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It seems like every public personality is active on social media nowadays. It really got going with Barack Obama’s Facebook and Twitter revolution in 2008, and expanded over the next few years. During the Icelandic volcano eruption in 2010, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg was in New York and was pictured “running the country” from his iPad and updating his Facebook page to bring his country the latest information. It has gotten to the point that even the Pope, one of the most conservative figures in international public life today, is on Twitter and typing messages in…well, Latin.

So far, public services and similar have not been as quick on the uptake. Social media is a great way to get information out to people quickly. While some countries, such as Japan, have methods such as driving public address cars around the neighborhood and warning everyone of impending natural disasters by cell phone, other countries should find it natural for local governments and services to provide information via Facebook and Twitter.

Scandinavian police departments are an exception to this. The majority of them have Twitter accounts with thousands of followers, where they post everything from mundane messages such as «Ekeberg tunnel, southbound: Car breakdown in left lane. Tow truck called for assistance» (and the inevitable follow up message: “Ekeberg tunnel: car removed, lane reopened”) to more humorous messages that are often quoted in newspapers and become the talk of the day on Facebook in the area. Today, the Oslo police even gained a report in Frances Le Figaro for its humorous tweets in a frequently quiet city.

Some examples:
“Storo: Reports of domestic disturbance with a woman screaming. When we arrived we found a couple engaged in nurse foreplay. Leaving the scene soon.”

“Majorstua: complaints about a street musician who only plays one song.  This has gone on for several months, police on the scene suggest he expand his repertoire”

“The moose has now left the house at Røa, and is probably back in the woods with its friends”

“While we are solving all these serious crimes, we receive a report about three loose horses at Gaustad. If you can find them, stop them and call us, please”
(Follow-up: “A police patrol has arrived at Gaustad. They had forgotten their lasso, so they can’t catch the horses. Now looking on from a distance”)

A Chechen wedding procession saw a car breaking down on the highway outside the Oslo Opera House, resulting in this tweet: “The driver knelt on a blanket and began to pray. Not sure if this will help”

“A vehicle was stopped on suspicion of the driver being intoxicated. Turned out to be a Greek driving on Norwegian winter roads for the first time”

“Dog found at Fossum. Owner has reported in, and it turns out the dog had simply outrun his owner in the cross-country skiing slopes”

And the following legendary exchange from Stockholms southern suburbs:
Driver: Hey, is Mälarhöjden your area? You may want to plan a speed control some morning, on Mälarhöjd Road towards Bredäng.
Police: Yes, Mälarhöjden belongs to @OCSoderort. I will tell them and their traffic group about the need for a speed check.
(The next day)
Driver:
Thanks for being in place as early as today. Unfortunately, it ended up being expensive for me…
Police:
Felt nice to be able to set it up so quickly, but it ended up as an expensive lesson for you. Thank you for offering feedback via Twitter.
Driver:
How unbelievably clumsy. I was talking about the speed check in the car, but going over the hilltop I stepped on it a little. How many were caught?
Police:
How many…well, actually, only one driver was unable to maintain the speed limit…
Driver:
Fails don’t come much bigger than that. But thanks for the lesson.

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Well, an eventful day to say the least in the Nordic countries.

Edit: Also, two buses have caught fire in Oslo in two days.

Spontaneous comBUStion Copyright dagbladet.no

It began with this:

Copyright komonews.com

Overnight, a cleaning lady in her early 20s was doing her work on a parked Saltsjöbanan commuter train in Stockholm, when she found the key to the driver’s cabin. She apparently could not resist the temptation, and the train was very easy to get moving. She carried on past two stations at high speed – as well as over two at-grade crossings where the gates were not closed – before discovering that stopping the train was a very different matter. It derailed, and eventually ended up in an apartment building. The woman was seriously injured and flown to hospital (and arrested), but as this happened in the middle of the night and the bedrooms were on the other side of the building, nobody else was injured. Some insurance company will, however, be scrambling to figure out just how to classify this.

http://www.thelocal.se/45616/20130115/mostread

Speaking of insurance nightmares, next up was this:

Copyright svt.se

In the late morning a huge pileup emerged on a bridge outside Helsingborg in Southern Sweden. The bridge is part of the E4 highway, which is the main southwest-northeast highway in Sweden, and thus often sees heavy traffic. The speed limit is 110 km/h on this stretch of road (roughly 68 mph), however as much of Scandinavia is experiencing a severe cold snap (mornings where the temperature is negative in FAHRENHEIT are not normal in Oslo), the road was understandably quite slippery and it is expected of all drivers in Scandinavia to SLOW DOWN. To complicate the matter further, the area was quite foggy today. So at some point, one car lost control, crashed, and was promptly rammed by the car following it; which then had intimate contact with a tractor trailer coming from the rear, etc. Swedish police called it an “opposite domino effect”. With nobody able to see a darned thing, and unable to rely on the driver behind slowing down, everybody kept going at the same speed until they hit a wall of cars and trucks. One person was killed, around twenty severely injured, and roughly 100 cars and trucks wrecked in what has been called Sweden’s worst traffic accident ever. The leader of the rescue operation was, to put it mildly, furious at drivers. Just to add insult to injury, around half the trucks were carrying gravel which then spread all over the bridge. Cleanup is expected to be finished at around 8 AM CET Wednesday.

