% of people agree that people are better off in free market economies…
Poll: Danes against higher petrol tax
The majority of Danes are against increasing petrol taxes and prefer to see introduction of a road pricing system.
Three out of four Danes are opposed to an increased tax on petrol and diesel, according to a new survey from Børsen financial daily.
As the prime minister has called for environmentally friendly tax reforms, speculation is rife that the tax commission will recommend increased fuel taxes in February.
A survey by the Greens Analysis Institute found that 75 percent of respondents are against increasing fuel taxes, while 68 percent are against increasing energy charges.
However, 46 percent of people would be in favour of replacing the current registration tax with a road pricing system. This could see the introduction of charges per kilometre on vehicles.
Both the Confederation of Danish Industries (DI) and Danish Transport and Logistics (DTL) feel that introducing road pricing would further increase levies on an already struggling transportation industry.
‘We don’t support road pricing, because we see it as a tax on mobility,’ said Michael Svane, head of DI Transport.
The DTL would like to see the government invest more in infrastructure and public transport than create more charges in the industry.
Meanwhile, experts have said that an increased fuel tax would have the greatest benefit for the environment.
Mogens Fosgerau of the Danish Transport Research Institute said that the proposal by the Social Democrats to lower the registration tax on vehicles and substitute another type of road tax would make cars more affordable and put more vehicles on the road.
‘Petrol tax is the best way of regulation to benefit the climate. If you only regulate how far someone drives and how much petrol they use in relation to the norm, then you don’t take into account how someone drives. How fast someone drives or accelerates has a big effect on fuel consumption,’ Fosgerau said. (kr)
Poll: Majority of Finns Say Inequality Rising
Published 25.08.2008, 18.35
Three-fifths of Finns say inequality has increased in Finland in the last decade, according to a poll commissioned by YLE.
Just one-sixth said inequality has decreased.
Many respondents said they were most troubled by a growth in regional inequality. Some 61 percent said they were concerned about deteriorating basic services in sparsely populated areas. Half of those polled said regional policies should strive to improve services in rural areas. Residents of eastern and northern Finland were the most concerned about regional inequality.
Respondents also said they’ve noticed an increase in economic inequality. Over half said tax breaks have benefited those who are already well-off. Meanwhile fifty percent of those polled said a significant number of people are forced to work longer hours just to make ends meet.
Members of the Centre Party, the Social Democratic Party and the Left Alliance were the most concerned about inequality. Just two-fifths of the members of the conservative National Coalition Party said they were worried about rising inequality. Meanwhile over half of the members of Finland’s other political parties said they believe inequality has grown in the past decade.
Pollster TNS Gallup interviewed 1,170 people from across Finland over a five-day period in May and June of this year. The margin of error was three percentage points.
More disappointed at work atmosphere
Friday 22 August 2008
Some 28% of Dutch workers describe the atmosphere at work as not nice, or disappointing, while 24% think it is motivating, according to research by jobs website StepStone.
In Europe as a whole, some 20% of workers are positive about the atmosphere on the work floor.
Murder rate jumps
First published: 25 Aug 2008, 13:51
Ten persons have been murdered in Norway so far this month, with the latest victim being a little boy caught in what police said Monday was an apparent murder-suicide. Last year, the murder rate amounted to 10 during a six-month period.
Police in Østre Toten reported Monday that two persons were found dead in a home at Kapp, on the shores of Lake Mjøsa. The victims included a man and a little boy, and police suspect the man killed his young son and then himself.
“We think this involves a family tragedy,” Jens Petter Værland of the Vest Oppland Police District told Aftenposten.no.
The flag was flying at half-mast at Kapp School, where the little boy had just begun in first grade. Both bodies were being sent for autopsy on Monday.
Police in Heimdal, just south of Trondheim, meanwhile, continued to investigate the execution-style murder of a 46-year-old Norwegian-Somalian man. He was found with five gun-shot wounds near what police believed was his own car on Ringvolveien in Heimdal.
“It sounded like a liquidation,” said one witness who heard the shots around 1:30am Saturday. Police had few clues to pursue and were asking for help from the Somalian community and the public.
