Norway Proposes to Set Quotas for Women on Corporate Boards

Norwegian legislator Laila Daavoey has introduced a bill that would require Norway’s top 600 companies or so to create a quota system for filling board positions. Comapnies that fail to fill at least 40 percent of their corporate board positions by 2005 would face financial penalties begining in 2007.

This follows an announcement in November by Sweden’s Vice Prime Minister Margareta Winberg that Sweden would begin taking action against companies that failed to increase female representation on their corporate boards from the curretn 8 percent to 25 percent by 2004.

Daavoey offered up a saying which she apparently highlights the need for such drastic actions, but actualy does a nice job of pointing out the idiocy of such quota systems. According to Daavoey,

There will not be equality until you have incompetent women in the boardroom.

That certainly is a lofty goal worth fighting for.

Maggie Gallagher had a better comment on this proposed regimen in an op-ed,

In Europe, it appears that in the name of democracy, elites are pursuing an autocratic centralized power, seeking economic control and social regimentation. They seem to have no hesitation about using the law to forcibly suppress opposition. Call it Eurofascism, lite. Only they call it democracy.


Norway eyes law to shatter glass ceiling. Lizette Alvarez, Contra-Costa Times, July 18, 2003.

Eurofascism, Lite. Maggie Gallagher, Yahoo.Com, July 15, 2003.

Iceland Announces Plans to Resume Whaling

Iceland announced in April that it plans to renew whaling under the same pretense as Japan — i.e. that the whaling will be for research. Under the terms of the 1986 moratorium on commercial whaling, the International Whaling Commission allow its members to kill as many whales as it wants for research purposes.

Iceland says it plans to catch 100 minke whales, 100 fin whales, and 50 sei whales over two years, beginning sometime in 2003 or 2004.

Along with Japan, it would join Norway — which is exempt from the commercial whaling ban and never stopped commercial whaling — as the only three countries killing significant numbers of whales.

Iceland could also begin straightforward commercial whaling at any time, although it says that it will not do so until at least 2006. Iceland left the IWC in 1992, and was readmitted by just a single vote in 2002 (and even then, only because the Swedish represenative to the IWC misunderstood a procedural challenge that allowed the vote to take place). As part of its readmission, it was also allowed to lodge an objection to the 1986 moratorium which, along with Norway, renders it exempt from the moratorium.

Iceland also rejects portions of a number of conventions that deal with whales. It joined CITES in 2000, but objected to the ban on trade in the blue whale. It also objects to the listing of the Northern right whale under the Berne Convention, of which it is also a party. Both objections mean that Iceland is not bound by the terms of those conventions as they apply to those species.

Iceland has apparently worked out a deal with Japan to accept whale products from Iceland, without which there would not be a market for the number of whales Iceland is considering killing.


Iceland’s whale hunting plans arouse suspicions. Reuters, April 5, 2003.

Iceland bids to resume whaling. The BBC, April 3, 2003.

Iceland Plans to Catch Hundreds of Large Whales. Environmental News Service, April 4, 2003.

Animal Liberation Front Attacks Norwegian Feed Factories

The Associated Press reports that the Animal Liberation Front claimed responsibility for attacks on two factories in Norway that produce feed for animals on fur farms.

A police official told the Associated Press,

We received an e-mail earlier claiming to be from the Animal Liberation Front taking responsibility for the two incidents. The investigation showed that the factories had been exposed to sabotage. This was according to the e-mail.

Activists firebombed a garage and attempted to set fire to trucks, though the Associated Press account was unclear on just how much damage the activists inflicted. Bjorn Dag Gundersen, a spokesman for the Norwegian Fur Breeder Association, did tell the Associated Press that any damages to the factory would be covered by insurance.


In Norway, police cite animal activists in attack on feed producers. Associated Press, March 10, 2003.

Iceland Restored to International Whaling Commission

In a stunning turnaround due in large part to a misunderstanding over procedural maneuvers, the International Whaling Commission voted 19 to 18 this month to readmit Iceland.

Iceland quit the commission in 1992 and has had its efforts to rejoin the commission blocked by countries angered at Iceland’s plan to recommence commercial whaling in 2006. According to the New York Times, Iceland’s readmittance was largely the result of the Swedish delegation misunderstanding a procedural challenge by Antigua and Barbuda. In its confusion, the Swedish delegation ended up mistakenly voting in favor of a motion that led to Iceland’s readmission.

