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November 24 2013

Roma in Norway Evicted from Camp by Police

During the week of November 18, 2013, Oslo police and state property owner Statsbygg dismantled a Roma camp, acting on court orders. The Roma settlement was located on public recreational grounds at Sognsvann, Norway. An Oslo appeals court ordered this eviction, agreeing with Statsbygg that the settlers had surpassed the legal two nights in a row that people are allowed to camp there. Some of the Roma campers now plan to leave Norway entirely, while others plan to appeal the eviction. Norwegian site says:

A support group for the Roma folk told news bureau NTB that they plan to appeal the eviction to Norway’s Supreme Court, but the court order is now enforceable and the campers left voluntarily. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that only one man protested, but he also ended up leaving the area.

January 06 2013

Sex Allegations Hound Russia's Top Blogger

In the days leading up to the New Year, as everyone was preparing for celebration and anticipating a welcome break from Twitter, RuNet was hit with a bizarre scandal. At another time it would have perhaps attracted more attention — as it stands, it soon lost momentum and was replaced with other controversies, leaving behind unanswered questions.

Rustem Adagamov. 2011, CC 3.0 from Wikimedia Commons.

In a nutshell, Tatyana Delsal, ex-wife of top blogger and Coordinating Council member Rustem Adagamov (a.k.a. drugoi [ru]), has accused him of statutory rape. The first accusation came in a December 27th post on Delsal's blog, autre_nouvelle, where she wrote [ru]:

Адагамов преступник. Против несовершеннолетних детей. Статья УГ 132, пункт 3,в […] Upd. да, в новой редакции закона п 4б. Беру полную ответственность по поводу заявленного на себя и готова подтверждать ее под присягой в суде.

Adagamov is a criminal. Crimes against minors. Article 132 of the Criminal Code, part 3,c […] Update. yes, in the new version of the law it's part 4b. I take full responsibility for my statements and I am ready to testify to them in court and under oath.

Article 132, Part 4 (b) refers [ru] to “sexual assault, when perpetrated against persons who have not reached 14 years of age.”

Delsal's accusation was picked up and disseminated by ntv (no relation to the TV channel), a blogger known for scandalous posts and kompromat. In his post [ru], ntv stated as a fait accompli that Adagamov, who has recently been speaking out against Russia's anti-adoption law, is a pedophile. He also stated that he contacted Delsal to confirm her identity as the author of the original post.

Readers were divided in their opinions. Some were ready to believe the worst about Adagamov, who, while popular, is not well loved. Many, though, took a different view [ru]:

Не секрет что бывшие жены имеют привычку сочинять самую невероятную хуйню во имя священной войны с бывшим мужем.

It's no secret that ex-wives have the tendency to make up the most unbelievable sh*t in the name of holy war with the ex-husband.

Tatyana Delsal giving interview to unknown parties. YouTube screenshot, Jan 5, 2013.

The day after ntv broke the story, another accusation from Delsal appeared, this time as a YouTube video. Delsal, who lives in Norway and has recently recovered from cancer, added several details to her accusation: the victim was twelve at the time of the assault which took place several years ago, and she had only found out about it within the last year. Delsal also alleged that she is in possession of factual proof. Because of the green grass and bushes in the background of the video, and taking into account Norwegian winters, the video appears to have been recorded some months prior to its publication.

Adagamov responded to the accusations with a series of tweets, alleging [ru] that:

Меня, кстати, об этой съемке предупреждали ребята в Москве еще осенью. Говорили, что к Татьяне выехала «Анатомия протеста».

By the way, I was warned of this video in Moscow back in Fall. They said that “The Anatomy of Protests” has gone to see Tatyana.

He was referring to a series of documentary films smearing opposition leaders produced for Russian television over the past year. Adagamov seems to say that he is being set up, and his wife is in on it. Nevertheless, he noted [ru] that:

[…] она мне до сих пор родной человек, хоть и не может простить мне измену

[…] she is still dear to me, even though she can't forgive me for infidelity

And [ru]:

И последнее. Ребята, вы поймите, я мужик, я не могу говорить плохо о своей бывшей жене. Я с ней 20 лет прожил. Поэтому, я буду молчать.

Lastly. Guys, please understand, I am a man, I can't speak badly about my ex-wife. I've lived 20 years with her. So, I will remain silent.

Pro-Kremlin bloggers gleefully ran with the story. Unabashedly anti-opposition blogger Politrash has leaked [ru] what purports to be a series of emails between Adagamov and Delsal, provided by Delsal to the source of the YouTube video. In these emails Delsal levels accusations at Adagamov, who does not dispute them, responding mainly by begging her not to destroy his life. The melodramatic contents hint at fabrication. Furthermore, as some Politrash's readers have pointed out [ru], the email time stamps are suspect.

For example, the following is a series of consecutive time stamps:

On Jun 24, 2012, at 8:32 PM, Татьяна wrote:
On Jun 24, 2012, at 6:38 PM, Drugoi wrote:
On Jun 24, 2012, at 8:53 PM, Татьяна wrote:
On Jun 24, 2012, at 7:03 PM, Drugoi wrote:

At first glance it appears that the confusion is due to a two hour time difference between the correspondents. However, since Norway is UTC +2:00 during the summer, and Moscow is permanently UTC +4:00, this would mean that Delsal (who lives in Norway) was in Moscow and Adagamov (who mainly lives in Moscow) was in Norway, when the emails were written. Otherwise, assuming Delsal was in Norway during the exchange, Adagamov would have to be writing from Iceland (UTC +0 year round). Or, perhaps, whoever composed this string of emails was confused by time zones.

Some members of the nationalist opposition, who have a bone to pick with anti-nationalist Adagamov, also couldn't pass up the chance to take a swing [ru]:

[…] ненависть к националистам - первый симптом начинающейся педофилии. Сегодня ты ругаешь Русское Национальное Государство, а завтра - трахаешь детей.

[…] hating nationalists is the first symptom of a developing pedophilia. Today you curse the Russian National State, tomorrow - you f*ck children.

The situation is obfuscated by the fact that people attacking Adagamov are the usual suspects — pro-government and anti-opposition. On the other hand, people who speak for him are fellow members of the opposition, who assume that Kremlin is behind everything. This has led Vladimir Golishev, a fiercely anti-government blogger, to state [ru]:

Универсальное правило “наш человек непогрешим по определению” одинаково работает везде - в Кремле, в Священном Синоде, в “КС оппозиции”.

The universal rule “our man is innocent by definition” works the same everywhere - in the Kremlin, in the Holy Synod, in the “Coordinating Council of the Opposition”.

Even Adagamov's silence can be interpreted in different ways. To some it's paramount proof of his guilt. To others [ru], it only speaks to his superior character:

Давайте снимем шляпы перед мужеством Адагамова, который с таким невозмутимым спокойствием, молча и без истерик, выжидает паузу.

