Horse meat and Swedish wolves wandering south

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In the middle of January it was revealed by the Irish Food Administration that horse meat had been found in food on Ireland. DNA from horses was traced in hamburgers from Burger King later that month. On February 5th 80% horse meat and a few days later 100% in lasagnas from Findus.

 The colleagues in Great Britain were contacted and on February the 12th the British Food Administration made a raid towards two butcheries, among them Spranghero and the owners were arrested. It was suspected that six horses full of medicine had been transported to France and made into food. Here in Sweden it was discovered on February 7th that Findus’ lasagna contained 100% horse meat and 20,000 packages of frozen foods were withdrawn from the food stores. The Swedish Food Administration intends to accuse Findus of crime against the laws for treatment of food supplies. Findus in turn now accuses their purveyor Comicol for breach of contract and deceit. The stores Ica and Coop have found horse meat in lasagna and withdrawn it. Lidl takes away gulasch soup and frozen pasta. On February 13th the EU ministers assembled in Brussels, Belgium. They decided that random DNA test will be taken to check for horse meat. The horse meat scandal has spread to several countries: Ireland, Great Britain, France, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, the Chech republic, Romania, Germany, Poland, Denmark and Sweden.

The ministers assembled once more two days ago in Brussels. The Swedish Minister of Agriculture Eskil Erlandsson said: “It’s a wide spread cheating with these products and that’s a great shame. I hope that everyone now takes responsibility and sees to deal with the cheating and frauds that exist and that we might trust what’s written on the declaration of ingredients in the future.” The German Minister of Agriculture Ilse Aignar claimed that the buyers have the right to openness. Austria agrees and they both demand stricter and more laws on the matter. Ireland, Great Britain and also Sweden disagree. Marit Paulsen, (The People’s Party) who has been working with food issues and prevention of cruelty to animals for nine years within the EU Parliament says that the regulations suffice, but must be better applied. It’s the lack of inspections that is the problem. The British Minister of Environment is worried that more laws only would hinder the development of free trade. On February the 25th, two days ago, the story took yet another turn when it was found that the meat balls that are sold on the Swedish mall IKEA in the Chech Republic contained horse meat. IKEA now stops the selling of those meat balls.

Other animals have recently been debated in this country. Among them has been the wolf. In the beginning of the 1980’s there weren’t many wolves in Sweden, and there was a fierce debate whether the wolves should be allowed to exist in the Swedish fauna or not. Naturvårdsverket/The Swedish Wild Life Administration said yes: many farmers in western and northern Sweden said no. Wolves are being hunted illegally in Sweden and sometimes with connections to the eastern border areas of Norway. In recent times wolves have been seen more often even down south here in Scania. On January 5th a suspected wolf was seen in Råå outside Helsingborg in western Scania. Bertil Nilsson, administrative official for preditor issues at the County Administrative Board was called to the sight. It might have been a wolf he said from the tracks, but he couldn’t be sure. For little more than a year farmers and animal owners have been given the possibility to buy predator fences or game preserves, but only five have done that out of several hundreds in Scania/Skåne. One reason can be that it is expensive, despite a subsidy or allowance of 40 kronor per meter. Wolves are agile and might wander up to 60 kilometers each night. A wolf has been captured on film and photos on Söderslätt recently, and sheep have been torn to death in Esarp outside Staffanstorp and in Lönsboda. In yesterday’s issue of Svensk Jakt/Swedish Hunt Göran Enander, one of the Chiefs at the County Administrative Board, said that Scania/Skåne most likely had been visited by wolves at least three times this last year. He also said that this winter more sheep have been torn by wolves in Scania than in the western counties Värmland and Dalarna further north. The wolves are here to stay.

Taken all together there are many changes in our world that we must deal with. We must find ways to interact as humans on a local, regional, national and international arena. We must take care of our own heritage, but at the same time be flexible and open for new insights and realities. Taking care of our near and loved ones, taking care of ourselves and learn new ways to deal with laws, new technology, new people and a wild life that demands our attention.

Anders Moberg, February the 27th 2013

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Competition on Swedish TV

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This weekend there has been a lot of competition going on on Swedish television. Two nights ago the Swedish version of Eurovision Song Contest had its last election here in Malmoe. Eight groups/artists had gathered, mostly young ones, but also more mature ones. One of the winners was also the youngest, Ulrik Munther, who performed “Tell the world I’m here”. The young artist has a talent and a creativity that suits his laidback style. Another winner was the rock artist Ralf Gyllenhammar with his big moustache and who sat by his piano playing a heavy song called “Bed on Fire”. Rapper and performer Behrang Miri, originally from Iran but living in Malmoe and Stockholm, performed an eclectic and catchy number “Jalla Dansa Sawa” with his co-artists and street-dancers. It’s them you see above to the left. The song was about love and tolerance and sung in Swedish, French and Arabic. The catchy song and the message is very much appreciated in this city and many who have taken it to heart. Behrang Miri and his co-workers will get a second chance this coming Saturday to get to the big event, the international Eurovision Song Contest which also will be held here in Malmoe in May.

