HOUSTON: Tropical storm drenches coast
Tropical Storm Allison, the first named system in the Atlantic hurricane season, took slow aim at the southeast Texas coast Tuesday. The National Weather Service issued a tropical storm warning for a 280-mile-long stretch of coastline from Sargent, Tex., to Morgan City in southwestern Louisiana.
The storm, with sustained winds of up to 60 mph, was stalled Tuesday evening about 60 miles south-southwest of Galveston. The National Hurricane Center in Miami did not expect the storm to strengthen much before reaching land. Forecasters warned coastal residents to expect gusty winds and heavy rains. Flash flood warnings were posted for Galveston and Harris counties, including the city of Houston.
SAN FRANCISCO: Court allows Ruby Ridge case
A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that an FBI sharpshooter can be tried by Idaho prosecutors for manslaughter in the slaying of white separatist Randy Weaver's wife during the 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff.
The Ruby Ridge case is seen as a test of whether federal agents are immune from state prosecution. The federal government declined to prosecute agent Lon Horiuchi, but Tuesday's ruling clears the way for Idaho prosecutors to pursue charges against him in the death of Vicki Weaver, 42. "When federal officers violate the Constitution, either through malice or excessive zeal, they can be held accountable for violating the state's criminal laws," Judge Alex Kozinski wrote in the 6-5 decision.
WASHINGTON, D.C.: Airline merger plan shaky
Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta said Tuesday that he expected the federal government to reject the proposed United Airlines-US Airways merger. Asked if he thought the merger was dead, he replied: "If I were to read the tea leaves as they are right now, yes."
The Transportation Department does not approve airline mergers; that role falls to the Justice Department, which has yet to make a decision. Justice officials initially set an April 2 target for completing its antitrust review of the $4.3 billion deal, but have missed the deadline as they review the additional information they asked for.
Philippines: U.S. sailor missing after clash
A Navy lieutenant was missing Tuesday after he and four other American military personnel encountered gunfire from suspected communist guerrillas on the slopes of Mount Pinatubo, U.S. and Philippines officials said. The Americans were accompanied by four armed Filipino soldiers and a guide while visiting the popular tourist attraction in the northern Philippines, said Elmer Cato, a spokesman for U.S.-Filipino military exercises.
Suspected New People's Army guerrillas opened fire when they saw the group, said Cato, adding that the attackers probably mistook the American servicemen for tourists. They were dressed in street clothes.
No one was injured, but "one of the U.S personnel made a run for it," Cato told The Associated Press. "He is now the subject of a search."