- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Forecasters eye 4 more hurricanes

FORT COLLINS | Colorado hurricane researchers are forecasting five tropical storms in the Atlantic for September, including four hurricanes, two of them major.

Former Colorado State University climatologist William Gray said Tuesday that would be nearly twice as busy as an average September. Mr. Gray has been issuing hurricane forecasts at Colorado State University for 25 years.

Four Atlantic hurricanes have been recorded so far this season: Bertha and Dolly in July, Gustav in August and Hanna this month.

The team’s latest predictions cover only September and are not a revision of its season-long forecast. The team’s most recent seasonal prediction, issued Aug. 5, called for a total of nine Atlantic hurricanes during the season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.


Teen suicides dip; experts still worried

CHICAGO | The number of teen suicides has fallen slightly, but the rate remains disturbingly high, possibly fueled by drug warnings that have scared many from using antidepressants.

The suicide rate was about 4.5 per 100,000 in 2005, the most recent data available, compared with 4.7 in 2004. That follows an 18 percent spike the previous year that had alarmed experts when first reported.

That’s because until then, suicides among 10- to 19-year-olds had been on a steady decline since 1996.

Dr. David Fassler, a psychiatry professor at the University of Vermont, said the report suggests a “very disturbing” upward trend that correlates with a decline in teen use of antidepressants.

That decline stems from the Food and Drug Administration’s 2004 black-box warning label because of reports that the drugs can increase risks for suicidal tendencies.

The new report shows the rate dropped by about 5 percent - or from 1,983 suicides in 2004 to 1,883 in 2005.

That’s still 600 more suicides than would have been expected had the earlier trend continued, said lead author Jeffrey Bridge, a researcher at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.


Judge won’t stop mayor’s hearing

DETROIT | A judge on Tuesday refused to block a hearing that could force Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick from office, putting the governor in control of the mayor’s political fate and adding pressure on him to settle two criminal cases.

Wayne County Circuit Judge Robert Ziolkowski declined to interfere with a hearing set for Wednesday under Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm’s constitutional power to expel a public official for misconduct.

The judge rejected arguments that Mrs. Granholm is biased and that Michigan law is vague about the definition of misconduct.

Judge Ziolkowski also said the mayor’s right to “just and fair treatment” doesn’t apply. “Holding a public office is not a public right and not subject to due-process rights,” he said.

Mr. Kilpatrick’s attorney, James Thomas, promised an immediate appeal.

“The way this is set up, the governor has free rein to be the judge, jury and executioner,” he said outside court.

The Detroit City Council asked the governor to hold the hearing, arguing that Mr. Kilpatrick misled its members when he settled lawsuits with former police officers for $8.4 million.


Freed inmate hopes to help others

KANSAS CITY | A St. Louis man released from prison after a judge overturned his 1984 murder conviction says he hopes that his case will help other innocent people who are behind bars.

Darryl Burton, 46, walked out of prison Friday, the same day prosecutors in St. Louis decided against trying him a second time.

During a press conference Tuesday, Mr. Burton said he thinks there are thousands of other innocent people in prison. He said cases like his - in which there is no DNA evidence - are especially difficult to prove and are often ignored.

Mr. Burton was convicted in a 1984 gas station killing in St. Louis.


Sharks among family of bottlenose dolphins

RED BANK | Wildlife officials have added some bite to their warnings against bothering a family of bottlenose dolphins hanging out in two New Jersey rivers: They say sharks have been known to frequent the area.

Bull sharks, which can grow to between 7 and 12 feet long and are among the three most likely species to attack humans, have been known to swim in the section of the Navesink River where the 15 wayward dolphins have most recently been staying, said Bob Schoelkopf, co-director of the Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine.

“In that area are bull sharks that go in there quite frequently,” he said. “You never know what you might be looking at. It could be a dolphin or it could be a shark.”

Wildlife officials have been concerned about a worsening pattern of harassment by boaters and people on personal watercraft getting too close to the dolphins, which have been in the area since June. Federal regulations require that boaters stay at least 50 yards away from the dolphins. Harassing them is punishable by a $10,000 fine.


Gay marriage challenge tossed

NEW YORK | A judge has thrown out the first direct legal challenge to the New York governor’s move to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, calling the policy a legally allowable stand for fairness.

A decision by gay couples to wed represents “a personal expression of emotional devotion, support and interdependence and a public commitment,” state Supreme Court Judge Lucy Billings wrote in a decision issued Tuesday. “With that validity, they expect equal treatment with other married couples.”

Thousands of gay New Yorkers over the next few years are expected to make use of Massachusetts’ recent decision to let out-of-state gay couples marry there. Same-sex couples cannot marry in New York, and the state’s highest court has said only the Legislature has the authority to change that.

The Alliance Defense Fund, which brought the case, said it would appeal, while gay-rights groups hailed the ruling as strengthening legal support for same-sex couples. In a statement, Gov. David Paterson called it “a wise and fair determination.”

But Mr. Paterson’s counsel told state agencies in May that a recent state appellate court ruling required them to recognize gay marriages legally performed elsewhere or risk discrimination claims.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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