BC-NC--North Carolina News Digest, NC

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Associated Press

Posted on April 24, 2014 at 7:30 AM

The Carolinas News Editor is Tim Rogers. The breaking news supervisor is Skip Foreman. For technical support, please call the AP's Services and Technology Department in Raleigh at 919-881-9974.

STATE FAIR-INJURIES

RALEIGH — North Carolina regulators have fined thrill ride operators more than $114,000 following a mishap at the 2013 State Fair that left five people injured, three of them critically. The state Department of Labor announced the civil fines Wednesday following a lengthy investigation into the Oct. 24 accident with the Vortex ride. By Michael Biesecker. SENT: 290 words.

SENATE-NORTH CAROLINA

DAVIDSON — The front runner in the race for North Carolina's Republican U.S. Senate nomination is trying to keep his message on his own record and working to defeat Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan in November, rather than attacking his leading GOP rivals. Thom Tillis, the state House speaker, largely shrugged off criticism about aspects of his legislative record from one of the three other candidates participating in their first television debate held two weeks before the May 6 primary. Tillis focused instead Tuesday night on what Republicans in Raleigh had accomplished since becoming the majority party under his leadership, and how he wanted to do the same in a U.S. Senate majority. By Gary D. Robertson. SENT: 550 words. UPCOMING: 600 words from 7 p.m. debate.

KIDNAP VICTIM RESCUED

CHARLOTTE — As the kidnappers pulled into a quiet, upscale golf course community, they thought they were about to abduct an assistant district attorney who sent a high-ranking gang member to prison for life, authorities said. But they had the wrong address and when the prosecutor's father answered the door, they took him instead. By Kate Brumback and Mitch Weiss. SENT: 820 words, AP Photo NY116.

MEDAL OF HONOR-WHITE

CHARLOTTE — For U.S. Army Sergeant Kyle White, the firefight began without warning. White's platoon left a meeting with village elders in Afghanistan after an interpreter heard suspicious chatter on an Army radio. By Mitch Weiss. SENT: 720 words, AP Photos NCCB104, NCCB103, NCCB102, NCCB101.

XGR--DRONE USE

RALEIGH — Proposed rules for flying unmanned aircraft in North Carolina seek to balance privacy concerns with the benefits for police and private industry, a legislative committee leader said Wednesday. A House panel examining the use of drones made recommendations for the General Assembly when it returns next month. By Gary D. Robertson. SENT: 440 words.

TEACHER TENURE

GREENSBORO — A Guilford County judge is backing two school districts fighting a North Carolina law that phases out job protections for public school teachers in favor of employment contracts. Superior Court Judge Richard Doughton said in court on Wednesday he would issue an order blocking the teacher tenure law. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 200 words by 7 p.m.

SOLDIER-MURDER CHARGES

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. — The two unarmed Iraqi brothers posed no threat as they herded cattle in a palm grove where a U.S. Army reconnaissance team was hidden one day seven years ago. But then-Staff Sgt. Michael Barbera took a knee, leveled his rifle and killed them anyway — from nearly 200 yards away, a former fellow soldier said Wednesday as a preliminary hearing opened in the case. "Oh my God — why?" former Spc. John Lotempio testified when a prosecutor asked him to describe his reaction to the killings. "They didn't see us." By Gene Johnson. SENT: 880 words. Please note N.C. angle.

BLACKWATER-PROSECUTION

WASHINGTON — A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed criminal charges against a former Blackwater security guard whose actions allegedly triggered the shootings of dozens of Iraqi citizens at a traffic circle in Baghdad nearly seven years ago. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth dismissed the indictment against Nicholas Slatten after a federal appeals court said the statute of limitations had lapsed before the government filed the charges against Slatten last October. The statute of limitations restricts the time in which legal proceedings may be brought. By Pete Yost. SENT: 270 words.

