By David Alexander WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has reviewed the case of a Marine sergeant honored for heroism in Iraq and agreed with two other Pentagon chiefs that the evidence is insufficient to merit the highest military award for valor, the Pentagon said on Friday. Supporters have criticized the department for denying Marine Sergeant Rafael Peralta's nomination for the Medal of Honor for his actions in Fallujah in 2004, when pulled a grenade under his body to shield his comrades from the explosion, even as he was already dying of a fatal head wound. "After extensively familiarizing himself with the history of Sergeant Peralta's nomination, Secretary Hagel determined the totality of the evidence does not meet the 'proof beyond a reasonable doubt' Medal of Honor award standard," the Pentagon said in a statement. While Defense Secretary Robert Gates initially denied the Medal of Honor nomination, he approved Peralta for the Navy Cross, the second-highest military award for valor for members of the Navy and Marine Corps.
A seventh-grade football coach was ordered held without bail on Friday and will plead not guilty to the kidnap and murder of a 10-year-old girl snatched off a Springfield, Missouri, street and later found dead in his basement, his lawyer said. Craig Michael Wood, 45, accused of abducting Hailey Owens from a neighborhood in Springfield, made his first court appearance on Friday over a video monitor from the Greene County Jail. Witnesses said Hailey was walking along a street shortly before 5 p.m. on Tuesday when a man driving a pickup truck pulled alongside her. Witness calls to police about the abduction triggered multiple Amber Alerts in Missouri and neighboring states.
CELAYA, Mexico (AP) — Mexico is on track to become the United States' No. 1 source of imported cars by the end of next year, overtaking Japan and Canada in a manufacturing boom that's turning the auto industry into a bigger source of dollars than money sent home by migrants.
CHICAGO (AP) — Jubilant same-sex couples began lining up for marriage licenses in Chicago on Friday after a federal judge ruled there was no reason for residents of Illinois' largest county to wait until the state's new gay marriage law takes effect, a decision some hope will prompt county clerks statewide to begin issuing the documents.
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Railroads that haul volatile crude shipments have reached an agreement with U.S. transportation officials to adopt wide-ranging, voluntary safety measures after a string of explosive and deadly accidents.
NEW YORK (AP) — Mayor Bill de Blasio faced more questions Friday about why his official vehicles were videotaped breaking traffic laws only two days after he rolled out a sweeping traffic safety plan.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Countless pedestrians near Philadelphia's main train station walked by a snow-covered sedan with dark windows and a slew of parking tickets before police this week found the body of a young mother inside.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A California state senator was charged Friday with accepting $100,000 in bribes, lavish trips and no-show jobs for his children in exchange for pushing legislation to benefit a hospital engaged in billing fraud and participating in a film industry tax scheme that actually was an FBI sting.