Daily Archives: August 26, 2011

NYPD confirms CIA officer works at department


In this photo made public in August, people pass below a NYPD security camera, upper left, situated above a mosque on Fulton St. in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn. After Sept. 11, the New York Police Department has dispatched undercover officers into minority neighborhoods and used informants to monitor mosques, even when there’s no evidence of wrongdoing. Bebeto Matthews  /  AP

Unusual partnership blurs lines between foreign and domestic spying

MSNBC | Aug 26, 2011

By EILEEN SULLIVAN

WASHINGTON — New York’s police commissioner confirmed Thursday that a CIA officer is working out of police headquarters there, after an Associated Press investigation revealed an unusual partnership with the CIA that has blurred the line between foreign and domestic spying. But he and the CIA said the spy agency’s role at the department is an advisory one.

Speaking to reporters in New York, commissioner Raymond Kelly acknowledged that the Central Intelligence Agency trains NYPD officers on “trade craft issues,” meaning espionage techniques, and advises police about events happening overseas. Kelly also said he was unaware of any other U.S. police department with a similar relationship with the CIA.

“They are involved in providing us with information, usually coming from perhaps overseas and providing it to us for, you know, just for our purposes,” Kelly said.

CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood said the agency does not spy inside the United States and also described the relationship with the CIA as collaborative.

Undercover officers in minority neighborhoods

A months-long investigation by the AP, published Wednesday, revealed that the NYPD has dispatched teams of undercover officers, known as “rakers,” into minority neighborhoods as part of a human mapping program, according to officials directly involved in the program. They’ve monitored daily life in bookstores, bars, cafes and nightclubs. Police have also used informants, known as “mosque crawlers,” to monitor sermons, even when there’s no evidence of wrongdoing. NYPD officials have scrutinized imams and gathered intelligence on cab drivers and food cart vendors, jobs often done by Muslims.

Many of the operations were built with help from the CIA, which is prohibited from spying on Americans but was instrumental in transforming the NYPD’s intelligence unit after the September 2001 terror attacks.

The NYPD denied that it trolls ethnic neighborhoods and said it only follows leads. The mayor on Thursday defended the police department’s efforts.

“In the end the NYPD’s first job is prevention, and I think they’ve done a very good job of that,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said when asked about the police practices. “The law is pretty clear about what’s the requirement, and I think they’ve followed the law.”

The disclosures about the NYPD’s activities provoked exasperation in the city’s Muslim neighborhoods, where government officials have sought to build relationships in Muslim communities and pledged to ensure that Muslims aren’t targeted for discrimination.

“The NYPD’s credibility is bankrupt in our communities,” Fahd Ahmed, legal and policy director of the Desis Rising Up & Moving group, said in a statement Thursday. “We need accountability, transparency and an overhaul of tactics and policies.”

Government outreach programs have operated in Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Minneapolis, Portland, Ore., and Washington — all cities with large Muslim communities — even as law enforcement around the country has stepped up investigative efforts to stave off attacks.

Partners or a suspicious community?

But the inherent tensions caused by this duality of missions is perhaps most visible in New York. It is the only U.S. city that al-Qaida has successfully attacked twice and continues to be the target of terror plots. New York also is home to the country’s most aggressive local police department investigating counter-terrorism.

“It seems to many of the leadership here, there are two kinds of authorities they are playing — one is in the forefront which is very cooperative,” said Zaheer Uddin of the Islamic Leadership Council of New York. “And there is another authority, which is playing against Islam and Muslims, going against the First Amendment and the security of this country.”

Uddin asked, “Are we partners, or are we a suspicious community?”

On Wednesday, the Justice Department said it will review a request by a Muslim advocacy group to investigate.

“These revelations send the message to American Muslims that they are being viewed as a suspect community and that their constitutional rights may be violated with impunity,” said Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which asked for the investigation. “The Justice Department must initiate an immediate investigation of the civil rights implications of this spy program and the legality of its links to the CIA.”

