Category Archives: Norway

Should the police carry guns?

At least to americans it could be hard to understand, but in Norway we have a big discussion on whether the police should carry guns when on a normal patrol. The police union has just and for the first time said that they want the police to be armed. I disagree.

I think I understand why the policemen and women wants this. They perform tough tasks. Assignments can be hazardous and sometimes guns can make the mission easier and safer to conduct for the police.
However, I think we should start this discussion in the other end. Why do we have a police force? We have police to create security for most people. So that we should not go around being afraid for life, health or property. Police keep watch, and if something were to happen then they’ll find out who has done something wrong and arrest the perpetrator. And I belive that creating a secure society is the most important part of their duties.

I must admit I will feel less secure if the police was to carry a gun on everyday duties. I know that when I am in other countries, where the police carry guns this creates in me a strong sense of insecurity.

I get scared.

I do not think I get scared because the weapon is a symbol that I am in an unsafe country, I get scared because I do not know that the weapon will be handled in a correct way.

  • I am afraid that the weapon can be lost or stolen.
  • I am afraid that the cop can go amok.
  • I am afraid that it can be too easy to resort to arms in response to a confusing situation.
  • I am afraid that the if the police have guns at all times so will criminals

I admit that this is based on feelings. But security is never only objective it is also subjective. And maybe the subjective part is the most important part?
I believe that the police should have good access to guns. I think all police cars should be equipped with weapons. I think the threshold should be low for armament in special situations. However, I want the police to think through the situation before the weapon is used. I belive the pause to think should be longer than the time it takes to draw.

A gun is a tool. Often we use the tool that is most readily available. That might not be best tool for the job. I do not think guns should be that readily available..

Why are Norwegians eurosceptics

The last opinion polls shows that 75% of Norwegians are against Norwegian membership in the European Union. Even traditional yes-strongholds like the supporters of the conservative pary and those living in Oslo now overwhelmingly say they are against Norwegian membership in th EU. Why this eurosceptism?

Well, the spike in the no-vote is easy to explain. It is surely connected to the eurocrisis and the Norwegian economy doing well – on the back of petrodollars.

However that does not explain the enduring sceptism in the Norwegian populace. Dimiter Toshkov discusses this on the blog Eurosearch. He writes:

 According to Marianne Skinner, neither economic interest nor identity politics can account for the strong Euroscepticism of the Norwegian people. Instead, the author argues that it is a concern for (1) post-materialist values, (2) a particular political culture, and (3) emphasis on rural society that determine the lack of desire of ordinary Norwegians to join the EU*.

He then argues that this does not entirely convey why Norwegians are eurosceptics. He writes:

Now contrast this Norwegian brand of Euroscepticism with the one prevalent in the UK (and in England, in particular). The public and elite (political parties) level Euroscepticism in the UK is fueled by feelings that the EU regulates too much and not too little, that it is not supporting the market and economic growth enough, and that its economic philosophy is not too liberal but too dirigiste.Norway and England are Eurosceptic for the exact opposite reasons!

I’m not sure that I agree.

Norwegians certainly have many different reasons to oppose EU-membership, but EU-regulations is one of them. We have a feeling that the burearocrats in Brüssels never will understand our specific needs. The prohibition against sealproducts strengthens this belief.

However this just supports the underlying and most important reason for Norwegians. Summarized in the slogan “It is a long way to Oslo, but farther to Büssels”.

The difference between British and Norwegian eurosceptics is that the Brits are against all regulations, Norwegians are against regulations we don’t make ourselves.

This of course makes it ironic that Norway imports most European regulations and laws through the EEA-agreement, totally without a say in their making.

Farewell dear bike engine

Friday my bike engine stopped working. On the way to work with children in the trailer, suddenly everything went black and instead of progress and aid all I got was regenerative braking. The engine settled in the charging mode, so in addition to my own weight, the weight of two kids in the trailer and the weight of the motor and battery I had to overcome the resistance of the engine. Challenging!

I have now clocked in almost a 1000 kilometers on the engine, 1000 kilometers that has given much joy. It has made it possible for me to cycle to work and kindergarten most of the year. Kindergarten is maybe the most important aspect. I have three kids all of them in kindergarten. With two in the trailer and one in the seat on the bike it is heavy to ride. I’m not a lightweight myself, so using the car had probably been the natural choice without assistance on the bike. It would not exactly made me closer to being a sylfide.

I’ve become very fond of my engine. It is a Bion X purchased from the United States. Bicycle engines assists your pedalling. There is no free ride. The engine has two main effects as I see it. It makes it possible to have a heavier load on the bike and you manage to maintain a higher speed over time. Both aspects are helping to make the bike more useful in several situations. I’ve actually come to believe that an electric motor is what it takes to make Norway into a cycling country. We’ll have to realize that going uphill is an effective barrier to bicycle use.

