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Posts tagged ‘Land of the Frozen Scandinavia’

Danish prince visits ailing father after leaving Olympics

February 10, 2018

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik has returned from the Winter Olympics in South Korea to visit his ailing father at a Copenhagen hospital. The royal household said Saturday that Frederik, the heir to Denmark’s throne, was joined by his mother, Queen Margrethe, and his wife during the visit late Friday.

The queen’s French-born husband, 83-year-old Prince Henrik, was hospitalized with a lung infection on Jan. 28. Last year, the palace announced Henrik was suffering from dementia. The palace said Friday that Frederik, an International Olympic Committee member, left the Winter Games in Pyeongchang because his father’s condition had “seriously worsened.”


Finland’s president skates to overwhelming re-election win

January 28, 2018

HELSINKI (AP) — Finnish President Sauli Niinisto crushed his competition with a landslide election victory Sunday that saw him receiving more than five times as much voter support than his closest challenger.

With all ballots counted, Niinisto had 62.7 percent of the vote, while his leading rival, Pekka Haavisto of the Greens, had 12.4 percent. Haavisto, the runner-up in the 2012 election, conceded the race long before the vote-count was completed, telling Finnish national broadcaster Niinisto “is the republic’s new president with this result.”

None of the other six candidates received more than 7 percent of the vote. Niinisto, 69, a former finance minister and parliament speaker, has been a highly popular president since he took office in 2012. He needed a majority to prevent a runoff and to win re-election outright.

He ran as an independent with no association to the conservative National Coalition Party that he earlier chaired. Finland’s president designs the blueprint for the country’s foreign and security policy together with the government. As head of state, the president is the key foreign policy player, particularly on issues outside the European Union.

The president also acts as the supreme commander of military forces and can veto legislation. To most Finns, the president’s key task is to assure friendly ties with both neighboring Russia, which shares a 1,340 kilometer (833-mile) border with Finland, and the West, particularly the United States.

Judged by his vast popularity, Niinisto seemingly handled the balancing act well. Finland joined the EU in 1995, but doesn’t belong to NATO. Recent polls predicted Niinisto would get between 58 and 63 percent of the vote and Haavisto of the Greens would garner some 14 percent.

Winter is here: “Game of Thrones” ice hotel opens in Finland

January 19, 2018

HELSINKI (AP) — A “Game of Thrones”-themed ice hotel complete with a bar and a chapel for weddings has opened in northern Finland in a joint effort by a local hotel chain and the U.S. producers of the hit TV series.

Lapland Hotels said Friday they chose “Game of Thrones” to be the theme for this season’s Snow Village, an annual ice-and-snow construction project covering 20,000 square meters (24,000 sq. yards) in Kittila, 150 kilometers (93 miles) above the Arctic Circle.

Snow Village operations manager Janne Pasma told Finnish national broadcaster YLE that he was a huge fan of the series and it was “a dream come true” that HBO Nordic agreed to go along. The hotel, which stays open until April, suggests that guests stay only one night due to below-zero temperatures.


Norway’s king hospitalized with infection

November 19, 2017

HELSINKI (AP) — Norway’s royal palace says King Harald has been hospitalized with an infection and remains in satisfactory condition with improving health. The royal palace said in a short statement Sunday that the 80-year-old monarch is being treated at an Oslo hospital where he was taken Friday but didn’t disclose further details.

In January 2016, Norway celebrated Harald’s 25th anniversary as monarch of the Scandinavian country. Harald became king when his father Olav died on Jan. 17, 1991. The Norwegian king has a ceremonial role and isn’t part of the government.

Harald celebrated his 80th birthday in February.


‘Allah,’ ‘Ali’ writing discovered in Sweden’s Viking graves

October 7, 2017

Viking-era burial costumes depicting the names “Allah” and “Ali” were discovered by Swedish researchers last week, raising questions about the relation between Muslim and the Scandinavian civilization.

Archaeology researchers from Uppsala University discovered the silk costumes with Kufic script during excavations in Viking graves located in Sweden’s Birka city.

Muslims use the word “Allah” for God, while Ali is the name of Prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law.

The Vikings could have been influenced by Islam and “the idea of an eternal life in paradise after death,” Annika Larsson, a researcher in textile archaeology at Uppsala University, told Anadolu Agency Friday.

“In the Quran, it is written that the inhabitants of paradise will wear garments of silk, which along with the text band’s inscriptions may explain the widespread occurrence of silk in Viking Age graves,” the researcher said in an earlier statement.

