Thursday, September 29, 2005

Back to Kirkuk, Iraq

After visiting Iraq in July I wrote a pretty long article about my friend Shoresh, who is the fascinating person behind the project we (i.e. Social Democratic Students of Sweden, SSF and Kurdish Students in Sweden, KSF) are planning to do in Kirkuk (basically to start up a youth center). In the article Shoresh tells you about how and why his family left Iraq for Sweden, why he is politically active and how the idea of starting up a youth center came about. But he also tells you what it was like to come back to his hometown of Kirkuk post-Saddam, and visit his mother's grave for the first time in 21 years. You will find the article here (in Swedish), and please don’t miss the part about “the politics of farting/fispolitiken”.
(Picture taken right before we left for Iraq, Shoresh is guy to the far left in the front row, from

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

New Labour: the change-makers!?

The on-going annual Labour conference in Brighton is, if you count the number of exhibitions in the conference center, the biggest political conference in Europe this year. And if you consider Labour’s role for the future of center-left policies, it is by far the most important. Yet the reporting in Swedish media is very limited, today our biggest newspaper Aftonbladet only has a very short notice with the headline “Cherie Blair: My Tony won’t quit”. Naturally, the question when Blair will step down, and thus when Gordon Brown will become party leader and Prime Minister, is “the elephant in the conference room”, as someone put it. But there are so many more things to be said about the conference, and after reading Blair’s fantastic speech, Brown’s not-as-fantastic-but-very good speech, a few articles, the conference blog and the Billy Bragg-podcast, and some critical comments (Will Hutton, Neal Lawson) as well, the following points must be made.

1. Tony Blair is the best public speaker in the world today and his record as leader of the Labour party cannot be questioned. A leading politician that speaks so wisely of globalization at length (even mentioning the iPod!) is unfortunately a rare sight:
“I hear people say we have to stop and debate globalization. You might as well debate whether autumn should follow summer”.
And many of his policies are firm: the developing countries must be able to trade with the rich world, the struggle for global justice must continue. You can question Blair on many grounds, but he is a politician who takes decisions, he does not pretend that the Berlin Wall is still alive and kicking, and he is a fantastic speaker.

2. To invade Iraq with W. was wrong, but don’t forget the context. The disastrous invasion of the Suez canal in 1956 had important implications for Europe’s foreign policy: Loser number one (Britain) realized that it was no longer a leading global power, and the goal for Britain’s foreign policy became “to be the glorious second [to the US]”. Loser number two (France) realized as well that it was no longer a leading global power, and the goal for France’s foreign policy became “to be the first among equals [in the emerging European Union]”. There is no surprise that Blair has not ditched this axis of British Foreign policy, and indeed he confirmed it in his speech:
”Britain should also remain the strongest ally of the United States. I know there's a bit of us that would like me to do a Hugh Grant in Love Actually and tell America where to get off. But the difference between a good film and real life is that in real life there's the next day, the next year, the next lifetime to contemplate the ruinous consequences of easy applause.”
Even if Iraq is a mess in a number of ways, I was there myself in July this year, the US and Britain cannot just leave now, and the handover of responsibilities to the Iraqi people will hopefully work as good as possible. To invade was wrong, but Britain cannot just leave now, and hopefully life in Iraq will get better soon.

3. Gordon Brown will become the next leader, but when? For my own personal good, I will not spend too many hours speculating about this. But one thing seems clear; after this conference nobody doubts that it will be Gordon Brown who takes over after Blair. After reading one of the biographies out there about Brown I think he is honest to his own beliefs when he concluded his speech by saying:
Our mission: New Labour renewed.
Our values: Fairness for all, responsibility for all.
These are the very code-words of the Clinton renewal of the Democratic party, and between Brown and Blair the former was at least as committed to the New Labour-project, and Brown is also the one spending his vacations in the US with New Dem policy wonks. Having said that, Brown’s idea of moral values, something he has in his spine given his Christian upbringing, is everywhere in his speech (that was even called “Politics as a moral duty”). Brown will continue on the Blair-path whenever and wherever Blair will step down, but hopefully he will bring his moral compass from his early years in Kirkcaldy with him.

