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Posts tagged ‘Nordic Land of Denmark’

Wolves return to Denmark for first time in 200 years

Stockholm (AFP)

May 4, 2017

At least five wolves, including one female, have returned to Denmark for the first time in two centuries, a zoologist who has obtained DNA evidence said on Thursday.

The predators came from Germany to settle in western Denmark’s agricultural region, the least densely populated in the Scandinavian country.

Peter Sunde, scientist at the University of Aarhus, told AFP the wolves must have walked more than 500 kilometers (310 miles).

“We think these are young wolves rejected by their families who are looking for new hunting grounds,” the researcher added.

Scientists have established a genetic profile from the faeces of five wolves — four males and one female — but there could be more.

Sunde said researchers had suspected since 2012 that wolves had entered Denmark. “Now we have evidence (including) that there’s one female,” signalling the possibility of giving birth this spring, he said.

Proof was also established through the wolves’ fingerprints and video surveillance showed their location, which scientists refuse to reveal out of fear that it will attract hunters.

“We’re following that. The wolf is an animal we’re not allowed to hunt so we must protect it,” Henrik Hagen Olesen, spokesman at the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, told AFP.

Exterminated by hunters, wolves had been completely extinct in Denmark since the beginning of the nineteenth century.

In other Nordic countries with a higher wolf population, culling the species, protected by the Bern Convention, is under a fierce debate between inhabitants, farmers, hunters, the government, the European Union and wildlife activists.

Source: Terra Daily.

Link: http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Wolves_return_to_Denmark_for_first_time_in_200_years_999.html.

Denmark urged to clean up US military waste in Greenland

November 26, 2016

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Greenland is calling on Denmark to clean up an abandoned under-ice missile project and other U.S. military installations left to rust in the pristine landscape after the Cold War.

The 1951 deal under which NATO member Denmark allowed the U.S. to build 33 bases and radar stations in the former Danish province doesn’t specify who’s responsible for any cleanup. Tired of waiting, Greenland’s local leaders are now urging Denmark to remove the junk that the Americans left behind, including Camp Century, a never-completed launch site for nuclear missiles under the surface of the massive ice cap.

“Unless Denmark has entered other agreements with the United States about Camp Century, the responsibility for investigation and cleanup lies with Denmark alone,” said Vittus Qujaukitsoq, Greenland’s minister in charge of foreign affairs.

Camp Century was built in 1959-60 in northwestern Greenland, officially to test sub-ice construction techniques. The real plan was top secret: creating a hidden launch site for ballistic missiles that could reach the Soviet Union.

The project was abandoned in 1966 because the ice cap began to crush the camp. The U.S. removed a portable nuclear reactor that had supplied heat and electricity, but left an estimated 200,000 liters of diesel oil and sewage, according to an international study published in August.

Scientists are warning that as global warming melts the ice cap, the waste could surface and pollute the environment. In an Oct. 24 letter to Danish Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen, obtained by The Associated Press, Qujaukitsoq asked about Denmark’s plans for Camp Century, adding that an international study said the waste includes “radioactivity, oil and PCB pollution.”

PCBs stands for polychlorinated biphenyls, a man-made chemical once widely used in paints, plastics and other products, but were banned after they were demonstrated to cause cancer and other ailments.

At a meeting on Nov. 17 in Nuuk, the Greenland capital, to discuss the issue, Jensen said Denmark’s Environment Ministry was investigating the environmental risks. “I hope it can be done as quickly as possible,” he told a news conference, declining to give any specifics.

Jensen later told The Associated Press in an email that “it is still too early to say who will be involved in a possible cleanup.” The U.S. military was interested in Greenland during the Cold War due to its strategic location in the Arctic. Under the 1951 agreement, the U.S. also built four radar stations as part of an early warning system to detect incoming Soviet bombers.

The U.S. Air Force still uses the Thule Air Base, about 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) below the North Pole. Military airfields in Narsarsuaq, Kulusuk and Kangerlussuaq have become civilian airports. Several other military installations have been abandoned, some in remote areas, in the hope they would be entombed forever in the thick ice cap that covers most of the vast island.

Local authorities have started clearing some of the sites, but don’t have sufficient resources, said Rasmus Eisted of Danish engineering company Ramboll, which has been involved in some cleanup projects.

Eisted singled out a junkyard in Kangerlussuaq containing miscellaneous military equipment from the time it was a U.S. Air Force Base known as Sondrestrom. The continuing cleanup task was larger than first anticipated, he said.

Aleqa Hammond, a former Greenland premier who now represents the mostly Inuit population of the Arctic island in the Danish Parliament, said Greenland could bring Denmark before a U.N. panel on indigenous issues unless it deals with the junk.

“Denmark is responsible for cleaning up after the Americans,” Hammond told AP. “I see a potential political crisis between Greenland and Denmark.”

Prominent activist freed in Bahrain leaves for Denmark

June 11, 2016

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A prominent activist in Bahrain said early Saturday she left the tiny island kingdom after recently being freed from prison, the latest protester to go into exile five years after its Arab Spring demonstrations.

