Weekly Highlight: 02.09.2008

Denmark:

Martyr to become a taboo word
20.09.2008

The Danish Intelligence Agency has recommend authorities avoid using certain words to describe terrorism.
A new document from the Danish Intelligence Agency (PET) advises authorities to refrain from using certain words when debating terrorism.
PET is worried that religious terms used to describe terrorism are creating a harmful link between the public’s perception of Islam and terrorism.
The document is entitled ‘Language use and the fight against terror’. It recommends avoiding the use of words like martyr, jihad, fundamentalist, Islamism and mujahedeen when talking about terrorism.
Anja Dalgaard-Nielsen, PET’s head of preventative security, said that adopting the language and phrases used by extremists can legitimise their actions.
Dalgaard-Nielsen said that introducing new language guidelines will help prevent radicalization of Muslim citizens, who often feel labelled as terror suspects.
‘Terrorist groups often try to legitimise their actions by associating them with religion, using words such as ‘jihad’,’ she said. ‘However, a jihad also has peaceful and positive meanings, and it is unfortunate if the authorities repeat it and strengthen the extremists’ use of the word.’
The prime minister and integration minister had not yet seen the report, but other politicians had mixed reactions.
‘I’ll say what I want to say, and I think PET should keep to itself when it comes to the need for political correctness in public debates,’ Martin Henriksen, the Danish People’s Party’s integration spokesman, told Kristeligt Dagblad newspaper.
Karsten Lauritzen, the head of the parliamentary integration committee, said it was naive to think avoiding certain words would fight terrorism.
‘But I’ll say that PET is right that the authorities should understand certain words before they use them. For example, ‘sharia’ is not just a brutal justice system, but also an education in how to be a good Muslim. It’s not always seen that way though, and the authorities should debate on an informed basis.’

Finland:

Direct Development Aid Stunting Development?
Published 01.09.2008, 18.15
Direct development aid given by Finland has stunted the development of recipient governments, claims a new report by Helsinki University professor Juhani Koponen.
His research shows that aid money has created a steady source of income, and minimized the pressure for the governments of developing countries to get their own taxation systems and legislative processes in better working order.
Aid money has also selectively strengthened areas of government, such as finance ministries, while other offices still struggle. Koponen observed this trend in countries where Finland has had long-standing development ties, such as Nepal, Tanzania, and Vietnam.

Money “Disappears”
Retired Ambassador Antti Hynninen, who co-ordinated Finland’s aid contributions for a time, agrees with the study’s findings. He says that for example, most of the money sent to Sudan and Egypt simply disappears.
He feels that Finland should stop indiscriminately raising its development contributions and actually take a critical look at what good it has done and how to improve its efficacy.

Netherlands:

Most kids go home for lunch, survey
Tuesday 02 September 2008
The majority of children at primary schools go home for lunch and only 8% spend every midday break in the classroom, according to research by TNS Nipo reports the Telegraaf on Tuesday.
Schools believe tradition plays a major role in parents’ decision whether their offsdpring stay at school or go home during the lunch break. Only 9% said cost was the main factor.
Most schools prefer voluntary lunch supervisors to professional childminders, the researchers said.

Norway:

Students cheating, too
First published: 01 Sep 2008, 10:12

Just a week after news broke that former members of Norway’s parliament are facing charges of collecting more pension benefits than they should, comes news that students are effectively cheating the system as well.
Newspaper Dagsavisen, which broke last week’s top story about pension overpayments to former MPs, also reported Monday that students are collecting far more student aid than they should.
That’s because they’re using false addresses, indicating they’re out on their own, when in reality they’re living at home with their parents. In most cases, that implies far lower housing costs than otherwise stated, and should result in much lower financial aid grants (called utdanningsstipend in Norwegian).
There is no tuition at state universities in Norway, as compared to the fees charged college students in the US, for example, but students are responsible for their books, supplies, various minor fees and all living expenses.
Parents in Norway are not viewed as being primarily responsible for the college expenses of their offspring, so most students over the legal age of 18 apply for grants and loans and many work on the side. This results in most students finishing their college years at much older ages than in the US, and in considerable debt.
Around 150,000 students in Norway currently are financing their studies through the student loan agency Statens Lånekassen. It distributes as much as NOK 17 billion annually (around USD 3 billion) in the form of loans and grants.
Just over 8,000 of those studying today have reported that they live at home with their parents. Another 43,000 report addresses close to their parents’ addresses, but can theoretically live at home.
Officials at Lånekassen recently ran a check of the students’ actual residential circumstances and found that 4.5 percent were collecting grants by using a false address, reported Dagsavisen. They collectively may have swindled the system for as much as NOK 65 million.
“This is very serious, said Astrid Mjærum of Lånekassen. “The dishonest students are stealing from society, and undermine the entire system.”
Those caught can be denied future student financing for life, and grants they have received will be turned into debt that they must repay.

Sweden:

Thousands of Swedes order home chlamydia tests
Published: 1 Sep 08 07:11 CET

Tests for the sexually transmitted disease, which are available for order over the internet, have proven extremely popular in Sweden.
So far nearly 30,000 tests have been carried out across the country.
What’s more, the home tests have been enticing new groups of people—especially more boys and men—to test themselves for the disease.
A record number of Swedes have been infected with chlamydia.
Since the start of the year more than 24,000 people have been diagnosed, with the majority being young people between the ages of 15 and 27.
To simplify testing for the disease, several county councils have been offering chlamydia tests over the internet.
Tests are home delivered through special websites, after which users can send the results in to a laboratory for analysis.
A few days later, the coded test results are made available and can be read online from a home computer.
As a result, caregivers reach a segment of the population that they might not otherwise have reached.
In Västra Götaland County, which has offered the tests online since 2006, more than 15,000 residents have tested themselves.
“It started tentatively, but now we’re seeing a successful increase. A big advantage is that we getting more gender balance—men have begun to approach women in terms of the number of tests [they have ordered],” said Peter Nolskog, an infectious diseases specialist with the Västra Götaland county council.
The fact that the internet is always open and that people can remain anonymous has attracted many, believed Nolskog.
The test have also been popular in Södermanland.
“We started in January and it’s increasing from month to month,” said infectious disease doctor Carl-Gustaf Sundin.

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