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.
Senate rejects move to stop Common Core standards
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The Louisiana Senate has killed a resolution that sought to keep the state from using a set of uniform national standards for public school testing, called Common Core standards.
The action Thursday came a day after the Senate Education Committee advanced the proposal without taking action. Senators voted 27-8 to shelve the legislation and keep it from moving any further.
The standards are a set of guidelines for student learning at each grade level that have been adopted by 45 states. They are being incorporated into the standardized tests given each spring to Louisiana's public school students.
Opponents criticize use of the standards as states abdicating local control of their curriculum to the federal government.
2 booked in Rapides church break-in
ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) - A man and woman have been arrested in connection with the burglary and vandalism of a church in Rapides Parish.
The Town Talk reports that Nathaniel Thomas Burns, 24, of Woodworth and Jessica Davis Dousay, 22, of Pineville were booked this week at the Rapides Parish jail.
Both face charges of trespassing, criminal damage to property and simple burglary of a religious building.
Deputies say they received a report April 5 that someone had broken into the Camp 8 Pentecostal Church on Louisiana Highway 121.
It was not immediately clear whether either of the suspects has a lawyer.
Landrieu seeks to delay flood insurance increases
WASHINGTON (AP) - Sen. Mary Landrieu filed legislation this week to delay flood insurance increases for many residents and businesses in southern Louisiana that officials fear could begin skyrocketing at the end of the year.
The National Flood Insurance Program reauthorization was approved last year. Landrieu, D-La., had an amendment that was defeated that would have stalled premium increases of 20% or more annually for some residents in the program.
The new Strengthen, Modernize and Reform The National Flood Insurance Program Act would indefinitely delay the hikes until six months after Congress receives an affordability study by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The bill also protects properties that are currently "grandfathered."
Landrieu tells The Advocate she has not yet decided on how she will try to move the bill forward.
TUSKEGEE AIRMEN EXHIBIT
Airport exhibits about African-Americans in WW2
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A traveling exhibit about the Tuskegee Airmen is at New Orleans Lakefront Airport through Saturday. The African-American pilots and crews overcame prejudice to get training and to fly in combat during World War II.
The Commemorative Air Force of Midland, Texas, is showing a restored P-51 Mustang fighter like those flown by the "Red Tail Squadron" and a movie about the airmen.
Also at the airport are the National World War II Museum's Redball Express exhibit about African-American servicemen who manned a truck convoy system to supply U.S. troops in Europe, and a World War II-era truck.
Pre-registered groups can tour through Friday, with public tours Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To reserve a one-hour tour, 504-528-1944 x 229.
Former Baton Rouge lawyer sentenced in fraud case
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - James M. Bernhard III has been sentenced to 27 months in prison Thursday for wire fraud in connection with the theft of over $453,000 from his former law firm's trust account.
Bernhard, who pleaded guilty to the wire fraud charge, surrendered his law license shortly before he appeared for sentencing Thursday before Chief U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson in Baton Rouge federal court.
The Advocate reports that Jackson also fined Bernhard $10,000.
The career of Bernhard, son of former Shaw Group Inc. Chairman Jim Bernhard, nosedived in March 2012. That's when Crawford Lewis PLLC fired him for allegedly misappropriating more than $1 million in state film tax credits that belonged to clients of the law firm.
Ascension man arrested in fatal beating of dog
GONZALES, La. (AP) - Ascension Parish sheriff's deputies arrested a 25-year-old man accused of beating 1 of his dogs to death and dumping the animal's taped-up body in an open field.
In a news release received by The Advocate, Jacob Blackwell was booked into Ascension Parish Prison Wednesday on two counts of cruelty to animals.
Deputies said they found the dead dog Monday in a field Gonzales.
Electrical tape had been wrapped around the dog's legs, mouth and neck.
Deputies said Blackwell told them he has several dogs but this dog was uncooperative.
In response, Blackwell allegedly kicked the animal to death.
LOUISIANA SINKHOLE LAWSUIT
Sinkhole lawsuits to get class-action status
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A federal judge in New Orleans says he will grant class-action status to four lawsuits filed over issues raised by the Assumption Parish sinkhole. That's according to a new court filing Wednesday.
The Advocate reports that U.S. District Judge Jay C. Zainey also will give Texas Brine Co. 30 more days to directly negotiate stalled out-of-court settlements with evacuated residents lacking legal representation.
The entry did not make clear when the 30-day clock would start running or what would happen to those residents if the 30-day period ends without a final deal from Texas Brine.
Zainey announced the rulings one day after Gov. Bobby Jindal criticized Texas Brine officials over the lack of progress in settlement talks.
Vicksburg marks anniversary of Civil War siege
VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi River town of Vicksburg is holding several events this week to mark the 150th anniversary of its siege during the Civil War.
Concerts, lectures and wreath-laying ceremonies are planned at the Vicksburg National Military Park.
On Thursday, the U.S. Postal Service unveiled a Vicksburg stamp that's part of a Civil War commemorative series.
On Saturday, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad will be in town to rededicate his state's monument in the military park.
Union forces waged a protracted campaign to take Vicksburg and gain control of the lower Mississippi River.
The city came under siege in late May 1863, and Confederate forces surrendered July 4.
Vicksburg is commemorating the 150th anniversary now because Gettysburg, Pa., is expected to be a bigger draw for tourists in July.
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