In the decade since the September 2001 attacks, government officials in New York also have met with Muslim leaders and exchanged cell phone numbers. They’ve attended religious services, dinners and teas, and spoken at community meetings. The FBI recently hosted an event for 500 young Muslims in Brooklyn to build trust and get to know federal law enforcement, with a bomb-sniffing dog, scuba boat and helicopter on display.

“I go and visit mosques on a regular basis,” Kelly previously told the AP, adding that he also holds question-and-answer sessions and planned to attend several dinners with members of the Muslim community during the holy month of Ramadan this year.

The police department in 2006 hired Sidique Wai, an African immigrant and member of the New York Muslim community, to coordinate the NYPD’s citywide community outreach program. He said the interaction and outreach between the community and police is unprecedented.

“The majority of the faith-based — particularly the Muslim leaders throughout the city — are absolutely appreciative of the unprecedented relationship with the police department,” Wai said. “I’m not aware of a deliberate effort on the part of NYPD to profile people.”

Muslim community leaders upset

Some Muslim community leaders in New York aren’t satisfied. They have complained about aggressive tactics the department uses to collect intelligence and about a video, “The Third Jihad,” shown earlier this year to some members of the NYPD during a training session. Kelly, the police commissioner, explained in a letter in March that the film was not part of the department’s training program and said it was shown in the background while members of the NYPD were filling out administrative paperwork before a training session.

The video includes images of terror attacks, Osama bin Laden and U.S. Muslim leaders praising the 2001 hijackers, news reports about terror plots and experts talking about the threat of radical Islam. Muslim leaders were outraged by the film because they said it was anti-Islam.

Wai said these issues have been raised and addressed at the many forums held throughout the Muslim community. He said people ask about profiling, and they get answers. “They may not be the answers that they want to hear,” he said.

Not all New York Muslim leaders are complaining.

“There was a time when police would rush into the mosque with their boots on,” Mustapha Senghor, chairman of the Harlem Islamic Cultural Center, said during a July pre-Ramadan conference in New York. “They do not do that anymore. Congratulations, commissioner. For that we thank you, very much.”

“We love you, commissioner,” Senghor said. “You have imams who are extensions of the police force. You include us, you talk to us, you ask us what we are feeling. It makes us feel we are part of the city, and not that people are against us.”

How Israel takes its revenge on boys who throw stones


Boys throw stones at Israeli soldiers. AFP

Video seen by Catrina Stewart reveals the brutal interrogation of young Palestinians

independent.co.uk | Aug 26, 2011

The boy, small and frail, is struggling to stay awake. His head lolls to the side, at one point slumping on to his chest. “Lift up your head! Lift it up!” shouts one of his interrogators, slapping him. But the boy by now is past caring, for he has been awake for at least 12 hours since he was separated at gunpoint from his parents at two that morning. “I wish you’d let me go,” the boy whimpers, “just so I can get some sleep.”

During the nearly six-hour video, 14-year-old Palestinian Islam Tamimi, exhausted and scared, is steadily broken to the point where he starts to incriminate men from his village and weave fantastic tales that he believes his tormentors want to hear.

This rarely seen footage seen by The Independent offers a glimpse into an Israeli interrogation, almost a rite of passage that hundreds of Palestinian children accused of throwing stones undergo every year.

Israel has robustly defended its record, arguing that the treatment of minors has vastly improved with the creation of a military juvenile court two years ago. But the children who have faced the rough justice of the occupation tell a very different story.

“The problems start long before the child is brought to court, it starts with their arrest,” says Naomi Lalo, an activist with No Legal Frontiers, an Israeli group that monitors the military courts. It is during their interrogation where their “fate is doomed”, she says.

Sameer Shilu, 12, was asleep when the soldiers smashed in the front door of his house one night. He and his older brother emerged bleary-eyed from their bedroom to find six masked soldiers in their living room.

