Government negotiations nearing the end

Flag of Norway.svg

Carl i Hagen, Oslo Progress Party , Frp Nobel Peace Prize Government

After nearly two weeks of negotiations, the Conservatives (Høyre), the Liberals (Venstre), the Progress Party (FrP) and the Christian Democrats (KrF) will probably present a joint Government platform on Monday.

According to NRK, several of the parties’ national governance have been asked to set aside Monday for internal meetings.

On Hadeland, where negotiations are ongoing, it was quiet and sunny on Friday- outside. The storms that raged inside the old and venerable Granavolden guest house, only the gods and the negotiators know.

Very little has leaked from the negotiations, which started on January 2nd and was scheduled to take one to two weeks to compete.

Gathers in Person

Once the negotiators have agreed or (unlikely) agreed to disagree, key politicians in all four parties supposedly gather in person to review the platform and provide their advice on the outcome. This probably happens on Monday.

Both the Christian Democrats and the Liberals will consult both the National Committees and the Parliamentary Groups.

the Parliamentary group has the final say-so, the Communications Manager of the Christian Democrats, Mona Høvset, tells NTB.

the Conservatives will gather the Central Committee and the Parliamentary group, while in the Progress Party it is the National Committee that approves the platform.

In all four parties, central party members are standby.

“To put it this way: My phone is switched on,” County Leader in Østfold for the Christian Democrats, Brynjar Høidebraaten, tells NTB. He has so far not received any hints about the outcome of the negotiations.

“We [come from Barcelona, we] know nothing – until the slate is clean,” he explains.

The platform will not be revealed to the public before the final gong has sounded.

Victories and Bitter Pills

There is suspense about which victories each party will celebrate, and how many bitter pills the parties must swallow to reach an agreement. Among the issues that causes much controversy is the Abortion Act, immigration, oil, tax and child benefit policies.

Thursday, the Progress Party’s grand old man, Carl Ivar Hagen was brought in to the negotiations, apparently to warn the negotiators about the consequences if his party does not achieve a clean swipe in the immigration area and the thumbs up from the other parties to a tightening of the immigration policy of Norway.

That will be a bitter pill to swallow for both the Christian Democrats and the Liberals.

The proposal by former Minister of Justice, Per-Willy Amundsen (Progress Party), regarding restrictions on child allowance for immigrants in order to curb birthrates, disgust the Christian Democrats.

For the Christian Democrats, it is equally important to bring home a victory regarding abortion, something the Progress Party, the Liberals and parts of the Conservatives are not overjoyed by.

“We are in suspense about what happens regarding abortion. It must be delivered something in one way or the other on this issue,” the Christian Democrats’ Member of Parliament, Geir Bekkevold, tells NTB.

Curl up

Bekkevold, who was in the «Red» side in the Christian Democrats’ choice of path last autumn, points out that the «Blue» Deputy Leader, Kjell Ingolf Ropstad, won the choice of direction on the Abortion issue.

With the Christian Democrats in Government together with the Progress Party, how uninhibited will you be able to discuss and vote in line with what you believe to be correct?”

“That’s a good question. This will be a new experience for us all. But I do not intend to keep my trap shut if the Government does something I disagree with,” Bekkevold states. He confesses, at the same time, that the idea of having to constantly swallow bitter pills plays havoc to his mind.

“I almost can’t bear the thought. If so, I will just want to curl up in a foetus position,” he admits.

At the same time, he denies that the Christian Democrats will do as the Progress Party and ride two horses at the same time – one inside and one outside of the Government.

“That is a foolish approach to politics,” Bekkevold opinionates. He hopes that the Government will focus more on anchoring their stance on issues in the parliamentary groups than is the case at present.

 

Source : Norway Info

Predicts Norwegian Flu Peak in February

Flag of Norway.svg

flu H1N1

The Norwegian Institute of Public Health expects this year’s influenza peak to come in February. Children under the age of 5 and people at work are probably the most vulnerable.

