Posts Tagged ‘Sweden’

Sweden is one of 3 seeking two Security Council places today

June 28, 2016

Voting for 5 places on the UN Security Council (15 members) takes place today.

The elections are for five non-permanent seats on the UN Security Council for two-year mandates commencing on 1 January 2017. In accordance with the Security Council’s rotation rules, whereby the ten non-permanent UNSC seats rotate among the various regional blocs into which UN member states traditionally divide themselves for voting and representation purposes, the five available seats are allocated as follows:

  • One for Africa
  • One for the Asia-Pacific Group
  • One for Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Two for the Western European and Others Group

The five members will serve on the Security Council for the 2017–18 period.

Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands are competing for the two places on the Security Council reserved for the “Western European and Others Group”. To win a seat on the Council a country has to receive more than 2/3rds of the votes cast. 193 countries can vote and in a secret ballot each votes for two countries. If all eligible countries participate, a winning country must receive at least 129 votes.

The Security Council met for the first time in London on January 17, 1946. Sweden has been on the Security Council three time; in 1957–58, 1975–76 and 1997–98. That is after gaps of 11, 18, and 22 years. It is now 19 years since Sweden was last a member and has a pretty good chance of winning a place. I judge it is somewhat better than the nominal 2/3rds chance all 3 countries start with. The Swedish press has “exposed” that the Foreign Ministry has spent some 22 million kronor (less than $3 million) in its “campaign” to be chosen.

I expect that Sweden and the Netherlands will probably win the two places available.





Swedish Greens abandon their principles just to remain in government

November 25, 2015

In the face of the massive stream of asylum seekers, the decisions by the Swedish government to now only offer temporary residence permits, to insist on identity checks at the borders and to return those without identification to the EU country they are coming from (Denmark and Germany in the main), are only just common sense. But even these common sense actions have long been considered much too tough by the Greens and the far left. But when the Social Democrat led government announced its decision today, their Green party partners stood by their side. They abandoned their previous principles, and did not leave the government or the position in the limelight they so desperately crave. They put forward the flawed argument that they are remaining in government because without them there it would be even worse for the refugees.

But – in my opinion – the only reason they did not do the right thing and leave the government is that their leader Åsa Romson and her other Green party ministers, have been so seduced by the trappings of power that they cannot give them up. Goodness gracious! They couldn’t possibly not be at the Paris Climate Conference now, could they?

The GuardianSweden needs “respite” from the tens of thousands of refugees knocking at its door, the government has said, announcing tough measures to deter asylum seekers in a sharp reversal of its open-door policy towards people fleeing war and persecution.

The country’s generous asylum regime would revert to the “EU minimum”, Sweden’s prime minister, Stefan Löfven, said on Tuesday, revealing that most refugees would receive only temporary residence permits from April. Identity checks would be imposed on all modes of transport, and the right to bring families to Sweden would be severely restricted, he said. ……

The reversal in refugee policy, which follows the imposition of border controls two weeks ago, marks a policy choice the ruling red-green coalition would have considered unthinkable until asylum seekers began arriving this autumn at a rate of 10,000 a week. Official estimates suggest up to 190,000 could come to the country of 10 million people this year.

The rise in refugee numbers has caused a frantic scramble to place roofs over their heads. At the weekend refugees arriving in the southern city of Malmö were forced to sleep on the streets because no beds could be found. …….. 

The Greens’ deputy prime minister, Åsa Romson, broke into tears as she announced the measures.“This is a terrible decision,” she said later, admitting that the proposals would make life even more precarious for refugees. But quitting the government would have made a bad situation even worse, she added.

Crocodile tears.

And yet Åsa Romson, while claiming that the Greens had reached their limits,  would not commit to leaving the government if even stricter measures were introduced.

Dagens Nyheter:

…. But now the limit has been reached for the Green Party. Åsa Romson said to DN that there is no question of the Green Party going along with the Moderate party’s proposals in practice to close the border to refugees.

“For the Green Party’s part, I see no room whatsoever today to take further steps in terms of a restrictive asylum policy”.

DN; Would you leave the government in such a case?

“I did not say so”.

DN: But how else should we interpret it?

