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Around the state

Natural cycle causing more storms, Gray says

By wire services
Published March 25, 2005


NEW ORLEANS - Nature, not mankind, is to blame for a period of increased hurricane activity that could last another 20 or 30 years, tropical weather expert William Gray said Thursday.

The Colorado State University professor, known for his annual predictions, was interviewed at the 27th annual National Hurricane Conference.

Gray said hurricane activity began increasing 10 years ago after a slack period of about 25 years.

"We think it's the ocean circulation patterns," Gray said. "It's not human-induced global warming. It's related mainly, as we see it, to the global ocean conveyor belt circulation."

Faster currents in the Atlantic Ocean produce more major hurricanes than slower currents, he said. "We feel the physics behind it is (changing) salinity."

Gray is predicting another above-average season in 2005. The initial forecast in December was for 11 named storms including six hurricanes, three of them major. The forecast will be updated April 1 .

Tabloid photos collection will be decontaminated

BOCA RATON - Pictures of Elvis in his coffin and boxes of other treasured tabloid photographs will be decontaminated in a final cleanup at the former headquarters of a supermarket tabloid that was a target in a series of anthrax attacks.

A collection of 4.5-million images, along with 305,000 pounds of press clippings, other pictures and periodicals once owned by American Media Inc., had been stored in sealed containers since someone mailed the anthrax to the building in October 2001, causing the death of a photo editor who inhaled it.

The company that cleaned the former AMI building in July reached an agreement with David Rustine, the building's owner, to decontaminate the materials.

Bio-ONE had intended to destroy the pictures and clippings. But attorneys for freelance photographers said in December that Rustine did not own the pictures that appeared in supermarket tabloids and could not destroy them.

Rustine, a real estate investor, bought the three-story office building in April 2003 for $40,000. Bio-ONE plans to put the headquarters for its new crisis management venture there.

Once cleaned, the pictures and other materials will be returned to Rustine. Bio-ONE still must demonstrate to various federal agencies and the Palm Beach County Health Department that the building is sterile before reopening it.

U.S. court strikes down law inhibiting publication

KEY WEST - A federal appeals court has struck down a Florida law prohibiting disclosure of information from active internal police investigations, ruling in favor of a newspaper publisher arrested after he printed articles alleging a police coverup.

The ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta allows Dennis Reeves Cooper, publisher and editor of the weekly Key West the Newspaper, to pursue a civil rights suit against former police Chief Gordon "Buz" Dillon.

The court's ruling Tuesday said the law unconstitutionally limits speech based on its content.

Cooper printed articles in 2001 stating that a Key West police officer lied under oath and an internal affairs officer did not conduct an investigation before clearing him of wrongdoing. He gave his evidence to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which began an investigation.

Cooper then printed an article about the FDLE inquiry and an editorial criticizing Dillon for not taking action against the officers.

Dillon then obtained a warrant charging Cooper with violating the state law that made it a misdemeanor for anyone involved in an internal police investigation to disclose information before it has been entered into public record.

American crocodile may come off endangered list

FORT LAUDERDALE - The American crocodile, once among the most imperiled animals in the United States, has rebounded so much that the federal government announced plans Thursday to stop classifying it as endangered.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed upgrading the crocodile's status to threatened, a change that would recognize its improved prospects while leaving its legal protection intact.

Once reduced to a last stronghold in northeastern Florida Bay, the crocodile has reclaimed some of its old territory, extending its range up both coasts of Florida.

The number of crocodiles in South Florida rose to as many as 1,000 from a low point in the 1970s of fewer than 300.

[Last modified March 25, 2005, 01:00:17]


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