The nation of Norway observed a minute of silence earlier today to mark the deaths of the 93 people killed in Friday’s twin attacks in Oslo and at an island youth camp. The Norwegian man accused of carrying out the attacks, Anders Breivik, appeared in a closed court session earlier today. He has been described as an anti-Islamic, right-wing extremist. Police say Breivik first detonated a massive bomb outside government buildings in central Oslo, killing seven people. Then he took a ferry to a remote island where he gunned down at least 86 people — many of them teenagers attending a summer camp for Labor Party youth activists. Eskil Pedersen is a Labor Party youth leader.
Eskil Pedersen, Labor Party youth leader: “We experienced the most horrible tragedy, which was beyond our worst nightmare. We have lost many of our closest friends and many excellent members. Although he took their lives away, he can never take away what they believed in and were passionate about. They believed in tolerance and anti-racism.”
Some of the survivors have begun describing the attack on the youth camp. These two 16-year-olds managed to hide from the gunman.
Kavitiraa Aravinthan, 16-year-old survivor: “It was a shooter on our camp.”
Hana Barzingi, 16-year-old survivor: “He looked like a police officer. He had all the clothes and, yeah, the gun and everything. But like the police in Norway, they don’t use guns. So it was”—
Kavitiraa Aravinthan: “Terrifying. We were like gathered in the beginning, and he came and started to shoot, and we all thought it was a joke.”
Hana Barzingi: “But it feels like a nightmare. I don’t believe this is true, like very, very—”
Kavitiraa Aravinthan: “It’s really bizarre and scary, really scary.”
In a 1,500-page manifesto released ahead of the twin attacks in Norway, Anders Breivik, the man accused of the murders, criticized multiculturalism and called for a crusade against what he described as the “Islamization” of Western Europe. Breivik’s views echo anti-Muslim sentiment that has found a renewed voice on the fringes of European politics.
Numerous news outlets and commentators initially blamed the Norway attack on Islamic militants. Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper, The Sun, ran a front-page headline titled, “Al Qaeda’s Massacre, Norway’s 9/11.” On the Washington Post’s website, Jennifer Rubin wrote, “This is a sobering reminder for those who think it’s too expensive to wage a war against jihadists.” The Wall Street Journal also initially blamed “jidhadists” reporting that, “Norway is targeted for being true to Western norms.”
In New York state, hundreds of gay and lesbian couples lined up to be married on Sunday on the first day that same-sex marriage was legal in the state. In New York City, couples, their families and friends formed a line around the block to be married at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg officiated at the wedding of two gay male city employees at his official residence, Gracie Mansion, on Sunday.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg: “And now for the moment that you have all been waiting for. Do you, John, solemnly declare that you take Jonathan to be your spouse? Do you promise to love, cherish and keep him for as long as you both shall live?”
John Feinblatt, groom: “I do.”
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg: “By the powers vested in me by the state of New York, I pronounce you both married.”
In related news, President Obama has formally certified the end of the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the U.S. military. The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which went into effect under President Bill Clinton, will officially be lifted on September 20, following a 60-day waiting period.
The United Nations is holding an emergency meeting in Rome today to address the famine in Somalia and East Africa. The U.N. World Food Programme has said it cannot reach 2.2 million Somalis at risk of starvation because they are in areas controlled by the militant group al-Shabab. Melissa Fleming is a spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR).
Melissa Fleming, UNHCR chief spokesperson: “We are really trying our best to work inside Somalia so that people don’t have to make this devastating, life-threatening trek into Kenya and Ethiopia. If we could aid, and I think we all know that, if we could aid the victims on the spot, prevent them from leaving their villages, we would not be in this terrible situation we are seeing now.”
The Washington Post reports House and Senate leaders are preparing separate backup plans to raise the federal debt limit after another day of intense negotiations failed to break a partisan impasse that threatens to throw the government into default next week. The moves comes days after House Speaker John Boehner abruptly abandoned debt-limit talks with the White House on Friday.
The New York City hotel maid who accused former International Monetary Fund chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, of attempting to rape her appeared on television this morning for the first time. Nafissatou Diallo, an immigrant from the African nation of Guinea, appeared on “Good Morning America.”
