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Archive for August 19th, 2007

Angry clumsy Norwegian Moose disconnects internet and telephone services

Posted by African Press International on August 19, 2007

Thousands of people in northern Norway were left without telephone and internet connections earlier this week after a clumsy moose destroyed a switching station.

A month before the moose hunting season kicks in, a moose in northern Norway launched a pre-emptive attack.


A month before moose-hunting season kicks in, one of the so-called “kings of the forest” launched a coincidental pre-emptive attack, hitting man where it hurts the most and disrupting his tools of communication.

The moose apparently ravaged the outdoor box containing key switching equipment on Tuesday, cutting telecommunications service to thousands of people in the district of Sr-Helgeland.

The accident cut telephone and broadband connections over a wide area, reported Norwegian Broadcasing (NRK).

The switching station was quickly repaired, however, and all the telephone and broadband customers had their connections back by Thursday, according to telecom company Telenor.

By Kristin Solberg

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Hurricane Dean terrifies residents

Posted by African Press International on August 19, 2007

Hurricane Dean tore through the eastern Caribbean islands of St. Lucia and Martinique, terrifying residents with powerful winds that ripped roofs from buildings, downed trees and knocked out power.

The eye of Dean, the first hurricane of the Atlantic season, passed between St Lucia and Martinique, two eastern Caribbean islands less than 50 miles (80.5 kilometers) apart, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.


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Norwegian Football National coach bitter as his critics celebrate

Posted by African Press International on August 19, 2007

The coach of Norway’s national soccer squad fired off a wad of his own verbal abuse this week after a top agent and a talent scout claimed that the quality of Norwegian soccer (football) players has deteriorated in recent years.

ge Hareide was furious when he heard the criticism from football agents.


Agent Per A Flod, shown here with player John Carew five years ago, thinks Norwegian soccer has deteriorated in recent years.


Per A Flod, who’s been the agent for players including John Carew, had said that soccer officials in other countries have told him that they think the quality of Norwegian soccer isn’t as high today as it once was.

“It’s almost impossible to sell Norwegian players to foreign clubs, with the exception of poor clubs in marginal countries,” Flod told newspaper Aftenposten.

He noted that the Norwegian national squad qualified for two World Championships and one European Championship in the 1990s and that Trondheim club Rosenborg made it to the Champions League four times. The squad isn’t matching that performance now.

Football investor and talent scout Terje Liverd agrees. “I don’t know of anyone overseas who’s using any time following the Norwegian (top leagues) the rest of the year,” he said. “There just aren’t enough good players here.”

The comments didn’t sit well at all with ge Hareide, the current coach of the national squad who formerly coached Rosenborg. “What have they done for Norwegian football? Nothing!” he exclaimed, referring to Flod and Liverd, charging that Liverd, “who’s lived outside the country for years… can’t possibly know enough about Norwegian football. ”

Hareide called the men’s comments “disresepectful,” and said he “didn’t give a damn about them, and you can write that.”

Liverd, confronted with Hareide’s reaction, started to laugh. “I think that if ge thinks about it awhile, he’ll realize what he said was stupid. The level is so low that it’s almost not worth a comment.”

Norway’s national team will play Argentina in the next national match on Wednesday, on home turf at Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo.

By Nina Berglund

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Norway: Tax scam – Money hidden by Conservative Party’s Oslo Mayor – Secret accounts abroad

Posted by African Press International on August 19, 2007

Oslo Mayor Per Ditlev-Simonsen, patriarch of a shipowning family, won’t comment on reports that his family has bank accounts in Switzerland that haven’t been disclosed to tax authorities. The allegations come just weeks before municipal elections next month.

Per Ditlev-Simonsen has been mayor of Oslo since 1995, representing the Conservative Party (Hyre). He said he realizes that it would be of public interest if his family has Swiss bank accounts, but he won’t comment on claims coming from a private estate settlement between his daughter and her ex-husband.


Cecilie Ditlev-Simonsen has had other challenges in recent months, not least fending off criticism over lucrative options granted to management at Norsk Hydro, the large industrial firm where she’s in charge of communications.


Newspaper Dagens Nringsliv reported Friday that the alleged Swiss bank accounts are mentioned in court papers filed in connection with an acrimonious divorce case between the mayor’s daughter, Norsk Hydro communications director Cecilie Ditlev-Simonsen, and his former son-in-law, Endre Rangnes, who’s managing director of EDB Business Partners.

The marriage lasted just over two years, from 2002 to 2004. Dagens Nringsliv reported that Cecilie Ditlev-Simonsen contested her divorce settlement and demanded more money from Rangnes. In Norway, divorce settlements generally involve merely a 50-50 division of assets acquired during the marriage, and alimony payments in the American sense are rare.

