Marine Mammals May Not

Sue President, Court Rules

LOS ANGELES -- The world's whales, porpoises and dolphins have no standing to sue President Bush over the U.S. Navy's use of sonar equipment that harms marine mammals, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco, widely considered one of the most liberal and activist in the country, said it saw no reason animals should not be allowed to sue but said they had not yet been granted that right.

"If Congress and the President intended to take the extraordinary step of authorizing animals as well as people and legal entities to sue they could and should have said so plainly," Judge William A. Fletcher wrote in an 18-page opinion for the panel.

The lawsuit was brought against Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on behalf of "the cetacean community" -- defined as the world's whales, porpoises and dolphins -- by their self-appointed lawyer, marine mammal activist Lanny Sinkin.

* DALLAS -- Poor supervision and disregard for Police Department rules contributed to a fake-drug scandal that landed two dozen innocent people in jail, an investigation found. The report said confidential informants used those lapses to frame people -- mostly poor Mexican immigrants -- with billiards chalk bundled like real drugs. A narcotics detective and a former officer were charged in April with evidence tampering in the 2001 drug scandal.

* SAN FRANCISCO -- Heavy snow and strong winds hampered efforts to rescue at least 10 hikers who were stranded by an unusually early winter storm in the Sierra Nevada. Winds were gusting to 50 mph at elevations where most of the hikers were believed to be stranded, between 8,000 and 10,000 feet. Rescuers believe the hikers, who are in three separate parties, can survive if they pitch their tents, stay in their sleeping bags and have enough food to last through Thursday night, when the storm clouds are expected to clear.

* SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. -- A helicopter used as an air ambulance crashed into a bay early Wednesday, killing all three crew members aboard, officials said. Two bodies were recovered, and divers were looking for the third victim. The Eurocopter BO-105 left Santa Rosa Beach bound for DeFuniak Springs, about 25 miles away, to transfer a critically ill heart patient to a Pensacola hospital. No patients were aboard when the chopper crashed.

* ST. LOUIS -- The National Park Service is upset over a plan to illuminate the Gateway Arch in pink on Monday in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Spokesman Dave Barna said the Park Service is opposed not to the cause but rather to the precedent it sets for possible future uses of the 630-foot-tall arch, which the agency is charged with maintaining. "If you allow a certain type of event with one organization, you open it up to everyone else," he said.

-- From News Services