Checking the boy’s name on his father’s identity card, the officer looked “shocked” when he saw he had to arrest a boy, says Sameer’s father, Saher. “I said, ‘He’s too young; why do you want him?’ ‘I don’t know,’ he said”. Blindfolded, and his hands tied painfully behind his back with plastic cords, Sameer was bundled into a Jeep, his father calling out to him not to be afraid. “We cried, all of us,” his father says. “I know my sons; they don’t throw stones.”

In the hours before his interrogation, Sameer was kept blindfolded and handcuffed, and prevented from sleeping. Eventually taken for interrogation without a lawyer or parent present, a man accused him of being in a demonstration, and showed him footage of a boy throwing stones, claiming it was him.

“He said, ‘This is you’, and I said it wasn’t me. Then he asked me, ‘Who are they?’ And I said that I didn’t know,” Sameer says. “At one point, the man started shouting at me, and grabbed me by the collar, and said, ‘I’ll throw you out of the window and beat you with a stick if you don’t confess’.”

Sameer, who protested his innocence, was fortunate; he was released a few hours later. But most children are frightened into signing a confession, cowed by threats of physical violence, or threats against their families, such as the withdrawal of work permits.

When a confession is signed, lawyers usually advise children to accept a plea bargain and serve a fixed jail sentence even if not guilty. Pleading innocent is to invite lengthy court proceedings, during which the child is almost always remanded in prison. Acquittals are rare. “In a military court, you have to know that you’re not looking for justice,” says Gabi Lasky, an Israeli lawyer who has represented many children.

There are many Palestinian children in the West Bank villages in the shadow of Israel’s separation wall and Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands. Where largely non-violent protests have sprung up as a form of resistance, there are children who throw stones, and raids by Israel are common. But lawyers and human rights groups have decried Israel’s arrest policy of targeting children in villages that resist the occupation.

In most cases, children as young as 12 are hauled from their beds at night, handcuffed and blindfolded, deprived of sleep and food, subjected to lengthy interrogations, then forced to sign a confession in Hebrew, a language few of them read.

Israeli rights group B’Tselem concluded that, “the rights of minors are severely violated, that the law almost completely fails to protect their rights, and that the few rights granted by the law are not implemented”.

Israel claims to treat Palestinian minors in the spirit of its own law for juveniles but, in practice, it is rarely the case. For instance, children should not be arrested at night, lawyers and parents should be present during interrogations, and the children must be read their rights. But these are treated as guidelines, rather than a legal requirement, and are frequently flouted. And Israel regards Israeli youngsters as children until 18, while Palestinians are viewed as adults from 16.

Lawyers and activists say more than 200 Palestinian children are in Israeli jails. “You want to arrest these kids, you want to try them,” Ms Lalo says. “Fine, but do it according to Israeli law. Give them their rights.”

In the case of Islam, the boy in the video, his lawyer, Ms Lasky, believes the video provides the first hard proof of serious irregularities in interrogation.

In particular, the interrogator failed to inform Islam of his right to remain silent, even as his lawyer begged to no avail to see him. Instead, the interrogator urged Islam to tell him and his colleagues everything, hinting that if he did so, he would be released. One interrogator suggestively smacked a balled fist into the palm of his hand.

By the end of the interrogation Islam, breaking down in sobs, has succumbed to his interrogators, appearing to give them what they want to hear. Shown a page of photographs, his hand moves dully over it, identifying men from his village, all of whom will be arrested for protesting.

Ms Lasky hopes this footage will change the way children are treated in the occupied territories, in particular, getting them to incriminate others, which lawyers claim is the primary aim of interrogations. The video helped gain Islam’s release from jail into house arrest, and may even lead to a full acquittal of charges of throwing stones. But right now, a hunched and silent Islam doesn’t feel lucky. Yards from his house in Nabi Saleh is the home of his cousin, whose husband is in jail awaiting trial along with a dozen others on the strength of Islam’s confession.

The cousin is magnanimous. “He is a victim, he is just a child,” says Nariman Tamimi, 35, whose husband, Bassem, 45, is in jail. “We shouldn’t blame him for what happened. He was under enormous pressure.”

