Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hurricane Forecasters Stick to "Busy" 2008 Prediction

June 3, 2008

Even as the first named storm of the season is being blamed for four deaths in Belize, forecasters at Colorado State University (CSU) are sticking to their April prediction of a busy Atlantic hurricane season for 2008.

The CSU team today released an updated forecast that predicts eight hurricanes—four of them with winds exceeding 110 miles (177 kilometers) an hour—will form before the season ends November 30.

"Conditions in the tropical Atlantic look quite favorable for an active hurricane season," CSU forecaster Phil Klotzbach said in a prepared statement.

Klotzbach and CSU colleague William Gray think a total of 15 tropical storms will form in the Atlantic Basin, which includes the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico (see map).

Tropical Storm Arthur, the season's first, came ashore Saturday along the Mexico-Belize border.

Although the storm was weakening as it made landfall, heavy rains triggered flash floods that swept away houses and wiped out bridges, according to the Associated Press.

Arthur has since been downgraded to a tropical depression.

U.S. commercial bankruptcies rise to record

Source: Reuters
NEW YORK - U.S. commercial bankruptcies soared 46 percent in May from a year ago and many more are expected as the slowing economy chokes consumers and businesses, according to a bankruptcy management firm.

There were some 5,233 commercial bankruptcy cases last month, up from 3,589 in the year-ago period, according to AACER, a database of U.S. bankruptcy statistics.

Commercial cases include bankruptcy filings from companies, as well as individuals who indicate they are running a business.

"It's a very sizable increase year over year, no doubt about that," said Mike Bickford, president of AACER.

And there are many more bankruptcy filings to come, according to Bickford.

"What we've seen over time using historical models is that (the filings) will stay fairly level from now through the end of August, then we'll see another spike for September and the fall months," said Bickford.

As many as 1.1 million bankruptcy cases, including personal filings, as well as commercial, are expected by the end of the year, he said. That is up from about 800,000 last year.


There were an average 249 commercial filings every day last month. That is the highest monthly rate since new bankruptcy laws took effect in 2005, according to AACER.

A wide range of industries are struggling this year. Higher costs of food and fuel have stifled consumer spending and cut into retailers' profits, while home builders have been slammed by falling home prices. Higher fuel costs have also hurt airlines and transportation-related companies, which have difficulty passing on their higher expenses to customers.

Gadget retailer Sharper Image Corp SHRPQ.PK, Florida-based home builder TOUSA Inc TOUSQ.PK and air carrier Frontier Airlines Holdings Inc FRNTQ.PK are among companies that have filed for bankruptcy protection this year. (Editing by Andre Grenon)

Lawmaker asks McCain to talk with 9/11 theorists

An Arizona state senator is petitioning presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain to meet with 9/11 conspiracy theorists, including an adjunct professor from Scottsdale who has been fasting outside McCain's Phoenix office for more than a week.

State Sen. Karen Johnson, a Mesa Republican, delivered a letter to McCain's Senate office Tuesday asking that he sit down with Scottsdale activist Blair Gadsby and a pair of leading members of the 9/11 Truth Movement to consider alternative explanations for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. Gadsby's fast outside McCain's Senate office entered its 10th day today.

"There are so many questions left unanswered," said Johnson, who called for a new, independent investigation into the attacks.

She has previously been the focus of media attention for her vocal misgivings about the government account of 9/11. Again Tuesday, she said, "There's no explanation - no legitimate explanation - about why those towers and Building 7 came down."

WTC 7 was the third building to collapse at the complex, though it wasn't directly struck by either aircraft.

Gadsby said he'll maintain his office vigil until McCain pledges to sit down with him, Richard Gage, founder of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, and Steven Jones, a physicist who claims to have done laboratory analysis and found evidence of explosives in the WTC rubble. Their conditions: a pledge of two hours with McCain, plus national media coverage.

Gadsby, an adjunct community college professor, said he's been told by McCain staffers that the senator is too busy to meet. The Republic had no luck Tuesday reaching representatives of either McCain's Senate office or presidential campaign. But he appears unsympathetic to 9/11 conspiracy theorists, and occasionally has sparred with them on the campaign trail over the past year.

He also wrote the foreword to a 2006 book titled Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up to the Facts. It was written by the editors of Popular Mechanics magazine.

"We cannot let these tales go unanswered," McCain wrote, saying that the "9/11 conspiracy movement exploits the public's anger and sadness" and "traffics in ugly, unfounded accusations of extraordinary evil against fellow Americans."