Nafissatou Diallo: “I was like, ‘I’m so sorry.’ I turned my head. He come to me and grabbed my breasts. ‘No, you don’t have to be sorry.’ I said, I said, ‘Stop, stop, I don’t want to lose my job.’ Yeah, I was like, ‘Stop, stop this. Stop this.’ But he won’t say nothing. He keep pushing me, pushing me, pushing me to the hallway, back to the hallway, keep pushing me. I was so afraid. I was so scared.”
Diallo decided to speak out weeks after reports emerged that the case against Strauss-Kahn was falling apart after doubts emerged over her credibility.
News Corp. executive James Murdoch has been accused of lying to members of British Parliament last week about how much he knew about the use of phone hacking by journalists working at newspapers owned by his father, Rupert Murdoch. During last week’s hearing, James Murdoch said he had been unaware in 2008 of an email that suggested such wrongdoing was more widespread. A former editor at the News of the World and the newspaper group’s top legal officer have since challenged Murdoch’s testimony. Labour politician Tom Watson has called for a police investigation.
Tom Watson, Labour Party, Media Committee Member: “I think this is the most significant moment in two years of the hacking scandal. If Myler and Crone are accurate in their statement, then it shows that James Murdoch was aware of phone hacking in 2008. Not only did he fail to act, he failed to report the matter to the police. And because he’s paid a huge amount of money to buy the silence of Gordon Taylor, I think he’s possibly facing an investigation for conspiring to pervert the course of justice. That’s a very serious charge. I should just say that he obviously stands by his version of events.”
The leader of Libya’s opposition movement says Col. Muammar Gaddafi and his family may be allowed to stay in the country provided they relinquish power and rebel forces are permitted to determine where they reside and under what conditions. Mustafa Abdel Jalil, chairman of Libya’s Transitional National Council, made the remark in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Jalil also confirmed reports the nation of Qatar has increased the flow of weapons to the opposition in recent days and sent personnel to train the rebel fighters in light weapons use and small-unit tactics.
Iran has accused the United States and Israel of collaborating to assassinate a scientist with potential links to the nation’s nuclear program. Darioush Rezainejad was gunned down outside of a kindergarten in Tehran on Saturday as he went to pick up his daughter. While his ties to Iran’s nuclear program remain unclear, his death bore similarities to the killing and attempted killing of several other Iranian nuclear specialists. In November, men on motorcycles attached a bomb to a vehicle owned by the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization. On the same day, Majid Shahriari, manager of a major nuclear project, was killed, and his wife and driver were wounded, in a similar operation. In January of 2010, Iranian particle physicist, Masoud Ali Mohammadi, died after a bomb attached to his motorcycle was detonated by remote control. In addition to the killings, the United States and Israel have been accused of perpetrating a sophisticated cyber attack against Iran’s nuclear program. Last year, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad admitted the so-called Stuxnet computer worm damaged a number of centrifuges used to enrich uranium at Iran’s nuclear reactors.
In Egypt, more than 230 people were injured Saturday when men armed with knives and sticks attacked a group of protesters marching towards Egypt’s ministry of defense in Cairo. The protesters were calling for the “downfall” of the country’s ruling military council.
The so-called “indignant” protesters in Spain have converged again in Madrid’s landmark Puerta del Sol to express outrage at the nation’s 21 percent unemployment rate, welfare cuts and government corruption.
Laura, protester: “This a very positive initiative. I think it is time to take to the street to oppose all the abuses that are taking place because of economical power. So stop now. People want a job. People want dignity. They are tired of being ignored and being unemployed and without future prospects.”
U.S. authorities refused to allow a Mexican airline to fly over U.S. airspace last week because one of the passengers on board was the prominent Mexican activist and sociologist Raquel Gutiérrez Aguilar. She was headed to Italy, where she was scheduled to speak. The plane was already in the air when the pilot was notified he could not cross into U.S. airspace. In 1992, Aguilar was arrested, tortured and imprisoned in Bolivia and charged, together with Bolivia’s currently elected vice president, Álvaro García, with belonging to a guerrilla organization. The charges were later dropped.
The British soul singer Amy Winehouse has died at the age of 27. In 2008, she became the first British female to win five Grammy Awards, but her career was hampered by years of drug abuse. She was found dead at her apartment on Saturday.