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Archive for July 28th, 2011

AP Exclusive: ‘Knight Templar’ says no Norway link

Posted by Admin on July 28, 2011

A Seal of the Knights Templar, who founded the...

A Knights Templar Seal

http://news.yahoo.com/ap-exclusive-knight-templar-says-no-norway-162410288.html;_ylt=AgJ4rHs1Q1uf_pYApvFAEKlvaA8F;_ylu=X3oDMTNhdmhpM2RrBHBrZwNmMGI3NGMwYS1hZTk1LTNjOGYtYTM3MS02ZTA3NGY5ZTJjYTAEcG9zAzIwBHNlYwNNZWRpYVRvcFN0b3J5BHZlcgMzZDIyYzgyMC1iODdjLTExZTAtYmI1Zi1mZDA1NjVkOTBjYzU-;_ylg=X3oDMTFqOTI2ZDZmBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdAN3b3JsZARwdANzZWN0aW9ucw–;_ylv=3

By SIMON HAYDON – Associated Press | AP – 15 mins ago

LONDON (AP) — A British right-wing blogger linked to the Norway gunman has confirmed the existence of an anti-Muslim group inspired by ancient crusaders that the killer claims he was a member of.

But in an interview with The Associated Press, the Briton denied Anders Behring Breivik belonged to his Knights Templar group and said he’d never heard of the Norwegian before the attacks.

Breivik said in his 1,500-page manifesto that he was mentored by a British man known as “Richard (the Lionhearted)” — and the leader of the far-right English Defense League has told AP that “Richard” is Paul Ray, author of the blog “Lionheart.”

But Ray, who split with the EDL years ago, denied any connection to Breivik.

In a telephone interview from his home in Malta, Ray said he was not at a 2002 meeting in London which Breivik claims gave birth to a group called the Knights Templar of Europe, whose founders included himself and “Richard.”

However, the 35-year-old Ray said he shares Breivik’s views and has several apparent similarities with the “mentor” in the killer’s manifesto, chiefly that he leads an anti-Muslim group called The Ancient Order of the Templar Knights. But Ray denied knowing Breivik and suggested the group had no formal structure. He refused to name any members or indicate how many it has.

“It’s an idea,” Ray said. “It’s not like it’s a massive organization. It’s a belief.”

But he denies he approved of Breivik’s methods, which include killing innocents to draw attention to his philosophy.

“I’d like to express my deepest sympathy to the people of Norway and to the families who have lost children,” Ray said. “It’s a horrendous crime that has been committed by someone what goes beyond the realm of human understanding.”

Breivik, 32, claims he committed Friday’s massacre as the order’s first blow in an apocalyptic war against Muslims, immigrants and leftists to prevent what he believes is an Islamic attempt to take over western Europe.

Ray said he fled England two years ago after being arrested for stirring up racial hatred, and settled in Malta. He plans to return next week to see his family even though he doesn’t know if he will be arrested on outstanding charges.

“I’m willing to speak to anyone in authority and to be open about everything,” he said.

Breivik has said the PCCTS, a Latin acronym for the Knights Templar, has several cells in Western countries and two more in Norway. In his manifesto, he claimed he sets the group’s agenda.

“We have the right and a duty to temporarily seize political and military control of our country until all … traitors have been hunted down and executed and all Muslims have been deported,” he writes.

He also sought to detect links between the Knights Templar and the EDL: “I wonder sometimes if one of the EDL founders was one of the co-founders of PCCTS, I guess I’ll never know for sure. EDL is a nonviolent protest organization though but I noticed they have copied a lot from the PCCTS.”

The leader of the EDL, Stephen Lennon, said Tuesday he doesn’t know Breivik and kicked Ray out shortly after the EDL was formed, on grounds he was bent on taking over the group with his own agenda.

Ray, who says he was born Paul Sonato but took his mother’s maiden name, denied ever having heard of the Norwegian before Friday’s massacres.

“Being implicated in this, I just want the truth to come out and it proven that I’m nothing whatever to do with this,” Ray said.

Ray said the confessed killer appeared to have taken some of his ideas and used them as justification for his killing spree.

“This is getting bad. It’s really pointing at us. All these things he’s been talking about are linked to us,” he said. “It’s like he’s created this whole thing around us.”

Ray often shares views similar to Breivik’s on his anti-Muslim blog, whose title is a reference to King Richard I of England, who led Christian crusades in the 12th century.

“My thoughts are the same as that Anders, that there is a threat to our way of life from Islam. I’m not going to say I don’t think there is because I do,” Ray said. “Me being a Christian, I do look towards the Templars throughout history and how they’ve defended us from the jihad.”

