By Victoria Klesty and Gwladys Fouche | Reuters SUNDVOLLEN, Norway (Reuters) – A suspected right-
wing fanatic accused of killing at least 92 people deemed his acts „atrocious” yet „necessary” as Norway mourned victims of the nation’s worst attacks since World War Two.Police were hunting on Sunday to see if a possible second gunman took part in the shooting massacre and bomb attack on Friday that traumatized a normally peaceful Nordic country.In his first comment via a lawyer since he was arrested, 32-year-old Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik expressed willingness to explain himself in court at a hearing likely to be held on Monday about extending protective custody.”He has said that he believed the actions were atrocious, but that in his head they were necessary,” lawyer Geir Lippestad told independent TV2 news.Police said Breivik gave himself up after admitting to a massacre in which at least 85 people died, mostly young people attending a summer camp of the youth wing of Norway’s ruling Labour Party on an idyllic island.Breivik was also arrested for the bombing of Oslo‘s government district that killed seven people hours earlier. Norway’s toughest sentence is 21 years in jail.Survivors, relatives of those killed and supporters planned a procession to mourn the dead at Sundvollen on Sunday, near the island where the massacre took place.King Harald would attend a service in Oslo cathedral, a few hundred meters (yards) from where a bomb devastated government buildings including the offices of Labour Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.Police said they were seeking several missing people and the toll could rise to 98, in the worst case.Lippestad, speaking late on Saturday, did not give more details of possible motives by Breivik.Breivik hated „cultural marxists,” wanted a „crusade” against the spread of Islam and liked guns and weightlifting, web postings, acquaintances and officials said.A video posted to the YouTube website showed several pictures of Breivik, including one of him in a Navy Seal type scuba diving outfit pointing an automatic weapon.”Before we can start our crusade we must do our duty by decimating cultural marxism,” said a caption under the video called „Knights Templar 2083″ on the YouTube website, which took down the video on Saturday.A Norwegian website provided a link to a 1,500 page electronic manifesto which says Breivik was the author. It was not possible to verify who posted the video or wrote the book.”Once you decide to strike, it is better to kill too many than not enough, or you risk reducing the desired ideological impact of the strike,” the book said.Norway has traditionally been open to immigration, which has been criticized by the Progress Party, of which Breivik was for a short time a member. The Labour Party, whose youth camp Breivik attacked, has long been in favor of immigration.About 100 people stood solemnly early on Sunday at a makeshift vigil near Oslo’s main church, laying flowers and lighting candles. Soldiers with guns and wearing bullet-proof vests blocked streets leading to the government district.”We are all in sorrow, everybody is scared,” said Imran Shah, a Norwegian taxi driver of Pakistani heritage, as a light summer drizzle fell on unusually empty Oslo streets.”At first, people thought Muslims were behind this,” he said of some initial suspicions that the attacks might have been by Al Qaeda perhaps in protest at NATO-member Norway’s role in Afghanistan or Iraq.Some terrified survivors of the shooting rampage said bullets came from at least two sides.”We are not at all certain” about whether he acted alone, police chief Sveinung Sponheim said. „That is one of the things that the investigation will concentrate on.Police took almost 1.5 hours to stop the massacre, the worst by a single gunman in modern times. „The response time from when we got the message was quick. There were problems with transport out to the island,” he said, defending the delay.Witnesses said the gunman, wearing a police uniform, was able to shoot unchallenged for a prolonged period. He picked off his victims on Utoeya island northwest of Oslo forcing youngsters to scatter in panic or to jump into the lake to swim for the mainland.”I heard screams. I heard people begging for their lives and I heard shots. He just blew them away,” Labour Party youth member Erik Kursetgjerde, 18, told Reuters.”I was certain I was going to die,” he said. „People ran everywhere. They panicked and climbed into trees. People got trampled.”The bloodbath was believed to be the deadliest attack by a lone gunman anywhere in modern times.The suspect, tall and blond, owned an organic farming company called Breivik Geofarm, which a supply firm said he had used to buy fertilizer — possibly to make the Oslo bomb.Home-grown anti-government militants have struck elsewhere in the past, notably in the United States, where Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people with a truck bomb in Oklahoma City in 1995.The district attacked is the heart of power in Norway. But security is not tight in a country unused to such violence and better known for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize and mediating in conflicts, including the Middle East and Sri Lanka.(Additional reporting by Walter Gibbs, Anna Ringstrom, Henrik Stoelen, Terje Solsvik, Patrick Lannin, Johan Ahlander, Wojciech Moskwa, John Acher and Ole Petter Skonnord in Oslo, William Maclean in London; Writing by Alister Doyle; Editing by Matthew Jones)
Obama, lawmakers scramble to salvage debt deal By Alister Bull and Richard Cowan | Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Scolded by President Barack Obama,Congress scrambled on Saturday to produce a deficit plan within 48 hours that keeps the United States from a catastrophic debt default now days away.A day after talks collapsed in acrimony, Obama held an emergency meeting with congressional leaders at the White House and told them to find areas of agreement.Their goal: Seal a deficit-reduction package of spending cuts and perhaps tax increases that will allow a vote by the August 2 deadline to raise the debt ceiling beyond $14.3 trillion and avoid economic calamity.A Republican leadership aide said lawmakers are working on a plan for $3 trillion to $4 trillion in savings over 10 years, but another high-ranking Republican official said no numbers had been settled. Republican leaders want „to show progress” by 4 p.m. EDT on Sunday, the aide said.
