Calif sues over endangered rules

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California is suing the Bush administration to block last-minute endangered-species regulations aimed at reducing input from federal scientists, state Attorney General Jerry Brown said yesterday.

The Interior Department issued the revised rules this month. They allow federal agencies to issue permits for mining, logging and similar activities without getting a review from federal wildlife biologists if their own research shows that the project will not affect plants and animals.

Interior spokeswoman Tina Kreisher said the revised rules would continue to protect threatened and endangered species.

- AP

Ark. adoption law is challenged

LITTLE ROCK - More than a dozen families sued yesterday to challenge an Arkansas law that bans unmarried couples living together from being foster or adoptive parents.

The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit on behalf of the families seeking to overturn Act 1, which voters approved Nov. 4. It "violates the state's legal duty to place the best interest of children above all else," said Marie-Bernarde Miller, an attorney in the lawsuit.

The Arkansas Family Council, a conservative group that campaigned for the ban, said it was aimed at gay couples but would affect heterosexuals and gays equally.

- AP

Jena Six figure shoots himself

NEW ORLEANS - One of the teens at the center of the Jena Six civil rights case shot himself because he worried that his Christmas Eve shoplifting arrest would ruin his dream of playing college football, a lawyer said yesterday.

Mychal Bell, 18, shot himself Monday at his grandmother's house in Monroe, La. Police said the chest wound was not life-threatening.

Bell was one of a group of black teens who once faced attempted-murder charges in the 2006 beating of a white classmate at Jena High School, in Louisiana's Lasalle Parish. The charges' original severity drew widespread criticism and eventually led more than 20,000 people to converge on tiny Jena for a major civil rights march.

Bell, who was sentenced to 18 months as a ward of the state after his guilty plea to juvenile charges, moved to Monroe, where he was in foster care. He was released from state supervision Dec. 4

. - AP

Elsewhere:

Former President Bill Clinton

and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will be at New York's Times Square tonight, helping Mayor Michael Bloomberg lower the New Year's Eve ball.

Washington lobbyist

Vicki L. Iseman filed a $27 million defamation suit yesterday against the New York Times over a February article that she said gave the false impression she had an affair with Sen. John McCain in 1999. When the story was published, McCain denounced it as false. The Times stood by the story yesterday.

The Brady Campaign

to Prevent Gun Violence is suing to stop a last-second Bush administration change that would let people carry concealed, loaded guns in most national parks and wildlife refuges.