Ditlev-Simonsen reportedly felt she deserved a larger slice of the couple’s fortune. Rangnes responded by demanding that her entire fortune be taken into account, and that it included money in Swiss bank accounts used by the Ditlev-Simonsen family.

Family members including Cecilie Ditlev-Simonsen reportedly could access the money by showing up in person at the Zurich branch of Credit Suisse. An Oslo city court is now planning to request evidence of the accounts in Switzerland, and family members including the mayor face being called into court to testify.

Norwegian tax regulations require Norwegians to report all assets worldwide including money in foreign bank accounts. The amount must be included in the calculation of the country’s controversial “fortune tax,” which is a tax levied on the difference between taxpayers’ assets and debts, and which comes in addition to income and other taxes.

Tax authorities are also keen on determining the origins of the money in foreign accounts, in an effort to prevent or expose income tax evasion.

Neither Cecilie Ditlev-Simonsen nor her father, who’s been mayor of Oslo since 1995 for the Conservatives, will comment on whether their family has access to or has taken money out of Swiss accounts, calling it a “private family matter” stemming from a “painful divorce.” Rangnes wouldn’t comment either.

Cecilie Ditlev-Simonsen’s attorney, Anders Brosveet, claimed the allegations of secret Swiss bank accounts are simply part of Rangnes’ tactics in the divorce case.

“We have filed documents in court that prove that the claims made in the divorce case are not true,” Brosveet told Dagens Nringsliv, suggesting that Rangnes was trying to “wear out” Ditlev-Simonsen to prevent her from getting her “fair share” of their former estate.

By Nina Berglund

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Norwegian Princess and her school of Angels: Students begin communicating with Angels!

Posted by African Press International on August 19, 2007

Thursday was the first day of school for those who have paid NOK 12,000 in the hopes Princess Martha Louise can help teach them to contact angels. The princess’ so-called “angel school,” meanwhile, has now been charged with snitching its name from another small business.

Inger Middelthon is among those admitted to Princess Martha Louise’s so-called “angel school.”


Princess Martha Louise, shown here telling stories in an Oslo theater earlier this year, has been the target of controversy for exploiting her royal title to promote her commercial business activities.

PHOTO: Terje Bendiksby / SCANPIX

Lillian Festvg, a physiotherapist and researcher in the state health system, now feels pressured to change the name of her own business, because the name the princess and her partner chose for theirs is so similar, “and I neither can nor want to be associated with angels and princesses.”

Festvg started her own small business nearly five years ago to handle her public speaking engagements. She registered her business as Astarte Lillian Festvg with state authorities.

In June, Festvg received a call from Princess Martha Louise’s business partner Elisabeth Samny. “She didn’t mention the princess, only that they wanted to start a school named Astarte,” Festvg told newspaper Aftenposten. “Samny also wanted to buy my domain name ( I said ‘no’ to this, and urged them to find another name for their operation.'”

Festvg claims Samny wasn’t interested in discussing the matter. When news broke last month that Princess Martha Louise had emerged as a self-professed clairvoyant, and that she and Samny were launching Astarte Education to help students “create miracles in their lives with angels,” Festvg felt defeated.

“It’s now impossible for me to keep my firm and domain names, even though I was first out with them,” Festvg said. Neither the princess nor Samny, which ultimately took the domain and firm name Astarte Education, could be reached for comment on their refusal to negotiate with Festvg.

‘Excited’ student
Among the princess’ students starting at Astarte Education’s school, meanwhile, is a 65-year-old woman from Lillehammer who told newspaper VG that she and all the others had to sign confidentiality agreements, regarding what they learn about other participants in the course.

Inger Middelthon doesn’t see anything wrong with that, and said she looked forward to begin. She’s a big fan of Princess Martha Louise, and admires how she’s “stood upright” while controversy has swirled around her.

“Martha Louise is strong, warm, brave, has integrity and knows what shes talking about,” Middelthon told “The criticism against her has been evil and below-the-belt.”

She doesn’t think Martha Louise should give up her royal title, to avoid conflicts of intererest, and she’s delighted she was selected for admission to the princess’ school. “I dont know how the admissions process functioned, and thought I wouldnt get in,” she said.

“This is going to be very, very exciting,” Middelthon added. “There are a lot of Norwegians who recognize other dimensions.” She wants to meet them, and share experiences.

By Nina Berglund

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Norway and politics: Testing your understanding

Posted by African Press International on August 19, 2007

Local election campaigns are in full swing all over Norway, with the various parties vying for voters’ favour. Aftenposten has created a means to help you choose the party that might best suit your views.

