Archive for the ‘current affairs’ Category

Pure cynicism in human form

Monday, March 24th, 2014

The sexual abuse of children, including by their parents and other “guardians” is unfortunately a fact of life, has always been and will always be. I believe that most parents want the best for their children and will go through fire for them.

Most will, but then there are the others.

This Australian documentary tells the story of Peter Truong and Mark Newton and how they bought a boy in Russia for $ 8000 to abuse him sexually, under the pretence of adoption. They wanted, as they boldly stated on the radio in Australia, to be “gay dads”. Not only that, but they also made the child available for abuse by friends of them in their “boylover” network all over the world. Normal looking men, men with families, jobs and hobbies – just like the ones that live where you and I live.

The documentary runs 45 minutes, but I strongly recommend that you spend that time to see the full story. There is a positive aspect here, the “dads” and several others got arrested after an investigation that crossed continents and time zones – and they are now serving decades of prison time in the US.

Kudos to the cops that made this possible 🙂

In the disclaimer of the program, they state: “This program contain content that may disturb some viewers”. Bloody hell, this program contains content that should disturb ALL viewers!

Rabies!

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013
The bat is the most likely carrier of rabies

The bat is the most likely carrier of rabies
copyright: Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International

Yesterday I became aware that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia is warning travelers to Norway of the rabies carried by bats in my country. Have a look at this link, in Norwegian only. Apparently they are warning about rabies in bats in all European countries on their “Health Information for Travelers” pages that cover most, if not all, countries in the world. Rabies is a very, very serious illness and I am not saying that getting a vaccine against it (or any other serious disease for that matter, vaccines are a good thing!) is not smart, but there should be a level of quality control in the warnings posted.

Here is the complete warning from the CDC:

Rabies is present in bats in Norway. However, it is not found in dogs and is not a major risk to most travelers. CDC recommends rabies vaccine for only these groups:

  • Travelers involved in outdoor and other activities in remote areas that put them at risk for bat bites (such as adventure travel and caving).
  • People who will be working with or around bats (such as wildlife professionals and researchers).

In Norway the doctors are suspecting that a case from June 2013 – the death from meningitis of a woman in an Oslo hospital – may be rabies related. If so, she has picked up the disease somewhere other than in Norway – as we have not had a rabies death since 1815 and there has never been any confirmed cases of rabies in bats or any other animal on Norwegian soil. That means that we have had no deaths from rabies in almost 200 years. My country has done tremendous work to keep the disease out, even though it has been present on occation in our neighboring countries. The woman had been visiting her origin country in Asia, a place with substantial amounts of rabies in animals. She has most probably picked it up there.

Anyway, it is still not confirmed whether it is rabies or not – but we do know she did not pick it up in Norway if it is.

I like the work of the CDC and all other organizations that are warning travelers or its inhabitants of the possibility of infectious diseases – and I think information is the key to prevent the unnecessary spread of easily avoidable diseases and infections. I do not, however, condone the spreading of fear that this is an example of. It is important that the information coming from the CDC (and others) is correct, truthful and updated. This information about Norway is not, and it undermines the believability of all CDC information in my view. I do not have the numbers, but I bet that many other countries on the “rabies list” do not have problem with this disease either.

What about other diseases that they are warning people about when traveling, how accurate is this information?? I don’t know, I have not checked all the information available on their page, and I do not have information on the various diseases present in all the ~200 countries of the world.

Global Rabies WHO 2008

copyright: who.int

 

When checking on the Internet for information about the subject, I came across the World Health Organization overview of rabies in the world, and it’s just as inaccurate, unfortunately. WHO also uses the shotgun approach and claims that there is rabies present in bats in Norway and all other countries in Europe, in addition to the US and other places. Only New Zealand is said to be completely rabies free. The WHO also warn travelers to get vaccines if likely to get in contact with bats.

Europe is not a country, nor is Africa, North or South-America, Asia or Oceania – and the information provided cannot cover whole continents, it must be country specific. If the CDC and WHO are reusing information from one country on all the others in the same vicinity, it’s hurting their credibility.

The thing you do not want when informing people about potentially life threatening diseases, is the loss of credibility – it can be a killer.