“We were not prepared in substance to accept Iceland as a member,” Carl Erik Ehrenkronoa of the Swedish Foreign Ministry told the Times, “but it happened anyway.”

As the Times notes, whaling countries are using the same tactics that anti-whaling forces used to enact the worldwide ban on whaling. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, numerous anti-whaling countries joined the commission and the result was the ban.

Now Japan and other pro-whaling countries are encouraging (and, in some cases, outright bribing them) to join and tip the scales the other way. In the lead up to the ban, it was countries such as Switzerland and Austria who joined and tipped the balance toward the ban on whaling. Now countries like Benin, Gabon and Mongolia are joining, and all are solidly in the pro-whaling camp thanks to Japan’s promises of aid to such countries in exchange for their votes on the commission.

Iceland’s readmittance is a likely turning point, given that Iceland says that in 2006 it will join Norway in openly defying the worldwide ban on commercial whaling.

Overturning the ban on whaling is a long way off, given that it would take a 3/4 vote of the commission, but Rune Frovik, spokesman for a Norwegian whaling association told the Times that there was still a lot of value in just a simple majority,

You can do a lot with a simple majority. For many years, the commission has passed what we call hate resolutions calling on Norway and Japan to stop whaling. Soon they might not be able to pass those resolutions.

This change should make the next meeting of the IWC a bit more interesting.


Iceland joins whale panel, giving whalers stronger say. Walter Gibbs, The New York Times, October 20, 2002.

Iceland, Norway Resume Trade in Whale Meat

In 1988 Norway ended its export of whale meat with a final shipment to Japan. Fourteen years later, Norway is preparing to resume the international trade in whale meat with a 10 ton shipment of meat and blubber from minke whales destined for Iceland.

International trade in minke whale meat is banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, but Iceland, Norway and Japan hold reservations on that designation and claim that decision is based on politics rather than science and apparently intend to defy the ban.

Norway is also apparently in negotiations with Japan to resume whale meat shipments. Like Iceland and Norway, Japan maintains the ban on the trade in minke whale meat is politically motivated.


Iceland, Norway Resume International Whale Meat Trade. High North News, June 21, 2002.

Whale’s on menu. The Sunday Times, June 23, 2002.

Milk Consumption Prevents Breast Cancer!

Okay, the headline was a bit deceptive since milk consumption probably won’t reduce your risk of breast cancer, but that’s exactly the sort of conclusion I’d draw from a new study if I were as careless about treating dietary studies as many animal rights activists are.

Researchers in Norway studied 48,844 women in an attempt to measure the relationship between childhood and adult milk consumption and breast cancer incidence. Researchers obtained information about the women’s milk consumption in 1991-92, and then followed up 6 years later by obtaining information about breast cancer incidence among the study group.

Childhood milk consumption was slightly negatively associated with breast cancer among women 34-39 but not for women 40-49. Adult milk consumption had a large negative relationship, with women who drank 3 glasses of milk per day have a roughly 40 percent lower risk of breast cancer than women who did not drink milk (this result persisted even after controlling for age, reproductive and hormonal factors, body mass index, education, physical activity and alcohol consumption).

Should young adult women start consuming milk to prevent breast cancer? Probably not, for much the same reason that women shouldn’t abandon drinking milk if the study had found a 40 percent increased risk. These are interesting findings, but even with such a large study, this is still an awfully small association to warrant altering one’s lifestyle over.

Not to mention that, like most dietary studies, the Norway researchers relied completely on self-reporting of milk. Its questionable whether or not people can accurately report how much milk they consumed (in fact, studies of self-reporting find people often make gross errors in reporting contemporary behavior, much less behavior that occurred years and decades ago).

But there is still one conclusion that is probably warranted from the various studies of milk consumption and cancer. None of these studies shows the sort of increased risk of cancer from milk drinking that would be required to establish a causal connection between the two. Whatever else one can say about milk, there seems to be a death of evidence linking milk drinking to cancer, despite what animal rights activists would like you to belive.


Childhood and adult milk consumption and risk of premenopausal breast cancer in a cohort of 48,844 women – the Norwegian women and cancer study. International Journal of Cancer, Volume 93, Issue 6, 2001.