Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Night 59° Clear
News >  Nation/World

Lebanon’s probe flawed, U.N. says

Compiled from wire reports The Spokesman-Review

United Nations A U.N. report into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri concluded that Lebanon’s probe of the killing was riddled with flaws and an international investigation is needed.

The report, released Thursday, says there was a “distinct lack of commitment” by Lebanese authorities to investigate the crime, and the probe was not carried out “in accordance with acceptable international standards.”

It detailed a host of problems, including the disappearance of crucial evidence and tampering with the scene of the massive bombing that killed Hariri. The report even faults police for not turning off a water main that flooded the blast crater and washed away vital evidence.

In Beirut, Lebanese President Emile Lahoud responded by saying he had told U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to do “what is necessary” to learn who was behind the Feb. 14 killing.

Hariri died in a blast in central Beirut that killed 17 other people. The Lebanese opposition has blamed Syria and its Lebanese allies, who have both denied any involvement.

Refinery explosion death count hits 15

Texas City, Texas The death toll in a thunderous explosion at a BP refinery climbed to 15 Thursday as investigators tried to determine the cause of the worst accident in the nation’s gas and chemical industry in nearly 15 years.

A worker who was thought to have checked out and left the refinery was instead found dead near the site of the fiery blast, BP spokesman Bill Stephens said.

More than 100 people were injured Wednesday in the explosion, which plant manager Don Parus said happened during maintenance work in an area of the refinery that boosts the octane level of gasoline.

About 1,100 employees and 2,200 contract workers were at the refinery when the blast shot flames into the sky, forced schoolchildren to cower under desks and showered the plant grounds with ash and blackened metal. It rattled windows more than five miles from the 1,200-acre plant near Houston.

Woman rewarded for suspect’s arrest

Atlanta The woman who said she gained the trust of suspected courthouse gunman Brian Nichols by talking about her faith while he held her hostage was presented with $70,000 in reward money Thursday for helping authorities capture him.

Ashley Smith, a 26-year-old widowed mother of one, was held for seven hours by Nichols at her suburban Atlanta home March 12 before he let her go. She then made the 911 call that led to his arrest.

“My life is testimony that God can use us even in the midst of tragedy and miracles do happen,” she said.

Boy vindicated after principal-smoking pics

Providence, R.I. A student who photographed his principal smoking outside a school building was allowed to return to class after initially being suspended for posting the photos on the Internet.

District officials Wednesday reversed the suspension of sophomore Eliazar Velasquez and said principal Elaine Almagno was wrong to violate a state law that prohibits smoking within 25 feet of a school. “The school had no authority to punish him for the information he had up (on the Web site) or to require him to take down the site,” said Superintendent Melody Johnson.

Johnson said school officials told her Velasquez was suspended because he disrupted the learning environment at the school by posting the photos on the Internet. She said she reinstated him after reviewing the incident.

Steven Brown of the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union had spoken to school officials on Velasquez’s behalf.

Johnson said Almagno has apologized for the incident over the school’s public address system.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.