Similar Kufic characters were also found in mosaics on burial monuments and mausoleums, primarily in Central Asia, the university said in a statement.

In 2015, Swedish researchers at Stockholm University also discovered a ninth century ring in a Viking grave with an inscription that says “for Allah” or “to Allah.”

Following the ring’s discovery, researchers concluded that there was interaction between the Vikings and the Muslim civilization and the former carried Muslim goods to their homes.

Source: Daily Sabah.



50 detained as anti-Semitic group marches in Swedish city

September 30, 2017

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Police said at least 50 people were detained Saturday during a right-wing demonstration in Sweden’s second-largest city that left one police officer and several others injured.

The rally by the Nordic Resistance Movement in Goteborg, 400 kilometers (248 miles) southwest of Stockholm, featured an estimated 600 people marching in formation in all-black outfits. Some wore helmets and held shields, while others hoisted the movement’s green-and-white flags.

Police had posted flyers before the event warning people not to act in a way reminiscent of German Nazis demonstrations in the 1930s and 1940s. NMR, which promotes an openly anti-Semitic doctrine, originally sought to pass near a downtown synagogue during the march, which coincided with Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day of the year. But Swedish courts intervened and shortened the route to less than one kilometer (0.6 mile.) The rally’s ending time also was shortened to avoid clashing with a nearby soccer game.

Counter-demonstrators threw fireworks and attempted several times to break police lines, allegedly to confront NMR members, who also tried to get past riot police. Several were detained on suspicion of rioting, police said.

“Stones, bottles and sticks were also thrown at us,” police spokesman Hans Lippens said. Police offered to shuttle NMR members away in buses after they were circled by riot police on a Goteborg square, preventing them from completing their march. Police said the move was meant to keep both sides apart.

The NMR later demanded that its leader who had been detained, Simon Lindberg, be released before they would leave the square. Counter-demonstrators threw rocks at police outside the Liseberg amusement park, which reportedly shut down its main entrance.

Some 20 people, mostly Danes and Germans, were stopped as they arrived in Sweden to take part in the demonstration. “As a democracy, we should do much more to oppose Nazism and extremism,” Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told reporters Friday at an EU summit in Tallinn.

Goteborg was scarred by violent demonstrations in 2001 on the sidelines of a European Union summit.


Right holds onto power narrowly in Norway

September 12, 2017

STOCKHOLM (AP) — The center-right grouping that has governed Norway the past four years retained a narrow hold on power in national elections, according to near-complete results early Tuesday. With 95 percent of the votes counted, Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s Conservatives, coalition partner the Progress Party and two support parties, the Liberals and the Christian Democrats, looked likely to win a total of 89 seats in the 169-seat parliament, the Storting.

The election was a bitter disappointment for the leftist Labor Party. It remains the largest single party in parliament with 49 seats, but other likely coalition partners or support parties didn’t add enough to put the left in power.

There was no immediate announcement about forming a new government, but the four-party center-right alliance appeared almost certain to continue. “We delivered on what we promised,” Solberg said at party headquarters. “It seems that there will be a clear non-socialist majority in this election.”

Labor leader Jonas Gahr Store was chastened. “As it seems now, it just did not happen,” he said, according to the Norwegian news agency NTB. Although the center-right grouping had steered Norway through crises over a sharp influx of migrants and the decline in global prices for the oil and gas that are the backbone of the country’s prosperity and comfort, some analysts were surprised that Labor lost significant ground. Its 49 seats were a loss of six from what it held in the previous parliament.

“Labor had a sensationally bad election. It is quite unusual for an opposition party to go back this way,” NTB quoted political analyst Svein Erik Tuastad as saying. The election was a contest over national values, including how welcoming the wealthy country should be to migrants and asylum-seekers and how close it should be to the European Union.

Many Norwegians see the Britain as a model for severing ties to the 28-nation EU. Although not a member, Norway has access to the EU’s single market of a half billion people, accepts the free movement of EU workers, enacts reams of EU laws and pays a membership fee to do that.

The rural Center Party, which was the election’s single biggest winner with a gain of 10 seats, has called for a public inquiry into the country’s relationship with the EU. But both Labor and the Conservatives are committed to the current arrangement. They also have ruled out ending oil and gas exploration — a demand of the Greens who remained static with a single seat.

Associated Press writer Jim Heintz reported this story from Moscow and AP writer David Keyton reported in Stockholm.


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