Israel’s policy has been successful in one sense, sowing fear among children and deterring them from future demonstrations. But the children are left traumatised, prone to nightmares and bed-wetting. Most have to miss a year of school, or even drop out.

Israel’s critics say its policy is creating a generation of new activists with hearts filled with hatred against Israel. Others say it is staining the country’s character. “Israel has no business arresting these children, trying them, oppressing them,” Ms Lalo says, her eyes glistening. “They’re not our children. My country is doing so many wrongs and justifying them. We should be an example, but we have become an oppressive state.”

Child detention figures

7,000 [Figure corrected, with apologies for earlier production error.] The estimated number of Palestinian children detained and prosecuted in Israeli military courts since 2000, shows a report by Defence for Children International Palestine (DCIP).

87 The percentage of children subjected to some form of physical violence while in custody. About 91 per cent are also believed to be blindfolded at some point during their detention.

12 The minimum age of criminal responsibility, as stipulated in the Military Order 1651.

62 The percentage of children arrested between 12am and 5am.

Norway police explore several Breivik links

Anders Breivik Templar Knight Commander

theforeigner.no | Aug 26, 2011

by Lyndsey Smith and Michael Sandelson

Anders Behring Breivik may have had an international network of people with the same ideals.

According to Breivik’s lawyer, Geir Lippestad, his client has already hinted there are “friends abroad that think the same way as him and that they will continue his work.”

Dagbladet reports this consists of the Norwegian defence league (NDL), the English Defence League (EDL) and the Stop Islamisation of Norway (SIAN). The groups contact each other via social networking sites like Facebook, where groups can be made private and only available for members to view the contents.

EDL blogger Paul Ray is in Norway this week being questioned by police over alleged mentoring connections. Ray has already admitted being a possible influence.

Breivik sent a message to members of the EDL before killing 77 people, saying, “In these dark times all of Europe are looking to you in search of inspiration, courage and even hope that we might turn this evil trend with Islamisation all across our continent.”

Investigators are also searching through Facebook for traces of links between Breivik, the EDL, NDL, and SIAN, and believe they have found a connection with a key member of this last organisation. The SIAN member has deleted his account, but there are suspicions they have been in contact a great deal.

Prosecutor Christian Hatlo says if this is true, “it will be necessary to bring in people from this community. There have already been some interviews, without us being able to go into further details.”

Heads of other European extremist organisations have been quick to deny association with Breivik when questioned. Leader of Stop Isamisation in Europe (SIOE) Dane Anders Gravers told Dagbladet Breivik was not a member and had been rejected as his views were too extreme.

Responding to reports by Danish blog site P77, allegedly supported by a screen dump showing the two were friends 13 months ago, Gravers says, “Breivik’s claims are lies. SIOE’s leaders have never been in contact with him, and we have never discussed a strategy, of course.”

Breivik has spoken to police about his connections with extremist organisations, however, openly discussing how he had talked of discussed a plan with members of SIOE and the EDL.

Meanwhile, the Norwegian Defence League (NDL), formed in 2010, has three different stories about its involvement with the 32-year-old mass murderer. NDL’s current leadership denies having any contact with Breivik.

Former leader Havard Krane claims that Breivik left after a few days as he found the organisation too mild. Successor Lena Andreassen has a contradictive story stating that he was a member but she kicked him out. Finally, the organisation’s present leader, Ronny Alte, says “he was a member here for a short period under the previous leadership, but chose to resign from the NDL himself.”

Anders Behring Breivik Flagged In Anti-Terror Operation Before Norway Attacks



huffingtonpost.com | Aug 26, 2011

by BJOERN H. AMLAND

OSLO, Norway — Four months before Anders Behring Breivik went on his killing rampage in Norway, a global operation that monitors trading in bomb-making materials told the nation’s police that he had bought chemicals from a Polish company, a customs official said Friday. But police did not act on the information.

