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Nation in brief: Jindal becomes youngest governor of Louisiana

Pledging to make a “clean break with the past” and root out corruption, Republican Bobby Jindal tried to separate himself from politics as usual as he was sworn in as Louisiana’s governor Monday.

Jindal, the nation’s first elected Indian-American chief executive and the state’s first non-white governor since Reconstruction, thanked past governors for their service – but said it was time to rid the state of its reputation for corrupt government.

“We have the opportunity – born of tragedy but embraced still the same – to make right decades of failure in government,” Jindal said.

Jindal’s election puts a new public face on Louisiana politics, often stereotyped as a haven for backslapping good old boys who hold office for decades. The son of Indian immigrants, Jindal, 36, is the nation’s youngest sitting governor, and many of his top administrators are new to the halls of the Louisiana Capitol.

He takes over from Democrat Kathleen Blanco, who had defeated him four years earlier but whose image was battered by the state’s response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. She did not seek re-election.


Screenwriter faces charges in crash

Roger Avary, an Oscar- winning screenwriter of “Pulp Fiction,” accused of drunken driving after a weekend accident that killed a passenger visiting from Italy, apologized Monday.

Avary, 42, was driving early Sunday when his car spun out of control and hit a telephone pole in Ojai. He was arrested and booked on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter and felony drunken driving.

Killed in the crash was Andreas Zini, 34, a resident of Italy who was apparently visiting Avary and his wife, Gretchen, 40, according to the sheriff’s department. Gretchen Avary was seriously injured, said Capt. Jerry Hernandez.

Avary, who is free on $50,000 bail, faces arraignment Friday.

Avary won an Academy Award along with Quentin Tarantino for writing “Pulp Fiction,” and was a co-writer of the recent epic “Beowulf.”


Six workers fired after four kids die

At least six child welfare workers will be fired for failing to properly address complaints about a woman’s care for her four daughters, who were later found dead in their home, the mayor said Monday.

The decomposing bodies of the girls, ages 5 to 16, were found Wednesday when deputy U.S. marshals served an eviction notice at the row house. Their mother has been charged with murder.

A social worker at the school where the oldest girl was a student tried twice in April to get city agencies to investigate.

At a news conference Monday, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty played tapes of two calls the social worker, Kathy Lopes, made after the girl, Brittany Jacks, stopped going to school.

The six employees work for the District of Columbia’s Child and Family Services Agency, and include a division director. More workers could lose their jobs as an investigation continues, Fenty said.


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