But if the equipment I bought is the standard, there is a bit of work to be done before these engines are common. The electronics are not good enough in my experience. It seems to be to much randomness as to how much power you get out of the engine. It is not always when you need the most help you get the most help. The battery technology also has ways to go, at least when you are using it as I have done. I’ve taken out a significant effect in a short time, because I’ve had so much weight on the bike. I’m also a little unsure of how well the battery has had the winter and salty roads.

In any case, I think it was the battery gave up on my system. So now, I am carefully considering whether I should use the many thousands needed to get a new battery or new engine. The idea of using motor bike is fabulous, but I have doubts about the quality in proportion to the price.

I’d like to hear about your experiences and answer and questions about electric bikemotors if you have some.

The Norwegian elections and the aftermath

The Norwegian election bucked the trend that we are seeing in Europe these days. More and more countries are governed by the Centre-left. It seems like only small countries in the European periphery, like Norway, Portugal and Greece bucks this trend.

The election gave the government a slightly smaller majority than last time, however there were quite substantial changes within the coalition. My party, SV (the Socialist Left) lost four mandates and Labour gained three. This has certainly repercussions. Wednesday, the seventh of October the government released the new platform for the coming four years. This shows a slight move to the right, especially on areas of asylumseekers and immigration.

The debate in Norway and many other European countries has moved to the right over the last years. This is unfortunately mirrored in the new platform. The government intend to raise the bar to get the right to stay in Norway based on humanitarian criteria. I dislike this intensely

On the other hand the new platform is offensive and good especially on climate change and the environment. Here and on equal pay/gender equality and education the platform is quite good. The government states clearly that they want a 40% reduction of climate change gases, which is great but not quite enough and that there should be norms for how many pupils each teacher should be responsible for. On equal pay the government intends to include the labour organisations and the industrial organisations in talks to find ways to ensure that women get equal pay. I they can agree on principles and mechanisms then the government will put up the money.

I am also very glad for many of the things which are stated on international policy. Norway will endeavour to take a leading role in NATO to reduce nuclear weapons. We are open towards reducing our troops in Afghanistan and Norway wil work hard to reduce illegimate debt that third world countries must pay. This is important new steps in the right direction.

On the balance I must say that the platform is OK. SV got more than we could expect with only 6,2% of the votes. There is of course much I would have wanted differently, but in the end the voters decide by which party they support.

What do you think should be the most important choices for Norway in the coming years?

The Arctic is heating up

No, I’m not talking about climate change. Even though I obviously could have, the North West passage is open again this year. No, I’m talking about the international scramble to grab land (read sea bottom) in the Arctic.

The United Nations Law of the Sea gives all the countries around the Arctic bassin until 2014 to stake their claim or earlier if they ratified before 2004. This means we are in for a rush of claims. Norway has already submitted her claim, Russia, Canada and Denmark (Greenland)are ready to do so. What the US will do is uncertain. The US has not ratified the Law of the Sea treaty, while the other countries have.

There is litle doubt that some of the claims will overlap. Certainly more than one country will claim the pole. Russia surely has made her intent clear by planting a flag on the north pole.
With the ice disappearing and the US Geological services claiming that large reserves of petroleum is to be found, there is reason to believe conflict will be many and tough. Lets just hope they do not escalate. Dose.ca writes:

In the latest sign of the rising international political stakes in the Arctic, the top U.S. Coast Guard official has revealed a planned shift in American foreign policy from scientific research to “sovereignty” and “security presence” in Alaskan waters bordering Canadian and Russian

further

“The primary mission right now is the maritime boundary line with Russia – keeping foreigners from stealing Alaskan fish,” Rear Admiral. Gene Brooks, head of the U.S. Coast Guard’s operations in Alaska, told the radio network.

and

…prompted the Conservative government to promise a new year-round icebreaker for Arctic waters and a fleet of up to eight ice-reinforced patrol boats.

But we should be careful not to look at this potential conflict with old cold war glasses. The potential disputes between Canada and the US, Canada and Denmark are equal poignant as the potential conflict between all the Arctic countries and Russia.

However the Telegraph writes that:

As the polar powers have got out their maps in the last couple of years, four of them – Norway, Denmark, Canada, and the USA – have made the unpleasant discovery that the fifth – Russia – is far ahead of the game. As Russian forces consolidate their grip on her messy southern frontier in the aftermath of the war with Georgia, her diplomats, oilmen and military have been pressing their advantage in the north, a border region which is on a far vaster scale but equally confused and disputed.

Cleo Paskal, an Assistant Fellow at Chatham House and an expert on how climate change will affect borders, said: “The Russians have a big head start. Their nuclear submarines have been all over the Arctic for decades, they have 16 icebreaking ships to the Americans’ four, they have a lot of experience and a lot of the right gear.

So as all countries are beefing up their military capabilities in the Arctic, lets just hope the dispute settlement mechanisms in the Law of the Sea treaty will be robust – and enough.