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Swedish, Nature conservation freak, Passionate about Africa, Loving Peace, Politically neutral

Friday, 30 January 2009

Two Zimbabwean elephants

The situation in Zimbabwe have skipped and jumped between tragedy and comedy so many times that I totally lost track. Hence, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the new power sharing agreement between Mugabe and Tsvangirai. Will the Zimbabwean people see any difference due to the change of ruling?

There is a saying in Africa: “When two elephants fight, the grass suffers”. This might actually pinpoint to the problem in more than one way. Many African countries, Zimbabwe included, looks for strong and brusque leaders, probably as a reaction to the forced on submissive posture during colonialism. Thus, there have been a selection towards large elephant-like beasts; creatures that clinch on to power and searched for every opportunity to increase it.

We see a desperate need for a paradigm shift in the African perceived notion of a good leader. The elephant, whose missteps can cause so much harm, is not right for the people. What the people need is a mouse, which is more on the same level as themselves and do not alter its environment to the same extent as elephants do. And furthermore, a mouse has the authority to scare away any threatening elephant that might be approaching.

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Tuesday, 27 January 2009

My Tintin cast

Rumors has it that Steven Spielberg is about to start filming The adventure of Tintin, staring Jamie Bell as the young journalist/ adventurer. Being a big fan of Tintin I have many times pondered over who would be most fitted to play the different characters in a Tintin motion picture. I feel it is an outrage that mr Spielberg didn’t contact me before casting the actors. But it is his loss. Here are the actors that should have gotten the main parts:

Brad Pitt – Tintin
Perhaps passed his time a bit, but lets take Brad from the early 90s for this role. I chose him partly because of his short height, which fits nicely with Tintin’s petite build body.

Mickey Rourke - Captain Haddock
There are probably many good actors that could play this role. But I think that Mickey's natural raw and rough style would make become Captain Haddock rather than just playing him.

Michael Jeter - Professor Cuthbert Calculus
Unfortunately Michael isn’t with us anymore, but he would have been just perfect for this role. His, short but memorable, performance in the movie Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is all the audition that is needed.

José López Rodero - Thomson and Thompson
Quite unknown actor, probably best remembered for playing the twin book storekeepers in the movie The Night Gate. Seems to have the right looks and the experience of doubling his role in movies for this role. (Sorry for the low quality photo).

Lois Maxwell – Bianca Castafiore
This is a tricky one. Women in Bianca’s age that beam confidence and self-esteem are difficult to find. I was considering a middle-aged Judi Dench, but finally decided on Lois “Miss Moneypenny” Maxwell, preferably from the early 70s.

I have very low expectations of getting my ideas through to mr Spielberg (especially as two of the actors are already dead, and one is too old for his role…). But maybe my casting kills will give me a job in the future, who know.

Ps. No, I haven’t forgotten about Snowy. I would chose that dog from the sitcom Fraiser. Just painting him white first...

Update: Damn, I was hoping that either Mickey or Brad would have won an Oscar today.
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Friday, 23 January 2009

Things can get worse after Nkunda's arrest

Reports from Africa say that the Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda was arrested last night in Rwanda. Apparently some disagreements within his own rebel group has forced him to flee. Perhaps the reason for this potential mutiny stemmed from Nkunda’s reluctance to have his rebel army join up with the Congolese army. This latest development, in the war torn Congo, is met with hesitant optimism. However, with Nkunda out off the picture there is the risk of even worse massacres of civilians in the region.

Nkunda is said to be a man that knows how to work the media (video clip #1). Despite this, the notion around the world is that he and his rebels are responsible for some of the most foul atrocities done to civilians. Although I wouldn't regard myself as an expert on the Congo conflict, I wonder how much of the mutilations, rapes and loathing can be traced to Nkunda's group.

The Christmas massacre a couple of weeks ago in Orientale province, which left some 620 people slaughtered, where the works of Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). And the unrest in the national parks, with among others park ranger casualties, has been fuelled by the Mai-Mai rebels. Perhaps both these groups have close links to the Nkunda rebels, but the fact remains, things don't necessary have to get any better just because one rebel group's leader has been arrested. I fear that other rebels, as for example the unpredictable and irrational LRA (see interesting post on the blog The African Wind), might strengthen their power in the region and increase the disorder.

