JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. -- Staff Sgt. Robert Bales offered a tearful apology Thursday for gunning down 16 unarmed Afghan civilians inside their homes, but said he still could not explain why he had carried out one of the worst U.S. war crimes in years.
"What I did is an act of cowardice," he said, choking up as he sat on the witness stand in a military courtroom here. "I'm truly, truly sorry for those people whose family members I've taken away."
The unsworn statement from Sgt. Bales, 40, came on the third day of a hearing to determine whether he should ever be eligible for parole in the March 2012 massacre. In June, he pleaded guilty to slipping away from his combat base in southern Afghanistan and invading the mud-walled compounds where dozens of Afghan civilians slept. He beat and kicked them, chased them from room to room, opened fire on them and set several of their bodies ablaze.
Appeals court strikes ban
SAN FRANCISCO -- An Arizona law barring Medicaid patients from obtaining routine care from medical providers who perform elective abortions violates federal requirements and may not be enforced, a federal appeals court decided unanimously Thursday.
The 2012 law prohibited low-income recipients of Medicaid from receiving coverage for family planning services from clinics that provided abortions for reasons other than medical necessity, rape or incest. Such abortions are not covered by Medicaid.
Part-timers lose hours
WASHINGTON -- Many cash-strapped cities and counties, facing the prospect of shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars in new health-care costs under the Affordable Care Act, are opting instead to reduce the number of hours their part-time employees work.
The decisions to cut employee hours come 16 months before employers -- including state and local governments -- will be required to offer health-care coverage to employees who work at least 30 hours a week.
NYPD watchdog approved
NEW YORK -- The nation's biggest police department will get a new watchdog and face easier standards for people to file profiling lawsuits against it after the city council on Thursday overrode mayoral vetoes amid applause from supporters and angry warnings from opponents.
The measures mark the most aggressive legislative effort in years to put new checks on the New York Police Department, and the vote came less than two weeks after a federal judge imposed new oversight of her own.
Fort Hood goes to jury
FORT HOOD, Texas -- The fate of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist who has claimed responsibility for a bloody rampage here, is now in the hands of a military jury.
The jurors, 13 officers of Maj. Hasan's rank or higher, began deliberating Thursday afternoon and will resume today.
Kidnap victim defends self
LOS ANGELES -- Addressing some of the scrutiny that has swirled around her case head-on, Hannah Anderson said she was texting, not calling, kidnapper James DiMaggio the day she disappeared because he was supposed to pick her up from cheerleading practice.
She also defended her social media presence after the ordeal, saying it's part of her healing process.
"It just helps me grieve, like, post pictures to show how I'm feeling," she said.
--Compiled from news services