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EGYPT TO TRY 7 COPTS, US PASTOR OVER PROPHET FILM: CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's general prosecutor issued arrest warrants Tuesday for seven Egyptian Coptic Christians and a Florida-based American pastor and referred them to trial on charges linked to an anti-Islam film that has sparked riots across the Muslim world.

The case is largely symbolic since the seven men and one woman are believed to be outside of Egypt and unlikely to travel to the country to face the charges. Instead, the prosecutor's decision to take legal appears aimed at absorbing at least some of the public anger over the amateur film, which portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, womanizer and buffoon.

But some Christians and human rights groups expressed concern that trying people on charges of insulting religion, which also occurred to a degree under the secular-leaning regime of Hosni Mubarak, could only increase now that various strains of Islamists are gaining power. The arrest warrants were issued the same day that a Coptic teacher in southern Egypt received a prison sentence for Facebook postings deemed anti-Islamic, charges that predated the amateur film.

The prosecutor's office said in a statement that the eight accused, who include the film's alleged maker, face charges of harming national unity, insulting and publicly attacking Islam and spreading false information. The office said they could face the death penalty, if convicted.

US home mortgage lending hit 16-year low in 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — Home mortgage lending in the United States fell last year to the lowest level in 16 years, a reflection of the weak housing market.

The number of home mortgages issued last year dropped more than 10 percent, to about 7.1 million from 7.9 million in 2010, according to a report from the Federal Reserve released Tuesday. The 2011 total was the lowest since 1995, when 6.2 million home loans were made.

Home purchase loans declined about 5 percent in 2011. The expiration a federal tax credit for first-time buyers in 2010 may have been a factor, the report noted.

Refinance loans plummeted 13 percent, even though mortgage rates have been near record lows for some time.

ARMY TESTS BODY ARMOR TAILORED FOR FEMALE SOLDIERS: FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) — Female soldiers from Fort Campbell deploying to Afghanistan will field the first Army body armor that is shorter and better tailored specifically to fit women's physiques.

Members of a female engagement team from the 101st Airborne Division, who will be directly interacting with Afghan women during the upcoming deployment, have been equipped with the female prototypes of the newest generation of Army tactical vests.

On Tuesday at the Army installation on the Tennessee-Kentucky state line, the female soldiers showed the new features of the vests during qualification trials with their M4A1 rifles.


WWE FIERCELY DEFENDS ITSELF IN CONN. SENATE RACE: HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The wresting empire that U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon once ran is removing raunchy footage of wrestling performers from the Internet to keep it from being used by Democrats in the state's tightening race.

"It's being presented as today's WWE," said Brian Flinn, a WWE spokesman, "and it does not represent our PG-family-friendly entertainment of today."

But Democrats backing Rep. Chris Murphy are vowing to find a way to air the highlight reel anyway. On the campaign trail, McMahon often touts her time as CEO.

The Democratic-produced montage was released online in 2010, during McMahon's first run for Senate. It was intended to highlight instances where women allegedly have been objectified in WWE performances, including scenes of simulated sex and necrophilia and has been available for viewing on YouTube for the past two years.