Lets take our hats off to the bravery of Adagamov, who silently and without hysterics, and with unperturbed calm, is waiting this out.

Of course, there are some exceptions to the rule. Artemy Lebedev, another of RuNet's most popular bloggers, who generally steers clear of politics and scandals that don't involve himself, decided to weigh in [ru] this time, saying that:

Я знал про эту историю полгода назад.

I knew about this story half a year ago.

Internet guru Anton Nosik also couldn't keep silent. Although he appears to think that the accusations are likely false, he couldn't help damning Adagamov with his “praise”:

[…] я помню, как он страшно переживал, когда у его жены нашли рак. […] её организм спасли. Но, как сам Рустем мне рассказывал в 2007 году, после операции его жена сошла с ума. […] Готов в любом суде выступить свидетелем в его защиту. По-человечески по-прежнему считаю его говном.

[…] I remember how he was worried when they found his wife's cancer. […] her body was saved. But, as Rustem himself told me in 2007, after the surgery his wife went insane. […] I am ready to testify for him in any court. But as a human being, I still think he is a piece of sh*t.

Nosik later made his post private, but not before many people took screenshots [ru].

Nosik's testimony about Adagamov's character did not go unnoticed. DemVybor's Kirill Shulika wrote [ru]:

Не знаю травля это или нет, похоже, что травля, но чувак-то он мерзкий, вся эта красота легла на благодатную почву. […] К слову, даже Носег пишет, что Адагамов говно, но свое, оно не пахнет и типа он будет его защищать.

I don't know if it's persecution or not, seems like persecution, but he's a vile dude, and all this fell on fertile ground. […] By the way, even Nosik writes that Adagamov is a sh*t, but he's our sh*t, and it don't stink, and he will defend him or something.

After going silent for several days, Delsal spoke out again on January 3rd, in a comment [ru] to Oleg Lurie, who wondered if after the much ado there would be any legal action:

Следствие будет и я его добьюсь. Надеюсь на экспертизу переписки и другие доказательства. Ни кремль, ни деньги, ни политика в принципе здесь не имеют никакого отношения.

There will be a criminal investigation, I will make sure of it. I count on examination of the letters and other proof. Neither Kremlin, nor money, nor politics have anything to do with this, in principle.

Interest in the scandal seems to be running low, at least judging by the dearth of recent tweets about it. In the end, if the accusations are true, Adagamov will serve time. And if they are indeed part of a Kremlin defamation campaign, one can only laugh at the heavy weaponry brought to bear on a simple blogger. One hopes, at least, that this tweet [ru] by Adagamov was meant as a joke:

Мне тут мексиканская разведка озвучила за сколько меня заказали. Заказ до летального исхода.

By the way, Mexican intelligence told me how much this hit job on me apparently cost. It's a fatal outcome type of job.

Sponsored post

August 08 2012

Palestine: Swedish Ship Attempting to Break the Blockade Sails to Gaza

Scandinavian ship SV Estella will attempt to sail to Gaza in an attempt to break the blockade on the Palestinian enclave. The ship sailed from Oslo on August 7, 2012, and is backed by mostly Swedish and Norwegian groups. Organizers hope that other ships will join them before they reach Gaza in October. for updates, follow the mission's Twitter account @ShiptoGazaSE.

May 18 2012

Designer jail: inside Norway's Halden prison - in pictures 

No, this is not a Scandinavian boutique hotel, it is a class A prison housing murderers and rapists

May 09 2012

From the archive, 9 May 1994: Edvard Munch's stolen Scream recovered in undercover sting

Scotland Yard detectives played a key role in the undercover sting operation which recovered Edvard Munch's stolen masterpiece from a south Norway hotel
From the archive blog: Edvard Munch's worthless art

Scotland Yard detectives played a key role in the undercover sting operation which recovered the stolen Norwegian painting, The Scream, it was revealed yesterday.

Norwegian police found Edvard Munch's masterpiece virtually undamaged at a hotel in south Norway on Saturday. Three Norwegians were later arrested.

According to the daily newspaper Dagenbladet, two Metropolitan Police officers fooled the thieves by pretending they would buy the painting for £250,000.

Norwegian police had contacted London shortly after the theft and the Norwegians worked closely with Chief Inspector John Butler, head of Scotland Yard's Arts and Antiques squad.

"While John Butler worked with [Norwegian police inspector] Leif Lier...two of Butler's agents had already been in touch with people who claimed they could get hold of The Scream," the paper said.

Scotland Yard issued a brief statement confirming it had co-operated but left the Norwegians to release any further details. Knut Berg, director of the National Gallery in Oslo, said the painting had a microscopic pinprick but he described the work as undamaged.

"The thieves must have handled it with extreme caution," he said. "It was wonderful to see the painting again and we hope to have it back on the wall on Wednesday," Mr Berg said.

Two men, filmed by video, carried out the theft on February 12, on the day of the opening of the Winter Olympics at Lillehammer. They smashed a window, grabbed the painting and disappeared in less than a minute.

"I am extremely happy and relieved that one of our greatest and most well-known art treasures has been recovered. This has been an eye-opener," said minister of culture, Aase Kleveland.

The painting, which art experts say would be impossible for thieves to sell on the open market, was found in Aasgaarstrand, a beach resort where Munch had a cottage and where he painted some of his most famous works.

British police are in the forefront of tracking down Europe's stolen art, partly because an estimated 60% of it ends up in London.

[A pastel version of The Scream sold for a record $119.9m (£74m) at an auction in New York on 3 May.] © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

April 26 2012

Video: Mothers Around the World Share their Different Experiences

In the International Museum of Women, the current online exhibit is all about mothers. MAMA: Motherhood around the Globe explores the different aspects of motherhood through video interviews to women in Nigeria, Kenya, Afghanistan, USA, Colombia, Hungary, China and Norway.

Kenyan family

Lusina from Kenya is one of the interviewed mothers for IMOW

Mama to Be is the section on the expectations around motherhood and pregnancy, and how the different women, some not even out of their teens reacted and faced their impending motherhood.

How many women in the world actually have an opportunity to decide if, how, and when to create a family? What are the reasons that women today are choosing – or refusing to choose – motherhood?

In Healthy Mama, Healthy Baby, the stories these women share on their birthing experiences serve to illustrate how different cultures view birthing and health.

Every day, thousands of women worldwide give birth to new human life. While many of these women will have happy and successful deliveries, hundreds will die in childbirth. How do things like geography, income, and age affect your chances of a safe delivery? What is being done to improve upon the world’s maternal mortality rate, and how can you get involved?

In the Featured Voices section, stories were submitted by the audience and 6 stories were selected by an international jury for the Community Choice Awards. One of them is this excerpt of the hard situation in the Colombian hospital maternity wards by Jorge Caballero for Gusano Films. In Birth Journal Maternity Excerpt, a mother of 6 arrives to a checkup and then to deliver a baby. During the checkup, her story comes out through the questions asked by the doctor, and his attitude towards her changes, ending up with a suggestion for a tubal ligation and a curt farewell. During delivery, there isn't even time to move the lone woman to the gurney and into the maternity room, she gives birth on her hospital bed.