An additional problem is that Nkunda's rebel group might split up, into supporters and opponents of its former leader, and thus adding to tensions. Lets also not forget that all this is taking place in a area of high biodiversity value. Not only the civilians are suffering, but so are the species, that very well might be the last of their kind. The killing of park ranger Safari Kakule (video clip #2) just proves what measures the rebels are willing to take in order to get their will through.

I really don't know how to solve the situation here. But I suggest that we start by bringing more attention to the region. Maybe that will facilitate in a cease of suffering for the people and species.

#1 (Coverage of Congo, AlJazeera)

#2 (R.I.P. Safari Kakule)

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Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Marx stödjer homosexuella äktenskap

"I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member"

Kloka ord från den store Marx. Analogt till denna tankegång bör finnas en strävan att få bli medlem i en klubb som inte vill ha en som medlem. Jag gissar att detta är ett ganska vanligt och naturaligt beteende bland människor, sökandet efter det förbjudna/otillåtn. Och det förklarar nog också varför homo- och bisexuella så gärna söker sig till "kyrkoklubben"...

Ps. Tänk efter innan ni kommentarer att jag citerar Marx

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Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The Obamas relatively inexpensive

Today is Barack Obama’s inauguration. Soon America will have a new president moving in to the White House with his family. Even though I’m not familiar with the arrangements for the president’s closest one, I suspect that the costs of protecting the Obamas (and the mother-in-law Marian) will be higher than for any American president to date. Almost for sure there will be some taxpayers complaining about these and other presidential expenses that they have to pay for. But the Obamas are probably relatively inexpensive, at least compared to the prospected cost for the Zumas…

The to-be-president of South Africa Jacob Zuma (lets assume that he will win the elections in April) is a polygamist. He has currently three wives and a couple of dozens of children. It is also most likely that some illegitimate sons and daughters will seek up Daddy Zuma after his inauguration, hoping to reap some of benefits from being the president’s close family.

The security arrangements for politicians in South Africa are probably bigger than in the United States. 40 cars accompanying the president is not an unusual sight. I suspect that even the maid of the secretary of the secretary of some low profile minister has a minimum of five police cars assisting her. Just imagine the cost of transporting the Zuma children to school...

Voices are being heard to change the protocol for the president and his family before Zuma assumes office (see Link. Medical aid, private jet, pension, etc. to all of the Zumas will simply be too expensive. Hopefully this matter can be resolved quickly, so that the poor in South Africa don’t have to pay a high price because their president was to cheap to buy some condoms (condoms are by the way distributed for free in South Africa).

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Monday, 19 January 2009

Kontrollera fisken med sms

Naturskyddsföreningen har gått igenom fiskdiskarna i 62 svenska livsmedelsbutiker och kommit fram till slutsatsen att dessa inte är så miljövänliga som man skulle kunna önska. Fortfarande sälj fisk från bestånd som inte fångas på ett uthålligt sätt, eller från arter som är utrotningshotade. Det faktum att havsresurserna är svåra att nyttja på ett hållbart och uthålligt sätt (se Att vända skutan) gör att ansvaret måste falla mer på de som köper fisken, dvs konsumenterna.

I Sydafrika så finns sen något år tillbaka en sms-tjänst, FISHMS, som stärker konsumentmakten vid fiskdisken. Den potentiella fiskköparen kan enkelt sms namnet på fisken han/hon vill köpa och får strax tillbaka ett sms som talar om huruvida arten är hotad eller inte. Jag har inte sett något sådant initiativ i Sverige, men hoppas att man kan starta upp en sådan tjänst snarast möjligt.

: Singnaturen "emil" informerade mig om att tjänsten jag efterlyser existerar redan i Sverige. Se

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Friday, 16 January 2009

Inte bättre att bygga ut redan exploaterade stränder?

