AFTENPOSTEN
Aftenposten is Norway's largest newspaper and based in Oslo. The morning edition had a readership of 658,000 in 2013. Aftenposten's online edition, (aftenposten.no) averages more than 78 million page views per month.
Weird
Carl-Johan Karlsson

An Ill-Advised Fish Tale From Downtown Oslo

It was a sunny, Scandinavian afternoon when Even Nord Rydningen spotted something in the still waters beneath Oslo's Gullhaug bridge.

"It looked like a trout, but it also looked a bit like a shark," he told Norwegian daily Aftenposten.

Upon closer inspection, Rydningen realized it was in fact a pike, a sharp-toothed (but tasty) species that are sometimes referred to as a "Nordic crocodile."

Having fished a lot as a child, the man decided this was an opportunity to try something new. Treading carefully, he climbed over the railing until he was right above his unsuspecting prey. Then, with one swift movement, he grabbed the beast by its gills and pulled it out of the water.

"I beat it to death," Rydningen said.

A climate activist, he went on to say how great it was to find such rich wildlife in the city, especially at a time when the fjords are increasingly drained of fish.

Photo: Even Nord Rydningen

But as Jo Vegar Arnekleiv, a researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, notes, people should think twice before emulating Rydningen's hands-on approach.

"A big pike shouldn't be messed around with," he told the paper. "In the worst case you could get bit."

Luckily for Rydningen, no extremities were lost. The unfortunate fish, on the other hand, ended up being turned into pike cakes. God appetitt, as the Norwegians say!

Geopolitics

The Latest: China-Taliban Meeting, Alaska Tsunami Alert, Earth Overshoot Day

Welcome to Thursday, where a Chinese official meets with Taliban leaders, an earthquake triggers a tsunami alert in Alaska, and rock fans mourn the death of a bearded icon. With the Tokyo Olympics finally underway, Hong Kong-based digital media The Initium also asks a tough question: Do we even still need this sporting event?

• Chinese official publicly meets with Taliban: China's foreign minister, Wang Yi, began two days of talks with Taliban leaders on Wednesday in the Chinese city of Tianjin. After the withdrawal of U.S. and allied troops, Afghanistan has seen significant fighting between the Afghan security forces and the Taliban. China hopes to use the meetings to assist in this peace process, as well as to warm ties with the Islamist group.

• Earthquake in Alaska triggers tsunami alert: After an 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck the Alaskan peninsula on Wednesday, U.S. officials have released tsunami warnings for the surrounding area and encouraged increased monitoring across the Pacific. So far there have not been any reports of loss of life or serious property damage.

• Vocal Chinese billionaire sentenced to 18 years in prison: Sun Dawu, a billionaire pig farmer and outspoken critic of the Chinese government, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison on charges that include "picking quarrels and provoking troubles." He has also been fined 3.11 million yuan ($480,000).

• COVID update: Australia's largest city, Sydney, has seen a record daily rise in cases, leading the government to seek military assistance in enforcing the ongoing lockdown. In contrast, the United Kingdom announced that fully vaccinated travelers coming from the EU or the U.S. no longer need to quarantine when entering England, Scotland and Wales. Meanwhile, Google has mandated that employees be vaccinated to return to in-person work in October.

• Macron sues billboard owner for depicting him as Hitler: French President Emmanuel Macron is suing a billboard owner for depicting him on a sign as Adolf Hitler. The poster shows Macron in Nazi garb with a Hitler-esque mustache and the phrase "Obey, get vaccinated." This comes after several protesters who see France's new health-pass system as government overreach invoked the yellow star that Nazi Germany forced Jewish people to wear during WWII.

• ZZ Top bassist dead at 72: Dusty Hill, the bassist for the Texas blues-rock trio ZZ Top, died in his sleep on Tuesday at the age of 72. Hill, known for his trademark long beard, played with the band for over 50 years.

• Earth Overshoot Day: Today marks the day that humanity has exceeded its yearly allotment of the planet's biological resources. Last year, Overshoot Day fell on August 22, after carbon emissions dropped during COVID-related lockdowns. But this year carbon emissions and consumption rose again, and Overshoot Day moved forward by almost one month.

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Geopolitics

The Latest: WHO And Wuhan, Nord Stream 2 Deal, Argentine Non-Binary Option

Welcome to Thursday, where China rejects WHO's plans to look into its "Wuhan lab leak" theory, U.S. & Germany reach a deal on Nord Stream 2 and two Swedish hostage takers have the weirdest ransom demand. Hong-Kong based media The Initium also explains why young people in China are still drawn to the prospect of joining the Communist Party.