One-on-one interviews in Meet the Mamas focus the conversations around the woman and her personal story, for example, it helps contrast the different situations between a teen mother in Liberia, living what she calls in Critical Condition, and a teen mother in the United States, who through family support is able to move on ahead and continue her studies.

This exhibit in the International Museum of Women aims to get more people informed on the state of Women's Maternal Health, on their Get Involved page they suggest different ways in which readers can participate in improving the statistics and raise awareness themselves on these important issues.

April 16 2012

Australian Broadcaster Wins First Indigenous Journalism Award

The winner of the first journalism award for indigenous broadcasters hosted by the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network (WITBN) in Norway on March 29, 2012 was National Indigenous Television from Australia. The winning video and other finalists can be viewed on the WITBN website.

April 06 2012

Armenia: Straight to the village

With a GDP per capita estimated at just $5,400 in 2011, Armenia is one of the poorest countries in the former Soviet Union. But although development in the center of the country's capital, Yerevan, might paint a different picture for some tourists, especially from its large Diaspora, the economic situation is most evident in the regions of the landlocked South Caucasus country.

With regional development increasingly a priority in Armenia, online site CivilNet has teamed up with Timothy Straight, one of Armenia's few non-Armenian foreigners who have made the country their home. Traveling to a different village each week, the former head of the Norwegian Refugee Council and the Honorary Consul for Norway and Finland, hopes to change all that.

“What we're trying to do is gather information and spread it, so that people can get correct understanding of what village life in Armenia is like,” explains the text accompanying a promotional video for Թիմը գնում է գյուղ (Tim goes to the village), otherwise known as Straight to the village.

In the latest installment uploaded to YouTube on 2 April, and subtitled in English and Armenian, Straight travels to the impoverished town of Vardenis close to Armenia's Lake Sevan. The purpose of the visit is to meet with a local NGO working with disabled children.

On 12 March, the program celebrated its 20th episode with an interview with Straight where he “talks about some of the highlights and explains the reason why he does the program and the potential long-term effect of the show.”

Knighted by the King of Norway in 2010, Straight's involvement in regional development in Armenia is not limited to the video reports. Homeland Handicrafts, for example, is a voluntary organization dedicated to creating a sustainable income for artisans in Armenia.

Particularly using online tools, a blog as well as Facebook and Pinterest pages are also used to promote the initiative. Timothy Straight can also be followed on Twitter at @timothystraight.

March 15 2012

Macedonia: Fuel Prices Continue to Rise

Continuous increase of fuel prices is a cause of much concern for citizens of Macedonia, and some vent the tension through humor. The prices are set by a regulatory body, and more and more social media users object to the fact that the lion's share of the revenue in fact goes to the government, stymieing the growth of the business sector.

On his blog, Zoriv published comparisons of the prices of oil derivatives in Macedonia, the USA and the EU [mk], and also calculated how much fuel one can buy on an average salary in various countries [mk]. (Both posts are in Macedonian, but the tables with country comparisons are in English and easily comprehensible.)

So, according to Zoriv, Latvia has the lowest price of gasoline in Europe (EUR 1.20), while Norway has the highest (EUR 1.94). Consumers in Macedonia have to pay EUR 1.4. While the official explanation for rising fuel prices is always the change of price of crude oil, Zoriv points out that a major factor in forming the end price are the excise taxes that go directly to the state budgets in countries with the highest prices (Norway, Holland, Italy, the UK, and Greece). He adds:

In Macedonia, for instance, the total taxation together with the profit margin for the merchants form around 70% of the price (Official Gazette of Republic of Macedonia, no. 138/09 and 52/11). The difference between Macedonia and the EU countries, alongside the salary levels which are incomparable, is the tragic fact that even the slightest increase of oil derivative prices affects the personal material existence of every citizen of Macedonia. The latest data show that fuel consumption has decreased by 30% [mk]. The increase of fuel prices leads to a spiral of the increase of all other living expenses, while family budgets drastically decrease.

The Macedonian government temporarily abolished the excise before the June 2011 elections, but returned it later, raising the prices [mk] in August.

By calculating how much fuel a citizen can buy with an average salary, Zoriv tried to shed light on income disparities: in the United States, one can buy 4,296 liters of gasoline on an average monthly salary. In Europe, the top spots go to Switzerland (3,441 l), Luxemburg (3,439 l), and Germany (3.075 l). The lowest on the list are Macedonia (243 l) and Albania (194 l), with a “disastrous ratio of 1:14″ compared to the leading “rich” countries.

According to the 2010 edition of the annual publication 200 Largest Companies in Macedonia, prepared and published by the Euro Business Center – Skopje, the two largest companies in the country are: the sole oil refinery OKTA (owned by the Greek interests, privatized while the current PM Gruevski served as the Minister of Finance) and the biggest oil derivatives distributor Makpetrol, with the total revenues of EUR 512 million and EUR 350 million, respectively.

The prospects for the future seem bleak. According to the UNDP report “Assessing the Economic Impact of Climate Change,” Macedonia also faces numerous other challenges in the energy sector.

Social media users shared various kinds of data related to the fuel price increase, such as the table [mk] showing the elements that form the prices of fuel:

Elements of fuel prices in Macedonian Denars.

They also posted various reactions to ongoing developments with the fuel prices, and the most shared were the humorous responses, such as this joke: “Would you like to take your girlfriend someplace expensive? - Take her to a gas station!” The latest chuckle is a demotivation-style meme featuring the late Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito and a supposed laconic quote in Croatian:

Tito advises on gasoline

Photo of Tito and a supposed quote: You say the gasoline got more expensive? Well, why don't you make a deal with the Non-Aligned countries?

During the Cold War, Tito was famous for striking a balance between Eastern and Western blocs, with Yugoslavia serving as a kind of a buffer, to the commercial benefit of its people. In 1961, he co-founded the Non-Aligned Movement, which included many oil-producing nations, resulting in favorable trade relations. A famous political-economic quote attributed to him (in the Lexicon of Yugoslav Mythology) is this: “The grain that we received from the Americans is much superior in quality to the grain the Soviets did not deliver.”

February 21 2012

Edvard Munch's The Scream to be sold at auction

One of four versions of famous painting could achieve $80m, making it one of most expensive art works sold at auction

A version of one of the most recognisable paintings in the world – Edvard Munch's The Scream – is to be sold by Sotheby's in New York.

The auction house said the painting could achieve in excess of $80m (£50m), which would make it one of the most expensive artworks ever sold at auction.

The painting is one of four versions created by the Norwegian artist and the only one in private hands. Simon Shaw, head of the impressionist and modern art department at Sotheby's in New York, said: "Munch's The Scream is the defining image of modernity, and it is an immense privilege for Sotheby's to be entrusted with one of the most important works of art in private hands.