Zainab al-Khawaja is the daughter of well-known activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who himself is serving a life sentence over his role in the protests that saw the island’s Shiite majority and others demand more political freedom from its Sunni rulers.

In a series of messages on Twitter, al-Khawaja said she had left the country. Her family confirmed she left with two children to Denmark, where she also has citizenship. The “regime that thinks exile means moving us away from our land should know, we carry (hashtag)Bahrain in our hearts wherever we go,” she wrote.

Al-Khawaja was detained March 14 and faced three years in prison on charges related to her participation in anti-government protests, including tearing up pictures of Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. She was in prison with her infant son, Abdulhadi, prior to her release.

Al-Khawaja said Bahrain was preparing to file new charges against her that would have made her detention “indefinite.” Bahrain’s government and its state-run news agency did not immediately comment on al-Khawaja leaving the country.

Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, crushed the 2011 protests after several weeks with the help of troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In the time since, the island has faced low-level unrest, protests and attacks on police.

Other prominent opposition figures and human-rights activists remain imprisoned. Some have had their citizenship stripped by the government and been deported.

PM: Danish vote shows ‘considerable skepticism’

December 04, 2015

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The fact that 53 percent of Danish voters decided in a referendum to continue a decades-old opt-out from justice affairs in the European Union shows there is “considerable skepticism about the European project,” Denmark’s pro-EU prime minister said Friday.

Lars Loekke Rasmussen called the vote, which means Denmark can no longer be directly involved with the police organization Europol, “a slap in the face.” He wrote on Facebook that Denmark should join the agenda of British Prime Minister David Cameron on future ties with the EU, which both countries joined in 1973.

Britain plans a referendum by the end of 2017 to decide whether it will leave the 28-nation bloc. Cameron wants to stay in — provided he can secure the changes he wants, including giving member states more autonomy, such as the power to restrict benefits for EU immigrants coming to Britain.

Loekke Rasmussen’s vision for “a new balance” is “a strong Europe that really can make a positive difference (and) a slimmer EU, where countries can solve problems in their own way more meaningfully.”

Gilles De Kerchove, the EU counter-terrorism coordinator who works closely with the bloc’s agencies involved in the fight against extremists, including Europol, said the Danish referendum was “a very strong expression of some hesitation on the extent to which Europe can provide security.”

“It’s sad for me because Europe needs Denmark,” De Kerchove told reporters. “When you see the added value of the (security) tools we are developing … you need to be on board.” Next Friday, Loekke Rasmussen meets with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels to start talks on reaching so-called parallel agreements that would allow Danes to continue cooperation with Europol, among others.

“We want to continue in Europol,” said Soeren Espersen of the EU-skeptic, anti-immigration Danish People’s Party. Denmark’s second-largest party wants changes to the passport-free Schengen travel zone that recently came under pressure following the surge in migrant numbers in Europe. “We must have this fundamental discussion now.”

Last week, the bloc changed the role of the European police agency, including banning opt-outs from EU justice policies for full members. Loekke Rasmussen’s center-right government had argued that ending the 1992 opt-out would give Danes more say, while opponents said Danes would lose even more sovereignty to Brussels.

Turnout in Thursday’s referendum was 72 percent.

Associated Press reporter Lorne Cook in Brussels, Belgium, contributed to this report.

Danish referendum takes step away from EU, including Europol

December 03, 2015

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Danes voted Thursday to keep a 23-year-old opt-out from justice affairs, hence taking a step away from closer ties with the European Union, meaning it temporarily would end ties with Europol, even as the European law-enforcement agency is preparing to increase its role in fighting terrorism.

Projections on Denmark’s two main television stations based on nearly all votes counted showed 53 percent wanted to keep the 1992 opt-out. “Danes are saying yes to cooperation but no to relinquishing more sovereignty to Brussels,” said Kristian Thulesen-Dahl, head of the EU-skeptic, anti-immigration Danish People’s Party. “What a fantastic evening,” said Thulesen-Dahl, one of the “no” sides most prominent figures.

Pro-EU Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen said he now would have talks with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker aimed at reaching so-called parallel agreements that would allow Denmark to continue cooperation with Europol, among others.

During the two-week campaign, both sides have called for somehow being part of Europol — either directly, as the government suggested, or through parallel agreements, as the “no” side called for. The latter means Danes find themselves on the sidelines of the EU-wide police agency with no say in decision-making, like non-EU neighbors Norway and Iceland.

“It is a considerable ‘no’ which bothers me,” said Loekke Rasmussen who heads a one-party center-right government, adding he has “full respect for the Danes’ choice.” Last week, the 28-member bloc changed the role of the European police agency, including banning opt-outs from EU justice policies for full members.

The pro-EU center-right government had argued that ending the opt-out would give Danes more say within the bloc, while opponents claim the opposite would happen — Danes will lose even more sovereignty to Brussels.

If Thursday’s referendum results in continuing the opt-out, Henning Soerensen, a lecturer in lecturer in EU law at the University of Southern Denmark, fears a new agreement to rejoin Europol “could take years.”

