In other news from the halls of justice, a different federal appeals court ruled yesterday that the U.S. government must foot the bill for cleaning up hazardous waste stemming from a World War II effort to produce synthetic rubber. During the war, most of the natural-rubber exporters were under Japanese control, so demand was high for synthetics to manufacture tires, life rafts, gas masks, medical supplies, and other military necessities. In the 1940s, Dow Chemical agreed to operate a synthetic rubber plant in California “at the expense and risk” of the federal government. Waste from the plant polluted the ground and water, but the government, although aware of the problem, did not try to stop it. After the factory changed hands and a flurry of lawsuits ensued regarding the contamination, the government tried to pass the buck (or part of it) to Dow. That didn’t fly with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which said the feds “owned the sites, the pits, the plant, and all materials including the wastes, knew just what Dow was doing, had unfettered control over it, [and] approved of it.”