http://www.thelocal.se/45626/20130115/

Over the afternoon the author read this:

Copyright dr.dk

In February of 2011, a Danish boarding school (efterskole) thought it would be a good idea to take some of their students out on a trip in a dragon boat. In practically open water. Without asking the students if they were capable of swimming. Also, the students were left to figure out if they had put their life jackets on right themselves.

Eventually, the inevitable happened, and the boat capsized. Thirteen students were left to swim in freezing cold water, several fainted, and only a few made it to shore and were able to get help. Due to some acts of heroism and probably a certain amount of luck, all students survived (one of them was pulled by another student onto an ice floe!) as well as one of the teachers. The other teacher, who apparently had gotten the idea for this trip, died while helping a fainted student survive. He was not wearing a life jacket. Some of the students had a body temperature of 16-17 C when they were rescued, and others have suffered severe life damage after being in a coma for days. Today, the court case against the principal of the school started – he is charged with involuntary manslaughter. Several of the students today gave emotional testimonies.

http://www.expatindenmark.com/lunchtalk/pages/the-pr%C3%A6st%C3%B8-case.aspx

Finally:

Parkering

This wonderful parking job courtesy of one of the author’s fellow students. Not a big event, but certainly funny. Reminiscent of politician Carl I Hagen’s wife Eli, who decided to take a shortcut down the Palace stairs after dropping off her husband at a banquet in 2001.

October 8: The national budget for the fiscal year 2013 is presented – The Minister of Finance comments, «YES, we are in fact f***ing rich»

October 9: The trial of Rune Øygard, Mayor of Vågå, starts. He is charged with having sexual relations with a 14-year old girl – Apparently his wife knew nothing. Aaaaabsolutely nothing.

October 12: The Nobel Peace Prize for 2013 is awarded to the European Union – Didn’t see that one coming, did ya?

October 17: Former Progress Party politician Trond Birkedal, who has appealed his previous sentence, is sentenced to seven months of jail time for filming underage boys in the shower – Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

November 2: The Norwegian Oil Fund (which is actually called The Government Pension Fund) is now worth $674 billion – WE’RE RICH! RICH! RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICH!

November 5: Parliament starts hearings related to what happened on July 22, 2011. – Deciding what heads are to roll.

November 19: For the 36970196790790479th time in the past ten years, SAS almost goes bankrupt. – Can’t they please just let it die?

November 22: Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg proclaims that the responsibility for what happened on July 22, 2011 is his – Before proceeding to do nothing.

November 30: Junior Minister Roger Ingebrigtsen resigns after his affair with a 17 year-old party member is revealed – The Year of the Lonely Politician.

December 4: A 19-year old man is sentenced to 19 years in jail for the rape and murder of 98 year-old Hilda Feste in January. He denies all involvement, but there is substantial evidence against him – Such as his phone being full of “granny porn”.

December 6: Mullah Krekar is sentenced to prison for the second or third time this year – Nobody kept count.

December 10: The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to the European Union. Heads of state and government in the Union show up in Oslo – Prompting the Oslo police’s largest collective facepalm since the Justin Bieber concert in May.

And after winding our way through a court case for the ages and strikes, on come the summer months!

July 10: A lockout threatens to rock the Norwegian oil sector. The government intervenes. – The Norwegian people were conflicted. On the one hand, these are the people assuring that we can have two cars, a summer house and a winter cabin, while being able to go to Spain twice a year. On the other hand, the pensions they were fighting for were ridiculously large.

July 22: The first anniversary of the attacks on Oslo and Utøya is commemorated across the country. Bruce Springsteen shows up. – For some reason, the Norwegian Football Association also thought it was a great idea to schedule loads of games that day. Figure that one out.

July 28: Flooding in Hedmark County. – Some sources sarcastically proclaim this to be one of the drier summers on record. Welcome to Norway.

August 5: Teenager Sigrid Schjetne disappears on her way home from a friend in a suburb of Oslo. A massive search starts. – And some massive media hysteria.

August 13: The Gjørv Commission presents its report on July 22. Everyone is criticized. – Heads *WILL* be bashed.

