Sponsored content Drain-spotting: for manhole cover junkies who like their art underfoot

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Why settle for talked-about craftsmanship when it can be walked above? From ‘Elephant’ to ‘Five Birds’, we’ve got you covered!

Anne Mette Dixen with her poignant ‘Five Birds’ design (photo: Ron Graybill)

October 20th, 2018 6:00 am| by Ron Graybill
A manhole cover featuring a leafy tree and five birds is a regular on the pavements and streets of Copenhagen. It was created by designer Anne Mette Dixen for the HOFOR utility company in 2013. Few people know that for Dixen, the cover has a special meaning, as the bird standing on the bottom edge of the cover is a representation of herself. Just above her fly three other birds: her son and two daughters. And way up in the tree is a little bird – a baby she lost years ago.


Withstanding our weight
Her company Dixen Design has created many prize-winning logos and designs for businesses and cities. Her ‘Five Birds’ cover comes in two styles. On many of the covers, the tree and the birds create the raised surface. But that style proved a little rough for bicycles to cross, so a negative copy was made with the birds and tree depressed into the surface. These are installed on bike paths and elsewhere. It’s just one more way Copenhagen promotes cycling.

The cast-iron manhole covers, mostly circular, protect water, electrical and sewer lines while allowing access for workers from HOFOR. Most of the covers show geometric designs. In the street one might see a ‘40’ in the centre of some covers. These are super-strong covers built to withstand the weight of a 40-tonne truck. The covers on the train platform at Nørreport have a much lower rating. They only have to carry the weight of some hefty travellers.

Never forgotten art
Near Hans Christian Andersen’s statue beside City Hall, two covers illustrate his story of ‘The Steadfast Tin Soldier’. They show Andersen in his top hat, the tin soldier, a twirling ballerina, a rat, and the fish that swallowed him. On some copies the one-legged tin soldier is missing – prised off by selfish souvenir hunters. A ‘Tin Soldier’ cover on Strøget, not far from City Hall, is encircled by an iron ring featuring eight mermaids. Andersen’s tale of the ‘Shepherdess and the Chimney Sweep’ graces 14 little drain covers at the bottom of the downspouts along the street-side wall of Rosenborg Castle. And favourite Andersen hangout Tivoli, which inspired him to write ‘The Nightingale’ after he attended its 1843 grand opening, has two charming covers of its own.

Line drawings of 20 elephants march around on another set of manhole covers. They’re not out by the Carlsberg brewery where one might expect them, but in front of Hotel d’Angleterre on Kongens Nytorv and beside Holmens Kirke, near the canal where the tour boats pass. Both the Tin Soldier cover and the elephant cover were created by Peter Hentze (1943-2017), an accomplished Danish sculptor, painter and graphic artist. When Hentze died last year, his funeral was conducted in the chapel of the Holmens church graveyard. It is fitting that a copy of his elephant cover rests beside that church.

Base motifs
Fear not as Hentze has some worthy successors. In 2007 Copenhagen’s sewer system was celebrating 150 years of making the city’s water cleaner and cleaner to the extent the harbour is so clean people can swim in it. A contest was announced challenging children to design a manhole cover.

The winning 11-year old schoolgirl, Fiona, drew a simple version of the three towers from the city’s coat-of-arms and sketched some waves below, adding flowers, fish and raindrops. Fiona is a university student now, and one can still see her manhole covers near the Round Tower and in front of the Design Museum.

A coat of arms is also the inspiration for a splendid cover near the zoo. The three depicted hawks come from the coat of arms of the city’s Frederiksberg section.

Cover versions
Copenhagen’s Metro system put a big ‘M’ in the middle of their iron covers, but they fastened photographic prints of other manhole covers on the floors of some stations. The one on the platform at the Kongens Nytorv station is a picture of Anne’s ‘Five Birds’ cover. Most travellers will never notice that the cover is fake. Looking closely, one can see the cracks between the paving stones running right through the cover.

All over the world people are creating artistic manhole covers and creating art from the covers. Sometimes they are inked then used to block-print t-shirts or tote bags. Sometimes rubbings are made of them. Any number of YouTube videos respond to a search for ‘manhole cover art’.

In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jason Lempieri, who studied art in Copenhagen and elsewhere, uses his RethinkTank website to sell an array of cork coasters with images of covers from all over the world. His Copenhagen set of four features the Tivoli, Elephant, Metro and Five Birds covers.

Many of the covers around Copenhagen are made by iron foundries in Norway – either Furnes or Ulefos. Others come from Germany or China.

