Briefs


Veteran diplomat: Benghazi review
was thorough

WASHINGTON — The seasoned diplomat who penned a highly critical report on security at a U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya, defended his scathing assessment but absolved then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. “We knew where the responsibility rested,” Thomas Pickering said Sunday.

“They’ve tried to point a finger at people more senior than where we found the decisions were made,” Pickering, whose career spans four decades, said of Clinton’s critics.

The Accountability Review Board, which Pickering headed with retired Adm. Mike Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, did not question Clinton at length about the attacks but concluded last December that the decisions about the consulate were made well below the secretary’s level.

Pickering and Mullen’s blistering report found that “systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels” of the State Department meant that security was “inadequate for Benghazi and grossly inadequate to deal with the attack that took place.”

Pickering’s defense of his panel’s conclusions, however, failed to placate Republicans who have called for creation of a special select congressional committee to investigate the Sept. 11, 2012, assault on the U.S. diplomatic mission that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

 

Mom: Accused boy, 12, ‘could never’ hurt sister

VALLEY SPRINGS, Calif. — A day before a 12-year-old boy was arrested for the stabbing death of his 8-year-old sister, his mother described him as “protective” of his younger sibling.

Leila Fowler’s killing last month shook the quiet community of Valley Springs, southeast of Sacramento, and set off an intense manhunt. Her brother was in the home at the time and told police he saw a man run from the scene.

Days later, the boy appeared with his father and stepmother at a vigil for his sister. On Friday, as speculation in the community built that perhaps the boy was involved, his biological mother told Sacramento television station KOVR her son “could never hurt his sister.”

“I’ve never seen him be mean to her,” said Priscilla Rodriquez.

Less than a day later, police delivered the stunning news: The 12-year-old boy had been arrested and will be charged with homicide.

 

Retailers face tough decisions after Bangladesh factory collapse

NEW YORK — Bangladesh offers the global garment industry something unique: Millions of workers who quickly churn out huge amounts of well-made underwear, jeans and T-shirts for the lowest wages in the world.

But since a building collapse April 24 killed at least 1,100 garment workers in Bangladesh in one of the deadliest industrial tragedies in history, the country has gone from one of the industry’s greatest assets to one of its biggest liabilities.

“The risk factors have jumped off the charts,” said Julie Hughes, president of the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel, a trade group that represents retailers who import garments. “This is worse than what anyone had imagined.”

Working conditions in Bangladesh’s garment industry long have been known to be grim, a result of government corruption, desperation for jobs, and industry indifference. But the scale of this tragedy has raised alarm among executives and customers.

The Facebook pages of Joe Fresh, Mango and Benetton, a few of the brands whose clothing or production documents were found in the rubble of the collapsed building, are peppered with angry comments from shoppers. Some warn they’re going to shop elsewhere now.

By wire sources