Congressional honor for girls in '63 bombing

WASHINGTON - President Obama signed legislation yesterday to award Congress' highest civilian honor to four girls killed in an Alabama church bombing during the civil-rights movement. He called it a tragic loss that "helped to trigger triumph and a more just and equal and fair America."

The Congressional Gold Medal will go to Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Denise McNair. Addie Mae, Carole and Cynthia, all 14, and Denise, 11, were killed when a bomb planted by white supremacists exploded at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham on Sept. 15, 1963. Twenty-two others were injured.

Denise's mother and sister and Carole's sister were among those who stood around Obama's desk in the Oval Office as he signed the bill. Three Ku Klux Klan members were convicted of the bombing years after the attack. Two are dead and one is in prison.

Principal: Teachers did everything to save kids

MOORE, Okla. - The principal of the Oklahoma elementary school where seven children died in a tornado says her teachers did everything they could to save their lives.

Plaza Towers Elementary principal Amy Simpson said at an emotional news conference yesterday that children regularly had tornado drills and bravely faced a storm carrying 210 mph winds.

The twister hit just before the end of the school day Monday. The school had spent the first half of the day celebrating the students' accomplishments during the year. Simpson said some teachers took the weight of collapsed walls onto their bodies to save children.

Monday's tornado was a top-of-the-scale EF5. The storm killed 24 people, including 10 children.

Arias foreman: Sentencing decision unfair to jury

PHOENIX - The jury foreman in Jodi Arias' trial says the panel just couldn't decide whether the killing of her boyfriend was enough to merit a death a sentence.

William Zervakos said jurors struggled with what they called a flawed system, explaining Arias wasn't "Jeffrey Dahmer or Charles Manson." They thought it was unfair that 12 average Americans who aren't lawyers had to make such a crucial decision.

The 69-year-old said Friday that the entire panel believed the slaying was no doubt brutal. But he says they had to take into account Arias' lack of a criminal history or any previous violent behavior. The same jury on May 8 convicted Arias of murder in Travis Alexander's death, but couldn't reach a decision on whether she should live or die. A new penalty phase is set for July.

- Daily News wire services