Another song competition on TV is called “Så ska det låta”, (roughly “That’s the sound of it”), based on the Irish TV-show The Lyrics Board. The first season on Swedish TV4 began in January 1997. The program is a competition between two teams. Each team is led by a pianist who in each program is accompanied by musical guests, two or three per team. The show is led by an actor with a playful attitude who also act as judge in the games. The teams are given clues to songs and are supposed to guess what song it is. Between 1997 and 2005 the show was led by the actor Peter Harryson and with Anders Lundgren and Robert Wells by the pianos. Eventually the show grew very popular. However, in 2006 TV4 wanted to update the show and gave the leading role instead to Peter Settman. After a period of decreasing number of viewers the pianoplaying team leders now was given to two young talents, Angelica Alm, (the blond woman in the middle) and Marika Wallstedt. Yesterday Angelica was accompanied by Lina Hedlund and Nanne Grönvall in the picture above. “Så ska det låta” has a long tradition on TV4 and is now on season 18. Yesterday Angelica’s team won the game. We’ll see how it’ll be next week.

Yesterday three Swedes recieved Oscars for their film making. Malik Bendjelloul for his documentary “Searching for Sugar Man” about the American musician Sixto Rodriguez who led a rough and tough life and who without knowing it became immensely popular in South Africa. Also Paul NJ Ottosson recieved an award for the best sound-track to “Zero dark thirty”. Per Hallberg got a prize for the movie “Skyfall”. But these movie awards were not the only things that strengthened the Swedish sense of national pride.

During the World Championship in skeeing both men and women made good results. Sweden came in second twice and got silver medals. First Ida Ingmarsdotter and Charlotte Kalla won their prizes and later Emil Jönsson and Marcus Hellner. To see Sweden do well of course triggered a feeling of national pride also in me. Something else would be a lie. To find this balance of national pride, personal pride and dignity, as well as an acceptance for different influences is no easy matter. But it is necessary.

Anders Moberg, February the 25th 2013

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Four male politicians in Sweden

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Two days ago I wrote about four female politicians in Sweden: Maria Leissner, Nyamko Sabuni, Anna Lindh and Maria Wetterstrand. When I write my texts I want to be fair in my judgement and give you as readers a mix of everything. Today I have chosen four male counterparts to the women I’ve chosen. The portraits you see I made yesterday. The men I’ve picked this time are Bengt Westerberg, former party leader of the People’s Party, Fredrik Reinfeldt, party leader of the Conservative party and since 2006 our present Prime Minister here in Sweden, Luciano Astudillo, an active and sharp politician and former MP from the Social Democrats here in Malmoe and finally Gustav Fridolin, spokesman from The Environment Party – The Green.

Bengt Westerberg: He was born in Solna in 1943 and grew up in Södertälje. As a young man he studied first medicine and then political economy. In 1965 he started his commitment within the FPU, People’s Party’s Youth Organization and became in 1966 its leader. Ten years later he got a call from the party leader then Per Gahrton and asked to become specialist at the Department of Labour Market. Between 1978 and 1982 Bengt Westerberg was working as parliamentary under-secretary within the Department of Industry and Budget respectively. He was then working for the government Fälldin II. The People’s Party/Folkpartiet demanded lowered marginal taxes and made a deal with the Centre Party and the Social Democrats during what has been called “The Wonderful Night”. In October 1983 Bengt Westerberg became the new Party Leader of the People’s Party. He criticized the Social Democrats for their suggested employee funds and called it “the tyranny in small steps”. In 1985 Westerberg was interviewed on TV. He gave clear, understandable answers and his party rose from 5 to 10,5 %. In the following election the People’s Party gained 14,2% of the votes. This was called “The Westerberg effect”. In November 1988 The People’s Party and the Social Democrats made a deal about the Swedish taxation system. Three years later a new populist, xenofobic party had appeared on the scene called Ny Demokrati/New Democracy. That year the Social Democrats lost power and Sweden got a Conservative-Liberal government led by Carl Bildt from the Conservative Party/Moderaterna. Westerberg stated that he didn’t want to be in a government if they had to be supported by the xenofobic party Ny Demokrati. In a TV interview in 1991 when the party leaders were supposed to discuss, and Ny Demokrati’s party leaders came in Bengt Westerberg rose from the sofa and went out in protest. In the new government Bengt Westerberg became Minister of Social issues. Because of the financial crisis then he had to lower the level of financial support, but in 1994 he introduced a handicap reform and a so called “father month”/pappamånad, which gave fathers the right to stay home and take care of their small children. Westerberg also introduced a house doctor system and care giving support for parents. In 1993 gender equality issues appeared on his department and he became Minister of Gender Equality. He was given the title “Woman of Honours” by Kvinnor Kan/Women Are Able during a meeting in Östersund. Nevertheless the government lost power again and the People’s Party got less votes. Westerberg ended his career as party leader in 1995. During the following years Bengt Westerberg has been a professional Board Member within e.g. The Financial Inspection, The Swedish Inistitute, Linköping University, The Association The Humanists and the Institute for Future Studies. He has also been Head of the Swedish Red Cross but was in 2010 harshly criticized for his high salary. In 2011 Westerberg was given the task by the present government as special investigator of xenofobia. It was in that role I met him here in Malmoe in October that year. In the official report SOU 2012:74 he suggests that 650 Million kronor should be given to educate teachers in xenofobia. He also want to support Forum för levande historia/Forum for living history, The Youth Board and Swedish-Israel Information.

