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Egypt MPs Bar Mubarak-Era Officials from Standing for Office

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© Agence France-Presse/Amro MaraghiA supporter of former Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman
Cairo - Egypt's parliament on Thursday approved a law that would ban members of ousted president Hosni Mubarak's regime from standing for public office, in the latest twist to Egypt's political roller coaster.

The law, which still has to be approved by the ruling military council, could see former officials including ex-intelligence chief Omar Suleiman disqualified from standing in a presidential election scheduled for next month.

The amendment to the political activity law "bars any president, vice president, prime minister or leader or (senior member) of the now-dissolved National Democratic Party from exercising political rights for 10 years," the MPs said in a parliamentary session aired live on television.

The law still needs to be ratified by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which took power after Mubarak was ousted on February 11 last year.

The text applies to Mubarak-era officials who served in the decade prior to the date of his ouster, which would also disqualify Ahmed Shafiq -- the last premier to serve under the longtime strongman.

The contest has pitted the country's powerful and organised Islamist forces against Mubarak-era officials, with only a handful of the 23 candidates representing the secular political forces that were at the frontline of last year's revolt.

Immediately after the uprising, anyone associated with Mubarak kept a low profile for fear of reprisals, but after a year of political upheaval and insecurity some no longer shy away from voicing support for ex-regime members.

Bad Guys

The war on terror is corrupting all it touches

Every student agitator is a terrorist, every internet hacker, cafeteria dissident, freedom fighter and insurgent leader
Tony Blair and Gaddafi
© Stefan Rousseau/PA Prime Minister Tony Blair meets Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2007.
On Monday the BBC Panorama programme substantiated an extraordinary allegation that suggested how far the war on terror has descended into legal abyss. The claim was that MI6 rolled the pitch for Tony Blair's bizarre 2004 hug-in with Libya's Colonel Gaddafi by apparently arranging for the CIA to kidnap Gaddafi's opponent in exile, Abdel Hakim Belhaj. He was seized in Bangkok, where he and his wife were en route to Britain. It's been suggested they were "rendered" via the British colony of Diego Garcia to Tajoura jail in Tripoli. Belhaj spent six years, and his wife four and a half months, at the tender mercies of Gaddafi's security boss, Moussa Koussa. Belhaj's pregnant wife was taped like a mummy on a stretcher, and he was systematically tortured. Koussa himself denies any involvement in torture.

Heart - Black

Robert Bales: Mass Murderer and PTSD Poster Boy

Robert Bales
© unknownStaff Sgt. Robert Bales during an exercise at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California
The medicalization of wartime atrocities

The story of Robert Bales, mass murderer, has pretty much disappeared from the headlines: news of the grisly killing spree, during which he slaughtered nine children and eight adults, has been displaced by the sudden "discovery" that 100,000-plus US soldiers are heavily medicated with anti-depressants and other drugs, as well as much talk of "PTSD" and discussion of how multiple deployments are "unfair" to those who have signed up to fight America's imperialist wars.

In short, the excuse-making has begun. In a signal that the case may never even come to trial - an outcome the US military is no doubt desperately hoping for - it has been announced that a "sanity hearing" will precede the actual trial. This is unusual in itself: normal procedure is to go ahead with the court martial first, and determine if the perpetrator was mentally incapacitated at the time of the crime later. As the military's Manual for Court Martial puts it:
"An accused lacking the mental capacity to understand the punishment to be suffered or the reason for imposition of the death sentence may not be put to death during any period when such incapacity exists. The accused is presumed to have such mental capacity. If a substantial question is raised as to whether the accused lacks capacity, the convening authority then exercising general court martial jurisdiction over the accused shall order a hearing on the question."
Whether to hold such a hearing before referral of charges is up to "the convening authority," i.e. Bales's commanding officer, and, presumably, higher ups in the Pentagon who are no doubt choreographing every legal step in this case. Bales's defense lawyer, John Henry Browne, may have submitted a request for a sanity hearing, but the Convening Authority was under no obligation to grant it.

Comment: For more information on this story read the Sott Focus: US Soldiers Look Deep Inside Their Souls - Find Vacuum - Decide To Kill Afghan Villagers by Joe Quinn.

Also read: Child witnesses to Afghan massacre say Robert Bales was not alone


Stop

Iran halts oil flow to Germany one day after Spain

Iranian flag and oil platform
Iran has cut oil exports to Germany one day after halting crude sales to Spain as part of its counter sanctions against the European Union (EU).

Tehran has already stopped oil exports to France, Britain, and Greece and is now considering halting crude sales to Italy.

