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30. September 2004  
I'm going to crash this plane

axman.gifA 34-year-old asylum seeker grabbed the control stick and screamed that he was going to crash the plane. In the fight that followed, he injured two pilots and one passenger with an axe.

Im going to crash this plane, screamed the asylum applicant who started the axe drama onboard the Kato Airline Wednesday afternoon.

Plunged towards the ground

In the chaos that emerged, the plane plunged towards the ground. The pilots did not regain control over the plane until it was about 100 feet (30 meters) above the ground.

It was very dramatic, said Tone Vangen, acting police chief at Salten police district, at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. The pilots managed in some amazing way to get control over the plane.

The pilots have explained that they were just above Tverlandet when one of the passengers had gotten up from his seat and into the cockpit. Here he attacked the pilots with an axe.

At the same time, he pressed the control stick forward so that the plane almost went in a dive. The pilots regained control over the plane, reported Salten police district in a press release.

Two of the passengers managed to drag the man out of the cockpit and force him down on the floor. They managed to keep him down until the plane had parked. Personnel from the fire department at the airport went onboard and retained the man. Personnel from Bod police station arrived shortly thereafter, according to the police.


28. September 2004  
Green light for seal-hunting tourists

sel.jpgThree years ago Minister of Fisheries Svein Ludvigsen, dreamed up the controversial proposal to let tourists come to Norway to shoot seals. The idea is now nearing the end of its political treatment and the program can start when the ordinary hunting season next begins early next year, newspaper Dagsavisen reports.

Although seals are not the most mobile target, rough seas can make aiming from a boat difficult.

Norway's fishery authorities consider coastal seals a problem for the fish population and the fishing industry and Norwegian hunters do not bag their quotas - so the idea of seal-hunting tourism was born.

When the Norwegian hunting season begins tourists can participate as long as the chase is part of an organized package. It is not yet clear if visitors must Norwegian shooting tests to get permission to hunt.

Norway's tourist industry fears that this controversial offering can give the country negative publicity. Hunt organizers are convinced that there is great interest abroad for seal-hunting but more conventional tourism promoters are reluctant to give the activity too much publicity.

Environmental groups are highly skeptical. Rasmus Hansson of the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) said that the hunting quotas were too high and reflected an overvaluation of fish populations.

"Importing tourists to solve an alleged problem seems to be a parody," Hansson told the newspaper.

Truls Gulowsen, campaign leader at Greenpeace, said the idea was an embarrassment.

"Most of the tourists that come to Norway are interested in unspoiled nature. Many will find this loathsome. This is about attitudes and how we market this country. This hunt can be mistaken for target practice," Gulowsen said.

Via Aftenposten News in English.

25. September 2004  
No fine for apple peeling!

An Oslo chauffeur will not have to pay a NOK 6,000 (USD 885) fine he received for using a knife to peel an apple in a public place. Sverre Moen, 50, was arrested by two police officers in May as he was returning to his car to pick up a handicapped passenger after peeling an apple.

Police were reacting to a ban on carrying any kind of knives in Oslo. Moen, who had used a common tollekniv, a sheath knife that typically has a 10 centimeter (four inch) blade to peel an apple, was handcuffed and brought to Majorstua police station.

Moen was body searched and tossed into a cell where he waited four hours before receiving a fine.

The case generated much media attention, with police sticking to their grounds for action. Moen took the case to court and was cleared on Thursday.

"The hours in that cell were so traumatic that I needed medical help," Moen told TV2 Nettavisen. He got his knife back but plans to eat unpeeled apples when in Oslo.

Via Aftenposten News in English.

22. September 2004  
Aviation security fails

SignalgunOdd Harald Hauge went through two security controls with a pistol and ammunition in his hand luggage. Avinor, the company that owns 45 airports in Norway, is shocked.

Its comical, Hauge said. The history indicates that the security checks do not work the way they are supposed to.

Hauge, the entrepreneur, former editor and owner of Nettavisen, was on his way back from Svalbard to Oslo, when he forgot that he had a signal pistol and shells in the side pocket of his backpack. He did not think of it until he was unpacking his bag back home. He said he think the event was particularly ironic because security personnel have several times confiscated small scissors among his toiletries.

Located knife

Hauge was at Svalbard as a guide for a group of 35 people. He purchased the gun at Svalbard to protect himself and the group against polar bears. The pistol had during the entire stay been in his backpack, and he completely forgot about it.

