COVID-19 Gives Norwegian Kids A Lesson In Democracy

(FILES) This file photo taken on April 27, 2020 shows Norway´s Prime Minister Erna Solberg (C) learning greeting techniques by students Celine Busk (L) and Rim Daniel Abraham (R) during her visit to Ellingsrudåsen school in Oslo, amid the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. – Solberg gave a press conference for children on September 3, 2020 in Oslo to comment on the novel coronavirus / COVID-19 situation. Håkon Mosvold Larsen / NTB Scanpix / AFP.

 

Can we hug now? Is the coronavirus still as dangerous? When will a vaccine be ready? Norway’s prime minister on Thursday answered a volley of questions from children eager to see the end of the pandemic.

Flanked by her education and family ministers, each respecting social distancing rules, Erna Solberg tried to assuage the fears of a generation longing for life to return to pre-Covid days.

“I hope that next year we will be able to start living a little bit more normally,” Solberg replied to a question from a class of eight- and nine-year-olds which had been sent in advance.

“In the meantime, we have to continue like this and look out for each other.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the leaders of the Nordic countries have all held question-and-answer sessions for children, initiatives hailed by child psychiatrists.

But none have persisted with the format as much as Norway: this is the third time since March that the three ministers have held a “press conference” solely for children’s queries, broadcast live on television.

In the prime minister’s official press room, the three ministers use simple language, without hiding any of their uncertainties, to answer questions collected by a children’s programme and relayed by a moderator.

“Summer is over, children are back at school, their daily lives have changed and new questions have arisen, as well as the need to talk about the way forward,” Solberg explained to AFP in an email.

This time, the children’s questions ranged from travel possibilities to playing football with other classes in the schoolyard, and when their grandparents living abroad would be allowed to visit them.

Asio, 12, wanted to know what Halloween was going to be like.

“You can celebrate Halloween, respecting the one-metre distance rule, knock on the door and dress up and have fun,” the prime minister assured him.

“Everyone just has to make sure the precautions are respected.”

– ‘Responsibility and obligation’ –

Experts welcomed the effort directed at the young.

A French child psychiatrist, Daniel Marcelli, called it a “pretty good democratic initiative”.

“For kids over the age of seven or eight who have reached the age of reason, to be able to speak directly to the president, prime minister or an important figure — that’s an important act of acknowledgement that fuels a sense of citizenship,” he told AFP.

Norway frequently organises political debates specifically for children ahead of elections.

“It’s both a responsibility and an obligation that we have,” said Rune Alstadsaeter, state secretary in the prime minister’s office.

“The Convention on the Rights of the Child, in its article 17, says the state must ensure that all children have access to information,” he said.

In a sign of their popularity, the Covid-19 press conferences typically yield hundreds of questions.

“It’s normal” for kids to probe virus policy, said psychiatrist Serge Tisseron. “It’s the generation of tomorrow. They’re very attentive to all this.”

“When you’re 40 or 50 years old, you’ve experienced other things. But when you’re 10, it’s normal to wonder if it’s going to continue like this,” he said.

At worst it’s an “election operation”, at best a “lesson in democracy”. But, according to Tisseron, in order to be truly beneficial, the press conferences should be preceded by a debate in school before the questions are asked.

Either way, there’s usually something for everyone.

“Children ask questions very directly and without any complexes,” said Marcelli. “Often the answers can be just as interesting for adults.”

AFP

Norwegian Govt Contributes 9.9m Kroner To Nigeria’s ‘One UN COVID-19 Response’

A man reacts as a medical worker takes a swab from his nose during a community COVID-19 testing campaign in Abuja on April 15, 2020. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

 

The Norwegian Government has donated NOK 9.9 million in support of Nigeria’s fight against the pandemic.

According to the Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria, Jens-Petter Kjemprud, the added resources will bolster support to the Nigeria COVID-19 Multi-Sectoral Pandemic Response Plan and help the government to sustain its efforts in addressing critical issues of the on-going pandemic.

“Global solidarity is our only option”, Jens-Petter Kjemprud said.

He added that, “The coronavirus pandemic requires that we join forces for urgent action and coordinated efforts to mitigate its short- and long-term effects.

“Through the UN Basket Fund, Norway is partnering with Nigeria in this time of crisis to address the multifaceted nature of the pandemic and its unprecedented implications on the healthcare system, as well as the socio-economic impacts.”