4. New Labour continues to be inspiring, but must continue to deliver. I admire Britain’s and Labour’s way of working with new policy ideas, think tanks, etc. I like the renewal of the British welfare state; many policy ideas are excellent, the British welfare state must be renewed but I need to read up more on the blurring of the line between the private and public sector before giving a final opinion. In general I think that competition and alternatives have a place in the public sector, but not everywhere and I think each step must be evaluated carefully. But in any way, Blair can put words on a vision:
"Today is not the era of the big state; but a strategic one: empowering, enabling, putting decision making in the hands of people not government. One day when I am asked by someone whose neighbourhood is plagued with anti-social behaviour; or whose local school is failing or hospital is poor, “what are you going to do about it?”, I want to be able to reply: “We have given you the resources. We have given you the powers. Now tell me what you are going to do about it.”
So, continue to come up with new ideas and visions, New Labour. But remember to deliver, redistribute to the poor, and constantly evaluate the modernization of the British society according to our common social democratic values.

5. We like you, so learn from us as well! By now it should be pretty obvious that I try to follow British politics quite closely. But there are also many areas where Labour and Britain can do better and learn from other parties and countries: I would like to see more women in the top-leadership of the Labour party, a closer, matured, post-1970s cooperation with the trade unions, more focus on sustainable development but also integration, and a more humble attitude vis-à-vis the things that should have been done in a different way during the time leading up to the war in Iraq. Conclusion: let’s combine the policy-driven agenda for renewal, jobs and growth in Britain with the fairness, equality and redistribution of the Swedish model. And let’s not forget about Africa and the developing world when we do it - and when we do it – let’s continue to improve peoples’ lives and let’s continue to kick some good old Tory ass.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

New Ryan Adams record around the corner

If you like the kind of music that often is lumped into the category “alternative country” (whatever that is), the new Ryan Adams album seems to be a must. I have just listened to some of the tunes at this drunken genius’ official website, and it sounds very good, almost the same high quality as the old albums with Whiskeytown. Maybe it’s because an album called “Jacksonville City Nights” cannot lie; the alt. country sound is all over the songs, and it left me with the same old good feelin’: why not jump into the boots and have lunch at a truck-stop somewhere along the highway today? Most naturally, I will not do that, but work all day instead, and have lunch with and old colleague somewhere in central Stockholm (Hi Jocke!). But when we have won the election in September 2006, I promise to think it all over again.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Och ikväll vinner Blåvitt!

No direction home? Get up, stand up!

For all of us who really think that Robert Allen Zimmerman (aka Bob Dylan) is worth all the attention he is given now as Martin Scorsese's documentary "No Direction Home" is hitting cinemas and TV-stations, The Guardian has an article today worth reading. BBC2 starts showing the documentary tonight (Monday), and “Swedish BBC” will show it on Kunskapskanalen on the 10th of October 19:30 (part one), and on the 17th of October 19:45 (part two). It will then be aired again on SVT2 on the 23rd and 30th of October (starting time 22:05 both times).

To show a Scorsese documentary about Bob Dylan on Kunskapskanalen must be part of the SVT-strategy promoting the new, so-far-not-so-popular Public Service stations. To air West Wing on SVT24 would also be part of that strategy, something Jonas Morian has written about.

Until we can see Scorsese’s documentary on Swedish TV, I strongly recommend the documentary series about pop and politics, called “Get up, stand up” and aired on Monday nights (fourth episode tonight on SVT2 at 22:30). You will find a related link about the documentary here. I think the series have been excellent so far, as have fellow blogger Ali Esbati. To hear Bobby Muller (founded Vietnam Veterans of America – VVA; co-founder of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997,) thank Bruce Springsteen for saving the VVA with his concert donations just underlines the important links between politics and music. The more historic episodes about Joe Hill and the trade union movement have also been extremely inspiring if you truly believe that it is not a coincidence that pop and rock most often ends up to the left on the political spectrum.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Come on SvD: it's not a choice bw Reagan or W!

