No charges for city in fatal Ground Zero fire
NEW YORK — Prosecutors castigated city officials Monday but declined to charge them with any crimes in the deaths of two firefighters at a Ground Zero skyscraper, despite repeated failures to detect hazards that turned the tower into a death trap. The announcement follows a costly 16-month investigation that produced more than 3 million documents and forced top city officials, including the fire commissioner, to testify before a grand jury. Three construction officials and a subcontractor that were dismantling the former Deutsche Bank tower when it burned in August 2007 were indicted on manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges. But prosecutors said it would have been impossible to charge the city.
Parents sue after earthquake
DEYANG, China — A group of parents whose children were among the 127 killed in the collapse of an elementary school during the May earthquake that devastated western China have confirmed that they filed a lawsuit against government officials and a construction contractor. The lawsuit is the first filed by grieving and angry parents who say shoddy construction cost the children their lives. The lawsuit was filed on Dec. 1 in a court in the city of Deyang, in Sichuan province, the region hit hardest by the May 12 earthquake that left 88,000 people dead or missing.
Britain, U.S. pressure Mugabe
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Britain and the United States increased pressure on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to step down, accusing him of presiding over the country's economic collapse blamed for a cholera outbreak that has killed more than 1,000. Britain's Africa Minister Mark Malloch Brown said Monday that Mugabe must retire for a power-sharing government to succeed in the former British colony facing a mounting economic and humanitarian crisis. The remarks came a day after the top U.S. diplomat for Africa, Jendayi Frazer, said Washington can no longer support a Zimbabwean deal that leaves Mugabe in office as president. But Mugabe, once considered a hero among African freedom fighters, has shrugged off such criticism, drawing many Africans to his side with claims he is fighting a Western imperialist plot.
Herald-Leader wire services