Fredrik Reinfeldt was born in 1965. As a youth he acted on stage in comedy plays, was head of the pupils’ council in School and an active athlete. After the military service Fredrik Reinfeldt took a Degree of Master of Science at Stockholm University in 1990. In 1982 he had become a member of the Conservative Party’s Youth Organization and became its leader in 1992. The year after he released the book “Det sovande folket”/The Sleeping People” in which he criticized the well fare state and argued for a neo liberal society. “We don’t want to see a society where people starve, but otherwise no standard demands should be financed by taxes”, he wrote. After the Conservative-Liberal government’s loss of power in 1994 Fredrik Reinfeldt criticized Carl Bildt for being too dominant. Reinfeldt also wrote the book Nostalgitrippen/The Journey of Nostalgia where he criticized ten members of the Conservative Board. He was called to a meeting and scolded. After that he reduced his criticism. In 1999 Fredrik Reinfeldt was elected into Parliament’s Board of Trustees. Between 2001 and 2002 he was head of the judicial group in Parliament and deputy master in the financial group. In 2003 Fredrik Reinfeldt was elected new party leader. In the elections in September 2006 the Conservative Party gained power again in a coalition with The People’s Party, the Centre Party and the Christian Democrats. Reinfeldt now called his party “De Nya Moderaterna”/The New Conservatives”, but also the new labour party. During his time in power the present government has changeed the rights for working people, LAS, the law for employment protection, has had low priority just as the protection taxes. The Conservative party which is the dominant party in the government abolished the wealth tax and housing tax, which has benefitted middle and upper class. When the last financial crisis hit the world in the autumn of 2008 Sweden was the country in Europe that succeeded to deal with it in the best way and even if we have problems the situation is even worse in many other countries. This is also the situation now and in the last voters poll in February 2013 the Conservative party has 28% of the voter sympathies.

Luciano Astudillo was born in Santiago, Chile in 1972. He grew up in the suburb Holma here in Malmoe. At the age of 16 Luciano Astudillo became a member of the Social Democratic Youth Organization, SSU. He became the leader of SSU Malmoe in 1994 and presided there for two years. In 1995 Luciano Astudillo was elected in the Party Board responsible for equality and integration issues. In 1999 he was a candidate for the post as Head of the local Party Group but lost. The post was given to Mikael Damberg. 1998- 2002 Luciano Astudillo was Member of the Municipality Rule and political secretary for the Social Democrats. Malmoe Municipality is dominated by the Social Democrats and the party has a long history in this city since it was here the Swedish movement was born in the 1880’s and 1890’s. Between 2002 and 2006 Luciano Astudillo was a substitute in Parliament for the Social Democrat Prime Minister of that time Göran Persson. Between 2006 and 2010 Luciano Astudillo was a Member of Parliament, but lost his place that year. Today he has a company of his own and is still active as politician. He also proudly gives financial support to the anti-racist organization Expo. I have only met Luciano Astudillo a few times. I can’t say that I know him, but I have noticed his dedication and his wonderful fervor for important issues. I also remember his speech on the Möllevång Square in August 2012 during “the kippa walk” in defence of Malmoe’s Jewish Congregation and against all forms of xenofobia. It was a brilliant speech and I was very moved my it. Luciano Astudillo is a man and a politician worthy of respect and admiration. That’s why I chose to write about him.