Today Saturday Sweden’s third (thanks Håkan) biggest morning newspaper (SvD) has an editorial about the second hurricane Rita that is now approaching Texas and Louisiana (hope that the damages will be as limited as possible, especially in human lives). The editorial discusses the fact that Reagan really tried to dismantle the already-not-so-strong-state in the US, but that George W. Bush has expanded the federal bureaucracy, started a few wars, and now also are facing huge reconstruction needs after the hurricanes (i.e. he is not only a slashing-taxes-for-the-rich- Republican, but too lenient when it comes to expanding state programs). SvD also gives the reader links to two American conservative think tanks, Cato and Heritage. Both these think tanks have criticized Bush for letting the federal deficit run amok; their ideal society is closer to a minimal state with very low taxes – but with fiscal discipline.

Needless to say there are a lot of wise Americans out there who does not agree with the SvD analysis suggesting that life is a choice between Reagan or W. Some interesting center-left think tanks include Brookings (across the street from where I went to grad school!), the PPI, and Center for American Progress. Good progressive blogs include the Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo, New Donkey, etc. Have faith, there is real alternative out there, and American progressives have a momentum after the terrible political reminder Katrina left us with: the US is too rich to be so unequal. However, it is still a wonderful and beautiful country, and such a country deserves a different political leadership.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Suggested reading for the weekend

The weekend is around the corner and it is time to suggest some reading: I hope you have not missed this article in the International Herald Tribune: "The envy of Europe: Success of Nordic economies is turning heads". The basic point is the one often missed in the Swedish debate: the Nordic economies are actually performing really well right now. Reading this article is a perfect way to end a week that included a new budget presented to the Swedish people, a budget that will make things better for a lot of ordinary Swedes, something you can read more about in the article "Metallare förlorar på borgerlig budget". Now it is time for an after-work beer.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Media coincidence to convince me that I don’t like Swedish Tories?

Just got home, read the culture section of the morning newspaper that I did not have time read this morning, and watched the 10 o’clock news on TV4 at the same time. On TV: The free entrance to public museums have been a great success, the number of visitors have increased by 1,2 million, or by 124 percent. In the paper: The Swedish conservative party (aka Swedish Tories) would like to save some money in the state budget by rolling back the reform giving ordinary people free access to 19 public museums, the great Social Democratic reform TV4 reported about just as I was reading about the planned Tory cut backs… Sometimes the timing in my life is just perfect.

(The symbol is the one of the Maritime Museum, where the number of visitors have increased by 349 percent since free entrance was introduced.)

The Center party, again (European style)

You want me to pick one policy area showing the need of the EU? The environment, of course! The Swedish Center party has always been pretty environmental when it comes to public policy, but now they are doing a sharp turn rightwards into the arms of the German chemical lobby, it seems like. I wrote about this earlier this week, a Swedish environmental organization sent out a press release last week and today Mats Engström (great columnist!) highlights the same thing in Aftonbladet: what is Lena Ek, MEP for the Swedish Center party, up to?

(Picture from Lena Eks homepage, just to show how paradoxical her new-German-chemical-lobby-policy-turn-to-follow-the-general-right-
turn-of-my party is)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Five thoughts about the German election

When I was biking home today I decided to summarize five thoughts about the German election, just to have something to do (I bike the same way every day, and it is quite boring). Here they are:

1. The left (SPD 222 seats , Greens, 51, Links/PDS 54) clearly got more votes than the right (CDU/CSU 225 seats, FDP 61). 327 seats is simply a lot more than 286! This is almost never reflected upon in the newspaper analysis I have read, but Ali Esbati (who else?) underlined the impressive results of the Links/PDS in the East and made some forgotten points in general. Also, few papers have mentioned the catastrophic result of the CSU in Bavaria, they are now below 50 percent and they went down 10 percentage points compared to 2002. OK, the election did not provide a clear winner, but the left clearly got more votes.

