National editor's pick of the top news stories in the nation and world at this hour:
Egyptian authorities ordered police Wednesday to clear two protest camps demonstrating in favor of the ousted president, Mohammed Morsi, portending the prospect of more bloodshed at the heavily barricaded sit-ins. More than 260 people have been killed since Morsi was ousted in a military coup on July 3, and his supporters have gathered in two main camps, one outside a mosque in eastern Cairo and one near the main Cairo University campus. The military-backed government calls them a threat to national security and says they have been "terrorizing" citizens, and it instructed the police to end their protests "within the law and the constitution." Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim, who is in charge of the police, said the sit-ins would be disbanded in gradual steps, saying, "I hope they resort to reason" and leave of their own accord.
Robert Mugabe came to power the same year as Ronald Reagan, and Zimbabwe's election Wednesday was widely seen as a referendum on his 33 years in power. Thousands of voters waited patiently in long lines in the poor township of Mbare in the capital city of Harare, and observers said turnout was high -- which could favor Mugabe's challenger, Morgan Tsvangirai. But many feared the vote would be rigged to ensure the re-election of the wily Mugabe, 89. "Things are going well at this stage of the process," said Nikita Buturlin, an observer from the Russian Federation. "The numbers are impressive. If there are difficulties, they will come later." Some voters brought their own pens to the polls, having heard that the ink in pens provided by the state would disappear after several hours. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change said 10 public buses from South Africa carrying expatriate voters were impounded at the border to prevent passengers from voting. Mugabe has said he will step down if he loses, but many observers doubt it.
Two Northern California men are due in court Wednesday to face charges that they not only ran a major marijuana-growing operation but also kept a 15-year-old sex slave in a coffin-like box with breathing holes in it, forcing her to trim plants and sexually abusing her. Ryan Balletto, 30, and Patrick Pearmain, 24, are accused of conspiracy to grow and distribute more than 1,000 marijuana plants in Lake County, in addition to unlawful sex with a minor and lewd and lascivious acts with a child. The victim was reportedly kept in a metal toolbox 4 feet long, 2 feet wide and 2 feet high, which the men forced her into "to 'teach' her because they had a 'point to prove,' according to the criminal complaint.
As if Anthony Weiner's New York mayoral campaign doesn't have enough to apologize for, his communications director was forced to apologize for calling a former intern a "slutbag" -- and that was the most printable of three filthy names she called her. Barbara Morgan apologized Tuesday for her characterization of former intern Olivia Nuzzi, whose unflattering portrait of the campaign was published in the New York Daily News. Morgan said she didn't know she was on the record and would be quoted when she spewed to Talking Points Memo. Nuzzi, described by Morgan as a fame-hungry "bitch" who "sucked" at her job, accepted the apology Wednesday, writing on Twitter, "As to Barbara Morgan's apology, of course I accept it."
Zynga was first with "Words With Friends" and "Chess With Friends," and it isn't amused at a company's new sex app, "Bang With Friends," which matches Facebook users anonymously for casual sex hookups. San Francisco-based Zynga filed suit against the upstart app maker Tuesday in federal court, saying its name infringes Zynga's "With Friends" brand. The complaint claims the company "selected the name 'Bang With Friends' for its casual sex matchmaking app with Zynga's game trademarks fully in mind." Bang With Friends responded, "As a technology company, we take intellectual property seriously, and will evaluate the case in detail once we receive a copy."
The Wire, a summary of top national and world news stories from the Associated Press and other wire services, moves weekdays. Contact Karl Kahler at 408-920-5023; follow him at twitter.com/karl_kahler.