Duke Rape Case To Be Dropped, MSNBC Drops Imus In The MTV NewsFeed

Also, generals reject "war czar" post; Obama and Clinton to skip Fox News-sponsored debate.

State prosecutors announced they are dropping all charges against three Duke University lacrosse players on Wednesday afternoon (April 11). North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a press conference that there was insufficient evidence to proceed on any of the charges, which included the alleged sexual assault and kidnapping of a stripper at a team party last year, according to The Associated Press. Cooper called the case a result of a "tragic rush" to judgment against Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty and David Evans, explaining that the charges were dropped because of the many contradictions in the story told by the accuser, conflicts in what she said and phone and photographic records, a lack of DNA evidence and no other credible witnesses to back up her claims. Attention will likely turn to the future of Durham County District Attorney Mike Nifong, who was taken off the notorious case in January after he was accused of ethics violations. Cooper, who had harsh words about the way the case was prosecuted, said he thought the ethics claims against Nifong were appropriate. ...

MSNBC announced Wednesday that it would drop its simulcast of Don Imus' radio show amid the controversy over the host's racially charged comments. The network's decision came after a growing list of sponsors — including American Express Co., Staples Inc., Procter & Gamble Co. and General Motors Corp. — said they were pulling ads from Imus' show for the indefinite future, according to MSNBC. In a statement, NBC News announced "this decision comes as a result of an ongoing review process, which initially included the announcement of a suspension. It also takes into account many conversations with our own employees." The uproar began after Imus' April 4 show, in which he referred to the Rutgers University women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos." ...

President Bush said Tuesday that he's absolutely willing to meet with Democrats next week to iron out their differences on a major war-funding bill ... as long as they agree to do things his way. According to a story in the Chicago Sun-Times, Bush said Tuesday in speech in Fairfax, Virginia, that he will sit down to discuss a bill that will fund the military as long as it doesn't set the timetables for withdrawal demanded by Democrats. While Democrats appreciated the gesture, they said there was no point in talking if, as the White House stressed, Bush is not willing to negotiate. ...

Given the negative public opinion about the war in Iraq, it's no surprise the White House is having a hard time filling the job of it's newly-created "war czar" to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that at least three retired four-star generals who have been approached about the job in recent weeks have turned down the chance to issue directives to the Pentagon, State Department and other top agencies. One of the main reasons given by candidate retired Marine General John J. "Jack" Sheehan was, "[The administration] don't know where the hell they're going." ...

What if you threw a Democratic presidential debate and none of the top candidates showed up? That's the dilemma facing Fox News, according to a Houston Chronicle story Wednesday, which revealed that both Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Barack Obama, the leading Democratic presidential candidates, have declined to participate in the September 23 debate in Detroit co-sponsored by the conservative-leaning news channel and the Congressional Black Caucus. Fellow Democratic candidate John Edwards previously announced that he will not participate in the debate. Obama and Clinton will take part in six debates sanctioned by the Democratic National Committee, whose list didn't include the Fox debate. ...

On Tuesday, the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform set an April 24 date for hearings on whether the military made misleading statements about the widely-reported friendly fire death of former NFL star and Army Ranger Pat Tillman in Afghanistan and the rescue of Private Jessica Lynch in Iraq. A story in the Boston Globe explains that the hearing, "Misleading Information From the Battlefield," will look into whether there was an official strategy to deceive the public about the facts of the two incidents and if the officials responsible have been held accountable. ...

The strange saga of former NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak grew even more bizarre on Tuesday when CNN reported that prosecution documents showed that in addition to numerous weapons, police found a computer disc that featured several bondage photos, British currency and 69 unidentified orange pills wrapped up in brown paper towels in the astronaut's car. Nowak was arrested in February after police said she drove from Houston to Florida to confront a romantic rival for a space shuttle pilot's affections; she is accused of attempting to kidnap Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman.