Taiwan’s Next Media Animation, which shot to fame late last year for its animated news clip of Elin Nordegren’s alleged attack against then-husband Tiger Woods, has turned its focus again to Sweden.
This time, it has targeted Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf following the publication of controversial biography “Carl XVI Gustaf – the reluctant monarch,” which details rumours of the king’s affairs.Just in case you missed it the first time around, here’s the Tiger video.
Street prostitution has been cut in half, “a direct result of the criminalization of sex purchases,” the Christian Science Monitor wrote on Tuesday.
The daughter of one of Sweden’s most feared criminals has posed for a popular men’s magazine in a bid to bring shame on her father and give him “a taste of his own medicine”.
In an interview with lad mag Slitz, Jackie Ferm explained that she wanted her father, Lars-Inge Svartenbrandt, to feel ashamed in the same way she felt ashamed all the way through school.
It’s not surprising that young Jackie had a hard time of it. Svartenbrandt is one of Sweden’s most notorious criminals and has spent more than forty years in jail for a string of robberies and violent crimes. He was last arrested as recently as April.
But Jackie admits that she did have a way of responding to the kids who taunted her which involved judicious use of her father’s reputation.
“I told them he’d come and murder them if they didn’t watch out,” said Ferm.
Everybody panic! The Local has inadvertently sparked what the Swedish press is referring to as the ‘Tingeling Crisis’.
Now as crises go, it’s hardly Cuba or the Berlin Blockade. But in a land such as Sweden, gripped with Eurovision fever, revelations that the Russians were less than pleased with an interval song and dance number at the Melodifestivalen final have quickly spread far and wide.
It started innocently enough: communist whores with red stars on their panties, rampant Russian gangsters, wild Cossack dancers and a bear on a chain… what could possibly go wrong?
“We do not react to eccentricity by some lunatics whose Russophobia should place them in an asylum rather than on Globen’s stage,” the embassy told The Local on Monday morning.
Regional tabloid giant Aftonbladet led the charge with a front page splash and the rest of the Swedish papers soon followed.
Like political voting patterns at the Eurovision, the situation soon spiraled out of control:
State broadcaster SVT sent a bouquet of flowers to the Russian embassy as a gesture of goodwill. The embassy responded that, as far as it was concerned, the danger had passed and Euro-harmony could prevail.
Expressen said SVT was foolish to have apologised.
The state broadcaster said it never really had apologised and the retraction was retracted.
The comedian behind the skit said he might have to rethink a planned Trans-Siberian railroad trip this summer .
The Social Democrats’ foreign policy spokesman said the Swedish foreign ministry should stand up for freedom of expression.
Even Vladimir Lenin was dusted off and dragged into the debate.
Furthermore, the finer points of Russian sensibilities and Swedish humour have been discussed at length on television and radio talk shows.
The upshot: Nuclear war has been averted for now. But never again must we allow such a frightening array of outdated clichés to threaten our peace and security.
In case you missed it, here’s the clip that almost pushed us to the brink:
There’s an old joke about a couple from Småland, a province in southern Sweden, who win a million kronor on the lottery. “What shall we do with all the begging letters,” asks the wife. “Keep on sending them,” her husband replies.
Perhaps, though, the Smålänningar (as the region’s allegedly tight-fisted inhabitants are known) will have the last laugh as the rest of the world braces for a bumpy economic ride.
The world’s most famous Smålänning, Ingvar Kamprad, appears to have braced IKEA for the downturn by living up to the stereotype. Instead of taking advantage of cheap credit, IKEA borrowed little. Instead of selling boom-time luxuries, Kamprad has always behaved as though every one of his customers was a stereotypical stingy Smålänning.
The words of current CEO Anders Dahlvig in this Time interview are perhaps testament to the virtues of living frugally:
This is a really good time for us. The way we’ve set up our business, we’re planning for a climate like this all the time. We have a very conservative policy when it comes to borrowing money. We basically only use our retained earnings and don’t borrow very much. We also have a very conservative policy when it comes to how we place our cash and our liquidity. We don’t place anything in equities, so we haven’t lost a dime so far. And the way we position our brand is as good value for the money. People know when they have less money what Ikea stands for.
She might be a Swedish royal and the Duchess of Halland, but Princess Lilian, who turned 93 on Saturday is also one of the more illustrious daughters of the town of Swansea in Wales. Newspaper Wales on Sunday has marked the princess’s birthday by looking into her background and ancestry.
Like very few other royals, Lilian was born into a working-class family. She grew up in “a tiny terraced house” in Swansea. She met Sweden’s Prince Bertil during the Second World War, but the couple were barred from marrying by successive Swedish kings Gustav V and Gustav VI Adolf (several other Swedish princes married without the king’s permission, forfeiting their titles and rights to the throne). It was only in 1976 that the current king (Bertil’s nephew) relented and allowed Lilian into the family.