• Vaccines v. Delta variant: A study has shown that full vaccination (two doses) from the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine is nearly as effective against the Delta variant as against the original Alpha variant. Meanwhile, China has rejected a WHO proposal to investigate the origins of the coronavirus because it also included plans to look into Wuhan lab leak theory, which the country views as "not scientific."

• U.S. & Germany reach Nord Stream 2 deal: The United States and Germany have come to an agreement in order to ensure that the controversial gas pipeline, Nord Stream 2, will not be used by Russia to exert political pressure on Europe. The pipeline, which is close to becoming operational, will likely double Russian gas exports to Germany.

• Death toll in China floods rises to 33: The death count after torrential rains and flooding in China's Henan province has risen to 33 people, with an additional eight people missing. The public has questioned authorities' preparedness for disaster, as experts have linked the downpour to the worsening climate crisis.

• Madagascar arrests six in assassination plot: After months of investigation, Madagascan authorities have arrested six people, including a foreign national, suspected of planning to kill President Andry Rajoelina.

• Olympics opening ceremony director fired: Kentaro Kobayashi, director of the Olympics' opening ceremony scheduled for tomorrow, has been fired after a Holocaust joke surfaced from a 1998 comedy set. The organizing committee president issued a public apology.

• Argentina adds non-binary option to ID cards: Argentina has become the first Latin American country to add a non-binary option to identification cards. Citizens who do not identify as male or female will now have the option to mark the gender neutral ‘X" instead.

• Swedish hostage takers demand kebab pizzas: Two inmates in Sweden's Hallby high security prison took two guards hostage for nine hours on Wednesday, demanding a helicopter and 20 kebab pizzas as ransom. The pizzas were indeed delivered, and the guards were released unharmed.

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Geopolitics

Coronavirus — Global Brief: Calculating How Long It Will Last

For the coming weeks, Worldcrunch will be delivering daily updates on the coronavirus global pandemic. The insidious path of COVID-19 across the planet is a blunt reminder of how small the world has become. Our network of multilingual journalists are busy finding out what's being reported locally — everywhere — to provide as clear a picture as possible of what it means for all of us at home, around the world. To receive the daily brief in your inbox, sign up here.

SPOTLIGHT:

For the first time in most peoples' lives, no matter where we are, we're living our days amid a swirl of statistics and news flashes that leaves us waking up the next morning with the same question. How big will it get?

So how is it that we can't, with the brainpower of all the virologists, biologists and public health officials around the world, figure out what COVID-19 will mean for our future?

Well, part of the problem is just that: the whole world. Experts are dealing with a sample size spanning all of humanity in which much of the information is missing, confusing or unreliable. In Iran, a clerical regime known for its opaqueness is believed to severely understate the already high number of 1,100 deaths — and the same now goes for Russia, with an equally dark record of state censorship, where only one death has been reported so far — a suspicious figure considering the country ranked 116th last year in the Global Health Security Index for "detecting" pandemics. But even in more open societies like the U.S. and Italy, overloaded institutions and slow rollout of diagnostic tests have blurred both the actual figures and geographical scope of the spread.

The hard truth is that even with more accurate numbers, we're missing many pieces of a puzzle that keeps multiplying: How strong is the immune response to a novel infection? How does the virus react to warmer weather? And how fast can it mutate? For now, we are left to stay at home, wonder, and wash our hands for longer than we're used to.​ At least that number we can be sure of: 20 seconds.

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blog

North Korea Says It Has New Access To The Arctic

North Korea says it has been granted access to pursue commercial activities on Svalbard, the Arctic archipelago under the sovereignty of Norway but governed by a century-old international treaty.

Norwegian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Ane Lunde told the Oslo-based daily Aftenposten on Wednesday that Norway has not yet been notified of North Korea's access to the islands. In a report that went largely unnoticed last week, Pyongyang declared it had gained access via a treaty that has governed activity on the arctic archipelago for nearly a century. North Korea’s accession to the treaty would provide the country with an “international guarantee for conducting economic activities and scientific research in the Svalbard Islands” reported the Pyongyang-run Korean Central News Agency.

The 1920 Svalbard Treaty was signed between Norway and several other countries establishing Norwegian sovereignty over Svalbard, which is one of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas, some 817 miles from the North Pole. The exercise of sovereignty is, however, subject to certain stipulations, and the signatories were given equal rights to engage in commercial activities (mainly coal mining) on the islands. There are currently 42 treaty parties.

New countries to ratify the treaty must do so via France, where the original agreement was signed. “France will then notify the other contracting parties, which can take some time,” Lunde says.

The foreign ministry spokeswoman, however, rejected the claim from Korean Central News Agency that the Svalbard Treaty regulates research, stating that “the ratification of the treaty gives no such exclusive rights.”