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Nation in brief

Reiner steps down from California commission

By wire services
Published March 30, 2006


LOS ANGELES - Amid allegations of misuse of taxpayers' money, Hollywood director Rob Reiner resigned Wednesday from a California preschool commission he helped create.

His organization, the California First 5 Commission, has been under scrutiny for its spending practices.

Two weeks ago, Reiner dismissed suggestions that he step down as chairman of the commission, which has collected nearly $4-billion in tobacco taxes to fund early childhood programs. "Everything I've done is completely legal," he said. Reiner says he is the focus of "personal political attacks."

But Reiner called Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger over the weekend and resigned. In a letter to the governor, Reiner said: "We agreed that we cannot let personal political attacks get in the way of doing the very best we can for California's children."

Reiner and the commission have faced conflict of interest allegations after spending $23-million in state money on an ad campaign that coincided with Reiner's promotion of a preschool ballot initiative.

Duke president urges calm during rape investigation

DURHAM, N.C. - The president of Duke University met Wednesday with students who say his suspension of the lacrosse team during a rape investigation was not enough, urging them to be patient while police investigate.

The meeting between president Richard Brodhead and a few dozen students was closed to all media except Duke's student newspaper.

Brodhead suspended the highly ranked team from play until the school learns more about accusations that team members attacked an exotic dancer hired to perform at an off-campus party.

The dancer, a student at nearby North Carolina Central University, has told police she was pulled into a bathroom, beaten, choked and raped by three men at a March 13 party, where she and another dancer were hired to perform.

Gunman opens fire in S.C. city, is killed by police

BENNETTSVILLE, S.C. - Witnesses say a man with an automatic weapon fired a number of gunshots at the Marlboro County courthouse and other buildings in downtown Bennettsville on Wednesday afternoon before he was killed by police.

Bobby Brown Jr. of Bennettsville was shot several times and died about an hour after the shootout, Coroner Tim Brown said.

One other person was shot, Bennettsville police Chief Larry McNeil said. Narcotics investigator John Valviso was wounded in the left hand and taken to the hospital in Florence. He was in good condition, McNeil said.

County Auditor Gene Moore watched the shooting unfold from his courthouse office. "It was almost like he wanted someone to shoot him," Moore said. "If he wanted to massacre a lot of people, he could have."

3 indicted in videotaped Louisiana police beating

NEW ORLEANS - Two fired New Orleans police officers and one current officer were indicted Wednesday in the videotaped beating of a retired teacher in the French Quarter last fall.

The Oct. 8 beating of Robert Davis, 64, was caught on video by an Associated Press Television News crew covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Officers Robert Evangelist, 36, and Lance Schilling, 29, were charged with battery against Davis. Officer Stewart Smith, 50, was charged with battery for grabbing a reporter, jabbing him in the stomach and delivering a profanity-laced tirade.

[Last modified March 30, 2006, 02:15:33]


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