It was unclear whether Republicans would agree to steps to raise tax revenue to help reduce the deficit, an Obama demand that has been the key sticking point to a deal.Underscoring the threat facing America’s credit rating and standing in the financial markets, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner told fellow Republicans that leaders hope to show signs of progress by Sunday afternoon, to avoid spooking Asian financial markets opening at that time.”I am concerned that there might be an adverse reaction in the markets,” Republican Representative Charles Dent said in a telephone interview with Reuters after the call.Dent said Boehner told members a default was not an option and lawmakers have to come to agreement.”We need to have something posted online by Monday,” a Republican congressional aide said.Congressional leaders huddled in Boehner’s office in the early evening on Saturday for an hour.Republicans were proposing behind closed doors a deal with two installments of debt limit increase and deficit reduction. Democrats said they only wanted one that would extend the debt limit through the 2012 election year, a Democratic aide said.Saturday’s White House emergency meeting lasted a bare 50 minutes, a day after Obama complained that Boehner had left him at the altar and refused to return his phone call.The mood around the table in the White House Cabinet Room appeared strained.In the talks, Obama warned lawmakers not to pursue a short-term extension of the $14.3 trillion U.S. debt limit, as some want. He wants an extension that would allow for U.S. borrowing to pay its bills through 2012, when he and most lawmakers are up for re-election.”Congress should refrain from playing reckless political games with our economy. Instead, it should be responsible and do its job, avoiding default and cutting the deficit,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said after the talks.A short-term extension of mere months could cause Wall Street credit agencies to strip America of its gold-plated triple-A rating and increase interest rates for American consumers, Obama told them.Boehner, the top U.S. Republican, promised that Congress this weekend „will forge a responsible path forward” and that House and Senate leaders will work to find a bipartisan solution to „significantly reduce Washington spending and preserve the full faith and credit of the United States.”Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said congressional leaders were working on new legislation that will „prevent default while substantially reducing Washington spending.”A senior Republican aide said a fallback option initially presented by McConnell would not be the basis of the new bill. New legislation would be aimed at cutting spending, preventing default and not raising taxes, the aide said.WINDOW QUICKLY CLOSINGWith the world’s biggest economy set to run out of money to pay all of its bills on August 2, the window was closing fast for a „grand bargain” of spending cuts and tax increases in exchange for Congress raising the debt ceiling.The fits and starts in the negotiations have left both sides fuming. Obama has said he has agreed to deep spending cuts in social programs that make his own Democrats uneasy but that Republicans must allow some taxes to rise, a prospect they have rejected.Financial markets are growing more edgy and U.S. banks and businesses are making contingency plans for the possibility of a debt default that would drive up interest rates, sink the dollar and ripple through economies around the world.Credit rating agencies want spending restraints for the United States to keep its prized Triple-A rating, which makes U.S. Treasuries the solid foundation for global investors and lowers borrowing costs for state governments, businesses, homeowners and consumers.Both Republicans and Democrats chafed at the compromises a far-reaching deal would require before the presidential and congressional elections in November 2012, with each side accusing the other of not doing enough and demanding too much.Closed-door talks last week between Obama and Boehner collapsed Friday largely over how much revenue would be raised through tax reform — with Obama wanting $1.2 trillion over 10 years and Boehner putting $800 billion on the table.Boehner has to overcome resistance from Tea Party movement conservatives in his own party and could run into problems for having signaled a willingness to give ground on revenue increases in closed-door talks at the White House.”If not reversed within the next few days through crisis negotiations, this breakdown will be highly detrimental to the already fragile health of both the U.S. and global economies,” Mohamed El-Erian, co-chief investment officer at Pimco, the world’s top bond fund manager, told Reuters.(Additional reporting by Laura MacInnis, Matt Spetalnick, Andy Sullivan and Donna Smith; Writing by Steve Holland; Editing by Eric Walsh and Todd Eastham)