Today Highlight: 19.09.2007

Netherlands: More traffic jam, less biking…

Jams up, cycling and traffic deaths down
Wednesday 19 September 2007

The number of hours the Dutch spent in traffic jams rose 11% last year to 44 million, according to the latest mobility monitor, compiled by the transport ministry.
At the same time, the number of short journeys made by bike fell four billion km to 14 billion km.
But road safety seems to be improving, the monitor shows. Last year 811 people were killed in traffic accidents, compared with 1,083 in 2001. Cyclists accounted for 25% of those killed on the roads last year.

Norway: human rights talk with China…

China delays talks, again
First published: 18 Sep 2007, 13:20

Norwegian diplomats are beginning to think that their Chinese counterparts don’t want to talk about human rights.
Chinese officials have, for the second time, asked the Norwegians to postpone an annual round of human rights talks between the two countries.
This year’s round of talks was supposed to take place in Oslo last spring, but Chinese officials claimed a lack of capacity within its foreign ministry and asked for a postponement until late September.
Now the Chinese officials have asked for a new postponement, because the deputy foreign affairs minister responsible for the talks, Cui Tian-kai, was appointed as China’s ambassador to Japan. His successor, He Ya-fei, was said to need more time to prepare for the talks.
China agreed to bilateral talks on human rights 10 years ago in response to international criticism. The Chinese today have much more infuence, mostly economic, in many countries that no longer are willing to publicly criticize China. It’s understood that’s what’s dampening China’s interest in ongoing dialogue.

Sweden: one of the way to avoid your loan?

Sweden stops chasing student loan fugitives
Published: 19th September 2007 12:09 CET

The National Board of Student Aid (CSN) is to cease chasing debts owed by borrowers living in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Debt collection in these two countries is considered too expensive, Metro reports.
Some 28,000 Swedes are thought to be hiding abroad to avoid repaying student loans with a combined value of 3.3 billion kronor ($500 million). Most of these are living either in the US or the UK.
“The debts remain, but at the moment we are not collecting them,” said Ståhl.

Germany: if you were him, would you do it?

German Minister Would Shoot Down Hijacked Plane
September 17, 2007

Germany’s Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung has sparked fury by saying he would order a hijacked passenger jet to be shot down if necessary — even though the country’s highest court ruled last year that such a move would be illegal.
Jung, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, told Focus magazine in an interview published on Monday: “If there is no other way I would give the order to fire to protect our citizens.”
He admitted that the Federal Constitutional Court had ruled that a hijacked plane could only be shot down if only terrorists and no innocent people were on board.
But he added: “If it poses a general threat or the fundamental liberal democratic order is threatened, other rules apply.”

*Does it mean that even if it could save thousands of lives by sacrificing 200 lives? Doesn’t this similar to train track moral dilemma scenario? 

Denmark: people ok with DNA registration…

Support for DNA register swells

Nine years after Danes soundly rejected the first tentative proposals to create a national DNA register that would allow police to solve crimes, a majority of the population now supports the creation of such a database.
In a recent Rambøll / Jyllands-Posten poll, three out of four Danes said they supported expanding the existing limited DNA register to include all citizens. Politicians and experts, however, maintain their reservations about creating a bank of the entire nation’s genetic fingerprints.
Fears of a terrorist attack and a greater familiarity with the concept have helped to erode citizen’s initial resistance, according to Jørgen Dahlberg Larsen, a law expert at Aalborg University.
Larsen says that while it was understandable that people generally have accepted giving up civil liberties in order to prevent crime, he warned against blindly trusting the good intentions of public officials.
Others feared that once a database had been set up for crime prevention purposes, it could come to be used by insurance companies to screen people applying for coverage.

Finland: some call it Monday blue, but Finn hates Wednesday most…

Wednesday is the Worst Day for Finns
Published 17.09.2007, 15.09 (updated 18.09.2007, 05.36)

Finns are in their worst mood on a Wednesday afternoon. Exceptions to the Wednesday rule are school pupils, who feel at their worst on Monday.
Families with children tended to be less content on Wednesdays . The survey showed 54% were in a bad mood by mid-day while the corresponding figure for singles was 40% and that for childless couples 37%.
Finns sleep, on average, seven hours per night. Senior managers and experts tended to sleep less well. This was also a problem for farmers and entrepreneurs. 

Picture: Beer

Kyoto 08.09.2007, originally uploaded by micpohling.

Just came back from our trip to Osaka, Himeji, Hiroshima and Okayama. A lot of pictures are pending to be uploaded… 😛