Hurricane forecast: Another busy Atlantic season
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - Federal forecasters are predicting yet another busy hurricane season.
Thursday's outlook calls for 13 to 20 named storms, 7 to 11 that strengthen into hurricanes and 3 to 6 that become major hurricanes.
The prediction by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is more than what's considered an average Atlantic season.
Last year was the third-busiest on record with 19 named storms. Ten became hurricanes and were two major storms, with winds over 111 mph.
That included Sandy, which caused $50 billion in damage even though it lost hurricane status when it made landfall in New Jersey.
The last time a major hurricane made landfall in the United States was Wilma in 2005. The seven year U.S. landfall drought is the longest on record.
The six-month season starts June 1.
RUSSIA-BOSTON MARATHON SHOOTING
Father of man shot in Boston probe shares regrets
GROZNY, Russia (AP) - The father of a Chechen immigrant shot by U.S. law enforcement agents in Florida while being questioned about his ties to a Boston Marathon bombings suspect says he regrets allowing his son to go to the United States.
The 27-year-old Ibragim Todashev (IH'-bruh-heem TOH'-duh-shehv) was a mixed martial arts fighter who had trained with Tamerlan Tsarnaev (TAM'-ehr-luhn tsahr-NEYE'-ehv), and his father says they had bonded because of their shared interests and ethnic heritage as Chechens from southern Russia.
The father, Abdul-Baki Todashev, says his son went to the U.S. five or six years ago to study English. He adds that he agreed to his son remaining in the U.S. "because it seemed like the safest country."
Chechnya has been ravaged by fighting, and the family's red-brick house in Grozny (GRAHZ'-nee) still bears the marks of shrapnel.
DEFENDING THE POOR
Fla. Supreme Court sides with public defenders
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - The Florida Supreme Court is siding with public defenders who believe they should be able to reject cases if they don't have the budget and lawyers to adequately represent poor people charged with crimes.
Thursday's ruling overturns an appeals court decision that said public defenders had to accept the cases to represent those who can't afford lawyers.
The Supreme Court cited statistics that show public defenders in Miami-Dade were taking on 200 to 300 cases beyond what they should have been able to handle. It also mentioned conditions that often meant defenders had to start trial before they could interview witnesses or visit crimes scenes.
The court asked the original Miami-Dade County court to determine whether public defenders are still overburdened.
Defense releases photos, texts of Trayvon Martin
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - George Zimmerman's defense attorneys have released photos and text messages from 17-year-old Trayvon Martin's cell phone ahead of a hearing that will determine whether they can be used at the neighborhood watch leader's trial.
The photos released Thursday show Martin blowing smoke and extending his middle finger to the camera. The photos also show a gun and what appears to be a potted marijuana plant.
In the text messages, Martin tells a friend that his mother has told him he needs to move out of her house and move in with his father since he was caught skipping school.
Zimmerman is charged with fatally shooting Martin last year during a confrontation at a gated community. Zimmerman is pleading not guilty to second-degree murder, claiming self-defense.
His trial starts next month.
BLACK BEAR RELOCATED
Largest captured Fla. black bear is relocated
PAISLEY, Fla. (AP) - The largest Florida black bear ever captured has been relocated.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Joy Hill says the 620-pound bear was captured on Monday. It had been getting into trash in the Ocala National Forest, even into secured garbage in a shed by pulling the aluminum siding off to get his free meal.
The bear was trapped in Lake County.
Before the bear was relocated on Wednesday, biologists were able to sedate him to collect hair samples and give him an exam, identification tattoo and ear tag.
Hill says this is the largest bear captured, but the largest documented black bear was a 624-pounder that was struck and killed by a car in Naples several years ago.
Wildlife officials estimate there are 3,500 black bears in Florida.
Kerry Kennedy, farmworker protest Wendy's in NYC
Kerry Kennedy has joined farmworkers protesting outside Wendy's shareholder meeting in New York City.
The protesters said Thursday they want Wendy's to sign an agreement to safeguard working conditions for Florida tomato pickers.
Other fast-food chains including McDonald's and Burger King have signed the agreement with the Florida-based Coalition of Immokalee (ih-MAHK'-ah-lee) Workers.
Kennedy heads the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights, named for her late father. She led the crowd outside the stockholders' meeting in a chant of "What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!"
Two protesters went into the Manhattan hotel where the Wendy's meeting was taking place.
Wendy's spokesman Bob Bertini said they attended the meeting as qualified shareholders.
Bertini said the Dublin, Ohio-based company had no comment on the demonstration.
SeaWorld: Penguins are coolest thing in Florida
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) - SeaWorld Orlando is getting ready to open "Antarctica - Empire of the Penguin" attraction starring 250 live penguins.
With a ride, restaurants and the penguin habitat, it's the largest expansion in the park's history. It will open Friday, but park officials offered a media preview Thursday.
The ride takes visitors through a queue, themed around a fictional penguin named Puck, a baby hatched right before a menacing blizzard. Among other things, the attraction offers a pleasant air-conditioned temperature once the line snakes inside - and the temperature keeps dropping as the journey continues.
The ride ends at the penguin habitat, where in addition to the large king penguins, there are also gentoos, rockhoppers and adelie (uh-DAY-lee) penguins of various sizes.
Visitors can watch the birds frolic on shore or underwater.
FHP trooper hits gator crossing road near Naples
(Information in the following story is from: Naples (Fla.) Daily News, http://www.naplesnews.com )
NAPLES, Fla. (AP) - A Florida Highway Patrol trooper driving in North Naples hit an alligator that was crossing a road.
The incident happened about 3 a.m. Thursday on Immokalee Road.
The Naples Daily News reports Trooper Roberto Morales couldn't avoid hitting the gator, which ran off.
Morales wasn't injured, but his vehicle was damaged.
Morales says the gator was about 9 feet long.
The Collier County Sheriff's Office said they responded to at least three reports of a gator in the road late Wednesday and early Thursday.
PLUM EATING BIRD SHOT
N. Fla. man arrested in death of plum-eating bird
(Information in the following story is from: Ocala (Fla.) Star-Banner, http://www.starbanner.com/ )
OCKLAWAHA, Fla. (AP) - A north Florida man faces charges after fatally shooting a red-bellied woodpecker that was eating the plums from his trees.
State wildlife officials say 51-year-old John Wayne Miller shot the bird with a pellet rifle. He was arrested Tuesday and released after posting a $250 bond.
The woodpecker is protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act but officials decided not to pursue federal charges.
Florida Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Joy Hill says the agency opened an investigation after receiving an anonymous tip about the shooting. A state official notified Miller about the charge and he turned himself in.
The Ocala Star-Banner reports Miller apologized for killing the bird. He said his mother gave him the trees and he had spent a lot of money taking care of them.
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