Archive for the ‘Norway’ Category

How Swedish beer turned Norwegian into Danish

August 31, 2015

Thirty years ago when I first learned Swedish we had a couple of Danish/Swedish projects ongoing. I observed that at meetings between Danes and Swedes each spoke their own language. I thought they were all being very considerate and polite when they switched to English whenever I joined a meeting. But then I realised that I was being invited to meetings where I had no part to play and had nothing to say. Just so that the Danes and Swedes could switch to English and have some little chance of understanding each other.

But I had not realised that Norwegian became Danish because of all that Swedish beer!!!!

( from a slightly biased Norsk perspective)

Norwegian + Swedish beer = Danish

Norway forcibly “kidnaps” half of all Roma children

May 18, 2015

There is something very peculiar going on in the State of Norway and it is the Child Welfare Agency which is arousing great suspicion. It may just be cultural ignorance or it may be a deep-seated racism or – and this is much more worrying – it may be a social experiment which has some political backing.

Norway has a very dark history in the treatment of its Roma population. Forced sterilisations of Roma women were taking place as late as 1977. Norway denied reentry to many of its Roma citizens if they left the country during WW2. Inevitably those denied reentry ended up in Nazi concentration camps. Many died. The Norwegian State’s Child Welfare Agency has a reputation for cultural ignorance and racism in their very frequent “kidnapping” or “confiscation” of children of parents they don’t understand. Now, it seems they are being accused by the European Commission of forcibly taking half of all Roma children in Norway away from their parents.

UPDATE! The report is available here.

“Serious concerns have been raised by civil society representatives about extremely frequent placements of Roma children in child welfare services, including foster care. It is estimated that over 60 Roma children are in foster care currently and that a further 60 children may be vulnerable to such interventions in the future; this represents about half of the total number of (non-immigrant) Roma children in Norway”.

Swedish Radio:

Around 120 Roma children in Norway have either been forcibly placed in foster care or are at risk of it, which is equivalent to half of those who are counted as Norwegian Roma children, according to the  Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe in a report to be published later today.

They Council of Europe gives no details on how it has arrived at this previously unknown total. However the report says that Norwegian NGOs are very concerned that the so-called Barnevernet is forcing taking so many Roma children away from their parents.

Most of the children end up in foster families and some in institutions. According to the Council of Europe sources many Roma women in Norway avoid giving birth to their children at hospitals for fear that the authorities will take away their newborn babies.

The Norwegian government said in a response to the Council of Europe that the country does not register people based on ethnicity and that the government therefore can not comment on this new information that such a large proportion of Roma children are being forcibly taken away.

The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks, is said to be seriously concerned about the situation of the Roma in Norway. He claims that there has been an increase in violent and discriminatory statements in Norway against Roma. The Commissioner also points to the lack of education for Roma children. In 2012 data from Oslo shows that just over half of the city’s Roma children of school age were registered in a school class.

This is not the first time that Norway’s child services have been the subject of very disturbing reports. The Nordic Page reports:

The recent conflict over the Norwegian authorities putting two children of an Indian couple in foster care gets resolved with political intervention. But there are still questions that will not go away about the Norwegian Child Welfare Agency (Barnevernet).

One of the best illustrating examples of this problem is the latest barnevern crisis between India and Norway. Two kids of the NRI couple were taken under protective care last May by Barnevernet, which claimed emotional disconnect with the parents, and placed them in foster parental care as per the local Norwegian court’s directive. The family had accused the Norwegian authorities with cultural misunderstandings and prejudice as they were taken for being fed by hand and sleeping in the same bed as their parents in addition to insufficient toys to play in the house. After Indian Foreign Ministry intervened the investigation, the Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre helped children to be handed to children’s uncles.

But the stories of Russian children being forcibly taken by the Norwegian Child Welfare Agency are even more disturbing. There is a hint of some of the children being “trafficked” to paedophiles posing as foster parents and being abused.