At Svalbard airport, he placed the bag together with other hand luggage for x-raying before he boarded the plane. Nobody said anything, and Hauge took the plane to Troms. Here he changed planes and continued to Oslo.

In Troms he was stopped in the security check and he had to remove a knife from his hand luggage, but the gun passed right through.


Avinor is taking the incident seriously, but the company does not want to comment the story before it has been checked.

Its completely incomprehensible that this has occurred, said Ove Narvesen, head of information at Avinor, to TV 2 Nettavisen. We must obtain more documentation on this. It seems completely unlikely.

Narvesen stated that the x-ray system is supposed to identify guns. He said it sounds strange that the knife was discovered and the pistol was not.

If we are going to comment this, we have to investigate the case thoroughly, Narvesen said. We must know exactly what happen, flight numbers and so on.

Via Nettavisen News in English.

21. September 2004  
Local uproar over asylum policy

Norway's largest municipalities have begun to protest asylum policies that are creating a homeless population. Refugees that are refused asylum but either cannot or will not return home are turned out on the street, without rights. Local governments decry the policy as inhumane, newspaper Dagavisen reports.

According to new policy asylum seeker lose the right to board and lodging at an reception center when their application is rejected. The government then defines them as being in the country illegally, and the refugees are only entitled to nominal emergency aid.

On August 25 Oslo's city councilor Margaret Eckbo wrote to ministers Dagfinn Hybrten, Erna Solberg and Laila Dvy, who oversee social, local government and family affairs. She asked for a meeting in order to clarify how the City of Oslo should handle people ejected from state asylum centers, but has yet to receive a reply.

"When they do not go home we cannot let them live on the street. No one can live on the street. I want to cover their expenses until they can travel home. Otherwise the state must keep them in dormitories," Eckbo told Dagsavisen.

"The policy is excellent if these people just went back home. But we also have some that are unreturnable. The state says we should just give them emergency aid, which is NOK 60 (USD 8.67) a day, but that is untenable," Eckbo said.

In Trondheim, Bergen, Stavanger, Kristiansand and Troms local governments have voiced despair and disbelief at the government's apparent disinterest in dealing with the consequences of the asylum policy.

"I am astonished that the tragic consequences of what can happen have not been considered. When they are thrown out on the street without the means to live, the path to committing crimes to survive is short," said deputy mayor Pia Svensgaard in Troms.

"We cannot have people being thrown out on the street without anything to live on or a place to go. If this happens here, we must help. The government must sort this out," said Bjarne Ugland, deputy mayor in Kristiansand.

Via Aftenposten News in English.

20. September 2004  
Upgrading CMS

Movable TypeI forgot to mention that I've upgraded to Movable Type 3.1. I even participated in the beta-test team. I especially like the scheduled posting possibility, but I've run into some problems using it. Oh well, I'll sort that out soon.

A good product has become even better.

17. September 2004  
Controversy over armed guards on airliners

Planes from several foreign airlines land in Norway with armed guards onboard. The airlines have permission from Norwegian authorities.

Deputy leader of the Judiciary Committee of the Norwegian Parliament, Gunn Karin Gjul, (Labour) has reacted strongly to the fact that permission has been given.

Director of the Civil Aviation Authority, Per-Arne Skogstad, confirms that there are armed guards, so-called Air Marshals, on several forign airliners that land in Norway.

-We have regarded it as a national concern of the individual airline's home nation whether or not armed guards are allowed, Skogstad says.

He says the weapons are handed over to the Norwegian police for safekeeping as soon as the airliners land on Norwegian soil.

Skogstad says there are no plans for permitting armed personnel on Norwegian airliners.

According to the newspaper VG, planes from Pakistani Airlines and Aeroflot probably have armed guards onboard.

Gunn Karin Gjul says she will question the Minister of Transport regarding the issue.

Via The Norway Post.

16. September 2004  
Number of asylum seekers halved

The number of applicants for asylum in Norway has declined by nearly half so far this year. Up to September, 5,238 people had applied for asylum here, 47 percent less than the year before, according to figures from the Police Immigration Unit.

"The decline in the number of asylum seekers is not unique to Norway. It is a tendency we see over nearly all of Europe. That is why it is difficult to point out concrete measures that can explain the decline," said information consultant Roar Hanssen at the PIU.