Ancestry researchers quoted by the newspaper sound thrilled with their ‘discoveries’:
“We were charmed, we didn’t realise it was the most magical story. It’s a real-life fairytale. She’s loved in Sweden where she has a reputation for being a wonderful woman.”
Read the full article here.
Here is the controversial video featuring Swedish conscripts firing rocket launchers in the nude, courtesy of YouTube.
Please note that some viewers may find the video offensive.
To read more about the story, see these stories from The Local:
Commander tried to suppress film of naked shooting (May 12, 2008)
Naked soldiers film condemned (May 31, 2006)
One has to wonder what sort of field mission would require training in firing shoulder-mounted artillery while naked.
People like to complain that American news outlets never spend any time covering foreign news. In contrast to Swedish broadcasters, which spend ample time covering international affairs, US national news programs rarely devote much air time to other countries (save those with which the US may be at war).
Thus, imagine our surprise upon seeing that NBC News, one of the traditional ‘Big 3′ television news networks in the US, devoted a precious 3 minutes and change (more than 10 percent!) of Monday evening’s broadcast to Sweden and it’s penchant for green living.
The King is eloquent as usual, but the mayor of Växjö left us puzzled with his talk of ‘whips and carrots’. See for yourself:
Now the question is whether SVT would ever bother to find a topic where the US can teach Swedes a thing or two, and dedicate an equal amount of air time to it.
What would you suggest?
Sweden has secured third place in a new Global Prosperity Index:
In today’s index, the Scandinavian countries, which regularly top lists of the best places in the world to live, were applauded for having good economic growth as well as high levels of political and civil liberties, leisure time and equality of opportunity.
The Guardian has more.
Newspaper Borås Tidning revealed at the weekend that a Gothenburg firm was given the task in 1990 of supplying bullet-proof windows for one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces in Baghdad.
With Skanska responsible for the construction, the palace was to be an all Swedish affair.
A local army regiment in Borås was charged with testing the reinforced glass.
Heavy weapons were hauled in to a secret testing zone and the windows were pummeled with all manner of heavy ammunition.
Finally, in the autumn of 1990, the mixture of glass and plastic was deemed satisfactory and testing was completed.
Shortly after Iraq had invaded Kuwait, a team of fitters was sent to Baghdad to mount the bulky 6 x 4 metre panes.
But it was all in vain. The Gulf War broke out in January 1991 and the palace that Skanska built was bombed into a smouldering ruin.
The Swedish testers of Saddam Hussein’s bulletproof glass had made the same mistake as the dictator himself: they failed to factor in an aerial bombardment.
As The Local has just discovered, it’s not as easy as it used to be for immigrants to get their hands on Swedish ID cards.
On Wednesday I went to my local branch of Svensk Kassaservice (Swedish Cashier Service) to have my certified Swedish identity card renewed.
The card expired in May of last year and somehow I never got round to updating it. As a newcomer to Sweden the card was indispensable for opening bank accounts, joining video rental chains, and all the other practicalities of life in a new country.
Nowadays it isn’t so vital but the card is still an essential accessory when travelling on internal flights and conducting the odd credit card transaction.
All things considered I really shouldn’t have left it so long, but I didn’t foresee any problems.
I couldn’t have been any more wrong.
The woman at Svensk Kassaservice was friendly and helpful but, after asking me a few questions, she was also the bearer of bad tidings.
Is it more than six months since the card expired?
It is indeed.
Do you have a Swedish EU passport?
No, but I do have an EU passport.
Sorry, it has to be Swedish.
Not for the first time, I wondered why Sweden had even bothered joining the EU if it wasn’t going to grant equal rights to citizens of the Union.
Do you have a Swedish parent or a Swedish wife?
Then I’m afraid you can’t have an ID card.
Until nothing it seemed. I just plain can’t have one.
After she had so successfully burst my bubble, I asked the nice woman when the rule book had been changed.
The new directive from head office came into force at the beginning of the year, she explained.
And every day of the year so far she has had to deal with lines of frustrated new immigrants desperate to gain possession of the certified ID cards, without which they are effectively powerless.
For weeks she has been hoping that somebody will take the issue by the scruff of the neck in an attempt to make these people’s lives easier.
They can’t open a bank account unless they have a job. And they can’t get a job until they have a bank account.
It is a curious circular logic. The question now is, who can rewrite the rulebook and remove Catch-22?
Update: It seems that Liberal Party MP Fredrik Malm is on the case. Here’s hoping that his party’s motion succeeds in jump-starting the engine of Swedish bureaucracy sooner rather than later.
If there’s one thing small-town Sweden is good for, it’s bizarre pizzas.
