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Q&A: Bertha a storm with record staying power

Hurricane Bertha threatened Bermuda in July.

Associated Press

Hurricane Bertha threatened Bermuda in July.

Storm with staying power

I read that Hurricane Bertha set some sort of record. What was it?

Bertha is on record as the longest-lasting tropical storm ever formed in the Atlantic in July. It started off the African coast July 3 and became a hurricane July 7. It became a Category 3 storm with 120-mph winds, and it threatened Bermuda before turning northeast and dissipating in the North Atlantic on July 20.

This year's storm names

Can you tell us again what the storm names are for the 2008 Atlantic season?

Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gustav, Hanna, Ike, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paloma, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred.

Candidates' stances on Cuba

Where do the presidential hopefuls stand on U.S. policies toward Cuba, after a half-century of enforcing a trade embargo and otherwise trying to isolate the country?

On Cuba, what you see with President Bush is what you get with John McCain.

The Republican candidate says Cuba must be in transition to a free and open democracy before he would negotiate an easing of the trade embargo. He's not interested in meeting Raul Castro absent marked progress beforehand. So there's not much question where he stands on Cuba.

The same can't be said about his Democratic rival. Barack Obama is ready to relax restrictions on family travel and on money that Cuban-Americans can send to their families back on the island. Otherwise, he has been harder to pin down.

Earlier in the campaign, he said he'd be open to meeting hostile leaders, including Cuba's, without setting preconditions. He took a lot of heat for that, and you don't hear the same from him these days.

Now he says he would engage Cuba in diplomacy "at a time and place of my choosing, but only when we have an opportunity to advance the interests of the United States, and to advance the cause of freedom for the Cuban people."

Parse those words carefully and you can still see a willingness to get to the negotiating table somewhat faster than McCain.

Lead additives for off-road use

With all the ink that is being given to the subject of gasoline, why is the adjective "unleaded" still being used to describe it? I can't remember when I last bought "leaded" gasoline. Is it still available in the United States?

No, it's not available anymore for automobiles — it was phased out in the '80s for environmental reasons. Lead additives can be mixed with unleaded gas to fuel cars designed for leaded gas, but the additives are only intended for off-road use, at least in the United States.

Q&A: Bertha a storm with record staying power 08/14/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 11:10am]
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