The day before, on Friday, a 67-year-old man and his 55-year-old wife were found dead in a house in Hemne. Police have charged their 21-year-old son with the double-homicide.
On August 16, an Italian citizen was stabbed to death in a flat at Nordstrand in Oslo. A 42-year-old man, the former boyfriend of the owner of the flat, is charged in the case, which police believe was fueled by jealousy.
Two children and a woman were also found dead in Oslo’s Grefsen district on August 14. The woman’s 44-year-old husband has been charged with the triple murder. A 61-year-old man and a 73-year-old man were also found dead and believed murdered earlier in the month in Oslo.
Justice Minister Knut Storberget had reported a decline in the murder rate in July, compared to the first half of 2007. The homicide rate in August has turned that trend around.
Abortion increase blamed on declining use of pill
Published: 24 Aug 08 14:04 CET
The number of abortions performed in Sweden increased by 17 between 2000 and 2007. Sale of morning-after pills (ECP) have increased three-fold in Stockholm over the period, Dagens Nyheter reports.
“The declining use of contraception is the most important reason. There is general concern over the use of the contraceptive pill, and abortions and abortion-pills increase as a result,” said Lena Marions senior physician at Karolinska University Hospital to Dagens Nyheter.
Since the morning-after pill became a non-prescription drug in 2001 sales in Sweden have doubled; in Stockholm they have more than tripled to 61,000 doses.
Abortions have also increased and 37,205 operations were carried out in Sweden in 2007, up 20 percent from 30,980 in 2000. In Stockholm 10,259 operations were carried out in 2007, an increase of 6.9 percent on 2006.
The declining popularity of the contraceptive pill is considered by Lena Marions to be the main explanatory factor. The responsibility for protecting against unwanted pregnancies it seems remains with the woman and the use of alternative forms of contraception have not increased sufficiently to compensate.
Figures from the national pharmacy monopoly Apoteket indicate that use of the pill has been in decline since 2005.
Fear of the side effects of the contraceptive pill are to blame for the trend; these fears are exaggerated according to Marions, who is head of the sex and cohabitation clinic (SESAM) at Karolinska University Hospital.
“There is broad concern over the side effects of the contraceptive pill. As soon as the media make a fuss about a blood clot then use of the pill declines dramatically.”
Agneta Zellbi, senior physician at Stockholm South General Hospital (SÖS), concurs in that the main reason for the increase in abortions and the use of morning-after pills is the declining use of the pill but also notes other factors behind the trend.
Zellbi argues that that changes to sexual habits, delayed parenthood, shorter relationships and primarily the woman’s relationship situation at the time of the pregnancy are decisive factors.
Zelbi underlined that there are positive effects to using the pill also.
“It does not affect future fertility and reduces menstrual bleeding and associated pain and even the risk of ovarian cancer,” she told Dagens Nyheter.
Year / TFR
1995 — 1.25
1996 — 1.32
1997 — 1.37
1998 — 1.36
1999 — 1.36
2000 — 1.38
2001 — 1.35
2002 — 1.34
2003 — 1.34
2004 — 1.36
2005 — 1.34
2006 — 1.32
Year / TFR
1995 — 1.84
1996 — 1.88
1997 — 1.93
1998 — 1.93
1999 — 1.89
2000 — 1.88
2001 — 1.93
2002 — 1.96
2003 — 1.95
2004 — 1.93
2005 — 1.86
2006 — 1.90
3. United Kingdom:
Year / TFR
1995 — 1.71
1996 — 1.73
1997 — 1.72
1998 — 1.71
1999 — 1.68
2000 — 1.64
2001 — 1.63
2002 — 1.64
2003 — 1.71
2004 — 1.77
2005 — 1.78
2006 — 1.84
Source: Eurostat, Population and Social Conditions.
