Tag Archives: News

The Danish view on the Ukraine: Danish Fast News

The Danish Minister for Employment, Mette Frederiksen

The Danish Minister for Employment, Mette Frederiksen

Denmark is characterized by high taxes and high welfare benefits. However the Danish government worries, that EU legislation is making it possible for outsiders to exploit the Danish system. Tinuke Maria Iyore highlights the most important Danish news this week. 

The influence of EU-laws on the Danish welfare system has caused an explosive debate the past week. According to EU regulations, EU citizens can earn the right to unemployment benefits in any EU nation and take these benefits with them across the union. Danish politicians are concerned that this will lead to exploitation of the generous Danish welfare system.

Denmark and Finland are the only EU-countries that require vetting for foreign citizens to receive unemployment benefits. The Danish prime minister recently announced that she wants to tighten these rules, making it even harder for EU-citizens to obtain benefits in Denmark. However this might be a violation against EU’s laws on discrimination and freedom of movement.

The Danish welfare system is funded by a high income tax, and EU-citizens working in Denmark are obliged to pay this high income tax, but are not given the same rights as Danish citizens.

Minister for Employment, Mette Frederiksen of the Social Democratic Party, adds that the Danish government wants to increase control with EU-citizens exploitation of the Danish welfare state, in order to prevent welfare tourism. “The free movement in the EU creates economic growth and jobs, but we have seen an increase in EU-citizens, particularly from Eastern Europe, receiving unemployment and social benefits. We take this development seriously, and must make sure that EU-citizens can meet the requirements for receiving benefits in Denmark”, she says to Danish newspaper Politiken.

More useful degrees

Eight Danish universities will be working towards lowering unemployment rates by comparing programmes to employment statistics. This year the regulation of admissions will be a cooperative effort from these eight universities. Some universities have previously made similar attempts to prevent educating young Danes on career paths that lead to unemployment. However this cooperation between universities is a first. The programmes will be assessed each year using the same procedure, ensuring that Danish universities are educating according to business and industry demands.

A signal to Russia

Denmark’s Liberal Party and other liberal parties in the European council have agreed on a proposal to deny Russia voting rights in the council, due to the ongoing Ukrainian conflict.  The council’s purpose is to ensure the respect of human rights and democracy. These principles have been violated by Russia on numerous occasions and the spokesman of the council’s group of liberal parties, Michael Aastrup Jensen, thinks it is important to send a strong signal to Russia. This would not be the first time Russia has lost its voting rights in the council. In 2000, the country was “punished” for the Russian army’s behavior in Chechnya.

UK: The Bottom Line

Spall

Radicalization, heavy drinking, bullying and a high profile library ban are just some of the major topics in this week’s UK press. Rachel Barr looks at everything from the army, and controversy in the London Mayor’s office to the Nek-nominate craze in this week’s Bottom Line.

Army Chaplain Conducts Memorial Service in Helmand, Afghanistan

Warrior Shepherd

ALLEGED RAPE AND BULLYING were the factors included in the suicide of British soldier Anne-Marie Ellement, in a recent inquest into her death. It was reported that the two men alleged to have raped her were not prosecuted, inspiring  the coroner present to call on the Ministry of Defence to review its help with vulnerable soldiers. Speaking out to the BBC, the Corporal’s mother said that her daughter had been “bullied, belittled and overworked and driven to the depths of despair”. The Army’s director of Personal Services has responded by stating that future lessons to be learnt and their priorities to prevent this kind of tragedy will come from the coroner’s report, and that they were deeply sorry for the ministry’s failures.

 

7079752387_561283cfd4_b

zacgoldsmith

MUSLIM CHILDREN at ‘risk of radicalization’ should be put into care, argues London Mayor Boris Johnson, deeming extremist indoctrination a form of child abuse. Writing in his weekly column in The Telegraph, he claims that political correctness is preventing counter-terrorism officers from doing their jobs and stopping “the infection of radicalisation” on vulnerable young people “before it is too late”. In response, the Muslim Council of Britain has stated to the BBC that Johnson’s column looked more at generating headlines than solving problems, and that young people of all faiths should not have to worry about the risks of living in a ‘Big Brother’ society.

