Army sergeant accused of Afghan killings struggled to pay bills, passed over for promotion
LAKE TAPPS, Wash. (AP) -- Bypassed for a promotion and struggling to pay for his house, Robert Bales was eyeing a way out of his job at a Washington state military base months before he allegedly gunned down 16 civilians in an Afghan war zone, records and interviews showed as a deeper picture emerged Saturday of the Army sergeant's financial troubles and brushes with the law.
While Bales, 38, sat in an isolated cell at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.'s military prison Saturday, classmates and neighbors from suburban Cincinnati, Ohio, remembered him as a "happy-go-lucky" high school football player who took care of a special needs child and watched out for troublemakers in the neighborhood.
But court records and interviews show that the 10-year veteran -- with a string of commendations for good conduct after four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan -- had joined the Army after a Florida investment job went sour, had a Seattle-area home condemned, struggled to make payments on another and failed to get a promotion or a transfer a year ago.
His legal troubles included charges that he assaulted a girlfriend and, in a hit-and run accident, ran bleeding in military clothes into the woods, court records show. He told police he fell asleep at the wheel and paid a fine to get the charges dismissed, the records show.
Military officials say that after drinking on a southern Afghanistan base, Bales crept away on March 11 to two slumbering villages overnight, shooting his victims and setting many of them on fire. Nine of the 16 killed were children and 11 belonged to one family.
Puerto Rico votes Sunday, but Romney, Santorum head to Ill., Tuesday's big battleground
BAYAMON, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Looking toward the critical primary in Illinois, Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney wrapped up a shortened campaign trip to Puerto Rico on Saturday as he prepared for more tough contests against chief rival Rick Santorum.
The former Massachusetts governor dramatically curtailed his trip to the U.S. territory, which holds its primary Sunday, in favor of spending more time in Illinois, where polls have shown him slightly ahead of Santorum. Romney had planned to spend the weekend and visit a polling place Sunday, but instead left the island immediately after a morning appearance.
Santorum left Puerto Rico earlier this week and spent the morning in Missouri, where he already won a primary that awarded no delegates. Missouri Republicans were meeting in county caucuses Saturday, the first step toward choosing delegates to the national convention who are committed to specific candidates. Santorum then headed to Illinois Saturday afternoon, where he went on the attack against Romney.
"If you want to know where Mitt Romney's going to be, just watch the Weather Channel," Santorum said in a high school gymnasium in the town of Herrin.
Romney campaigned Saturday morning with Puerto Rican Gov. Luis Fortuno, shopping for tropical fruit and meeting with voters a day after a massive, energetic rally in San Juan celebrated his arrival here.
Occupy Wall Street supporters march in NYC to mark 6 months since movement's start
NEW YORK (AP) -- Chanting and cheering down Wall Street on Saturday to mark six months since the birth of the Occupy movement, some protesters applauded the Goldman Sachs employee who days ago gave the firm a public drubbing, echoing the movement's indictment of a financial system demonstrators say is fueled by reckless greed.
"I kind of like to think that the Occupy movement helped him to say, 'Yeah, I really can't do this anymore,'" retired librarian Connie Bartusis said of the op-ed piece by Goldman Sachs manager Greg Smith, who claimed the company regularly foisted failing products on clients as it sought to make more money.
Carrying a sign with the words "Regulate Regulate Regulate," Bartusis said the loss of governmental checks on the financial system helped create the climate of unfettered self-interest described by Smith in his piece, although Goldman's leadership suggested he had not portrayed the bank's culture accurately.
"Greed is a very powerful force," Bartusis said. "That's what got us in trouble."
On Saturday, six months after the protesters first took over Zuccotti Park near the city's financial district, the protesters gathered there again, drawing slogans in chalk on the pavement and waving flags as they marched through lower Manhattan.
Twin suicide bombers hit government buildings in Syrian capital, killing 27
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- Two suicide bombers detonated cars packed with explosives in near-simultaneous attacks on heavily guarded intelligence and security buildings in the Syrian capital Damascus Saturday, killing at least 27 people.
There have been a string of large-scale bombings against the regime in its stronghold of Damascus that suggest a dangerous, wild-card element in the year-old anti-government revolt. The regime blamed the opposition, which denied having a role or the capabilities to carry out such a sophisticated attack. And after other similar attacks, U.S. officials suggested al-Qaida militants may be joining the fray.
The early morning explosions struck the heavily fortified air force intelligence building and the criminal security department, several miles apart in Damascus, at approximately the same time, the Interior Ministry said. Much of the facade of the intelligence building appeared to have been ripped away.
State-run news agency SANA said a third blast went off near a military bus at the Palestinian refugee camp Yarmouk in Damascus, killing the two suicide bombers.
"All our windows and doors are blown out," said Majed Seibiyah, 29, who lives in the area of one of the blasts. "I was sleeping when I heard a sound like an earthquake. I didn't grasp what was happening until I heard screaming in the street."
John Demjanjuk, who spend decades battling allegations he was a Nazi camp guard, dies at 91
BERLIN (AP) -- John Demjanjuk was convicted of being a low-ranking guard at the Sobibor death camp, but his 35-year fight on three continents to clear his name -- a legal battle that had not yet ended when he died Saturday at age 91 -- made him one of the best-known faces of Nazi prosecutions.
The conviction of the retired Ohio autoworker in a Munich court in May on 28,060 counts of being an accessory to murder, which was still being appealed, broke new legal ground in Germany as the first time someone was convicted solely on the basis of serving as a camp guard, with no evidence of involvement in a specific killing.
It has opened the floodgates to hundreds of new investigations in Germany, though his death serves as a reminder that time is running out for prosecutors.
Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk steadfastly maintained that he had been mistaken for someone else -- first wounded as a Soviet soldier fighting German forces, then captured and held as a prisoner of war under brutal conditions.
And he is probably best known as someone he was not: the notoriously brutal guard "Ivan the Terrible" at the Treblinka extermination camp. That was the first accusation against him, which led to him being extradited from the U.S. to Israel in the 1980s. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death -- only to have the Israeli Supreme Court unanimously overturn the verdict and return him to the U.S. after it received evidence that another Ukrainian, not Demjanjuk, was that Nazi guard.
Health care or else? Justices to decide if government can force Americans to buy insurance
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Death, taxes and now health insurance? Having a medical plan or else paying a fine is about to become another certainty of American life, unless the Supreme Court says no.
People are split over the wisdom of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, but they are nearly united against its requirement that everybody have insurance. The mandate is intensely unpopular even though more than 8 in 10 people in the United States already are covered by workplace plans or government programs such as Medicare. When the insurance obligation kicks in, not even two years from now, most people won't need to worry or buy anything new.
Nonetheless, Americans don't like being told how to spend their money, not even if it would help solve the problem of the nation's more than 50 million uninsured.
Can the government really tell us what to buy?
Federal judges have come down on both sides of the question, leaving it to the Supreme Court to sort out. The justices are allotting an unusually long period, six hours over three days, beginning March 26, to hear arguments challenging the law's constitutionality.
US citizen captured by militia in Iraq handed over to the United Nations
BAGHDAD (AP) -- Wearing a U.S. Army uniform and flanked by Iraqi lawmakers, an American citizen announced Saturday that he was being released from more than nine months of imprisonment by a Shiite militia that for years targeted U.S. troops.
The man did not identify himself. But at a bizarre press conference outside the Green Zone in Baghdad, lawmakers showed U.S.-issued military and contractor ID cards that identified him as Randy Michael Hultz.
Speaking calmly and tripping over Arabic names in a monotone voice, Hultz said he was grateful for his release.
"It was explained to me that this is a gift to me, my family and to the American people who oppose the war," he said at the press conference that was held for Iraqi media.
He gave scant details of what he described as a "kidnapping," or how he was treated while captured.
Pope Shenouda III, head of Egypt's Coptic Christian church, dies at 88
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- Pope Shenouda III, the patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church who led Egypt's Christian minority for 40 years during a time of increasing tensions with Muslims, died Saturday. He was 88.
His death comes as the country's estimated 10 million Christians are feeling more vulnerable than ever amid the rise of Islamic movements to political power after the toppling a year ago of President Hosni Mubarak. The months since have seen a string of attacks on the community, heightened anti-Christian rhetoric by ultraconservatives known as Salafis and fears that coming goverments will try to impose strict versions of Islamic law.
Tens of thousands of Christians packed into the main Coptic cathedral in Cairo on Saturday evening hoping to see his body. Women in black wept and screamed. Some, unable to get into the overcrowded building, massed outside, raising their hands in prayer.
"He left us in a very hard time. Look at the country and what's happening now," said Mahrous Munis, a Christian IT worker in his 30s who was among the crowds. "Copts are in a worse situation than before. God be with us."
Munis' friend, Sherif Sabry, interrupted. "He was our rock. God help us find someone who can fill his place."
Performer Mike Daisey scrubs his monologue about Apple and sticks to the facts after criticism
NEW YORK (AP) -- Mike Daisey, the off-Broadway performer who admitted that he made up parts of his one-man show about Apple products being made in Chinese sweatshops, has cut questionable sections from the monologue and added a prologue explaining the controversy.
Oskar Eustis, artistic director of The Public Theater, where the monologue is being performed, said Saturday that Daisey has "eliminated anything he doesn't feel he can stand behind" from the show and added a section at the beginning in which he addresses the questions raised by critics.
Eustis called the prologue "the best possible frame we could give the audience for the controversy" and said Daisey agreed to make the changes himself, which are "his and his alone."
"Mike is a great storyteller, not a journalist. I wish he had been clearer about that distinction in the making of this piece," Eustis said after seeing Saturday's matinee performance. "If we had understood the rules Mike was using to make the show, we would have framed it differently from the outset."
Daisey portrayed his work as fact during a media blitz to promote his critically acclaimed show, and he misled dozens of news and entertainment outlets, including the popular public radio show "This American Life," The Associated Press, The New York Times, MSNBC and HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher."
3s please! Heslip makes 9 to lift Baylor to 80-63 win over Colorado
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- The basket was as wide as the ocean for Brady Heslip, and because of that, the future looks as bright as those uniforms for the Baylor Bears.
Heslip made 9 of 12 from behind the 3-point line Saturday to lift third-seeded Baylor and their highlighter-yellow uniforms to a pullaway 80-63 victory over No. 11 Colorado. The Bears (29-7) advance to the South Regional semifinals, their second trip to the final 16 in three seasons. They'll play the winner between Xavier and Lehigh next Friday in Atlanta.
Heslip, the Boston College transfer who grew up playing -- and losing -- lots of H-O-R-S-E games with his father up in Canada would have beaten just about anybody on this electric day at The Pit.
He made six 3s in the first half to keep his cold-shooting teammates close. Then, he helped break open a tight game late. His 3-pointer with 6:56 left came in the early stages of Baylor's 19-3 run to close the game. And it was contagious. Shortly after that make, Pierre Jackson (15 points, 10 assists) jacked one up from three feet behind the arc. Swish.
Then Heslip, not to be outdone, made No. 9 -- leaving him only two short of the NCAA tournament record set by Jeff Fryer of Loyola Marymount in 1990 and matching the number put up by Purdue's Courtney Moses in the women's tournament a few hours earlier.