Source : http://cphpost.dk

Brothers Ride to Raise Cyclist Safety Awareness

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Bike race

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

On November 6th of last year, Eggert Þorfinnsson died in cycling accident at eighty years of age when he was hit by a car on Sæbraut, not far from home. Vísir reports that on Tuesday, his two sons retraced their father’s last bike route, from Kirkjusandur on the east side of Reykjavík to Harpa, to raise cyclist safety awareness.

One of Eggert’s sons, Sigurður Jónas Eggertsson, criticized a recent draft of a traffic law which proposes that cyclists ride on the right side of the lane.

“I think it’s preposterous,” he remarked. “If there’s parking on the street, where cars are parked right there and need to back out into the street, then drivers will never see a cyclist if he’s on the right side. He needs to be in the middle or on the left side. This poses a danger,” he concluded.


Source :  Iceland Reviwe

Refugees get pension equal to 40 years

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Refugees Vidar Kleppe
Deputy Leader of the Norwegian Democrats, Vidar Kleppe (Formerly of FrP). Photo: Facebook

Refugees residing in Norway are entitled to rights that otherwise require 40 years of membership in the Norwegian National Insurance Scheme.


«Refugees residing in Norway are entitled to an equivalent to a 40-years of income in the National Insurance Scheme – with full rights from day one.»

Vidar Kleppe, (Norwegian Democrats). [not to be confused with its US namesake, they are a right-wing spin-off from the Progress Party], 2018-11-06 in Bodøposten

Conclusion: 100% true

It is true that refugees residing in Norway are entitled to rights that otherwise require 40 years of membership in the National Insurance Scheme and that the rights apply from day one.

There are different requirements for entitlement to various benefits through the National Insurance Scheme. For old-age pension and disability pension it is a requirement that you have been a member of the National Insurance for 40 years, that is, you have lived in Norway for 40 years, for full benefit.

Refugees are exempt from this requirement and may receive the benefit with effect from the month after they have been granted a residence permit. They must in line with all others, fulfil the other requirements, such as disability or high age.


«It is a big political scandal that refugees who are allowed to stay in Norway are entitled to a 40-year income in the National Insurance Scheme – with all rights from day one.»

This writes Vidar Kleppe, Political Deputy for the Norwegian Democrats in a reader post in Bodøposten on November 8th. Kleppe also published it on his Facebook page, where it is shared close to 400 times.

Faktisk.no has received several tips from readers who wonder if it true that refugees who are allowed to stay in Norway, are entitled to 40 years of employment in the National Insurance Scheme, and that the rights apply from the first day.

We will provide an answer to that in this fact check.

Social insurance system

The National Insurance Scheme was introduced on January 1st, 1967, and is supposed to be a social insurance scheme for those who are covered by it. According to the law, the scheme will secure income and « compensate for special expenses for unemployment, pregnancy and childbirth, single care for children, illness and injury, disability, old age and death.»

The National Insurance must also «contribute to equalization of income and living conditions over the individual’s life course and between groups of people.» The aim is that everyone should be able to support themselves and get the best possible everyday life.

Most of the National Insurance is administered by NAV.

Refugees are mandatory members

All residents legally resident in Norway are registered in the National Insurance Scheme. You are considered a resident if you have been legally resident in Norway for at least one year, or if your stay in Norway is intended to last for at least one year.

Previously, Faktisk.no has checked the claim that «Asylum seekers get maximum pensions without moving a finger …» This was factually checked to be completely incorrect:

Vidar Kleppe is talking about refugees, which are not the same as asylum seekers.

Refugee is defined by Norwegian law as a foreigner who has been granted a residence permit in Norway because the person needs protection. When a refugee is granted a residence permit in Norway, the person is a mandatory member of the scheme.

Retirement and earnings

There are different requirements for entitlement to various benefits through the National Insurance Scheme. One of these requirements is called insurance time.

In order to receive a full pension or disability insurance, at least 40 years of age is required to receive social security or social security benefits. That is, one must have lived in Norway and been a member of the National Insurance scheme for at least 40 years. If the insurance period is shorter, the payout will be reduced according to the number of years shy of the requirement.

Refugees needn’t comply with this requirement under the National Insurance Act. In proposition 85 L (2016–2017) the Government writes the following:

«Refugees earn the right to retirement and disability benefits from the National Insurance scheme in a regular way – through residency and work in Norway – as for anybody else who has legal residence in Norway. For refugees who do not have 40 years of retirement when the retirement occurs, This requirement is considered fulfilled, thus providing a guarantee that they are at least entitled to retirement on the same level as people who have lived all their lives in Norway without having been active in the work life.»