How extensive this year’s influenza outbreak becomes is not yet possible to predict, writes the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (Folkehelseinstituttet) in a status update Thursday. During the Christmas period, the number of flu cases increased, but a peak is not expected until February.

This year’s flu is of type A (H1N1), aka Swine Flu. This strain of the virus often affects younger persons.

“The elders are, for various reasons, less susceptible to the A (H1N1) virus, but often more susceptible to the A (H3N2) strain,” the Norwegian Institute of Public Health writes in a status update on Thursday.

Immune to the flu

During the last two years, influenza outbreaks have been of type A (H3N2), which has been particularly prevalent in the elderly. This strain is in circulation this year as well, albeit to a lesser extent. Studies also show that many in the population are now immune to it as a consequence.

Many Norwegians are immune to this year’s infection. Nearly half a million Norwegians are already vaccinated against – or have already been exposed to – it. More than 300,000 of these are 65 or older, which means that the coverage among the oldest is already 35 per cent, which is 1 per cent above the immunity level recorded last year.

On a sideline, an anti-vac advocate and journalist (26) in the US is recently reported dead from meningitis after an H1N1 infection.

 

Source : Norway Today

Avalanche seekers are almost pinpointed

Flag of Norway.svg

Tamok Avalanche seekers finns

From the left, the Finns André Stenfors (32), Niklas Nyman (36) and Mikael Sten (29) are three of the four who are believed to have perished in the avalanche in Tamokdalen last week. Photo: Private / NTB scanpix

The last two avalanche seekers are located in the avalanche area in the Tamok Valley in Troms during helicopter searches in the night before Wednesday, the police confirms. 

“We have made discoveries, that is, signals from the transmitting and receiving equipment in the helicopter,” Operations Manager in Troms Police District, Rune Nilsen, tells NTB.

The localisation was made during a helicopter search in the search area. All four avalanche seekers are thus located in the avalanche in the Tamok Valley, where four top tourists are still missing. Signals from the two other avalanche seekers were picked up on Friday.

The distance between the discoveries on Friday and Wednesday precludes that the signals stem from the same avalanche seekers. The police assert that it is certain that all four the missing persons are caught in the avalanche below Blåbærtoppen (Blueberry Peak).

The result of the search is that we have a defined area that will be further scanned in the search for the missing persons, the police states.

On Wednesday, more helicopter searches will be conducted to further delineate the focus area.

Electronic search

The searches during Wednesday night were performed by a Sea King helicopter from the Armed Forces’ 330 helicopter squadron with crew suspended below the aircraft. Having a good view of the ground. They started earlier than planned because the weather cleared up enough during the night to facilitate for over-flying the avalanche.

The helicopter used transmitter and receiver equipment to obtain accurate positions of the two signals picked up previously. In addition, the hope was to locate the last two seekers in the snow masses. This will make it easier for the ground crews to dig out the missing tourists.

There are no plans to deploy ground crews in the search today.

“It is not justifiable to deploy ground crews as the conditions are now. The plan is to locate the missing persons first, then consider the avalanche hazard and secure the area before the persons are dug out and removed from the site,” Nilsen explains.

Missing since last Wednesday

The four missing skiing tourists are three male Finns: Mikael Sten (29), Niklas Nyman (36), André Stenfors (32) and a Swedish woman, Disa Bäckström (29). They were on a top tour to Blåbærfjellet and were last observed at 2 pm on Wednesday, January 2nd. After a few hours, a fifth person of the tour group became worried and notified the police.

The police have stated that there is no longer any hope of finding survivors and that they are, therefore, searching for bodily remains. The main theory of the police is that the four are buried in the avalanche.

“We no longer receive a signal from the two avalanche seekers which were located on Friday. These findings are marked, but it is necessary to position the discovery as accurately as possible. It will limit the focus area. The avalanche must, therefore, also be searched thoroughly with Recco equipment. This is planned to conduct with assistance from the Helicopter team during daylight on Wednesday,“ the police write in its press release.

