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This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

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

ARMY GENERAL-SEX CHARGES

FORT BRAGG — As his court-martial got underway, an Army general accused of sexual assault pleaded guilty to three lesser charges Thursday, hoping his admission will strengthen his case by limiting some of the salacious evidence against him. Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair is accused of forcing a female captain to twice perform oral sex and threatening to kill her family if she told anyone about their three-year affair. By Michael Biesecker and Allen G. Breed. SENT: 790 words, AP Photos NCFAY102, NCFAY103, NCFAY101. UPCOMING: 900 words from 11 a.m. hearing.

TERRORISM SUPPORT

RALEIGH — Through his attorney and on his own, Basit Sheikh told a federal judge the following things Thursday: He wants to represent himself on charges he tried to join an al-Qaida-linked militant group. He wants his family to hire another attorney. And he will leave the country voluntarily if the government drops the charges. Also, he said he's being abused in prison, "physically and morally." By Martha Waggoner. SENT: 630 words.

COAL ASH SPILL-NORTH CAROLINA

CHARLOTTE — A North Carolina judge says Duke Energy must take immediate action to eliminate the source of groundwater pollution at its coal ash dumps. Wake County Judge Paul Ridgeway says state regulators failed to properly apply the law. By Mitch Weiss. SENT: 120 words. UPCOMING: 600 words by 4 p.m.

SCHOOLS-TEST SCORES

RALEIGH — A split North Carolina State Board of Education has agreed to change how students will be labeled based on standardized test scores in a move which means more students will be considered proficient in skills and courses. Thursday's decision expands the number of achievement levels from four to five starting with this year's tests. The change affects students for all end-of-grade and end-of-course tests but is expected to reduce how many third-graders could be held back on reading or attend summer reading camps. Districts have been worried they would be unable to handle all the students deemed not proficient on reading based on a new law. By Gary D. Robertson. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 550 words by 3 p.m.

US SENATE-REPUBLICANS

RALEIGH — Republican U.S. Senate candidate Greg Brannon is bragging about his endorsement from a senator with tea party credentials, while rival Thom Tillis says he'll spend $1 million on a television ad buy in North Carolina. Brannon announced Thursday the backing of Utah Sen. Mike Lee, who's quoted in a statement as saying the Cary obstetrician is willing to "challenge the status quo and entrenched special interests." Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul already endorsed Brannon. By Gary D. Robertson. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 400 words by 4 p.m.

MILK TRUCK FIRE

HAW RIVER — No one was hurt when a milk truck caught fire on Interstates 40 and 85 in Alamance County. The Haw River Fire Department was called shortly before 6:30 a.m. Wednesday after the truck driver pulled over when he discovered his trig was on fire. SENT: 170 words.

BOTTOM LINE-SIGNS OF NASCAR

HIGH POINT — Images of NASCAR drivers decorate the walls of McKenzie Industries. Dale Earnhardt. Tyler Walker. An autographed cover of Danica Patrick on Sports Illustrated. Owner John McKenzie loves to name drop as he points to the images. By Kelly Poe, News & Record of Greensboro. SENT: 590 words.

ALSO:

— RED VENTURES JOBS, from CHARLOTTE — A company that handles customer calls for corporations and creates websites for companies and sells and markets their products is consolidating its operations in Charlotte. SENT: 120 words.

— COAL ASH SPILL-VA, from DANVILLE, Va. — A Virginia hazardous materials unit has found coal ash in the Dan River in Virginia from the massive spill last month. SENT: 120 words.

— SENATE-MINORITY LEADER, from SWANNANOA — An ailing Sen. Martin Nesbitt is back in Buncombe County after arriving there in an ambulance. SENT: 120 words.

— DEPUTY WOUNDED-CHARGES, from LEXINGTON — Prosecutors have dropped some charges against a woman accused in the wounding of a Davidson County sheriff's deputies last year. SENT: 130 words.

— BICYCLIST'S DEATH, from JACKSON, Miss. — A Mississippi man convicted in the death of a Dutch cyclist has died in a federal prison hospital in North Carolina. SENT: 120 words.

— CONGRESSMAN-CREDIT CARD, from CHARLOTTE — U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger says criminals put $4,000 in fraudulent charges on his credit card. SENT: 90 words.

— EDGECOMBE FIRE DEATHS, from FOUNTAIN — A woman and her blind father have died in a fire at a home in Edgecombe County. SENT: 90 words.

— WINTER WEATHER-NC, from RALEIGH — Still more winter weather is headed to North Carolina this week. SENT: 80 words.

— BOOK CAMPAIGN, from RALEIGH — The superintendent of North Carolina schools is helping to launch a campaign to get books to elementary school students. SENT: 120 words.

SPORTS:

BKW--ACC-T25-WAKE FOREST-NORTH CAROLINA

GREENSBORO — No. 13 North Carolina, the sixth seed, faces 11th-seeded Wake Forest in the second round of the Atlantic Coast Conference women's basketball tournament. UPCOMING: 150-word APNewsNow from 8 p.m. start.

The AP-Raleigh

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