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« November 2004   Desember 2004   Januar 2005 »
22. Desember 2004  
Smokers dodge restaurant bills

Smoking outside restaurantsNorway's tough new anti-smoking law has left restaurants with new losses: Smokers who say they're just stepping outside for a cigarette often don't return to pay for their food and drink.

Restaurant owners already have complained that their revenues are down after a smoking ban was imposed in all public places last summer.

Now, newspaper Dagsavisen reports that a nationwide trade association is seeing more cases of customers running off from their bills.

Clodion Art Café in Oslo, for example, averaged one bill-dodging a week before the new smoking law took effect. Now the café's up to three a week, sometimes more, says manager Vibeke Slatheim.

The problem is that it's become common for bar, café and restaurant guests to leave their tables and go outside for a cigarette, since they can't smoke inside. Officials thought the trend would taper off when the winter cold set in, but it hasn't.

The busy holiday party season has resulted in scores of people standing out on sidewalks and in the streets, puffing away, even in sub-zero temperatures.

Some simply don't bother to return to their table and pay the check. "People seem to lower the threshold for skipping out on paying, when they're already standing out in the street with their coat on," said Baard Fiksdal of the trade association (Reiselivsbedriftenes Landsforening, RBL).

Fiksdal said it's also become more difficult for restaurant personnel to keep an eye on their customers after the smoking ban took effect.

Via Aftenposten News in English.

21. Desember 2004  
Norway condemns Iranian death sentence

Jan PetersenThe Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Petersen condemns the planned execution of 19-year-old Leyla M in Iran.

The Iranian ambassador was called in to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Monday to explain the situation. 19-year-old Leyla M., who is mentally underdeveloped, has been sentenced to hanging for adultery.

Petersen said that he is appalled by the sentence.

"I think it's a terrible and unbelievable sentence, and this is why we protest it," Petersen said to TV 2 Nyhetene. "We have joined both the EU protest against Iran and we called the Iranian ambassador in Norway so that the Norwegian authorities could present its protest directly."

According to Petersen, the Iranian ambassador was informed that the sentence is unacceptable, and Norway urges Iranian authorities to overturn the grotesque sentence.

The Foreign Affairs minister also urges Norwegian companies that operate in Iran to hand over a formal protest to the authorities. However, both Statoil and Hydro, who are heavily involved in Iran, have informed TV 2 Nettavisen that they currently have no plans of protesting.

Petersen will so far not join an economic boycott of the country.

"Economic interests may also lead to a positive development of the country and I do not think a boycott in this case will lead us closer to the goal of getting an end to the death sentences," Petersen said.

In a press release, the Iranian embassy stressed that the country's Supreme Court will decide Layla's fate.

VIa Nettavisen News in English.

16. Desember 2004  
Munch's Madonna damaged

MadonnaNewspaper VG claims that a range of 'independent sources' have information about the stolen Munch masterpieces "The Scream" and "Madonna".

Munch's "Madonna" is rumored to have suffered serious damage during its theft from the Munch Museum in Oslo.

Both paintings were taken in the surprise raid on the Munch Museum on Aug. 22 this year. VG claims that sources from both the art world and criminal sources say that at least one of the paintings has been seriously damaged.

Witnesses said that both paintings received very rough treatment as the thieves removed them from their frames in the course of their escape. The "Madonna" is reportedly ruined.

VG reported that an underworld source claimed to have seen the paintings in Norway and confirmed the damage to "Madonna". The paper said that several sources assert that the paintings remain in Norway.

Police said that their investigation is continuing and that they remain optimistic. The getaway car can now be linked to several suspects known by name.

Via Aftenposten News in English.

15. Desember 2004  
Attack of the Comment Spammers

Yesterday I was aware of that my old website was getting a lot of comments and I realised that the site was under attack from the Comment Spammers.

Because it isn't in use, it was run by an old version of Movable Type (my Content Management System) and in that version there is no spam control built in to the system. Although there was no need for immediate action, I put the comments allowed to "none" and rebuilt, but to no avail. Today the attack continued.