Year / TFR
1995 — 1.42
1996 — 1.45
1997 — 1.39
1998 — 1.37
1999 — 1.34
2000 — 1.36
2001 — 1.33
2002 — 1.39
2003 — 1.38
2004 — 1.42
2005 — 1.41
2006 — 1.40
Year / TFR
1995 — 1.70
1996 — 1.77
1997 — 1.72
1998 — 1.68
1999 — 1.74
2000 — 1.76
2001 — 1.65
2002 — 1.63
2003 — 1.62
2004 — 1.66
2005 — 1.66
2006 — 1.65
Year / TFR
1995 — 1.48
1996 — 1.50
1997 — 1.48
1998 — 1.47
1999 — 1.48
2000 — 1.50
2001 — 1.38
2002 — 1.39
2003 — 1.39
2004 — 1.42
2005 — 1.42
2006 — 1.43
Source: Eurostat, Population and Social Condition.
Year / TFR
1995 — 1.31
1996 — 1.28
1997 — 1.28
1998 — 1.26
1999 — 1.24
2000 — 1.26
2001 — 1.25
2002 — 1.27
2003 — 1.28
2004 — 1.30
2005 — 1.33
2006 — 1.39
Year / TFR
1995 — 1.17
1996 — 1.16
1997 — 1.17
1998 — 1.16
1999 — 1.19
2000 — 1.23
2001 — 1.24
2002 — 1.26
2003 — 1.31
2004 — 1.33
2005 — 1.35
2006 — 1.38
Year / TFR
1995 — 1.41
1996 — 1.44
1997 — 1.47
1998 — 1.47
1999 — 1.50
2000 — 1.55
2001 — 1.45
2002 — 1.47
2003 — 1.44
2004 — 1.40
2005 — 1.40
2006 — 1.35
Source: Eurostat, Population and Social Conditions
PM: raise petrol prices
A leading New York Times columnist writing about Denmark’s green energy policies said the prime minister told him he favoured an increase in petrol taxes.
Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said this weekend that the answer to the crisis of rising oil prices is to make petrol even more expensive, according to the New York Times.
One of the American newspaper’s leading columnists, Thomas Friedman, visited both Greenland and Denmark as part of the research for his upcoming book on climate change, ‘Hot, Flat and Crowded’.
In his editorial column on Sunday, Friedman said he met with the prime minister, who told him he wanted higher taxes on petrol.
‘I have observed that in all other countries – including in America – people are complaining about how petrol prices are going up,’ Friedman quotes Rasmussen as saying.
‘The cure is not to reduce the price, but – on the contrary – to raise it even higher to break our addiction to oil. We are going to introduce a new tax reform in the direction of even higher taxation on energy, and the revenue generated on that will be used to cut taxes on personal income. That way we will improve incentives to work and improve incentives to save energy and develop renewable energy,’ the prime minister told Friedman.
Rasmussen’s comments were lauded by the Socialist People’s Party, but criticised by the Danish People’s Party, which believes transport costs are crippling the Danish economy.
Friedman’s article also praised Denmark for its existing climate initiatives, such as the country getting 20 percent of its energy from wind power. He spoke to Connie Hedegaard, the climate minister, who said wind turbines have helped change the country’s entire energy perspective.
‘The wind power industry was nothing in the 1970s, but today one-third of all terrestrial wind turbines in the world come from Denmark,’ Hedegaard told Friedman. ‘Now it’s one of our fastest-growing export areas. And we used to get 99 percent of our own energy from the Middle East – today that figure is zero.’
Friedman’s article also gave kudos to Denmark’s use of recycled waste for energy and its anti-pollution bicycle culture. (rc)
Many School Children Lonely
Published 16.08.2008, 17.42
A growing number of school children are lonely, says the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare. The finding is based on calls made by children and young people to the League’s helpline.
Conversations reveal children, in particular, need the ordinary attention of adults with whom they can talk, writes the Centre Party web paper Apila.
According to the paper, the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare received around half a million call attempt last year but was only able to answer just over one in ten. The number of phone calls has remained about the same this year.
The League needs extra staff in order to train volunteers to man its helpline,which was established in 1980.