On July 22, Breivik killed 77 people in a bombing in Norway’s capital and a shooting rampage on a nearby island, and he has since confessed to the mass killings.

Geir Hoiseth, who heads the border control department of Norway’s customs agency, said Breivik’s name came up as a result of the Global Shield program, a U.S. initiative, after he bought chemicals from a Polish firm.

Hoiseth said customs officials passed the information to Norway’s security police, PST, in March. PST has confirmed that it was alerted to Breivik’s purchase of chemicals from the company, but has said the transaction was legal and there wasn’t enough information to warrant further investigation.

PST didn’t return calls Friday.

“We just found traces that he has been in connection with a company that deals with this kind of pyrotechnical goods,” Hoiseth told The Associated Press. “It was supplementary information regarding Global Shield … based on Global Shield observations.”

Hoiseth declined to give more details except to say that customs officials “simply suspected that he could be involved in a suspicious shipment, and was on a list of more than 60 other people.”

Breivik has admitted he was behind the bombing outside the government headquarters in Oslo and the shooting spree at a summer camp on Utoya island organized by youth wing of the governing Labor Party, killing 68. His lawyer has said Breivik denies criminal responsibility, saying he’s in a state of war.

In a manifesto released just before the attacks, Breivik describes ordering sodium nitrate and aluminum powder from a Polish company, as well as other chemicals that can be used in explosives from other suppliers.

He says he was concerned about customs seizing the 0.3 kilo (0.66-pound) shipment of sodium nitrate “and/or informing authorities but it appears this didn’t happen.”

Investigators have said Breivik’s low-key and law-abiding lifestyle before the attacks made it difficult to pinpoint him as a potential threat. They say he kept his plans to himself, and have found no evidence to support his claims of being part of a network with other militant cells.

On Thursday, police questioned Paul Ray, an Englishman who writes an anti-Muslim blog, over claims that he is the British mentor that Breivik refers to in his manifesto.

“I have been completely honest and open with the police … and they know I don’t have anything to do with this,” Ray told Norwegian news agency NTB. “Basically I’m just answering questions they need to prove that I’m not his mentor.”

U.S. sued over Michelle’s secretive ‘family outing’


U.S. first lady Michelle Obama and her family ride their safari vehicle in Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa, Saturday, June 25, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, Pool)

‘How much did the American people spend to send the first lady’ on safari?

The cost to taxpayers for a C-32 aircraft for the trip alone was $430,000.

WND | Aug 25, 2011

By Bob Unruh

Judicial Watch has filed a lawsuit over the federal government’s refusal to disclose how much taxpayers spent to send Michelle Obama on a “family outing” that included a safari in Africa.

The organization, which investigates and fights government corruption, earlier documented what appears to many to be the extravagant spending by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Records showed Pelosi cost taxpayers $101,000 for in-flight food and alcohol over a period in 2008 and 2009. At one point she instructed the Air Force to provide chocolate-covered strawberries for a snack, since it was her birthday.

“Dark chocolate preferred” was the order.

Now Judicial Watch wants to know what taxpayers are spending for Michelle Obama’s vacations.

“How much did the American people spend to send the First Lady on a family outing in Africa? That’s what we want to know,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “On the surface, the trip seems to have been totally unnecessary and was as much an excuse for the Obama family to go on a safari as it was a mission intended to advance the nation’s business in Africa.”

The organization requested information in June regarding the expenses for the trip. The request included records for the mission taskings for the June 21-27 trip to South Africa and Botswana, the transportation costs and all passenger manifests for the trip.

The government had until Aug. 3 to respond, but did not, so Judicial Watch now has followed up with a lawsuit.

“The professed purpose of Mrs. Obama’s trip was to encourage young people living in South Africa and Botswana to get involved in national affairs,” the Judicial Watch report said. “The First Lady’s remarks focused on education, health and wellness issues.

“However, accompanied by her daughters Malia and Sasha, her mother, Marian Robinson, and her niece and nephew, Leslie and Avery Robinson, the trip also included such tourist events as visits to historical landmarks and museums as well as a visit with Nelson Mandela,” the Judicial Watch report said.