 

 

5661646031_9d030704d6_b

natscot

SCOTTISH FIRST MINISTER Alex Salmond risks being banned from all Council buildings in Aberdeen, in a move the Scottish National Party has deemed “an act of madness”. Aberdeen’s Labour led council will debate a motion this week which would ban the First Minister and his ministerial team from everything from council offices to schools and libraries, after claims of his ‘bullying tactics’ emerged last year. The council and Salmond have had some years of disagreements, which will come to a head in the decision of the ban, to be made on Wednesday.

 

Meanwhile, The Student Press are talking about….

NEK-NOMINATE, the “social drinking game for social media”, which involves downing something alcoholic within 24 hours of someone nominating you, filming it and then tagging three other ‘nominees’ to do the same – or worse –  when you post it online. The game has become an online craze and is now ‘out of control’, according to an interview with the Irish Rugby player responsible for it’s success. Speaking to The National Student, Ross Samson said the game had ‘snowballed’ and he wanted nothing further to do with it – after videos emerged with people having sex on camera while downing their drinks, and others had drank theirs mixed in with dead, blended mice.

3339394544_03bbd420cc_b

reachout

Blogging for Warwich Student Union, Zoe Buckland is concerned that peer pressure for the drinking game might be even stronger because it is online. Her concern derived from the three deaths which have implicated the craze as a possible cause – calling out to students to “stay safe” and reassuring them that it’s “okay to say no”.

Death or no death, the game involves  two “really unsurprising, predictably lame, facets of the culture of our generation”. Writing for Durham’s Palatinate, Toby Hambly points a figure at the ‘narcissistic culture of social media’ and lad culture – a ‘double whammy’ of internet predictability when the two are combined. In knowledge of this age of vanity and binge drinking, Hambly concludes,  we should reserve our outrage for things truly deserving of it, not something so predictable and determinable as Nek-nominate.

 

 

 

Drugs, Fashion Week and The Recession: Danish Fast News

A torn Danish government, fashion hype in Copenhagen, the closure of the Capital’s drug haven and debate about the quality of the education are hot topics explored by Ida Nordland this week in Danish media.

 “SOCIALISTISK FOLKEPARTI”, one of the main Danish parties,  has left the government at the same time as their  leader, Anette Vilhelmsen, decided to stand back. The exit of SF is a consequence of the government’s decision to sell 19% of the stocks in the Danish state owned energy company “Dong” to American investment bank Goldman Sachs.

The American investment bank is well-known for a business structure that creates tax havens and the company supposedly had a central role in the financial crisis. This Thursday it was finally decided by the government to go through with the deal, in spite of over 200.000 signatures in protest; a move which also turned out to be so intolerable for SF that they had to take the drastic step to leave.

This forces the government, now only consisting of Socialdemokratiet and Det Radikale Venstre, to find 6 new ministers.The current government has a record of cabinet reshuffling, as it has happened 4 times during the past 6 months.

IN THE DANISH STUDENT MEDIA, the hot topic at the moment concerns the quality of the education on humanities as a consequence of the Danish funding system in higher education. Universities receive an amount of money per graduating student, which results in a disproportional incentive to pass students in exams. A student from Copenhagen University came forward this week and admitted that to have cheated at an exam. He is not proud of what he did, but according to him, it is way too easy to get a degree in humanities. He went on to allege that he shouldn’t have passed one of every two exams he has ever been to during his study. model

COPENHAGEN IS SIZZLING this week with fashionistas as Copenhagen Fashion week takes place. In a refreshing contrast to the usual debate about anorexic models, this year one of the shows deals with the issue by presenting their clothes on models in all sizes, from 34-48, with the help of volunteers. The volunteers argue for a more nuanced beauty ideal and the unusual show is made in collaboration with The National Association Against Eating Disorders And Self Damage.