"Instantly recognisable, this is one of very few images which transcends art history and reaches a global consciousness. The Scream arguably embodies even greater power today than when it was conceived.

"At a time of great critical interest in the artist, and with the 150th anniversary of his birth in 2013, this spring is a particularly compelling time for The Scream to appear on the market. For collectors and institutions, the opportunity to acquire such a singularly influential masterpiece is unprecedented in recent times."

Shaw said it was difficult to predict the value of The Scream but recent sales suggested that the price could exceed $80m. That would place it alongside auction record holders, such as Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, which holds the current record after it sold for $106m (£70m) at Christie's in New York in May 2010. That broke the previous record of $104.3m paid three months earlier for Giacometti's Walking Man I at Sotheby's in London.

The Scream is owned by the Norwegian businessman Petter Olsen – part of the Olsen shipping family – whose father, Thomas, was a friend and patron of Munch.

Olsen said: "I have lived with this work all my life, and its power and energy have only increased with time.

"Now, however, I feel the moment has come to offer the rest of the world a chance to own and appreciate this remarkable work, which is the only version of The Scream not in the collection of a Norwegian museum."

He added: "I am concerned as an environmentalist about man's relationship with nature, and I feel The Scream makes an important statement about this."

The work was one of many by Munch that Olsen's father had acquired in an effort to further the artist's reputation by lending the collection to exhibitions overseas, he said.

"In that tradition, proceeds from this sale will go toward the establishment of a new museum, art centre and hotel on my farm Ramme Gaard at Hvitsten, Norway. It will open next year in connection with the Munch 150th anniversary, and will be dedicated to the artist's work and time there."

Munch's studio and house would be restored, allowing guests to stay in the latter, he said.

This version of The Scream is the most vibrant of the four, with the prime example being in the collection of the National Gallery of Norway. It was stolen in 1994, at the start of the winter Olympics in Lillehammer, but returned later that year.

Ten years later the other two versions were stolen, this time by a masked gunman. They were also recovered and went back on display in 2008.

The sale will allow this 1895 version to go on public display in London and New York for the first time. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

January 17 2012

Black Women in European Politics: from Struggle to Success

Nowadays, it is a common occcurence to witness African-born women having successful careers in Europe. Despite the evident challenges, many of them have also distiguished themselves in politics. Still, it was not so long ago that such success would have seemed impossible. To achieve greatness, these women have often come a long way, both literally and figuratively.

In order to better appreciate the progress made, one needs to think back to the 19th century and consider the image of black women in Europe then. For the purpose of this article, we will only address the story of women from the African diaspora who have been elected to positions of leadership in countries other than the colonial powers that previously ruled their home countries.

A history of racism

Postcard depicting Sarah Baartman, Wikipedia (public domain)

The story of the “Hottentot Venus” is symptomatic of the relationship between the West and African women in the last two centuries. Sébastien Hervieu, an Africa correspondent for Le Monde newspaper in France, tells the story of Sarah Baartman from South Africa, better known as the “Hottentot Venus”. In an article published in October 2010 in his blog, he reviews [fr] Abdellatif Kechiche's [fr] film about her tragic story, Black Venus:

Au début du XIXème siècle, cette servante est emmenée en Europe et devient un objet de foire en raison de ses attributs physiques proéminents. Certains “scientifiques” utilisent sa présence pour théoriser l'infériorité de la “race noire”. Lorsqu'elle meurt à seulement 25 ans, ses organes génitaux et son cerveau sont placés dans des bocaux de formol, et son squelette et le moulage de son corps sont exposés au musée de l'Homme à Paris. C'est seulement en 2002 que la France accepte de rendre la dépouille de Saartjie Baartman à l'Afrique du Sud, concluant ainsi un long imbroglio juridique et diplomatique

At the beginning of the 19th century, this servant was brought to Europe and became a fairground attraction because of her prominent physical attributes. Some “scientists” used her presence to support the theory that the “black race” was inferior. When she died at only 25, her genitals and her brain were placed in jars of formaldehyde. Her skeleton and a molding of her body were exhibited at the Museum of Man in Paris. It was only in 2002 that France agreed to return Sarah Baartman's remains to South Africa, thereby drawing to a close a long running legal and diplomatic imbroglio [fr].

Sarah Baartman died in Paris on 29th September 1815. More than 100 years later, the Khoïkhoï people in South Africa called on Nelson Mandela to demand the restitution of Sarah's remains. The demand was met with the refusal of the French authorities and the scientific community citing the inalienable heritage of science and the state, but France eventually repatriated the body to South Africa where, in accordance with the rites of her people, it was purified and placed on a bed of dried herbs which were set alight.


Two centuries later, the position of black women in Europe has drastically changed. Amongst others, many have now been elected to political office.

Manuela Ramin-Osmundsen on Wikipedia (Norway) (CC-BY 3.0)

Manuela Ramin-Osmundsen in Norway is one of these women, and one of the most interesting because she shows the contradictions that still exist within some countries. She had to step down from a ministerial post in the Norwegian government just four months into her job. An article on sets out her career [fr]:

Originaire de l’Ile de la Martinique, à 44 ans, Manuela Ramin-Osmundsen a obtenu son poste de ministre de l’Enfance et de la Parité au sein du gouvernement de centre-gauche norvégien le 18 octobre 2007[…] Elle est mariée avec Terje Osmundsen, un homme politique membre du parti conservateur norvégien. Après son mariage, elle a pris la nationalité norvégienne et renoncé à celle de la France. Le pays n’autorisant pas la double nationalité.

Born in Martinique, 44 year old Manuela Ramin-Osmundsen gained her post as Minster for Children and Equality in the centre-left Norwegian government on 18th October 2007 […] She is married to Terje Osmundsen, a politician and member of the Norwegian conservative party. After their marriage she took Norwegian nationality and renounced her French nationality as the country does not allow dual nationality.

In an interview with Patrick Karam from the website in 2008 she explains [fr] some of the things that played in her favour in being appointed and why she stepped down following a controversy over an alleged conflict of interest in the hiring of a political appointee:

En Norvège, il y a obligation de représentation des deux sexes dans les conseils d’administration, 40 % de femmes au minimum. Nous menons aussi une politique pour inciter les hommes à prendre plus de responsabilité dans le foyer pour laisser les femmes entreprendre professionnellement. J’ai travaillé aussi sur l’enfance en danger, les violences, les maltraitances… J’ai travaillé quatre mois sans être critiquée, c’était une expérience réussie. Les critiques sont venues avec la nomination d’une médiatrice. Avec du recul, tout le monde voit que c’est une bagatelle. J’ai cédé au pouvoir de la presse.

