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HURRICANE WATCHERS EXPECT BUSIER-THAN-AVERAGE SEASON

Government forecasters predicted a busier-than-normal Atlantic hurricane season Monday: Six to nine hurricanes overall, including two to four major storms packing winds of at least 111 mph.

Higher-than-normal ocean temperatures and other factors should make conditions ripe for hurricanes this year, said James Mahoney, deputy administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Overall, 11 to 15 tropical storms are expected develop during the season that runs from June 1 to Nov. 30; the historical average is 10 tropical storms and six hurricanes.

Last year, there were 12 tropical storms and four hurricanes.

The storm names for the year are Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Erika, Fabian, Grace, Henri, Isabel, Juan, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor and Wanda.

Judge examines evidence
from deadly nightclub fire

CRANSTON, R.I. (AP) -- The judge overseeing cases stemming from a deadly nightclub fire toured a warehouse Monday where evidence from the club is being stored.

Bar stools, beer bottles and burned out drums are some of the 717 items attorneys have collected from the site of the nightclub.

Superior Court Judge Alice Gibney, who will oversee all litigation from the Feb. 20 blaze, said she thought it was appropriate to visit the warehouse because of her role in the case.

The stage area was also removed from the club and has been reassembled at the warehouse.

At least four lawsuits have been filed over the fire at The Station in West Warwick and more are expected. A grand jury is also weighing whether criminal charges are warranted.

The blaze killed 100 people and injured nearly 200 others. It was sparked by rock band Great White's pyrotechnic display and quickly spread through the wooden building.

Divers continue to search
for clues in Peterson death

RICHMOND, Calif. (AP) -- For the fourth straight day, divers searched the chilly waters of San Francisco Bay on Monday for more evidence in the death of Laci Peterson.

Officials have refused to be specific about what evidence they are seeking, or what they have found, in what they describe as a follow-up investigation.

The bodies of the Modesto woman, who was eight months pregnant when she disappeared in December, and her unborn son washed onto a Richmond shoreline last month.

The decomposed remains were found several miles north of where Peterson's husband, Scott, said he went fishing on Christmas Eve -- the day he says he last saw his wife.

Shortly after the bodies were found, Scott Peterson was arrested and charged with two counts of murder. He has pleaded not guilty and is jailed without bail.

Freeze on church lawsuits
expires; no progress seen

BOSTON (AP) -- A voluntary, 90-day freeze on hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits against the Boston Archdiocese was set to expire Monday with no settlement in sight.

"It amazes me that they want to continue the public relations disaster," said attorney Nance Lyons, who represents about 20 people who say they were molested by priests. "Why don't they want it to go away?"

In February, attorneys put about 500 sexual abuse claims against the church on hold for 90 days to allow negotiations toward a settlement. Bishop Richard Lennon has publicly expressed a willingness to settle.

But in the moratorium's waning hours, attorneys for the plaintiffs said they had not received an offer from the church and had begun preparations to take sworn statements from witnesses and file new motions.

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