2. Swedish pollsters and right-wing newspapers should visit before they state things like “it is looking almost impossible for the Social Democratic party to win the next election”. Some example of the CDU lead over SPD from polls the last months (CDUs figures first):
May 29th: 49-28.
June 22nd (my Mum’s birthday): 49-26.
July 22nd 43-26.
August 22nd 43-29.
September 5th 43-31.
September 12th 42-35.
Election result: 35,2-34,3, and Dresden (October 2nd) to go!
It ain’t over until it’s over, Te(m)o and De(m)oskop!

3. Since the voters expressed more left sentiments than right-wing sentiments (see point one) I think that Schröder should form a government. The number one option would be a traffic-light coalition between Schröder (red), the FDP (yellow) and the Greens. I only say so because the election partly was called because SPD had problems getting stuff through parliament; FDP is way too liberal for me. The second best solution would be a SPD-Greens minority coalition, which then would have to rely on agreements with Links/PDS in the Bundestag. The left won, and then Schröder should form a government.

4. I don’t want an Austrian-style big government between SPD and CDU since I think it would make extremes to the left (and maybe right) grow. I also don’t like CDU because of a lot of reasons, right now primarily because of their attitude towards Turkish membership of the EU (yes, they are against it). The EUs ability to attract countries to reform is one of its main functions, and a big Muslim country in the EU would in the long run have a lot of positive effects, and I also support because of geopolitical reasons. Don’t compromise with the right, and let Turkey start the road towards membership!

5. Lastly I think this will be Schröder’s big moment. He is such a shrewd politician, a real tactician who loves games like the one unfolding right now in Germany. If so, and if the SPD reform agenda can continue so that the mix of Scandinavian welfare and Swedish growth can be achieved, it would mean a lot to Europe. He might not be perfect, but he is Schröder and he is the Chancellor Germany should continue to have.

P.S. According to The Economist there is a slim slim chance that SPD might get more seats than CDU after the Dresden election on October 2nd, does anyone know if this is more than a slim slim chance?

(I found this picture on your blog Jon, hope it was OK to use it!)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Kalala or Selakovic? Grimsby or Gothenburg?

Just watched a game of English League cup football when it is at its best; it is autumn, round two, some of the best teams enter the tournament. Famous Tottenham from London comes to Grimsby Town (East England) to play against the local pride, Grimsby Town Football Club. Tottenham is 60 places ahead of Grismby in the league system and 10 of Tottenham’s 11 players on the pitch have played international caps. Yet Grimsby fights heroically the whole game, and most naturally, a player you have never heard of (Kalala) scores a fantastic goal in the 88th minute. The local fans go crazy and Tottenham is out of the tournament.

I bet Grimsby would beat both the "giants" playing the game that might have decided the Swedish league yesterday, IFK Göteborg (my team) and Djurgården (from Stockholm, stadium in the nice part of town). Swedish club football does not appeal to me in the same way anymore (maybe because IFK Göteborg lost yesterday…?), so thanks for all classy international football on TV these days. But also thanks for an occasional not so classy game featuring Grimsby Town Football Club and Jean-Paul Kalala Kamudimba, who would have scored the open goal Stefan Selakovic missed for IFK Göteborg yesterday.

Budgeten presenterad och debatterad

En liten krönika om budgeten och den efterföljande debatten:, klicka på krönikan i högerspalten.

Ringholm incident: is the police "too lazy" to bring TV4 to court?

[Up-dated] The Swedish Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Bo Ringholm is everywhere in the news today. The reason is that he did not switch off his phone after an interview about illegal gambling with one of the major Swedish TV-stations, TV4. The TV-station continued to tape what was being said, and after he the thought he had hung up, the Deputy Prime Minister continued to talk to his press secretary. He then called one policeman “an idiot” and he said that the police is “so damn lazy”.