In Norway there must be parity of representation between the two sexes within the administrative councils, with a minimum of 40% women. We are also pursuing a policy which encourages men to take more responsibilty at home, leaving women able to pursue a career. I also worked on child endangerment, violence, abuse… I worked for four months without criticism and it was a real success. The criticism began with the appointment of an ombudsman for children. In hindsight everyone can see it was something being made out of nothing. I gave in to the power of the media.


Nyamko sabuni

Nyamko Sabuni, Wikipedia (CC-BY-SA)

Nyamko Sabuni [fr] is a former minister in Sweden, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Born in Burundi in 1969, her father fled the country due to persecution. She was elected to the Riksday as a member of the parliament in 2002, and at 37 years old became a Swedish goverment minister from 2006 to 2010. An article published on sets out [fr] her progress.

En 1981, à l’âge de 12 ans, elle est arrivée en Suède avec sa mère et trois de ses cinq frères et sœurs. Là, elle a retrouvé son père, un opposant politique plusieurs fois emprisonné au Congo (actuellement République démocratique du Congo), venu dans le pays nordique grâce à Amnesty International.

In 1981, at the age of 12, she arrived in Sweden with her mother and three of her brothers and sisters. There she was reunited with her father, an opposition politician imprisoned several times in Congo (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), who had come to the Nordic country with the help of Amnesty International.

The Netherlands

Ayaan hirsi ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wikipedia (public domain)

The Hirsiali blog presents a profile of Ayaan Hirsi Ali:

Née en Somalie en 1969, excisée à l’âge de 5 ans, Ayaan Hirsi Ali est scolarisée dans un lycée musulman pour filles. Soumise à ses parents, à son clan et à sa religion jusqu’à l’âge de vingt-trois ans, elle profite d’un passage dans sa famille en Allemagne, pour s’enfuir et échapper à un mariage forcé. Réfugiée aux Pays-Bas, elle adopte les valeurs libérales occidentales au point de devenir une jeune députée à La Haye et de s’affirmer athée. Pour avoir travaillé dans les services sociaux du royaume, elle connaît, de l’intérieur, les horreurs tolérées à l’encontre des femmes au nom du multiculturalisme.

Born in Somalia in 1969 and circumcised at the age of 5, Ayaan Hirsi Ali went to a Muslim girls school. Subjugated by her parents, her clan and her religion up to the age of 23, she took advantage of a trip to visit family in Germany to flee and escape a forced marriage. Taking refuge in Holland, she adopted Western liberal values to the extent that she became a young member of parliament in The Hague and declared herself to be an athiest. After having worked in the country's social services she knows, at first hand, the horrors tolerated against women in the name of multiculturalism.

A fierce apponent of some of the aspects of Islam and African traditions that go against basic human rights, she founded an NGO whose aims are set out, on her website Ayaan Hirsiali in the following terms:

In response to ongoing abuses of women’s rights, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and her supporters established the AHA Foundation in 2007 to help protect and defend the rights of women in the West from oppression justified by religion and culture.


The first black person to be elected to the Italian parliament is Mercedes Lourdes Frias from the Dominican Republic, in the Caribbean. This is how she is described [en] on the blogging site Black Women in Europe:

Mercedes Lourdes Frias was born in the Dominican Republic. She was the first black person elected to the Italian Parliament in 2006 where she served through April 2008. She was a member of the Commission on Constitutional Affairs and the Parliamentary Committee on the Implementation of the Control of Schengen Agreement, and the Control and Surveillance on Immigration. She works on anti-racist activities and welcoming immigrants. From 1994 1997 she was a member of the Council of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy. In the town of Empoli Ms Frias served a councilor for the environment, rights of citizenship, equal opportunities.

The most surprising of the black women to have been elected via universal sufferage or appointed to positions of elevated responsibility in European countries is Sandra Maria (Sandy) Cane, elected in 2009 on a Northern League ticket; the most racist and xenophobic of Italy's political parties. One of the party's objectives is the secessoin of some of the northern part the Italian peninsula (though the boundary is not clearly undefined) because the party leaders do not like Southern Italians.

The blog (foreigners in Italy) gives a brief outline of her career [it]:

Il primo sindaco di colore in Italia ha la camicia verde. Sandra Maria (Sandy) Cane si è aggiudicata con appena 38 voti di scarto la fascia tricolore a Viggiù, cinquemila anime in Valceresio, tra Varesotto e Canton Ticino. Alle sue spalle, una lunga storia di migrazioni. Di Viggiù era originaria la famiglia materna del neosindaco, scalpellini emigrati in Francia, dove durante la seconda guerra mondiale arrivò il padre, un soldato statunitense afroamericano. Il neo sindaco è nata a Springfield, nel Massachussets, nel 1961, ma a dieci anni, dopo la separazione dei genitori, ha seguito la madre nel paesino d’origine.

Italy's first coloured mayor wears a green shirt [the colour worn by Northern League supporters]. Sandra Maria (Sandy) Cane won the tricolour scarf of the Mayor of Viggiù, a town of five thousand inhabitants in the Valceresio region, between the town of Varèse and the Canton of Tessin, with a margin on only 38 votes.
A past with a long history of migration. The new mayor's family on her mother's side were stone masons, originally from Viggiù, who migrated to France. During the Second World War, her father, an African-American soldier from the United States arrived in France. The new Mayor was born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1961, but ten years after the separation of her parents she followed her mother back to her home village.

This, according to the blog, is how she found herself [it] in politics, with a rather unlikely ideological platform:

Della Lega sono sempre stata sostenitrice, anche se mai vera militante. Quando ero ragazza morivo dal ridere a vedere i loro manifesti, curiosi e di forte impatto. Poi quindici anni fa, più o meno, mi sono avvicinata di più. […] Vedo come «molto americana» anche la Lega, per la richiesta di rispettare rigorosamente la legge, anche per i clandestini. Anche se a Viggiù, precisa, non ci sono problemi di integrazione, nè tantomeno di sicurezza. Tra le priorità, guarda al rilancio turistico del paese, con manifestazioni e attenzione alla cultura.

I have always supported the Northern League without ever being very active. When I was a little girl their posters used to make me laugh, they were curious and had a big impact. Then, around fifteen years ago I became a little more involved. […] I see it as being “very American”, even the Northern League, because they insist on a rigorous respect for the law, even for illegal immigrants. Even so, she points out that there are no problems of integration and still yet security in Viggiù. One of her priorities is to reignite tourism in the area, with events and a focus on culture.

Despite the marked progress in the inclusion of African women in European politics, they represent isolated cases as, beyond the difficulties they face due to racism or culture and religion, even within their own families and their own societies, they also have to face up to the challenges that all women across the world face [fr]: domestic violence, the challenge of bearing children, marginalisation and under-representation.

