A Norwegian court has convicted mass killer Anders Behring Breivik for the bombing and shooting rampage that left 77 people dead one year ago. On July 22, 2011, Breivik set off bombs at government buildings in Olso, killing eight people, before shooting dead 69 others at a Labor Party youth camp, most of whom were teenagers. Breivik has said he targeted the ruling Labor Party because its policies were too open to Muslim immigrants. In a long-awaited verdict earlier today, a five-judge panel declared Breivik to be sane and fit for trial, sentencing him to 21 years behind bars. That is the maximum prison term under Norwegian law, but it can later be prolonged.
At least 16 people have been killed in a U.S. drone attack in northwest Pakistan. Pakistani officials say the strike targeted a militant compound. It is unclear if any civilians died in the attack. The Obama administration’s policy for drone strikes deems all adult male victims as militants, unless exculpatory evidence emerges after their deaths.
Tropical Storm Isaac has picked up strength as it heads for the Dominican Republic and Haiti but appears unlikely to reach hurricane strength before striking the island of Hispaniola. Forecasters now say Isaac may not reach hurricane status until Monday, when it will be somewhere over the Gulf of Mexico.
On Thursday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott attempted to allay concerns Isaac could threaten next week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, saying there are no plans to cancel the event.
Gov. Rick Scott: “Isaac is a unique storm in this regard. It has the potential to threaten a major convention, designated a special national security event. That’s why I have convened local, state, federal and convention officials for a twice daily briefing. The goal is to make sure everyone has the best information available, a complete picture of the situation, everything needed to make a good decision. These officials have been working together to plan the convention for the past 18 months. The possibility for a hurricane has been part of that planning process.”
On the campaign trail, Republican candidate Mitt Romney has unveiled a new plan that would radically alter the nation’s energy policy. On Thursday, Romney called for ending the longstanding federal regulation of oil and gas drilling and coal mining on government-owned lands, and instead transferring responsibility over to the states. The move would mark a huge win for oil and gas companies as states notoriously have weaker regulatory mechanisms than the federal government. Romney also vowed speedy approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada’s tar sands to the Gulf Coast. Speaking in New Mexico, Romney said his plan would lead the United States to energy independence.
Mitt Romney: “This is not just a matter of economy and jobs and rising incomes and a growing economy and more tax revenues. It’s also more security. It means we don’t have to rely on people who in some cases don’t like us very much, that America will be able to stand on its own, will stand arm in arm with our friends from Mexico and our friends from Canada, and assure that we have all the energy we need to keep America powered and to make sure that our military never has to borrow from someone across the ocean that might not be our best friend.”
Romney unveiled his plan just days after taking in nearly $10 million from the oil and gas industry in two fundraisers. According to the New York Times, Romney’s staff drafted his plan with energy industry executives, including the billionaire oil tycoon Harold Hamm.
The murky details of Mitt Romney’s fortune have come closer to the light with the release of a massive trove of internal audits and other documents for 21 “cryptically named entities” in which Romney had invested. The website Gawker reports nearly all of the entities were linked to Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney co-founded, and that many were offshore funds based in the Cayman Islands. Gawker says the documents “reveal the mind-numbing, maze-like, and deeply opaque complexity with which Romney has handled his wealth.” The documents also reportedly show that investments Romney described as part of his retirement package at Bain were not made until years after he left the company.
The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad continues to launch attacks around the capital of Damascus in a bid to root out armed rebels. The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims at least 100 people were killed in nationwide violence on Thursday after some 200 died the day before.
The family of a U.S. reporter covering the conflict in Syria has disclosed he has gone missing. Austin Tice, a freelance journalist, law student and U.S. military veteran, has not been heard from in over a week. He had intended to leave Syria earlier this month.
Argentina’s last dictator, Reynaldo Bignone, is facing a new trial over the kidnappings and disappearances of political opponents and the deliberate theft of babies from political prisoners. Bignone and two other defendants are already serving jail sentences for other abuses under Argentina’s military regime. A lawyer for the group Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo said the defendants presided over the disappearances of thousands of people.
Mariano Gaitán: “In this area where the military center was Campo de Mayo, an estimated 5,000 comrades disappeared. Among them were many women who were pregnant or who had young children that were kidnapped. The Grandmothers are still looking for many of these children. They have found some of them, but they continue looking and also searching for justice for the disappearances and deaths of these people.”
It is believed the Argentine military dictatorship killed at least 30,000 Argentines during its rule from 1976 to 1983.
The fourth of eight U.S. soldiers court-martialed in the death of Army Private Danny Chen has been punished with a demotion and a brief reduction in pay. A 19-year-old Chinese American, Chen allegedly took his own life just weeks after he was deployed to Afghanistan last October. His family says Chen had been abused by comrades on an almost daily basis including racist hazing, with soldiers throwing rocks at him, calling him ethnic slurs and forcing him to do push-ups or hang upside down with his mouth full of water. In a summary court-martial, Sgt. Travis Carden was demoted to specialist and forced to give up two-thirds of his pay for one month.
A former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan has been arrested in Washington state on charges of drunken driving and hit-and-run. Ryan Crocker was detained in Spokane Valley earlier this month after allegedly hitting a semi-truck and then driving away. He was found to have a blood-alcohol content twice the legal limit. Crocker retired as the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan earlier this year after previously serving as the U.S. ambassador to Iraq.
A group of immigration agents are challenging the Obama administration’s policy suspending deportations for undocumented residents who came to the United States as children. The lawsuit on behalf of 10 immigration agents was filed in Texas by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who helped draft the controversial anti-immigrant laws in Arizona and Alabama and is an informal adviser to Republican candidate Mitt Romney. The lawsuit alleges the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program prevents agents from detaining immigrants who could threaten public safety. The new program grants temporary legal status to live and work in the country to undocumented people who meet certain conditions, including being under 31 as of June 15, 2012. Tens of thousands of young undocumented immigrants stood in massive lines across the country to apply for deferred action when the policy went into effect last week.
A federal judge has ruled the Tennessee Valley Authority is liable for a massive coal ash spill that polluted surrounding areas in 2008. The Kingston Fossil Plant spill released more than one billion gallons of toxic coal ash, burying homes and roads in what’s believed to be the largest coal ash disaster in U.S. history. In a victory for hundreds of plaintiffs, Federal District Court Judge Thomas Varlan ruled Thursday the TVA can be held responsible for damages.
Six activists with the environmentalist group Greenpeace have occupied a Russian oil rig to protest drilling in the Arctic. The rig belongs to the Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom, which is set to become the first company to produce Arctic oil through drilling operations in the Pechora Sea. Greenpeace says its members have enough supplies to last them for days. The group includes Greenpeace’s executive director, South African activist Kumi Naidoo.
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