Russian media have recently run a series of issues about how more and more Russian women living in Norway are deprived of their children. Especially two cases on Russian media were strong enough to mobilize the protestors. One of these news stories featured a Russian citizen, who lives in Norway, whose name is Maya Kasayeva. Her shocking statements took many newspapers’ front pages: “During the court hearings, the judge told me: ‘We give you residence permit, and you give us your son.’ I refused, and then the repressions started.”

Irina Bergseth Frolova, a Russian woman living in Norway, had found out that her ex-husband, a Norwegian citizen, as well as his friends and relatives, had been raping their four-year-old son. The reports also remind another foster father who was previously been found guilty for child pornography and child sexual abuse in Stavanger.

In fact, the practices of Barnevern do not only worry Russians and Indians. There is a deep rooted skepticism among local groups towards an increased use of home based measures. A report prepared by Gruppen til Familiens Selvstendige Rett (GFSR), Redd Våre Barn (RVB) and BarnasRett concludes that current practices in the Norwegian Child Protection system are not compatible with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Kidnapping children is often driven by a very lucrative adoption industry. And a small but significant part of the adoption industry is to satisfy the desires of paedophiles. But 50% of all Roma children being forcibly taken away suggests some political motive. It is not plausible – as the Norwegian government claims – that these numbers come as a surprise. It could well be that Norway is trying out a new policy to integrate Roma children — by taking them away from their Roma parents and brainwashing them to be something else.

Tax free prostitution in Norway – no VAT, no income tax

December 21, 2014

I am not sure if this is a blow for women’s rights or just the consequences of laws only half-thought through or a case of “the law being an ass”. In any event this case does not quite uphold the majesty of the law.

If prostitution income is not subject to income tax because buying sex is a crime, then the proceeds from the sale of stolen property cannot either be subject to income tax. Moreover the selling of stolen goods does not need to attract VAT!!

The LocalA prostitute won a landmark victory against police in an Oslo court on Wednesday, when it ruled that police were wrong to claim taxes for the money she had made selling sex in the Norwegian capital.

Police in August raided an Oslo flat where a woman known as Patricia (34) lived with two other sex workers. They seized 74,000 kroner, much of it in foreign currency. 

They refused to return the money to Patricia, who is from Nigeria, claiming that the money was earned in Norway and should be subject to income tax and VAT (sales tax), according to newspaper VG.

But the court queried whether the state should tax income from prostitution, given that related activity such as pimping and human trafficking are crimes.

I note also that

It also said that it was not proven that Patricia was a tax resident in Norway at the time.

which might make the rest of the case moot.

Norwegian lake Galggojávri emptied by mistake

September 23, 2014

Great Flopping Fish!!!

Somebody pulled the wrong plug.

The entire lake Gálggojávri in Samisk Norway near the boundary between Norway, Finland and Sweden has been emptied of water. The Skibotnelva river flows from the lakes Rihpojávri and Gálggojávri and empties into the fjord at Skibotn.

Galggojávri. Foto: Ingir Nango Baal / Privat

Galggojávri empty. Foto: Ingir Nango Baal / Privat via SR

A floodgate was opened in error according to Troms Kraft, who operate the power station at Skibotn which is partly fed by water from the lake. The 440m waterfall produces 70 MW.

Skibotn is a hydro power station on the Skibotn river system in Storfjord in North Norway. Skibotn lies in the midst of the Lyngen Alps, an attractive area for skiing in winter and walking in summer. The power station uses water from several rivers and streams and lake Gálggojávri, as well as the dammed reservoir Rihpojavri. The river runs out into the Storfjord.

Lake Gálggojávri

Lake Gálggojávri


How Sohlman and 3 white Russian stallions ensured the establishment of the Nobel prizes

May 15, 2014
Björkborn Manor (photo kkp)

Björkborn Manor (photo k2p)

Yesterday we visited the Nobel Museum at the Björkborn Manor and Estate in Karlskoga. Björkborn was Alfred Nobel’s last “residence” but he never really lived in it except as a sort of guest house. In fact he died at his villa in Italy. But Björkborn was critical in ensuring that the Nobel prizes even exist at all.  A visit I would now strongly recommend to any visitor to Sweden. For me personally it was memorable on many levels, but primarily for teaching me so much new and in such a dramatic fashion. Till this visit, I knew very little about Alfred Nobel’s last will and testament and what a close run thing it was that it was ever implemented.