“The trip ended with a private family safari at a South African game reserve before the group returned to Washington on June 27,” Judicial Watch said.

The organization noted that the White House Dossier, a blog by White House reporter Keith Koffer, said the cost to taxpayers for a C-32 aircraft for the trip alone was $430,000.

This cost, JW reported, was based on an estimated charge of $12,723 an hour, which is what the Department of Defense charges other federal agencies to use that airplane. If a military cargo plane was included – which is typical for Michelle Obama’s trips – the transportation alone could have cost another $200,000.

Additionally, there would be costs for Secret Service protection, the care and feeding of a numerous staff members, pre-trip staff work and others categories.

Judicial Watch reported earlier that a “date night” for the Obamas – for a New York dinner and Broadway show – cost taxpayers more than $11,000 in Secret Service expenses alone.

The organization said it is investigating such costs “in the face of a ballooning federal debt and a sinking economy.”

The announcement about the court case came just a day after The Daily Mail in the United Kingdom touted the 10 million in public money Michelle Obama has spent on her “vacations.”

“Branding her ‘disgusting’ and ‘a vacation junkie,’ [reports] say the 47-year-old mother-of-two has been indulging in five-star hotels, where she splashes out on expensive massages and alcohol,” the London paper said.

The report said Michelle Obama is believed to have taken 42 days of vacation in the last year, including a respite in Spain that cost $375,000 and a $2,000-a-night ski trip to Vail, Colo.

The family currently is on another vacation, at Blue Heron Farm on Martha’s Vineyard, where the rental fees are estimated at $50,000 a week.

The paper reported the situation was aggravated because the Obamas took separate airplanes to the Massachusetts retreat – even though they traveled the same day.

Also, the report cited figures from a Hawaii Reporter investigation into the Obamas’ trip to Hawaii last winter, where the costs were $63,000 to bring Michelle Obama to town ahead of the president, $38,000 for a beach property rental, $134,000 for staff members to stay in a nearby hotel and $251,000 in police overtime.

The White House Dossier report explained South African U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau confirmed the African trip was partly personal.

“She’s coming on this trip to talk about women’s development and youth development, and South Africa is a leader in that, not only on the continent but globally,” Trudeau said in the report. “A visit to South Africa is important for them as a family. She’ll be visiting many struggle-era landmarks, including the Apartheid Museum (and) the Hector Pieterson Memorial.”

Pelosi’s spending habits first came to light through Judicial Watch efforts, revealing the $101,000 that taxpayers spent for in-flight food and alcohol for her during that time period.

It was last year she requested that strawberries be provided for a special treat on her Air Force transport because it was her birthday. Not just any strawberries: chocolate-covered strawberries. “Dark chocolate preferred.”

Then there was a follow-up report from Judicial Watch that more taxpayer money – hundreds of thousands of dollars – were spent in the months before Pelosi handed the gavel over to Rep. John Boehner as Republicans took control of the House following the 2010 election.

Among the receipts: $130 from a Detroit store for popcorn, cheese puffs, Hershey’s milk chocolate kisses, peanuts, Snickers minis, Nilla wafers, ginger snaps, mixed nuts, dry roasted peanuts, M&M peanuts, Kraft caramels and crackers.

That order apparently was connected to a congressional delegation trip to Detroit that cost some $24,000 in air travel expenses plus another $10,000 in miscellaneous expenses.

The records, which are linked Judicial Watch’s website, include flight manifests, expense summaries, copies of receipts and congressional correspondence for Pelosi’s trips in 2010.

There’s not a grand total for the expenditures because of the nature of the reporting: Sometimes there were reimbursements listed for members of Pelosi’s family traveling with her, and it was unclear whether those reimbursements were paid.