So I have to do it the hard way: Back it up locally and delete it on the server. Why back it up when it's no more in use? History, my friend, history.

Let's hope the version of MT (3.121) that runs this website is more robust, or I'm in trouble.

Internet [09:28]   TrackBack (0)


10. Desember 2004  
Peace Prize winner welcomed to Oslo

Wangari Maathai and Geir LundestadWangari Maathai of Kenya arrived in Oslo this week to accept the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. She's a controversial winner, but she was warmly welcomed by the Nobel Committee and a host of dignitaries.

Maathai, who won the prize for "her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace," has a busy schedule while in Oslo. On Thursday she met reporters and criticized the US' war against terror.

She noted that Kenya has experienced several terrorist attacks, "so we know what terror means." She claimed, however, that today's war against terrorism was unfortunate because innocent victims were dying. She said she sought better ways of solving conflicts.

Maathai, a government minister in Kenya, also said she regretted making earlier remarks that offended some of Kenya's native peoples. She's been criticized for an alleged lack of sensitivity to Kenya's aborigines.

Maathai faced a series of meetings and appearances before she was to be formally awarded the Nobel Peace Prize during a traditional 1pm ceremony at City Hall.

The ceremony will be followed by an interview on CNN and then she'll be hailed by another traditional event, a torchlight parade through downtown Oslo that ends in front of the Grand Hotel, where the Peace Prize winner traditionally stays.

The Nobel banquet will also be held at the Grand Hotel Friday night. On Saturday afternoon, Maathai will be the guest of honor at a Peace Prize Performance conducted by Oslo schools, and then she'll also be the guest of honor at the annual Nobel Peace Prize Concert.

The concert, at the Oslo Spektrum arena, is being hosted this year by American talk show host Oprah Winfrey and actor Tom Cruise. Performers will include Tony Bennet, Diana Krall, Andrea Bocelli, Patti LaBelle, Sondre Lerch and Cyndi Lauper.

Via Aftenposten News in English.

8. Desember 2004  
Krekar accused of bin Laden praise

Mullah KrekarGerman media claim that controversial Norwegian resident mullah Krekar congratulated Osama bin Laden shortly after the terrorist attack on the USA on Sep. 11, 2001.

German media are now linking a speech given by Krekar at a mosque in Biara, Iraq, on Sep. 14, 2001 to an allegedly planned assassination on the Iraqi prime minister in Berlin last week, newspaper VG reported.

VG cited Berlin newspaper Der Tagespiel's story that German security police have arrested a man - Jassin F. - that they claim is Krekar's chief financial officer and secretary.

The reports, which were widely used by the German media, claim that Jassin F., an asylum seeker in Germany for six years, was arrested by Kurdish police in North Iraq with USD 40,000 in cash and a tape where Krekar praises bin Laden's terrorist actions in the USA.

German news magazine Der Spiegel said that the four suspects in the assassination attempt are all found in Jassin F's phone book and that both Jassin F. and one of the four are close personal friends of Krekar.

Krekar told VG that it was incorrect that he offered his congratulations after the attack on the USA but would give no further comment.

Krekars's lawyer Brynjar Meling believes the tape's contents may have been misinterpreted.

"I am aware of mullah Krekar praising Osama bin Laden on previous tapes but this is on recordings before September 11," Meling said.

Meling said he was confident that Krekar had already discussed all such recordings in detail with Norwegian special crime unit kokrim and that nothing criminal had been found.

kokrim said that their investigation of Krekar was over.

Via Aftenposten News in English.

7. Desember 2004  
PM challenged over ties to powerful Christian group in US

kmb.jpegOpposition political parties in Norway's parliament, from the Labour Party to the conservative Progress Party, are demanding that Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, who is an ordained minister, explain his ties to a secretive, Christian "fellowship" based in the US.

Bondevik, who hails from Norway's Christian Democrats, has had ties to The Fellowship Foundation for 20 years, according to newspaper Dagbladet.

Norway's current ambassador to the US, Knut Vollebæk also attends meetings in Washington, and several members of the Christian Democrats (Kristelig Folkeparti, KrF) have long been associated with the group, according to Fellowship archives reviewed by Dagbladet.

