In other news Wednesday, an Egyptian court has ordered the release of former president Hosni Mubarak. He will be placed under house arrest by orders from the country's prime minister. Also, Nidal Hasan, the alleged Fort Hood shooter accused of killing 13 fellow soldiers in 2009, rested his case without presenting a defense.
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An Egyptian court today ordered the release of ex-President Hosni Mubarak. A hearing was held at Tora prison, where the ailing 85-year-old has been detained for two years. Once freed, he will be placed under house arrest on orders of Egypt's prime minister. Mubarak also faces charges of failing to prevent the deaths of protesters in the 2011 uprising that ousted him from power.
Meanwhile the European Union held emergency talks on the Egyptian crisis in Brussels. Its foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said the E.U. member nations strongly condemn the recent spate of violence between the interim government and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.
CATHERINE ASHTON, European Union Foreign Policy Chief:
We have agreed as well to review the issue of our assistance to Egypt with the understanding that assistance to the most vulnerable groups and to civil society must continue.
Member states have agreed to suspend export licenses to Egypt of any equipment used for internal repression, and to reassess their export licenses covered by the E.U. common position.
The U.S. still is weighing whether to suspend some of its $1.5 billion in assistance to Egypt.
The soldier accused in the Fort Hood, Texas, shooting rampage rested his case today without presenting a defense. Army Major Nidal Hasan, who elected to represent himself, didn't testify or call any witnesses. Hasan is accused of killing 13 people and wounding 32 at the military base in 2009. Closing arguments are set to begin tomorrow. If convicted, Hasan could face the death penalty.
Staff Sergeant Robert Bales faced relatives of the 16 Afghan civilians he killed in a 2011 attack. Nine family members were flown from Afghanistan for the sentencing hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord outside Seattle. One man described the impact of losing 11 family members in the attack. Bales pleaded guilty in June to avoid the death penalty. The jury will decide whether his life sentence will include a chance for parole.
The month of July saw a big boost in existing home sales. They jumped 6.5 percent, the fastest pace in more than three years. But for stocks on Wall Street, that bright spot didn't outweigh news from the Federal Reserve that it could end its massive bond-buying program soon. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 105 points to close at 14,897. The NASDAQ fell more than 13 points to close above 3,599.
The last set of four secret audio recordings made in President Nixon's White House was released today by the National Archives and Records Administration. It covers a three-month span, ending July 12, 1973, the day before the existence of the secret recordings, ordered by Nixon, was revealed. The period includes a Soviet summit, the end of the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal.
In this excerpt, President Nixon speaks to then-Governor of California Ronald Reagan on April 30, 1973. That's the day the president gave a national address after firing two top aides as the Watergate scandal intensified.
PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON:
How nice of you to call.
GOV. RONALD REAGAN, California:
Well, I just wanted you to know we watched — my heart was with you. I know what this must have been and what this must have been in all these days and what you have been through.
I just wanted you to know for whatever it's worth, I'm still — you can count on us, we're still behind you out here, and I wanted you to know that you're in our prayers.
How nice of you to say that. Well, let me tell you this, that we can be — each of us has a different religion, you know?
But, God damn it, Ron, we have got to build peace in the world and that's what I'm working on. And you're going to work on it, and all the rest. I just want to know I so appreciate your calling and give my greater thought to Nancy.
The recordings released today run 340 hours. Some 3,700 hours of conversations were taped; 700 hours remain sealed for national security and privacy reasons.
The longtime host of NPR's Piano Jazz program, Marian McPartland, has died at her home in Long Island, New York. The British-born jazz pianist reached an audience of millions over her four decades on the air. She interviewed and played duets with many of the world's greatest musicians. She received a lifetime Grammy Award in 2004. Marian McPartland was 95 years old.
Those are some of the day's major stories.