Naturally, no individual or the entire police force for that matter deserves to be called things like that, and the Deputy Prime Minister has apologized (and rightly so). However, as far as I know it is illegal to tape an interview without the person in question confirming that it is ok?! The Deputy Prime Minister did for sure not agree to the last part of the “interview” being taped – he thought that the phone call was over! And according to Swedish law and as far as I know, this is a crime that sorts under the category public prosecution, which normally leads to prison, and such crimes always ought to be reported, according to the law. So I hope the police will bring TV4 to court, because they know of the crime, and I take it they are not “that damn lazy”? :-)
[It seems like it is ok/legal to record also the last part of the interview, even though I heard another point of view this morning. It would have been a funny story though if TV4 ended up in court…]

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Magic Numbers

If you follow what is written about music in international and now also Swedish press, you must have heard about TMN, or The Magic Numbers. If you missed their concert in Stockholm (I did), you can hear them live at P3 Live (Monday's concert, hurry since I don't know how long the concert will be available online). You can also listen to an interview on BBC Radio.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Tough race in Germany!

If you like politics, the German election will give you a lot of topics of discussion the coming days. I just spoke to a friend who is active in ECOSY and Jusos (Social Democratic Students in Germany) and it was awesome to hear the cheers through the phone as better figures for the SPD came through. Still, CDU might become the biggest party, even though SPD might come a little closer since the big cities are counted last. I just read on the wonderful Der Spiegel News Blog (IN ENGLISH) that the FDP is ruling out a stoplight-coalition (see below), and nobody seems to be willing to negotiate with the Links/Left-party. According to my German friend, discussions are likely to continue for some days, but one possibility would be a SPD-Greens minority coalition, that will have to seek/make agreements with other parties (Links for example) to get a majority in the Bundestag. That seems OK to me since it is close to what we have in Sweden (the Greens don't have portfolios though), but it would be a novelty to the German system. Most naturally we will have to wait for the final results, but it is difficult not to start speculating...

Most important: the left bloc got more votes than the CDU and the FDP, CDU sqaundered a nice lead again, and SPD bounced back. According to this logic, I think the SPD is in the front seat to form a government as the biggest party of the left bloc, but that is my Soc Dem Scandinavian take on it. Anyway, this election, and the election in New Zeeland yesterday (where Labour/Helen Clark won), show that it ain't over until it's over. Remember that, Mr. Reinfeldt.

Go Reds*3!

As we all know, one of the most classic political parties in Europe - SPD in Germany - is facing a tough election today. The polls have been getting closer and after talking to some friends in Germany I have some hope - the mood is good among the social democrats and the race is not over. What many people are saying is that we can have a totally new situation in German politics after the election: no clear winner, one more party above 5 percent (the new left/Links party); a new ball game... Quite a few pundits are talking about a "big coalition" of SPD and CDU if there is no clear winner; personally I wonder why there isn't more talk about a "stop-light coalition" (red, yellow, green; SPD, Greens, the Liberal party). Just a thought, I remember my professor in German politics at SAIS (Hans-Peter Schwarz) talking about the "stop-light coalition" at some point, it might not be realistic, but remember where you read it first.

(Now I am off to hand out ballots for the Social Democrats in the "Church election" that we have in Sweden today. I will miss Liverpool-Man Utd on TV because of that, but I am hoping for a threefold red victory today: in Germany, in the Swedish election, and at Anfield. Go Reds!)

Friday, September 16, 2005

Carin and Bono or Bush and Reinfeldt

When I was looking for a press release for another story today, I ran into this picture and thanks Matilda Hulth for allowing me to publish it. I often joke about that you have to choose between the “Bs” today, either you support campaigns like “Make poverty history”, then you are in the “B-gang” with Bono, Blair and Brown. Or you hesitate, like Fredrik Reinfeldt did yesterday, and then you are with the “bad-B-gang” with Bush, Bolton, Berlusconi, Barosso and Buttiglione. Here you see that our Minister of Foreign Aid, Carin Jämtin, is in the good “B-gang” with Bono. And after what Reinfeldt did yesterday I think it is high time to include him in the “bad-B-gang”. Maybe we should call him Beinfeldt?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Where are you, Reinfeldt?

