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Study: Hate Groups Merge, Get More Dangerous
By Amy Worden
WASHINGTON (APBnews.com) — While the number of smaller hate factions may be declining in the United States, larger hard'line groups are gaining in power, according to a report released today by a hate crimes monitoring group.
"The smaller groups that were less active are joining the more serious and potentially dangerous groups," said Mark Potok, spokesman for the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama'based nonprofit group.
The report identified 457 hate groups operating in the United States last year, a 15 percent decline over 1998. The groups, ranging from Ku Klux Klan chapters to neo–Nazi and black separatist organizations, are centered primarily in the eastern United States with the heaviest concentrations in Florida, Ohio and California.
In order to be included in the survey, hard–line groups had to engage in clearly racist behavior such as crime marches, leaflet distribution or rallies, the center said.
Violent WTO protests cited
Potok pointed to the neo–Nazi National Alliance and Hammerskin Nation, a skinhead organization, as groups that have the greatest potential for violence.
He said the National Alliance, led by The Turner Diaries author William Pierce, who is believed to have provided the blueprint for the Oklahoma City bombing, is increasing its presence in the youth market.
"Pierce brought Resistance Records [a radical right–wing record label] back to life and is positioning himself to reach out to younger people," Potok said.
The study also cites the violent protests at the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle last November as evidence of a growing convergence of right' and left'wing groups.
'The same enemy: globalization'
While many blamed the violence on anarchists, neo–Nazis also were involved in the rioting, Potok said.
"I'm not saying the left is moving into the arms of the Nazis," he said. "But the hard left and the hard right have seen, in effect, the same enemy: globalization."
Potok cited the rise of Web sites devoted to "Third Position" ideology, which includes a mix of left' and right'wing ideas, as another example of efforts to attract generally disenfranchised people, rather than those who espouse a particular political viewpoint.
"They are younger, more Nazified and less Christian," he said. "It's the wave of the future."
Haider is Gay, Says German Report
By Kate Connolly in Vienna
Jörg Haider, the de facto leader of the far–right freedom party in Austria, has been "outed" by German and Austrian newspapers who claim he is a homosexual.
A report in the leftwing Berlin Tageszeitung, or Taz, headlined "Jörg simply wants a cuddle," and repeated in the Austrian daily Der Standard yesterday, says that the gay community in Austria has had evidence that Mr Haider is gay for some time.
But, say the newspapers, it has been reluctant to release the evidence, fearing an outburst of hate towards the gay community "that would overtake the hatred towards foreigners", according to the owner of one of Vienna's well'known gay bars.
Mr Haider threw Europe into turmoil after the Freedom party entered government with the conservative People's party under the leadership of Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel almost two months ago.
Political analysts have largely viewed his resignation as head of the party last month as a tactical move, but some now claim he wanted to withdraw from the limelight, fearing that his outing was imminent.
According to Taz, many members of Vienna's gay scene are ready to confirm the reports. They claim he regularly has sex with young men below the age of consent—18 for homosexuals.
As a result, says Taz: "These days he prefers to meet with boys from nearby Slovakia" (where the age of consent is 15). The paper also refers to Mr Haider's alleged cocaine habit.
Following yesterday's reports, the Freedom party's parliamentary leader, Peter Westenthaler, said: "I refuse to comment on such absurdities and sleaze–mongering." Mr Haider has made no comment, though it is expected that he will now be forced to break his longstanding silence on the issue.
According to Taz, Haider's current partner is a youthful member of the Freedom party who has worked as his private secretary.
Hosi, or Homosexual Initiative, the biggest gay pressure group in Austria, said: "We've known about Haider's homosexuality for about 10 years. On the one hand we think it's positive that the rumours are no longer capable of ruining a political career, on the other hand an earlier outing of Haider would have been justified."
Accused 1963 Church Bomber Arrested on Rape Charges
Associated Press, 4/26/2000 23:16
ATHENS, Texas (AP)—A former Ku Klux Klansman considered a suspect in a 1963 church bombing that killed four black girls in Alabama was arrested in Texas on Wednesday on sexual assault charges.
Bobby Frank Cherry, 69, was arrested at his Mabank, Texas, home on a fugitive from justice warrant. Cherry is wanted in Shelby County, Ala., on five counts of sexual abuse, two counts of rape and one count of sodomy, said Henderson County Deputy Troy Black.
A former stepdaughter, Gloria LeDow, accused Cherry of molesting her when they lived in Shelby County 29 years ago. LeDow told reporters about the alleged abuse in July 1999 when she was in Birmingham, Ala., to testify to a federal grand jury about the bombing.
Shelby County, Ala., sheriff's officials declined to comment.
Cherry remained in the Henderson County Jail in Athens, Texas, without bond Wednesday night.
Cherry's attorney, Ronnie Van Baugh, did not return phone calls from The Associated Press for comment Wednesday.
The dynamite bomb planted outside the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church exploded on the morning of Sept. 15, 1963, killing Denise McNair, 11, and 14–year–olds Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Addie Mae Collins. The bombing galvanized national awareness of racial tension in the South.
The initial federal investigation into the bombing resulted in no charges. The FBI named four Klan members, including Cherry, as suspects.
An investigation in the 1970s resulted in the murder conviction of Robert Edward Chambliss, who died in prison in 1985.
The investigation was reopened in 1997. Cherry and another suspect, Thomas E. Blanton Jr., denied involvement before a federal grand jury. Family members have testified they recall Cherry boasting of participating in the church bombing.
The fourth suspect, Herman Cash, is dead.
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