Man who ignited deadly nightclub fire out of prison

CRANSTON, R.I. - The band manager whose pyrotechnics display sparked a nightclub fire that killed 100 people in 2003 was freed from prison Wednesday after serving less than half of his four-year sentence.

Daniel Biechele, 31, walked from the front door of Rhode Island's minimum security prison into his lawyer's car at midday and was driven away. He did not respond to questions as he got into the vehicle.

Black man who shot white teen gets 2 to 4 years

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. - A black father was sentenced to two to four years in prison Wednesday for fatally shooting an intoxicated white teenager during a racially charged confrontation with two carloads of young people at the end of his driveway.

White, 54, was convicted in December of second-degree manslaughter and a weapons charge.

Floods force many to flee in central US

PIEDMONT, Mo. - Residents of low-lying towns stacked sandbags or grabbed belongings and evacuated Wednesday after a foot of rain pushed rivers and creeks out of their banks in the nation's midsection. At least 13 deaths had been linked to the weather, and three people were missing.

Record or near-record flood crests were forecast at several towns in Missouri. Flooding was reported in large areas of Arkansas and parts of southern Illinois, southern Indiana and southwestern Ohio, and schools were closed in parts of western Kentucky because of flooding.

Hundreds flee Texas wildfire

SAN MANUEL, Texas - A wildfire blamed on a fallen power line in the Rio Grande Valley spread to about 25,000 acres Wednesday, forcing hundreds from their homes.

A 40-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 281 - the main route north out of the area - was reopened in both directions about 6:30 a.m., said Hidalgo County spokeswoman Cari Lambrecht.

Noelle Knox to lead AP real estate news

NEW YORK - Noelle Knox, a national real estate reporter for USA Today, has rejoined The Associated Press to help create and lead a new real estate and home news service.

The appointment was announced Wednesday by Kristin Gazlay, AP's managing editor for financial news and global training.

Knox, who has 18 years of business reporting experience, will help launch the service in the first half of the year. It will offer a comprehensive menu of breaking news, news-driven features, service articles, multimedia and data.

Prosecutor to make announcement on possible charges for Detroit mayor

DETROIT - Prosecutor Kym Worthy promised Wednesday not to further delay announcing whether she will bring perjury or other charges against Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his former top aide.

Her decision had been expected by the middle of this month, but Worthy pushed the announcement back.

Judge orders 3 countries to pay taxes to NYC

NEW YORK - Foreign diplomats get great parking spots, but their home countries can't escape the U.S. tax man.

A federal judge has ordered the governments of India, Mongolia and the Philippines to pony up $57.6 million in real estate taxes in a case that reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

Report delivered on zoo tiger attack

SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco Zoo workers should have believed two brothers who said a tiger was loose and had mauled their friend, but overall reacted well to the fatal Christmas Day attacks, according to the organization that accredits the nation's zoos.

The report by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which the zoo released in excerpts Tuesday, provided its most detailed account of the fatal mauling.