Regeringen har angett ett nytt förslag till strandskydd. Tydligen så ska skyddet förstärkas i redan exploaterade strandområden, men försvagas i ”glesbygden”. Vidare så ska länsstyrelsen få en ny kontrollerade uppgift av kommuners dispensgivande. Frågan om denna modifiering av strandskyddet kommer att föra med sig så mycket nytta.

Det faktum att kommuner är väldigt kåta på att ge dispens från strandskyddet finns många exempel på. I de flesta beslut går inte heller att finna någon angiven förklaring till att dispens har beviljats, vilket visar tydliga tecken på ett bortseende från natur- och friluftslivet behov, och en löjligt slapp inställning till miljöbalken. Man kan väl bara be en stilla bön att situationen förändras i och med förslaget. Jag är dock en smula osäker hur det hela skiljer sig från dagens situation (där länsstyrelsen är den myndighet som ska bevilja dispenser, men får delegera denna uppgift till kommuner).

Vidare så finns det de som argumenterar för att det kanske är bättre att, så att säga, exploatera sönder vissa områden och låta orörd natur/stränder förbli orörda (se Minskande grönområden leder till sjunkande bostadspriser och dess kommentarer). Det vore därmed kanske mer fördelaktigt att bygg bryggor och strandvillor vid varje strandmeter av Danderyd, snarare än att bryta den romantiskt orörda landskapsvyn i Torneträsk. Problemet är att djur- och växtlivet i bl a Stockholms skärgård är beroende av fredade stränder (se Förstärkt strandskydd krävs!), och så säkert även friluftsmänniskorna.

För naturens bästa så bör strandskyddet helt klart behållas som det är idag, och dispenserna bör begränsas till ett absolut minimum. Om man däremot känner sig tvingad att gå exploateringsvägen, så verkar bägge ovanstående alternativ innehålla tråkiga nyheter för växt- och djurlivet och/eller friluftsentusiaster.

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Monday, 12 January 2009

Why the hell is Gaza the center of the world?

  • 850 people killed and some 3 500 injured since the Israeli attacks began on December 27.
  • Rumours say Israel is using white phosphorus (a nasty compound that catches fire if not kept constantly moist/wet) in combat.
  • Reports indicate that up to 25 % of the victims are children.
The public and media reacts: “We have to do all in our power to stop this atrocity! Everybody needs to become aware of what is going on here! More protest marches! Boycott Israel!”

  • Some 1 000 people have died of cholera since mid December, 2 000 in total since the outbreak in August 2008.
  • Every day between 5 000-10 000 flee the desperate situation in the country.
  • Several opponents to Mugabe’s rule have been arrested and may be facing the death penalty.
The public and media reacts: “If only Mugabe were white, then we would issues some big protest against him.”

Congo (DRC):
  • Approximately 650 civilians killed in the Orientale province since December 24.
  • Victims are often hacked to death/pieces.
  • Rapes and child abductions (to serve as soldiers and/or sex slaves) are common features.
  • Ranger killed by rebels in the Virunga National Park while he was trying to protect the endangered mountain gorillas.
The public and media reacts: “Congo? Didn't Tintin go there on one of his adventures...?”

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Friday, 9 January 2009

Världsreportern är överflödig

Ulf Nilsson, mångårig utrikeskorrespondent på Expressen, skriver i ett inlägg på Newsmill att bloggarna aldrig kan ersätta världs- reportern. Han menar att man från sin plats bakom dataskärmen aldrig kan uppleva samma saker som om man är en äventyrlig journalist. Men frågan är om en (utländsk) världsreporter någonsin kan förstå helheten på samma sätt som de inhemska skribenterna kan, må vara att de ”bara” är bloggare.

Spända situationer runtom i världen uppstår sällan pga enkla och uppenbara skäl. Några stora och en mängd små faktorer brukar vara bidragande orsak till t ex osämja mellan olika folkgrupper. En väpnad konflikt idag kan ha haft sin grogrund i en granfejd år 500 f. Kr. eller en minimal kulturell skiljaktighet. För att fullt ut förstå varför grupp A hatar grupp B så bör man ha florerat i samman- hanget en hel del. Man bör ha smakat, lyssnat, luktat och sett bägge sidornas argument. Och till detta räcker sällan en världsreporters livstid, det krävs sinnesintryck från många generationer bak i tiden.