Read Also: Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation Donates $1 Million To Help Fight COVID-19 In Nigeria

Norway is the latest contributor to join the One UN COVID-19 response.

On Tuesday, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated one million dollars to support Nigeria’s COVID-19 fight.

According to the United Nations Development Programme, it is aimed at supporting the country’s response in the management of the crisis and the realities of post-crisis, particularly in the protection of vulnerable persons.

Pirates Kidnap Nine Nigerians On Norwegian Oil Ship

 

Pirates attacked a Norwegian vessel off the coast of Nigeria on Thursday and kidnapped nine Nigerian nationals onboard, the ship’s Norwegian owner BW Offshore said.

The Sendje Berge, an offshore support vessel for the oil and gas industry, came under attack at 0320 GMT, BW Offshore said in a filing to the Oslo stock exchange.

There has been no news on the nine Nigerians since they were taken, but nobody remaining on board the ship had been hurt, according to the statement.

At the time of the attack, the Sendje Berge was working at the Okwori oilfield on behalf of China’s Addax Petroleum.

The Gulf of Guinea, which includes the Nigerian coast, has in recent years been the scene of a growing number of attacks by pirates who loot ships or kidnap crews or passengers for ransom.

Beijing COVID-19 Outbreak Not Connected To Norwegian Salmon – Oslo

Two women wear protective suits as they walk on a street near the closed Xinfadi market in Beijing on June 13, 2020. GREG BAKER / AFP

 

Norway said Wednesday that salmon from the country was not the cause of the recently discovered outbreak of the new coronavirus in Beijing, after many Chinese restaurants and retailers stopped selling imported salmon.

Norwegian salmon came under scrutiny in China after a recently discovered cluster of new coronavirus cases was reportedly traced to the Xinfadi meat market in Beijing and a chopping board used for cutting up imported salmon.

“The issue is being resolved,” said fisheries minister Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen, quoted by TDN Finans.

“We’re working out the details today and I can confirm that the issue seems to be resolved,” Ingebrigtsen added.

Ingebrigtsen said Chinese and Norwegian officials had met on Tuesday and concluded that Norwegian salmon was unlikely to be the source of the virus detected last week at the Beijing market.

At least 137 people have been infected since last week in China’s capital, a resurgence of infections that has led to the lockdown of several neighbourhoods and the cancellation of more than a thousand flights.

Major supermarket chains including Wumart and Carrefour removed all stocks of salmon in the capital, but said supplies of other products would not be affected, Beijing Daily reported Saturday.

Some Beijing restaurants were not serving any salmon last weekend, according to AFP reporters.

Contacted by AFP, the Chinese embassy in Oslo did not provide any immediate comment.

China, considered a very promising market by the industry, last year imported around 23,500 tonnes of Norwegian salmon.

AFP

Norway Suspends Virus-Tracing App After Privacy Concerns

Facebook To Pull VPN App From App Store Over Data Concern
File photo: NARINDER NANU / AFP

 

Norway’s health authorities said on Monday they had suspended an app designed to help trace the spread of the new coronavirus after the national data protection agency said it was too invasive of privacy.

Launched in April, the smartphone app Smittestopp (“Infection stop”) was set up to collect movement data to help authorities trace the spread of COVID-19, and inform users if they had been exposed to someone carrying the novel coronavirus.

On Friday, the data agency, Datatilsynet, issued a warning that it would stop the Norwegian Institute of Public Health from handling data collected via Smittestopp.

Datatilsynet said the limited spread of coronavirus in Norway, as well the app’s limited effectiveness due to the small number of people actually using it, meant the invasion of privacy resulting from its use was disproportionate.

Camilla Stoltenberg, the public health institute’s director, said she did not agree with that assessment, but the institute would now delete all the app’s data and suspend its work.

Stoltenberg said this weakened Norway’s response to the spread of coronavirus. “The pandemic is not over,” she said.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 Impact Could Kill Over 50,000 Children In MENA – UN

Some 600,000 of Norway’s 5.4 million inhabitants had been using the app.

Developed in Norway and downloadable on a voluntary basis, the application used centralised data storage, as is planned in France and the UK.

Norway, where the coronavirus deaths totalled 242 as of last week, is now seeing only a handful of new infection cases a day.