AIDS is a mass murderer

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

every 15 seconds a person dies from aidsThere is a controversial ad campaign getting ready to be showed down the throat of German TV viewers and movie goers from next week until World Aids Day on December 1st. They use strong images and messages  to make people open their eyes to HIV and AIDS, stating that somebody dies from AIDS every 15 seconds. It turns out that British research has found that one in four HIV positive does not know that they are infected with HIV, and keeps spreading it to others – multiplying the damage and suffering. Some people will be offended by both the sexy video and the real mass murderers used in the posters below. Still, if only a few – or even one, takes precautions, protect themselves and as a result does not infect another – its all worth it.

Have a look at it and make up your own opinion.

The video should work in your browser, depending on what you have installed on your computer. You might need a media player if you do not have this installed already. I prefer the “play everything” VideoLan, as it will play media in the Firefox browser and open the external player in IE, but any player capable of handling FLV-files should do the job:

Press to view video

If you are going to have sex with an untested partner, or if you have not tested yourself in a while – use a condom. They are probably the cheapest life insurance you will ever get!

Is black always “black”?

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.

– Albert Einstein

Color challenged square

Color challenged square

According to Times Online, there is a shift in language on the way, particulary in the public sector, as everybody eager to be most politically correct. A number or names and descriptions, sayings and the like is now, per se, viewed upon as racist or ethnically demeaning. I am not writing about the normal racial slander you would expect, various organisations have decided, out of the kindness of their heart I guess, to limit or ban the use of certain words – as they are sexist, racist or carry with them a “hierarchical valuation of skin color”. I assure you that I am not making this up!

Lets have a look at some of the examples of this:

Black day – Use “miserable day” as the color black is expressed as bad and therefore it indicates that the skin color black is bad.

Ethnic minority – Minority is something small, therefore less than the majority, and thus “smaller or less important”.

Gentlemans agreement – Potentially offensive to women, one should use “unwritten agreement” or “an agreement based on trust”.

Master bedroom – Indicating a man, and threfore bad and sexist against women.

Black sheep of the family, black looks and black mark – Does not really have anything to do with skin color, but makes “black” out as something less desireble and therfore reinforce the badness of “black”. Equally, everything “white” is positive and therefore bad.

The stupidity of this is almost beyond me, and I foresee great challenges in the future. If we can not use any colors that may have some resemblance to any ethnicity, how can we say “what a horrible black sweater”, “I got a sun burn and now I am all red and terrible”, “He is yellow (cowardly)” and so on? One should always fight racism and bigotry, but this is not the way to do it.

Whats your opinion on the subject, if any?

Animal cruelty in the fur industry?

Monday, August 24th, 2009

I do not condone terrorist like organizations that break into facilities they do not like and burn them down or cause other types of damage. We have had a few examples of that in Norway, where animal activists have torched fur farms and released the animals into the wild.

Firstly, even if you disagree, there is no need to destroy somebody elses livelyhood and/or hurt them. Secondly, animals raised in a cage for fur or meat does not have the basic skills to survive in the wild and will die of starvation or become the dinner for a more adept predatory cousin. Doing this is both illegal, unethical and immoral, imho anyway – but there may be better ways to achieve the same goal.

Fox puppy with a torn ear

Fox puppy with a torn ear

The Network for Animal Freedom has “visited” 45 Norwegian fur farms and have documented what they saw there in images available on their Flickr page. They did a similar thing in 2008, documenting the conditions at 100 fur farms. The group claims that the images show inhumane treatment of bred-for-fur animals, and looking through them, its hard to disagree. The fur farmers have been reported to the police, and hopefully something will happen as a result of this. The group, however, claim that the Norwegian authorities have no credibility when it comes to cleaning up this industry.

I do not believe that we should stop using animals as a resource for food, clothing and other products, like the fundamentalists of PETA, but I do believe in treating the animals humanely. If decent living conditions and living quarters increase the price of said products, so be it. Anyone wanting to buy a fur coat can probably pay the small percentage price increase this would result in anyway.

Mink with bite wound

Mink with bite wound

The police should look into these claims and investigate the validity of their claims. If true, the fur farmers should be fined, jailed or forbidden to operate and keep animals.

Animals deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and not like this.

The hunt for Roald Amundsens plane

Monday, August 24th, 2009
Roald Amundsen, 1872-1928

Roald Amundsen, 1872-1928

An expidition are currently making the last preparations before they make an effort to find the remains of the plane Roald Amundsen, the famous Norwegian explorer, used on the journey that killed him – searching for Umberto Nobile and the airship Italia.