August 16: Director of the National Police Directorate Øystein Mæland resigns following the aforementioned report. – Eyes were rolled.

August 24: Anders Behring Breivik is sentenced to 21 years in prison – in practice, this means he will be in jail for life.

August 27: Statoil reports finding a whole lot of oil. – Hurray, swimming pools for us all!

August 29: Mullah Krekar is sentenced to an extra year of jail for even more death threats – The guy just can’t catch a break.

September 4: Sigrid Schjetne, who has been missing for a month, is found dead in the suburb of Oppegård. A 64-year old man and a 37-year old man are arrested in connection with the death. – The younger man’s Facebook profile was found and quickly overrun by the keyboard heroes.

September 15: Leader of the Christian People’s Party, Knut Arild Hareide, announces that he is open for cooperation with the Progress Party after next year’s elections – And thus, his party joined the 21st Century.

September 16: The King’s older sister, Princess Ragnhild, dies at the age of 82.

September 21: The Labour Party plays musical chairs in government, among other things appointing the first muslim minister as Hadia Tajik takes over the Ministry of Culture – Wingnuts across the nation had their heads explode.

September 25: The trial of a 47 year-old man charged with aiding the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 starts in the Oslo City Court – As far as we know, the Rwandans did not notice.

 

April 10: Psychiatrists Aspaas and Tørrissen conclude that Anders Behring Breivik is sane and accountable for his actions – and there was much rejoicing.

April 16: The court case against Anders Behring Breivik begins – Teachers around the country facepalm.

April 16-June 22: Breivik proves that he is completely and utterly out of touch with the world.

April 23: Former Member of Parliament Magnus Stangeland is acquitted for some creative bookkeeping in connection with his pensions – Mostly because the rest of Parliament was doing the same thing at the time and there aren’t that many jail cells available.

April 26: Breivik claims that “Barn av regnbuen”, a Norwegian children’s song, is part of the Marxist indoctrination in the school system. On April 26,an absolutely massive amount of people appear in the rain at Youngstorget in Oslo to sing the song so it can be heard in the court house – though not 40 000, like the Oslo police originally claimed. In political circles it is well known that Norwegian police officers are incapable of counting crowds.

April 30: Swimmer Alexander Dale Oen dies after a heart attack in Flagstaff, Arizona. The whole country is confused and startled. – as was the author.

May 7: Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre takes a roasting from the opposition for some inappropriate payments, however the opposition chooses not to pursue the case – and then they all went out to have a cup of coffee together.

May 10: War hero Gunnar “Kjakan” Sønsteby dies at the age of 94 – and he probably wanted to be at work.

May 14: After leaving his brother’s apartment in the Bislett neighborhood of Oslo two days earlier, footballer Tor Marius Gromstad is found dead at a construction site. – Rest in peace. You were always an underrated player and amazingly hard worker.

May 24: 25 000 public sector employees go on strike. Most people end up being annoyed at both parties. – and as usual, the author’s school was not on the list.

June 1: 1 800 security guards go on strike and Norwegian airports grind to a halt. – A French tourist in Oslo was reported to have said “This is a strike?”

June 7 and 8: Aforementioned strikes end. – it should be mentioned that the public sector unions decided to send the least negotiable guy they could find to the negotiation table. Thus they ended up getting nothing more than the government offered in the first place. Nice one.

June 11: All parties in Parliament, except the Progress Party, agree to a new Climate Change Policy – “For the next five years, we shall continue to say that climate change is bad!”

June 16: Aung San Suu Kyi finally gets to receive her Nobel Peace Prize in Norway. – And then everyone wondered “Will she be let back into Burma again?”

June 18: The Center Party plays musical chairs in government – this is slightly more noticed than the previous round of musical chairs, as one of the departing members has been called the worst Minister of Transport in living memory.

June 21: In the Breivik case, the prosecution demands that he be sentenced to a mental institution, secondarily 21 years in jail – Which, by the way, is Norwegian legalese for “He’ll be behind bars until he’s stuck in the grave”

June 27: Painter Odd Nerdrum is sentenced to two years and ten months in jail for tax evasion – Irish readers may recognize the quote “What can I say? I was never any good with figures!”

After a long absence from the blog (due to reality reasons) I thought I would provide a summary of the news in Norway this year, with comments. Let’s start with January through March:

January 1: Hilda Feste, aged 98, is found murdered in her care home in Os in Hordaland – an absolutely grotesque murder. More on that later.

January 9: Danish media conglomerate Egmont buys the rest of Norwegian TV2 – why was this news? Because them damn Danes is takin’ over, for Pete’s sake!

