TIME norway

Prisoner Surfs Out of Norway’s Most Luxurious Prison

Bastoy Prison
Marco Di Lauro—Getty Images Bastoy prison in 2011.

He may not have thought that one through

If you’re familiar with Norway’s Bastoy Prison, you’re likely also aware of its reputation as one of the world’s nicest place to be locked up. Situated on a plus one-square-mile island, Bastoy features no walls or fences or cells, instead treating inmates to tennis courts, beaches and a sauna. It’s all part of the Scandinavian country’s emphasis on humane rehabilitation rather than harsh punishment.

But for one convicted sex offender in his 20s, the luxuries of Bastoy just weren’t enough. The inmate set sail from the island on a surfboard, using a plastic shovel to paddle less than two miles to the mainland. He has yet to be recaptured.

Escape attempts are rare at Bastoy, which was founded in 1982 and hosts approximately 115 inmates, partly because of its unparalleled amenities and partly because those who are subsequently caught have little chance of returning. Escapees are usually placed in one of Norway’s high-security facilities.

Bastoy is also notable for the amount of freedom it provides even high-level offenders: many of the prisoners are murderers, rapists and drug traffickers. Even so, the Norwegian approach appears to have proven largely effective. As of 2012, Bastoy had a recidivism rate of just 16% in the two years following prisoners’ release, compared with 43% over three years in the U.S., according to a 2011 study.

Perhaps most remarkable is the prison’s reaction to escapees:

When inmates come to his island jail, [Arne Kvernvik] Nilsen, the governor, gives them a little talk.

Among the wisdom he imparts is this: If you should escape and make it across the water to the free shore, find a phone and call so I know you’re OK and “so we don’t have to send the coast guard looking for you.”

It’s unclear whether the recent escapee paid the prison that particular courtesy.


TIME norway

Norway Youth Camp Resumes 4 years After Anders Breivik Massacre

Norway youth camp Anders Breivik
Vegard Wivestad Grott—NTB Scanpix /Reuters Youths stand in a line to wait for the MS Thorbjorn ferry to take them to Utoya island, Norway, on Aug. 6, 2015.

Breivik killed 69 people on the Norwegian island of Utoya

UTOYA, Norway — Four years ago a right-wing extremist gunned down 69 people, shattering the tranquility on the idyllic Norwegian island of Utoya after killing eight in a bomb blast at government buildings in the center of the capital Oslo.

This week, a flood of newcomers will be arriving on the island as the Labor Party’s youth camp opens for the first time since the massacre on July 22, 2011.

Emilie Bersaas, a camp organizer, says they won’t allow “that dark day (to) overshadow the nice and bright” memories of past camps or future weekend youth meetings and social events organized by the party’s youth wing, which owns the island about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the capital, Oslo.

More than 1,000 students have enrolled for three days of seminars on politics that start Friday. Private visitors a day earlier will include NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, a former Labor Party leader who was also Norway’s prime minister at the time of the massacre.

Many of the island’s traditional red-and-white wooden buildings have been renovated and construction continued feverishly Wednesday to complete new conference and meeting rooms in Scandinavian-style glass and wood design. A bright circular steel memorial engraved with the victims’ names has been given pride of place among pine trees on a secluded spot overlooking the Tyrifjorden lake.

Mani Hussaini, president of the youth group, believes that a good balance was found in constructing new buildings and restoring the old, describing it as “an important step” for going forward after the events of 2011.

Utoya will “always (be) a place where we honor and remember our comrades, a place to learn and a place for political engagement,” he told reporters.

The murderous rampage of the self-styled “militant nationalist” Anders Behring Breivik, who randomly shot students as he walked through the island, shocked the nation of 5 million in the far north of Europe. About one in four people in Norway were affected by the massacre, through connections with family, friends, work or acquaintances of victims.

It also left lasting traces on Utoya, including the dark green cafeteria which bears the bullet marks of the murder of 13 people. It has not been renovated and will open as a center for learning after another building has been built around it.

Survivor Ragnhild Kaski, secretary general of the youth organization, remembers with glee and excitement how she gave her first political speech in that fateful cafeteria, tinged with deep sorrow and emptiness at the loss of her friends.

“For me that building will always be the building where I was giving a speech for the very first time when I was 17 … At the same time that’s the place where people lost their lives and I was saving mine,” she said. “So it kind of shows it’s part of the island. You have both the good and the bad memories.”

In 2012, Breivik was convicted of mass murder and terrorism and was given a 21-year prison sentence that can be extended for as long as he’s deemed dangerous to society, which legal experts say likely means he will be locked up for life.

But his attack on the government quarter in the capital and the students of a leftwing movement in Norway that prides itself on equality and democracy has left a scar on its reputation as a country that doesn’t need armed police and where political leaders can walk freely in the city.