 

Source : Norway Info

The Salvation Army tracked down 45 missing people last year

Flag of Norway.svg

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army Search Office in Norway tracked down and found 45 missing persons last year.

We are very pleased with the result, says Major Inger Marit Nygård to Dagen newspaper. She heads the Salvation Army search office in Norway.

Last year, the office received a total of 202 written inquiries in addition to some telephone calls that were not registered. The number of people found by the Salvation Army is the lowest in five years and 15 fewer than in 2017.

Since the Salvation Army Search Office started its work in Norway in 1897, they have found a total of 58,379 missing persons.

“The Salvation Army works in 131 countries around the world, so we have an extensive contact network, even though it is not as common in all countries,” says Nygård.

 

Source : Norway Info

Wants sanctions for human rights violations

Flag of Norway.svg

Sergei Magnitsky human rights violations

The Helsinki Committee implore Norwegian Government negotiators to implement a system of sanctions against persons who commit serious human rights violations.

The Conservatives (Høyre), the Progress Party (FrP) and the Liberals (Venstre) are now negotiating with each other and the Christian Democrats (Kristelig Folkeparti) with the aim of putting together a majority Government.

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee believes there is a need for more instruments to protect human rights defenders and notifiers. The committee envisages a system of personalised sanctions.

«The sanctions will be aimed at individuals who commit or order gross human rights violations, such as torture, disappearances, extrajudicial executions, rape, slavery and human trafficking,» a memorandum from the Helsinki Committee states.

Inspired by the EU

Denial of entry fees to Norway or freezing of assets such as bank accounts or properties are examples of such sanctions.

The sanctions will be directed at persons who abuse their official position or who are formal and/or factual leaders of private organisations.

«The sanctions will only affect persons who have not been held accountable for their violations. It is a global scheme that is not aimed at any state or civilian population, in particular,» it further reads.

The Helsinki Committee points to that on December 10th of last year, the EU adopted a proposal to establish an EU scheme for human rights sanctions and proposes a Norwegian scheme in cooperation with other countries.

The US has a similar act in place. The US legislation is named after Sergei Magnitsky, who was arrested after exposing a scheme in which officials allegedly defrauded the Russian state of $230 million.

He died in a Moscow jail in 2009.

Historical measure

The parties that are present at Gran have the opportunity of a lifetime to stand up for human rights, the Secretary-General of the Helsinki Committee, Bjørn Engesland, believes.

“Instead of being discouraged by international developments, Norway should seize the opportunities this gives us,” he tells NTB.

“More tools are needed in the struggle to protect human rights. If, for example, the budding Norwegian Government succeeds in introducing a system of sanctions against individuals, it will be a historic move to strengthen human rights internationally,” Engesland continues.

In addition to the wish for human rights sanctions, he hopes that the negotiators can agree on increased support for human rights defenders.  Engesland further hopes that the EEA funding for European civil society can be more strongly used to promote human rights and freedom of expression in the EU.

 

Source : Norway Info

GreenTech seeks «Green» Award winners

Flag of Norway.svg

GreenTech Awards Green TechologyThe GreenTech Festival, 2018. Photo: Ulf Büschleb ©GreenTech Awards.

Norway is a partner country during GreenTech Festival 2019, popularly known as the «Academy Award for Green and Sustainable Solutions». Here, Norwegian companies have the opportunity to show themselves to potential buyers and decision-makers from all over the world, as well as being able to adorn themselves with the same title as previous winners Elon Musk, Bob Geldof and the hybrid BMW i8.

“Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time, but I believe that it is also one of our greatest business opportunities today. Norwegian business and industry are faced with the opportunity to develop the technologies, solutions and business models that will take us to zero emissions. During GreenTech Festival we can showcase what has already been developed,” Norwegian Climate and Environmental Minister Ola Elvestuen states.

