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says it is critical for a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians to be reached and that "significant progress" was made in recent talks.
At a news conference in Amman with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, Kerry said Israeli and Palestinian leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to peace negotiations, despite what he called clear tensions.
He said regional leaders recognize the economic benefits a comprehensive peace deal would bring, including increased revenue from tourism and trade. Kerry praised Jordan's role as a key player "already engaged in major security relationships" with both the Israelis and Palestinians.