Terror Threat Today in Sweden

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

While most of the world’s media is preoccupied today with the seemingly coordinated package-bombs shipped by air-freight from Yemen to the US and the UK, Sweden’s second-largest city, Göteborg on the country’s western coast, seems just barely to have escaped its own serious terrorist attack. This is according to reports appearing in the Danish press from the press-agency Ritzau, including in the opinion newspaper Information.

It’s all still very unclear, but the essence of the plot apparently involved setting off a massive truck bomb sometime today in the center of downtown Göteborg. “Several” suspects were arrested, this (Saturday) morning, but local police are not yet ready to say how many, who they are, or what lead to their being detained – only that a tip was received in time, from a trusted source, warning of the attack. That was enough to draw the Säpo – basically, the Swedish FBI – into the case as well, although it’s the local police who hold the suspects in custody and who are now beefing up their presence in town over the weekend.

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University Mass-Shooting Averted in Sweden

Monday, March 15th, 2010

OK, the report I caught about this is from the Dutch press (specifically, the Algemeen Dagblad – I don’t routinely cover the Swedish press due to language incapability). But it’s an instructive tale nonetheless: after some guy had announced (anonymously) on an Internet forum site his intention to head to the KTH Royal Institute of Technology (a state technical university located in Stockholm) and kill as many people as he could find there, police managed to track him down and arrest him before any harm could be done.

How instructive? First of all, this sort of thing is not supposed to happen in a place like Sweden, due to the much stricter gun-control there, but mainly because of what people assume is a more non-violent culture that doesn’t lend itself to that sort of thing. (Although one shouldn’t forget how Swedish prime minister Olof Palme was gunned down on a Stockholm street back in 1986, in a murder that is unsolved to this day.) Secondly, the authorities did manage to track the proto-perpetrator down – even behind the veil of supposed Internet anonymity – and detain him before he could actually perpetrate. What does this say about how genuine this supposed “anonymity” on the Internet actually is – and how genuine should it ultimately be allowed to be, when lives are on the line? Thirdly: Were lives truly on the line? How can anyone tell whether the suspect really meant to do what he declared he intended to do? That must still be unsure – you commit a crime only by doing it, not by only thinking it or even announcing it. (The latter probably constitutes a crime in itself, but of a different sort and one calling for nowhere near as much punishment as actually killing.)

Anyway: in the final analysis we seem to have here in Sweden one pole of a spectrum whose other pole is Seung-Hui Cho and 32 people shot at Virginia Tech. Where do you, and the society where you live, want to be on that spectrum? “At the pole of the Swedish incident that was prevented in time” may not truly be the answer, given the injury to privacy rights that was an important part of that episode.

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Sister-Ship to Arctic Sea Also Star-Crossed

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Assiduous €S readers were rewarded for their diligence about a month ago when they got early word on this site about that attempt to smuggle high-performance anti-aircraft missiles to Iran aboard the Russian freighter Arctic Sea, concealed under a cargo of Finnish wood, and the unconventional measures which the Russian authorities took to call a halt to that. Now Danish newspapers are reporting some funny business in connection with the Arctic Sea’s “sister ship” – presumably another freighter (unnamed) with the same Russian ownership.

(The identical brief news-text about this appears in at least three on-line Danish papers that I’ve been able to identify; it’s a Ritzau news agency pooled report. I hate that; but OK, I’ll just close my eyes, jab my finger blindly and select to link to . . . Arctic Sea’s sister-ship runs aground, in the mainstream daily newspaper Politiken.)

What’s up? It’s pretty simple: This unnamed sister-ship has run aground off the Swedish coast, not far (northeast) from Stockholm, near the town of Norrtälje. Still, it’s mysterious: that part of the Swedish coast is pretty dangerous (check it out here, all those islands everyplace), and everyone knows that, so it is carefully marked with buoys, lighthouses, etc. instructing incoming ships “Go this way!” and “Don’t go that way!” Well, this sister-ship went a way it wasn’t supposed to go, according to Swedish Coast Guard spokesman Kenneth Neijnes, and suffered the predictable result. So the authorities got the vessel unstuck, towed it to a secure location, and took the crew off for some questioning. Who knows, maybe they’re all a bunch of Russian FSB agents again, up to no good.