“I said I did not see any opportunities for my party to make any further deterioration. Now we have gone down to the minimum level required by international law and EU law. To go beyond means not even meeting international asylum law. There is of course an upper limit that is not possible to go over”.

I don’t expect much logic or rational thinking from the Swedish Green party. But the lack of rational thinking here is particularly obvious.

In any event the decisions taken today are quite rational and necessary – even if they don’t quite go far enough. The reality is that something between 60 and 80% of those arriving at Sweden’s borders destroy their own ID documents so as to be eligible for being considered for asylum. A normal immigrant has no right to state support but an asylum seeker does. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but in the present wave of “refugees” the rules are being manipulated by some.

But the Green party has demonstrated quite clearly today that they are opportunistic, have very flexible principles (and values), and like being in power.

Sweden’s general election – unsatisfactory choices in a quiet campaign

September 11, 2014

Sweden goes to the polls on Sunday for its four-yearly general election (parliamentary, county level and municipal level). Even though there are sporadic efforts to inject some excitement into the proceedings, excitement is notably lacking. But engagement is not and a fairly high turn-out can be expected – thought it will probably be slightly lower than 4 years ago. We shall be voting and I – for one – am quite happy that the noise and the circus of an Indian or a US election will be absent. I am also quite happy that the nastiness (but stupid nastiness) of a UK election will also be missing. I find nastiness in campaigning can be mitigated to some extent if there is some cleverness involved but the campaigns of all the various parties in Sweden are not nasty but neither are they very inspiring or very clever.

The only little “excitement” has been the “shock” disclosures by the Expressen newspaper about the various members of the neo-Nazi, right-wing, nationalistic Swedish Democrats who have been busy making anonymous, nasty, racialist and anti-zionist comments on the internet on a number of “hate” sites. But there has not been much shock involved. Their attempted nastiness is only to be expected. The Swedish Democrats remain largely a party of “junkies and hooligans” but the party leader, Jimmy Åkesson, is actually the most personable of all the party leaders on display and more articulate than most.

Though quiet campaigns are much to be desired they do not necessarily ensure rational discussion. There are some serious issues facing Sweden (schooling, health care, the balance between private profit and quality of service, integration of immigrants, energy policy and – above all – job creation) but the limited coalitions of parties that are available lead only to unsatisfactory choices for the electorate. There has been -unfortunately – little intellectual content in the debates even though there could have been much more. Cliche has been set against cliche. “Political correctness” has been immune to challenge. In fact one of the fundamental problems is that Swedish “political correctness” is well past its “sell-by date”. All the parties talk down to the electorate. They give voters little credit for being able to think and that has been a pity. The Swedish electorate is probably more capable of applying their minds to the many issues than in many other countries. But they have not been given the chance.

The choice is limited to either a coalition of the Moderates, the Christian Democrats, the Centre Party and the Peoples Party (a sort of libertarian, right-leaning, profit oriented, market oriented grouping) or a coalition of the Social Democrats with the Environmental Party and supported by the Left party and the Feminine Initiative (a sort of socialistic, do-gooding, left-leaning, we-know-best, authoritarian grouping with tinges of communistic zeal). These two blocks actually demonstrate the undemocratic nature of party politics. You don’t actually vote for individuals as your representatives or that of a constituency – you vote for people on the party lists. How people are selected to be on the party list has little to do with democratic principles and everything to do with activism within the party. Those elected represent their party first, party members next and the general electorate last. Whichever block wins, a coalition is inevitable. And the evils of all coalition governments will be again on display. The smaller parties will have a disproportionate influence and importance in the policies followed by each block. If the two large political blocks are evenly balanced it will put an undemocratic balance-of-power into the hands of the extremist, but small, Swedish Democrats.

The two major parties (the Moderates and the Social Democrats) have little choice but to put up with the foibles of their smaller partners. Rather than providing a natural check and balance, mollifying the smaller parties leads to fractured and inconsistent policies. The Moderates are forced to adopt some policies to satisfy the fundamentalism of the Christian Democrats and others to satisfy the Big-Nanny tendencies of the Peoples Party (Folkpartiet). The Centre Party is chasing the youth vote but are remarkably superficial about everything. The Social Democratic Party (which is just a straight-forward, if anachronistic, Big Union Party) has to put up with the eco-fascism and intellectual bankruptcy of the Environmental Party. They will have to ignore the job-destructive consequences of all the so-called Green policies. They may have to accept the support and some far-left policy elements of the Left Party (which is just an old-fashioned Communist Party by another name). The Feminist Initiative is neither here nor there.

