Norway Suspect Sought ‘Christian war’ Against Islam

Islamophobia has reached a mass murder level in Norway as the confessed killer claims he sought to combat encroachment by Muslims into his country and Europe. Anders Behring Breivik’s bombing and shooting spree puts the spotlight back on Europe’s uneasy adjustment to a shifting population. According to The New York Times, he called for “a Christian war to defend Europe against the threat of Muslim domination.” Acquaintances described him as being obsessed with what he saw as the threats of multiculturalism and Muslim immigration. Breivik’s manuscript, like the major Qaeda declarations, include detailed accounts of the Crusades, a pronounced sense of historical grievance and calls for apocalyptic warfare to defeat the religious and cultural enemy. But despite Breivik’s fears of cultural shifts, Muslims today are only 6% of the region’s population — and just 3% of the population in Norway.

  • End-time phobias of all kinds will spread lawlessness and violence across the globe, from Mexico’s drug cartels to Islamic terrorists to Christian extremists to eventually full-scale warfare in the Middle East.

Breivik spent nine years writing a 1,518-page manifesto. His lawyer confirmed he is the author. At the center of his rage is an objection to Muslim immigration in Europe and Norway’s embrace of multiculturalism. Police say he may have been in contact with the anti-immigration and anti-Muslim English Defense League in Britain and a neo-Nazi group in Sweden. Breivik also describes a group called the Knights Templar, a revival of the medieval knights who protected Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land. Breivik’s Knights Templar would target “cultural Marxist/multiculturalist elites” who are allowing Muslims to enter Europe. Breivik copied some passages in his manifesto from writings by “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski.

As the nation of 4.9 million people convulsed with grief over the death of 93 people, Norway’s leaders vowed Sunday to remain an open and inclusive society. Norway’s citizens are among the world’s richest. The crime rate is among the lowest in Europe. The Nobel Peace Prize, the only Nobel awarded outside Sweden, is given annually in Oslo. Although the Labor Party leads Norway’s parliamentary democracy, far right and anti-immigration politicians have gained traction there and elsewhere in Europe.

Federal Officials Kept Mexico Gun Plans Secret

Federal gun agents and Justice Department officials did not share crucial information about a risky gun trafficking investigation with their U.S. colleagues in Mexico, even as those colleagues expressed concerns about a sudden spike in the number of U.S. guns linked to the probe that were being recovered at crime scenes in Mexico, congressional investigators found. A new report concludes that Justice and Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives officials in Arizona and Washington “kept their own personnel in Mexico … totally in the dark” about the operation that allowed hundreds of weapons to flow into Mexico. The findings are part of a continuing congressional review of the ATF and its management of the trafficking strategy— known as Operation Fast and Furious. Federal authorities had hoped to build criminal cases against Mexican drug cartel leaders by allowing guns to move along the trafficking line into Mexico. Instead, current and former ATF officials said, the operation allowed hundreds of weapons to fall into the hands of cartel enforcers in Mexico and other criminals along the southwest border.

  • Too much secrecy and harebrained schemes in our bloated, “transparent” government

Gulf Oil Spill Victims Weary of Wait for Payouts

TV commercials by oil giant BP that promised to “make it right” and compensate those along the Gulf Coast who lost work during last year’s disastrous oil spill. More than a year after the spill ruined his oyster beds, however, a chorus of local fishermen, seafood processors, hoteliers and others say that nearly a year since it opened its doors, the Gulf Coast Claims Facility that administers the BP fund has not moved fast enough to pay those hurt most by the spill. Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder ordered an independent audit of the fund. The Gulf Coast Claims Facility has paid nearly $5 billion in claims to about 200,000 claimants, one of the largest payout efforts in U.S. history, according to the facility, but still far short of the $20 billion promised.

  • Like big government, large global corporations are fast with the slick talk but slow to deliver on their promises

Lawsuit Against NY Gay Marriage Bill Claims Flagrant Constitutional Violations

Citing “flagrant violations” of constitutional and legal procedures, a lawsuit has been filed to overturn New York’s same-gender “marriage” law that took effect on Sunday. A representative of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF) and a rabbi say in a lawsuit filed Monday in state court that New York’s Senate violated its own procedures and the state’s open meetings law when it approved the bill on June 24. Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver filed the lawsuit on behalf of NYCF and others because of what he terms “clear and rampant violations of the constitutional requirement to have open and transparent meetings.” According to Staver, the bill was “strong-armed” through the process.