But the Calzskrove in Skellefteå takes some beating: it’s a burger and chips wrapped inside a calzone. For just 95 kronor you can clog up your arteries for weeks with one of these beauties. They’ll even throw in a coke for good measure.
Aftonbladet has the story, along with images that may be disturbing for readers with a sensitive palate.
One of Ingvar Kamprad‘s more interesting ideas in recent times was to open up an Ikea store in Haparanda, a town perched right up by the Finnish border.
It is now seven weeks since the grand opening and so far the flat-pack concept has managed to pull in hundreds of thousands of punters from Sweden, Finland, Norway and Russia.
On Sunday The Observer published an article detailing the effects that the most northerly Ikea in the world is having on the local economy. Among other things the article claims that since Ikea came to town unemployment in Haparanda has dropped from 10 to 3.8 percent!
Misha Maksimovic drove more than 500 miles from Russia to northern Sweden just to be like the rest of us. Yesterday in a blizzard he drove back again with his Ikea flatpacks, full of excitement that soon a Billy bookcase would be in his hall, a Sultan mattress would grace his bed and his kitchen would carry the Rationell name.
‘Ikea’s arrival in Haparanda is bigger news than the Russian revolution,’ said Maksimovic, a 45-year-old teacher, as he loaded £540 worth of shopping into a trailer hitched to his Lada. ‘The journey is nothing to us northerners.’
Credit to the Hotel and Restaurant Union for allowing visitors to express an opinion on one of its hot button issues in an online poll.
The wording of the question is a bit tricky mind you.
Do you think that an employer should not be required to follow a collective bargaining agreement??
See! Had to think about it, didn’t you?
At the time of writing 55 per cent of respondents had said yes. It’s not known what percentage of those understood the question.
Ignore the dreadful quality of the photo for a moment and let yourself instead be swept away by the dulcet tones of Enrico Caruso as you watch the tall, buxom Lucias file by with candles in their hair.
Or do it the Carl Larsson way, strolling around the living room like a fire hazard in perpetual motion, carrying a tray of coffee and some St. Lucia buns.
St. Lucia buns? What are they? Here’s one:
The Social Democratic top spot is really up for grabs now. Wallström and Jämtin, ranked numbers one and two by most commentators, have both dropped out of the race.
So who’s left?
The party wants an electable woman and of the major names Mona Sahlin is the last one standing. But is there anyone else out there. A quick look at the Swedish blogosphere says… not really.
Social Democrat Jonas Morian calls Sahlin “the only realistic candidate”.
Another party man, Eric Sundström, interviewed Margot Wallström for the party newspaper and knew that it wasn’t to be.
“Time for Mona Sahlin to make a comeback,” says editorial writer Håkan Jacobsson.
Per Gudmundson congratulates Sahlin (and the alliance), and points to the opinion of an aging party servant…
Still going strong at 69, Enn Kokk recently called Sahlin “quite lazy” and “terribly unpredictable”.
Henrik Alexandersson puts former finance minister Pär Nuder back in the picture. Sort of:
“So the question is: Sahlin or Nuder? A silly bat or a mean old bore?”
Our Introducing column this week takes you into the Christmas home of Filippa Reinfeldt, bun-baker extraordinaire. For those who wish to delve a bit deeper, here are links (in Swedish) to the “Christmas porn” and “Knutby smile” comments mentioned in the article.
Is the owner of Gothenburg salad bar Wild’n Fresh, Sofia Appelgren, right to feel aggrieved about a union blockade of her business? Or is the Hotel And Restaurant Union doing everybody a favour by trying to get her to sign a collective bargaining agreement?
The Local spoke to Appelgren and union representative Daniel Färm to find out the lie of the land.
The real action began two days ago when a union delegation began its blockade of the Wild’n Fresh salad bar in Gothenburg. The proprietor had refused to sign the union’s collective agreement.
Sofia Appelgren takes us back to the start of the tale.
The union wrote to me about three months ago and said they wanted me to come over and discuss collective bargaining agreements.
So I went there and they told me all about it and it sounded very good.
Then I brought the papers back to my staff – I just have a couple of people I bring in for a few hours – and they said they didn’t want to sign anything because they have higher payments without the agreement.
They also have better insurance and they only ever work between the hours of 9 am and 6 pm.
Union spokesman Daniel Färm talks to us from his office in Stockholm. He claims that his organisation has done its homework and reached a different conclusion.
She pays a direct salary which is above the minimum. But with a collective agreement the employees would also be paid for overtime, holidays, absence though illness and so on.
When you add it up these employees actually lose 50,000 kronor each year.
She told her employees that if she signed they would get lower salaries, which is not true. that is unfair treatment
Back in Gothenburg, Sofia Appelgren is having an extremely hectic day. Caught up in the middle of a growing political storm, she resumes her story.