Gustav Fridolin was born in Önnestad here in Scania/Skåne in 1983. At the age of 11 Gustav Fridolin became a member of the Environment Party the Green after having listened to Birger Schlaug talking on TV about the cut-downs in school. One year later Gustav Fridolin made his debut with a speech during a party congress in Alingsås, outside Sweden’s second largest city Gothenburg/Göteborg. At the age of 19 Fridolin became the youngest Member of Parliament in Swedish Parliamentary history. That was in 2002. Fridolin is also a journalist and school teacher. On New Year’s Eve 2003 he was arrested by Israeli military in the village of Budrus on the West Bank during a study trip, but he was soon released. In 2004 Fridolin was in the constitutionary committee that investigated the acts of the then Social Democratic government in the aftermath of the tsunami disaster. In 2006 Gustav Fridolin was launched as a minister candidate for a potential red-green government. When Fridolin lost his place in Parliament in 2006 he refused to accept the guaranteed pension that is common for MP’s who leave. Between 2006 and 2009 he was working for TV4 and “Kalla fakta” /Cold facts as a reporter and made several interesting reports. In 2008 he was nominated for “This year’s environment journalist”. He has also written three books. The latest one from 2011 called “Maskiner och Människor: en skrift om arbete och framtidstro”/Machine and Man: a text about work and belief in the future. That book was noticed and appreciated also by Conservative debaters, also the so called Almedalsveckan/the week in Alemdalen on the island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. In 2011 Gustav Fridolin was elected as one of two spokes persons for the Environment Party the Green together with his female counterpart Åsa Romson. It’s in this position he is now. In the latest voters poll from February 2013 his party has reached over 11% of the voter sympathies and is now Sweden’s third largest. I must say that I with my ideology rather see the Environment Party as third largest than the Swedish Democrats. I hope that Fridolin and Romson will gain even more.

Anders Moberg, February the 24th 2013

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Four female politicians in Sweden

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There are many politicians in this country, both women and men. Some are good or even excellent, others less so. Then of course it depends on what kind of values you have yourself when you accept or reject a certain political agenda. I have had my favourite politicians over the years and met some that I really like. In this text I have chosen four female politicians that have made an impression on me. There are others that I’ve met and have got good relations to, such as Adina Trunk, Christian Democrat and Amineh Kakabaveh, who’s an MP for the Left Party for example.

I don’t have to share the same ideology with everyone I’m impressed by or describe, but there’s something in their dedication that has captured my interest. Since I as a social liberal like to talk with people from different camps, it’s not strange that I have chosen politicians of various colours. Two days from now I will write about four male ones. The women I’ve chosen are Maria Leissner and Nyamko Sabuni from the People’s Party the Liberals/Folkpartiet Liberalerna, Anna Lindh from the Social Democrats/Socialdemokraterna, and Maria Wetterstrand from the Environment Party/Miljöpartiet. The sketched portraits I’ve made I did after known photographs.

Maria Leissner: Born in 1956 in Gothenburg. At the age of 25 she became secretary of the Liberal Youth Association, a post she held until 1983. That year she was elected as Board Member of the People’s Party/Folkpartiet. When I met her in the spring of 2012 she was working with aiding the Roms in getting a better life. She is a well-dressed and impressive woman that still keeps a dignified and intelligent profile. Between 1985 and 1991 she was Member of Parliament and in 1995 she was elected as the People’s Party’s party leader. The year before the Conservative alliance had lost the elections, and her predecessor Bengt Westerberg wanted then to co-operate with the Social Democrats. Under Maria Leissner the party politics turned more conservative and bourgeois. Leissner didn’t succeed in raising the interest for the party however and she left her post as party leader in 1997. Then she became advisor for SIDA, and in 2000 Swedish ambassador in Guatemala. Between 2004 and 2005 Maria Leissner was responsible for a democracy project in Iraq. Back in Sweden she was in 2006 asked by former Integration Minister Nyamko Sabuni to become Head of the delegation for Rom/Gypsie issues. A year later Leissner also became ambassador for the work with democracy and development.  It’s these issues she’s working with now.

Nyamko Sabuni: Nyamko Sabuni was born in Bujumbura, Burundi in 1969.  In 1981, when she was 12, she came as a refugee to Sweden with her family. As a grown-up woman she became a pr-consultant and politician within the People’s Party.  Her main interests have been commerce and gender equality, and it’s these issues she has dedicated her life to. In 2002 Nyamko Sabuni became a Member of Parliament and two years later Member of the Party Board. She also wrote a book about honour-related life and crime called “Flickorna vi sviker”=”The Girls We Let Down”. In September 2006 I told her about the manuscript to my second novel on the same theme “Honour or Conscience?” = “Heder eller samvete?” and she got curious. In December 2010 I sent her a copy of the extended and improved version of my book which she read that Christmas I’ve been told. Just a few days after I was in contact with her the first time in 2006 Nyamko Sabuni was elected to become a Minister in the present Conservative-Liberal government. Between 2006 and 2010 Nyamko Sabuni was our Minister of Integration, and from 2006 until January 2013 our Minister of Gender Equality as well as our Deputy Minister of Education. Our new Minister of Gender Equality is Maria Arnholm.  Sabuni was criticized for never calling herself a feminist, but she stated that she was a Liberal and the other epithets were less important. As a Minister she wanted to ban veils/hijab in schools and also have gynecology checks to prevent female circumcision, called fibula. Nyamko Sabuni also criticized religious schools. I get the impression that Nyamko Sabuni has had a tough time within the government these last seven years, and that she wasn’t taken seriously enough. Still she did try to help girls and women with immigrant background, and she no doubt has done more in that field as a minister than any other.  I wish her all the best.