Yesterday a very friendly Christian organization working with foreign aid (Diakonia) held a ”Make poverty history” manifestation in central Stockholm. All the party leaders came, except for the Prime Minister Göran Persson who had an excellent excuse (he is heading the UN General Assembly in New York) and the leader of the Swedish Tories, Mr. Fredrik Reinfeldt. The Social Democrats were instead represented by the Secretary General, Marita Ulvskog, but the Swedish Tories did not show up at all. I spoke with the Secretary General of Diakonia today (Bo Forsberg) who said that they had been in touch with the Swedish Tories, underlining that they did not have to subscribe to every detail of the campaign, but just to make poverty history in general. Still Mr. Reinfeldt did not come. Maybe it is because of lack of interest, maybe it is because he would get too many questions about why he wants to lower taxes and pay for it by slashing the Swedish foreign aid budget.

When U2 played in Gothenburg this summer they dedicated the song “One” to the Swedish goal to give one percent of our GDP in foreign aid to less fortunate countries. I felt very proud when my friend Henrik told me that (I missed the concert due to the ECOSY summer camp in Portugal). I share Mr. Bo Forsberg worries about what will happen if the right-wing alliance will win the general election in Sweden in 2006 (read my interview with Bo Forsberg and others here). Reinfeldt is not in the picture from the manifestation above. I certainly hope he stays out of any picture where he would be responsible for Swedish relations with developing countries, such as Swedish Prime Minster, for example.

(Thanks to Markus Marcetic at Moment Agency for allowing me to publish the photo. If you want to see some nice photos, check out their website).

Facts and figures about New Orleans

One of the best newsletters you can subscribe to is the PPIs Trade Fact of the Week. I more or less always find them very informative, not too long, and with relevant links for further reading. Read the latest one to get a quick update about the relief-efforts after the Katrina hurricane. So far relief aid seems to have been offered by 118 governments and international organizations – but there is no complete list. You will find the newsletter here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Scandinavian politics updated

For those of you who follow Swedish politics through this blog, the following story might be interesting. Norway had an election last Monday, it was won by the center-left (hurray!) and now the leader of the Social Democratic Party in Norway (Jens Stoltenberg) will lead a coalition together with the Left party and the Center/Farmers party. The Center/agrarian parties in Scandinavian politics have traditionally cooperated with the Social Democrats, in Sweden for example during the 1950s and the mid-1990s. But the Swedish Center party is now very neo-liberal and it is part of the right-wing opposition alliance in Sweden.

Funny enough, the Center parties of Sweden and Norway have quite a close cooperation (they basically have the same logo), so today I called the Center party in Sweden and asked if they had sent a telegram to congratulate their sister party in Norway, since they are part of the winning coalition that will form a government with the Social Democratic party. The answer was that they had not done that. But when I called the Center party in Norway they were pretty happy about the telegram from Sweden that they also sent me by e-mail.

Finally I also found the telegram on the Swedish Center party’s webpage, somewhat hidden. The comments made by the secretary general of the Swedish Center party were pretty funny, and you can read the whole story here. Three quick points in addition:
1. Congratulations to all my Soc Dem friends in Norway; Gry, Eirik (sälunge!), Geir, Kjetil and the others in AUF (I know I still owe you money Kjetil, and congrats to the Rosenborg victory yesterday Geir, and you were awesome in the Trondheim-debate Gry, I saw it on Swedish TV). And congrats to all your young, new MPs, Truls and the rest.
2. I prefer the Norwegian Center party to the Swedish one.
3. It is always more important for the opposition to have a concrete alternative to the ruling government than vice-versa; the voters know what they have but not what they will get. But the Social Democratic party in Sweden needs to think about how it wants to govern the country in the future – because I don’t want to see the leader of the Swedish Center party as a Minister of Anything in my country. Ever.

Det våta fingrets politik

SvD redovisar ännu en (m)-kullerbytta i dagens tidning. På moderstämman nyligen bestämde ombuden att "landstingen är ett hinder för att skapa en bättre svensk sjukvård". Men till SvD säger partisekreterare "Totto" Littorin att "när vi säger att vi vill avskaffa landstingen, så hör väljarna att vi vill avskaffa sjukvården". Därför backar (m) från ännu ett av de egna förslagen. Ytterligare ett exempel på det våta fingrets politik, alltså.