CHRISTIANIA, which is know to be Copenhagen’s “free-city” and cannabis market, is closed this week. The shut-down is due to a much needed internal debate about the future of the community. All restaurants, shops and “hashbooths” are closed and  neither Copenhageners or tourists are welcome. The break to think is due to the controversy regarding the suggested legalization of marijuana, that has been going on for the last two years.

Photos: Flickr Creative Commons – Grozz and Luigi Anzivino 

Boris Johnson, Lord Rennard and Scandal: UK Fast News

The most surprising nomination for a university Rector in history, increased measures against protesters, drops in violent crime, and a debate on the merits and pitfalls of a private education are hot topics in recent UK mainstream and student news, as Jamie Timson and Rachel Barr contextualise in this week’s ‘The Bottom Line’. 

WATER CANNONS have been at the forefront of the political debate this week as both the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson and the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) called for discussion on their use in riots.  This news came on the back of the Mayor’s earlier plea for the Home Secretary to fund the purchase of cannons for the Metropolitan Police service (MPS). Boris cited the riots of 2011 that started in London as the catalyst for his decision claiming “I am broadly convinced of the value of having water cannon available to the MPS for those circumstances where its absence would lead to greater disorder or the use of more extreme force.” 8952451409_9469307ff8_b

The prospect of water cannons, however, has brought uproar in some quarters with Joanne McCartney — Labour’s police and crime spokesperson — describing Mayor Johnson’s actions as “deeply worrying” and going on to question the necessity and speed of the implementation. “This is being rushed through, and Londoners are being given virtually no chance to express their views. Such a monumental shift in policing needs a proper public debate”. Others have questioned the supposed implicit meaning behind Acpo’s briefing and the danger to public protest it could result in:

 

DESPITE INCREASED MEASURES against “great disorder”, crime figures in England and Wales have actually fallen by 10% – the lowest estimate made since 1981, when the Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW) began. Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted his congratulations to the police, posting:

However, while crimes such as violent crime have decreased, there have been ‘worrying’ increases in other areas of deviance. Fraud offences recorded by police have increased by 34% , and sexual offences have increased by 17%. This increase has been attributed in BBC reports “Yewtree Effect“, where a greater number of victims have come forward to the police to report historical sex crimes, as seen in cases against Rolf Harris and other ‘household’ names.

HIGH PROFILE SEX ALLEGATIONS have featured heavily again in the news this week as Disgraced Lib Dem Peer  Lord Rennard’s lack of apology has resulted in opprobrium from all sides. Rennard had been the subject of a criminal investigation and a Liberal Democrat disciplinary process after at least 10 women came forward alleging that he had behaved inappropriately towards them during his time as chief executive. The 53-year-old campaign mastermind was cleared by both the Crown Prosecution Service and the Lib Dem’s own investigation as the “burden of proof would be too high” but these findings have seen the party come under fire. 5983388671_50ed5e75c0_b

Alison Goldsworthy one of the alleged victims spoke out against her former party claiming  “Faced with the opportunity to take strong action, the Liberal Democrats have once more opted for cowardice.They have failed to say Lord Rennard’s behaviour is unacceptable, they have failed to discipline him and therefore failed to give victims the justice they deserve.”

Lord Rennard was not the only Lib Dem to be embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal as Mike Hancock MP was also suspended this week following reports of “prima facie evidence” that Hancock had made inappropriate sexual advances on a constituent.

THE BIG STUDENT NEWS of the week in the UK was the nomination of US fugitive and whistleblower Edward Snowden for the position of Rector of Glasgow University. The decision had come late on in the nomination process and as such took many at the University by surprise. Snowden — who currently resides in Moscow in temporary Asylum — was contacted by an “informal group of Glasgow University students” via interlocutors, however it is claimed he accepted the nomination personally. The position of Rector is currently held by Charles Kennedy the former Lib Dem leader and his duties include meeting with students and sitting in on disciplinary hearings in the University Court. It remains to be seen how Mr Snowden intends to carry out these responsibilities should he be elected, considering his appearance on the Obama administration’s most wanted list and the UK’s extradition policy with the US.

