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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Court Clears Way for Third Al-Maliki Term

The top court in Iraq has rejected a proposed law which would impose term limits on the office of Prime Minister. This decision clears the way for a potential third term for current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in 2014. The court issued a brief statement on its website saying the law was ruled unconditional, but members of Parliament said the court reached its decision because it believes draft laws should be proposed by either the Cabinet or the president, not parliament. Opposition parliamentarian Mohammed al-Khalidi suggested lawmakers were only required to send the Cabinet those draft laws that need financial allocations, and further worried, “rejecting the law is a danger to democracy in Iraq.”

Death Penalty for Fort Hood Shooter

Nidal Hasan, the former U.S. military psychiatrist found guilty of killing 13 people and wounding another 30 others, has been sentenced to execution. During the trial Hasan mounted no defense, readily agreed that he had committed the crimes, and in fact actively sought the death penalty for his actions.

Still, it may be some time before Hasan is executed. The military has not executed anyone since 1961, and appears loath to begin. There are five others on death row at Fort Leavenworth prison; not one of them is bound for the gallows presently, three have appeals currently pending.

Tunisia to Blacklist Ansar Al-Sharia

Tunisian Prime Minister Ali Larayedh has declared Ansar al-Sharia a terrorist organization and anyone supporting them “must face judicial consequences”. Ansar al-Sharia was founded in 2011 after the Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted from power, with the expressed goal of implementing a restrictive form of sharia. Its leader Seif Allah Ibn Hussein, who was imprisoned under the Ben Ali regime, has been in hiding since he was named a person of interest in the 2012 U.S. Embassy bombing in Tunis. Since then, the group has waged a number military and popular demonstrations against the Tunisian government and the intrusion of western values into Tunisia.

Prime Minister Larayedh promised to combat the group “whatever the sacrifices”. He added “the Ansar group is responsible for the assassinations of Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi and the attacks at Mount Chaambi.” The two politicians, Belaid and Brahmi, were eminent secularists and their assassinations threw their movement, and perhaps the greater political apparatus, into chaos.

Salvadoran War Criminal Jailed in Boston

Col. Inocente Orlando Montano, of the U.S.-trained Atlacatl Battalion responsible for the Mozote massacre, the Calavozo massacre, and the Universidad Centroameracana (UCA) killings, has been sentenced to 21 months in prison in Boston, for lying on immigrations forms about the nature of his military past. This sentence will give Spanish authorities time to mount an extradition case for his part in the UCA killings which saw 6 spanish priests, their housekeep, and her young daughter murdered in El Salvador.

If extradited, Montano will be the only person serving jail time for the UCA killings; a Salvadoran amnesty prevents prosecution for crimes committed during the Salvadoran civil war. “The important thing is to have him in custody,” said attorney Almudena Bernabeu of the San Francisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability, which has been championing the case. She added: “We will get there, to justice, little by little.

Earth Life Influenced by Mars

A study conducted by Steven Benner of the Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology, suggests that life on Earth was brought here from Mars. Benner says an oxidized form of the element molybdenum, commonly used in steel bicycles and which may have been crucial to the origin of life was likely plentiful on the surface of Mars, but unavailable on Earth. All living things are made of organic matter, but if you add energy such as heat or light to organic molecules and leave them to themselves, they don’t create life. Instead, they turn into something more like tar. “Certain elements seem able to control the propensity of organic materials to turn into tar, particularly boron and molybdenum, so we believe that minerals containing both were fundamental to life first starting,” says Benner. But “it’s only when molybdenum becomes highly oxidized that it is able to influence how early life formed.”

The conditions on primordial earth would not have been conducive to oxidized molybdenum. “This form of molybdenum couldn’t have been available on Earth at the time life first began, because 3 billion years ago, the surface of the Earth had very little oxygen, but Mars did,” said benner, “the evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock.”

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