Thursday, July 02, 2015
Via The Local: It's one of the hottest days of the year so far in Sweden, but extreme heat in the south east has got people worried about forest fires and weather-related sickness. While much of Europe has spent the past month dripping in sweat, Sweden had a mild and wet start to the summer. But this week the sunshine finally started warming up the Nordic nation, with temperatures reaching 26C in the Swedish capital and 23C on the island of Gotland, where the nation’s politics and business nerds are gathering for the annual Almedalen forum. Forecasters say that a heatwave is on the way between now and Monday in the south east of the country - defined as when temperatures reach at least 30C on at least three consecutive days. Sweden’s national weather agency SMHI told the TT news agency that parts of Kalmar, Östergötland, Södermansland as well as Stockholm were set to see mercury levels rising and warned that while the sunshine could well cheer up many Swedes, it would also bring the risk of forest fires and could cause some vulnerable groups to become ill. “We have put out a class one warning about high temperatures, mainly for certain groups in society who could feel much worse because of it [the weather]: the elderly, children and those who are already sick”, said SMHI forecaster Lisa Frost. “But it’s the case that everyone should drink more water and stay in the shade”, she added. Further north, southern Norrland was also expected to experience temperatures of up to 30C on Thursday on Friday, although forecasters said the heat was likely to fade away by the weekend. While Sweden has a reputation as a chilly, snowy destination, it has the warmest climate of all the Nordic countries, with an average maximum temperature of 23C in July. Following several sweltering summers, SMHI - which is more used to issuing guidelines about ice and sleet - started issuing warnings about extreme temperatures two years ago. Last year one of the largest forest fires in modern times ripped through Sala, north west of Stockholm, forcing thousands to leave their homes. But the class one warning currently in place in southern Sweden is the lowest of three categories the SMHI lists on its website and most Swedes appeared to be excited by the hotter climate on Thursday afternoon. Thousands turned to social media to post snaps of themselves enjoying the sunshine. Even higher sizzling temperatures are expected elsewhere in Europe in the coming days, with Spain expected to get as hot as 44C and half of France given an orange weather warning, the second highest possible in the country.
Wednesday, July 01, 2015
Via The Local: The Swedish coast guard ship Poseidon has rescued dozens of migrants who were travelling in a rubber boat in waters off the coast of Libya’s capital Tripoli. The migrants are believed to have been at sea for between 12 and 24 hours but officials said that they appeared to be in relatively good health. Mattias Lindholm, a press officer for the Swedish coast guard told the TT news agency that the rescue mission had been “calm and collected” and that those with immediately obvious minor injuries had been quickly treated. Poseidon's mission is to save the lives of migrants trying to get to Europe. It arrived in the Mediterranean earlier this month as part of operation Triton, the EU's border rescue operation. In an interview with Swedish Radio ahead of the mission, commander Peo Allard said that the Swedes on board Poseidon had never undertaken a task quite like this one, which had involved both specific training and mental preparation. “They received information on why people are driven to flee”, he said. “The most difficult challenge will be meeting these overcrowded boats”, he added. “It’s a completely new kind of assignment for us, but something I have no doubt we can manage”. The Poseidon is kitted out with special equipment in order to take on a large number of migrants. The ship has portable toilets and private rooms for women and children. Sails have been put up to create shade for protection from the heat. The ship has rescued around 1.650 migrants since it arrived in the Mediterranean.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Via The Local: The "Nordic way" receives a lot of praise around the world, not least when it comes to sustainability. The Local went in search of the Nordics’ secret, and we were surprised by what emerged. It’s a sunny afternoon on the Baltic island of Gotland. Boats criss-cross the waves off the shores of Visby, the normally staid Hanseatic hamlet that is currently abuzz with the Almedalen political week. The cobblestone street are dotted with tents, and teaming with people. Looking out over the Baltic it’s easy to remember that its waters not only connect Gotland to mainland Sweden, but also to the other Nordic countries. Thus, it serves as a fitting venue for exploring the Nordic way in more detail. And who better to speak with than Brit Bohlin, the former Swedish MP who is now secretary general of the Nordic Council, an inter-parliamentary group based in Copenhagen. Founded in 1952, the Council features representatives from Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland, as well as the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and the Åland islands. The group also works closely with the Nordic Council of Ministers, an intergovernmental body established in 1971. “If you look at our countries, our common history is of course important”, she begins. “But we’re also rich countries which gives us a lot possibilities”. Bohlin goes on to list the region’s hallmark high-tax, high-service welfare states and members’ generally equal societies as things that set the Nordic countries apart. “Without bragging too much, the Nordic countries have a lot to offer and we want to share what we know”, she adds. But when quizzed about the secret of Nordic-style sustainability, Bohlin is at a loss. “Hmmm. It feels so natural, it’s difficult to answer”, she says after a pause. “If you look at what we have here in the Nordic countries, our nature is very special, the water is clean, and there are a lots of reasons to take care of the environment for the next generation. So it’s natural to put sustainability at the top of the agenda”. And the Nordic sustainability agenda is hard to miss at Almedalen this year, with the theme cropping up in a number of seminars being held on “Nordens dag” (‘Nordics’ Day’), a series of events organized by the Nordic Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers.
