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30. Oktober 2004  
Cruise not welcomed to Norway by all

Actor Tom Cruise is going to host the Nobel concert together with Oprah Winfrey, but the Church of Scientology's most famous member is not welcomed by all.

It's really sad that the Nobel committee has asked Tom Cruise, it undermines the committee's good name and reputation, said Harald Heldal-Lund, who is an opponent of the Church of Scientology, to the Norwegian paper VG.

Heldal-Lund has written a letter of complaint to the Nobel committee.

The Church of Scientology is a criminal and destructive organization, and its only goal is to make money, Heldal-Lund said. The movement destroys lives and rips families apart.

Heldal-Lund stressed that it is neither people's personal believes nor Cruise he is after, but the church itself.

Cruise can believe whatever he wants, it's the organization I'm after, Heldal-Lund said.

Geir Lundestad, director of the Nobel Institute, said Cruise's religion is irrelevant.

We are just very please to get him here, Lundestad said to the paper. You have to separate between the work Cruise does and his religion. A person's faith is personal.

The Nobel concert is takes place December 10 in Oslo, and the event is already sold out.

Via Nettavisen News in English.

24. Oktober 2004  
Busy, busy

Lots to do at work, which is great, but no time to update Retrospekt.

Things will slow down in a few days, so come back and see for yourself!

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23. Oktober 2004  
Al Qaeda has roots in Norway

Osama bin LadenThere are clear indications that Al Qaeda also has roots in Norway, according to senior researcher Jonathan Stevenson at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS).

Stevenson stated that research indicates that Norway is one of 60 countries where the terror network has cells. According to the Norwegian paper Dagbladet, IISS conducts independent evaluations of the security situation in the world, and they base their conclusions on intelligence sources, among other things.

In regards to Norway, we do not have concrete intelligence information to build on, but an evaluation of Norway's role in Iraq indicates that Al Qaeda also has roots in Norway, stated Stevenson to the paper.

Stevenson claims it is conspicuous how many times Norway has been mentioned by terror organizations as a possible place to execute terror actions.

About half of Al Qaeda's 30 top leaders and as much as 2000 of its foot soldiers are estimated killed or apprehended during the last couple of years, but IISS estimates that the network still has 18,000 potential terrorists in its lines.

Via Nettavisen News in English.

16. Oktober 2004  
Oslo again most expensive

While studies continue Norway to name as the world's best country to live in, capital Oslo is building a similarly strong reputation for being costly. The French newspaper Le Monde put Oslo at the top of its world list for the cost of goods and services.

The survey compared prices of food, lodging, public transport and bank services, among other factors, TV2 reported.

Oslo edged out Hong Kong and Tokyo for the dubious honor of world's most expensive city, with New York and Zurich following after.

"We in Norway have some of the highest wages in the world and one of the highest standards of living. Then it is also natural that the cost level is the highest in the world," Bjrn Erik Sttem, editor of finance magazine Dine Penger, told TV2

Via Aftenposten News in English.

10. Oktober 2004  
Dashboard Jesus

Dashboard JesusI couldn't resist putting up this from Give Me toys:

"Put this Dashboard Jesus in your car and he will be your co-pilot. Even though he may guide you through the valley of gridlock, he alone cannot get you into the carpool lane. Each 4 inch plastic Jesus figure sits atop a metal spring with an adhesive base. If you do not have a car, stick him up somewhere that you could use a little peace, serenity or forgiveness.

Give Me Toys Price: $4.99"

Strange lot, americans.

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9. Oktober 2004  
Environmental activist wins Peace Prize

Wangari MaathaiThe Norwegian committee charged with awarding the Nobel Peace Prize surprised almost everyone Friday, bypassing the favorites to honor a Kenyan environmental activist. Wangari Maathai is the first African woman to win the Peace Prize, and was clearly elated.

"I'm so grateful, I'm so happy!" she exclaimed over the telephone to Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). "I am absolutely overwhelmed. I did not expect it, this is the biggest surprise of my life."

Maathai, who also works as deputy minister of the environment in Kenya, was cited for her work as leader of the Green Belt Movement, which has planted millions of trees all over Africa.

When asked how planting trees can contribute to peace, she said that trees contribute to the environment and natural resources. "When resources become scarce, we fight over them," she said. "We plant the seeds of peace."

Maathai, who holds a doctorate degree, left a successful academic career to concentrate on her political activities. She said winning the Nobel Peace Prize will only increase her commitment.

"I hope (the prize) will show (to others) that commitment to a common good is worth working for," she said.

The Nobel Peace Prize, which will be formally awarded in Oslo on December 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death, includes a check for SEK 10 million (USD 1.3 million). Maathai said she initially had no idea what she would do "with so much money."

Record nominations

The committee that chooses the annual winner of the Nobel Peace Prize had a record number of nominations to sort through this year. The committee is appointed by the Norwegian Parliament under the terms of the Alfred Nobel's will.

Nearly 200 candidates were evaluated since nominations closed in March. Known nominees included the European Union, the International Solidarity Movement, Vietnamese human rights activist Dr Nguyen Dan Que and George Ryan, the former Republican governor of Illinois in the US, who gave amnesty to prisoners on death row.

The hottest candidate had been the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and its leader Mohamed El Baradei. Stein Tnnesson of the International Peace Research Institute (PRIO) in Oslo said earlier this week that he thought it was "about time" that the IAEA and El Baradei were recognized for their work.

The IAEA's main goal is to limit the spread of nuclear weapons, and it played a key role in the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It also is currently active in attempts to control the development of nuclear weapons in both Iran an North Korea.

Via Aftenposten News in English.

3. Oktober 2004  
Norway mentioned as al-Qaida target

Ayman al-ZawahriAn audio tape said to be from senior al-Qaida official Ayman al-Zawahri called for organized resistance against invading "crusaders" in the Muslim world. The tape, aired by Al Jazeera satellite television on Friday, mentioned Norway as a US ally.

"We should not wait until US, British, French, Italian ... forces invade us before we resist, " said the man on the tape, adding that the United States and its allies had interests everywhere.

Al-Zawahri also mentioned Australia, France, Japan, South Korea, Poland and Norway, saying they had all participated in occupying Afghanistan or Iraq or Chechnya and gave Israel "means of survival".

"We can't wait or we will be devoured country by country ... a leadership for resistance should be organized to fight the occupying crusaders," he said, adding that Muslim fighters should carry on even if al-Qaida leaders die or are arrested. "The youth must not wait for anyone and must begin resisting from now and learn a lesson from Iraq and Afghanistan and Chechnya."

The tape also called for carrying out attacks against Israel and the United States "to liberate" the Palestinians, which he called "an Islamic duty for all".

"Limiting the battle to fighting only the Jews in Palestine and leaving America without attacking it, will not restrain America and the crusaders against us," the voice said.

Al-Zawahri is the right hand man of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. The voice on the tape sounded similar to previously recorded messages by him.

Via Aftenposten News in English.

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