Anna Lindh:  Anna Lindh was born in Enskede in 1957. In 1969 at the age of 12 Anna Lindh became active within the Social Democratic Youth Union, SSU, and as a young woman she studied Law. 1991 – 1994 Anna Lindh had the responsibility for culture and leisure time in Stockholm, and was also head of Stockholm City Theatre. In 1994 she was elected as Minister of Environment and Foreign Affairs under Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson, leader of the Social Democrats then. Those days were tough too, and Lindh had to cut the finances for the Environment issues, but she did sharpen the laws on the matter. Within the EU she worked hard for an environment program with stricter rules against dangerous chemicals. After 1998 Anna Lindh also intervened in the Kosovo Albanian – Serbian conflict when Serb military had annihilated Kosovo Albanians. Three years later Anna Lindh presided as Head of the Minister Council in EU, responsible for Foreign Issues. As a person and minister she was well liked by many. She had an intelligent, but also very warm and down-to-earth personality, cared for her loved ones when she was away, had near to her laughter and disarming self-irony.  In Sweden she would become one of the most appreciated and venerated women of all times. Many saw her as a potential candidate for the next Prime Minister. At the end of her career Anna Lindh criticized Ariel Sharon and Israel for their atrocities, but also Palestinian suicide bombers. On September 10th 2003 she was out shopping with a friend at the mall NK in central Stockholm when she was attacked by the young man Mijailo Mijailović who stabbed her and fled. Anna Lindh died from her wounds the following day at Karolinska Sjukhuset/Caroline Hospital leaving the Swedish people in shock. Mijailovic has later in jail explained that he hated all politicians and it just happened to be her that he killed.

Maria Wetterstrand: She was born in Eskilstuna in 1973.  She graduated from Gothenburg University with a Master Degree in biology. In 1988 Maria Wetterstrand became a member of the Environment Party, a fairly new party in those days, which was started a few years earlier by separatists from the People’s Party. The new party wanted more focus on environment and ecology, a sounder lifestyle, gender equality and a liberalism that took responsibility for the social issues. Instead of electing party leaders the Swedish Environment Party chose to have two “spokes persons”, one man and one woman at a time. Maria Wetterstrand started Green Youth in Eskilstuna as a young woman and between 1996 and 1999 she was spokes person within Green Youth together with Paulo Silva. She was also politically active in Gothenburg for a time. 2002 – 2011 Maria Wetterstrand shared the post as spokes person within the main party together with Peter Eriksson. Those two shared that public role in three elections and did well. The combination Wetterstrand – Eriksson did the trick, and the Environment Party became more and more taken seriously. Between the years 2002 and 2011 the Environment Party/Miljöpartiet increased their number of voters from 4,5 to 7,5. Today Maria Wetterstrand is working as a green debater and lecturer.

On Sunday I will write about four male counterparts to the women above. Until then,have a nice day.

Anders Moberg, February the 22d 2013

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Canada is an interesting country

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Canada is an interesting country. I visited it in the early 1990’s and found the mentality fairly European, and the landscape similar to what the nature looks like in central Sweden, even though the temperature fluctuates much more in Canada than where I live. In this text I will try to describe how that nation has developed over time to give you even more examples of humanity’s badness and goodness.

 The Italian captain Giovanni Cabotto, (or as he is called in English – John Cabot) made a voyage in an attempt to reach China, and came almost to the same spot as the Norse men had done before him. This occured in 1497. When he came back, he told the English king of “seas alive with codfish”. English fishermen were appealed by this and went over there. After this Cabot made two more voyages. In 1524 another Italian named Verazzano explored Nova Scotia. Ten years after that the French explorer Jacques Cartier came to the S:t Lawrence River. He arrived at an Iroquois village, Hochelaga, where he traded with the Indians and got beaver furs, tools and weapons to bring with him back to Europe. Thus he laid the foundation for the French-speaking Canada. In 1576 the Englishman Frobish discovered the Hudson Strait, and nine years later Davis examined Baffin Island.

 These journeys made the English and French really interested in this area, because of the good lands. In 1603 the French explorer, Samuel de Champlain, explored the S:t Lawrence River and Nova Scotia. Five years later de Champlain founded Québec City, and in 1642 the city of Montréal. This was built on top of the old Indian village of Hochelaga, (mentioned above). Québec City was founded in an area the Indians called “Canada”, which meant “Settlement”. From there the French went exploring the vast area around the great lakes, and further down to the Mississippi Valley. The English explorations by Frobish and Davis led to further investigations of the country. Henry Hudson came in 1610 to an enormous bay, which now is named after him. This vast region is situated West by North West of Labrador, but it would take another 60 years before they started the real exploitation of the area. The reason for the English exploitation was the fur trade.