During the fourth anniversary commemoration ceremony in Oslo, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said July 22, 2011, will always remain a dark day in the country’s history for “scenes of evil and heinous acts,” and that the victims are “remembered with love” and will never be forgotten. She later inaugurated a July 22 Center, which shows how the assailant carried out the cold-blooded attacks — an initiative some opposed on the grounds that it was too poignant.

Since the shooting, 16 regional support groups and a national organization were set up to help families of the victims.

The victims’ names, engraved in longhand on the memorial steel circle suspended in the air, glittered in the humid, cloudy air. The youngest was that of a 14-year-old boy; the oldest that of Breivik’s first target on the island, a 45-year-old security guard.

But not all 69 names are there. Eight spaces have been left for those names parents have not wanted displayed.

“It’s still too early for some now, and that’s a natural thing I think,” says Lisbeth Roynehold, whose 18-year-old daughter Synne was killed. “Because we grieve in different ways and some parents need more time.”

Roynehold, who is the leader of a July 22 support group, welcomes the reopening of the camp.

“By going back to the island, I think the youngsters will fight for what my daughter fought for,” she says quietly, her folded hands twitching. “They are fighting for democracy.”

TIME Television

This Norwegian High School Is Offering a Course Inspired by Game of Thrones

Helen Sloan—HBO

Just in case these kids ever run into White Walkers

Now that Jon Snow can’t save you (or can he?) from an army of White Walkers, the best way to make sure you survive a Game of Thrones-style onslaught of the undead is preparation. And now, if you’re willing to head to Norway, you can get somewhat formal training.

Led by self-proclaimed “recreational Viking” and “Game of Thrones” fan Jeppe Nordmann Garly—who looks like he’d fit in quite well with the Night’s Watch—the course from Seljord Folk High School will train its students in the fine art of being a Viking. That includes learning to make swords and knives and honing hunting, fishing and boating skills. There are also field trips to Oslo’s Viking Boat Museum and York, England.

Some of the students “have become interested through TV series” like “Game of Thrones,” the school’s principal Arve Husby told a Norwegian broadcaster.

Unlike the Hunger Games camp, there are no battles on the agenda. Not yet, at least.

[H/T Quartz]

TIME wedding

A 79-Year-Old Norwegian Man Swam Across Fjord to His Own Wedding

man swim open water
Getty Images

"He's like a seal"

Trygve Bernhardsen, 79, was very excited to marry Ellen Hertzberg, 69. And he wanted to prove it. So he decided to swim slightly over 2,600 feet of fjord – clad in a bow tie – to marry his bride.

Hertzberg, who said Bernhardsen is an avid swimmer, told the local paper that she didn’t have much of a say as to whether or not Bernhardsen would make his swim. “He didn’t want to marry me unless he was allowed to swim to his bride,”she said. “And I thought that was great.”

Bernhardsen was accompanied by his two grandchildren on the swim, which was fortunate, because he said the 57-degree water started to get to him by the end. “It was terribly cold, I could feel the cold towards the end of the swim. My legs were completely stiff.”

But Hertzberg, who met Bernhardsen 15 years ago when he tied his yacht near her home (hashtag Norwegian courtship), never had any doubts about her man’s abilities.

“I was never afraid. He’s like a seal,” she said. “This swim was nothing for him. I have found the best man in the world.”

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME architecture

The World’s Largest Sauna Has Opened In Norway, And It Is Stunning

Photograph by Martin Losvik; Courtesy of salted.no Salt Sauna, Bodø, Norway

It's part of the year-long SALT festival

Do you enjoy sweating and listening to ambient music, but find that it’s difficult to find space large enough for you and 100 of your closest associates to do these things together? Well, you’re in luck.

That’s right, the world’s largest sauna just opened in Norway as part of the year-long SALT festival–a celebration of the architecture and culture of the Arctic. According to Architectural Digest, the sauna, also known as the agora, is a “a massive timber construction set on a beach overlooking the Arctic Ocean.”

The sauna, “which seats up to 150 people, more closely resembles a set of bleachers or an amphitheater than the average boxy sauna,” according to the report. “In fact, when the space is not heated, it will be used as a lecture hall for festival events. And for those who need a respite from the heat, there’s actually a bar inside offering cool libations.”

One-way flights from New York to Oslo start at around $550. You can’t afford not to.

TIME norway

Norwegian Mass Murderer Accepted to Oslo University

Anders Behring Breivik listens to the judge in the courtroom, in Oslo, Norway on Aug. 24, 2012.
Frank Augstein—AP Anders Behring Breivik listens to the judge in the courtroom, in Oslo, Norway on Aug. 24, 2012.