Eight out of 10 Dutch are regularily online
Monday 18 August 2008
When it comes to internet use, the Dutch are ahead of most of the rest of Europe with eight out of ten people regularly online, according to a study by Forrester Research.
The report also shows that Dutch 16 to 34-year-olds use the internet for an average 16 hours a week. Only the Scandinavians are online as long.
While online last year, the Dutch spent an average of €365 per head buying everything from secondhand comic books to houses, according to another study also out on Monday.
The total amount spent online through sites like Marktplaats.nl is estimated at €4.6bn in 2007, research group Blauw said. This figure does not include purchases made through webshops.
Violent foreigners avoid deportation
First published: 18 Aug 2008, 12:44
New, stricter rules adopted in 2004 were supposed to make it easier for police to quickly deport foreigners charged with violent crimes. They’re not working.
Newspaper Aftenposten reported over the weekend that Norway’s 25 police districts identified 797 persons between 2005 and 2007 who were candidates for quick deportation. The offenders had committed violent crimes, including murder, but by the end of last year, only 21 had actually been sent out of the country.
The unruly foreigners avoided deportation either because investigations into their crimes were suspended or because their cases were delayed in the courts.
Police and immigration officials also claim the new rules are difficult to understand and interpret. They conceded that collection of data and the organization of cases involving violent foreigners is poor, and there’s a lack of coordination between the police and immigration agency UDI.
Both police and UDI officials also concede that it hasn’t been a priority for the police to determine the residence status of offenders, reported Aftenposten.
Cases involving domestic violence can also leave police open to criticism that victims can use the new rules to rid themselves of troublesome family members. The new rules were opposed by the Norwegian state church and immigration advocates, among others, who warned that quick deportation would be equivalent to a double punishment for violent crimes and could expose foreigners to false charges.
The new government minister in charge of immigration issues, Dag Terje Andersen, has nonetheless asked the police districts for new measures to help ensure that the stricter rules be used. Justice Minister Knut Storberget, in charge of the police, declined comment.
Swedish women’s pensions lower than men’s
Published: 15 Aug 08 16:21 CET
Yet another Swedish report proves that Swedish women draw the short straw when it comes to pensions, which are only worth 80-90 percent of men’s on average.
Prolonged maternity leave, periods of unemployment and part-time work while the children are young lowers women’s pensions to levels way under men’s.
Economist Göran Normann conducted an investigation on behalf of Länsförsäkringar Bank, looking at men and women’s pensions levels in Sweden. With 24 independent regional insurance companies and the jointly owned Länsförsäkringar AB, Länsförsäkringar is Sweden’s only customer-owned and locally based banking and insurance group.
The men and women in Normann’s report were all of the same age and from four different professions. Normann’s concluded that women’s pensions were 80-90 percent of men’s on average.
“And when you look at those women who had the lowest incomes, then there is a marked difference compared to men. An average woman in this group has a pension that is roughly 70 percent of her average male colleague”, Göran Normann told the TT news agency, referring mainly to people in the nursing profession.
The main reason for the gaping inequality is that women often have lower salaries than men. In addition, in order to combine family life with work, many more women than men work part-time, which lowers their income and thus their pensions.
Many mothers often take a longer period of absence from work to extend their maternity leave, which leaves them without pension payments. Some women also go through periods of unemployment in order to look after young children.
Although the Swedish social system does pay women to be off work while on parental leave or looking after a sick child, this is far less important for one’s pension than an actual salary.
Göran Normann believes that one way to create greater equality between the sexes would be for men to contribute towards their partner’s pension, if and when she works part-time while the children are growing up.
“It is important that there be some kind of compensation between partners regarding pension points. The man could give part of his pension to the woman”, he said.
Probably will happen in any time of today 🙂
10-06-2007: 10 000 hits.
04-09-2007: 20 000 hits.
21-10-2007: 30 000 hits.
25-11-2007: 40 000 hits.
25-12-2007: 50 000 hits.
27-01-2008: 60 000 hits.
21-02-2008: 70 000 hits.
11-03-2008: 80 000 hits.
28-03-2008: 90 000 hits.