Not great choices then. I expect the Social Democratic, red-green coalition will probably win – just. But jobs are going to be destroyed mainly by the Green initiatives which will have to be pandered to. And where jobs are created they will be in the public sector and will be wealth consuming rather than wealth creating.

But it will be a quiet election. And I do appreciate that.

Fox found frozen in the ice

January 24, 2014

Winters and ice pose serious hazards for wildlife.

Closely following the pictures of a frozen shoal of fish and an elk in a frozen lake in Norway comes this picture from The Local  of a fox found frozen in the ice on a lake in central Sweden. Presumably the fox fell through thin ice and then drowned or froze to death before being encased in the thickening ice.

frozen fox photo Jeffer Sandström

frozen fox photo Jeffer Sandström

More pictures of the frozen fox here.

Cold is a killer, warm is good!

Frozen herring

frozen herring lovund (image Norwegian Radio)

frozen herring lovund (image Norwegian Radio)

Frozen Elk (Moose)

frozen elk in Valnesfjord image Inger Sjoberg

frozen elk in Valnesfjord image Inger Sjoberg

A garden moose

January 23, 2014

We regularly get deer in our garden (and they eat everything but yellow flowers) but once in a while we are honoured by the moose (Swedish Älg). Two years ago we had a moose cow and her calf who got lost on a foggy morning and ended up in our garden

But this morning at about 0830 (sunrise today was at 0821), we had a lone moose cow which seemed to have spent a good part of the night sleeping in front of my garage.  It was wary but didn’t seem much bothered by my presence – about 10 m away – and continued munching on our bushes. It left after a leisurely breakfast about half an hour later.

Just minus 12°C and very light snow and an Urban Moose.

Moose in the garden 2

Moose in the garden 2

Moose in the garden January 2014

Moose in the garden January 2014

Minus 42°C – back to a normal winter after a mild Christmas

January 21, 2014

This Christmas was the mildest in about 10 years but things are getting back to normal winter conditions. We have now had plenty of snow and are currently going through another cold wave. In the north of Sweden temperatures dropped to minus 42°C.

The usual chaos on the roads and with train traffic. My back hurts – as usual – after clearing snow from our garden path. Its only minus 12°C at the moment but thank goodness for electricity.

It’s just weather and we may even come up – temporarily – to a high of 0°C sometime next week. But the days are getting longer and summer is surely on its way.

Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

The Local

Sunday night saw the lowest temperature of the season when Karesuando in the far north hit -41.9°C, but the mercury didn’t stop there.

“It was -42.5°C in the early morning hours,” said Lisa Frost, meteorologist at Sweden’s weather agency SMHI. “The high pressure system is still hanging over northern Scandinavia. These temperatures are here to stay for the coming days.

Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

When gender equality denies gender difference – limericks (6)

December 28, 2013

1. Sometimes, the “fight” for gender equality gets more than a little ridiculous when it denies gender difference. 

“Gender Equality” is the battle-cry that’s heard,

But just what that means can be a little bit blurred.

Must each and every known profession,

Comprise equally of men and women?

But fathers giving birth is just a little bit absurd.

2. In Sweden, “hen” is proposed by the politically-correct, gender-equalisers as a neutral form between “han” (him) and “hon” (her).

A politically correct young lady from Sweden,

Insisted on being referred to as a “hen”,

She objected strenuously to “she”,

and quite violently to “he”,

Which caused consternation among her young men.

3. Still in Sweden, poor Zlatan Ibrahimovic got into hot water for stating the blindingly obvious that it was more than a little idiotic to compare his game with that of a lady footballer. But – and especially in Sweden – political correctness has become a matter of faith and is often quite unconcerned with reality.

Zlatan the Viking footballer,

Took umbrage when an idiot reporter,

Compared him to a “hen”,

Who kicked a ball now and then,

And Ibrahim-ovic refused to idolise her.