January 11: Minister of Trade and Industry Trond Giske is caught with his hand in the cookie jar. At an informal “conference” at the restaurant Lorry, Giske proudly claimed that the director of the board at phone company Telenor (which is partly state-owned) would be fired if he sold TV2 to Egmont – Yes. In Norway a partly state-owned phone company owns part of the second-largest TV channel in the country. Why do you ask? Anyway, this story then set of a flurry of humor from residents of Oslo – all of whom had suddenly visited Lorry at some point in their lives. Two days later, said board director called a press conference to proclaim “oh no he didn’t!” and all was back to normal.

January 13: New psychiatrists are appointed to create a new report on the mental state of Anders Behring Breivik. The first report had concluded that he was insane, but faced sharp criticism from the public – Why? Because there are approximately five psychiatrists in Norway and the two who were appointed to the first report had very tight connections to each other and to certain people higher up in the system. *sigh* small country, I tell ya.

January 18: The head of the Police Security Service (Norway’s vain attempt at an intelligence service) resigns after revealing that Norway has secret agents in Pakistan. – Well, everybody knew that. It’s just that nobody wanted to hear about it. The Pakistanis were not happy.

February 7: Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, Helge Solum Larsen, is charged with the rape of a 17 year old girl at a party conference. He resigns as deputy leader. The police later acquit him of all charges – no comment.

February 12: The author turns 18. He spends the day studying math.

February 15: The state railway company (NSB) has bought new trains. One of them derails on a test run. – Shock horror, the train was going too fast. For once in their lives, the directors of the NSB were informed that they had not bought the wrong trains! First time in living memory, probably.

February 16: Former mayoral candidate from the Progress Party, Trond Birkedal, is sentenced to 60 days in prison for filming underage party members in the shower. – Ewwwww.

March 5: Minister for Children and Equality, Audun Lysbakken, resigns after handing out money to an organization that was a bit too close to him. – Well, this happens all the time in Norway, it’s just that he was caught at it.

March 10: The same Audun Lysbakken is elected new leader of the Socialist Left Party – The Socialist Left Party being themselves.

March 19: The Norwegian population passes five million – except the government deported 450 children for the horrific crime of being born to parents who were here illegally. So I guess we didn’t pass five million that day after all.

March 20: Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre is caught handing out money to people he shouldn’t be handing out money to – did the entire government suddenly forget how to hide these things or something?!?

March 22: The Socialist Left Party plays musical chairs in government. – Nobody noticed.

March 26: Mullah Krekar (we call him that because his actual name is impossible to pronounce) is sentenced to five years in jail for threatening to murder a bunch of people. – He would later return for his 24769860th round in the Norwegian court system.

March 29: Mayor of Vågå, Rune Øygard, is charged with molesting an underaged girl – Turns out there are a lot of lonely middle-aged male politicians out there.

Image

Norwegian – but only because he’s good at something

“If Alexander Rybak had been unemployed and robbed a kiosk, he would have been a foreigner. But because he can sing, he’s Norwegian”
– Runar Mæland

This double standard has proven to be the norm in Norway time and time again, especially in the last 5-6 years. Any non-ethnic Norwegian that succeeds for Norway in any sort of competition is Norwegian. Any non-ethnic Norwegian – of any kind – who commits a crime or gets in to any sort of trouble, is a foreigner. The first thing the newspapers look for when a crime is committed is “is the perpetrator non-Norwegian?” Should the perpetrator be half-Norwegian, half-something else, the Norwegian half will be overlooked.

The latest example of this is, of all things, a fencer. Fencing is a sport that most Norwegians were only vaguely aware that existed until Wednesday evening. Suddenly, a young, talented fencer by the name of Bartosz Piasecki appeared – ethnically completely Polish, but he has lived all but two years of his life in Norway. Out of nowhere, he took a silver medal. The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation even delayed the main newscast (Dagsrevyen) to broadcast his semifinal live. After the silver medal was in the bag, one of the first comments was “And now we only need to learn to pronounce his name”.

Many of us breathed a sigh of relief and pointed a “loser” sign at the Norwegian press a year ago when it was discovered that the man behind the terrorist attacks (known as “he who shall not be named”) was as ethnically Norwegian as it is possible to be. The most foreign element he had was a vague wish that Norway return to a more medieval variation of Catholicism – fortunately, Catholics have become so accepted in Norway that the media left that part of his crazy ideas alone.  

While I am well aware that this double standard is not something that is unique to Norway, it is something that we Norwegians need to get rid of if we wish for a harmonious and peaceful society. Either we have to accept that the guy who succeeds is Polish, or Kenyan, or Pakistani – or, hopefully, we can accept that the guy who has Chinese parents, and has lived in Norway for as long as he can remember, and in a bout of frustration stabs a guy at a party, is as Norwegian as I am.