National briefs: Special interest in border security plan

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WASHINGTON -- The border security plan the Senate approved last week includes unusual language mandating the purchase of specific models of helicopters and radar equipment for deployment along the U.S.-Mexican border, providing a potential windfall worth tens of millions of dollars to top defense contractors.

The legislation would require the U.S. Border Patrol to acquire, among other items, six Northrop Grumman airborne radar systems that cost $9.3 million each, 15 Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters that average more than $17 million apiece, and eight light enforcement helicopters made by American Eurocopter that sell for about $3 million each.

Abortion battle returns

AUSTIN, Texas -- Opponents of Republican-backed legislation to dramatically curtail abortion rights in Texas descended on the Capitol by the thousands Monday, spurred on by musicians, celebrities and their new hero -- filibustering state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth.

Meanwhile, about 100 supporters of the omnibus abortion legislation marched to the Capitol on Monday morning to a news conference orchestrated by women who deeply regretted their decision to have an abortion.

Inside the Capitol, Republicans meeting in a special session called by Gov. Rick Perry were poised to pass the measure to tighten abortion restrictions that Ms. Davis had successfully blocked last week.

Forced feedings challenged

MIAMI -- Lawyers for four Guantanamo captives are asking a federal court in Washington, D.C., to put an end to the "grotesque" practice of force-feeding at the Pentagon prison in southeast Cuba.

"There cannot be a legitimate penological interest in force-feeding petitioners to prolong their indefinite detention," says the 30-page filing by Oakland, Calif., attorney Jon B. Eisenberg and London-based lawyer Cori Crider of the human rights group Reprieve. "It facilitates the violation of a fundamental human right. The very notion of it is grotesque."

The lawyers filed the motion Sunday night, seeking a speedy hearing on force-feeding policy because Islam's holy fasting month of Ramadan starts next week.

Jurors hear police interview

SANFORD, Fla. -- For the first time, the jury in the trial of George Zimmerman on Monday heard the defendant, in a taped police interview, give his version of events the night he fatally shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, in a townhouse complex here 16 months ago.

The audio recording of the initial interviews had previously been made public during the discovery phase of the trial, and they were replayed in Seminole County Court on Monday, in the second week of the trial, while the officer who conducted the interviews, Doris Singleton, was on the stand.

Priests were paid to leave

MILWAUKEE -- As more victims of clergy sex abuse came forward, then-Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan oversaw a plan to pay some abusers to leave the priesthood after writing to Vatican officials with increasing frustration and concern, warning them about the potential for scandal if they did not defrock problem priests, according to documents released Monday.

Archbishop Dolan's correspondence with Vatican officials and priests accused of sexual abuse was included in about 6,000 pages of documents the Archdiocese of Milwaukee released Monday as part of a deal reached in federal bankruptcy court with clergy sex abuse victims suing it for fraud.

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