Health Care Providers Embracing Cost-Saving Groups

Health care providers are embracing accountable care organizations, a key part of last year’s health care law, as they try to control rising Medicare and health care costs. Accountable care organizations are networks of doctors and hospitals that band together to better coordinate patient care by using computerized medical records and increased analysis of various treatments. Instead of the current system in which a patient sees a variety of doctors with little coordination, this new system is meant to eliminate duplication and provide financial incentives for providers to improve quality while also cutting costs. Hospital administrators and health care experts across the country say they’re creating the organizations, despite concerns about federal rules, because they realize they are the only way to remain profitable as a large portion of the nation’s population moves toward old age. Between 60 and 80 health care organizations use private accountable care models now, and that number will rise by at least 100 next year as the Medicare pilot program begins.

Prescription Drug Abuse Rising

The abuse of prescription drugs has risen to a dangerous level. A new federal study by the office of National Drug Control Policy entitled, “Epidemic: Responding to America’s Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis,” indicates that nationwide, the per person use of prescription opioids (synthetic opiates) has increased by more than 400% over the past decade. Opiate overdoses, once almost always attributed to heroin, “are now increasingly due to abuse of prescription painkillers,” such as oxycontin, percodan, vicodin and others. The April 2011 report also states that prescription painkillers are now “the second-most abused category of drugs after marijuana and the second leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. after car accidents.”

Debt Ceiling Talks Stalled, Obama & Boehmer Face Off

President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner faced off in back-to-back addresses to the nation Monday in prime-time, after House Republicans and Senate Democrats emerged with competing plans to address the U.S. debt ceiling. One of the biggest obstacles remaining: the size of the debt limit increase. House Republicans want an increase of $1 trillion — enough to last about six months, with future increases tied to more cuts and a House and Senate vote on a balanced budget amendment. The Senate wants $2.4 trillion, enough to get through the 2012 election. With just seven days left to raise the nation’s $14.2 trillion debt ceiling, President Obama and Republican congressional leaders failed to reach a bipartisan deal, leaving both sides to devise their own solutions.

The debt deal impasse doesn’t just threaten the U.S. credit rating. President Obama’s political standing also appears at risk. Obama’s job approval ratings last week averaged 43% last week, matching the lowest level of his presidency, Gallop reported. The ratings for House Speaker John Boehner and congressional Republicans aren’t any better, and the GOP may struggle to hold the U.S. House in next year’s elections.

Economic News

The wealth gaps between whites and minorities have grown to their widest levels in a quarter-century. The recession and uneven recovery have erased decades of minority gains, leaving whites on average with 20 times the net worth of blacks and 18 times that of Hispanics, according to an analysis of new Census data. What’s pushing the wealth of whites is the rebound in the stock market and corporate savings, while younger Hispanics and African-Americans who bought homes in the last decade — because that was the American dream — are seeing big declines.

Home prices in major U.S. cities rose for the second straight month in May, propped up by a flurry of spring buyers. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home-price index released Tuesday showed that prices rose in 16 of the 20 cities tracked. Boston posted the biggest monthly increase, followed closely by Minneapolis and Washington. Prices in three metro areas hit the hardest by the housing crisis — Detroit, Las Vegas and Tampa (Florida) — fell to their lowest points since the recession began. Prices in Phoenix were unchanged.

While the nation’s job growth has limped along since the economic recovery began two years ago, the Lone Star State job market is growing. From June 2009 to June 2011 Texas added 262,000 jobs, or half the USA’s 524,000 payroll gains. The stunning showing could play a role in the presidential race. Texas Gov. Rick Perry is signaling he may run for the Republican nomination. If he does, he’s likely to ground his campaign in his state’s outsized job growth. Economists point to an array of factors, including high energy prices that set off an oil-drilling frenzy, rising exports and a conservative banking industry that helped the state sidestep the housing crash.

Libya

Airstrikes hit a southeastern area of the Libyan capital early Sunday, sending up a huge cloud of white smoke, not far from the sprawling compound of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi at Bab al-Aziziyah. Under a U.N. mandate, NATO warplanes have been carrying out airstrikes on the Libyan government military targets. Just 24 hours earlier there were a series of at least six explosions in the Bab al-Aziziyah area. NATO later reported a “command and control” facility had been hit.