Related stories:

All legal residents of Norway can vote in local elections (called valg in Norwegian), even without being a Norwegian citizen, but the array of politicial parties involved can be dizzying. Taking Aftenposten’s so-called “Valgomat test” can help determine which party would best represent your views on a wide variety of issues in Norway.

There are eight major parties hoping to win seats on local township and neighbourhood councils. Voters cast ballots for parties in Norway, not individual candidates, and Aftenposten also has written a rundown that offers brief descriptions of each party.

More than 3.6 million Norwegians are eligible to cast ballots in the September 10 local elections, which occur every four years in Norway. They’re important, because it’s at the local level that the majority of funding is determined for such public services as nursing homes and schools.

There’s an election every two years in Norway, with local and national elections staggered and each occurring four years apart. Only Norwegian citizens, though, are allowed to vote in national elections or the seldom referenda, such as those held on the issue of whether Norway should join the European Union.

That means the political parties this year, with the more accessible local elections looming, are reaching out in force to immigrant groups, students and others in the hopes of winning the support of those eligible to cast ballots on September 10.

Battles at the booths
The various parties campaign vigorously from booths set up in local town squares. In Oslo, the booths traditionally line the capital’s main boulevard, Karl Johans Gate, where voters can pose questions to party members and engage in debates.

Official Norwegian election campaigns, which at four to five weeks are generally much shorter than they are in most countries, also involve direct mail, media advertisements and frequent television debates among party leaders and local party officials.

Around 63,000 party faithful stand on election lists nationwide, hoping their party will get enough votes that they’ll be appointed to city and neighbourhood councils. In Oslo, a coalition of the non-socialist parties led by the Conservatives and the Progress Party hopes to remain in power despite new candidates from the parties for specific offices.

By Nina Berglund

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Posted by African Press International on August 19, 2007

Monrovia (Liberia) Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf lauded US support to Liberias recovery programme, especially toward the rehabilitation of infrastructure, security sector reform and debt relief, APA learnt.

The head of state was speaking during a luncheon she tendered Thursday for a seven-member, bi-partisan United States Congressional delegation which paid a one-day visit to Liberia.

Madam Johnson Sirleaf said the influence of the US Treasury department would be most welcome in soliciting the cooperation of non-G-8 members towards Liberias debt relief.

During the visit, the U.S lawmakers held consultative meetings with the Liberian President and senior members of her government.

The head of the delegation, Democrat representative Nita Lowey, said they were in Liberia to recommit to help the country succeed in bringing reproductive life to Liberians.

She also assured that the U.S Congress and government were committed to the reconstruction and development of Liberia.

The U.S lawmakers acknowledged the challenges facing the country, and spoke of the need for Congress to step up efforts to ensure that the government responds to the needs of the people.

In separate remarks, members of the Congressional delegation praised the Liberian leader for setting into motion a programme that would enhance national reconciliation and development.

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Mauritius to host SADC poverty reduction conference next April

Posted by African Press International on August 19, 2007

Port Louis (Mauritius) The 27th Summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), held last 16-17 August in Zambia, has approved the holding of a Special Summit next April in Mauritius to discuss steps to reduce poverty in SADC countries, APA learnt on Saturday.

The meeting will be held on the 20th April 2008 at the Swami Vivekananda Conference Centre in Pailles in the outskirts of Port Louis, the capital.

During a teleconference with journalists Saturday from Lusaka, the Communications Director of the Prime Ministers Office, Dan Callikan, noted that Mauritian Prime Minister Dr Navin Chandra Ramgoolam launched the idea of organising the special summit in 2006 at the SADC Summit in Lesotho.

In his speech to heads of state and governments Friday, Ramgoolam thanked the assembly for the trust put in Mauritius to hold the anti-poverty meeting.

I hope the discussions will give rise to concrete and practical projects in order to bring tangible solutions to eradicate poverty which affects some 40% of the population of SADC countries, the PM said.

Giving an overview of Mauritius contributions at the Lusaka summit, Communication director Callikan added that the Island has agreed to participate in the setting up of the SADC Rapid International Brigade (RIB).

Apart from being a military entity, the RIB will also cover administrative and police duties. Each unit of the force will be based in its country of origin.

He underlined that the Mauritian PM has received a mandate to continue the mediation between SADC and the Seychelles Islands concerning the financial contribution of that country for the running of the organisations secretariat.

Countries should usually contribute 2% of their annual budget and the share of Seychelles amounts to 330 000 US dollars, a sum which the Seychellois government considers to be excessively high.

