26 May 2003


Oslo police slam hunt for terrorists (Aftenposten)

Anti-terrorist officers belonging to the Oslo police district are claiming that the National Police Security Service (PST) is hampering efforts to hunt down suspected terrorists because the PST is withholding information about al-Qaida. “We are fumbling around in the dark. It seems as if the PST is still practically paralyzed by the previous criticism. Cooperation is almost non-existent. A review of the PST’s working methods is way overdue now that Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man has put Norway on al-Qaida’s hate list,” said a source at Oslo’s police headquarters.

Police pensioners to the rescue (Dagsavisen/Saturday)

Seven out of ten police officers wish to combine work and retirement after the age of 57. The Police Directorate is currently considering whether retired police officers should be put to work to help alleviate personnel shortages. Increased anti-terror measures have put a severe strain on several police districts. Four police stations in Oslo will be closed at the weekends because the stepping up of policing at foreign embassies in the capital has led to budget overruns.

More cuts at SAS (Aftenposten/Sunday)

Svein Oppegård, SAS Norway’s personnel manager, has said that the company will start negotiations with staff unions over the loss of an initial 155 full-time jobs. “We are talking about redundancies which we will try to make effective from 1 November. The job losses are linked to changes in flight schedules. In addition to this, we will be implementing changes of a more structural nature at a later date. In total we are talking about the equivalent of around 320 full-time jobs,” said Mr Oppegård. SAS has a total of 1,358 cabin crew members in Norway, which make up the equivalent of some 900 full-time jobs.

Norwegians cheapest to sack (Dagens Næringsliv)

Norwegian social security and unemployment benefit schemes make it cheap for international businesses to sack Norwegian employees. The Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), which has thousands of members working in internationally owned businesses, wants new research to be carried out to properly document this claim. “This is the impression we have, based on the fact that many companies close down their operations and transfer them abroad. But I am not certain whether this is because it really is cheaper to make workers redundant in Norway than in Europe,” said Trine Lise Sundnes of the LO.

Progress Party ready with budget demands (Aftenposten)

The Progress Party will arrive at tomorrow’s budget negotiations with the ruling coalition parties armed with a long list of demands. “We will be insisting that last autumn’s budget agreement is fulfilled to the letter. We mean what we say when we make an agreement. We are not voting blindly in the Storting,” said Siv Jensen, Progress Party deputy leader. However, she was not overly optimistic with regard to the forthcoming negotiations with the three ruling coalition partners, and refused to say whether she thought it was possible to reach agreement.

More industrial disputes go to court (Dagsavisen)

Hard times, budget cuts and downsizing have led to an increase in the number of industrial disputes going to court. The District Courts have seen the level of such litigation grow by 20 per cent. According to the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), the 20 per cent rise from 2001 to 2002 is proof that the job market is getting tougher and more brutal. “It seems as though companies are competing to downsize the most. Now there is little room left. Manning levels at Norwegian companies have already been cut to the bone,” warned Trine Lise Sundnes of the LO.

Internet creates child abusers (Dagsavisen)

The National Bureau of Crime Investigation is claiming that the internet has led to a rise in the amount of child abuse and makes it easier for paedophiles to live out their fantasies. “The internet has meant that paedophiles can meet like-minded individuals in cyberspace,” said chief superintendent Håvard Aksnes of the National Bureau of Crime Investigation. The Storting’s Justice Committee has called on Justice Minister Odd Einar Dørum to introduce specific new legislation to combat child pornography. However, this is something Mr Dørum is reluctant to do. A unanimous Justice Committee has therefore decided to instruct the Minister to do just that.

Men victims of miscarriage of justice, it is claimed (Dagbladet)

A number of well-known women attorneys have attacked the way the legal system and the police handle cases of domestic violence. They say that too much weight is attached to the woman’s claims, and that the men being accused are not believed. The police, courts and politicians have recently strengthened women’s legal rights. “I think many men are the victims of a miscarriage of justice, and I believe that some women, unfortunately, make accusations of violence as a weapon to resolve other conflicts within the relationship,” said Marte Svarstad Brodtkorb, a defence attorney in Oslo.

Police cannot understand what doctors write (Aftenposten)

Norwegian doctors use such difficult expressions that neither the police nor the courts understand what they mean. The police in Oslo have now called on doctors to do better. “The people who write medical records must use a language that the prosecution, the defence and the members of the court can understand,” said Hanne Kristin Rohde, a senior officer within the Oslo Police District’s prosecution service. The problem is most common in cases of violence.

1. Worth Noting

  • Money in the bank? Forget it, if around 27,000 employees in the banking and insurance business go on strike from tonight. If that happens, the banks and insurance companies will close, and electronic cash points, web banking facilities and retail payment card systems will be shut down.
  • Progress Party chairman Carl I. Hagen does not appeal to the highly educated. Only three per cent of the Federation of Norwegian Professional Association’s members plan to vote for the Progress Party at this autumn’s local elections.
  • A fire aboard the cruise ship SS Norway yesterday cost the lives of four Filipino crew members. Shipping analysts fear that the accident could cause problems for an already beleaguered industry.
    (Dagens Næringsliv)
  • Do you remember the slogan ‘If welfare is the most important thing’? The key word ‘together’ is now going to carry the Labour Party’s idea. “The expression ‘together’ is the ideology and philosophy of the social democratic movement summed up in one word,” said party secretary Martin Kolberg.
  • The Government’s proposed new legislation on Finnmark has provoked anger in the Sámi Assembly. “The men who adopted Norway’s first constitution in 1814 never asked the Danish authorities for permission before they shaped Norway’s laws. The Sámi Assembly has something to learn from that,” said Janos Trosten a member of the Sámi Assembly. In 1814, Norway was under the administrative authority of Denmark.
  • Employees of Norske Skog recently learned that they were twice as cheap to get rid of as their Czech and French counterparts.
    (Dagens Næringsliv)
  • Despite this year’s meagre pay rises, those who have a job can look forward to yet another good financial year, thanks to low interest rates. The latest cut in interest rates from Svein Gjedrem, governor of the Norwegian Central Bank, means just as much as pay rises this year.
  • One in three Norwegian women smoke to be sociable. And we are not worried about sallow skin, wrinkles or yellow teeth, according to a survey.

2. Today’s comment from Dagbladet/Sunday

It goes without saying that democracy is never a done thing once and for all, and the most obvious institution to tinker with is the Storting. The country’s political parties have now talked their way into a compromise agreement on the number of representatives to be elected to the Storting. In future there will be four additional seats, while19 seats will not be geographically determined beforehand, but will be allocated on the basis of the total votes cast. There are currently eight such “floating” seats. The most populous counties will get more seats, while Møre and Romsdal County and Nordland County lose one representative each. Finnmark gets one more seat because it covers such a vast area. In other words, some principles and some trifles have been taken care of in the name of democracy. However, there is good reason to ask if the reform really does bring democracy a step forward. For most people, it is of little significance. The considerations that have been taken into account matter first and foremost to the political elite. Nor has there been any intense public debate about electoral reform in the period after the electoral reform commission published its recommendations. Not without cause. At a time when politics has given way to market forces, such adjustments in the formal political apparatus have little impact. In reality, power does not lie in the Storting, even if the democratically elected national assembly acts as a sort of clearance house. Of greater importance is what the paid public administration is up to, what is happening in company boardrooms and bank administrations, what special interest groups and charities, the media and the big legal firms are doing, and what lobbyists and communications specialists are saying. No one would dream of trying to make sure that the influence these institutions exert on society exactly matches their demographic strength. As such, we are afraid that the electoral reform conceals more than it reveals of the imbalances in our democracy.