Monday, June 29, 2015
Via The Local: Sweden has waited. And waited. And waited. But it finally looks as if summer is here to stay, with the mercury climbing to 30C later this week. Good news for Swedes, who this spring and summer experienced their wettest May in decades, followed by a soaked Midsummer's Eve and a strawberry shortage (that's a very big deal in Sweden, by the way). But on Monday the Nordic country breathed a collective sigh of relief as it finally looked as if summer had arrived, as promised by weather forecasters last week. Stockholm and Gothenburg could both experience some rain today, according to meteorologists. But it will get better on Tuesday already, with temperatures set to remain at around 18–21C. “Even though it will be a bit unsteady, we won't have the same cold mass of air we've previously had. And on Wednesday exciting things will start to happen when a high pressure wave thunders in”, meteorologist Nitzan Cohen at Foreca told Sweden's Metro newspaper on Monday. If you live in, or are visiting, the Swedish capital you will be in for a treat. Temperatures of 27-28C are set to sweep in over Stockholm on Thursday, edging up to a whopping 30C on Friday. “It will be the warmest in Stockholm and Gothenburg and Malmö will have around 25C. The heatwave will continue and there is no cold weather in sight”, said Cohen. And on the island of Gotland, where Sweden is celebrating its annual week-long festival of power politics, people were already enjoying the warm weather on Monday afternoon. Last month, temperatures rose above 20C on just three days, with Kristianstad in Skåne recording the country's high of 21.4C, its lowest peak in May since 1962. “The weather has been miserable, especially in the south of Sweden”, said Groth. After the darkest winter on record, Swedes are likely to take full advantage of next week's warmer temperatures, perhaps by going to one of Stockholm's ten unmissable outdoor bars or hiking along Sweden's High Coast.
Sunday, June 28, 2015
Via Disclose.tv: Nylon stockings can be sexy, but in the hands of artist Rosa Verloop, they take a turn toward the grotesque. The Dutch artist is famous for using nylon stockings to create distorted sculptures of the human form. She collects thousands of used stockings in nude shades which she then molds, tucks, and sews together until they take on recognizable human shapes. Verloop layers and clumps the material, sometimes holding it up with pushpins, to produce wrinkled and distorted facial features. Her sculptures may seem just ugly to most people, but the artist herself sees shapes with “power, vulnerability, and silence”. For some reason, fleshy figures like these always give us an eerie sort of feeling that’s quite hard to shake off. We still haven’t gotten over these designer stools that look and feel like real human flesh. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPccKaH4HX0
Saturday, June 27, 2015
Via Before It's News: A 2.5 mile wide comet that researchers have been studying for years is headed toward Earth and scheduled to arrive between September 15 (the end of Jade Helm Drills, and two days after the end of the Shemitah) and September 28 (another Blood Moon) of this year, 2015. Both NASA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have been preparing for a global catastrophe… NASA has launched its "Hypothetical Asteroid Impact Scenario", while FEMA’s begun stockpiling on emergency supplies. Is an asteroid Armageddon just around the corner? Lyn Leahz shares about a phone call with her friend who was given inside information about a comet expected to hit the Earth between September 15-28, 2015. Almost a year ago, the Foreign Minister of France three times publicly announced at a White House press conference a 500-day countdown to “climate chaos”, which will end on September 24, 2015. They know what is coming and have already told you – chaos will erupt on this planet in September 2015. Are you listening? Are you prepared?