He won't be able to interact with university students or staff

Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, the gunman who killed 77 people near Oslo in 2011, was accepted to Oslo University from his prison cell to study political science.

Breivik gained admission to the university on Friday, but will have no contact with professors or students as he completes his course of study through prison staff during his 21-year prison sentence. Breivik’s first application to the university was rejected last year.

“All inmates in Norwegian prisons have a right to pursue higher education in Norway if they meet the admission requirements and are successful in competition with other applicants,” wrote Ole Petter Ottersen, the university’s rector, in an online statement. “It is part of the universities’ mission to uphold democratic values, ideals and practices, also when these are challenged by heinous acts.”

On July 22, 2011, Breivik killed eight by detonating a bomb in Oslo and then opened fire at a youth camp on a nearby island, killing 69 people.

TIME norway

Norway Police Fired Guns Twice Last Year, Missed Both Times

Police in Norway don't usually carry guns

Norwegian police only fired their guns twice in 2014, and no one was hurt by either shot.

That’s according to new data released by the Norwegian government that details how the country’s police force uses their weapons, reports the Washington Post. In 2014, the police threatened to use their weapons 42 times, but only actually fired twice, and neither shot injured the target.

In 10 of the past 12 years, police have not fatally shot anyone in the country. One reason for these low numbers may be that police in Norway don’t usually carry guns, according to the Post.

[Washington Post]

TIME Cycling

Watch This Norwegian Reporter Try to Eat as Much as a Tour de France Cyclist

It doesn't end well

Ever wondered what would happen if you, an ordinary mortal, ate like the beautifully honed physical specimen that is a Tour de France Cyclist? Now you don’t have to. Norwegian journalist Nicolay Ramm has recorded a video of his heroic effort to match the 8,000 calories Tour cyclists eat on every day of their punishing 2,100-mile, 23-day ordeal. It goes about as well as you might think.

The diet itself isn’t so unusual — it’s the sheer quantity that does it. Take breakfast, for example. Coffee, oatmeal and eggs all sound like pretty standard fare. But in the first “stage” of his culinary Tour, Ramm also downs orange juice, and a smoothie, three ham and cheese sandwiches, four ounces of pasta, and a yogurt.

For a snack, Ramm eats an apple and banana, a handful of nuts, and two energy bars, plus more coffee. (Tour cyclists, the video says, drink “enormous” amounts of coffee.) Then he adds what cyclists would grab during the ride: two croissants, two cans of Coke, seven energy bars, two energy gels, and a generous sprinkling of sports drink. That’s where the intrepid journalist can take no more. Trying valiantly to finish off the gels, he instead admits defeat, running to the bathroom with lunch and dinner still uneaten.

He consumes 4,300 calories in just over five hours. Not even close.


These Are the Best Places in the World to Be a Woman in Politics, According to the OECD

Banking And General Views As Iceland's Bankruptcy-to-Recovery Mode Proves Viable
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images The city skyline is seen illuminated by lights at night in Reykjavik, Iceland, on Friday, Aug. 10, 2012.

Most countries are not hitting benchmarks for female representation in politics, however

Aspiring female politicians should consider moving to Finland or Sweden, where women have the most representation in government, according to new OECD data.

The findings, published July 6 as a part of the OECD’s Government at a Glance report, saw Nordic countries leading the way for women’s representation both in lower houses of parliament and in ministerial positions.

These countries are likely to benefit greatly from this representation, the OECD says. More equal gender representation can help governments institute better policies surrounding work-life balance, gender violence and equal pay.

But the overall trend is not as promising in the rest of the OECD, where things have only gotten marginally better for women’s representation in politics since 2002.

The report found that 16 out of the 34 OECD countries are failing to meet the desired 30% threshold of representation in both lower houses of parliament and ministerial positions.

Among the worst performers are Hungary, South Korea and Turkey. The U.S. and the U.K. also showed below average representation.

You can read the full report here.

TIME World

This Nintendo Fan Took 800 Hours to Crochet a Giant Replica Super Mario Blanket

Talk about a labor of love

Most people have a hobby. And if you’re Norwegian Super Mario superfan Kjetil Nordin, that hobby us crocheting a scene from your favorite video game.

Nordin took 800 hours over the course of six years to recreate a scene from Super Mario Bros as a 2.2 by 1.8 meter (approximately 7-foot 2-inches by 5-foot 10-inches) crocheted blanket, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) reports.

Nordin told NRK that the job included searching for yarn colors that exactly matched those in the game. “When the water was half way finished I saw that I had chosen the wrong shade of blue,” he said. “It was almost purple, and very ugly, so I had to undo all of it. That took an extra week.”

At the moment, he doesn’t know what his next project will be. “I can’t rush it. I’ll have a break, and think for a while,” he said.


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