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Posts tagged ‘Nordic Land of Sweden’

UN officials in Sweden for talks on North Korea, Syria

April 21, 2018

BACKAKRA, Sweden (AP) — The U.N. secretary-general and ambassadors from countries on the Security Council assembled Saturday in Sweden for an informal meeting on weighty international issues, including developments on the Korean Peninsula and in Syria.

The annual joint brainstorming session for the United Nations’ movers and shakers is being hosted this year by the Swedish government on the picturesque farm estate of Dag Hammarskjold in southern Sweden.

Hammarskjold was a Swedish diplomat who served as the second U.N. secretary-general before he died in a plane crash in September 1961. Talking to reporters before the meeting, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres briefly commented on North Korea’s announcement that it has suspended nuclear and long-range missile tests.

He said he was optimistic about North Korea’s decision, saying that “the path is open for the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said Pyongyang’s statement “clearly shows that when you have a unity within the (U.N.) Security Council, you can achieve things.”

However, Lofven remained cautious about the situation. “To speculate what would happen is perhaps a bit too dangerous, but it does look positive, yes,” he said. Meanwhile, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., said diplomats were “still deadlocked” over Syria.

The meeting comes just a week after France, Britain and the U.S. launched joint airstrikes at suspected Syrian chemical weapons sites, saying Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government was behind an alleged chemical weapons attack in the town of Douma.

Haley said she and the other diplomats welcomed the working meeting as a chance to get a break from their normal routines “Retreats like this are very important for us to get away from New York sometimes and discuss these things in a way that we can really try and find a solution,” she said.

Guterres is set to stay in Sweden until Monday.

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World’s First Road That Recharges Vehicles While Driving Opens in Sweden

13.4.2018 Friday

Sweden inaugurated on Wednesday the first road of its kind that can recharge commercial and passenger car batteries while driving.

The eRoadArlanda project consists of 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) of electric rail installed on a public road outside Arlanda Airport. The innovation was funded by the Swedish Transport Administration and is part of the government’s goal of fossil fuel-free transportation infrastructure by 2030.

According to the project website, the road works by transferring energy from an electrified rail to a movable arm attached underneath the vehicle. The arm is able to detect and lower onto the electrified section when the vehicle drives above it.

The road is divided into 50-meter sections, with each section supplying power only when a vehicle is above it. When the vehicle stops, the current is disconnected. The system is also able to calculate the vehicle’s energy consumption, which enables electricity costs to be debited per vehicle and user.

A diesel-turned-electric truck owned by logistics firm PostNord is the first to use the road. Over the next 12 months, the truck will stay juiced as it shuttles deliveries between Arlanda Airport and its distribution center 12 kilometers away, The Local reported.

“Everything is 100 percent automatic, based on the connector magnetically sensing the road,” Hans S?ll, chairman of the eRoadArlanda consortium and business development director at construction firm NCC, told The Local. “As a driver you drive as usual, the connector goes down onto the track automatically and if you leave the track, it goes up automatically.”

The developers claim that electrified roads can cut fossil fuel emissions by 80 to 90 percent. According to the project website, “operating costs will be minimal, due to significant reductions in energy consumption arising from the use of efficient electric engines. Electricity is also a cleaner, quieter and less expensive source of energy, compared with diesel.”

S?ll told the Guardian, “If we electrify 20,000 kilometers of highways that will definitely be be enough.”

“The distance between two highways is never more than 45 kilometers and electric cars can already travel that distance without needing to be recharged. Some believe it would be enough to electrify 5,000 kilometers,” he added.

According to the Guardian, electrification will cost about €1 million ($1.23 million) per kilometer, which is said to be 50 times lower than the cost of building an urban tram line.

“One of the most important issues of our time is the question of how to make fossil-free road transportation a reality,” S?ll said in a statement. “We now have a solution that will make this possible, which is amazing. Sweden is at the cutting edge of this technology, which we now hope to introduce in other areas of the country and the world.”

Source: EcoWatch.

Link: https://www.ecowatch.com/electric-vehicles-recharge-road-sweden-2559608067.html.

‘Allah,’ ‘Ali’ writing discovered in Sweden’s Viking graves

October 7, 2017

Viking-era burial costumes depicting the names “Allah” and “Ali” were discovered by Swedish researchers last week, raising questions about the relation between Muslim and the Scandinavian civilization.