The order, Ray said, was set up in response to “Muslims in our country (England) trying to take over our country. Let’s not pretend it’s not happening. They are actively declaring their vision to take our country over.”

Ray’s blog discussed establishing a Knights Templar order as far back as 2007: “Where are the ‘original’ Knights Templar’s, Gods Army on Earth now, it is time you came out of the shadows and helped your fellow country men, the time of peace and security has passed.”

___

Paisley Dodds contributed to this report from Luton, England.

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Russia’s Putin considering Kremlin return: sources

Posted by Admin on July 28, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/russias-putin-considering-kremlin-return-sources-121459651.html;_ylt=AoIno6lF81k3AzVvIhoqwgNvaA8F;_ylu=X3oDMTM5ZXFpbTNrBHBrZwM1ZjEyZDJhYy0yYzdiLTM2NzQtYmU3Mi0zOWMzOTlhZDhjYWUEcG9zAzUEc2VjA01lZGlhVG9wU3RvcnkEdmVyAzYyNTAzYzkwLWI4NjgtMTFlMC04ZWZkLTMyZGVmN2YyMzlmMQ–;_ylg=X3oDMTFqOTI2ZDZmBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdAN3b3JsZARwdANzZWN0aW9ucw–;_ylv=3

By Guy Faulconbridge | Reuters – 2 hrs 37 mins ago

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is close to a decision to bid for the presidency in an election next year because he has doubts about his protege, President Dmitry Medvedev, senior political sources say.

Putin ruled as president from 2000 to 2008 before handing over to Medvedev to comply with a constitutional ban on a third consecutive term. He will be free to run in the March presidential election.

Putin, 58, and Medvedev, 45, have repeatedly refused to say which of them will run but as Russia‘s paramount leader, officials and diplomats say the decision is Putin’s.

“I think Putin is going to run, that he has already decided to,” said a highly placed source who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the political situation.

The source said Putin had been troubled by the perception that his protege, whom he has known for more than two decades, did not have sufficient support among the political and business elite or the electorate to ensure stability if he pushed ahead with plans for political reform.

“Putin has much more support from the people than Medvedev. Medvedev has overestimated his weight inside the system,” he said.

Another highly placed source who declined to be identified said: “Putin wants to return, really wants to return.”

The source said an attempt by Medvedev to assert his authority in recent months had unsettled Putin, but the two leaders communicated well on a regular basis.

A third source also said Putin was thinking of running and that if he became president he could appoint a reformist prime minister, an apparent attempt to dispel fears that his return would usher in a period of stagnation two decades after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Investors see few differences between the two leaders’ policies but many say privately that Medvedev would be more likely to carry out reforms than Putin.

Medvedev’s spokeswoman, Natalya Timakova, dismissed talk of any discord between them.

“I do not quite understand where these rumors come from because the president and the prime minister communicate not only on formal issues, but informally too,” Timakova said.

A senior Kremlin source said it was up to the people, not the elite, who ruled Russia.

“The discussion should be not about support within the elite but about who has more support from the people,” the Kremlin source said. “Support from the elite is not always decisive for the country to move forward.”

Asked whether Putin was considering a return to the Kremlin, the prime minister’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said: “Vladimir Vladimirovich is working, working hard, rather than thinking about whether to run in the election.”

BATMAN AND ROBIN?

Most officials and foreign diplomats believe that, as the ultimate arbiter between the powerful clans that make up the Russian elite, Putin will have the final say on who will run in 2012.

As Russia’s most popular politician and leader of the ruling party, Putin would be almost certain to win a newly extended six-year term if he decided to return to the presidency.

He could also then run again for another term from 2018 to 2024, a quarter of a century since he rose to power in late 1999. He would turn 72 on October 7, 2024.

The picture of Russia’s “alpha-dog” ruler eyeing another Kremlin term corresponds to the assessment of U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle who cast Medvedev as playing “Robin to Putin’s Batman,” according to leaked U.S. diplomatic cables.

“Russia’s bicephalous ruling format is not likely to be permanent based on Russian history and current tandem dynamics,” Beyrle wrote in February 2010 according to a copy of the cable on http:/wikileaks.org/cable/2010/02/10MOSCOW272.html

Because of Medvedev’s weakness in relation to Putin, the Kremlin chief’s attempt to present himself as anything other than Putin’s loyal protege has puzzled investors and irked some of the officials who make up part of Putin’s court.

In a host of choreographed public events, Medvedev has pitched himself as the right man for Russia, calling for opening up the tightly controlled political system crafted by Putin and even reportedly lobbying Russia’s powerful tycoons for support.

A Kremlin insider said it appeared that both Medvedev and Putin wanted to be president, but that the tandem had not shown itself to be an effective way to rule Russia.

“Neither Medvedev nor Putin have shown that this construction is stable,” said the source, who added that talk of any discord was overblown and that Putin had shown his confidence in Medvedev by steering him into the Kremlin in 2008.

Asked about Medvedev, the source said: “He is not stupid but he is not a brilliant manager and I am not completely convinced he has enough steel… Putin does not plan to leave power anytime soon.”

(Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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U.N. flies food into famine-hit Somali capital

Posted by Admin on July 28, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/u-n-flies-food-famine-hit-somali-capital-175012420.html

By Abdi Sheikh | Reuters – 29 mins ago

MOGADISHU (Reuters) – The United Nations airlifted emergency food for starving children into the Somali capital Mogadishu on Wednesday as aid groups warned of a growing influx of hungry families from the famine-hit south of the country.

Some 3.7 million Somalis — almost half of the population — are going hungry with drought hitting some 11.6 million people across what local media have dubbed a “triangle of death” straddling Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.

Though the U.N. food agency had already distributed food in the capital, this is its first airlift of food into Somalia since the food crisis began.

“We need to scale up our programs, and especially the nutrition programs, in order to avoid children falling into severe malnutrition,” Stephanie Savariaud, a U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) spokeswoman, told Reuters.

“Then they need to get hospitalized and it’s much more difficult to save them.”

The U.N. plane carried 10 tonnes of so-called therapeutic food — the type used to feed malnourished children under five. The shipment will feed 3,500 children for a month, WFP said.

The agency said it has an additional 70 tonnes ready in Kenya, which it will fly to Somalia over the coming days.

Aid agencies say they cannot reach more than two million Somalis facing starvation in the parts of the country where Islamist militants control much of the worst-hit areas.

WFP officials have said they will try to deliver food to the areas controlled by the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels over the next week and that they will consider food drops from aircrafts as a last resort.

There are about 400,000 displaced people in the capital Mogadishu, with about 1,000 new arrivals each day, the U.N.’s refugee agency (UNHCR) said in a statement on Tuesday. It estimated that 100,000 internally displaced people have arrived in the city over the last two months.

People in makeshift settlements are fighting over food being distributed by local charities, with the weaker ones unable to push through the crowds to get it, UNHCR said.

“Even if people are able to obtain the food and water being distributed, they often lack even the most basic containers to carry it. Often, they must haul food and water in plastic bags,” UNHCR said.

The WFP has set up 16 feeding centers across the capital, providing hot meals to new arrivals using supplies delivered by sea from Kenya and Tanzania.

Boats are continuing to shift food in but they can take months to arrive. They are escorted by the European Naval Force to Somalia to deter pirate attacks.

(Additional reporting and writing by Katy Migiro in Nairobi; Editing by Barry Malone and Elizabeth Fullerton)

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China protests against U.S. spy flights near its coast: report

Posted by Admin on July 28, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/china-protests-against-u-spy-flights-near-coast-144948889.html

By Ben Blanchard | Reuters – 3 hrs ago

BEIJING (Reuters) – China warned that recent U.S. surveillance flights near the Chinese coast have severely harmed strategic mutual trust and were a major obstacle hindering military ties between the two countries, state media reported Wednesday.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, vowed Monday to press ahead with surveillance flights near China despite opposition from Beijing, following reports that Chinese jets crossed a boundary with Taiwan to pursue a U.S. spy plane.

Two Chinese Sukhoi-27 fighters last month briefly crossed a line in the center of the Taiwan Strait that is considered an unofficial air boundary between both sides. Asian media reported the Chinese jets were attempting to intercept a U.S. U-2 reconnaissance plane.

“We demand that the U.S. respect China’s sovereignty and security interests and take concrete measures to boost a healthy and stable development of military relations,” the Global Times newspaper quoted the Ministry of National Defense as saying.

Xinhua news agency later quoted ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng as saying the reconnaissance missions “have severely undermined mutual trust and remained a major obstacle to the development of military ties.”

The comments followed Mullen’s visit to China two weeks ago, part of efforts to improve ties with the People’s Liberation Army. Their ties have been rocky, with China unhappy with U.S. reconnaissance patrols near its coast and is suspicious of its bases in South Korea and Japan.

China’s rapid military buildup and territorial disputes in the South China Sea have also sparked concerns in the region.

The United States for its part wants greater military transparency from China over its military modernization, and has warned about China’s growing missile and cyber capabilities.

Self-ruled Taiwan, claimed by China as part of its sovereign territory, has been another major irritant in Sino-U.S. military relations. China has been furious about a 2010 package of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan worth up to $6.4 billion.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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