AFP

COVID-19: Norway Proposes UN Fund For ‘Developing Countries’

Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg gives a press conference in Oslo, Norway, on March 16, 2020, where children asks questions about the novel coronavirus. Lise Åserud / NTB Scanpix / AFP
Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg gives a press conference in Oslo, Norway, on March 16, 2020, where children asks questions about the novel coronavirus. Lise Åserud / NTB Scanpix / AFP

 

Norway said Monday it wanted to start a United Nations donors’ fund to help poor countries fight the new coronavirus pandemic.

“We are concerned about the way the virus will affect developing countries which have fragile healthcare systems,” Norway’s Development Aid Minister Dag-Inge Ulstein said in a statement.

“International solidarity across borders is more important than ever. That’s why it is important for us to contribute financially to such a fund in the UN,” he added.

The fund is expected to be set up quickly, “possibly even this week,” Norway said, without specifying the amount of its own contribution.

The initiative has been welcomed favourably by UN deputy secretary general Amina Mohammed, Oslo said.

On Thursday, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned “millions” of lives were at stake if the international community did not show solidarity, especially with the world’s poorest countries, amid the coronavirus outbreak.

According to AFP’s own tally on Sunday, more than 324,000 cases have been detected in 171 countries and at least 14,396 deaths.’

 

AFP

Syria: Norway Suspends New Arms Exports To Turkey

 

Norway, a NATO ally of Turkey, announced Thursday it was suspending all new arms exports to the country after Ankara launched a military offensive against Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

“Given that the situation is complex and changing quickly, the foreign ministry as a precautionary measure will not handle any new demands for exports of defence material or material for multiple uses… to Turkey,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide said in an email sent to AFP.

She added that the ministry would also review all licenses for arms exportation that have already been issued.

Syria’s Kurds, who were the West’s allies in the fight against Islamic State group jihadists, were battling Thursday to hold off a Turkish invasion as thousands of civilians fled air strikes and shelling that deepened fears of a humanitarian crisis and raised international alarm.

Finland, which is not a member of the NATO alliance, announced on Wednesday the suspension of all new arms exports to Turkey or any other country involved in the fighting.

AFP

Norway Mosque Attack: Suspect Appears In Court

Terror suspected Philip Manshaus attends a hearing at an Oslo courthouse on August 12, 2019 in Norway.  Cornelius Poppe / NTB Scanpix / AFP

 

A Norwegian man suspected of killing his stepsister and opening fire at a mosque near Oslo this weekend was remanded in custody Monday, suspected of murder and an act of terror, after appearing in court beaten and bruised but smiling.

The man, identified as 21-year-old Philip Manshaus, appeared in the Oslo court with two black eyes and scrapes and bruises on his face, neck and hands, probably obtained when he was overpowered at the mosque.

Police say he has “extreme right views” and “xenophobic positions”. The Norway incident comes amid a rise in white supremacy attacks around the world.

Manshaus is formally suspected of murdering his 17-year-old stepsister, and of a “terrorist act” at the Al-Noor mosque on Saturday, allegations he has rejected.

In Norway, being formally named as a suspect is a step prior to indictment.

Manshaus entered the courtroom smiling to cameras, wearing dark clothes and his hair cut short.

He asked to be released, his lawyer Unni Fries said after the hearing.

“He rejects the allegations and exercises his right to not explain himself,” she said.

The court said there were “reasonable grounds” to suspect Manshaus had committed the criminal acts and remanded him in custody for four weeks, as police had requested.

During the first two, he will be kept in “complete isolation”.

 ‘Pretty vague’ past tip  

Manshaus is accused of entering the mosque in the affluent Oslo suburb of Baerum armed with at least two weapons and opening fire before being overpowered by a 65-year-old man who suffered minor injuries. Just three worshippers were in the mosque at the time.

Hours after the attack, the body of a young woman was found in a home in Baerum and police on Sunday confirmed it was Manshaus’s 17-year-old stepsister.

According to local media, she was of Chinese origin and had been adopted by the companion of Manshaus’s father.

On Monday, Norway’s domestic intelligence service PST said it had received a tip “about a year ago” about Manshaus, but that they chose not to act on it.

“The tip was pretty vague and was not indicative of any imminent terrorist plot,” PST chief Hans Sverre Sjovold told reporters.

PST, which said it receives a large number of similar tips, has not raised the threat alert level in Norway from the current low level.

 ‘Race war’ post 

Shortly before the mosque attack, a person identifying himself as Philip Manshaus had posted a message on the EndChan forum calling for a “race war” to be taken from the internet into real life (“irl”).