Archaeology researchers from Uppsala University discovered the silk costumes with Kufic script during excavations in Viking graves located in Sweden’s Birka city.

Muslims use the word “Allah” for God, while Ali is the name of Prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law.

The Vikings could have been influenced by Islam and “the idea of an eternal life in paradise after death,” Annika Larsson, a researcher in textile archaeology at Uppsala University, told Anadolu Agency Friday.

“In the Quran, it is written that the inhabitants of paradise will wear garments of silk, which along with the text band’s inscriptions may explain the widespread occurrence of silk in Viking Age graves,” the researcher said in an earlier statement.

Similar Kufic characters were also found in mosaics on burial monuments and mausoleums, primarily in Central Asia, the university said in a statement.

In 2015, Swedish researchers at Stockholm University also discovered a ninth century ring in a Viking grave with an inscription that says “for Allah” or “to Allah.”

Following the ring’s discovery, researchers concluded that there was interaction between the Vikings and the Muslim civilization and the former carried Muslim goods to their homes.

Source: Daily Sabah.

Link: https://www.dailysabah.com/history/2017/10/07/allah-ali-writing-discovered-in-swedens-viking-graves.

50 detained as anti-Semitic group marches in Swedish city

September 30, 2017

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Police said at least 50 people were detained Saturday during a right-wing demonstration in Sweden’s second-largest city that left one police officer and several others injured.

The rally by the Nordic Resistance Movement in Goteborg, 400 kilometers (248 miles) southwest of Stockholm, featured an estimated 600 people marching in formation in all-black outfits. Some wore helmets and held shields, while others hoisted the movement’s green-and-white flags.

Police had posted flyers before the event warning people not to act in a way reminiscent of German Nazis demonstrations in the 1930s and 1940s. NMR, which promotes an openly anti-Semitic doctrine, originally sought to pass near a downtown synagogue during the march, which coincided with Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day of the year. But Swedish courts intervened and shortened the route to less than one kilometer (0.6 mile.) The rally’s ending time also was shortened to avoid clashing with a nearby soccer game.

Counter-demonstrators threw fireworks and attempted several times to break police lines, allegedly to confront NMR members, who also tried to get past riot police. Several were detained on suspicion of rioting, police said.

“Stones, bottles and sticks were also thrown at us,” police spokesman Hans Lippens said. Police offered to shuttle NMR members away in buses after they were circled by riot police on a Goteborg square, preventing them from completing their march. Police said the move was meant to keep both sides apart.

The NMR later demanded that its leader who had been detained, Simon Lindberg, be released before they would leave the square. Counter-demonstrators threw rocks at police outside the Liseberg amusement park, which reportedly shut down its main entrance.

Some 20 people, mostly Danes and Germans, were stopped as they arrived in Sweden to take part in the demonstration. “As a democracy, we should do much more to oppose Nazism and extremism,” Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told reporters Friday at an EU summit in Tallinn.

Goteborg was scarred by violent demonstrations in 2001 on the sidelines of a European Union summit.

Pope names cardinals for Laos, Mali, Sweden, Spain, Salvador

May 21, 2017

VATICAN CITY (AP) — In a surprise announcement Sunday, Pope Francis named new cardinals for Spain, El Salvador and three countries where Catholics are a tiny minority: Mali, Laos and Sweden. “Their origin, from different parts of the world, manifests the universality of the Church spread out all over the Earth,” Francis said, speaking from the window of the Apostolic Palace to thousands of faithful in St. Peter’s Square.

The five churchmen chosen are Monsignor Jean Zerbo, archbishop of Bamako, Mali, where he has been involved in peace efforts amid Islamist extremism; Monsignor Juan Jose Omella, archbishop of Barcelona, Spain; Monsignor Anders Arborelius of Stockholm, who became a Catholic at the age of 20; Monsignor Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, apostolic vicar of Pakse, Laos; and Monsignor Gregorio Rosa Chavez, an auxiliary bishop who works as a parish pastor in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Francis will formally elevate the five to cardinal’s rank in a ceremony at the Vatican on June 28. Then the new “princes of the church,” as the red-hatted, elite corps of churchmen who elect popes are known, will co-celebrate Mass with Francis the next day, the Feast Day of Saints Peter and Paul, an important Vatican holiday.

Since being elected pontiff in 2013, Francis has made a point of visiting his flock in places where Catholics are in the minority, as well as of working to improve relations between churches and among believers of different faiths.

