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NATION IN BRIEF: GOP ousts Steele, picks Priebus to head party

GOP ousts Steele, picks Priebus to head party

OXON HILL, Md. — The national Republican Party, coming off huge election victories but facing a $22 million debt and an internal war over identity, ousted chairman Michael Steele on Friday and chose Wisconsin party chief Reince Priebus to lead in the run-up to the 2012 presidential race.

The embattled Steele dropped his re-election bid halfway through an afternoon of balloting when it became clear he could not win another two-year term after a first marked by verbal missteps and financial woes.

‘‘We have to get on track. And together we can defeat Barack Obama in 2012,’’ Priebus, the chairman of the Wisconsin GOP, said in a brief victory speech, pleading for unity within the fractured 168-member Republican National Committee.

NJ police officer dies in shooting

LAKEWOOD, N.J. — A police officer shot by an unknown assailant Friday at a town house development has died from his wounds, a person with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement has not yet been made.

Lakewood police say the officer was shot around 5 p.m. Friday.

He was rushed to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune.

He was identified only as a uniformed officer who responded to a call in his patrol car.

JetBlue pilot loses gun at JFK airport

NEW YORK — A JetBlue pilot lost his government-issued handgun after a passenger mistakenly picked up his carry-on luggage, authorities said Friday.

The pilot was waiting for his New York-to-Pittsburgh flight at Kennedy Airport on Thursday morning when a passenger who was traveling with children mistakenly picked up his backpack along with her family’s bags, an official familiar with the incident told The Associated Press on Friday. The official was not authorized to comment publicly about the incident and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The passenger boarded a flight to West Palm Beach, Fla. When she realized one of the bags was not hers, she notified a flight attendant, and the bag was returned, the official said.

Marine dies as amphibious vehicle sinks

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — A Marine died after going down with an amphibious assault vehicle that sank Friday during a training exercise in a harbor in Southern California, authorities said.

The man was pulled from the vehicle at about 2:15 p.m. and flown to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, where he was pronounced dead, the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton said.

Five other Marines escaped without injury from the training vehicle as it became submerged shortly before noon in the Del Mar boat basin in San Diego County’s Oceanside Harbor, the Corps said.

3 electrocuted at Calif. home

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — A downed power line electrocuted a man outside his Southern California home on Friday, then killed his wife and son as the two each attempted rescue in the family’s backyard, authorities said.

San Bernardino firefighters arrived to find three bodies in contact with an arcing 12,000-volt electrical line in the backyard, but it was too dangerous to free them, fire spokesman Jason Serrano said. A utility company finally cut the power and coroner’s officials were called.

The firefighters had been called to the scene at 5:45 a.m. by a 17-year-old girl who said her parents and brother had been electrocuted and were lying in the backyard, Serrano said.

Calif. man used Facebook to hack women’s e-mails

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In a cautionary tale for social-networkers, a California man has admitted to using personal information he gleaned from Facebook to hack into the e-mail accounts of dozens of women.

The California attorney general’s office said Friday that 23-year-old George Bronk would scan the ‘‘sent’’ folder once he got into a woman’s e-mail account, looking for nude or semi-nude photos and videos. He then would forward the pictures to the woman’s entire address book.

The victims were in 17 states and Great Britain.