GreenTech Festival is one of the world’s largest events for sustainable innovation. The next in line is held in Berlin in May 2019, where Norway is an official partner country.

“As of this week, Norwegian companies can nominate their solutions. -Norway’s official role during the GreenTech Festival gives Norwegian companies great attention from important decision-makers from all over the world. This is an excellent opportunity to put Norwegian, sustainable innovations on the map,” acting CEO of Innovation Norway, Hans Martin Vikdal, exclaims.

The Explorer

Innovation Norway has a stand at GreenTech Festival, where all Norwegian companies that are nominated are invited to participate. Those companies are also invited to register their solutions on the digital display window «The Explorer», which through increased visibility will match Norwegian, green and sustainable solutions to international needs and buyers. The Explorer will be an essential part of Innovation Norway’s communication in connection with the event.

In 2019, the GreenTech Festival collaborates with Formula E, the world’s first fully electric car race.

“This entails a number of possibilities for the EV country Norway. We are the world leader both in the use of and in the development of EV parts, and that will be highlighted during the GreenTech Festival,” Vikdal emphasises.

Who can partake?

All companies that have solutions within the competition’s five different categories can participate. The categories are: “Innovation of the year”, “Game changer of the year”, “Rising star of the year” and “Start-up of the year”. The main criterion is that companies must offer solutions that are more environmentally or socially beneficial than what is available on the market today.

Interested companies can nominate their solution to the GreenTech Festival by January 31st. The nominees in each category are selected by a separate jury.

Facts

  • GreenTech Festival 2019 is held 23.-25 may in Berlin, Germany.
  • The GreenTech Festival has been arranged annually since 2007.

 

Source : Norway Info

December was mild throughout the country

Flag of Norway.svg

Karl Johan the little Christmas EveOslo.Karl Johan the little Christmas Eve.Photo: Torstein Bøe / NTB scanpix

The month temperature for the whole country was 2.2 degrees above normal in December.

Relatively the warmest areas were in parts of Finnmark and in Eastern Norway. Here, the deviation was between 3 and 5 degrees above normal, according to the Meteorological Institute.

The highest maximum temperature was 12.6 degrees and was recorded in Surnadal – Sylte in Møre og Romsdal on December 1st. The lowest temperature was minus 31.9 degrees and was measured at Røros Airport in Trøndelag on December 15th.

However, the precipitation was close to normal throughout the country in December. A few stations in Eastern Norway and Southern Norway received 200-300 percent more precipitation than normal. Several stations in Western Norway, on the other hand, halved the rainfall compared to normal.

The highest daily precipitation was 81.1 mm and was measured at Eide on Nordmøre on 25 December.

 

Source : Norway Info

Salvage of «Northguider» will take time

Flag of Norway.svg

Northguider Trawler

The Coast Guard vessel KV «Svalbard»  reached the trawler «Northguider» that has run aground off Svalbard during the night before Thursday. The salvage operation will probably take a long time.

“The trawler ran aground in Kinnvika on the Northeast Land off Svalbard on December 28th. None of the 14 crew suffered injuries in the wrecking and was subsequently evacuated. On the Night before Thursday, the Coast Guard reached the site,” writes Sunnmørsposten.

“The vessel is in the same condition as when we last observed it from a helicopter. The wind blows from the south and there is sea-ice in the area. It is not justifiable to put crews on board now, but we hope to do so today or tomorrow, ” Petter Mortensholm informs.

Mortensholm works for the Emergency Planning Department of the Norwegian Coastal Administration.

There have been no reports of leaks from the trawler, which has 300,000 litres of marine diesel on board. The Norwegian Coastal Administration will now see if it is possible to pull «Northguider» off the grounds, or whatever else is necessary to salvage her.

At Sortland

KV «Svalbard» was berthed at the Coast Guard base at Sortland in Nordland, a tad over 100 kilometres south of Longyear City when the vessel ran aground. It has taken several days to travel to the site due to weather and distance.