Danes “won’t (then) have immediate access to Europol registers on foreign fighters in Syria, criminal motorbike gangs, etc.,” he said. “Basically, it’s a matter of what relation Denmark wants with the EU — inside or outside.”

The vote comes three weeks after the deadly Paris attacks, reviving fears in the small Scandinavian country where officials say they have thwarted several terrorist attacks since the 2005 publishing of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that caused fiery protests in Muslim countries. In February, a gunman killed two people and wounded five in attacks on a free-speech event and Copenhagen’s main synagogue.

The government had said that whichever way the vote goes it won’t affect the country’s immigration policy. Unlike neighbors Germany and Sweden, Denmark has not seen a recent surge in migrant numbers, chiefly because of its asylum rules, considered among the strictest in Europe.

Turnout was around 72 percent, the DR and TV2 channels said.

Soyuz with Russian, Dane, Kazakh docks at space station

September 04, 2015

MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying three new crew docked at the International Space Station on Friday after a safe but unusually long two-day flight.

The arrival of Russia’s Sergei Volkov, Denmark’s Andreas Mogensen and Kazakhstan’s Aidyn Aimbetov brings the number of astronauts on the orbiting space outpost to nine for the first time since November 2013.

Mogensen, the first Dane in space, got a message from his mother shortly after he arrived. “I am really looking to have you back on Earth again,” Lisa Bjerregaard said during a video link from Baikonur, the cosmodrome in Kazakhstan where the spacecraft was launched Wednesday with relatives in attendance. “Don’t forget to call me when you land.”

Mogensen answered: “Yeah, yeah, I promise.” The exchange was shown live on television in Denmark. Mogensen and Aimbetov will return to Earth on Sept. 12 along with Russian Gennady Padalka, the current station commander. Command will then be passed to NASA’s Scott Kelly, who along with Mikhail Kornienko of Russia is spending a full year on the station to study the effects of long space travel in preparation for a possible future trip to Mars.

Russian Mission Control said the Soyuz docked on time at 10:42 a.m. Moscow time (0742 GMT) Friday, about 51 hours after blasting off from Baikonur, the launch complex operated by Russia. For the past two years, the space station crews have taken a more direct, six-hour flight to the station. This time, however, the Russian Federal Space Agency decided to revert to the traditional route, citing security concerns after the International Space Station had to adjust its orbit to dodge space junk.

Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.

Exit poll: Danish governing bloc, opposition neck-and-neck

June 18, 2015

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt’s governing coalition and the center-right opposition were in dead heat Thursday in Denmark’s parliamentary election, according to an exit poll by broadcaster TV2.

The poll results gave the opposition 88 seats, and 87 for parties supporting the center-left government. That would still leave the race open because it doesn’t count the four seats from the semi-autonomous territories of Greenland and the Faeroe Islands.

The poll was based on about 6,000 interviews and had a margin of error of about 3 percentage points. Kasper Jensen of polling institute Megafon sounded a note of caution, saying the exit poll wasn’t a final result.

It’s “only an indication of what a representative group of people had voted,” Jensen said. Thorning-Schmidt’s Social Democrats and opposition leader Lars Loekke Rasmussen’s Liberals depend on other parties to build a majority in the 179-seat Folketing, or Parliament. The campaigns focused on immigration and welfare spending, among other issues.

In addition to the 175 seats decided by voters in Denmark, the Faeroe Islands and Greenland get two seats each. If the vote is close, those four seats could swing a result in favor of either Thorning-Schmidt or Loekke Rasmussen. Currently, the government bloc has three of the four seats. Polling stations in the Faeroes close at 1900 GMT (3 p.m. EDT) while those in Greenland shut down three hours later.

Both Thorning-Schmidt and Loekke Rasmussen have promised to further tighten Denmark’s controls on immigration. Loekke Rasmussen, a former prime minister, needs support from the populist Danish People’s Party, which wants to reintroduce border controls against neighboring countries. That’s a controversial among many in the European Union who feel it would challenge the idea of a borderless Europe. But Loekke Rasmussen appeared to endorse the proposal as he cast his vote in Copenhagen.

“I want an open Denmark, but I also want a Denmark that is efficiently shut for people who don’t want our country,” Loekke Rasmussen told reporters. Thorning-Schmidt voted not too far away, accompanied by her husband, Stephen Kinnock, who was elected to Britain’s Parliament for the Labour Party in Aberavon last month. He wasn’t voting.

Thorning-Schmidt, a prime minister since 2011, emphasized Denmark’s economic growth in recent years. “That road we have steered Denmark onto, where we have a grip on the economy, where there is money for the welfare, if that is the way you want to take, then you must vote for the Social Democrats,” she said.

Thorning-Schmidt has pledged to raise welfare spending by 39 billion kroner ($5.7 billion), while the opposition says that improvements can be achieved without expanding the public sector. Candidates were campaigning until the very end, handing out leaflets, flowers, balloons and sweets to voters on the streets and squares of the Scandinavian country of 5.6 million. According to pollsters, up to 20 percent of Danish voters had not made up their minds before the election.

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