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American Scene

- - Tuesday, May 31, 2011

CALIFORNIA

Budget cuts keep new school closed

RIVERSIDE — A Southern California school district has spent $105 million on a new state-of-the-art high school but now doesn't have the money to operate it.

The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that the Alvord Unified School District is building Hillcrest High School to relieve overcrowding. But after three years of state funding cuts totaling some $25 million, it doesn't have the funding for staff and overhead to open it in September.

The school board in the Riverside County district has postponed opening the school for a year. But even then there's no guarantee that the district will be financially able to take on the extra expense.

In the meantime, the district will spend about $1 million in security and maintenance for the empty campus.

GEORGIA

Bishop: King leaves church following settlement

ATLANTA — The youngest daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King is leaving the Atlanta megachurch where the pastor has been embroiled in scandal, months after she turned down a leadership role with the organization her father co-founded.

In January, Bernice King announced she would not lead the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which her father headed during the height of the civil rights movement. Four months later, she is announcing her departure from her mentor and spiritual father, Bishop Eddie Long, and the church home where she has served for nearly a decade, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.

Ms. King's decision comes days after Mr. Long reached a settlement in the sexual misconduct lawsuits he has fought since September.

In a statement emailed to the Associated Press by his spokesman Tuesday, Mr. Long said that he and Ms. King have been "in discussion and prayer" for some time about her decision to leave the church to continue the legacy of her parents.

MISSOURI

10 still missing in Joplin twister aftermath

JOPLIN — Less than a dozen people remain unaccounted for after the tornado that hit Joplin last week.

Missouri Department of Public Safety Deputy Director Andrea Spillars said Tuesday that 10 people remain missing. Miss Spillars said two new names were added to the missing list Monday, but four people were removed once officials learned they were alive.

It's not known how many people in all died in the May 22 storm.

But Miss Spillars said the next of kin have been notified for 120 people confirmed dead from the storm. She said the identities of 19 were confirmed Monday.

Officials have said 146 sets of remains were taken to a temporary morgue but cautioned that more than one of those could be from the same person.

NEW YORK

Egyptian exec faces sex charges at hotel

NEW YORK — A businessman and former chairman of a major Egyptian bank faces charges of sexually abusing a maid at a luxury Manhattan hotel, just weeks after the arrest of a former International Monetary Fund chief on similar allegations.

Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar was arrested on Monday and is accused of sexually abusing the maid at the Pierre, a luxurious hotel near Central Park and Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side, police said.

The maid was called to Mr. Omar's room Sunday night to drop off tissues, police said. But once the maid was inside the 74-year-old's room, police said, Mr. Omar would not let her leave and touched her inappropriately. The encounter was not reported until Monday, police said.

Paul Browne, a spokesman for the New York City Police Department, said detectives found the complainant to be credible.

Mr. Omar was held Monday night at a police precinct and transferred Tuesday morning to a booking facility near a Manhattan courthouse.

WEST VIRGINIA

Bid to halt sale of Massey Energy rejected

CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Supreme Court rejected a request Tuesday to temporarily bar Massey Energy Co. shareholders from voting on a proposed $7.1 billion sale to rival coal producer Alpha Natural Resources.

The ruling comes one day before the deal is set to close, pending votes by shareholders of both Virginia-based companies. The deal would make Alpha the third-largest producer of high-priced metallurgical coal in the world and the dominant U.S. producer of the specialty product used by steel makers.

The California State Teachers' Retirement System and two other institutional investors claim the April 5, 2010, explosion that killed 29 miners at Massey's Upper Big Branch mine and other actions damaged the company's value. They claim the deal harms shareholders while benefiting executives responsible for the explosion and fear the combination will harm their ability to pursue claims against current and former Massey directors and officers named as defendants along with the company.

From wire dispatches and staff reports