Politics: August 31st, 2007 by PO
Arab News reports on the Muhammad caricature controversy with quotes from the head of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu strongly condemned the newspaper for publishing the blasphemous caricature and said that this was an irresponsible and despicable act with mala fide and provocative intentions in the name of freedom of expression. He said the caricature was intended to solely insult and arouse the sentiments of Muslims of the world.
Politics: August 31st, 2007 by PO
Sweden’s former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix is advising the United States to cut Iran some slack and follow the path of diplomacy, the International Herald Tribune reports.
That approach — “a leaning toward diplomacy which we have seen in the case of North Korea” — has not been used with Iran, Blix said.
“On the contrary you have three U.S. aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf which the Iranians may see as needing to protect themselves from in future,” he told reporters in Wellington.
Miscellaneous: August 23rd, 2007 by JS
Some of you may have noticed that some of The Local’s articles last month bore a striking resemblance to certain articles published on the website of Radio Sweden, the English-language branch of SR, Sweden’s public service radio organization. Closer examination revealed that more than a dozen news articles were pretty much copied and pasted from The Local, and some were read aloud on the radio.
We made inquiries with Radio Sweden, who took down the articles and apologised to us personally. On Wednesday, an article about this appeared on the website of media industry magazine Resumé, after which SR published a clarification in English and Swedish on its website.
We were naturally disappointed that this happened in the first place, fearing that our readers could conclude that we had plagiarised Radio Sweden. We are reassured by SR’s clarification and thank them for their prompt response.
Swedish design is making an impact in Connecticut. But it’s not the cool, modernist style that appeals to Edie van Breems and Rhonda Eleish, who are trying to bring Gustavian style to the nutmeg state.
But the peasant look also appeals – and maybe there’s a hint of social yearning too:
“I love the folk furniture,” said Eleish, cradling a rustic, patched wood bowl dating from 1820 in her hands. “That’s the heart and soul of the country. You know that each bowl was used since wood was a valued commodity.”
In Sweden, a country known for its cold, bleak winters, “wood was considered life,” explained Eleish. “Families would have one bowl, one spoon and people ate from the communal bowl.”
“People ate from the communal bowl.” If ever a metaphor was crying out to be stretched, it’s that one.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, there are hundreds of reasons to savor Stockholm. But the paper makes do with thirteen.
All the usual suspects are there (the Vasa museum, the water, Drottningholm, Södermalm etc.) but number one is a bit of a surprise:
Stockholm is cool, but it’s not that cool. Thanks to the warming effects of the Gulf Stream, February is the only month when the temperature dips much below freezing. And Nobel laureates get their prizes in December, which speaks well of that month’s weather.
The writer’s visit apparently wasn’t this summer.
Business: August 17th, 2007 by PR
Venture capital money is flooding in ($46m so far this year compared to $26.7m for the whole of last year) and one of the key reasons for the region’s success is Sweden’s intellectual property rules:
…in contrast to the rest of Europe and the U.S., Sweden has a unique policy on intellectual property. The so-called teacher’s exemption allows scientists—not the universities where they work— to own full rights to their discoveries. This has encouraged many academics to strike out on their own in search of outside investment capital. Since they own the intellectual property, they can transfer it to an independent company. “This is a key competitive advantage and one that has spurred a flurry of entrepreneurial activity,” says HealthCap’s [Dr. Eugen] Steiner.
Music: August 17th, 2007 by PR
John Harris, writing in UK paper The Guardian, pays tribute to the glory of Swedish pop music. And, indeed, Sweden in general:
It’s great there: taxes are sky-high, but everyone is happy, and they’re so brimming with Nordic genius that they invented flat-pack furniture, Ericsson mobiles and Saab cars… Sweden is as close to heaven on earth as humanity is ever to likely to get…
Bu back to the music. Harris’s gushfest seems to have been prompted by an encounter with Peter, Bjorn and John and he reminisces about “a strange three days” he spent in 2002 trying to pin down “the mysterious reason why talented people from this dark and cold European country had so bucked pop’s Anglo-American imperialism”.
The secret formula may have something to do with booze, he concludes.
It’s Friday… let’s get dronk!
Books: August 15th, 2007 by PO
Earth Times has published a review of the strange goings-on in the Swedish crime fiction world.
