News roundup: Jobless claims jump in Louisiana … Alabama AG urges judge to set trial in BP oil spill case … Coast Guard IDs pilot in Gulf crash as N.O. doctor
One weak week: First-time claims for unemployment payments in Louisiana jumped nearly 15% last week. The Louisiana Workforce Commission says there were 3,606 initial filings for the week ending April 14. That's up by 465 from the previous week's 3,141. The four-week moving average of initial claims—considered a less volatile measure of claims—increased to 3,141 from the previous week's average of 2,947. For the comparable week ending April 16, 2011, Louisiana recorded 4,077 initial claims. Last week, those still looking for work filed for an additional 34,060 weeks of payments, up slightly from the previous week's total of 33,168. For the comparable week a year ago, the unemployed filed for an additional 43,491 weeks of benefits.
Bringing the heat: Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange has urged a Louisiana federal judge to set a trial date to hear claims of lost revenue by Alabama and Louisiana residents because of the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Strange says setting a trial date would put pressure on BP and other companies responsible for the spill, and has previously said that keeping pressure on BP would encourage the oil company to begin serious discussions toward a settlement. Strange says that Alabama is ready to go to trial. He made the comments on the second anniversary of the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that led to the spill. Strange is co-coordinating counsel for the Gulf Coast states in the legal case against BP, and says his goal is to hold BP and others accountable.
Tragedy over the Gulf: The Coast Guard says it suspended the search today for a Cessna plane that flew around in circles for hours on Thursday, while authorities tried to contact the unresponsive pilot, before crashing into the Gulf of Mexico. It also identified the pilot as Dr. Peter Hertzak, 65, a physician from suburban New Orleans. The plane was headed from Slidell to Sarasota, Fla., authorities say. Controllers lost contact with Hertzak and asked the military for help. Two F-15 fighter jets flew alongside and monitored the plane for about three hours, unable to contact Hertzak, before it crashed into the Gulf about 120 miles west of Tampa, Fla. Eric Alleyne, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, says the agency would investigate the crash. The Associated Press has the full story here.
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