Littorin säger vidare: "Därför struntar vi i vad alla bilhandlarmoderater, nyliberaler och rena konservativa röstade om och bestämde på vår stämma. Stämman var bara en bluff. När media hade åkt hem skrev alla ombud under en stor blank check som vi nu har satt upp i bunkern. På den står det 'Grattis Reinfeldt, gör precis vad du vill, bara vi vinner nästa val'. Visst är det smart att köra med det våta fingrets politik, avslutar Totto Littorin".

OK. Hela den ovanstående paragrafen var naturligtvis ett påhitt från min sida. Om det är så det egentligen är överlåter jag till dig att avgöra.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I knew he didn't care!

This is just for fun kids, so don't get upset... On a more serious note: since I like so many thing about the US, having loads of friends there, I try to follow the implications of the terrible catastrophy in New Orleans quite closely (many of the pictures have been heartbreaking, showing the worst sides of segregation and other problems in the US). This is one interesting article I read today.

Trainspotting and personality test

I re-watched one of my old favourite films the other night, Trainspotting, and was reminded how good that film is, and don't stop there: the book (by Irving Welsh) is even better! I thought of my six months as a student in Glasgow (including nights at the bar where the glass is thrown from upstairs) during the Spring of 1997 (when Blair was elected and the Tories LOOOOST) and crazy trips to the highlands and later to Ireland. And today an Irish friend of mine sent me this link (a personality test). Made me miss the crazy people in Scotland and Ireland (and aye indeed England as well) loads and loads.

More public radio to the people!

Good news for all of us who like sites like, and during the Autumn Swedish public radio will increase its number of radio channels online from 15 to around 40. More public radio to the people!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Starkt jobbat Birgitta

Måste bara säga att jag tycker att Birgitta Ohlsson var väldigt duktig i morgonsoffan mot Gudrun Schyman, bland annat vad gäller diskussionen om sex timmars arbetsdag ("Sex timmars arbetsdag är en lika stor fälla som vårdnadsbidraget, jag tror att kvinnor måste jobba mer betalt och mindre obetalt [...] Skulle kvinnor gå ner på sex timmars arbetsdag skulle de göra ännu mer obetalt hemarbete"). Kul med mycket jämställdhetsdiskussion, i synnerhet när det blir sakpolitik (och inte bara beskrivningar av vissa inslag av Fi:s möte i Örebro). Se inslaget här.

Friday, September 09, 2005

A new party in Swedish politics?

This weekend a new feminist party, Fi, might/will be formed in Sweden. I really hope this can lead to increased gender equality, a better debate with loads of inspiring policy proposals, but also that the SAP will intensify its work with these important issues. Still, even though it is by no means enough, let us not forget some of the achievements since the SAP won the election in 1994:
  • Percentage of women working full time has increased from 59 to 65.
  • Percentage of women with children being unemployed is down from 7 to 5.
  • Number of women at universities has increased by 57% (however, 9 out of 10 professors are still men).
  • Persecution due to gender (or sexual orientation) gives you status as a refugee.
  • Number of women in public/state regional board of directors has increased from 34% to 50%.
  • Number of women in public/state board of directors has increased from 28% to 41%.
  • Number of women in private board of directors has increased from 5% to 15% (still waaaay to low, but anyway).
OK, I know that these are just figures and that the real power still is controlled by the normal, white, middle-aged/pretty old elite. But things are slowly getting better, they should be getting better even faster, I welcome the debate but must also underline that a conservative government after the election 2006 would turn back the clock some 30 years... at least.

PS If you would like to see a brilliant little ad about gender equality (in English), click here, then click on "Aktuellt", scroll all the way down and click on "Klicka här för att se filmen". Enjoy!

So you'd like to save the world?