August 17 2011



If you don’t follow the weirdness on the far right then all of this will have been under your radar (or of no interest to you, like the recipes for nostalgia-tinged home cooking that may very well be at the back of the weekly KKK newsletter). It is all a way of participating in the activity of the fringe folks who say Europe is turning into “Eurabia” and that all those seemingly nice immigrants who are doing all your work for you and serving you delicious kebab have a secret plan to reduce you to “dhimmitude“, which may sound like a charming term from the lexicon of Donovan but is actually meant to make you feel certain that living around people with a different nationality and religion is sinister. There are some well known outlets for this sort of thing, which I will not bother naming or linking.

So there is the connection: these are the waters into which Mr Trifković jumped, which Mr Breivik guzzled, and which people outside of that pond probably notice fairly rarely, maybe only on those occasions when unpopular political parties like BNP manage to make their ideas part of the programme of parties with supporters, like the Tories and Labour. It contributes to building an environment of hostility in which it was reasonable to expect that somebody, sooner or later, would feel inspired to commit the kind of crime that was eventually committed in Norway.



Gobal Voices

// Eric Gordy of East Ethnia writes about the Balkan dimension of the July 22 terrorist attacks in Norway: “[…] [Anders Breivik] has the revelation that his path to violent idiocy began with his shock at the Kosovo bombing campaign in 1999. //

via oAnth

Keep on Trifkin’ « East Ethnia | 2011-08-13

August 15 2011

The Balkans, Norway: Anders Breivik and Srđa Trifković

Eric Gordy of East Ethnia writes about the Balkan dimension of the July 22 terrorist attacks in Norway: “[…] [Anders Breivik] has the revelation that his path to violent idiocy began with his shock at the Kosovo bombing campaign in 1999. So to the other sets of concerns he understands badly, he added the history of the Balkans, and his main, heavily quoted and cribbed source on that (as well as on some theological topics!) is one Srđa Trifković.”

August 03 2011

A letter from China to the Norwegian killer

Many Chinese netizens could not comprehend the atrocities committed by Anders Behring Breivik in Norway. But they are less concerned about the motives and ideologies of Breivik. In their eyes, Norway is a paradise, where people enjoy a high standard of living and do not need to confront the pressures of survival. How could it happen?

To explore this question, a female Chinese netizen “Fatty Flower” has written a long letter to Breivik on her Douban blog. She suggests Breivik to be a Chinese in his next life so that he can appreciate how lucky he is to be born as a Norwegian. Written in a highly satirical manner, the letter reads like a rambling of the life struggles that ordinary Chinese have to face right from their birth. The post proved a hit and was reprinted in numerous other channels, including the Guangzhou newspaper Southern Metropolitan Daily.

Below is a translation of the original post, together with a few selected comments in the readers' section.


首先,你TM真是太走运了,生在挪威这种地方,上学不要钱,从头到JB都有ZF养,娶了老婆之后,继续给你养小孩,下岗了还有钱拿能在家喝茶!拔diao 无压力说的就是你这种情况你知不知道!在遥远的东方不知道多少人羡慕你!还有你的JB!!!!你怎么就不珍惜幸福美好的生活!

中午看CCAV的报道,记者们到了你家楼下,我由衷的想赞叹一句哇塞豪宅啊!好几层啊!!!这么大占地面积你可以养一窝金陵十二钗啊!接着记者继续跟警方 来到你的农场。尼玛你居然还有农场啊!不知道占地多少公顷哟!尼玛你知道农场在中国比东厂还珍贵稀有吗!!!你知道郭芙蓉跟吕秀才的半生积蓄只够买一个牛 棚吗!你到底有没有在好好生活啊!



寂寞了你可以出门看看海看看峡湾,空虚了滑滑雪钓钓鱼,再不然道德低下一点花钱找人亲亲你抱抱你,找基友结婚都不犯法,你还有什么不满意的?听说你爸在法 国买了房子住的挺开心,你怎么不没事儿去看看老人家,权当出国旅游啊。P.S.你知道遥远的东方平常老百姓出个国有多困难吗?




中文里有一句古话叫做饱暖思yin欲。我古文不好,不知道这个yin欲是不是单纯指的性欲,我们姑且把它理解为邪念吧。其实你的行为要我说,就是五个字: 吃饱了撑的。想想非洲那些不知道食物是什么的孩子,他们可没功夫想怎么报复社会。其实这事真的该怨挪威ZF,你想啊,他们把你照顾的好好的,让你不需要为 生计发愁,人一空闲下来,就容易瞎想。你说说你自己是不是这样。所以还有一句话说:人类一思考,上帝就发笑!


鉴于这辈子你可能走不监狱,于是我真诚的邀请你考虑下辈子来中国投胎。在这里,生下来你就是个操心玩意儿,黄山黄河让你便秘,长城长江让你尿急。成长的过 程里你要和毒奶粉抗争,跟瘦肉精博弈。你要上各种兴趣班,左手奥数右手英语。运气好的话,你有可能出国,回到你上辈子呆过的地方,然后长舒一口气。运气不 好的话,你要经历千军万马的高考。之后上大学,再之后要谈朋友谈工作了吧。房子车子准备好你才可以拔diao。在拔diao的那一瞬间,你有没有觉得一丝 失落? 或者是片刻的如释重负?







你也许会在ATM机上突然取出一笔巨款,也许会走在路上被一辆风驰电掣的三菱跑车撞飞,会在村头的大树底下被一辆卡车碾过,也许你落魄到在街头当小贩卖水 果,被一种叫做城管的警犬以破坏市容为由揍得低空掠过。也许你会被神秘BOSS怜惜,做了他的男宠,你从此有爱马仕还有玛莎拉蒂。不过也许你没有这等艳 遇,只是带着妻子孩子安安分分的生活,偶尔出去旅旅游,坐个高铁。然后你知道,你带着老婆孩子,出了城坐在动车上,是不是觉得这个场景似曾相识,好像上辈 子也经历过?别着急,你猜得中开头,却猜不中结局。




Welcome to China.

Dear Breivik,

I am a young lady from China. A few days ago, I hear that you have killed at least 86 people. Tonight, I organized my thoughts and decided to write a letter to you while I was in the toilet. Forgive me for all my ridicules and the rough tone. But of course, I think it is unlikely that you will ever read this letter.

First of all, you are damn lucky to be born in Norway. You don’t need to pay anything for your schooling. Your government takes good care of every part of you, from head to penis. After you get married, you can get financial support for your children. When you are unemployed, you can get money and drink tea at home! Do you know that you live in an environment where you can make love without any pressure! In the Far East, so many people are envious of you! And your penis! Why don’t you treasure your life!

In the afternoon, I watched the report of the Central China Television and saw journalists gathering at your house. What a luxury place! With a few floors! You can raise a bunch of wives in such a big place! Then, the journalists followed the police to your farm. You have a farm! And how many hectares does it occupy! Do you know that in China, a farm is rarer than a factory! Do you know that Guo Furong and Lu Xiucai [note: two characters from a T.V drama] can only buy a cowshed with half of their life-time savings! Are you living your life properly!

You have killed so many people. That’s for what?