Egypt

Groups of men armed with knives and sticks attacked thousands of protesters trying to march to the headquarters of Egypt’s military rulers Saturday, setting off fierce street clashes and leaving more than 100 injured. Security fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. The clashes come as tensions mount between the military council that took control of the country after a popular uprising ousted ex-President Hosni Mubarak and activists who want them to move faster in bringing former regime officials to justice and setting a date for the transition to civilian rule.

Yemen

A suicide attacker driving a pickup truck packed with explosives blew himself up outside an army camp in Yemen’s coastal city of Aden on Sunday, killing at least eight army soldiers and wounding dozens more. The blast took place near the gate of the camp as a column of vehicles loaded with troops and supplies was preparing to leave for nearby Abyan province to take part in fighting against al-Qaeda-linked militants.

Afghanistan

The new U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan said Monday that the United States is not rushing to leave the country. Speaking after being sworn in at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Ryan Crocker tried to allay Afghan fears about Obama’s plan to bring 10,000 U.S. troops home by year’s end, as many as 23,000 more by September 2012 and a formal end to the combat mission by the end of 2014. We must proceed carefully,” he said. “There will be no rush for the exits. But he also stressed the U.S. had no interest in having permanent bases in the nation.

Sri Lanka

A proxy to Sri Lanka’s now-defunct separatist Tamil Tiger rebels swept local council elections held in areas ravaged by the country’s 25-year civil war, officials said Sunday, amid reports of intimidation and vote-buying. The Tamil National Alliance won 20 local councils out of the 25 it contested in the ethnic Tamil-majority north and east, the Elections Department said. President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance coalition secured five councils in Saturday’s vote. The resounding victory consolidates the Tamil National Alliance’s status as an authentic representative of ethnic Tamils in negotiations with Rajapaksa’s ethnic majority Sinhalese-controlled government in sharing political power and postwar rehabilitation.

North Korea

North Korea’s food shortage has reached a crisis point this year, aid workers say, largely because of shocks to the agricultural sector, including torrential rains and the coldest winter in 60 years. Six million North Koreans are living “on a knife edge” and will go hungry without immediate food aid, the World Food Program said, calling in April for $224 million in emergency aid. North Korean officials have made quiet pleas for help, citing rising global food prices, shortfalls in fertilizer and the winter freeze that killed their wheat harvest. In return, they agreed to strict monitoring conditions — a rare concession. Donations, however, have not been flooding the nation considered a political pariah for its nuclear defiance and alleged human rights abuses.

Wildfires

Thirty water- and retardant-dropping aircraft bombarded flames during flights on Monday over a nearly 20-square-mile California wildfire crackling through bush and brush on a remote American Indian reservation in northeast San Diego County. The 12,700-acre blaze was 45% surrounded Monday night, but there’s no estimate on full containment. The fire broke out Thursday on the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation and has moved into Anza-Borrego State Park. A shed was destroyed but no homes have burned. Six firefighters have reported minor injuries, mostly heat exhaustion.

Weather

The heat wave that roasted the East Coast is easing, but the respite may be only temporary as soaring temperatures are forecast to return later this week. The heat will start building again across the northern plains and Ohio Valley toward the Northeast by the middle to end of the workweek. There’s little relief in sight for the scorched and parched southern Plains. Temperatures will stay in the 100s from Kansas southward. In Dallas, temperatures have been 100 degrees or more for 23 straight days. The Weather Channel forecasts at least another 10 days of that.

Last week’s heat broke records in several spots. All-time high temperatures were set Friday in Newark (108 degrees); Washington Dulles Airport (105); and Hartford, Conn., (103). Baltimore hit 106 degrees on Friday, one degree shy of its all-time high, and Central Park in New York City saw 104, 2 degrees short of its all-time-high record. July is on pace to be one of the five hottest months in U.S. history,.

Farmers in the Pacific Northwest could use a bit of the oppressive heat that’s crippling much of the United States right now. Farmers in parts of Oregon and Washington are struggling with cold, wet weather that’s slowing the growth of their crops. Cherries aren’t ripe. The region’s world-class grass seed won’t dry out. One Oregon county is seeking a disaster declaration after losing as much as 80 percent of its peaches. Farmers say they desperately need some warmth and a break from above-normal rainfall.

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