JUSTICE-TOBACCO

WASHINGTON — The nation's tobacco companies and the Justice Department are including media outlets that target more of the black community in court-ordered advertisements that say the cigarette makers lied about the dangers of smoking, according to a brief filed in U.S. District Court in Washington on Wednesday. The advertisements are part of a case the government brought in 1999 under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled in 2006 that the nation's largest cigarette makers concealed the dangers of smoking for decades and ordered them to pay for corrective statements in various advertisements in newspapers, as well as on TV, websites and cigarette pack inserts. By Tobacco Writer Michael Felberbaum. SENT: 520 words.

EARNS-REYNOLDS AMERICAN

RICHMOND, Va. — Reynolds American Inc.'s first-quarter profit fell more than 28 percent as the company sold fewer cigarettes and spent more on expanding its electronic cigarette brand and legal costs. The nation's second-biggest tobacco company on Wednesday reported earnings of $363 million, or 67 cents per share, for the quarter ended March. 31. That's down from $508 million, or 92 cents per share, a year earlier. By Tobacco Writer Michael Felberbaum. SENT: 400 words. AP Photo NYBZ182.

EU-CIGARETTE SUIT

NEW YORK — A federal appeals court on Wednesday reinstated the European Union's 12-year-old lawsuit claiming that tobacco company R.J. Reynolds sponsored cigarette smuggling in Europe and orchestrated a global money laundering scheme with organized crime groups. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said a lower court judge erred in tossing out the lawsuit brought by the European Union and 26 of its member states. By Larry Neumeister. SENT: 430 words.

LENOIR-EMBEZZLE

LENOIR — A former city of Lenoir employee has been charged with embezzling more than $100,000. Forty-eight-year-old Sherry Lynn Phillips Nichols of Lenoir has been charged with one felony count of larceny by an employee in excess of $100,000. SENT: 150 words.

WOLF PUPS

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Two wolf pups born earlier this month in South Carolina have been named for comedian Stephen Colbert and U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. Managers at the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge in Charleston County said the pups are expected to go on public display in several weeks, The State newspaper (http://bit.ly/1hnRXCu) reported. SENT: 290 words.

ALSO:

— BUS STOP DEATH, from WINSTON-SALEM — A judge has declared a mistrial in the case of a Kernersville man accused of passing a stopped school bus and killing the sixth-grader crossing the road trying to catch it. SENT: 130 words.

— GANG-DEATH SENTENCE, from RICHMOND, Va. — A federal appeals court has upheld a gang member's death sentence for killing two brothers at a North Carolina restaurant. SENT: 130 words.

— RETIREE-LOTTERY WINNER, from RALEIGH — A retired real estate appraiser from Bessemer City can thanks his grandsons for his latest win in a N.C. Education Lottery game. SENT: 80 words.

— CAMPBELL PRESIDENT, from BUIES CREEK — Campbell University says President Jerry Wallace will retire in 2015, ending an 11-year tenure highlighted by the opening of a medical school and the resurrection of the football program. SENT: 120 words.

— PORTS CHAIRMAN, from WILMINGTON — Gov. Pat McCrory has named Wilmington attorney Michael Lee as the new chairman of the North Carolina State Ports Authority. SENT: 80 words.

— FLIGHT DENIED-OXYGEN, from ASHEVILLE — A Florida woman says an airline worker at a North Carolina airport refused to allow her to fly home with an oxygen tank because she didn't have the proper paperwork. SENT: 130 words.

— RDU TERMINAL, from MORRISVILLE — U.S. Rep. David Price is scheduled to attend a formal ceremony mark the reopening of the refurbished Terminal 1 at Raleigh-Durham International Airport. SENT: 80 words.

SPORTS:

BKN--BOBCATS-HEAT

MIAMI — LeBron James and the Miami Heat look to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series against the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night. Bobcats star Al Jefferson is dealing with a left foot injury. By Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds. UPCOMING: 700 words, AP photos. Game starts at 7 p.m.

The AP-Raleigh

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