People strive for a good life and to age with grace. You don’t need to grow up with tainted milk. Although the fruits and vegetables in your country are a bit expensive, you will never know how they taste when cooked with illegal drainage oil. And they are actually quite delicious. Envy!

When you are lonely, you can go admire the Fjord. When you feel empty, you can go skiiing and fishing. Or, with a lower moral standard, pay someone to kiss and hug you; even engaging in a gay marriage is fine too. What more can you ask? I hear that your father has a house in France and he lives there quite happily. Why don’t you go see him, and treat it as an overseas trip? Do you know how difficult it is for us normal people in the East to go abroad?

I know from movies I’ve watched that there are cross-countries train tickets in Europe. I don’t know if they cover Norway. But in such a beautiful place, you can travel out of town by train together with your wife, eat good food and sing nice songs. How wonderful it would be.

Those who haven’t experienced it don’t really know what a hard mode of life entails.

I don’t know if you have admirers or followers. If you have, I advise them to go home. They are as blessed as little flowers.

There is a Chinese proverb, “If one is warm and well fed, one will think about wanton lust.” My classical Chinese is not good, and I’m not sure if “lust” here only has sexual meaning. Let us just take it as meaning evil. In my own words, you just direct your spare energy to the wrong places. Think about those African kids who have no ideas what food is. They just don’t have the energy to think about how to take revenge on the society. In fact, we have to blame this incident on the Norwegian government. Think about it: the government takes such good care of its people that they don’t need to worry about life. Silly thoughts come from idle people. There is a proverb: “man thinks, God laughs.”

I hear that you don’t need to die after killing so many people. I don’t know if I should congratulate you. After all, to die naturally is a luxury for many of us.

Because you probably won’t get out of prison for the rest of your life, I sincerely urge you consider to be a Chinese in your next life. Here, in the land of the Yellow Mountain, Yellow River, Great Wall and Yangtze River, life is complicated from the moment you are born. Right from the start, you have to struggle with tainted milk powder and poisoned meat. From an early age, you have to attend all those “interest classes”, learn English and train for Olympiad mathematics. If you are lucky, you will gain a ticket to go overseas, and return to the place you’ve been to in your earlier life. If you are less lucky, you have to compete with millions in the university entrance exam. After university, you will start thinking about friends and careers. You can only think about making love and having children after you have got a house and a car. After making love, perhaps you will feel lost, or the pressures of life relieved?

But don’t worry, life afterwards will be even more rocky. You child will arrive soon, and you have to start worrying about his intelligence and health. To enable your baby gain a head start, you just cannot wait but start to teach him while he was still in mom’s stomach.

Here I will omit 800 words, because you have experienced all those before. The familiar cycle starts again.

Do you think this is still not enough?

No worries, we can talk about yet another thing. In English, it is called surprise; in Chinese, accident.

Like Marxist philosophy, the supply of this thing far exceeds its demand.

Accidents come and go, let you fly and crash, and they are easily forgotten.

Perhaps a large sum of money will suddenly descend upon you at an ATM. Perhaps you will be crashed and thrown into the air by a speedy race car. Perhaps you will be run over by a truck below a tree in some remote villages. Perhaps you, down-and-out, sell fruits on the streets, and are beaten up by the city management officers. Perhaps you are selected by a mysterious boss to be his pet, and from then on you can enjoy luxurious brands. But perhaps, without such adventure, you just have an ordinary family. Sometimes, you may bring your wife and children out for a train trip. You know, you bring them out of town on a high-speed rail. Sounds familiar? Does that also happen in your last life? But wait, you guess the beginning correctly, but not the ending.

You eat good food and sing nice song. Suddenly, your train was hit from behind by another train.

The most exciting part is that you died, but on the list of casualty list you are still alive.

At this point, do you feel emotional? Now is Beijing time 11:11pm. I need to go to bed now. Let me distill what I’ve said into one sentence:

Welcome to China.

Some readers' comments:

这位青年罪孽太深重下辈子肯定得投胎到中国无玄念了。(2011-07-27 01:00:22)

This young guy has committed too much sin. There is no question that he will be reborn in China in the next life.

哎,所以各国人出生以后都到中国做个下放锻炼,就不会那么不知道珍惜了(2011-07-27 01:46:00)

Sigh. Let people in other countries experience the harsh life in China. They will then appreciate what they already have.

挪威的监狱都比中国人住的房子强 (2011-07-27 13:43:02)

Norwegian prisons are nicer than the housing of most Chinese people.

作者不过是在调侃中国人的生存环境,一下子就给某些很有信仰、很有精神、很有觉悟的人鄙视了。(2011-07-27 11:18:50)

The author is just ridiculing the living conditions of the Chinese. This will immediately be despised by people with belief, spirituality and consciousness.

这文章还是典型的中国人思维,吃好喝足生活稳定平安就是最大的追求。所以中国人总会对很多出身很好却投入革命运动的人很不解,因为我们没有信仰,或者说,世俗生活就是我们最大的信仰。这篇文章虽然是反讽,但是还是暴露了我们这个民族的想法。(2011-07-27 09:20:00)

This article is a typical example of Chinese thinking. Having a stable life with enough to eat is the biggest life goal. Therefore, Chinese find it difficult to understand why some people with good background will throw themselves into a revolution. This is because we have no religion, or secular life is our biggest religion. Although this article is satirical, it has nevertheless exposed the thinking of the Chinese.

谁有本事把中国治理好的赶紧去参政…没这个本事那就平时多发扬光明正义,见到不义之事有勇气有智谋去改变,不要窝在豆瓣里瞎叨叨,抱怨实在是浪费了才情。(2011-07-27 13:21:26)

Those with the ability to improve China should participate in politics. If not, spread justice, and correct wrongs when you see them. Don't just complain in this forum. It is a waste of your talent.

July 26 2011



Judging from Breivik’s writings, his hysterical hatred of the Labor Party’s immigration policies and tolerance of Muslim immigrants likely led him target the government-operated summer camp at Utoya. For years, the far-right has singled Norway out as a special hotbed of pro-Islam, pro-Palestinian sentiment, thanks largely to its ruling Labor Party. In 2010, for instance, the English Defense League called Norway a future site of “Islamohell,” “where unadulterated political correctness has ruled the roost, with sharp talons, for decades.” Yesterday, when the Wall Street Journal editorial page rushed to blame Muslim terrorists for what turned out to be Breivik’s killing spree, it slammed the Norwegian government for pulling troops from Afghanistan and demanding that Israel end its siege of Gaza. For his part, Breivik branded the Labor Party as “traitors.”