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Ducking the On-line Piracy Issue

Friday, July 31st, 2009

DDuckPay close attention so you can follow all this: the Berlin newspaper Die Tageszeitung has this coverage of a news report from the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter about a new entry in the Swedish Donald Duck comic series (he’s called “Kalle Anka” there), published by Egmont Kärnan AB, with an interesting plot-twist. You can even follow all the comic-strip action on the article’s webpage, if you can read Swedish or are just very good at interpreting the pictures. (Just click from cartoon-panels 1 through 4 using the left- and right-arrows you see at the lower-right.) (more…)

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Don’t Wanna Live W/out That EK . . .

Sunday, June 20th, 2004

That’s what I’m talkin’ about! News of an almost-miraculous Swedish by-product of the current Euro2004 national football championship in Portugal comes to us from (of all sources) the Flemish newspaper De Standaard. On Friday, 11 June, the automobile of 85-year-old Sören Gellerstedt gave out in a stretch of wilderness near Jokkmokk, a town some 900km north of Stockholm. And so he was stuck there, without food or water, waiting for someone to finally notice that he hadn’t arrived where he should have, that perhaps something had happened with him. The authorities eventually did notice this and sent out searchers to look for him, with dogs and even helicopters. But they eventually gave him up for dead after he had already endured out there for three days, and called the search parties back in.

Fortunately, Gellerstedt still had power for his car radio, and it was on that very same Monday when they were giving up on him that he heard that the Swedish football team had beaten Bulgaria 5-0 that evening. “That victory kept me alive,” he said, and the next day he was finally found by family members who had been willing to keep on searching even as the city/state search assets had given up.

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Sweden by Marklund

Saturday, March 13th, 2004

Time now to procede to the next entry in the on-going “Europa XL” series in the Danish newspaper Politiken of cultural portraits of EU member-states, this time to Denmark’s sister-state, Sweden. The writer who was asked to contribute her suggestions for that country’s representative painting, photograph, person, etc. is Liza Marklund – journalist, editor, and author of what Politiken terms “a series of extraordinarily popular contemporary novels in the crime genre,” who came into her own as a commentator on Swedish society last fall, with the murder of Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh.

I’ve looked forward to this one, as I’m very interested in Sweden but know relatively little about that country. I do consider it as rather unique within the EU: not one of Europe’s “big powers,” but rather one of what is only a handful of “medium-sized powers” (the others being Spain and Poland). And while on the one hand Sweden’s internationalism, environmental awareness, and other things as well make it a natural candidate for the EU, on the other Sweden is also one of those countries that has been allowed to opt-out of adopting the euro as its currency and, as last September’s referendum shows, is far away from ever changing its mind. (more…)

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Poland: The IGC Scorecard So Far

Thursday, October 30th, 2003

We’ve seen Dutch premier Balkenende travel to Warsaw to try to break some of the stalemates blocking progress at the EU’s Constitutional Intergovernmental Conference (IGC): no dice. On Sunday, French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin basically tried the same thing, visiting Warsaw himself to have talks with Polish foreign minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, according to a report in Gazeta Wyborcza. (more…)

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The Implications of Sweden’s “No” – A Dutch View

Monday, September 15th, 2003

The votes are in, the Swedish people have spoken: 56% of the voters said “No,” and so they prevail, for a while at least.

I had hoped to find something interesting to tell you about the referendum’s result in the national press of Germany: the nation that, after all, was once the guiding power behind the idea of one single currency for all of the EU, yet which now, by its misbehavior in getting its own fiscal house in order and staying under the 3%-of-GDP limit for government budget deficits, is quite possibly driving away those EU members (such as Sweden) who do not use the euro but are/were contemplating that. But the on-line German newspapers that I’ve looked at for today aren’t very on-the-ball: they’ll tell you little else than what you already will have been able to find out from your own newspaper of choice (with one exception, noted below). OK, they quote Bundeskanzler Schröder lamenting the continued absence of Sweden from the ranks of EU countries using the euro. Well, he would lament, wouldn’t he? I’d definitely file that bit of news under “dog-bites-man.” (more…)

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Lindh and the Euro – The View from Denmark

Sunday, September 14th, 2003

Outside reality intruded for a while to hold up my planned survey of commentary in the Danish press over the murder of Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh and the effect of that incident on the upcoming Swedish referendum over whether to adopt the euro. But I did gather the relevant URLs on the subject from the main Danish on-line dailies, and am posting this early enough for there still to be suspense about the referendum’s outcome (for prompt EuroSavant readers, anyway.)

I start with Berlingske Tidende’s rather simplistic editorial leader, Svenskernes valg, or “The Swedes’ Choice.” (more…)

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