This quite remarkable, but little known, story of Ragnar Sohlman and the 3 white Russian stallions which ensured that Nobel’s will could be followed and that the Nobel Foundation and its 5 prizes could be established was something quite new for me. Ragnar Sohlman who, at the age of 26 spent five years against formidable opposition in at least 3 countries to establish the Nobel prizes in accordance with Nobel’s wishes, is the real unsung hero of the creation of the brand equity which is today the hallmark of the Nobel prizes.

But more of Ragnar Sohlman later.


The Ministry is not amused!

March 28, 2014
Ministry of Silly Walks - Norway - Ørje. Photo: Kreativiteket

Ministry of Silly Walks – Norway – Ørje. Photo: Kreativiteket

The Local: The craze for installing doctored comedy signs has reached small-town Norway, with an art collective in Ørje on the Swedish border installing a pair of zebra crossing signs inspired by Monte Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks.

…. the notoriously bureaucratic Norwegian Public Roads Administration is not so amused.

The Original —

John Cllese Silly Walk

John Cleese Silly Walk

Coal is still king in Svalbard

January 29, 2014

Svalbard, ranging in latitude from 74°N to 81°N,  is about as close as you can come to the “top of the world”. The mining of coal would not normally be thought of in the Arctic and that close to the North Pole but the Svalbard economy is dominated by coal mining. The population of Svalbard had increased by two percent, to 2,158 at the end of 2012.

CIA Factbook: The settlements on Svalbard are essentially company towns. The Norwegian state-owned coal company employs nearly 60% of the Norwegian population on the island, runs many of the local services, and provides most of the local infrastructure. There is also some hunting of seal, reindeer, and fox. Goods such as alcohol, tobacco, and vehicles, normally highly taxed on mainland Norway, are considerably cheaper in Svalbard in an effort by the Norwegian government to entice more people to live on the Arctic archipelago. By law, the Norwegians collect only enough taxes to pay for the needs of the local government. None of tax proceeds go to Norway.



Science Nordic reports:

The economy of Svalbard, the Norwegian arctic archipelago that lies between the country’s mainland and the North Pole, is still dominated by coal even as its value dwindles and employment in the mines drops. …

Tourism, a college and polar and space research activities have yet to make this community independent of coal. This has been verified by a recent analysis of Svalbard’s socio-economic status by the Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research (NIBR).

“Coal mining has always been the mainstay here, and it still is,” says researcher Steinar Johansen, who wrote the report with his colleague Hild Marte Bjørnsen. ….. In addition to all who are directly employed by the local coal company, Store Norske, mining requires a number of sub-venders, and services need to be provided to family members who move to Svalbard’s little town, Longyearbyen, at the chilly latitude of 78° N. …

But can the Svalbard community surive without coal? Not without major changes, according to the researchers.

Tthe statue of the coal miner in the town of Longyearbyen is a reminder of who – or what – really dominates the economy. (Photo: Georg Mathisen)

US “sells” Norway Ambassadorship to an uninformed hotelier

January 27, 2014

The uglier side of “democracy”.

That generous donors to the US political parties are rewarded with Ambassadorships is common knowledge. The smaller and “less important” countries are usually the destination for these bought positions unless a very large donation is made. $6.2 million can buy an Ambassadorship to France or Monaco.

And now Norway knows precisely how unimportant it is considered by Obama’s establishment as George Tsunis, a rich Greek-American hotelier and a very generous donor to the Democratic Party made an idiot of himself at the Senate confirmation hearings. After all he can’t do much harm sitting in Oslo!!!

He thought Norway was a Republic and didn’t know which parties were in the coalition ruling Norway. It would have been pointless asking him the name of the King. An ignorant person is a correct description – at least about Norway. He does apparently know something about running a hotel. It does not say much for his knowledge (and perhaps also his intelligence) but it does not say much either for the briefings he must have received from the State Department. A member of the Greek Orthodox church now going to be an expert in a Lutheran country!!

Or did the career diplomats deliberately make sure he was not briefed properly because they wanted to showcase his ignorance? 