Men kan en bloggare som befinner sig mitt i smeten bilda sig en objektiv bild av läget? Kanske inte. Dock så kan ju en han/hon förmedla sin bild, och en annan bloggare kan förmedla sin (mot-)bild av situationen. Dessa ”dagböcker” från verkligheten innehåller ofantligt mycket mer information än vad en världsreporter skulle kunna klara av att utvinna. Nackdelen är att det kan vara en mycket stor mängd material att gå igenom för läsaren, och vidare finns det risk för att den skrivskickligaste (eller internettätaste) sidan får flest sympatier. I sådana fall kan man alltid ha en journalist som kommer in och försöker skriva objektiva sammanfattningar. Och till en sådan uppgift krävs ingen världsreporter, en skrivbordsreporter räcker gott och väl...

(Jag lägger dock in en viss reservation till min sågning av den sk världsreportern. I områden med stora behov av uppmärksamhet, och där t ex bloggning är obefintlig, så fyller journalister en viktig uppgift).
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Thursday, 8 January 2009

Mandela abandons ANC?

Today is the 8th of January, an important date in South African history. On this very date in 1912 ANC was founded by, among others, Pixley ka Seme. The party began as something of a Xhosa interests organisation, but under the legendary leadership of Chief Albert Luthuli grew to become a real nuisance for the apartheid government. Other prominent leaders of the party were of course Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela. The latter is now over 90 years old, and is beginning to show signs of disapproval with the current leaders of the ANC.

Reports from South African media suggest that Madiba (Mandela’s “nickname”) is not going to participate in the ANC’s 97th anniversary. Reports also say that neither will the former president Thabo Mbeki join in the celebration, but that comes as no surprise as he has practically been kicked out of the party. However, the fact that Madiba may choose to stay home today has to be seen as a way for the founding father of the modern South Africa to show his disliking with what is going on within the ANC.

There is of course always the chance that Madibas old age prevents him from participating in the event, but if we don’t see any video greeting or hear any phone call at the venue we know what is about to happen. The old leader is about to abandon ANC.

This “dumping” of the party could possible have great consequences for the ANC in the election in April this year. Parties like DA (Democratic Alliance), ID (Independent Demarcates), and the newly founded Cope (Congress of the People) may try to capitalize on the fact that ANC has distance itself so much from reality that not even Madiba wants to be associated with them.

Hopefully, Madiba’s action will work as an alarm clock for the South African people. They will see that supporting ANC is not a must anymore, and that perhaps other parties are better fitted to be running the country. The fact that DA is making good progress in Cape Town (where they are the ruling party) and that ANC doesn’t have any substantial support in the urban areas clearly prospects a sigh of change. Lets only hope that this change will not end up in political violence.

Ps. Other important events that occurred at this date includes the birthday of the co-founder of evolutionary theory Alfred Wallace, and music legends Elvis Presley and David Bowie. (Hope I haven't forgotten anyone's birthday now...)

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Sunday, 4 January 2009

I hope Israel will wipe out Palestine 2.0

Three days ago I wrote a post on this blog about the current crisis in the Gaza-strip (see I hope Israel will wipe out Palestine). I quickly received a lot of comments that either praised me or condemned me for what I had written. And one can see that it took some 50 comments before anyone actually bother to reflect on the core of my message; Why is it that people get so upset when killing, slaughter and mutilation occur in one part of the world, but remain silent when it happens in another part?

When I, in the last couple of months, tried to steer focus towards the conflict in DRC, the HIV epidemic, or the ongoing and prospective food crisis, I got practically no reaction. Perhaps I didn’t use an as controversial title as I did in the Israel-Palestine post. But surely post like; "HIV/AIDS research is a waste of money" and "Can starvation be of any good?" deserve some attention. Or are we so exceptionally narrow minded that we can only focus on one conflict at the time? Have we become completely unable to give our divided attention and engagement to more than one suffering group of people at a time?