Unknown

Chris Cassells, PHD Student at the University and one of the leaders of the ‘Edward Snowden for Rector’ campaign claimed “Edward Snowden’s candidacy is a unique opportunity to show our gratitude to a brace whistleblower and thus to all other whistleblowers who take risks to reveal criminality and corruption of powerful groups in society.” While some have claimed the campaign is nothing more than a publicity stunt, most students and former students have welcomed the opportunity for protest. One former student added “The role of Rector is above all often a ceremonial one, and as such it makes sense to nominate a figure who represents the sentiments of many within the student body.”

HEAD TO HEAD: Student Newspapers on Private Education 

“Some things only money can buy – and a good education is one of them”, claims Becca Atkinson, who goes on to equate “posh prejudice” as being ‘just as bad’ as racism or homophobia. Writing for the Bristol branch of The Tab, she argues that while some parents ‘choose’ to spend on “flashy holidays and expensive cars”, others invest their money on school fees and their child’s education.

8270736498_93c3c0881a_bThough admitting that paying over £12,000 or upwards per year in fees may be unfair, she claims that “that’s life – you don’t get something for nothing.”

“From my perspective”, Atkinson continues, “my parents paid two sets of school fees; mine at a price I won’t disclose, and yours, through their taxes”. Quoting the superior resources available to private school students and the better life prospects awaiting them in future as advantages, Atkinson concludes that – all in all – private schools get better results.

“This may be because the students who go there are more clever: you have to pass stringent tests to get in…Regardless, better results mean better prospects, and that is worth paying for”.

On the contrary, retorts fellow Bristol University journalist Jessica McKay, encouraging your children to work hard and be proud of what they have achieved displays far more love and commitment to their future than splashing a few thousand pounds a term. Yes, she agrees, private schools do have better resources – a ‘valid point’. 5168061145_3bc4cbd7fb_b

However, McKay continues, the ‘splendour’ of which state school children are deprived is instead replaced with something which money cannot buy: an ‘enriching school community’:

“Non fee-paying schools mean that children of all economic backgrounds and academic abilities interact and learn together. Some private school advocates argue that they do not want another child to ‘hold’ their own back. Yet, what of the ways children ‘spur‘ each other forward?”

McKay asks a central question of private school advocates: “Why do we segregate our children by monetary worth through ages four to eighteen when, one would hope, they certainly won’t be penned into such divisions in later life?”.

She concludes that, “in trying to ‘protect’ a child from others you, arguably, preclude entire worlds of experience.”

 

 

 

Ban the Burqa, Fracking and Dave Lee Travis: UK Fast News

5359900150_d6fcc61a01_b

The UK’s largest child abuse inquiry, Fracking, Operation Yewtree and Banning the Burqa are just some of the trending UK topics explored by Rachel Barr in Pandeia’s inaugaral overview of the weekly mainstream and student news.

THE UK MEDIA have this week turned their attention to the pre-trial of well known British entertainment figures accused of sexual abuse, indecent assault and rape. The accused included TV personality Rolf Harris, former Radio One DJ Dave Lee Travis and Coronation Street Actor William Roache, who stood before Crown Courts today as a progression of Scotland Yard’s ‘Operation Yewtree’.5161535906_37786a6177_b

Courts were told of how Travis ‘opportunistically’ targeted ‘vulnerable’ young women – including once live on “Top of the Pops”; that Harris allegedly assaulted different young women over an almost 20 year period; and that Roache, who has been accused of two counts of rape and five counts of indecent assault, purportedly assaulted a 14 year old girl before sending her a signed photograph as a ‘sort of grooming’.

The investigations, which have identified over 600 potential victims, stemmed from widespread allegations against the now deceased personality Jimmy Savile in 2012 but have since spread independently to inquiries into the past of the ‘stars’ on trial later this year. All three men deny the allegations.

