- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 13, 2008

SUPREME COURT

Navy wins case on whales, sonar

The Supreme Court on Wednesday lifted restrictions on the Navy’s use of sonar in training exercises off the California coast, a defeat for environmental groups who say the sonar can harm whales.

The court, in its first decision of the term, voted to allow the Navy to conduct realistic training exercises to respond to potential threats by enemy submarines.

Environmental groups had persuaded lower federal courts in California to impose restrictions on sonar use in submarine-hunting exercises to protect whales and other marine mammals. Environmentalists link sonar to beached whales, internal bleeding around marine mammals’ brains and ears, and other damage.

The Bush administration argued that there is little evidence of harm to marine life.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the majority opinion, which was joined by Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Anthony M. Kennedy, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

APPEAL

Court clears way for Jefferson trial

RICHMOND | A federal appeals court upheld bribery and other charges against Rep. William J. Jefferson on Wednesday, clearing the way for a trial.

Mr. Jefferson, Louisiana Democrat, who cruised to victory in a primary last week and is expected to easily win re-election, had sought to dismiss a 16-count indictment charging him with taking bribes, laundering money and misusing his congressional office for business dealings in Africa.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Mr. Jefferson’s claims that a federal grand jury received evidence that violated his constitutional right to legislative immunity.

Mr. Jefferson’s attorneys argued that three staffers should not have been allowed to tell the grand jury about Mr. Jefferson’s relationships with African leaders and his knowledge about West African nations because those activities were part of his legislative duties.

Mr. Jefferson could further delay a trial by appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

SUMMIT

Bush to warn against trade war

President Bush will tell world leaders not to “turn inward or stifle markets” as they seek to fix an internationally slumping economy, a top aide said Wednesday as the White House set an anti-protectionism tone ahead of an unprecedented financial summit beginning Friday.

In the final weeks of his presidency, Mr. Bush is convening representatives of some of the world’s biggest industrial democracies, emerging nations and international bodies in Washington. The goal is to hasten a coordinated response to the most painful and deepening economic downturn in decades.

Trying to frame expectations, Bush aides said the leaders likely will produce some concrete results, without predicting any of them specifically. The White House also warned anyone hoping for a quick fix that none is on the way. The summit is just the first in a series; the others will take place after Mr. Bush leaves office.

POLITICS

Palin open to run for Senate seat

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said Wednesday she would consider serving in the Senate if God gave her the opportunity and Alaskans wanted her to take the job. The state’s senior senator, Republican Ted Stevens, fell narrowly behind as the count resumed in his re-election bid.

Stevens, who has been in the Senate for 40 years, led by more than 3,000 votes when the Election Day count ended last week. He dropped three votes behind his Democratic challenger, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, late Wednesday as state election officials counted 44,000 of an estimated 90,000 absentee and provisional ballots.

Even if he is re-elected, Stevens could be ousted by the Senate for his conviction on seven felony counts of failing to report more than $250,000 in gifts, mostly renovations on his home. If Stevens loses his seat, Mrs. Palin could run for it in a special election. She also could challenge incumbent Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski in 2010.

Mrs. Palin, who was the Republican vice-presidential nominee, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday that she wants to serve her constituents the best she can. “At this point it is as governor,” she said.

“Now if something shifted dramatically and if it were, if it were acknowledged up there that I could be put to better use for my state in the U.S. Senate, I would certainly consider that but that would take a special election and everything else,” she said.

POLITICS

Internet gambling rule causes ruckus

The Bush administration is moving in its last weeks to finalize regulations to enforce a law that seeks to block Internet gambling. The move is drawing hot protests from Democratic lawmakers and supporters of online betting.

“This midnight rulemaking will tie the hands of the new administration, burden the financial services industry at a time of economic crisis and contradict the stated intent of the Financial Services Committee,” the committee’s chairman, Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, wrote this week to Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr.

Mr. Frank asked Mr. Paulson to postpone the regulation, which was reviewed by the White House budget office last week, usually a final step before publication in the Federal Register.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said in response Tuesday that “no regulations are being rushed. They are all going through the process and getting the full due diligence required.”

OBITUARY

Lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania dies

HARRISBURG | Catherine Baker Knoll, the first woman to be elected as Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor, died Wednesday. She was 78.

Mrs. Knoll died at National Rehabilitation Hospital in the District where she was recovering from treatment for cancer, Gov. Edward G. Rendell said.

Mrs. Knoll was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer in July and began radiation and chemotherapy treatments. She returned for the start of the fall Senate schedule in September, but showed signs of fatigue and later that month said she would take more time off.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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