Its government has put forward a proposition to contribute 75 000 US dollars but SADC has come forward with a sum of 100 000 US dollars.

Dr Ramgoolam has been delegated to find a common ground with the Seychelles authorities.

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Mozambique: Egypt donates food to flood victims

Posted by African Press International on August 19, 2007

Maputo (Mozambique) Egypt on Saturday delivered a donation of food and other materials to assist Mozambiques flood and drought victims.

The southern provinces of Maputo, Gaza and Inhambane, are the regions that have been hit the most by the drought, while the floods inundated vast areas in the central provinces of Sofala, Manica, Zambezia and Tete.

The donation includes over 10 tones of rice, 70 boxes of cooking oil, 160 boxes of maize meal, 540 blankets and 34 tents.

Mozambiques State Administration Minister Lucas Chomera said that the donation would contribute to relieve the impact of natural disasters still afflicting Mozambique.

Chomera also announced that Saudi Arabia had also joined the movement supporting the victims of adverse weather conditions having donated 100 tones of date palms.

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Sudan says achieved developments on Darfur may change US attitude

Posted by African Press International on August 19, 2007

Khartoum (Sudan) The Government of Sudan Saturday expressed optimism that the recent developments on Darfur and the stance of regional and international forces may change the American attitude towards Sudan with the activation of diplomatic contacts, dialogue and exchange of views.

The Sudanese Foreign Affairs ministrys spokesman, Ali el-Sadiq, said this is the only way to normalise relations between the two countries.

He said that African Union chairman Alpha Konares recent statements of UN-AU forces to be entirely Africans faithfully reflect the items that have been agreed upon.

The African nature of the peacekeeping forces has never been a source of doubt, he said, revealing that Sudans rejection of Resolution 1706, stipulating the deployment of international troops in Darfur, lead to the hybrid operation.

“The government has recently dispatched delegates to all over the continent to urge African leaders to endorse African presence in Darfur by contributing additional forces to the ongoing political process as per the terms of reference agreed upon, in addition to pressuring the opponents of the Abuja agreement to join the peace process,” El Sadig said.

Elsadig stressed that the hybrid operation is an instrumental step towards the settlement of the Darfur problem, though he pointed out that Resolution 1769 has underlined the dire need for mobilizing financial, logistic and other forms of support for the AU Commission in Darfur.

He said infrastructure works, such as roads, offices, living quarters and services for the forces, will continue till December.

In a related development, El Sadig said the Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lam Akol will lead Sudans delegation to the 77th United Nation General Assembly next September.

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Posted by African Press International on August 19, 2007

Khartoum (Sudan) The Government of Sudan has called on the United States to free the Sudanese national, Sami Al Hajj, who has been in detention in the Guantanamo Bay prison since 2001 without trial or specific charges directed against him, APA learnt Saturday from the Foreign Affairs ministry.

The request follows a note the American Embassy in Khartoum sent to the ministry in July. The note said the concerned American authorities were reconsidering the detention of the Sudanese national, Sami Al Hajj, by late August 2008.

In a memorandum to the American administration, the Sudanese Government confirmed its readiness to receive its citizen upon his release.

In a statement to APA, the spokesman of the Foreign Affairs ministry, Ali Al Sadeq, pointed out that the memorandum explained that Sami has not been known for any fundamentalist positions.

He added that Sami could pose no threat to the American security once released, noting that three Sudanese detainees had been released earlier and have posed no threats at internal and external levels.

In case Sami is released then he would be dealt with according to the principles of the international charters and human rights, Al Sadeq said.

Ali Al Sadeq has stated that the note of the American Embassy did not include any clear-cut promise to release Sami Al Hajj but rather a general promise to look into his case.

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A split in ODM-K will give President Kibaki a second term in office

Posted by African Press International on August 19, 2007

Grassroots leaders from Rift Valley Province follow proceedings during an ODM meeting in Eldoret Town. Photo/JARED NYATAYA

Publication Date: 8/19/2007

The shift by a group led by Langata MP Raila Odinga to the original ODM is seen as one of the smartest moves in the recent past, for having put an end to the wrangles that were going to destroy the opposition and put Mr Odinga in an advantageous position.

Apparently, Mwingi North MP Kalonzo Musyoka has received a serious blow to his presidential ambitions since he has been isolated by his former allies.

But it is not only Mr Musyoka who has been put in an awkward position by the resurgence of the original ODM.

Precarious position

The new development has put Kanu secretary-general William Ruto in a precarious position.

While Mr Ruto could afford to belong to both Kanu and ODM-K — courtesy of the corporate membership clause — he is now forced to choose which party he belongs to because the original ODM has no structure for corporate membership.

