Stomach flu hits

hundreds on QE2

SAN FRANCISCO - A highly contagious form of stomach flu sickened hundreds of passengers during a worldwide voyage on the famed Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise ship in what health officials called an unusually large outbreak.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 276 passengers - nearly 17 percent of those aboard - and 28 crew members had come down with norovirus by the time the ship docked yesterday in San Francisco for a scheduled stop, though only four passengers remained sick. The CDC boarded the QE2 last Friday in Acapulco, Mexico, to investigate.

Investigators found that emergency sanitation measures put in place by the crew, from disinfecting casino chips to halting self-service at the buffet, were containing the outbreak. - AP

3 justices defend

'Bush v. Gore' role

WASHINGTON - Three of the five Supreme Court justices who handed the presidency to George W. Bush in 2000 say they had no choice but to intervene in the Florida recount.

Comments from Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor are in a new book, Supreme Conflict by Jan Crawford Greenburg. Justice Antonin Scalia spoke Tuesday at Iona College in New York.

Scalia also said that critics of the 5-4 ruling in Bush v. Gore need to move on six years after the drama of December 2000, when it seemed the whole nation hung by a chad awaiting the election outcome. "It's water over the deck - get over it," Scalia said.

Legal scholars and the four dissenting justices have said the court should have declined to jump into the case. - AP

Judge rules lawyer

for Padilla erred

MIAMI - A lawyer for suspected al-Qaeda operative Jose Padilla violated a court order by leaking his wiretapped phone conversations, a judge found yesterday, while not imposing a penalty.

Instead, U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke ordered defense lawyers in the case to sign papers indicating they understood and would follow rules barring disclosure of certain evidence. Cooke also said she might hold in contempt anyone who receives such prohibited material.

The leaked transcripts documented seven conversations on which Padilla's voice is heard that were intercepted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The defense has said that Padilla, due for trial in April, is never overheard discussing any violent acts.

Michael Caruso, one of three public defenders for Padilla, acknowledged that one of them provided the material to the New York Times.- AP

Elsewhere:

A 29-year-old convicted sex offender attended at least two Arizona middle schools, sat through seventh-grade courses and turned in homework as he moved around the state pretending to be 12, say authorities who accused him of assaulting a girl.

War protester Cindy Sheehan has dropped her lawsuit challenging county camping and parking bans near President Bush's Crawford, Texas, ranch.