“The Coast Guard vessel representatives from the Dutch salvage company Ardent, the Coastal Administration, the shipping company, ice experts and crew from the Governor of Svalbard on board,” writes Teknisk Ukeblad.

They will board the trawler to assess the extent of damage and plan the salvage operation of the vessel. The trawler is currently stable, with a heel of about 15 degrees. The Norwegian Coastal Administration estimates that the ship is secure and will not sink any further.

Senior adviser in the Coastal Administration’s Emergency Management Department, Rune Bergstrøm, believes it will take a long time to salvage «Northguider», which is about 55 metres long and has a gross tonnage of 1,792.

On Thursday it was a wind force of 35 to 40 knots in the are with drifting ice and 10 degrees oC below.

 

Source : Norway Info

Christmas trains are selling out

Flag of Norway.svg

Christmas train ticket

If you are going home for Christmas by train, you need to hurry. Several departures are full already, NSB reports. 

– We have a lot of inquiries and prepare several thousand extra seats on our regional trains. Departures are sold out on several stretches. If you are a little flexible considering the time of travel, there are still many possibilities, Communications Manager in NSB Person trains, Gina Scholz, tells NRK.

Figures from the Trade Union, Virke, show that 32 per cent of those who have a Christmas holiday will visit friends or family in Norway, while 15 per cent are going abroad.

Information manager at SAS, Knut Morten Johansen, says that it’s a good idea to book well in advance.

– There are still many seats left, although the most popular flights are pretty much sold-out weeks in advance. If you have the opportunity to be flexible on time, there are available seats to grab hold of, he says.

– When Christmas Eve is on a Monday as it is this year, Christmas traffic is spread over several days. The planes are already sold-out for Wednesday and Thursday before Christmas, Johansen concludes.

 

Source : Norway Today

Price war for Christmas shoppers

Flag of Norway.svg

Non-Stop warNon-Stop war before Christmas. Photo: Pixabay.com / NTM

The stores are lowering prices in the fight for Christmas customers

The grocery chains are reporting tough competition on the price of the «Non-Stop» chocolate and a number of other items that are popular for Christmas.

“Yes, it is true that the price of «Non-Stop» has been lowered in recent weeks due to the tough competition between the chains. We fight hard on the price every single day, and they are still moving,” says communications manager Kristine Aakvaag Arvin from Kiwi in Romerikes Blad.

According to the chains, hundreds of goods prices are down, and the sharp competition is well illustrated by the fall in the price of «Non-Stop».

“We were the first to have a price of 27 kroner for the bag of 185 grams, then the others followed. But now we have gone down to 26.40,” communication adviser Nora Helgesen from Kiwi told NTB Thursday morning.

Thus, Kiwi seems to lead in the price war – at least for a while.

– Nice prices

Cheapest in RB’s overview from Wednesday was Rema 1000, who put up a sign with «Non-Stop»  for 26 kroner and 90 øre.

“We want to have nice prices on a variety of Christmas items, including «Non-Stop» for Christmas,” says Communications Manager Fredrik Jahr in Rema 1000.

Meny also confirms that they are in the «Non-Stop» War, with a price of NOK 31.50.

Changes several times daily

But how much does it cost from Coop?

– I will check the price of «Non-Stop». It is not certain that it costs the same today as yesterday. Prices can be adjusted several times a day, says Communications Manager Harald Kristiansen to NTB.

He also uses the opportunity to say that they have lowered the prices of “around 150 items” that they know the customers “need” for Christmas.

After a few minutes, an email from Kristiansen arrives: “The price of «Non-Stop» was Thursday morning NOK 26.90 in our low-price chain Extra.”

Thus, Rema and Coop had the best price for a few hours, until Kiwi adjusted their price. And the competition to be cheap before Christmas continues.

 

Source : Norway Today