In other news Wednesday, Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales pleaded guilty to killing 16 Afghan civilians last year. Bales recalled entering two villages at night and shooting his victims. Also, anti-government protesters in Turkey called for the ousting of police chiefs over their violent crackdown on demonstrations.
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An American soldier pleaded guilty today to killing 16 Afghan civilians last year. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales appeared at Joint Base Lewis-McChord outside Seattle. He told a military judge that he entered two Afghan villages at night and shot each victim, most of them women and children. Asked why he did it, Bales answered, "There's not a good reason in this world." If the judge accepts the plea, Bales will avoid the death penalty.
In Turkey, anti-government activists demanded the ouster of police chiefs over a violent crackdown on protests. They met with the deputy prime minister and also called for lifting restrictions on civil liberties and banning police use of tear gas. Meanwhile, thousands of trade union members marched in Istanbul and Ankara. They waved banners and chanted slogans demanding that Prime Minister Erdogan resign.
Family, friends and fellow lawmakers gathered in New York today for the funeral of New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Hundreds of mourners, including a number of dignitaries, attended today's service at a Manhattan synagogue. Vice President Biden and others paid tribute to Lautenberg as the Senate's oldest member and last veteran of World War II to serve there.
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN:
He loved the Senate, because he saw it as the place he could do more than all the financial success he had, all the philanthropy he had, all the influence he had in the community. He believed — and he was right — there was no place he could do as much to impact on the people he cared about than the United States Senate.
Lautenberg died Monday of complications from pneumonia. He was 89. Tomorrow, his body will lie in repose in the Senate chamber, and on Friday be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Apple says it will appeal a ban on imports of some models of its iPhone 4 and iPad 2. The products are made in China. The U.S. International Trade Commission announced the ban Tuesday. It found the Apple devices violate a patent held by rival Samsung. The ruling was the latest round in a long-running fight between the two electronics giants.
An 84-year-old woman today claimed a Powerball Jackpot worth $590 million dollars. Gloria C. MacKenzie of Zephyrhills, Fla., held the only winning ticket in last month's drawing. In a statement today, she said another person let her cut in line when she bought the ticket at a supermarket. MacKenzie took the lump sum payment option, and will net $270 million dollars after taxes.
On Wall Street, stocks tumbled after economic reports that showed sluggish job growth and falling factory orders. The Dow Jones industrial average lost nearly 217 points to close at 14,960. The Nasdaq fell more than 43 points to close at 3,401.
Also today, the Securities and Exchange Commission proposed rules aimed at ensuring stability in money-market mutual funds. They would allow share values to float, meaning investors could lose principal if funds perform poorly. The change would affect mainly institutional investors.
Those are some of the day's major stories — now back to Gwen.