Archive for February 9th, 2006
It’s not just prophets that can get you into trouble. As part of the preparations for the 2006 World Cup the German Federal Police has started a campaign to present the police force as a service-minded and accomodating organ under the motto “Wir sind mit Sicherheit dabei” (approximately “We’ll get you there safely”).
The problem? The Police commissioned a logo consisting of a classic black-and-white football wearing a police cap and balancing a globe on one finger.
The thing is that depending on your point of reference the black patch on the football could be interpreted as a nose or as … well … something usually associated with a certain infamous figure in German political history.
The official mascot of the World Cup is a silly looking lion named Goleo which can only offend people with taste.
Here is another subject that makes the Muhammad cartoon thing look like children’s games. We are talking about a really nasty conflict involving the Swedish state, farmers, Sami reindeer herders and the right to winter-grazing.
Just giving a short review and trying to sort out the lines of conflict between Swedes and Sami (and internally in Sami society) would take too much time right now (and probably expose me to a great deal of personal inconvenience), but let me just note that farmers in different parts of Northern Sweden during the last years have sued reindeer herders in order to keep migrating herds out of their fields and forests.
The farmers have won most of the court cases, thus restricting Sami rights, but in January the district court in Umeå decided that Sami herders had the right to bring their reindeers to fields near the village of Nordmaling.
On Wednesday, it was announced that the farmers have lodged an appeal against the verdict at the High Court.
It is worth noting that unlike Denmark and Norway, Sweden and Finland haven’t ratified the ILO Convention No. 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries. Unlike Norwegian authorities Swedish autorities have avoided any kind of public involvement in the conflict.
On Thursday Danish media reported that Flemming Rose, the editor of the arts section of Jyllands-Posten, will be taking a long vacation. Mr. Rose’s vacation comes after an unlucky appearance on CNN where he declared that Jyllands-Posten would contact an Iranian paper which had announced a competition about anti-Christian and anti-Jewish (okay: anti-Semitic) caricatures with the prospect of publishing some of the drawings in the Danish paper.
In an interview with the news magazine “Orientering” on Wednesday night Mr. Rose explained that in the heat of the moment he had used the wrong tempus and had meant that he might contact the Iranian paper, not that he had contacted the paper.
Jyllands-Posten’s explanation for the vacation is that Mr. Rose has been under a lot of pressure following the Muhammad cartoon controversy.
A procession by a small group of Shi’a Muslims in Copenhagen in honour of the Imam Hussein was peaceful. The organisers discouraged any mentioning of the Muhammad cartoons.
What do you do as a government and a governing party when your party secretary launches an all-out attack on Swedish industry and accuses investors for deliberately taking money out of firms and withholding investments in order to damage the chances of the Social Democratic party in the 2006 elections?
Answer: It depends.
If you are the Minister of Trade and Commerce, you declare that levels of investments have been unusually high good during 2005 and that this is a sign of a strong economic development with investments in growth oriented industries.
If you are the Finance Minister, you declare that because the economy is booming companies shouldn’t pay dividends to investors. The Finance Minister, it should be noted, is often seen as a close ally to the Prime Minister.
And if you are a public broadcaster, you go through the quarterly reports of the largest Swedish companies and discover that the largest dividends had been paid by state-owned companies to the Swedish state.
Here I should note that during later years the Swedish state has often been critizised for being excessively zealous in demanding dividends from state owned-companies with the strategy leading to financial problems for the companies (the railway company SJ nearly went bankrupt in 2004) or excessive costs for organisations and individuals who use – or are forced to use – products or services from those companies (one example is the pseudo-market controlled by Akademiska Hus and which colleges and universities have to negotiate).