 

ACROSS THE WATER in Northern Ireland, the biggest public inquiry into child abuse ever held in the UK has began. The hearing is examining claims made against 13 children’s homes and borstals run by the state, voluntary organizations and the Catholic church. The Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry will investigate stories of abuse from over 434 people affected by injustices spanning over 70 years, with the allegations covering offences of childhood neglect as well as physical, emotional and sexual abuse.


9469980041_38ef74f2d3_b
PRIME MINISTER David Cameron brought Fracking back to the foreground at the beginning of this week, in his announcement that money from proposed shale gas enterprises would go back into local communities. His predictions indicate that the schemes would bring economically disadvantaged areas benefits such as  74,000 new jobs and a reduction in energy bills. Critics of the scheme have called to question hidden disadvantages, including traffic congestion, the destruction of natural landscapes and environmental issues like water contamination and earth tremors. Greenpeace have called the initiative out as the ‘bribery’ of local councils.

 

Meanwhile, the student press have been talking about… 5359900150_d6fcc61a01_b


THE BURQA, as a poll for tabloid The Sun found 61% of British people surveyed would be in favour of a ban. Writing for The Student Journals, Rory Tingle argued that the ban would turn “the law into a weapon of intolerance, fill up courtrooms with unnecessary cases and cause violence in our streets”.

The existing ban in France is used as a case in point, where Tingle argues the new law has actually bred greater intolerance, with Muslim women reporting a rise in physical and verbal abuse as “racial bigots see their opinions represented in law”. This – Tingle stresses – should persuade Britain “of the need not to follow the French example”.

This argument is continued from a more personal stance by Tayyabah Iqbal for King’s (London) Roar! who herself wears a face veil. Calling out Birmingham Metropolitan College’s consideration to ‘ban the burqa’ from its institution in 2013 (a proposal which was met with considerable protests and was then scrapped), Iqbal emphasises the agency and free choice of women wearing face veils as “the outward manifestation of someone’s inner faith, which is inextricably linked to their identity”.

She concludes that a “country which prides itself on freedom of expression should embrace these women acting of their own agency…To refuse these women access to universities is to deny an entire community their voice”.

 

HEAD TO HEAD: Newspapers react to Duggan Verdict 

ANOTHER CONTROVERSIAL TRIAL came to its completion this week when UK courts ruled that London resident Mark Duggan was ‘lawfully killed’ by police. The shooting sparked riots throughout the country in 2011, and the debate over his death has since carried on in the mainstream media. Richard Littlejohn writing in the Daily Mail described how ‘mob rule’ had ‘invaded’ the courtroom, where Duggan’s supporters and ‘fan club’ had “screamed abuse and threatened members of the jury, who had to be smuggled out of a back door for their own safety”. Littejohn argues that the ‘threatened’ jury — comprised of  seven women and three men from North London — “didn’t buy into the ‘lovable’ Mark Duggan myth perpetuated by his supporters and the gullible Left-wing media”.

In contrast, Stafford Scott writing in The Guardian  paints a picture less of a “Mob” and more of a bereaved family “struggling to understand how the shooting of an unarmed man can still be deemed a lawful act”. He goes on to pose the question that as the “jury themselves stated that it was their belief that Duggan had thrown the gun before being fatally shot, where was the immediate, clear and present danger?”

Furthermore Al Sharpton more explicitly argues against Littlejohn’s accusation of “Mob rule” chanting by defending the protests as “a peaceful mechanism by which we raise our discontent. And it is a way to expose inequality that would otherwise be ignored.

Sharpton concludes: “The world may come with unjust decisions, but it our job to ensure we never remain silent in the face of oppression. Instead, we must march and continue to raise our voices nonviolently just as the revered Dr King taught us all. No justice, no peace.

Are Men Better Professors Than Women? Denmark Addresses the Academic Gender Gap

A ‘worryingly low’ number of female lecturers and professors in universities has lead to heated discussions about gender equality in Denmark. Following this ground-breaking study, Katrine Obel-Grønbæk  translates and investigates the Danish student medias’ analysis of the issue.

