Lebanese opposition calls for peaceful uprising

Saturday, February 19, 2005

BEIRUT, Lebanon -- The Lebanese opposition stepped up its campaign against the pro-Syrian government Friday, calling for a peaceful uprising to force the resignation of Prime Minister Omar Karami and the withdrawal of Syrian troops. Interior Minister Suleiman Franjieh, however, warned the government would not tolerate public disturbances. "The state will not stand idly by," he said. In the first high-level political fallout after Monday's assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Tourism Minister Farid Khazen resigned, saying the government was incapable of running the country.

Bishops: Over 1,000 new claims of abuse

WASHINGTON -- Roman Catholic leaders said Friday they received 1,092 new abuse claims against American priests and deacons last year, even after they had already paid more than $800 million in settlements during the long-running crisis over predatory clergy. Bishops said, however, that the flood of fresh allegations was not a sign abuse was rampant in parishes today. Most of the alleged incidents occurred decades ago and nearly three-quarters of the 756 accused clerics had died, been defrocked or been removed from public ministry before the claims were made in 2004, church leaders said.

Jury finds Boston Herald libeled judge in rape case

BOSTON -- A jury Friday ordered the Boston Herald to pay $2.1 million for libeling a Superior Court judge, saying it misquoted him as telling lawyers that a 14-year-old rape victim should "get over it." In a case closely watched by the media and legal communities, a jury deliberated for more than 20 hours over five days before finding that the newspaper and reporter David Wedge libeled Superior Court Judge Ernest B. Murphy in articles that portrayed him as lenient toward defendants. Another reporter, Jules Crittenden, was cleared.

Lawyers reduce charges against Lynndie England

SAN ANTONIO -- Prosecutors have filed a new and reduced set of charges against Army Pfc. Lynndie England in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, cutting by more than half the sentence she could face if convicted of mistreating Iraqi detainees. The 22-year-old Army reservist who was photographed grinning in pictures of Iraqis in sexually humiliating positions was initially charged with 19 counts of abuse and indecent acts. Those charges could have put her behind bars for 38 years. Prosecutors would not explain why so many counts were dropped.

Feds to review Wal-Mart child labor settlement

WASHINGTON -- Federal investigators will review a $135,540 settlement the government reached with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. over accusations that the company violated child labor laws. The investigation was sought by Rep. George Miller. The California Democrat had criticized the deal made public Feb. 12 because it allowed Wal-Mart 15 days notice in most cases before the Labor Department investigated employee complaints of wage and hour violations. The alleged violations, at 25 stores in Arkansas, Connecticut and New Hampshire between 1998 and 2002, had to do with teenage workers who used hazardous equipment such as chain saws, paper balers or forklifts.

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