Full Story

Norway killer ‘mentor’: Breivik NOT a lone wolf, but part of larger agenda


The Norwegian man who has confessed to killing 77 people was not a “lone wolf,” a British far-right activist thought to be the gunman’s “mentor” said today. Source: AFP

Norwegian mass killer ‘not a lone wolf’, far-right activist says

AFP | Aug 26, 2011

THE Norwegian man who has confessed to killing 77 people was not a “lone wolf,” a British far-right activist thought to be the gunman’s “mentor” said today after being interviewed by Norwegian police.

Paul Ray, a blogger and former member of the English Defence League, told Norway’s NTB news agency that police were “very interested” in British far-right cells mentioned by the attacker, Anders Behring Breivik.

“I don’t believe Breivik is a lone wolf … he is part of a larger movement which has its own agenda,” Ray said, without going into detail.

Related

“They (the police) were very interested in the British cells,” added Ray.

“They asked me if I was (head of) a cell.”

In a statement he released shortly before embarking on his July 22 killing spree, Behring Breivik had spoken of the existence of secret cells that he said came under a new order of Knights Templar.

The police were not available to comment today.

Ray, who lives in Malta, came to Norway voluntarily to speak to police investigating the twin attacks in Oslo and a nearby island.

He is widely considered to be the unnamed “mentor” mentioned by the 32-year-old Behring Breivik in the 1500-page manifesto he posted online shortly before carrying out the attacks.

Describing himself as a crusader at war against multiculturalism and Islam, Behring Breivik explained in the document that he once had “a relatively close relationship” with an Englishman he gave the pseudonym “Richard”, “who became my mentor.”

Ray, who heads the “Knights Templar” movement and runs a “Richard the Lionhearted” blog, has said he recognised himself in the Norwegian right-wing extremist’s description.

Asked in an interview on Wednesday with Norway’s NRK television station if he had any contact with Behring Breivik, including online, Ray said “never”.

Ray has called the July 22 attacks “pure evil” in an interview with The Times.

Behring Breivik has confessed to setting off a bomb outside government offices in Oslo killing eight people, before going on a shooting rampage on the nearby island of Utoeya, where the ruling Labour Party’s youth wing was hosting a summer camp, killing 69 others, many of them teenagers.

He is currently being held in solitary confinement at a high-security prison near Oslo, and has claimed he acted alone.

Second-largest U.S. Indian tribe expels slave descendants

Reuters | Aug 23, 2011

By Steve Olafson

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) – The nation’s second-largest Indian tribe formally booted from membership thousands of descendants of black slaves who were brought to Oklahoma more than 170 years ago by Native American owners.

The Cherokee nation voted after the Civil War to admit the slave descendants to the tribe.

But on Monday, the Cherokee nation Supreme Court ruled that a 2007 tribal decision to kick the so-called “Freedmen” out of the tribe was proper.

The controversy stems from a footnote in the brutal history of U.S. treatment of Native Americans. When many Indians were forced to move to what later became Oklahoma from the eastern U.S. in 1838, some who had owned plantations in the South brought along their slaves.

Some 4,000 Indians died during the forced march, which became known as the “Trail of Tears.”

“And our ancestors carried the baggage,” said Marilyn Vann, the Freedman leader who is a plaintiff in the legal battle.

Officially, there are about 2,800 Freedmen, but another 3,500 have tribal membership applications pending, and there could be as many as 25,000 eligible to enter the tribe, according to Vann.

The tribal court decision was announced one day before absentee ballots were to be mailed in the election of the Cherokee Principal Chief.

“This is racism and apartheid in the 21st Century,” said Vann, an engineer who lives in Oklahoma City.

Spokesmen for the tribe did not respond when asked to comment.

The move to exclude the Freedmen has rankled some African American members of Congress, which has jurisdiction over all Native American tribes in the country.

A lawsuit challenging the Freedman’s removal from the tribe has been pending in federal court in Washington, for about six years.

As a sovereign nation, Cherokee Nation officials maintain that the tribe has the right to amend its constitutional membership requirements.

Removal from the membership rolls means the Freedmen will no longer be eligible for free health care and other benefits such as education concessions.