4. In the UK, Thomas the tank engine is under attack from Mary Creagh. She seems rather a silly person – but she was probably only after the publicity.

A cross Labour MP of feminist gender,

More female train drivers would engender,

She demanded the State’s intervention,

To curb the masculinity of Thomas the tank engine,

And required that the “him” be changed into a “her”!

5. At Wimbledon, women now have the same prize money as the men, but they work far fewer hours and play even less. The ladies champion now has an hourly rate about 60% higher than the men’s champion.

Gender equality at Wimbledon has gone a little bit funny,

The men and the women get the same prize money,

But being of the much weaker sex,

The women play just the best of 3 sets,

And the men will be unable to reverse this calumny

6. And all over the world “quotas” for women/minorities/scheduled castes/disabled in various professions are proposed. But fighting discrimination with discrimination only legitimises discrimination.

Oppressing minorities is unacceptable persecution,

But discrimination to fight discrimination is still discrimination.

And if percentage of the population,

Is to be mirrored in every profession,

Competence must be ignored to follow some blind equation.

Greetings for the In-between days

December 27, 2013

A God Fortsättning, a God Slut and a Gott Nytt År to you all!

In most instances English has a much richer vocabulary than Swedish does – but when it comes to greetings during the festive season, Swedish wins hands down. The nuances of available greetings are just not available in English. Perhaps because there was a greater need for nuance during the long and cold and dark winters.

In Sweden the days between Christmas and the New Year are called the In-between days (mellandagarna) and immediately after Christmas it is no longer appropriate to use Merry Christmas (God Jul) as the greeting. It shifts to God Fortsättning which can only be translated as A Good Continuation. But it is also quite common to wish people a God Slut during this time. But this is also a nuance of greeting that Swedish has which does not appear in English. The literal translation of God Slut in English would be Have a good ending which may be taken to be somewhat morbid or an invitation to take hemlock!  Have a good ending to the Year is a little too long and doesn’t trip of the tongue as well and as succinctly as God Slut. Of course it is perfectly permissible to use Gott Nytt ÅrGood New Year – during the In-between days.

The In-between days run from December 26th to December 30th.

Clearly God Jul cannot be used after 25th December and God Slut cannot be used after 31st December but God fortsättning can. In theory God fortsättning can be used at any time. I have even heard it used at Advent and during the vacation period in July (when Sweden is closed). But I have heard it most often during the In-between days and then for the first 2 or 3 weeks of January. Gott Nytt År can be used well into February – especially if it is the first meeting of the Year.

And so during these In-between days,

God fortsättning! followed by a

God Slut! and a

Gott Nytt År!

Democracy threatened as Swedish politician is attacked by cake!

November 7, 2013

The list of assassinated Swedish politicians is not very long and contains just 4 names : Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson (1436), Axel von Fersen the Younger (1810), Olof Palme (1986) and Anna Lindh (2003). But each has come as something of a shock for the traditional openness of politics and the easy access to politicians. The Olof Palme murder (still unsolved) was a particularly traumatic event. 

Engelbrektsson was a rebel leader and was murdered by a member of the nobility who got off scot-free. Axel von Fersen (the reputed lover of Marie Antoinette and even thought to be the father of her first child) was stamped to death by an angry mob in the presence of many troops and (probably) with the acquiescence of the then government. Olof Palme was shot to death by an unknown assassin on a Stockholm street while walking home from the cinema. At the time of his death he was the serving Prime Minister walking the streets without any bodyguards! Anna Lindh was stabbed in a department store while shopping (also without bodyguards) and died of her wounds in hospital. Five days later a mentally disturbed man of Serbian descent was arrested. He apparently confessed 3 months later and was sentenced to life.

The leader of the far-right Swedish Democratic Party was attacked on Tuesday by cake at a book signing. He escaped shocked and “sullied” and his party earned some extra money by not wasting much time in selling the video of the cake-attack to a national newspaper. There is a little question mark as to how they came to be filming the incident just then and the speed with which they negotiated and sold the video. There is no report about what the cake tasted like and what recipe was used. Chocolate and cream?