 The French and the British fought about the dominance of the country. They also used the Indian tribes to help them in their fights. Bit by bit the French had to retreat and in 1713 they were forced to give Nova Scotia to the British, as well as accept the English rule over the Hudson Bay- and Newfoundland areas. The French were totally defeated in 1763, when they had to sign the Paris treaty, which said that they had to give up all their positions in North America. With this Canada became entirely British. The British control of the North American trade eventually made the European population in America irritated, and this led to the American revolution, and the foundation of the USA in 1783 – 89. However, there were still people in North America who were loyal to the British, and about 40,000 loyalists fled from the rebellious area and came to the still British ruled Canada. They settled in Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. However, in 1812 USA tried to invade Canada but failed.

 During the 19th century, there came a lot of new people to Canada to settle. This led to that the English-speaking population soon became a majority. It was during this period that the French-speaking state of Québec got a kind of autonomous rule. In the mid-1800’s, Great Britain was forced to give the Canadian provinces more political freedom, and in the 1840’s provincial governments and parliaments were founded. After the American Civil War (1861 – 1865), the Canadians decided to create “The Dominion of Canada”. In 1867 a federation was formed by Upper Canada and Lower Canada, (today’s Ontario and Québec), as well as by Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Today the capital city of Canada is Ottawa in the province of Ontario.

 New provinces were formed: Manitoba (1870), British Columbia (1871), Northwest Territories (1874), Saskatchewan and Alberta (1905). In 1949 Newfoundland became an ordinary province, after having been an autonomous region between 1864 and 1930, and then a colony directly ruled from London for another 19 years. In World War I (1914 – 18), and World War II (1939 – 45) the Canadians fought for the British side, and since then it has been a member of the Western Alliance of Defence.

 Ever since the British got the control of Canada the French-speaking population has felt that they have been neglected and set apart. However, during the last decades the French –speaking Québecois have received better and better jobs and positions in the society. They have also always been very careful when it comes to keeping their culture and language. This phenomenon is called “La Survivance” = The Survival. The kind of French they speak in the province of Québec is an older form, with many traces from the 17th century. Nowadays they also have a language police who sees to the rule of Québec, that all companies, schools and so on, have information and signs in both English and French. Before this law was passed everything was only written in English. As a remembrance of the old struggle with the English, the Québecois use the phrase: “Je me souviens” = I’ll remember that. When I visited Montréal in 1992 I remember reading the phrase on the car number plates as a suppressed threat. I also remember the smart solution to the bilingual problem. Police cars with the text: “Police de Montréal Police”, or a building with “L’École de S:t Thomas School”. In 1995 they voted to see how many Québecois people wanted independence from the rest of Canada. 50,5 % voted against this separatism, and wanted to stay a part of the country.On September 4th 2012 the separatist Partie Quebecois led by Pauline Marois won the regional elections. She said: “Québec’s future is to become an independent nation”. A 50 year old man dressed in black cloak shot two people outside the election hall and shouted: “The English are awakening”.

 But also the Inuits/Eskimos have struggled for some independence in later years. In 1999 the Native peoples got a large piece of land in the far north back, which measures one fifth of Canada’s area. One has to bear in mind that Canada is the second largest country in the world. This makes the Inuit people the largest private landowners here on earth. Their area/province is called “Nunavut”/Our Land. Their capital city is Iqaluit on Baffin Island and Nunavut also has the northernmost settlement in the world called Alert. To fight injustices and campaign for human rights, as well as land for the Native Americans, there is now an organisation called “The Assembly of First Nations”. Nunavut hasn’t given the Native peoples complete independence from Canada, but it’s a step on the way, even though they still are ruled by the federal Canadian government. The struggle goes on.

 Canada is a vast country, (9, 215 400 km2), with 12 large provinces, (13 with Nunavut). It has a rich history, a modern, democratic society and beautiful landscapes with a wild life containing many enticing animals. The Indians and Inuits however are anything but happy. They see the descendants of their invaders who killed their ancestors and stole the land on which their own ancestors had lived for at least 6000 – 12 000 years. Now many tribes try to keep their old ways in protest. The multi- cultural world today is a fact and we have to adapt to the mix of people and learn how to treat each other with dignity and respect so that we might reach a common survival.

 

Anders Moberg, February the 20th 2013

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Attitudes and crime prevention

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On September 19th 2012 I visited the main police station here in Malmoe called Gasklockan/ the Gasometer. I had listened to a media meeting at the police station and was then invited to discuss police work, crime prevention and attitudes in society with two Detective Inspectors. I did it as a novelist to improve my story writing. I wanted to make my third story perfect and continue with my fourth in a realistic way. Since I have respect for the police profession and realize the importance of having a police force to keep some kind of law and order at least, this was a natural step.

