Hurricane Expert Predicts a Cycle

Of More Storms in Next 10 to 20 Years

Expect more hurricanes large and small in the next 10 to 20 years, National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield said yesterday.

He told a congressional panel that he believes the Atlantic Ocean is in a cycle of increased hurricane activity that parallels an increase that started in the 1940s and ended in the 1960s.

The ensuing lull lasted until 1995 -- then "it's like somebody threw a switch," Mayfield said. The number and power of hurricanes have increased dramatically.

Under questioning by members of the Senate Commerce subcommittee on disaster prevention and prediction, he discounted the notion that global warming has played a role, saying the cycle occurs naturally in the Atlantic Ocean and fluctuates every 25 to 40 years.

Mayfield also listed areas in addition to New Orleans that he believes are "especially vulnerable" to damage from a major hurricane: Houston and Galveston, Tex.; Tampa; southern Florida and the Florida Keys; New York City and Long Island; and New England.

Defendant in Abu Ghraib Abuse

Seeks Jury of Officers at Court-Martial

FORT HOOD, Tex. -- Army Pfc. Lynndie R. England asked for a jury made up entirely of officers when she faces a court-martial Wednesday on charges of abusing Iraqi prisoners at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison in 2003.

The reservist, whose face was seen around the world in the photos that sparked the Abu Ghraib scandal, plans to argue that her superiors directed everything she did at the prison. Her lawyers said they will also offer a defense of diminished mental capacity.

England, 22, could face a maximum of 11 years in prison if convicted on the seven charges against her. Last May, she pleaded guilty to a similar set of charges, but a military judge threw out the plea on grounds that it was not believable. That prompted this week's court-martial; this time, she is pleading not guilty to all charges.

* SANTA FE, N.M. -- Mexican officials bulldozed 31 abandoned buildings along the U.S.-Mexican border in a village that has been a staging ground for smugglers of drugs and humans. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Chihuahua Gov. Jose Reyes Baeza agreed last month that the demolition could help end lawlessness in the village of Las Chepas, which has 35 full-time residents.

* WICHITA FALLS, Tex. -- State prison officials ignored a gay inmate's pleas for protection from rapes and instead told him to fight or get a boyfriend who could defend him, the man's attorney said. Roderick K. Johnson, 37, was repeatedly ignored when he wrote letters to prison officials seeking to be transferred, attorney Tim Hoffman said in opening statements of the federal civil trial. Attorneys for the officials who are defendants at the trial said there was no evidence of rape, but Johnson said he was sexually assaulted almost daily for 18 months.

-- From News Services and Staff Reports