Via The Local: As the world reacts with shock and disgust to the terrorist attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait, a Swedish terrorism expert, Hans Brun, has suggested that Sweden needs a stronger focus on women to help stop global terrorism. Brun told Swedish news agency TT on Saturday that the war against terrorism is not fought on geographical terrain, as with conventional wars, but in the minds of people. “It is ideology that must be fought”, says Brun, “and this is a war that must be fought primarily by focusing on women”. By providing vulnerable women in the Middle East and Africa with education and health care they can be helped to take control of their lives. “Those who control their lives do not become suicide bombers”, said Brun. “The USA and Europe needs to address this issue and Sweden could lead the way. But not enough is being done”, he said. Former Social Democrat party leader, Mona Sahlin, now national coordinator against violent extremism, agrees. “Women are key to preventing radicalization. Mothers can help stop their children going to fight for terrorist organizations”. But Sahlin says the Swedish government is not doing enough to help these mothers. “One way to address the problem is the establishment of a hotline which is available in many different languages”. Sahlin says that mothers could turn to such a resource for advice if they fear one of their children is becoming radicalized. Interior Minister Anders Ygeman claims that efforts directed at women and families are made but agrees that staff in both agencies and municipalities need more training. “We have been a little naive, a bit ignorant and have been less able to detect this type of violent extremism than others”, he says. In the late summer, a new national strategy against terrorism will be debated in the Swedish parliament, the Riksdag. The strategy features new measures to prevent radicalization and staunch recruitment to terrorist organizations.
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Via The Local: A social experiment exposing class discrimination in Sweden has called the Nordic country's image as a tolerant nation into question. The Local spoke to a member of the duo behind the viral sensation. A video by the small team at STHLM Panda shows an actor dressed up in smart clothes asking to board buses in central Stockholm without a ticket. The drivers laugh and let him on, every time. But when the actor puts on a different outfit, wearing ragged clothes and carrying his belongings in plastic bags, the result is shockingly different. STHLM Panda's Olle Öberg, who stars in the video, told The Local that he got the idea when he saw a homeless person being refused to board a bus. “From experience I know that sometimes you've forgotten your ticket and the drivers are usually decent and let me on anyway. I wanted to know if the bus driver who had refused the troubled person was an exception”, he said on Wednesday. He turned out not to be. While drivers were happy to take pity on the sharply dressed "rich" person, the above clip (which has English subtitles) shows that not a single driver was prepared to let Öberg's "poor" persona travel. “We suspected that the way I was treated would vary, but not by this much”, he told The Local. “The worst part was how I was treated when I asked to go on the bus wearing worn clothes and bags. Several of the drivers saw an opportunity to in a rather unpleasant way tell me that I couldn't travel. My sense of dignity gradually fell as I kept being refused to travel and wasn't respected”, he added. The video has been viewed more than 200.000 times on YouTube in less than two days and has stirred debate in Sweden, a country with a reputation for being egalitarian and open which has also seen a surge in people sleeping rough on the streets in recent years. “It's sick that we treat people so differently depending on what they look like. Why?” asked one appalled Swede on Twitter. Helt sjukt att vi behandlar folk så olika beroende på hur de ser ut? Varför? @STHLMPanda https://t.co/PcYJmmQ724 — Sara Svensson (@Sara00hej) June 23, 2015 “I'm sure Sweden is a very equal country by international standards, but that doesn't mean that there are not people with different preconditions. There are many outcasts and poor people in society who are not treated with dignity and in this clip we trying to convey the message that we have to start seeing each other”, said Öberg. “The clip has mostly had very positive reactions. Several bus drivers have written to us with suggestions of more things we should try and thanking us for what we're doing”, he said. It is not the first time the STHLM Panda group has explored class and racial divides in Sweden. The group has previously hit the headlines with social experiments including a video investigating if richer or poorer areas are more likely to give money to beggars, and another showing a woman being abused by her partner while onlookers stood by and did nothing. “Our goal is to get people to start seeing each other and create some kind of unity in society. There's still a long way to go”, said Öberg.