fredag, september 28, 2007

Burma

The situation in Burma have turned and the development looks very much like in 1988 when the last great uprising against the oppressive regime took place.

If the protests will be succesful seems very much dependant on another dictatorship, namely China. They have earlier said that they do not want to interfer in another countries internal affairs. This is rhetorical bullshit (pardon the language)!
It has more to do with the fact that it is one dictatorship judging another and its governments handling with seemingly peaceful demonstrations.

The leadership in China and their criticizm could be regarded as somewhat less trustworthy, to say the least.
How can the Chines leadership accuse anyone of using violence in trying to stop these demonstrations when they themselves withouth hesitation killed young students and others who tried to express their discontent with the regime in the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989?
This is however only in the perspective of the last fifteen years of development. We all know that Chinese leaders have more blood on their hands, not least during the years under Mao Zedong and his unsurpassed cruel and violent rule.
This is also probably the one reason why China have stayed out of this conflict: They all to well understand and sympathize with the Burmese leadership and their way of dealing with these demonstrators.

Other countries in the free world are also compromised as most of them abandoned both the Chinese and the Burmese people during the times when they needed the support more than ever (1988 and 1989).

I hope this dictatorship will fall and that the people get a chance to elect leaders in public democratic elections. However at this moment it does not seem to be the most probable development in Burma.

Maybe the importance of Buddhism in the country combined with the fact that the regime have started to use violence against the monks, will lead to a stronger support both within and outside Burma. Perhaps in other countries where Buddhism is predominant there will emerge a strong counter reaction?

Will some of the soliders in the end revolt, feeling that they are violating the most sacred parts of the Buddhist thinking when they assault and kill the monks? Well, it does not seem as if they respect the monks at all, not at least at this stage.

Desmond Tutu today talked from Göteborg Bookfair, giving his full support to the monks and those people striving for democracy.

(Picture map Burma copied from: http://uscampaignforburma.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/map-burma.jpg)

(Photo Desmond Tutu copied from: http://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/images/desmond-tutu.jpg)

fredag, september 21, 2007

The value of the Dollar $$$$$

Svenska (English below):

Efter Amerikanska Centralbanken's (Federal Reserve) sänkning av styrräntan är nu dollarn billigare än på tio år i relation till den svenska kronan. I relation till euron har dollarn aldrig varit så billig som nu.

Marknaden förvånades lite över den kraftiga sänkningen men det kanske kan vara på sin plats med tanke på alla de problem den amerikanska ekonomin kan komma att stå inför om bostadslånemarknaden skulle kollapsa.
Detta scenario tror inte ekonomer på men det finns självfallet en risk. Detta skulle då även få konsekvenser för länder i Europa och annorstädes. Detta eftersom dollarn fortfarande är så pass överlägset viktig för världshandeln, även om detta till del börjar förändras.

Ett dilemma är att (national-)ekonomi inte är någon exakt vetenskap och att den s.k. 'marknaden' mer tycks reagera impulsivt och känslomässigt istället för rationellt. Detta är kanske främsta orsaken till problemen på finansmarknaden.

För svenska exportföretag är relationen mellan dollarn och kronan inte särskilt lyckosam då det gör våra exportvaror dyrare. Dock är detta inget nytt.
Så har de monetära relationerna alltid fluktuerat och om inte något dramatiskt händer kommer nog den amerikanska dollarn att hämta sig igen och vara den största och viktigaste valutan i ytterligare ett antal år. Vågar man säga decennier? Kanske ej.

English:

After the decision from The Federal Reserve in the USA to lower the interest rate, the dollar is in relation to the Swedish crone (krona) now cheaper than it has been for more than ten years.
In relation to the Euro the Dollar have never been as cheap as it is now.

The Market was somewhat surprised over the substantial reduction but maybe this was necessary considering the problems the American economy could be facing if the housing loan market would collapse. This scenario is something most economists does not believe in (as far as I have been able to see) but there is of course a risk that this could happen.
This would also lead to consequences for countries in Europe and elsewhere.
This because the Dollar still is so supercilious important for World trade, even if this to some degree is beginning to change.

A great problem is that economics is not an exact science and the so called 'Market' always seem to react in an impulsive and emotional way, not rationally. This is maybe the foremost reason to the problems on the financial markets.

For Swedish export companies the relation between the Swedish Krona and the Dollar is not particularly fortunate as our merchandise becomes more expensive of course. This is however not something new in World economy. The monetary relations has always been 'victims' of fluctuation and if nothing very dramatic happens, the dollar will again regain power and remain the largest and most important currency in the world for some years to come. Do one dare to say decades? Maybe not.