The search area is the sea floor northwest of Bjørnøya, and the plan is to comb the bottom for traces of his flying boat, a Latham 47. The plane was made of wood and sail, and is inevetably lost to the Barents sea forever, but the V-shaped, 18 cylinder engine should still be possible to find.

Flying boat, Latham 47

Flying boat, Latham 47

Marine officer Helge Telle on the vessel KNM Tyr is certain to find the engine, if the search area they have picked out is the right one. They are using an underwater mine robot, the Hugin 1000 MR, to sweep the bottom with a resolution of 2×2 cm.

Amundsen, the pilot Leif Dietrichson and four french crew members were lost on the 18th of June 1928 on their way to Svalbard. The only debris that was found was a fuel tank and a floating device from the airplane. These have tool marks, indicating that somebody survived the crash – but they were ill equipped for a landing in the ocean. They did have, however, gear to survive on the ice – but they were never found.

Roald Amundsen is one of the truly great Norwegian explorers, and during his adventures reached both the north and south pole and through the Northwest Passage. I hope this expedition can shed some light on the faith of him and his men, to close the Amundsen chapter in our historic annals.

Things not to do: Texting while driving

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

mobiles driving deathThe Gwent Police in Wales has paired up with local talent to produce a “what if”-video of young people texting while driving. It turns out that this is a huge problem amongst young drivers, and is potential disastrous – as it may take away up to 35% of your attention. With todays complicated traffic and amount of idiot drivers, you need that 35%!

Chief Inspector John Pavett from Gwent Police Roads Policing Unit hopes the serious message in this film will hit home to viewers and sais: “I hope that after watching this film motorists will think twice before picking up their mobile phone when behind the wheel and realize that a quick reply to a text message or answering a phone call is never worth putting theirs and other people’s lives at risk.”

If you have a drivers license, you should really spend the few minutes it takes to see this video – it will definitely make you think. You may have to confirm your birth date to see the video, as the content is not for minors.

Surveys have shown that six our of ten use their mobile phone while driving, either by calling or sending SMS messages. Among young people under 30, seven out of ten have SMS’ed while driving. Men use their mobile phone more than women while driving.

We should all stop using our cell phones while driving unless equipped with a complete hands free setup, and we’ll all be around much longer.

Punishable until ill

Friday, August 21st, 2009

Today the news had a story about the person responsible for the Lockerbie attack, where Pan Am Flight 103 was brought down by a bomb over the village of Lockerbie in Scotland in 1988. 270 people were killed in the attack, including 11 on the ground. 180 of the victims were American and this was the most deadly strike on the US prior to the 911 attacks.

Debris of Pan Am Flight 103

Debris of Pan Am Flight 103

In 2001 Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence officer, was sentenced to life in prison for the attack and he has been serving in Scotland since.

All well and good one might think, since he got life in prion. That would mean that he will remain in prison until the end of his life, not getting out until he is nose up in a box.. (dramatic pause) NOT!

al-negrahi arriving in libya

Al-Megrahi arriving in Tripoli, Libya

The Scottish authorities have decided that he should be pardoned on compassionate grounds, since he is diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer and has less than three months to live. He has been allowed to travel back to Libya to spend his remaining days with his family and received a hero’s welcome by thousands of Libyans when arriving in Tripoli.

There has been a number of protest agains the pardoning of al-Negrahi, both from US authorities and other governments around the world. Also, the families of the victims of the bombing have protested, but to no avail. The Scottish authorities believes in humane treatment, and I agree in principle, and letting this criminal die in prison alone was, in their view, inhumane. Those who disagree make a very valid point when saying through their lawyer: “He showed no compassion to the victims, and he’s lived two decades more than any of their loved ones have

This terrorist and mass murderer should have stayed in jail until dead, it would have been the only sensible thing to do. Not because we want to torment him or his family, but because this sets a dangerous precedence for future criminal acts of the same nature. If you are sick from something terminal you really don’t have much to loose when committing a criminal or terrorist act anymore, you will be let out to die at home, no matter what. This is perhaps not the complete truth, but it will be an easy selling point when recruiting those that are not willing to blow themselves up but still want to contribute to “the cause”, whatever cause that may be.

I believe that this was a foolish and short sighted call from the Scottish, they should have foreseen the controversy and outrage this has caused, and the screwed up signals they are sending to would be criminals and terrorists. There is nothing inhumane or incompassionate about nursing a convict until he dies in the prison hospital, with his family around him, rather than as a free man and a hero of the people in the same country that financed the terrorist act in the first place.