The Fellowship Foundation has often been described as an arch-conservative, fundamentalist Christian "brotherhood" that has sought to influence political leadership for decades. Current members include outgoing US Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Now even the Progress Party, Norway's most conservative political party, is raising questions about Bondevik's participation in the group, as are the Labour Party and the Socialist Left (SV).

"Seen with Norwegian eyes, this is a reactionary association," SV leader Kristin Halvorsen said Tuesday. "When Bondevik participates actively in its network, he's signalling a political relationship."

Labour Party leader Jens Stoltenberg told Dagbladet that Bondevik should clarify his role in the group as soon as possible.

Bondevik told Dagbladet that he participates in the Fellowship mainly as a "private person," not in his role as prime minister.

He conceded, however, that a dinner at Fellowship headquarters in 2001 with the then-new US Attorney General John Ashcroft was linked to his public role. The dinner was never officially noted in Bondevik's agenda during an official trip to the US at the time.

Via Aftenposten News in English.

6. Desember 2004  
Security scandal shocks pilots

Shocked pilots demand that the Civil Aviation Authority - Norway and Avinor take action immediately and improve the security at Oslo Airport Gardermoen.

The management at Gardermoen decided to close the staff entrances past the security control Sunday after TV 2 reporters revealed how easy it was to get in through these doors and get onboard flights with a bag that had not been checked.

Petter Frde, leader of the Norwegian Airline Pilots Association, is far from pleased to learn that the security at Oslo's international airport is so poor.

I'm shocked, Frde said to TV 2 Nyhetene. This should be impossible. We who work in the environment have seen a gradual improvement of the security routines at airports, but this is a flaw and it should not occur. The Civil Aviation Authority - Norway and Avinor must do something, and I expect that they will do something immediately.

Via Nettavisen News in English.

5. Desember 2004  
Norway may lose its aviation certification

BraathensNorway may loose its international aviation certification next fall because the Civil Aviation Authority - Norway has problems recruiting enough people.

The Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) demands a full inspection of the Civil Aviation Authority - Norway after the formal decision to the office to Bod, reported the Norwegian paper VG.

The inspection may end with Norway losing its international certification because the Civil Aviation Authority - Norway have problems with recruiting enough professionals to Bod. The situation is reportedly particularly critical in the department which determines whether or not planes are fit for flying, reported the paper.

Director Per-Arne Skogstad said he understands the worry in regards to the certification.

If we do not manage to fill the positions before the inspection, we can not exclude that it may have consequences for the certification, but I am of the opinion that we will be able to fill these positions Skogstad said to the paper.

Via Nettavisen News in English.

1. Desember 2004  
Two died in shipwreck

MalakhiThe Russian trawler Malakhi shipwrecked Tuesday night between Bjrnya and Svalbard. The ship had a crew of 20, 18 were rescued and two persons died.

Two persons have been found deceased, while 18 people of the staff are alive and were rescued, stated Lisbeth Kristine Hansen at Hovedredningssentralen i Nord-Norge (main rescue central northern Norway), TV 2 Nettavisen at 8.17 a.m. Wednesday.

A rescue chopper, rescue vessel, and several other ships participated in the rescue operations 50 nautical miles southwest of Bjrnya. It was storming and snowing heavy in the area at the time.

Empty lifeboat

It was reported that the crew of 20 were in the lifeboat, but it was empty when the rescue chopper arrived on the scene. Most of the crew as picked up from the water.

Several of the crewmembers were picked up by a Russian vessel which was close to the shipwreck. The remaining men were picked up by a Sea King rescue chopper.

Heavy list

The Russian trawler Malakhit reported a heavy list at 2:25 a.m., and the situation became worse during the night. At 5:05 a.m. Wednesday, it was reported that the crew of 20 had left the ship.

A Superpuma rescue chopper from Svalbard was sent out to the ship, in addition to the coast guard ship Marlene stervoll.

At 7:30 a.m., the rescue station stated that rescue personnel were working to locate survivors.

A Sea King chopper and several boats were also directed to the area to assist in the rescue work.

Via Nettavisen News in English.

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