The author said he was selected by “saint tarrant”, an apparent reference to the New Zealand mosque attack suspect Brenton Tarrant, accused of killing 51 people in attacks on two mosques in Christchurch in March.

EndChan confirmed on Twitter that a man “claiming to be the Oslo shooter” had posted material on the forum.

The post ended with the words “Valhalla awaits,” a reference to the afterlife for those who have died in battle in Norse mythology.

The shooting follows a rise in white supremacist attacks, including the recent El Paso massacre in the United States.

The Oslo attack took place on the eve of the Islamic celebration of Eid Al-Adha, marking the end of the Hajj pilgrimage, stoking fears among Norway’s Muslims.

In Norwegian media, neighbours and acquaintances have meanwhile described the suspect as a previously happy and well-adjusted person whose behaviour had changed during the past year.

According to public broadcaster NRK, he reportedly became “very religious” and adopted increasingly extreme rightwing views.

Norway was the scene of one of the worst-ever attacks by a rightwing extremist in July 2011, when Anders Behring Breivik, who said he feared a “Muslim invasion”, killed 77 people in a truck bomb blast near the government offices in Oslo and a shooting spree at a Labour Party youth camp on the island of Utoya.

AFP

Norway Mosque Shooting Being Probed As ‘Act Of Terror’ – Police

Police vehicles near the al-Noor Islamic centre mosque where a gunman, armed with multiple weapons, went on a shooting spree in the town of Baerum, an Oslo suburb on August 10, 2019. 
Terje Pedersen / NTB Scanpix / AFP

 

The shooting at a mosque near Oslo is being treated as an “attempted act of terror”, Norwegian police said on Sunday, with the suspect appearing to harbour far-right, anti-immigrant views.

“We are looking at an attempted act of terror,” acting chief of the police operation Rune Skjold told a press conference after Saturday’s incident left one man injured.

Skjold said the investigation had shown that the man appeared to hold “far-right” and “anti-immigrant” views.

The suspect, armed with multiple weapons, opened fire in the mosque in Baerum, a suburb of Oslo, on Saturday afternoon, before being overpowered by a man who suffered “minor injuries” in the process.

Norway was the scene of one of the worst-ever attacks by a right-wing extremist in July 2011, when 77 people were killed by Anders Behring Breivik.

Hours after the attack on Saturday, the body of a young woman related to the suspect was found in a home also in Baerum.

Investigators are treating her death as suspicious and have opened a murder probe.

Police said earlier on Sunday they had tried to question the suspect, described as a “young man” with a “Norwegian background” who was living in the vicinity but he did not want to “give an explanation to police”.

The man had been known to police before the incident but according to Skjold he could not be described as someone with a “criminal background”.

READ ALSO: One Hurt In Norway Mosque Shooting, Suspect Arrested

On Saturday, Norwegian media reported that the suspect was believed to have put up a post to an online forum hours before the attack where he seemingly praised the assailant in the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in March when 51 people were killed.

The suspect in the Christchurch killings wrote a hate-filled manifesto in which he said he was influenced by far-right ideologues including Breivik.

Breivik detonated a massive bomb in Oslo that killed eight people and then opened fire on a gathering of the Labour Party’s youth wing on the island of Utoya, killing another 69 people, most of them teenagers.

Local Norwegian paper Budstikka said it had contacted the mosque in Baerum in March after the Christchurch massacre and that officials there had said security would be tightened.

AFP

One Hurt In Norway Mosque Shooting, Suspect Arrested

A picture taken on August 10, 2019, shows medics with a stretcher near the al-Noor Islamic Centre mosque where a gunman, armed with multiple weapons, went on a shooting spree in the town of Baerum, an Oslo suburb. Terje Pedersen / NTB Scanpix / AFP

 

A gunman armed with multiple weapons opened fire in a mosque near Oslo on Saturday, injuring one person before being overpowered by an elderly worshipper and arrested, Norwegian police and witnesses said.

Hours after the attack, the body of a young woman related to the suspect was found in a home in the suburb of Baerum where the shooting took place earlier in the day, police said Saturday evening.

Investigators are treating her death as suspicious and have opened a murder probe.

The head of the mosque described the assailant as a young white man dressed in black and said he was wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest.

He said only three people had been inside the al-Noor Islamic centre at the time of the attack.

Police were alerted to the shooting shortly after 4:00 pm (1400 GMT).