This was a really bad and potentially dangerous call, so shame on you Scotland.

The memorial in Lockerbie with the names of the 270 people killed

The memorial in Lockerbie with the names of the 270 people killed

New pictures from the Treholt espionage case and trial

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

The famous, at least in Norway, espionage case against Arne Treholt is finalized, at last. Arne Treholt, dob December 13, 1942, was a sub department head and press spokesman for the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs when he was arrested on the 20th of January 1984, charged with espionage.

The case was handled by Eidsivating Lagmannsrett  between 25th of February and the 20th of June 1985. Arne Treholt was sentenced to 20 years in prison for espionage on behalf of The Soviet Union and Iraq. The case was later appealed to the Supreme Court, but Treholt later withdrew his appeal.

Treholt has several times applied for a retrial, in both 1986 and 1990. The appeals were turned down by Eidsivating Lagmannsrett and later the following appeals to the Supreme Court was denied.

Arne Treholt was pardoned on the 3rd of Juli 1992 due to health issues, after having served 8 years and 5 months of his 20 year sentence. Treholt later filed a third appeal for a re-opening of his case to the Gjenåpningskommisjonen (Norwegian Criminal Cases Review Commission) but this was denied on the 23rd of January 2005.

Since the case now is over and done with, and there are no more possibilities for appeals or retrials, the Norwegian Police Security Service, the PST, have released some images that has not been made public before. The PST has also put together an overview of the case with more images, unfortunately only in Norwegian, but if you are interested you can find it here.

Anyone in Norway old enough to read newspapers or watch TV in the 80s know about the Treholt case. We have only had a couple of them in our country’s relatively short existence, one other being the Galtung-Haavik case, and the controversy relating to his pardon and later books and interviews has stirred up much debate.

Arne Treholt himself is states that “there are no new information in this case” when asked to comment the new images. Treholt would like more openness regarding the whole case, and has several times asked that the whole verdict be made public. He then continues “.. the only secrets in this verdict is that it does not contain anything secret“. Treholt has admitted gross misconduct during his service in the Ministry of Foreign Affaris, but has never admitted guilt for espionage.

According to the director of communications at PST, Trond Hagubakken, no more of the extensive material related to the Treholt case and trial will ever be published.

At last this case is over, and in the gallery below you can see the images that are “new” in this case.

Police in Norway and the (mis)reading of stats

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

Today there was an article in the Norwegian newspaper VG on how many new police officers the various parties want to educate over the next few years. Since we have an upcoming election in September, the politicians is climbing over oneanother to promise more police, better care for the elderly, less taxes, better hospitals, cheap or free child care etc, all the things they think will win over more voters come elections.

When reading the article the Venstre politician Odd Einar Dørum stated that we need to educate more police to reach the goal of 2 police officers per 1000 capita in Norway. I wondered about his number for a moment, and decided to check its validity according to other statistical data.

According to Nationmaster.com and the criminal statistics there, we have already reached this goal. Norway resides as # 27 – indicating that we already have 2,42 police officers per 1000 persons.

The "best" regarding police vs. capita

The "best" regarding police vs. capita

When clicking on Norway in the stats you will find an overview of the police efficiency and how satisfied people are with the overall police service in Norway. Reading these numbers, the population seems to be very happy with the police, the way policing is done in Norway and how the politicians generally are running the police. See the image below for more info:

Good stats for the police, but are they true?

Good stats for the police, but are they true?

Anyone in Norway has noticed that the police in Norway has had a conflict with their employer over the last year, dramatically reducing efficiency, discovery and solving rates for crime and overall presence in society, and these stats (although old) seem odd. Was things really that different back then? If the goal of the number of police was reached in 2000, why make a big fuzz about educating more now?

A wise man one said: There are lies, damn lies and statistics. I have to agree, you can read these statistics any way you want. We rank very well on most, if not all of them, ban the Software piracy rate (29%) indicating that we are generally a safe and non criminal society. In many ways I think we are, but we are on a downward spiral in that respect, and I think its time to really do something about it. Educating more officers is fine, but the police need a huge increase in money and equipment to withstand the flood of crime coming to our shores shortly, especially from the eastern European states, now opening up through the EU cooperation and free travel within Europe.

Dear politicians, please think big when it comes to crime prevention!