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Saturday, 3 January 2009

African development – please hold...

The results from the Ghanaian presidential election are now coming in. And as so many times before, in connection with potential change of leadership in African countries, there are reports of a tense and violent atmosphere. The mandatory accusations of election fraud have also occurred. We have seen it way to often over the last year, and one almost start to wonder if Africa do not want to rise out of its under-development and poverty.

Going through my memory from the past year (and a bit just before 2008), I can recollect following change of leadership in African countries that didn’t go as smooth as they suppose to:
  • Kenya – The results from the election in late 2007 were not accepted, and months of riots and killings followed.
  • Zimbabwe – Mugabe and his Zanu PF did not accept the results from the presidential election in April 2008. Violence followed, and the situation is still far from resolved.
  • Angola – Apparently rigged elections (almost always the case when a party gets over 80% of the votes…). Tense situation, but few reports are coming through from the aftermath.
  • Guinea – The country's leader dies in December 2008, and the military takes over the leadership, promising free elections in two(!) years time.
  • Ghana – Tense situation after a very narrow win for the oppositional candidate in the presidential election.
  • South Africa - Although the presidential election is in April 2009, the ruling party, ANC, has sent out signals that it will use force if things don't go their way.

Maybe there are even more mishaps in 2008 in Africa. Perhaps I’m deceived by the media reports, and blowing things out of proportions here. But I truly feel that this veil of insecurity creates a situation of short-termness in African countries. This is now haunting the development of the continent, as risks are often too high for potential investors to contribute into the countries’ economies. I mean who wants to put in money in projects that are only certain to live until the next election…?

What many Africa countries need is a true evolution. The pivotal factors for this are variation and competition, which are currently very rare across many of the countries in focus. African leadership seldom change (low competition), and when it does it is within the same party/political line (low variation) (see Africa needs new blood). This has to change, and it has to change soon, or else the rest of the world will leave the African continent completely behind.

I wish and hope that we could see African leaders being as eager to criticize election frauds and election violence in other African countries, as they are eager to blame colonialism for all the bad things that has happened them. I would also be pleased to see the rest of the world showing the same level of engagement for the conflicts at this continent, as they show for any issues surrounding what America or Israel is doing. But maybe this is too much to wish for...?

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Thursday, 1 January 2009

I hope Israel will wipe out Palestine

The last couple of days’ bombing of the Gaza strip by the Israelis has left me wondering. What is so special about the Palestinians in particular and the whole conflict in general, that it results in such huge reactions from around the world? I am really trying to understand why politicians, media, blogers etc. get so excited about this insignificant little conflict.

My wondering goes hand in hand with my search for efficient ways to shine a spotlight of attention on several other conflicts around the world. I have previously come to the conclusion that some American or western European casualties would probably be very beneficial in this quest (see We need more westerner civilian causalities and A modest proposal). However, I am not sure if that is enough to get a full-scale engagement going.

What is it that makes Palestine-Israel conflict so special compared to other conflicts? Cutting to the chase quite quickly I will simply state that this particular conflict arouses people around the world because it gives them the chance to kick on Israel. There is probably very little care for the Palestinian victims here; there is only a thirst for jumping on Israel and its allied.

Accordingly, in order to bring attention to other armed conflicts in the world we need Israel’s help. As so many detest this country, and its action, we could draw some advantage from this by sending Israeli troops to, say, Darfur, DRC or Zimbabwe. Imagine Israeli forces fighting on Mugabe’s side. This would generate such an outcry around the world, that Tsvangirai would become Zimbabwe’s leader in no time.

Unfortunately Israeli troops are currently quite unavailable, as they are engaged in fighting in Gaza and other areas(?). I fear that any compromises in the conflict between Israel and Palestine will only prolong it. Consequently, I hope for a speedy wiping out of Palestine by Israel, so that we can see a swift shipping out of Israeli troops to other conflict areas around the world. Hopefully, this transition will happen quickly enough, so that the anti-Israel protester will not lose their momentum in bringing attention to anything that Israel is doing.

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