Egypt targets Brotherhood
CAIRO, Egypt -- Egypt's military-backed government tightened a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood on Wednesday, ordering the arrest of its revered leader in a bid to choke off the group's campaign to reinstate ousted president Mohammed Morsi one week after an army-led coup.
The Brotherhood denounced the warrants for the arrest of Mohammed Badie and nine other leading Islamists for inciting violence Monday that left dozens dead, saying "dictatorship is back" and vowing it will never work with the interim rulers.
Leaders of the Brotherhood are believed to be taking refuge somewhere near a continuing sit-in by its supporters at the Rabaah al-Adawiya Mosque in eastern Cairo, but it is not clear if Badie is there.
The Brotherhood is outraged by the overthrow of Morsi, one of its own, and demands nothing less than his release from detention and his reinstatement as president.
Security agencies have already jailed five leaders of the Brotherhood, including Badie's powerful deputy, Khairat el-Shaiter, and shut down its media outlets.
The prosecutor general's office said Badie, another deputy, Mahmoud Ezzat, senior member Mohammed El-Beltagy and popular preacher Safwat Hegazy are suspected of instigating the clashes with security forces outside a Republican Guard building near the mosque that killed 54 people -- most of them Morsi supporters -- in the worst bloodshed since he was ousted.
The warrants highlight the armed forces' zero-tolerance policy toward the Brotherhood, which was banned under authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak.
Closing arguments set
SANFORD, Fla. -- Closing arguments were set to begin today in a U.S. murder trial that raised issues of race and self-defence gun laws over a deadly confrontation between a neighbourhood watch volunteer and an unarmed black teenager.
George Zimmerman's defence attorneys rested their case Wednesday. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, saying he shot Trayvon Martin in self-defence during a nighttime scuffle in February 2012 in his gated community, where Martin was visiting family. Zimmerman did not testify.
The judge said the case could be sent to jurors later today or Friday.
The case drew national protests after some civil rights activists argued the 44-day delay in arresting Zimmerman was influenced by Martin's race. Martin was black and Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.
Abortion bill gains steam
AUSTIN, Texas -- A proposal that would make Texas one of the nation's toughest places to get an abortion won swift approval Wednesday in the state House, sending it on to the Senate where a filibuster and raucous protests derailed Republican efforts to pass it nearly two weeks earlier.
There is little Democrats can do to stop the measure this time in the GOP-controlled legislature, but they're seeking to create a legislative record opponents can use to challenge it in federal court on constitutional grounds. Democrats also hope to use women's health issues to win more seats in 2014.
It was the third time the House had passed the limits on where, when and how women can obtain the procedure. Gov. Rick Perry called lawmakers back into a second special session after the bill failed to reach the full Senate during the regular session and a filibuster there kept it from becoming law in the first special session.
All but one Republican voted for the bill, along with four Catholic Democrats. Protesters both for and against the measure have marched on the capitol, filling marathon committee meetings and floor debates.
Scientist's plea deal
MILWAUKEE -- A Chinese scientist accused of stealing a research drug from a U.S. medical school and planning to pass it off as his own pleaded guilty Wednesday to a reduced charge of illegally accessing a computer.
Hua Jun Zhao was accused of stealing three vials of a possible cancer-fighting drug from the Medical College of Wisconsin in February. Prosecutors said he also downloaded academic research in the hopes of claiming sole credit for it in China.
Zhao, 41, initially pleaded not guilty to tampering with a private computer and lying to a federal agent. An additional charge of economic espionage was dropped but prosecutors maintained the right to renew it with a future indictment.
He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine and will be sentenced next month.
-- The Associated Press