(Photo Federal Reserve copied from: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f4/Federal_Reserve.jpg)

lördag, september 15, 2007

Lars Vilks and Muhammed

Svenska (English below):

Till konstnären Lars Wilks framfördes för ett antal dagar sedan ett mordhot och även chefredaktören för Nerikes Allehanda blev föremål för hot. Det fanns även tidigare en hotbild mot dessa två men den nu framförda har generellt bedömts vara av allvarligare art.
Vilks själv tycktes initalt ta det hela med upphöjt lugn om man ser till hans omedelbara kommentar. Han ansåg inte det vara så allvarligt då priset på hans huvud satts så lågt som till drygt 600 000:-. "Vad får man för 600 000:- idag?" frågade han retoriskt. Senare intervjuer med Vilks har dock visat att han trots allt känner en viss oro inför det inträffade.

Muslimska organisationer i Sverige har i ett uttalande tagit avstånd från detta mordhot. Dessa organisationer och deras företrädare är också förvånade över att detta hot uttalats under Ramadan (13/9-13/10).

Frågan jag inledningsvis ställde mig var självfallet om det är företrädare för muslimsk tro som uttalat detta hot eller om det är individer som i islams namn ville misskreditera muslimer som grupp.

Enligt radions Mellanösternkorrespondent, Cecilia Uddén, är den som sägs ha uttalat detta hot - Abou Omar al-Baghdadi - en "mytomspunnen man" och uttalad anhängare av Al Quaida. Hans existens har dock vid flerfaldiga tilfällen ifrågasatts. Uddén menar dock att hotet i sig skall tas på största allvar.
Baghdadi beskrivs i tidningar och andra medier som en av al-Qaidas mest omtalade terrorister. Enligt vissa underrättelseuppgifter som citeras i tidningarna skulle han vara född 1947. 1987 skall han ha flytt från hemlandet Irak till Afghanistan, men senare under år 1991 återvänt. Vid det tillfället skall rykten ha uppkommit om att Saddam Husseins regim skulle ha avrättat honom. 2004 dök dock al-Baghdadis namn upp på nytt, då han utsågs till emir för ”Den irakiska muslimska staten”. I maj 2007 uppgav både irakisk polis och den amerikanska armén att Baghdadi hade dödats i strider. Senare visade det sig att det var hans talesman som dödats. Alla dessa uppgifter enligt medier i Sverige och andra delar av västvärlden.

Det är dock en känslomässig mer än intellektuell reaktion vi har sett prov på och detta är kanske mer allvarligt då den som här uttalar hoten, anser eller påstår sig i islams namn vara kränkt.
Kombinerat med ett dogmatiskt-fanatiskt engagemang blir en företrädare för dessa åsikter ytterligt farlig, oavsett om det finns en organisation som står bakom honom och stöder hans sak eller ej. Det räcker med att man rör upp känslor och överdriver effekterna av det som skett för att andra, lika fanatiska trosutövare, kan eggas att vidtaga extrema åtgärder. Själva reaktionen har självfallet - som alla vet - bakomliggande politiska motiv och inte strikt religiösa.
Att det skulle ligga renodlade religiösa motiv bakom hot som emanerar från människor som Baghdadi och organisationer vilka han sägs företräda, är sällan eller aldrig med sanningen överensstämmande. Trots detta försöker man från dessas sida självfallet framställa sig som 'renläriga' muslimer som endast har till syfte att via dessa aktioner skydda tron och dess 'sanningar'.

Vi ser liknande strukturer i bl.a. USA, bland kristna, där kända s.k. tv-pastorer som Jerry Falwell och andra prominenta förkunnare, under täckmantel av religiösa budskap, basunerar ut sina politisk-ideologiska idéer. Detta sker alltid med ett i botten starkt stöd för de presidenter eller presidentkandidater som företräder idéer och politiska program som andas förmätet kristet-moraliska budskap. Här rör det sig mer om idéer av, vad jag vill kalla, fascistisk karaktär som dessa 'förkunnare' basunerar ut.

I samband med händelserna kring Nerikes Allehanda och Lars Vilks Muhammedteckningar har också yttrandefriheten och dess eventuella gränser diskuterats. Det anser jag i princip inte alls vara fel och jag återkommer till det längre in i texten.