 The Danish government earmark 70 million DKK (12.7m US dollars, 9.4m Euro) for the advancement of female researchers, with the introduction of University led cash incentives for the employment of female staff after reports of ‘worryingly’ low female university positions throughout the country’s academic institutions.

Since 2000, more women than men have been attending Danish universities, and today an equal amount of female and male PhD students are being educated. However, these numbers are not reflected at the level of research where men still – by far – outnumber women. For every one woman that is appointed a professor at a Danish educational institution,  there are five men who get the title. And every time a woman becomes a lecturer, two men achieve the same.

New financial initiatives are going to secure more female researchers

In terms of the proportion of women in research, Denmark is not doing well compared to other countries. Last year, an EU survey ranked Denmark at a lowly 23rd out of 27 countries, far behind both Sweden and Norway.

The Danish government has responded with action. In cooperation with The Free Research Council, they have launched a program that is going to “promote a more equal gender composition of the research environments in Denmark”. The programme, which is going to cost 70 million DKK, will be open to all fields of study and both men and women can apply.

“But through dispensation from the law of equal treatment, female applicants will be prioritized over male applicants in cases of equal qualifications between two applicants,” a representative from The Free Research Council said about the programme.

“Our assessment is that we are losing a lot of talent,” the Danish Education Minister Morten Østergaard says to Politiken, one of Denmark’s leading newspapers. With an equal gender distribution among PhD students, he does not believe that the inequality arises because men are better at being professors than women. “

There has to be other things that come into play, apparently making the career path harder for women,” he says.

The measures, however, have been met by heavy criticism. According to critics, they translate into female favoritism at the expense of their talented male colleagues. And then it is no longer a question of equality, they argue.

The myth of meritocracy

Everyone agrees that individuals should be evaluated on their qualifications and not their sex. However, the numbers seem to indicate that gender bias still exists in the meritocratic structures of the universities: that is, a system whereby the talented are chosen and subsequently move ahead purely on the basis of their achievements and abilities.

For a long time, universities believed – and some still do – that meritocracy would prevail and that women just needed time to catch up with their male counterparts; they did get access to the universities later than men, so it only seemed natural. Up until now, the rationale has therefore been that the numbers would even out by themselves over time.

This has not happened. The proportion of women among the employed researchers at Danish universities has not changed significantly since 1979. In fact, if the current developmental pace is going to continue, we will have to wait another 246 years before there will be as many women as men among the faculty members of the University of Copenhagen. PhD student Gry Høngsmark Knudsen bases her numbers on employment statistics, among other things, and says that it is a myth that universities have always employed the best candidates.

Discrimination is hard to measure. But in 2012, for the first time, a ground-breaking study from Yale showed that gender is a factor. It had both male and female scientists presented with application materials from a student applying for a lab manager position and who intended to go on to graduate school. Half the scientists were given the application with a male name attached, and half were given the exact same application with a female name attached. Results found that the ‘female’ applicants were rated significantly lower than the ‘males’ in competence, ‘hire-ability’, and whether the scientist would be willing to mentor the student. The scientists also offered lower starting salaries to the ‘female’ applicants: $26,507.94 compared to $30,238.10.

The universities take action

“Believing that things will sort themselves out does not hold water. It is not because some angry, old men are sitting and trying to keep women out. There are structures, habits and a culture in society that means that we all – including the women – have a perception that men are slightly more smart and have a bit more edge. And we need to get rid of that,” associate professor Anja C. Anderson says to Politiken. She is one of the advocates for the new financial initiatives and she used to be part of the gender equality taskforce at the University of Copenhagen.

In the last few years, gender equality has been a key agenda at most Danish universities. In 2007, the University of Copenhagen introduced cash rewards to the institutes and faculties that hired female professors. Three years later, more than every fourth newly employed professor was a woman. The number was under 16 per cent before.

For the time being, it seems that women need help breaking the existing structural barriers. And it seems that finance is an area that can make a difference.