Officers first reported that a victim had been shot, but later clarified one person had sustained “minor injuries” and that it was unclear if they were gunshot wounds.

Police said the suspect appeared to have acted on his own.

“It is a Norwegian young man, with a Norwegian background. He lives in the vicinity,” Oslo police spokesman Rune Skjold had told a press conference earlier Saturday.

Skjold added that the suspect had been known to police before the incident but could not be described as someone with a “criminal background”.

The man — who was in his early twenties — was taken into custody, police said in a press release carried by Norwegian media, adding that he would be interrogated “on the events at the mosque and the homicide”.

Norway was the scene of one of the worst-ever attacks by a right-wing extremist in July 2011, when 77 people were killed by Anders Behring Breivik.

‘Blood on the carpets’

“One of our members has been shot by a white man with a helmet and uniform,” Irfan Mushtaq, head of the mosque, told local media.

Mushtaq said that the man had carried multiple weapons, but that he had been subdued by a member of the mosque.

Mushtaq himself had arrived at the scene shortly after being alerted about the gunman, and had gone to the back of the building while waiting for police to arrive.

“Then I see that there are cartridges scattered and blood on the carpets, and I see one of our members is sitting on the perpetrator, covered in blood,” Mushtaq told Norwegian newspaper VG.

He said the man who apparently overpowered the shooter was 75 years old and had been reading the Koran after a prayer session.

According to Mushtaq, the mosque had not received any threats ahead of the shooting.

The attack took place on the eve of the Muslim celebration of Eid Al-Adha, marking the end of the Muslim pilgrimage Hajj.

Police said Saturday they would be sending out more officers so that those celebrating would “be as safe as possible”.

New Zealand connection?

There has been a recent spate of white nationalist attacks in the West, including in the United States and in New Zealand where 51 Muslim worshippers were killed in March in shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch.

The al-Noor Islamic centre in Norway shares its name with the worst affected mosque in the New Zealand attacks.

Local Norwegian paper Budstikka said it had contacted the mosque in March after the Christchurch massacre and that officials there had said security would be tightened.

The suspect in the Christchurch killings wrote a hate-filled manifesto in which he said he was influenced by far-right ideologues including Breivik.

Breivik detonated a massive bomb in Oslo that killed eight people and then opened fire on a gathering of the Labour Party’s youth wing on the island of Utoya, killing another 69 people, most of them teenagers.

Norwegian police said they were aware that Saturday’s suspect had been active online prior to the shooting.

Broadcaster TV2 reported they had learned the identity of the man and located a post to an online forum from someone using the same name, posted only hours before the attack.

The post seemingly praising the New Zealand attacker and ended with the words “Valhall awaits”.

AFP

Women Cup: England Beat Norway 3-0, Advance To Semi-Final

England’s defender Lucy Bronze (hidden) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the France 2019 Women’s World Cup quarter-final football match between Norway and England, on June 27, 2019, at the Oceane stadium in Le Havre, northwestern France. LOIC VENANCE / AFP

 

England secured their place in the semi-finals of the women’s World Cup after outclassing Norway 3-0 in their last-eight tie in Le Havre on Thursday.

Jill Scott, Ellen White and Lucy Bronze scored England’s goals before Nikita Parris had a late penalty saved.

READ ALSO: Fresh Concerns Over Merkel’s Health In New Trembling Spell

Phil Neville’s team will face either France or the United States in the semi-finals next Tuesday.

AFP

FIFA Women’s World Cup: Norway Beat Nigeria 3-0 In Group Opener

Nigerian players react at the end of the 2019 Women’s World Cup Group A football match between Norway and Nigeria, on June 8, 2019, at the Auguste-Delaune Stadium in Reims, eastern France.
Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP

 

Former champions Norway kicked off their Women’s World Cup campaign with a routine 3-0 victory over Nigeria, despite the absence of Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg.

Guro Reiten’s deflected shot gave the 1995 winners the lead on 17 minutes in Reims before a powerful strike from Lisa-Marie Utland doubled their advantage.

READ ALSO: Oduduru Sets New Nigerian Record, Becomes Second Fastest African

Osinachi Ohale turned a cross into her own net before half-time as Norway cruised to an opening win in Group A, leaving them level on three points with hosts France.

Lyon striker Hegerberg, who scored a hat-trick in Lyon’s Champions League final win over Barcelona last month, refused to come to the tournament due to a dispute with her national federation, which she accuses of failing to respect women players.

AFP