Efter mötet mellan ambassadörer som företräder muslimska länder och statsminister Reinfeldt, gick diskussionens vågor höga huruvida Reinfeldt gjorde rätt eller ej som tog emot dessa och lät dem framföra kritik mot publiceringen samt indirekt mot yttrandefriheten i vårt land.
I stort har debattörer menat att Reinfeldts agerande var ett taktiskt steg för att mildra kritiken och gjuta olja på vågorna. Detta till skillnad från den danske statsministern, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, i samband med publiceringen av Muhammedteckningarna i Jyllands-Posten.
Dock påpekade kritikerna att Reinfeldt borde ha tagit tillfället i akt att också understryka att i vårt land och andra västerländska stater har vi en grundlagsfäst yttrandefrihet på gott och ont. I de länder som många av dessa ambassadörer dock representerar, är människor överhuvud inte fria att säga sin mening.
Det skulle alltså i samband med detta möte och ambassadörernas kritik, ha funnits ett tillfälle att rikta motsvarande kritiska omdömen mot de grundläggande bristerna i dessa länders demokratiska fri- och rättigheter.
Därvidlag tror jag dock att statstministern är en alltför försiktig general, mån om att inte skapa allt för stora konflikter mellan vårt land och de här berörda staterna.

Yttrandefriheten är en fundamental rättighet och grundlag i vårt land. Som företrädare för en ideologi - religiös eller politisk - måste man trots allt finna sig i att ideologier får och bör kritiseras. Även dessa ideologiers mest framträdande företrädare kan också utsättas för kritik, ibland kanske även uttryck för satir eller skämt.
Denna utformning av yttrandefriheten kan och bör diskuteras. Man skall dock inte som företrädare för ett land med andra värderingssystem försöka diktera villkoren eller under förtäckta hot, försöka ändra sakernas tillstånd i en annan stat. Däremot ser jag inget problem med att försöka förändra värderingssystemen i ett annat land via diskussioner och debatter. Ej heller anser jag att ett land skall hindras intervenera i ett annat lands s.k. 'inre angelägenhter' om detta rör övergrepp mot enskilda individer, utförda för att tysta kritik mot regimen.

Som jag ser det vore det i princip värre om man utpekade muslimer som enskilda eller i grupp och på ett paternalistiskt sätt hånade dem för deras tro. Detta vore ett angrepp på enskilda individer och ett kollektiv endast med hänvisning till de grundvalar som deras trossystem vilar på. Fr.a. om detta sker hänvisandes till att denna religion på något sätt skulle vara 'underlägsen' andra religioner, kanske då främst kristen tro (om kritiken kom från kristet håll).

Likväl som man kan skämta med offentliga, nu levande personer, måste det finnas utrymme för skämt kring och kritik mot de människor som utgör portalfigurer i vissa ideologier.
Detta har många kända företrädare för politiska eller andra ideologiska rörelser fått erfara och därvidlag anser jag inte att man bör göra skillnad mellan dessa och kända gestalter eller betydelsefulla företrädare för de stora världsreligionerna.

Om man dessutom studerar Koranen och hadither om Muhammed, hans liv och gärning, finner man inte sällan berättelser som ger vid handen att han själv vid flerfaldiga tillfällen tog kritik, spott och spe med visst upphöjt lugn. Han tycktes mer mån om att försöka förstå varför hans motståndare/kritiker riktade sin kritik mot honom.

Vad gäller diskussionen kring yttrandefriheten skall inte heller denna och den utformning den fått i vårt land eller andra demokratier, stå över all kritik.
En lag av detta slag får inte utvecklas till en 'helig kanon' som inte under några som helst omständigheter får kritiseras eller t.o.m. modifieras om detta anses nödvändigt.

Jag anser det viktigt att man de facto inte använder sig av yttrandefrihetslagen för att friköpa sig från hänsyn till de människor vilka man vill kritisera eller satirisera. All frihet kräver att man kan ta ansvar för densamma. Om ej kan det leda till ofrihet för andra.

Vad gäller Lars Vilks och hans skäl till publiceringen av teckningen, kan dessa skäl alltid diskuteras och den konstnärliga halten av hans teckning har med rätta ifrågasatts. Det förefaller mer som om detta gjordes endast i syfte att utröna hur långt man kan gå i kritik av - i detta fall - religionen och dess 'heliga män' (eller kvinnor i de fall dessa finns representerade).
Om dessa grundvalar utgör tillräckliga skäl för provokationen sett i relation till andra hänsyn gentemot, i detta fall, troende muslimer kan diskuteras.