In other words, refugees do not suffer a reduction in disability benefits or pensions, even if they have not lived in Norway for 40 years. Nor does the requirement apply for retirement to a surviving spouse, or for child benefits for children who have lost one of their parents. Here Vidar Kleppe is 100% right when he writes that «Refugees who are allowed to stay in Norway are entitled to 40 years of entitlement by the National Insurance Scheme».

Refugees must equally fulfil the other requirements for retirement and disability insurance, such as illness or seniority.

What about residency time?

The National Insurance also provides many benefits that do not require 40 years of membership. However, one or three years of membership in the National Insurance is required in advance of receiving any of those benefits. This is also called residency time. This means that as a rule, you must have lived in Norway for years before you will receive any money. This applies to unemployment benefits, benefits to single caretakers and utility aids, such as wheelchairs. Pensions and disability benefits are also covered by this requirement.

According to the National Insurance Act, refugees are exempted from fulfilling this. The Government writes:

– This means, for example, that a refugee who already fulfils the other conditions for entitlement to [unemployment allowance/benefit to single caretaker/aids] will be able to receive the benefit with effect from the month after receiving a residence permit.

Could not change the law

Gudrun Holgersen is Professor Emeritus at the Faculty of Law at the University of Bergen. She is an expert in the National Insurance Act, saying that the rules are made so because the legislator, ie the Norwegian Parliament, does not want to place refugees in a more difficult situation than other legal residents in Norway:

– Those who volunteer to reside in Norway may have earned pension rights in their home country that they may later claim from there. We can not assume that refugees can do so, Holgersen enlightens.

On June 1st, 2017, the Conservatives (Høyre) and Progress Party (FrP) joined in proposed changes to the National Insurance Act, the Cash Benefit Act and the Act on Supplementary Benefits for Persons with Short Term Residency in Norway.

Briefly explained, the Government’s proposal was to amend the provisions on refugees’ rights in the National Insurance Act and the Cash Benefit Act, as well as to allow refugees to be covered by the Act on Supplementary Benefits in Persons with Short Term Residency in Norway.

The Government wished at the same time increase the so-called long-term requirement, such that one must have lived in Norway for at least five years to be entitled to a pension, disability insurance, unemployment benefits and benefits to single caretakers. In addition, they would require five years of residence in Norway to be entitled to cash benefits for children staying at home, instead of in a kindergarten.

Only the requirement for Five years of residence for cash benefits was carried. The other amendments did not receive a majority in the Parliament (Stortinget).

Three examples

In 2015, NAV published an article, where they refer to concrete examples to explain how the rules affect three people with different statuses who take out retirement pensions at the age of 67. Here, the third example is of a refugee:

  1. Kari from Norway. Have lived in Norway for a lifetime. At the age of 67, she is retired with full retirement age (40 years). Since she has not been working, she has a calculated minimum pension level.
  2. Jelena from Russia. Have been granted residence in Norway based on family reunification. At the age of 67, she has lived for ten years in Norway. She has a ten-year period of insurance calculated. She is entitled to a retirement pension corresponding to 10/40 parts of a minimum pension (ie 25%).
  3. Khaled from Syria. He has been granted residence in Norway as a refugee under the Immigration Act’s §28. At the age of 67, he has lived for five years in Norway. As a result of the special rules for refugees, he is granted full insurance and complete special allowances. He is entitled to a Minimum pension.


Source : Norway Today

SDP’s advantage down to 2.5 percentage points, shows poll by YLE

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Petteri Orpo, the chairperson of the National Coalition, remains a viable candidate to become the next prime minister of Finland, indicates the latest opinion poll commissioned by YLE. (Credit: Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)
Petteri Orpo, the chairperson of the National Coalition, remains a viable candidate to become the next prime minister of Finland, indicates the latest opinion poll commissioned by YLE. (Credit: Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva)


The Social Democratic Party and National Coalition Party are separated by no more than 2.5 percentage points after popular support for the former increased by 0.1 percentage points and that for the latter by 1.3 percentage points in October, according to YLE.

The public broadcasting company reported today that 22.7 per cent of the public would currently vote for the Social Democrats and 20.2 per cent for the National Coalition.

The Centre Party, on the other hand, has failed to keep step with the two parties, with its popularity falling by 1.1 percentage points to 16.5 per cent.

Jenni Karimäki, a senior researcher at the Centre for Parliamentary Studies of the University of Turku, estimates that the two ruling parties are heading in different directions due to the burden of responsibility being heavier for the Centre Party than for the National Coalition.

The Centre, she explained, has taken most of the blame for unpopular decisions and controversies such as the recent dispute over measures to encourage hiring by small businesses, whereas the National Coalition can be seen as having stood up for principles in the government.