However, apart from my story writing I want to see improvements in society, and to make that happen many changes have to be made both here and there. We have our laws and regulations, but the laws are guidelines and sometimes one law contradicts another, or is interpreted differently in various cases. We are supposed to be equally treated, but the reality proves otherwise. Therefore the underlying attitudes must be improved in all parts of society.

The laws are important, but we, the citizens, also must help the police and each other keeping our society safer, while civil servants within the judiciary system, e.g. police officers, have to enhance their knowledge and skills to improve the situation.

The police also has received criticism for being too slow, having misogyn or sexist attitudes, being too hard on people with immigrant background, and the REVA project e.g. where the border police stops people in town checking if they “look like” immigrants/illegal refugees has for natural reasons provoked lots of anger. The police force need more police officers of both sexes and various ethnic and social backgrounds to improve the older “macho” and prejudiced attitudes. Detective Inspector Jeanette Larsson here in Malmoe was last year also harshly treated by her police bosses after publicly having revealed racist formulations in internal education material, harassments of lesbian police officers and victims as well as sexual harassments of female cleaning ladies from a high-ranking police officer. I met her several times in 2011 and she’s a marvellous person. At the same time as she was punished by her bosses she was elected “this month’s hero/heroine” in March 2012 by the free newspaper “City”, and now she’s been chosen as “heroine of the year”.

I have noticed a confrontative attitude between certain groups in society and police officers, a lack of dialogue and mutual understanding. I believe that e.g. left-wingers, ex-cons and youngsters on the brink of becoming criminals ought to try to understand the police officers’ situation, but also the other way round. That more police officers tried to understand the provocative and bad idea to treat someone as criminal, simply because he or she “looks foreign”, and how that treatment may lead to a negative vicious circle of hatred and crime.

The police has many things to deal with – no doubt, but their job is still very important and they are many times dealing with the darker sides of our society – and they have many times a frustrating task. They have made improvements to get to organized criminals, preventing domestic violence etc. In many respects the police make a difference and are everyday heroes, even if they have many improvements to make.

Here in Malmoe many measures have been taken in recent years to make the situation better. We will never see a perfect situation, since humanity is what it is, but all measures taken together can make a difference if we co-operate and try to make changes individually. I will here mention some of the important centra that exist if you have been victim of a crime or want to take a stand yourself.

If you want to inform the police about a crime you can call: 114 14 or e-mail on tipsapolisen.skane@polisen.se.

If you’re a woman who has been beaten, threatened, violated etc, here’s some info:
Kvinnojuren Malmoe: 040-30 11 13, Tjejjouren, 020-51 01 50
FemCenter: 020-55 55 25, 040-23 87 00, http://www.femcenter.se,
If you’re victim of honor violence, crime and abuse: kriscentrum.boendeheder@malmo.se, http://www.malmo.se/hedersvald.

If you need legal counseling, are in some sort of crisis or feel threatened Plattform Malmö might be an important support. Look at
Plattform Malmö 040-34 05 50, plattform@malmo.se, http://www.malmo.se/plattformmalmo.

If you want to help the police but have no police education you might become a voluntary worker. You find more info at http://www.polisen.se/voluntariskane.se

These are just a few examples. Good luck.

Anders Moberg, February the 19th 2013

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The danger with totalitarian ideologies – irrespective of colour

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Democracy is important. However, it is a fragile system that takes a long time to build, but quickly can be destroyed through violence. Antidemocratic forces and ideologies could be Fascist, Nazi, Communist or Theocratic, (e.g. working for a society based on religious laws of some sort). A decline in a democratic system with equal rights to vote, gender equality, fairly well-functioning infra-structure etc might also be destroyed bit by bit through small, deliberate changes by important details in the society structures. I will here describe some examples from the early 20th century until the present day.

After World War I 1914-1918, and because of Germany’s loss of the war and the international punishment they recieved, various protest movements developed. In 1919 The German Labour Party (DAP) was founded. The former painter and corporal Adolf Hitler, 30 years old, joined the party. The following year it changed its name to The National Socialist German Labour Party, NSDAP, and in 1921 Hitler became its leader. They were angry for having lost the war, saw Brismarck and the other politicians as traitors and percieved the Versailles treaty as an insult. The Nazi ideology was against democracy, and they were also inspired by the Fascists in Italy. The Fascist and Nazi ideologies were similar, but within the Nazismus/Nationalsocializmus the antisemitism was an important ingredient. The race biology with master people and slave people was important, and the idea of a global Jewish conspiracy. In 1923 the Nazis tried to perform a coûp d’état, but failed and Adolf Hitler was sentenced to prison. In jail he wrote his legacy work “Mein Kampf I and II” in 1925 – 1926. When he was released the Nazis decided to try and get power through democratic elections, even though they deep down loathed democracy. In the 1928 election they just got a few votes, but after the Wall Street crash in 1929 and the following global depression the Nazis used the upset feelings and the worsened economic situation to gain the German people’s trust. After the German elections in 1932 Hitler and the National Socialists got 37,5% of the votes. Later the same year the Nazis abolished the democratic system and banned all parties except the National Socialists.