The Sunday Nation has gathered that Kanu chairman Uhuru Kenyatta is determined that Mr Ruto must declare which party he belongs to.

But that is just the beginning since Mr Ruto, of late, has been fighting to retain his influence among the Rift Valley MPs after it emerged that MPs who were previously with him were drifting away.

Mr Ruto has been holding rallies accompanied by only a handful of MPs compared to the past when he would attract a full house.

It is also ominous for him because Mr Henry Kosgey who also comes from the Rift Valley has been proposed as the chairman of ODM, leaving Mr Ruto without a position of influence.

It is in such circumstances that Mr Ruto has been trying to convince his Kalenjin community to unite and speak with one voice.

It is emerging that the series of meetings that took place in the week, that also included Agriculture minister Kipruto arap Kirwa, are a result of plans to form a party for the community, which could be launched soon.

The argument is that since the original ODM is seen to be under the control of Mr Odinga, Mr Ruto, and by extension the Kalenjin community, needs a party for bargaining and as a fallback position in case of misunderstandings.

Then there is Mr Odinga who despite being seen as the frontrunner for the ODM presidential ticket has to work extra hard to retain the support of Western and Rift Valley provinces, which form the backbone of the rejuvenated party.

Of particular concern to Mr Odingas camp is Western province, where some forces are pushing Mr Musalia Mudavadi to go for nothing short of the presidential ticket.

Mr Odingas acquisition of the ODM party has come with mixed blessings.

While he moved a notch above the rest with his recent move, the growing perception that he has virtually bagged the ticket has scared other aspirants back to the drawing board.

Apparently, this is where Mr Mudavadis dilemma starts. While he moved together with the rest to ODM, his supporters are anxious that Mr Odinga still remains a dominant force, which could eclipse Mr Mudavadis candidature.

When the fight between Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka existed in ODM-K, Mr Mudavadis strength was that he was seen as the most neutral person who could be accepted by either camp.

Now with the Odinga/Musyoka war of supremacy having come to an end, Mr Mudavadi has to revisit his winning strategies since the neutral tag is no longer a factor in the new party.

Just like Mr Ruto, Mr Mudavadi was also forced to retreat into the safety of his kinship, which saw 18 Luhya MPs — both from the government and the opposition — hold consultations last Thursday.

Mr Mudavadi is in a tricky situation in the new arrangement. He cannot afford to be seen to be playing second fiddle to Mr Odinga, especially among some of his supporters who would rather he shifts if he doesnt get the presidential ticket.

Before Local Government minister Musikari Kombo joined the bandwagon of those urging Mr Mudavadi to leave his options open, Mr Cyrus Jirongo of Kaddu was telling him to either go for the top seat or lose local support.

All tricks in the book

Then there is Mr Musyoka, who has to apply all the tricks in the book to remain in the limelight. His influence in other ODM strongholds is likely to fade.

Meanwhile, Narc-Kenya leaders Kiraitu Murungi, Maina Kamanda, Danson Mungatana and Mwangi Kiunjuri said yesterday that President Kibaki is already re-elected following the split in ODM-K.

Mr Murungi said there is now only one bull in the shed. There were two bulls in the field but now there is only one after the other broke its leg.

Mr Mungatana and Mr Kiunjuri said the infighting in ODM-K was a godsend and the split was the last straw that broke the camels back.

Mr Kiunjuri said the split in ODM-Kenya had given President Kibaki an easy ride back to State House.

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Posted by African Press International on August 19, 2007

Niamey (Niger) Some 600 people, including several youths, held a meeting Saturday in Agadez (900 km in the North) to call for calm in their region plagued by insecurity and urge the authorities to begin negotiations with the rebel group, Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ), sources told APA.

Initiated by the Association of Youths for Sustainable Development (AJDD), the meeting lasted one hour with the reading of a declaration dubbed “The Agadez civil societys call “.

“We have asked the senior officials of the country to create conditions conducive to a ceasefire and to start negotiations with the MNJ,” AJDD chairman Aghali Aboubacar Wachiguida told APA on telephone.

He said the demonstrators also denounced “the arbitrary arrests launched since Friday in areas of Agadez, like Sbongari”.

On Friday afternoon, the local authorities of the Northern town anticipated the demonstration by banning it and putting a restriction on traffic after 10 pm.

The Agadez region is well known for its tourism potentials including the Tenere desert and its uranium mines extracted by foreign companies.

These resources triggered an armed rebellion which wreaked considerable havoc on local populations lives in the 90s.

The rebel forces operated for four years before the government decided to negotiate with them in 1994 under the aegis of the international community.

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