His brief pilgrimage last year to Sweden, where Lutherans are the Christian majority, was hailed by some as instrumental in helping to improve relations between the two churches. While there, he joined Lutheran leaders in a common commemoration of the Protestant Reformation that divided Europe five centuries ago.

Arborelius, who is 67, converted to Catholicism when he was 20. In 1998, when he was consecrated as a bishop in Stockholm’s Catholic cathedral, Arborelius became Sweden’s first Catholic bishop, of Swedish origin, since the times of the Reformation,

In Mali, a country bloodied by Islamist extremism, Muslims constitute the predominant religious majority. Zerbo’s clerical resume reveals him to be a churchman working for reconciliation in society, a virtue repeatedly stressed by Francis. The Vatican noted that Zerbo, 73, who was named an auxiliary bishop of Bamako in 1998 and 10 years later was made that city’s archbishop, has played a role in peace negotiations.

Extremists attacked a hotel in Bamako in 2015, killing 19 people. Last month, the U.N. peacekeeping chief for Mali called the security situation there alarming, warning that extremist groups operating under the al-Qaida banner were carrying out more sophisticated attacks and Islamic State militants were slowly making inroads.

There has been slow progress in implementing a peace deal reached in June 2015 between Mali’s government, Tuareg separatists and armed groups in the north. In Laos, the tiny Catholic community has often struggled to persevere, including under communist-led rule. Mangkhanekhoun, 73, was ordained a priest in 1972 and has served as a bishop since 2001. The Vatican paid tribute to his work in visiting faithful in mountain villages. Since early this year, he has served as apostolic administrator in Vientiane.

Catholicism has been the majority religion in Spain and in El Salvador, although in parts of Central and South America, evangelical Protestant sects have been gaining converts from the Catholic church.

The resume of Chavez, 74, also includes credentials valued by the pope, who has made serving the poor a key focus of the Catholic church’s mission. Chavez heads the Latin American division of Caritas, the Catholic charity. He was appointed an auxiliary bishop in 1982 for San Salvador, where he now will be based as a cardinal after serving as a parish pastor in the city.

Chavez worked closely with the late Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, who during El Salvador’s civil war was shot to death by a right-wing death squad while saying Mass in 1980. Pope Francis has denounced Catholic clerics who “defamed” Romero after the slaying, a campaign that delayed Romero’s eventual beatification.

Francis’ pick for the Spain cardinal’s post, Omella, 71, worked as a missionary in Zaire earlier in his career and serves on the Vatican’s powerful Congregation of Bishops office. Since December 2015, he has been archbishop of Barcelona.

In announcing his selections, Francis expressed hope that the new cardinals with their work and “their advice will sustain me more intensely in my service as bishop of Rome, universal pastor of the church.” In other remarks to the faithful in the square, Francis referred to the situation of another Catholic minority — Chinese whose loyalty to the pope has put them at odds with authorities of the state-sanctioned Catholic church in China, and sometimes brought persecution.

He prayed that Catholics in China would be able to bring their “personal contribution for the communion among believers and harmony in the entire society.” Francis is eager to see improved Vatican-China relations. Both sides have for decades been at odds over Chinese authorities’ insistence that they have the right to appoint bishops, a prerogative the Vatican says only belongs to the pope.

He urged Catholics in China to “stay open to meeting and dialogue, always.”

Sweden drops case but WikiLeaks’ Assange is not in the clear

May 19, 2017

LONDON (AP) — Swedish prosecutors have dropped their investigation into a rape allegation against Julian Assange, almost seven years after it began and five years after the WikiLeaks founder sought refuge inside Ecuador’s London embassy.

Assange’s Swedish lawyer Per E. Samuelson declared Friday that “this is a total victory for Julian Assange. He is now free to leave the embassy when he wants.” But the picture is more complicated than that.

HAS ASSANGE BEEN EXONERATED?

No. The investigation began after two women accused Assange of sexual offenses during a 2010 visit to Stockholm — allegations he denies. Sweden asked Britain to extradite Assange for questioning, and in June 2012 he sought refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid arrest.

After that, the investigation stalled. Swedish prosecutors dropped cases of alleged sexual misconduct when the statute of limitations ran out in 2015, leaving only the rape allegation. Marianne Ny, the Swedish director of public prosecutions announced Friday that she was dropping the rape case because there is no prospect of bringing Assange to Sweden “in the foreseeable future” and it is “no longer proportionate” to maintain the European arrest warrant.

