National Briefs / Defense rests in Fla. slaying

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SANFORD, Fla. -- After taking less than a week to call 18 witnesses, George Zimmerman's defense attorneys rested their case Wednesday in the neighborhood watch volunteer's second-degree murder trial.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys planned to work out the jury instructions before presenting closing arguments today.

Mr. Zimmerman never testified. But jurors saw repeated video recordings of him telling his side of the story to investigators. He claims that he shot Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed, in self-defense while the 17-year-old youth straddled and punched him.

Mr. Zimmerman's father, Robert Zimmerman Sr., was the last witness called by the defense, and he said it's his son yelling for help on a 911 call that captured sounds of the fatal fight.

Walgreen's health law push

WASHINGTON -- Walgreen, the biggest U.S. drugstore chain, agreed to join with the largest federation of health insurers to promote the Affordable Care Act, lending a hand as the Obama administration strains to win over the public.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, comprising 38 state and local health plans including 14 owned by WellPoint, said Wednesday that it will set up an educational website with Walgreen and distribute information in the retailer's 8,000 stores. The campaign is aimed at encouraging people without insurance to use the government exchanges to shop for subsidized health plans.

The announcement may provide a lift two weeks after the National Football League threw water on the idea of becoming a partner with the Obama administration, which has struggled to sell the law's benefits amid roadblocks by Republican opponents.

Co-pilot qualifications

WASHINGTON -- The amount and type of flying experience first officers -- also known as co-pilots -- must have to qualify to fly for an airline will be significantly increased and expanded under new regulations announced Wednesday by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The regulations require first officers to have at least 1,500 hours of flying experience. Airline captains are already required to have at least 1,500 hours. Previously, first officers were only required to have 250 hours of flight time.

The rule also requires first officers to have an aircraft-type rating, which involves additional training and testing specific to the type of airplane they fly.

Police/fire sex scandal

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Authorities are investigating a widespread sex scandal involving nearly a dozen police officers in this Florida city after a civilian crime analyst detailed trysts with the men in police and fire stations, patrol cars, motels and even in a parking lot after a memorial service for a slain officer.

Sue Eberle, 37, has told officials that she had consensual and sometimes coerced sex with the officers and a firefighter, and that she once was propositioned by a city worker in Lakeland. Ms. Eberle's accounts of the liaisons were largely corroborated by her sexual partners and others within the police department, and published in a graphic, 59-page report written in an incredulous tone by the county's top prosecutor. It said the department's problems investigating crimes might be caused by some high-ranking officers being more interested in having sex with Ms. Eberle than doing their jobs.

Also in the nation ...

The Navy conducted a historic flight test Wednesday off the coast of Virginia when an experimental bat-winged drone made an arrested landing aboard an aircraft carrier for the first time. ... The Pentagon is eyeing plans to eliminate danger pay for service members in as many as 18 countries and five waterways around the world, saving about $120 million each year while taking a bite out of troops' salaries, The Associated Press has learned.



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