The union gave me two weeks to decide. I listened to my staff, then went back to the union and said no thanks.
They sent my case up to Stockholm and said that I could either decide to sign or expect war. But since I’m on my staff’s side I said no.
One week later I had a really bad letter telling me that there would be war and stating when they would come.
I’m not interested in politics but I know that we live in a democracy and I just can’t believe what is happening.
Now I have twenty people outside my little ten square metre shop. The union people are lying to my customers.
They are telling them that I treat my staff badly and don’t pay them enough and that I force them to smile. All sorts of lies. I am just so tired.
Meanwhile in Stockholm, the union representative explains why his organisation feels the blockade is necessary.
The aim is to gain a fair and decent salary and working conditions for the employees, which is guaranteed in the collective agreements signed by employers and trade unions.
This is the Swedish model, which is supported by all political parties.
It allows strong trade unions the right to seek and pursue the establishment of collective agreements for people working in their particular industries.
In addition, there are a lot of women and people born in other countries who work in the hotel and restaurant industry.
They are already discriminated against and are benefited by collective agreements.
That’s the system in Sweden. We don’t want Swedish jobs competing with lower wages.
Outside Wild’n Fresh, union representatives hand out flyers and engage in debate with a Young Moderate delegation.
The union spokesman in Stockholm has heard from his friends in Gothenburg that the blockade has been marred by ugly scenes today.
Right-wing supporters have spat in our people’s faces.
But this is not an aggressive blockade. We have been working hard in Gothenburg this year and so far 39 employers have signed our agreements.
This is the first time a blockade has been required.
Talking to people, discussing the meanings of fair salaries is not aggressive.
But Appelgren, seeing her livelihood threatened, views the action as very aggressive.
They are just standing there destroying my business. They are there from eight in the morning, before I even get here.
This is my business. I have to live on it.
I can’t afford to think about the past or the present. I have to think about the future, and now I just don’t know what is going to happen.
I thought I was living in a democracy where I could decide these things myself.
Daniel Färm meanwhile is insistent that the union must do everything in its power to prevent price dumping.
We have had a lot of support from people who want to support restaurants which actually have signed collective agreements.
He does not think that the proprietor of Wild’n Fresh is in a position to speak for her employees.
She is not a very credible spokesperson for the employees.
It is very difficult for them to oppose their employer.
But what if they happen to agree with their employer? What if they make their choices as independent individuals who know the implications of union membership but choose to abstain?
We do not think that anybody wants 50,000 kronor less per year.
As for the government, how does the union view the centre-right alliance? With suspicion it seems.
We have had no good answers from the government.
The Moderates say they accept the model we have in Sweden but we don’t think they’re credible.
And the Centre Party has said that it opposes our blockade.
Sofia Appelgren sounds like a woman who would like nothing more than a week on her own in a secluded cottage, far from the bustle of the market hall that houses her small business.
I have a daughter home sick and now I can’t even go home to be with her. There is just so much happening.
I have never had so much to do before. My parents have had to come in to help me.
The place is just full of flowers. It is like a florists in here.
People have been so supportive.
I have to go now. I am so tired.
National: November 15th, 2006 by PO
A laughing one year old from Nyköping has tickled the funny bone of internet users the world over.
William Andersson’s dad imitated the sound of a plinging microwave oven. The results are hysterical and have so far been viewed over 5 million times.
Missed this little nugget during the week, where Peppe Engberg writes about Carl Bildt?s first day at work at the foreign department.
Apparently when the former PM turned up at his new office he found that not much had happened in the way of technology since the department?s palatial home was completed in 1794.
I heard that Calle Bildt was rather surprised when he took over at Arvfurstens Palats: there was no computer on the foreign minister?s desk.
Who had taken it?
The staff were equally surprised. An employee explained that they had never before had a foreign minister who felt the need for a computer.
Finally a plausible explanation for Laila Freivald?s failure to follow media coverage of the tsunami.
A civil servant finally managed to sort out a computer for Bildt. But he had to install it himself.
This is almost beyond the realms of possibility.
Is it really conceivable that Anna Lindh, Laila Freivalds and Jan Eliasson all simply ignored the computer age?
Spotted on Gudmundson.
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"A week full to the brim with LFC football…. Div 5 LFC match against Nåjdens FK has been moved. This is due to the Svenska Cupen final: 26 May, 17.00 kick off, Nationalarenan Friends Arena, Solna. Next match is on Tuesday (see below). ………………………………………………………… Friday: Div5 Ladies: Rotebro IS FF – Långholmen FC (Skinnaråsens IP) KO: 16.15 ………………………………………………………… Saturday: Vets: Långholmen FC – IFK..." READ »