Yesterday I listened to a very interesting lecture with the famous debater Bjorn Lomborg, one of the 100 most influential people in the world according to Time Magazine. You can read more about his Copenhagen Consensus initiative here, but his basic idea is that if we really want to save the world, we need to prioritize the actions that will give the most effect given the money spent. He has received a lot of criticism along the lines of "we need to both and everything" and "it is not ethical to prioritize like that". I still think Lomborg has a point; it is not bad if the infamous world community would decide what to do, and then really do it. But still I disagree with him on some points. You can read the list of priority that the Copenhagen Consensus came up with to the left on the website, and my questions would be:
1. Why is free trade on the list, to "fix it" has no real costs, and if you want to include it on the list, shouldn't it be at least on 2nd place?
2. Why isn't war/conflict prevention on the list?
3. What about education and the empowerment of women, that must be very important as well!?
Some aspects of these questions were discussed during the lecture, and afterwards I asked Bjorn Lomborg about war/conflict prevention. He said that they had an expert on that when they did the Copenhagen Consensus in Denmark, but that he had an early flight so he was not present when the final list was decided. Still, Lomborg said that according to the expert, it could be wise to spend money on conflict prevention if you have had a civil war in a country and then end up with a peace agreement. History has shown that those peace agreements are easily broken, so to enforce them could be money wisely spent. As I said, some aspects of Lomborg's work are highly controversial, but the discussions that follow are always interesting.

PS Someone should be able to trace down why this post is called "So you'd like to save the world"?

Monday, September 05, 2005

Gårdagens debatt

Har nu sett om gårdagens debatt, några korta:
Generellt: Den goda sidan (för det var ju verkligen två block) skulle ha pratat mer framtid, hur globaliseringen inte kan mötas med lägre ersättningsnivåer, men också hur satsningarna ska se ut (det finns en hel del i regeringens budgetförslag och partiets riktlinjer).
Persson: Esbati har rätt när han skriver att Persson var bäst, men synd att han var tvungen att vanka omkring, där fick kvällspressen sin vinkel.
Ohly: Bättre än väntat, repliken om att Reinfeldt tjänar in 5 000 kronor på två dagar var bra.
Wetterstrand: Brukar vara ännu skarpare, men jag föredrar henne framför Peter Eriksson. Bra att hon tryckte på miljöfrågorna.
Reinen: Tycker jag är överskattad, men blir bättre och bättre. Ser dock väldigt arg ut ibland, kanske beror på att politiken skiner igenom...?
Leijonborg: Hederligt att han försöker problematisera kring globaliseringen och lyfta skolan. Låter dock väldigt gnällig, och Persson hade en bra stoppreplik när han började vifta med boken. Båtbiljetterna till Finland i eurodebatten 2003 var roligare.
Olofsson: Visst är småföretagen viktiga men jag klarar inte av gnället och mimiken. Blev rejält pressad av Knutsson om energipolitiken.
Sifo-undersökningen: Ett skämt, läs vad Aftonbladet och tycker om det hela...

Friday, September 02, 2005

On a southbound train

Right now I am sitting on the new Swedish X2000 train (our TGV) between Stockholm and Malmö, and they have WiFi working so I am online right now! So far it is free of charge (it might stay free of charge in first class) and I must say this is great. And laying ahead is a weekend in Copenhagen with my friend Lukas from Washington DC (yes, we went to SAIS together, and recently SAIS was ranked as the top master's program in International Relations for students looking to pursue a policy career. Just so you know).

While reading e-mails, reading stuff about Michael's stupid decision to turn Liverpool FC down, and up-dating this blog I am listening to John Prine's CD "Fair & square" that I have to recommend (it is his first record in ten long years). Also heard from my friend Jeff that the new Son Volt record is supposed to be great (yes, there is a new Son Volt CD now!!!).

Last note: During his recent tour in Europe and the US, Bruce Springsteen played 115 different songs (no, not the same night stupid, 115 different songs during the whole tour). That seems like class to me.

Falsk matematik?

Nu har jag ägnat en del tid åt att försöka förstå hur "Bankerydsuppgörelsen" ska spara 59 miljarder, läs som vanligt mer på Helgen ska jag spendera i Köpenhamn så nu är det dags att springa till ännu ett tåg...