Återigen dock: Hot mot enskilda individer skall inte accepteras på grundval av en händelse som denna.

ENGLISH:

A couple of days ago death threats towards the artist Lars Vilks and the publisher of the newspaper Nerikes Allehanda came to the attention of the public. There have been threats before directed towards both of them but this time it was regarded being more serious. Vilks seems to have responded to this threat in a calm and lofty way if one judge from his initial comment. He said he did not regard this threat as being particularly serious as the prize on his head only amounted to 100 000 US Dollars. "What do you get for 100 000 US Dollars today?" he asked rhetorically. Later interviews with Vilks have shown that he despite this comment is worried about this incident.

Muslim organizations in Sweden have stated that they oppose this murder threat. They are also surprised that this threat is presented now during Ramadan (13/9-13/10).
The question I initially asked myself was if this threat came from representatives for muslim faith or if it is other individuals who in the name of Islam wants to slander muslims as a group.

According to one of our Middle East correspondents, Cecilia Uddén, the person said to have made this statement - Abou Omar al-Baghdadi - is known as a "mysterious man" and outspoken supporter of al Quaida. His existence have been questioned many times though. In spite of this Uddén says that this threat should be taken seriously.
Baghdadi is in the media described as one of the most talked about and prolific terrorists of al-Quaida. According to some intelligence information quoted in the papers he is born in 1947. In 1987 he is said to have fled to Afghanistan from Iraq but later during 1991 returned to Iraq. At this occasion rumours had it that Baghdadi had executed by Saddam Husseins regime. In 2004 al-Baghdadis name was mentioned again when he was appointed emir for "the Muslim State of Iraq". In may 2007 both Iraqi police and the American army stated that they had killed Baghdadi in battle. Later it was shown to be his spokesman who had been killed. All this information according to media in Sweden and other parts of the Western world.

What we have seen here is an example of an emotional reaction and this is maybe more serious, as the person stating these threats, regards himself being offended in the name of Islam. Combined with a dogmatic-fanatic engagment a representative for these opinions becomes utterly dangerous. This regardless if there is an organization standing behind and supporting his cause. It is sufficient if one stir up the feelings and exaggerate the effects of what has happened in order to make other people, as fanatic as oneself, to initiate extreme actions. The reaction has - as everyone know - political motives and not strictly religious. That there would be purely religious motives behind the threats that emanates from people like Baghdadi and the organizatons he is said to represent, is not a plausible interpretation of their behaviour. In spite of this, these group of people try to present themselves as 'orthodox' muslims only interested in protecting the faith and its 'veracities', through these actions.

We can see the same structures in the USA among Christians where famous so called tv-pastors like Jerry Falwell and many others under the cover of religious messages, proclaim their political-ideological ideas. This is always done with a great support for those presidents or presidential candidates who represent supposed christian-moral messages. In this case there are more a question of, what I would like to call, 'fascistic character', these predicators bruit.

In connection to the events around Nerikes Allehanda and the drawings depicting the prophet Muhammed as a so called 'roundabout-dog' (my translation) the freedom of speech and its possible limits have been discussed. In principle I don't think this is wrong. More later on concerning this.

After the meeting between prime minister Reinfeldt and the ambassadors representing different muslims countries, a discussion came up whether Reinfeldt did the right thing or not in meeting these ambassadors. They where given an opportunity criticizing the publication and indirectly the freedom of speech in our country. To a great extent the debaters seem to think that Reinfeldts action only was a tactical step in order to mitigate the critic and calm down the upset feelings. This as a contrast to the tactic used by the Danish prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in connection to the publication of the drawings in Jyllands-Posten, Denmark who refused to meet the muslim ambassadors. The critics ment that Reinfeldt should have used this opportunity to emphasize that in our country and other western countries the freedom of speech is a part of our constitutional rights, for better or for worse. In many of the countries of which these ambassadors are representatives, people don't have the right to express their opinion at all. This would have been a good opportunity to draw the attention to and criticize the basic lacks of democratic freedom and human rights in these countries. I think though that our prime minister is to cautious and diplomatic, keen on not creating to much conflicts between our country and the countries concerned.

The freedom of speech is a fundamental right in our country and as a representative for an ideology - political or religious - one have to accept that these ideologies can and should be criticized and assessed. Even the foremost representatives of these ideologies should also be exposed to criticizm, sometimes even expressions of satire and jokes.
This form of freedom of speech can be subject to discussion and blame. One should not however, as a representative for countries with other value systems, dictate the terms or by veiled threats, try to change the conditions in another country. On the other hand, I don't see any principal problems in trying to change the value-sstyem in another country through discussions and debates. Neither do I consider that a country should be prevented from intervene in another countries 'internal affairs' if it's a question of abuse against individuals executed in order to silence critic against the regime.