The Green League has similarly continued on a downward trajectory, with its popularity slipping by 0.3 percentage points to 11.3 per cent. Its projected vote share is lower than its vote share in the latest municipal elections (12.5%) but – as the opposition party readily reminds – still well above its vote share in the latest parliamentary elections (8.5%).

The Finns Party and Left Alliance traded places as the fifth and sixth most popular parties, as support for the former increased by 0.5 percentage points to 9.8 per cent and that for the latter decreased by 0.6 percentage points to 9.2 per cent.

YLE also highlighted that the share of undecided voters is unusually high: only 59 per cent of respondents were willing to disclose which party they would vote for if the parliamentary elections were held today.

A total of 3,433 people were interviewed for the poll between 3 October and 6 November by Taloustutkimus.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT


Source : Helsinki Times

Šmigun: I met with both Ratas and Kallas many times

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Kristina Šmigun-Vähi.

PHOTO: Konstantin Sednev

Former top cross-country skier Kristina Šmigun-Vähi, who joined the Reform Party last night, says that she will participate in Riigikogu elections as an ordinary Estonian mother who wants to tackle child welfare and education issues.

Yes, I will go into politics. There was no end to these recruiters back when I was an athlete. Another wave came when I retired. I told them I was not ready, I wanted to see life and study. I studied economics at the University of Tartu, and I’m very glad I did. It broadened my horizons. I complemented my practical skills with theory.

Children have been at the heart of several issues in recent years. Acquaintances have asked me: what are you waiting for, you are a good speaker, you have ideas. You would fit in well (in politics – ed.). You have thick skin, go and do the things that are on your mind. I believe that was a part of it.

It was a very difficult choice to make. I really took my time with it. I discussed it with loved ones, different people after I met with the chairmen of both parties. In the end, it came down to what I feel in my heart, and it was the Reform Party.

Are you not bothered by the Reform Party’s instability? You are joining the losers in some ways.

Life has its ups and downs. I believe Kaja Kallas is prepared to make great changes. I believe that walking down the beaten path day in and day out cannot bring about a better tomorrow. We must be able to find and realize new ideas.

Where will you be running?

Because I live in downtown Tallinn, I believe that is where I should run.

Why do you need politics? You have a successful and wealthy family, while you’ll only take a beating in politics; there is no mercy to be found there.

These are all very good arguments. But I live here, and when I see things go wrong or fail to work in a way I believe they should; when I see disappointed faces and things that are wrong in schools, even when I have proposed ideas and helped, and nothing happens…

I am a member of Tallinn youth department’s schools commission, parents’ associations, board of trustees. I see everyday problems and how long it really takes to solve them. Then you think that should you pull it off (get elected – ed.), you could represent these children and their mothers who have the same problems: children not sitting up straight, not getting enough exercise, constantly engaged by smart devices. These are small everyday matters, but there are things that can be done.

There have been two attempts to associate you with doping. You’re clean. Are you not afraid these things will be dug up?

Let me answer with a question: what more is there to be afraid of? I won both cases and never told fairy tales. That is how it went.

How painful was that time for you? You have not shared much about that period.

I would not wish what I went through and experienced on my enemies. It was a very painful time. But like I said, I have been grateful for everything that has happened in my life and it has given me thick skin and a taste for challenges. You need to fight for your ideas if they are the right ones. I have that chance now!

Do you believe the voter still remembers you well enough?

I’ve never been one to rest on laurels. Many people in Estonia know my name, but they don’t know my ideas. They do not know I have graduated from the University of Tartu, have a pretty good grasp on economics. The time [left until elections] I have is to reach people, show them who I am inside. For them to believe or trust me.

Former athletes who have gone into politics have not fared well. Why do you feel you are the exception?

My transition is not a direct one. I am an ordinary Estonian mom with two children of which I am very proud – I also have an education.


Source : https://news.postimees.ee/

Chances of scattered thunder and rain between Friday and Tuesday

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 08 Nov 2018 – 13:04

Chances of scattered thunder and rain between Friday and Tuesday

File photo by Kammutty VP © The Peninsula

The Peninsula

Doha: Qatar Meteorology Department has informed that the country is expected to be affected by a state of atmospheric instability due to the extension of a low pressure during the period between Friday, November 9 and Tuesday, November 13.

According to the report, skies are expected to become gradually cloudy with a chance of scattered rain mostly light to moderate on Friday and Saturday.

Conditions become favourable for moderate to heavy rain on Sunday and Monday, especially in northern areas.

Qatar Meteorology Department urges all to be cautious as thunderstorms are possible in some areas accompanied by strong sudden wind causing blowing dust and poor visibility at times.

In addition, all are urged to avoid marine activities as well as to follow the latest updates through daily weather forecast bulletins and official social media accounts.

Source : The Peninsula Qatar

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