She told a news conference in Stockholm that the investigation could be reopened if Assange returns to Sweden before the statute of limitations lapses in 2020. Ny said the case was not being dropped because Assange has been found innocent.

“We don’t make any statement of guilty or not,” she said.

IS ASSANGE FREE TO LEAVE THE ECUADOREAN EMBASSY?

Sweden has revoked a European Arrest Warrant for Assange, so British police are no longer seeking him for extradition. But there is also a warrant issued by a British court after he skipped bail in June 2012.

London’s Metropolitan Police force says that it “is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the embassy.” The maximum sentence for that offense is a year in prison.

Assange said Friday that “my legal staff have contacted the U.K. authorities and we hope to engage in a dialogue about what is the best way forward.”

Ecuador, which has granted Assange asylum, says it will step up diplomatic efforts to gain him safe passage to the Latin American country.

ARE THERE OTHER CHARGES AGAINST ASSANGE?

That’s unclear. Assange suspects there is a secret U.S. indictment against him for WikiLeaks’ publication of leaked classified American documents, which has infuriated U.S. officials. CIA Director Mike Pompeo has branded WikiLeaks a “hostile intelligence service,” and Attorney General Jeff Sessions said last month that Assange’s arrest is a priority.

Both U.S. and British officials have declined to comment on whether there is a warrant for Assange’s arrest.

Assange told reporters Friday he would be happy to discuss his case with the U.S. Department of Justice.

DOES SWEDEN’S ACTION MAKE ASSANGE SAFER?

Some legal experts say it makes his position less secure. Until Friday, Britain was bound to honor Sweden’s extradition request before any warrant from the United States. That is no longer the case.

Lawyer David Allen Green, who has followed the case, tweeted: “Once outside embassy, Assange more at risk from any U.S. extradition attempt than if he had gone to Sweden.”

Assange could fight any U.S. extradition request in the British courts, a process that could take years.

WHITHER WIKILEAKS?

WikiLeaks’ release of classified material has continued unabated during Assange’s five years in the Ecuadorean embassy. On Friday, the group released what it said were new details of CIA cyberespionage tools.

Swedish cows in a great moooo-d as summer pastures open

April 29, 2017

DROTTNINGHOLM, Sweden (AP) — Despite a cold wind and chilling temperatures, spring has come to Sweden. At least, spring for the milk cows. In an annual event that warms hearts across the country, “koslapp” (KOOH-slep) — the cow release — has become a popular family outing for urban residents. That’s when the farmers of Sweden free their cows from the barns and stables where they have spent the long, dark, cold winter.

Dozens of dairy cows were frolicking and jumping Saturday on the outskirts of Stockholm, the capital. “I live in the city and it’s really nice to come out to the countryside,” said 37-year-old Linda Lundberg from Stockholm who attended the event with her friends. “It’s fun to celebrate spring together with the cows.”

In recent years, milk farms across Sweden have seen a growing number of people attending what used to be simply a big day for Sweden’s agricultural community. Last year, alone, dairy cooperative Arla Foods saw around 165,000 people flock to their farms across the Scandinavian country to watch the cows, frisky with excitement, race out into the sun and the lush summer pastures.

“We make a lot of people happy, both families and children,” explained Elin Rydstrom, 37, who has spent the past week preparing to welcome about 1,000 people at her small organic farm in Drottningholm. She’s noticed a real shift in people’s attitude toward farmers.

“When I was little, people would tease me at school and say ‘You smell like cows,'” she recalled. Now her children’s classmates come to the farm “and everyone thinks it’s really nice.” Media-savvy farmers are now turning to social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to change the perception of their profession and to encourage people to reflect on where their food comes from.

“Snapchat allows me to bring the farm to the city,” explained 28-year-old dairy farmer Anna Pettersson. She posts farm-life photos on social media and answers questions from users, including about animal welfare, food production and the length of her working hours.

Pettersson told The Associated Press that she hoped social media will encourage people to better understand what they consume and the need to pay for quality produce. A mere 30 minutes after their release, the cows were settling into their new environment while groups of people elsewhere on the farm were searching for the best picnic spot.

“It’s something special to have a farm and to be able to do this,” Rydstrom said. “To show the importance of quality food and being out in nature.”

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