Sweden Democrat leader ambushed in cake attack

Sweden Democrat party leader Jimmie Åkesson ended up with cake on his face after a woman attacked him with a baked good at a book signing in Stockholm on Tuesday evening.
The attack occurred around 5pm as Åkesson was signing copies of his new book, Satis Polito, under a tent set up in Nytorget on Södermalm in Stockholm.
Agents from security service Säpo quickly whisked a sullied and shocked Åkesson away from the scene.  “Åkesson ended up with a cake in his face. Then he was rushed into a Säpo car. He sat there for a while, and then they left,” a witness to the cake attack told TT. ….. 
The suspected cake-thrower was a 60-year-old  woman, one of an estimated 200 or so counter-demonstrators on hand for the book signing by the Sweden Democrat leader. She was quickly apprehended by police but was later released.

Politicians of all parties have condemned the cake-attack as being an attack on the very foundations of democracy. The Swedish Democrats are – not surprisingly – trying to portray Jimmy Åkesson as a victim. And so he is. But rather cake than knives and guns and angry mobs. And the Swedish Democrats – even if it is at its roots a neo-Nazi party  and has fantasies of a Swedish Kristallnacht – is not quite as horrible as the Muslim Brotherhood or Golden Dawn.

Shades of Axel von Fersen! For it was his lover, Marie Antoinette, who is reputed to have replied to a report that the peasants could not afford bread “Then let them eat cake”!


Swedish University reprimanded for poor quality but refuses to return foreign student’s fees

November 6, 2013

In some respects the attitudes taken by Swedish Institutions today is reminiscent of the high-handed attitudes taken by old-fashioned, communist, East Block countries. Very high levels of individual freedom are coupled to a very high level of protection for institutions (and their employees) which can lead to peculiar situations at the interface.

Standards are – usually – very high but public institutions in Sweden – hospitals, schools, colleges, universities, local or national government organisations – rarely take responsibility for poor quality or negligence. The extent of accountability is normally restricted to correcting a problem once it has been identified. An individual who has suffered from the negligence – and even gross negligence  – has little recourse in law and generally gets little compensation. Damages for institutional wrongdoing are either at ridiculously low levels or completely absent. Institutional employees are highly protected and very rarely held accountable or sanctioned for their negligence or lack of quality. Blame – if wrong-doing can be proven –  is allocated to the institution as a whole which of course leads to no-one being accountable.

It is almost impossible for a lone individual to sue an institution or claim damages or get any equitable compensation for any damage suffered.

In this case it was Mälardalen University College which did not provide the promised education to a foreign student from the US. She paid a great deal of money for a 2-year course in Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics but received education which even the Swedish Higher Education Authority agreed was lacking in quality. But of course, the institution does not believe that it had any kind of contract with the student to provide any particular level of quality and feels no obligation to repay her tuition fees.

Sourced and freely translated from Sveriges Radio and Svenska Dagbladet:

Not enough chairs, not enough computers and a lecturer who could not speak Swedish or English properly. That’s what the US student paid nearly 200,000 kronor for (about $26,000). But Mälardalen University does not intend to return her money.

“I thought it would be interesting to study abroad. The program looked promising”, said Connie Dickinson .

A suitable program and being cheaper than in the United States convinced Connie Dickinson to chose to study mathematics and mathematical statistics at Mälardalen University in Sweden , where she has relatives . But it was nothing like she had imagined. “The lecturer did not spend  much time with us in the classroom. We had to share computers. There weren’t enough chairs and some students had to sit on the floor. The teacher handed out papers  and walked away and she couldn’t speak either English or Swedish. I was really surprised at the low standard”

Connie complained to the college about the problems, and even informed the Swedish Higher Education Authority UKÄ, about the shortfall in the education. UKÄ agreed that the the education lacked quality and has given the University one year to fix the problems or to discontinue the course.

But that is insufficient for  Mälardalen University to repay Connie her 183 000 SEK.

But whether it is discontinued or not, Connie attended a training course for two years that does not measure up  either for her or the Swedish Higher Education Authority.

Bjorn Magnusson , CFO at the college , claimed that it is not possible to give money back just because of a complaint about the lack of quality . “You can’t get back the tuition fee because of a complaint about the lack of quality. You pay the fee to participate in regular training. it’s not like a contract between us and an individual”. Besides dissatisfaction is subjective he says.

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