A war of words of extraordinary nastiness has erupted among Sweden’s internationally successful crime writers just as the summer holidays are getting into full swing. While innumerable bookworms on beaches, in hammocks or hotel beds are leafing through the new and virtually always weighty murder mysteries by Henning Mankell, Liza Marklund or Ake Edvardsson, the authors of the Scandinavian bestsellers are accusing each other of either not knowing how to write or of being miserable dogs in the manger.
The tit-for-tat name-calling may not have been constructive but it has certainly been amusing.
Novelist Ernst Brunner compared the recent flood of crime fiction with “the shit of the seagulls who ruin my island on the Stockholm archipelago.”
A couple of Cleveland academics who are trying to establish a design district in the city have turned to Sweden for inspiration, writes The Plain Dealer.
Sweden “is one of the great design countries,” said Cuffaro, head of the Department of Industrial Design at the Cleveland Institute of Art. “And I respect that they treat it not as an elitist activity, but that design is accessible [to everyone].”
Cuffaro and Edward Hill, Hill, vice president of economic development at Cleveland State University, have embarked upon an 11-day tour of Sweden after the local Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce heard their pitch for a 24-block design district that would make Cleveland the “Milan of the Midwest”.
“We want to help them bring some Swedish design to the district and, in reverse, bring some U.S. design to Sweden,” said local businessman Lars Traner, secretary for the Swedish-American chamber.
There’s a smart solution to Australia’s spiralling housing costs, according to Adele Horin, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald: Ikea.
Working with another Swedish giant, Skanska, the world’s favourite blue and yellow furniture firm has been producing flat-pack homes in Scandinavia for years. Soon a project will begin in the north east of the UK.
These flat-pack houses, known as BoKlok (pronounced boo-klook), are cleverly designed and energy-efficient and, judging from the pictures, look like the kind of items featured in an Ikea catalogue.
They have the hallmarks of Swedish design – modern, timber-framed, open plan, wooden floors, tall windows on three sides, higher-than-average ceilings, and fitted Ikea kitchens.
They’re cheap, too and could be just what Australia needs. Alas, Ikea has no plans to start erecting its homes Down Under, but Horin urges readers to lobby the firm:
…it might be worth calling Ikea’s head office to urge it to fast-track its BoKlok plans.
Miscellaneous: August 7th, 2007 by JS
From the attitude of the authorities to street-peeing, you would think that people were doing it simply to be antisocial. As has been pointed out by our readers in the forum and elsewhere, people often have nowhere else to go. Restaurant toilets are there for customers, and the problem often occurs after closing time anyway.
There are barely any public toilets in Stockholm (or in most major international cities), and those that exist are often shut when they are most needed. But toilet or no toilet, when you need to go, you need to go.
So it was with interest that I received an email this morning from the Dutch makers of an innovative type of public toilet, the UriLift. This company argues that it is up to local authorities to provide lavatories in the same way that they provide trash cans – a persuasive argument indeed. The problem is that nobody wants a public convenience outside their door. The great thing about the UriLift is that it is usually invisible. I will let the company describe it in their own words:
“A urinal that during the day time is safely stowed away underground and in evening times it pops up. In this way vandalism is zero, residents have no objection about the location of the public toilet and the urination problem is reduced to a minimum. Above all local shop owners, police and city authorities are very positive.”
I’ve seen these in London’s Soho, and they seem like a great solution to a real problem. The campaign for UriLifts in Stockholm starts here!
Music: August 1st, 2007 by PO
But might The Sun be overstating their influence just a tad?
BRITNEY SPEARS bombarded two Swedish teenagers with calls begging them to help pen her comeback album — and got turned down.
Dance duo LUCKY TWICE — aka 16-year-olds SOFIE LARSSON and HANNAH REYNOLD — got more than a dozen messages from the troubled star.
But the girls are busy promoting their new album Young & Clever following the success of first single Lucky across Europe — and gave Brit the brush off.
A record company spokeswoman told The Local that the story contained more than just a trace of exaggeration.
It was her management team who called. They just called a couple of times to see if the Lucky Twice team would be interested in getting involved on Britney’s new album. They were really just trying to set up an initial discussion.
The girls themselves were in fact left out of the loop entirely.
The girls are massive Britney fans and we delayed telling them that an approach had been made. We had to say no because things are just too manic now with Lucky Twice about to arrive in the UK and release the single.
They were pretty gutted when they were eventually told, but they were obviously very flattered too.
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