14-04-2008: 100 000 hits.
30-04-2008: 110 000 hits.
18-05-2008: 120 000 hits.
03-06-2008: 130 000 hits.
25-06-2008: 140 000 hits.
18-07-2008: 150 000 hits.
13-08-2008: 160 000 hits!!!
Bullies bring lawyers to school
Primary and secondary school administrators’ efforts to punish students for misbehaviour and truancy is often being met by parents defending their children with lawyers.
More and more parents are fighting schools’ crackdown on truants and bullies by retaining lawyers and threatening lawsuits against the institutions if their children are disciplined, according to Berlingske Tidende newspaper.
A survey taken by the newspaper’s research department found that one in 11 schools – 36 in all – has experienced the dilemma – a development that worries Bertel Haarder, the education minister.
‘It’s a well-known fact that not only the students have become more difficult but also the parents,’ said Haarder. ‘But I strongly discourage the practice of hiring a lawyer in these situations.’
As current ministry rules stand, students from grades 3 to 10 are allowed to be punished by school administrators with up to an hour’s detention, suspension for up to one week, transfer of a student to another class at the school, or relocation of the student to another school. Expulsion can only be used against 10th grade students.
Anders Balle, president of the schoolmasters’ union, understands that parents want to stick up for their children. But he said bringing lawyers into the fold creates a huge challenge for schools. He wants the Education Ministry to draft new regulations that would prevent parents from making school disciplinary cases into legal ones.
But Solveig Gaarsmand, head of the Parents’ Advisory Council, said the schools themselves are often to blame for what she believes is a ‘communication problem’.
‘Parents feel that they’re not being listened to by the schools,’ she said. ‘I believe it’s the schools that have to overcome the barrier – they’re the professionals and they have a duty to see that things function properly.’
Gaarsmand also pointed out that it is not just bullies’ parents who feel the need to retain lawyers but also the parents of children who are being harassed by other students.
‘Many parents feel like the losers in the battle if they have to move their child to another school,’ she said. ‘But there shouldn’t be any battle, and there are limits as to what a child should have to go through.’
‘So in many cases it’s better for the parents to simply move the student to another school.’ (rc)
Traffic Safety Expert Wants Lower BAC for New Drivers
Published 10.08.2008, 17.44
The Central Organisation for Traffic Safety, Liikenneturva, wants to lower the blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for young motorists and professional drivers.
The organisation’s director, Matti Järvinen, told the Centre Party’s online paper Apila that he is especially worried about the penchant for young drivers to drive drunk and cause accidents. For the first two years after getting a license, he says, the limit should be lowered from the current 0.05 percent to 0.02 percent BAC.
“The first two years are still a practice phase, and it makes sense to have a lower permille limit during this time,” says Järvinen.
As for repeat drunk drivers, Järvinen feels that social and health workers should be given the tools to get involved and break the habit early. He says this requires better co-operation with police.
Little backing for Amsterdam’s English plan
Monday 11 August 2008
A majority of Amsterdam city councillors are not in favour of making English an official second language, the Parool reported at the weekend.
Last week D66 councillor Jan Paternotte suggested that by becoming bilingual, Amsterdam would become a real ‘world city’ and be more attractive for both tourists and industry.
‘The city is already English enough,’ says Labour councillor Daniël Roos. ‘It would be too much hassle.’
And Socialist councillor Carlien Boelhouwer tells the paper that the suggestion is ‘ridiculous’. ‘Why not go for Moroccan or Turkish?’ she asks, adding that ‘expats could learn a little Dutch as well.’
But Liberal councillor Huub Verweij sees merit in the plan. ‘And then we should adopt the American attitude to service, German discipline, the beauty of northern Scandinavia and a real Liberal government for the city,’ he says on his weblog.
Children safer than ever
First published: 11 Aug 2008, 16:04
The chances of a boy dying of an accident today, is one tenth of what it was 50 years ago.
At the beginning of the 1950’s, more than 55 boys in 100.000, between the ages of one and three, died in accidents. The figure has now come down to six per 100.000 for the same age group. The trend is the same for girls and also applies to toddlers and bigger children, according to Statistics Norway (SSB).
“Even though these results are very good, they may also show that children today live lives where critics may say that they are overprotected,” says SSB sociologist Dag Ellingsen.
Ellingsen notes that life as a child was most dangerous during the 1950’s and 1960’s, when mothers were often at home with their children. He thinks the reason for this was that they would send their children out to play on their own and that the accident figures indicate how children spend their time.
Today, most children under ten, spend most of their time under adult supervision and a lot of play takes place in front of computer screens.
The differences between accident rates for boys and girls are disappearing. Only when children grow into teenagers do differences become visible again.
The causes of death have also changed. In the 1950’s most died by drowning. Towards the end of the 1960’s more died in traffic accidents, whereas the 19 deaths, effecting ten year-olds and younger, in 2005, were evenly divided between drowning, asphyxiation and transport-related accidents.
Swedish pharmacies’ sex toys ‘discriminate against men’
Published: 11 Aug 08 10:06 CET
Swedish state-run pharmacy Apoteket has been reported to the Swedish Equal Opportunities Ombudsman agency JämO for only selling sex toys suitable for women, thus apparently discriminating against men.
As of June this year Swedes have been able to buy sex toys from their local pharmacy, but now the state-run pharmacy chain has been reported by two men who apparently feel insulted and excluded by the wide selection of clitoris vibrators, vagina balls and dildos that are marketed mainly to women.
One of the men complaining wrote that he thought the pharmacy’s selection clearly showed that the pharmacy chain “had a misguided and untrue view on sexuality where a woman with a dildo is seen as liberated, strong and independent, whereas a man with a blow up plastic vagina is viewed as disgusting and perverted.”
Eva Fernvall is head of products at the state-run pharmacy chain and told Expressen newspaper that they had no such thoughts whatsoever.
“As I understand it, there are no products of good quality for men on the market. Should there be such products specifically for men, then there is nothing stopping us from selling them”, she said.
The Equal Opportunities Ombudsman agency JämO has already decided that one of the reports filed has no grounds, and doesn’t discriminate against men.
“Apoteket’s goods are made available to men and women, and therefore Apoteket does not break the law regarding sex discrimination”, JämO writes in its decision.
Corporate income tax rate comparison among OECD countries:
Country / Corporate income tax rate – 2008
Japan — 39.5
United States — 39.3
France — 34.4
Belgium — 34.0
Canada — 33.5
Luxembourg — 30.4
Germany — 30.2
Australia — 30.0
New Zealand — 30.0
Spain — 30.0
Mexico — 28.0
Norway — 28.0
Sweden — 28.0
United Kingdom — 28.0
Italy — 27.5
Korea — 27.5
Portugal — 26.5
Finland — 26.0
Netherlands — 25.5
Austria — 25.0
Denmark — 25.0
Greece — 25.0
Switzerland — 21.2
Czech Republic — 21.0
Hungary — 20.0
Turkey — 20.0
Poland — 19.0
Slovak Republic — 19.0
Iceland — 15.0
Ireland — 12.5
Source: OECD Tax Database
Year / TFR
1970 — 1.91
1971 — 1.96
1972 — 1.91
1973 — 1.86
1974 — 1.87
1975 — 1.77
1976 — 1.68
1977 — 1.64
1978 — 1.60
1979 — 1.66
1980 — 1.68
1981 — 1.63
1982 — 1.62
1983 — 1.61
1984 — 1.66
1985 — 1.74
1986 — 1.80
1987 — 1.84
1988 — 1.96
1989 — 2.01
1990 — 2.13
1991 — 2.11
1992 — 2.07
1993 — 1.98
1994 — 1.88
1995 — 1.73
1996 — 1.60
1997 — 1.53
1998 — 1.51
1999 — 1.50
2000 — 1.55
2001 — 1.57
2002 — 1.65
2003 — 1.72
2004 — 1.76
2005 — 1.77
2006 — 1.86
2007 — 1.88
Source: Statistics Sweden