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Nov. 26, 2012 at 8:36 AM
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Barak says he's retiring from politics

TEL AVIV, Israel, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, 70, announced Monday he is retiring from political life, saying there are many other ways to "contribute to the state."

"I have exhausted politics and want to dedicate more time to my family," Barak, who has held his post since 2007, said in a nationally broadcast speech from his Tel Aviv headquarters. "There are many ways to contribute to the state, not only through politics,"

Barak, who was prime minister from 1999 to 2001, said he will stay on as defense minister until a new government is formed after national elections Jan. 22, 2013.

He said he had a difficult time making the decision.

"I feel exhausted dealing with political life, which has never been a passion of mine, and I feel there is room to allow other people to serve in senior roles in Israel," he said.

Morsi to explain decree to top judges

CAIRO, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Mohamed Morsi's office says the Egyptian leader's order making his rule above court review is temporary, and he was to meet with the nation's top judges.

The president's office insisted Morsi was forced to assert the expansive new powers, which set off violent protests, to protect the process of writing the country's new Constitution. It said the decree, issued Thursday, would be lifted once the charter was in place.

"The presidency reiterates the temporary nature of those measures, which are not intended to concentrate power, but to avoid ... attempts to undermine democratically elected bodies and preserve the impartiality of the judiciary," Morsi's office said.

Morsi was to meet Monday with the Supreme Council of the Judiciary, the highest council overseeing the Egyptian courts, to explain the scope of his decree, known as a constitutional declaration, a presidential spokesman said.

Egyptian Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki, an independent Cabinet minister, met with the jurists Sunday seeking to broker a deal, state television reported.

After the meeting, the council urged Morsi to scale back his writ, The New York Times reported.

Rebels claim capture of military bases

DAMASCUS, Syria, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Syrian rebels said they captured three military facilities near Damascus and charged that bombs from government warplanes killed 10 children at a playground.

Activists said at least 20 people died in Monday violence a day after another 97, including the playground children, were killed across the country.

Rebels said they seized the military installations, including the Marj al-Sultan airfield, and 11 mobile anti-aircraft guns, but the reports couldn't be independently verified because of government restrictions on foreign journalists, The New York Times said.

Joseph Holliday, an analyst in Washington, said the rebel-reported capture of the Marj al-Sultan base Sunday could be significant because it is a main facility used by the Syrian air force's Mi-8 helicopters, the Times reported.

Rebels said government cluster bombs hit a playground in a Damascus suburb, killing the children, and posted a video, showing some of the dead and wounded, on the Internet, CNN reported.

Buffett: Raise tax cutoff point to $500K

OMAHA, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Warren Buffett called for the cutoff point in U.S. President Barack Obama's proposal to end the Bush-era tax cuts to increase to $500,000 from $250,000.

"I support President Obama's proposal to eliminate the Bush tax cuts for high-income taxpayers," the business magnate, investor and philanthropist wrote in an op-ed piece published in The New York Times Monday. "However, I prefer a cutoff point somewhat above $250,000 -- maybe $500,000 or so."

He also called on Congress, "right now, to enact a minimum tax on high incomes.

"I would suggest 30 percent of taxable income between $1 million and $10 million, and 35 percent on amounts above that," he wrote.

"A plain and simple rule like that will block the efforts of lobbyists, lawyers and contribution-hungry legislators to keep the ultra-rich paying rates well below those incurred by people with income just a tiny fraction of ours. Only a minimum tax on very high incomes will prevent the stated tax rate from being eviscerated by these warriors for the wealthy.

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