The largest group of refugees are the 824 (1,988 at this time last year) that claim to be from Afghanistan, who make up 16 percent of the total. Somalians are the next largest group, with 594 (1,584 at the same time last year) applicants so far in 2004, and make up 11.3 percent of asylum seekers.

In third place is Serbia and Montenegro, which includes Kosovo Albanians, followed by asylum seekers from Chechnya, Russia, Iraq and Iran. The PIU says that the pattern of the refugee stream is also changing. Fewer underage asylum seekers are coming to Norway.

"After we began testing the age of asylum seekers claiming to be under 18 fewer have come in this group. The reason is likely that the tests show that many of them who claimed to be minors turned out to be older than 18. Then the rules for gaining residency in Norway are different," said Paula Tolonen, division director at the Directorate of Immigration (UDI).

One thing that hasn't changed is the lack of passports held by asylum seekers. This remains around 94 percent, though some of these do carry some other type of identification papers.

The Norwegian Organization for Asylum Seekers believes Norway's tougher policies are having an effect.

"It seems as if Norway has gotten a worse reputation among asylum seekers due to its stricter asylum policy the last two years. Also there has been an end to the great catastrophes we have had earlier, like the conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and in the Balkans," said Morten Tjessem, secretary general of NOAS.

Via Aftenposten News in English.

15. September 2004  
Spam free!

No Spam with Knowspam.netYesterday I received a reminder from that my yearly account was expired. In this year has blocked 46.735 spams! That's an average of 128 spams a day! And it costs only $19.95 for a year. If spam is a problem for you, get an account!

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10. September 2004  
Norwegian flag burned in protest

Burning the norwegian flag in Sri LankaHundreds of Buddhist monks and Sri Lankan nationalists marched, demonstrated and then burned the Norwegian flag outside the Norwegian embassy in Colombo on Thursday, protesting Norway's role as peace negotiator there.

The activists demanded that Norway stop their meetings with Sri Lankan authorities and the Tamil liberation group LTTE, popularly known as the Tamil Tigers.

"This country belongs to Sinhala Buddhists, kill LTTE leader Prabharan," the demonstrators cried, according to Tamil web site Tamilnet.

Eight Buddhist monks delivered a letter containing 14 questions about Norway's involvement in Sri Lanka's peace process to the embassy, and a Norwegian diplomat received the document.

Sri Lanka's second largest political party has accused Norway of being partial to the LTTE and demanded India take over the role of peace negotiator.

Via Aftenposten News in English. Photo: Sena Vidanagama/AFP

9. September 2004  
Strides for Opera

Norwegian web browser company Opera Software announced on Thursday a new version of its screen rendering technology that makes viewing Internet web pages on a normal television as sharp as viewing them on a traditional computer monitor.

Opera's ability to reproduce web pages on a variety of screen sizes has given it new markets.

The Oslo-based company that developed the No. 3 Internet browser said web pages are designed to be displayed on high-resolution computer monitors and low resolution television screens can leave pages with a decidedly less than perfect image.

Opera said its TV Rendering, or TVR, program adjusts any Web page for a perfect display on any television screen of any size.

The Opera web browser has been chosen as standard on the Nokia 9300 mobile telephone, according to an Oslo stock exchange notice.

Opera's browser will be the only one used on the phone and the company will be paid per unit sold. The phone is scheduled to appear in the first quarter of 2005.

Opera shares rose four percent on the news on Thursday morning.

Via Aftenposten News in English.

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8. September 2004  
Children left alone while parents party

Norwegian parents who take their children on holiday overseas are increasingly leaving them on their own while they take off to drink relatively cheap liquor. The problem already has cropped up in Spain, and now Norway's ambassador to Turkey is sounding alarms.
"We're lucky that we haven't had any deaths yet, even though we've found babies who are dehydrated," Ambassador Hans Wilhelm Longva told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Tuesday.

Longva said he fears for the health and safety, even the lives, of small children left alone in hotel rooms, often without food or drink. The Norwegian Embassy and consular officers are increasingly being called upon by local tourism officials to come help children who have been virtually abandoned.

The Norwegian embassy personnel in turn cooperate with juvenile protection agencies to care for the children.

Longva said that many of the cases involve single mothers who have taken their small children along on package tours to Turkey, but who end up going on drinking binges for days on end.

He doesn't think the problem is unique to Turkey, which has become a popular tourist destination for Norwegians.