George Tsunis at US Senate in Jnuary 2014 - source screen grab - The Local

George Tsunis at US Senate in Jnuary 2014 – source screen grab – The Local

Future US envoy displays total ignorance of Norway

The US’s next ambassador to Norway has committed a jaw-dropping diplomatic blunder before he even begins, describing politicians from the Progress Party, which has seven ministers, as “fringe elements” that “spew their hatred” in a US Senate hearing.

Asked by Senator John McCain what he thought it was about the “anti-immigration” Progress Party that appealed to Norwegian voters, Greek American businessman George Tsunis seemed unaware of the party’s role in the ruling coalition. 
“You get some fringe elements that have a microphone and spew their hatred,” he said in the pre-appointment hearing. “And I will tell you Norway has been very quick to denounce them.” 
McCain interrupted him, pointing out that as part of the coalition, the party was hardly being denounced. 
“I stand corrected,”  Tsunis said after a pause.  “I would like to leave my answer at… it’s a very,very open society and the overwhelming amount of Norwegians and the overwhelming amount of people in parliament don’t feel the same way.”
The blunder came after a faltering, incoherent performance from Tsunis, in which he made a reference to Norway’s “president”, apparently under the impression that the country is a republic rather than a constitutional monarchy. 
Tsunis founded the hotel management company Chartwell Hotels, which operates properties for InterContinental Hotels, and other major hotel groups. He is one of the leading figures in the Greek-American establishment, and is heavily involved in the Greek Orthodox Church. 
He donated $267,244 to the Democratic party in the 2012 election cycle, and $278,531 in 2010, making him one of the party’s top individual donors. 
His ineptitude has also been noticed in the US (but he was confirmed anyway).

The State Department is filled with veteran foreign service officers with years of experience in international relations. Most of them are products of elite universities, where they studied subjects like conflict resolution or international trade theory. Many are multilingual, and all have deep expertise on the political scenes of various countries.

Yet they routinely watch as deep-pocketed political donors with little or no foreign service experience are appointed to serve as America’s ambassadors overseas. The practice is so common that a pair of international relations scholars at the University of Pennsylvania were able to put prices on various plumb ambassadorships. According to The New York Times, “the study found that political ambassadors who had made campaign donations of $550,000, or bundled contributions of $750,000, had a 90 percent chance of being posted to a country in Western Europe.” The best postings — in France or Monaco — could cost up to $6.2 million in direct contributions. ….

Other Norwegian media described Tsunis as having “trampled through the salad bowl,” according to Olivier Knox at Yahoo NewsKnox added that Tsunis wasn’t the first to fumble the hearing:

McCain, already flummoxed by the apparent inability of Obama’s choice to be ambassador to Hungary to list strategic US interests there, closed his questioning with a bit of sarcasm: “I have no more questions for this incredibly highly qualified group of nominees.”

Herring fast frozen in the Norwegian Sea

January 15, 2014

Fast freezing at its natural best.

A shoal of herring was chased towards shore off the island of Lovund, Norway by cormorants. But the air temperature was – 7.8°C with a fresh Easterly wind and the sea froze so fast that the fish were trapped in “mid-swim” (or mid-flight)! Apparently the cormorants have not been able to get to them as yet. They will have to wait till the thaw — and that could be some time.

frozen herring lovund (image Norwegian Radio)

frozen herring lovund (image Norwegian Radio)

Norwegian Radio reports:

It was minus 7.8 degrees and the east wind made ​​the bay freeze in a short time. The shoal of herring had been chased to the shore by cormorants, and apparently had not been able to get out into the open sea again, says Ingolf Kristiansen.

He was on a Sunday outing with his miniature schnauzer Anton when he came across the unusual sight. “I’ve never seen anything like it. It has not happened before here as far as I know”, he said to

Aril Slotte, Head of Pelagic fish at the Sea Research Institute, says it was not uncommon for herring being chased ashore by predators. We know that whales scares herring at various locations in Tromso, so it is not inconceivable that this could happen with small herring and other fish being pushed up against the land”, he said to

In summer the bay is a popular swimming cove. A concrete wall has been built under water so that when the tide comes there is only seepage of seawater in from the open sea. …. 

