Thursday, 28 July 2011

Kiwi grandad mourns youngest victim

Porirua grandfather of a 14-year-old girl killed in the Norwegian massacre is trying to raise money to attend the funeral.

Rex Matthews, father of Sharidyn Svebakk-Bohn's mother, Vanessa, was devastated by her death and would probably try to fly to Norway in time for the funeral, which would be at least a week away, an extended family member told the New Zealand Herald last night.

Rex Matthews, father of Sharidyn Svebakk-Bohn's mother, Vanessa, is now trying to raise money to attend the funeral in Norway.

Sharidyn was the youngest of 68 mainly young people murdered by Anders Breivik, the right-wing extremist who went on a rampage early last Saturday (NZT) on Utoya Island after earlier setting off a bomb in downtown Oslo.

She was on the island for a summer camp organised by Norway's governing Labour Party, which she had recently joined.

An extended family member told the Herald last night that Mr Matthews, who lives in Porirua, was devastated by her death and would probably try to get to the funeral, which would be at least a week away.

The family member had looked into what flights were available, but they were all very expensive at such a short notice.

In a statement yesterday, Sharidyn's parents said she was a "courageous young lady" who took every challenge with ease.

She was born in Palmerston North, but is of Norwegian descent and had lived in Norway since she was a baby.

"She was a beautiful, caring and vigorous girl and was the oldest child of three," her family said.

"With her big heart she had a lot of empathy for others. She was loyal and very good at giving support and comfort when others were facing difficulties.

"Her smile could light up a whole room, and she made everyone she met smile as well."

Her parents said they were proud of the way Sharidyn got involved in worthy causes and stood out from the crowd, writing letters and voicing her opinion.

"Now she has been taken away from us, and our sorrow and grief are bottomless. She was extremely excited about going to Utoya for the first time after being a member of AUF [the Labour Party] for the last year or so.

"From telephone conversations and a constant flow of text messages in the days leading up to her death, we know she loved being together with her friends on the island, which is why it is difficult to comprehend that her life ended so tragically."

Sharidyn was listed as missing after the shooting, and her death was not confirmed until Wednesday. Her family said they suffered "excruciating pain" waiting for news about her fate, but were now comforted by knowing she had been found and identified.

In an internet message, Vanessa Svebakk said her daughter -nicknamed Sissi- turned 14 two days before she went to the island.

In lieu of flowers, the family have asked mourners to give money in Sharidyn's name for a children's camp.

Debt showdown New vote today

Increasing fears of a default led to a sharp slide in the dollar and global stocks as the Republican-controlled House debated a bill drawn up by John Boehner, House Speaker, in the teeth of determine opposition from anti-spending Tea Party hardliners.
In a day of high drama, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, warned: "What we're trying to do is save the world from the Republican budget. We're trying to save life on this planet as we know it today."
Mr Boehner's plan would cut $915 billion in spending over 10 years in return for raising the $14.3 trillion federal debt limit by a similar amount but requiring another debt ceiling debate at the end of the year. The vote on the Boehner plan, scheduled for 11.15pm British time, is pivotal to a deal.
Jay Carney, President Barack Obama's press secretary blasted the plan. "There is no question that this bill is a political act that has no life beyond its current existence in the House, he said. "It ain't going anywhere in the United States Senate."
But passage of the bill would move it to the Democratic- controlled United States Senate. It would almost certainly be defeated there but senators would then vote over the weekend on an alternative proposal from Senator Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader.

Democrats have argued that such a move would only postpone the issue and plunge the country back into crisis in six months time, risking a downgrade by ratings agencies of its Triple-A credit rating.

"Economists have said a short-term deal holds many of the same risks as a technical default. Democrats are not willing to put our economy on the line like that," Reid said.

"Our economy and the financial markets desperately need stability. Speaker Boehner's bill does not provide it."

Washington hit its debt ceiling on May 16 but has used spending and accounting adjustments, as well as higher-than-expected tax receipts, to continue operating normally.

The US Treasury has warned that it will run out of funds on August 2 and will have to make tough choices on which bills to pay if it can no longer borrow any money.