"For me, it's come as a shock that there are so many cases of this," he said, adding that the problem crops up in other tourist destinations as well.

Norwegian authorities recently have been called upon to tackle similar cases involving negligent parents in Spain. The authorities work with Spanish authorities who have been called upon to help children of holidaying parents, many of whom are on long-term trips to Spanish resort areas.

Via Aftenposten News in English.

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6. September 2004  
Unique shipwreck found in good shape

Unique shipwreckThe wreckage of a ship dating from the 14th century has been found by divers in the Skien River in Telemark. Archaeologists have a new treasure on their hands, because the wreckage can offer rare insight into vessel construction in the Middle Ages.

Many had feared that the vessel from the Middle Ages was damaged when it was first discovered during dredging operations in the 1950s.

"The dredging brought up large portions of the vessel's woodwork in 1953, and marine archaeologists thought the vessel itself had been destroyed," Pl Nymoen of the Norwegian Maritime Museum in Oslo told newspaper Aftenposten.

The use of divers in marine archaeology wasn't very advanced at the time, he noted, and the shipwreck dubbed Blevraket was largely forgotten.

It resurfaced, so to speak, this summer when Norwegian authorities decided to place stones along the bottom of the Skien River, which runs into open sea south of Oslo, to hinder underwater erosion. Divers from the Norwegian Maritime Museum were sent into the area, to check whether any cultural treasures remained.

It didn't take long before they could report the re-discovery of wreckage that seemed largely intact. The vessel is believed to have been built during the late 1300s either in Scandinavia or the Baltic region.

The vessel was single-masted and is believed to have been about 20 meters long. Archaeologists think it was sailing from Eidsborg in Lrdal when it sank. The wreckage is lying at a depth of just 10 meters, around 300 meters upstream from Menstad.

Nymoen, who's thrilled over the discovery, is planning a full excavation of the vessel and hopes to raise its smallest portions. "We don't know much about Norwegian vessels from the Middle Ages, except that they became bigger, wider and could carry more cargo over the years," he said. "Pictures have been found in churches and on stone monuments."

"Our goal is to secure as much as possible from the vessel," he said.

Via Aftenposten News in English. Photo: Norwegian Maritime Museum

3. September 2004  
Authorities crack down on McDonald's

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority is harshly criticizing fast-food chain McDonald's after inspections of eight restaurants revealed poor hygiene. The authorities cited them for lack of cleanliness and deficient routines.

The restaurants were randomly selected from the Oslo area to Norway's west coast. One McDonald's in the Oslo suburb of Bekkestua was prohibited from selling milkshakes in June, because authorities feared they contained bacteria.

Another McDonald's in the Kvadrat Shopping Center in Sandnes, south of Stavanger, was ordered to wash its kitchen.

Norway's national commercial radio station P4 reported Friday that several other McDonald's were cited for poor cleaning routines and other deficiencies.

"It's quite serious when McDonald's doesn't manage to maintain good cleanliness routines," said Guri Espeland of the mid-Rogaland office for the food authority (Mattilsynet).

Espeland noted that poor hygiene raises the danger of food poisoning.

A McDonald's spokesperson said the restaurants would improve conditions.

"This we must do immediately, in cooperation with the restaurants involved," said Hilde verby, quality chief for McDonald's in Norway. "I will travel around and ensure that things get better."

Via Aftenposten News in English.

2. September 2004  
Endangered moose

Endangered!!This familiar Norwegian sight - a traffic sign showing a moose crossing - has become a hot souvenir item for tourists willing to ignore the law. Several hundred of the distinctive signs disappear from Norwegian roadsides every year, newspaper Nationen reports.

The sign warns of "unusually high moose danger" for the next 800 meters.

The wandering moose in a bright red warning triangle is enjoying unprecedented popularity, and they are being stolen at a record rate.

"There are 500 moose signs stolen per year, many of them by Germans," Geir Ove Nordgrd of the Public Roads Directorate told the newspaper.

The sale of souvenir stickers depicting the moose sign has been a popular item for years, but now tourists want the real thing, and nearly always opt to steal them.

Euroskilt, the firm that delivers the moose warnings, has only been approached once by a prospective private buyer.

"They were tourists that visited our office," said financial chief Erik deli. "We haven't tried selling signs to tourists."

Via Aftenposten News in English. Photo: Einar Solvoll

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