Frossen sei på Lovund - Foto: Hermann Mindrum /

Frossen sei på Lovund – Foto: Hermann Mindrum

Lovund - Norway

Related: Moose frozen in the ice

Viking slaves were probably sacrificed and buried headless with their masters

November 7, 2013

Viking slaves were apparently decapitated and buried with their owners as grave gifts, new research shows. The slaves were buried headless. Moreover their diets differed. High status individuals who were accompanied by their – presumed – beheaded and sacrificed slaves, had much more meat in their diets. Their slaves along with other less exalted commoners had a predominantly marine diet.

Meat for the Viking Lords and fish for all the others but slaves had the dubious privilege of accompanying their masters, headless, into the after life!

Elise Naumann, Maja Krzewińska, Anders Götherström, Gunilla Eriksson Slaves as burial gifts in Viking Age Norway? Evidence from stable isotope and ancient DNA analyses  Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 41, January 2014, Pages 533–540

Full-size image (68 K)

The burial site of Flakstad is situated on Flakstad Island

PastHorizons reports:

Six Late Iron Age (AD 550–1030) graves were discovered in the northern Norwegian island of Flakstad and partially excavated in the period 1980–1983. There were ten individuals making up three single burials, two double and one triple and unusually for this region the bones were in a good state of preservation.

Although much of the contextual information had been lost due to farming activity, the double and triple burials contained one intact individual in each, along with the post-cranial bones of the other occupants. This situation has been interpreted as decapitated slaves buried with his/her master and the theory is supported by a number of double burials found within Norse societies indicating this practice.

Elise Naumann from the University of Oslo led a study to investigate stable isotope and ancient mitochondrial DNA fragments in order to better understand the social status, geographical and/or familial links within the Flakstad group

Graves with two or more individuals occur relatively frequently all over the Viking World. The choice to bury people together is not coincidental, but rather a deliberate action based on specific relationships between these individuals, which could either be:

  1. Family members or people with other close connections.
  2. Sacrifice, where one or more individuals are intended to accompany the “main” burial.

The research has revealed some intriguing results and indicates that the intact person in each grave had distinct isotope values from the other individuals with missing crania; the former having a predominately meat based diet, while the latter – in common with the single grave occupants – had consumed a much higher percentage of marine foodstuffs.

The research study noted that ” in a society where most of the daily activities were dedicated to the acquirement and preparation of food, where food shortage and harsh winters are assumed to have been a constant threat, it would seem likely that a different diet should be detectable in people of low social standing compared to the common population. However, isotopic data in this study show quite the contrary. Despite indications that the headless people in multiple graves might represent low-status members of the population, their diet was equivalent to those  in the single burials who are interpreted as representatives of the free population. ”

he ancient DNA results suggest that maternal relations between the individuals buried together are unlikely and backs up the isotope evidence. Therefore, the complete individuals from the multiple burials stand out as a distinct group and may be perceived as having a special social status. This is emphasised by a diet distinctly different from the slaves and the rest of the population and along with the lack of high status artefacts in the multiple burials could indicate that they were not necessarily wealthy, but special in another sense, who were  treated differently than others in death as well as in life.

Why the slaves were deprived of their heads is a little unclear. Perhaps it was to make sure that they stayed in the service of their owners in the after-life and didn’t just go wandering about on their own.

The authors conclude:

Results from stable isotope analyses show that individuals in multiple burials most likely were intentionally placed in the same burial, given the pattern in which the only person buried intact in each burial, had distinct isotope values. Thus, persons sharing a grave had distinctly different diets during their lifetime and were unlikely to share maternal kinship. A reasonable explanation for these observations could be that persons buried headless may have been slaves accompanying their masters in the grave. This interpretation corresponds well with other double burials from the Norse World with similar features, where decapitated and sometimes headless people were deposited as grave gifts. The resemblance in diet between headless persons and individuals buried in single burials was unexpected and calls for further investigation in the future. The present study indicates that also other double burials should be investigated using a bioarchaeological approach.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 778 other followers

%d bloggers like this: