Weekly Highlight: 26.08.2008

Denmark:

Poll: Danes against higher petrol tax
25.08.2008

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)

Finland:

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.

Netherlands:

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.

Norway:

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.

Sweden:

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. 

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