Egyptian parliament okays constitutional changes

Egypt's parliament on Monday approved a controversial set of amendments to the constitution despite a boycott of the vote by the opposition, which calls the changes a blow to democracy. President Hosni Mubarak, a top US ally in the Mideast, has billed the changes as part of a reform package aimed at increasing democracy in the country he has ruled unchallenged for a quarter century. But the opposition say the changes restrict judicial supervision of elections they call vital to preventing vote fraud. The amendments also write permanently into the constitution strong security powers for the president they fear will be abused.