Ambulance

Private hospitals in Jordan to stop accepting most Libyan patients

Jordan hospital officials
© PetraHeads of associations representing private hospitals and hotels during a press conference on Tuesday
Hospitals affiliated with the Private Hospitals Association (PHA) will stop admitting Libyan patients except emergency cases and those who can pay cash up front, a PHA representative said on Tuesday.

PHA President Awni Bashir said the decision came in response to unfulfilled promises by the Libyan authorities to pay outstanding dues of some JD100 million to the Kingdom's hospitals.

Heart - Black

UK 'approved' rendition of tortured Libyan couple

Documents said to be found in office of Libya's ex-spy chief suggest UK had role in rendition of dissident man and wife.


Attention

Best of the Web: What is Heading Our Way?

psycho 6%
© SOTT.net
Perhaps it's like shouting an alarm, unheard above the engine noise of two trains on a collision course. Or, screaming helplessly as a car slips its brakes and rolls toward a toddler playing at the bottom of the driveway.

It is gruesome imagery and I apologize for invoking it. But if anything, it may be inadequate to the prospect before us.

One only has to ask, "What is heading our way?"

Headline:

The Department Of Homeland Security Is Buying 450 Million New Bullets

And don't kid yourself; they're not for target practice. It's .40 caliber ammunition, hollow point rounds that promise "optimum penetration for terminal performance." The department also has a bid out for up to 175 million rounds of .223 caliber ammunition.

This isn't the flipping army, you know. This is an internal national police force, a department that didn't even exist 10 years ago.

Headline:

Supreme Court OKs Strip Searches for Minor Offenses

It's okay with the Supreme Court if you are detained and subjected to a demeaning strip-search for such serious offenses against the State as violating a leash law or having a headlight out.

Really, is being strip-searched and perhaps even forced to take a delousing shower for riding your bicycle without an audible bell reasonable? Of course not. So much for the 4th Amendment.

Heart - Black

Gaddafi torture victim tells Tony Blair and Jack Straw to admit kidnap truth

Jack Straw
© Bruce AdamsJack Straw is expected to be quizzed by Scotland Yard
The Libyan man seized after a tip-off by MI6 then sent for torture at the hands of the Gaddafi regime challenged Tony Blair and Jack Straw yesterday to say which minister sanctioned his kidnap.

Adbel Hakim Belhadj said his rendition from Bangkok to a Gaddafi prison had led to 'years of torture'.

Asked what he would say to Mr Blair, Mr Belhadj said: 'Why did British intelligence help kidnap my wife and me?

'Who sanctioned this horrible operation? Was it you, Jack Straw or someone else? Are you ready to apologise for it?'

Mr Belhadj and his wife were sent to Libya in 2004 shortly before Mr Blair signed his 'deal in the desert' with Colonel Gaddafi.

Chart Pie

Deadbeat Corporations Made Billions in Profits, Yet Paid No Corporate Income Tax For The Last Four Years

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Last year, Citizens for Tax Justice found that 30 major corporations had made billions of dollars in profits while paying no federal income tax between 2008 and 2010. Today, CTJ updated that report to reflect the 2011 tax bill of those 30 companies, and 26 of them have still managed to pay absolutely nothing over that four year period:

- 26 of the 30 companies continued to enjoy negative federal income tax rates. That means they still made more money after tax than before tax over the four years!

- Of the remaining four companies, three paid four year effective tax rates of less than 4 percent

(specifically, 0.2%, 2.0% and 3.8%). One company paid a 2008-11 tax rate of 10.9 percent.

- In total, 2008-11 federal income taxes for the 30 companies remained negative, despite $205 billion in pretax U.S. profits. Overall, they enjoyed an average effective federal income tax rate of - 3.1 percent over the four years.

War Whore

Hypocrites! Kony 2012 Creators Spied for Uganda Helping Government Arrest Former Child Soldier and Backed Operation Killing Civilians

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© AFP Photo / Stuart PriceAn armed fighter of the Lord's Resistance Army
The Invisible Children NGO, most famous for its Kony 2012 online video, helped the Ugandan government arrest a former child soldier and backed an operation that killed more civilians than militants, cables published by Wikileaks reveal.

­A memo written by a public affairs officer at the US embassy in Uganda documents Invisible Children's collaboration with Ugandan intelligence services. It notes that the US-based NGO tipped the Ugandan government on the whereabouts of Patrick Komakech, a former child soldier for the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), who was wanted by security officials for extorting money from the government officials, NGO's and local tribal leaders. Ugandan security organizations jumped the tip and immediately arrested Komakech.

As a result of the tip, the Ugandan military claimed it obtained the names of other suspects from Komakech. The military then conducted a sweep and arrested a number of people, many of whom declared their innocence, the Ugandan media reported. Human rights groups say torture of arrested suspects by Ugandan security forces is routine.