As I see it, it would be worse if one identified muslims as individuals or in group and mocked and harassed them for their believes. This would be an attack on individuals or a collective only refering to the foundations of their faith, saying that they are inferior or making other condescending statements. But again: It also have to be legitimate to make fun of parts of the belief systems that contradict human knowledge or seem unreasonable or unlogical.

As well as one can make fun of now living official persons, there must be room for jokes about those 'holy' people being central figures within certain ideologies.
This is something that many well known representatives of political or religious movements have experienced and in that respect I see no reason to differ between these people or significant representatives for the great World religions.

If one study the Quran and stories about the prophet Muhammed, his life and deeds, one not seldom find stories that indicates that he numerous times confronted critic, scorn and derision with lofty calm. He seemed more eager to understand why his opponents criticized him. Of course one can shurely find stories that show the opposite side of this behaviour but we always choose what we want to emphasize.

Concerning the discussion around our freedom of speech, this law and it's design in our country and other democracies should not be held above criticism.
A law of this kind can not be allowed to develop in to a 'holy guiding principle' that under no circumstance should be subjected to criticism or even maybe being modified, if this is considered necessary.
It's important not to use the freedom of speech in a way that take no consideration at all to the people who one criticize or make fun of, as in this case. All freedom requires responsibility. As an individual one can not merely see to the personal needs of expressing oneself without trying to foresee the consequences for individuals or groups of individuals.

When it comes to the motives for Lars Vilks and Nerikes Allehanda in publishing the drawing, these could and should be discussed. The artistic content of the drawings is also rightly questioned.
It more seemed as if this was done in order to find out how far one can go in mocking religion and its 'holy men' (or women in the case they get the chance to appear on 'the stage'). If these reasons concist sufficient grounds for this provocation in relation to other forms of considerations towards muslim believers could be questioned.
Again though: Threats towards individuals should not be accepted on the basis of a occurence like this one.


(Photo Lars Vilks copied from: http://thub.files.wordpress.com/)

fredag, september 07, 2007

Luciano Pavarotti dead


Most of us now know that the great tenor is dead and this did not come as a surprise if one knew what kind of disease he was suffering from.

I have only heard him once in my life, in Stockholm, the Stocholm Globe Arena. I think it was in 1995 and he sang in a settingup of Guiseppe Verdi's 'Requiem'.

A choir of 1500 persons and other fine soloists like Carol Vaness, Franco de Grandis (if I remember correctly) and another female opera singer. Right now I don't seem to remember this other singer and I can't find any information on the internet.

I remember being somewhat sceptical towards the acoustic conditons in the Globe Arena. When it came to the soloists, it functioned well. The choir however did not always sound well, but not because of them but because of the fact that there where to many singers in the choir and this became impossible to moderate.

Many critics say that Pavarotti should have ended his singing career earlier. This is probably right from an artistic point of view. On the other hand, if people still want to pay money in order to listen to an artist even if he is not at the peak of his career, who can blame him for continuing?
It's true that he reached his peak as a singer many, many years ago. He managed though to keep his voice in good shape even at this fairly high age for a singer. It is also hard for an artist to end his career and stop singing publically when - like in this case - his instrument always is within him.
Lien
One can always discuss if Pavarotti promoted opera as an art form or only Pavarotti as an artist? I think he managed both.
The problem is that this art form becomes more and more dependant on these world artists. People are eager to see a Pavarotti, Domingo, Carreras, Bartoli, Nilsson, Callas or the like.

But the music, the drama, the passion of opera itself? When the audience after hearing a singer like this - when being at his best - arrive to an opera house with 'ordinary' opera singers, this can create a situation of disappointment.

Sometimes Pavarotti also sang songs together with pop artists (like Queen), songs that wasn't always suitable for his voice. In this case his judgment failed him. And again: He became rich by doing so and this was of course one driving force.
Recommended recordings would be those from the 1960's, 70's, 80's and early 90's.

A great opera artist is dead but still I hold Jussi Björling as the foremost lyrical dramatical opera tenor of all time!



(Black and white photo of Luciano Pavarotti copied from: http://www.lucianopavarotti.com/luciano-pavarotti1.jpg)