According to the Nazi ideology a strong people has the moral right to fight other weaker people, take their land, treat them as slaves or kill them. This is not valid only for Nazism, but goes for most totalitarian ideologies, be it Fascism, Communism, Islamism or any other. As I’ve said so many times before there are variations in perceptions of secular and religious ideologies, and many creeds can be used both for good and for bad, but extremism and totalitarian ideologies are always dangerous – irrespective of colour. For the Nazis it was important to keep the German people “race pure”, since a mix of people and “races” would weaken them. We see similar ideas among some Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Mandeans, KKK-members etc who say that they can’t marry someone from another group because that would stain their people. The Nazis ruled by intensive propaganda, censorship, book burning, intimidation, the young Hitler Jugend, the secret police Gestapo  and an ideology based on violence. The power was concentrated to the Leader/Der Führer and a group around him, a strict hierarchy and a worship of the leader that took almost religious proportions. The Nazi goal was similar to that of the Marxist-Leninists – to reach the people. First to gather the strength within the German people, and then to expand the Lebensraum. The whole Nazi ideology was based on antiparliamentarism, ethnic nationalism, racism and corporativism. It also seems that the Nationalsozialismus contains influences from conservatism and socialism, and as such is a mix of ideas combined with the old race biology notions. Here in Sweden about a hundred Nazi groups have existed, but most of them fairly small.

In 1917 the Russian revolution broke out and a war between the White and the Red. The Zar family was  captured and executed and Vladimir Ilyitch Lenin became the new party leader of Communist Russia. The country was divided in sections called Soviets. The Communism was and still is a totalitarian ideology. The farms were taken by the state, the farmers property was confiscated, the crops etc to get as much food as possible, but as little as possible back to the farmers. Lenin promised the farmers that they should own their farms, but then he forced them to sell them to the state at a ridicously low price. Instead of the Gestapo the Soviet Union introduced the KGB and politruks that should spy on people to see if they tried to earn money for themselves, if they were brainwashed well enough, if they were good communists etc. Josef Stalin was even worse. 7 Million Russians died from starvation when the Soviet state took the harvests. Another 7 Million were sent to the concentration camps in Gulag,Siberia. This would last until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989. But Communist atrocities have existed elsewhere too. In the 1940’s Mao Zedong in China came to power and introduced a Chinese Communism. The Great Leap caused starvation and killed 30 – 40 Million people, the Culture Revolution in the 1960’s 2 – 7 Million people when the Chinese Red guards and the state persecuted, beat, jailed and killed intellectuals, teachers, professors, or just any other ordinary Chinese. The occupation of Tibet has killed another Million Tibetans and the concentration camps another 15 – 20 Million. During the 1960’s and 1970’s many Swedish left-wing journalists, writers and other intellectuals supported the Communism in Russia and China: Jan Myrdal, Jan Guillou, Henning Mankell, Birgitta Dahl, Robert Aschberg etc. Mao Zedong died in 1976. The killing of 1000 – 3000 civilians in Tianmen Square is another famous example. Other Communist atrocities are the genocide in Kampuchea 1975 – 1979, the persecutions in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe or in Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

Then we have the atrocities in theocratic states like Iran, Afghanistan etc that seek to work for countries with shari’a laws. Religion and religious beliefs may be good when it is private, but any ideology forced upon someone never becomes good. Violence, surveilance, death camps, beatings, torture, genocides and wars are never ever good for any belief system: secular or religious. When a conviction comes from inside someone it is another matter.

In recent years a new wave of ultra-nationalist and/or racist parties have developed in many European countries. They have different ideology: On the left wing there are Euskal Herria Bilda in Spain, Sinn Feinn in Ireland and Scottish Nationalist Party in Scotland. On the right wing there are parties like Sverigedemokraterna here in Sweden, Fremskrittspartiet in Norway, Sannfinländarna/The True Finns in Finland, Dansk Folkeparti in Denmark, Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschland in Germany, Vlaams Belang/Vlaams Blok in Belgium, Front National in France, British National Party in the United Kingdom and Forza Nuova in Italy. There are others as well in Spain, Hungary and in Greece the Nazis have appeared again. This worries me. To feel proud of one’s own people is okay, being worried for the state of affairs, for the protection of the own country or region, sure. But putting people against people, using totalitarian strategies and Machiavellan “rule and divide” is despicable. What we do need is to build societies that might be relatively stable, but also keeping the heart, empathy and fellowship in a biased and harsh world.

Anders Moberg, February the 18th 2013