There is no clear evidence that Breivik’s support for the Israeli right played any part in his killing spree. Nor does he appear to have any connection with the Israeli government. However, it is worth noting that in November 2010, the Israeli government joined the right-wing pile on, accusing the Norwegian government of “anti-Israel incitement” for funding a trip for students to New York to see the “Gaza Monologues” play. Then, the day before Breivik’s terror attack, which he planned long in advance, Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stor visited the Labor Youth camp at Utoya. There, he was met with demands to support the global BDS movement and to support the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral statehood bid. “The Palestinians must have their own state, the occupation must end, the wall must be demolished and it must happen now,” the Foreign Minister declared, earning cheers from the audience.

Breivik’s writings offer much more than a window into the motives that led him to commit terror. They can also be read as an embodiment of the mentality of a new and internationalized far-right movement that not only mobilizes hatred against Muslims, but is also able to produce figures who will kill innocent non-Muslims to save the Western way of life.


Anders Behring Breivik, a perfect product of the Axis of Islamophobia | 2011-07-23
Reposted bykrekk krekk

July 25 2011

Mexico: The Knights Templar, Violence and Norway

Bloggings by boz points out that the criminal organization the ‘Knights Templar' is present in Mexico and that “the killer in Norway's shocking massacre last week also considered himself a member of the Knights Templar”. He adds: “I doubt anyone thinks these two groups are linked. […] Yet, it raises the question of what makes violent ideologues and criminals search the past for inspiration? And what makes two groups so far apart find that inspiration in the Knights Templar?”

Inside the Mind of the Norwegian Terrorist

Thoma Roche of Techyum blog posted an analysis entitled ‘Inside the Mind of the Norwegian Terrorist'. The fact that the terrorist pinpointed Japan and South Korea as clear examples of countries that consistently and directly dismissed multiculturalism has drawn various responses in South Korea.

July 24 2011

Norway: A Firsthand Account of the Massacre in Utøya

The world is still in shock over the mass-murder of at least 85 people attending a political youth camp on the island Utøya in Norway on the evening of Friday, 22 July 2011. The killer, now identified as Anders Behring Breivik, masqueraded as a police officer before opening fire on everyone around him, and chasing those who fled to the water. Breivik is also the prime suspect behind a bombing in Oslo only few hours earlier that killed seven people and caused extensive damage to government buildings.

The Utøya summer camp is an annual event of AUF (Arbejdernes Ungdomsfylking) the youth organization of the Norwegian Labour Party. Young people from across the country gather to discuss politics, listen to music, play sports and hear speeches by current and former politicians. Utøya is less than an hour's drive from central Oslo. Earlier in the day, before the gunman arrived, AUF's Twitter feed [no] and the #Utøya hashtag showed that approximately 700 participants were discussing the environment, women's rights, and Middle East politics. It was raining, but the mood was good. Later, the Twitter account went silent.

Prableen Kaur

Prableen Kaur

A story of survival


On Saturday, Prableen Kaur, a 23-year old local politician and youth leader from Oslo, posted a firsthand account of what happened to on her blog in Norwegian. She fled the killer and managed to survive, using her mobile phone, Twitter, and Facebook to tell family and friends she was still alive. The Telegraph newspaper in the UK has translated the entire blog post to English on Saturday. Several hundred people have left comments on Kaur's blog offering support and best wishes.

Here are excerpts from her traumatic story:

Jeg har våknet. Jeg klarer ikke å sove mer. Jeg sitter i stuen. Føler sorg, sinne, lykke, Gud jeg vet ikke hva. Det er for mange følelser. Det er for mange tanker. Jeg er redd. Jeg reagerer på hver minste lyd. Jeg vil nå skrive om hva som skjedde på Utøya. Hva mine øyne så, hva jeg følte, hva jeg gjorde.

I woke up. I cannot sleep anymore. I am sitting in the living room. Feeling grief, anger, happiness, God, I do not know what. There are too many emotions. Too many thoughts. I am afraid. I react to the slightest sound. I want to write about what happened on Utøya. What my eyes saw, what I felt, what I did.

Vi hadde hatt krisemøte i hovedbygget etter eksplosjonene i Oslo. Etter det var det et eget møte for medlemmene fra Akershus og Oslo. Etter møtene befant mange, mange seg rundt og i hovedbygget. Vi trøstet oss med at vi var trygge på en øy. Ingen hadde visst at helvete ville bryte ut hos oss også.

We had a crisis meeting in the main building after the explosions in Oslo. After that there was a meeting for the members from Akershus and Oslo. After the meetings there were many, many people around and inside the main building. We consoled ourselves that we were safe on an island. Nobody could know that hell would break loose where we were too.

Kaur describes the confusion and horror as people around her heard the gun shots and ran to a back room, seeking cover on the floor. People began to jump out the window as the shooting continued, and she describes fearing she would die as the last person to jump. She recovered from a hard landing and ran further into the woods. She phoned her mother, crying, saying she didn't know if she would survive.

At this moment, she tweeted:

@PrableenKaur: Jeg lever foreløpig.

@PrableenKaur: I'm still alive.

Her story continues:

Folk hoppet ut i vannet, begynte å svømme. Jeg ble liggende. Jeg bestemte meg for at hvis han kom, skulle jeg spille død. Jeg skulle ikke løpe eller svømme. Jeg kan ikke beskrive frykten, alle tankene, det jeg følte.

En man kom. ”Jeg er fra politiet.” Jeg ble liggende. Noen skrek tilbake at han måtte bevise det. Jeg husker ikke helt hva ham sa, men morderen begynte å skyte. Han ladet. Skjøt mer. Han skjøt de rundt meg. Jeg ble liggende. Jeg tenke: ”Nå er det over. Han er her. Han tar meg. Nå dør jeg.” Folk skrek. Jeg hørte at andre ble skutt. Andre hoppet ut i vannet. Jeg lå der. Mobilen i hånden. Jeg lå oppå beina til en jente. To andre lå oppå mine bein. Jeg ble liggende. Det tikket inn tekstmeldinger. Mobilen ringte flere ganger. Jeg ble liggende. Jeg spilte død. Jeg lå der i minst en time. Det var helt stille. Jeg vred forsiktig på hodet for å se om jeg kunne se noen levende. Jeg så lik. Jeg så blod. Frykt. Jeg bestemte meg for å reise meg. Jeg hadde ligget oppå et lik. To lik lå på meg. Jeg hadde englevakt.

People jumped into the water and started swimming. I was lying down. I decided that if he came, I would play dead. I would not run or swim. I cannot describe the fear that took over my mind, what I felt. 

A man came. “I'm from the police.” I was lying there. Some shouted back that he had to prove it. I do not remember exactly what he said, but the killer started shooting. He charged. He shot those around me. I was still lying there. I thought: “Now it's over. He's here. He's going to shoot me. I'm going to die.” People screamed. I heard that others were shot. Others jumped into the water. I was there. Holding the mobile phone in my hand, I lay on top of a girl's legs. Two others lay on my feet. I was still lying there. The mobile phone rang several times. I was still lying. I played dead. I lay there for at least an hour. It was completely quiet. I gently turned her head to see if I could see someone alive. I looked like around. I saw blood. Fear. I decided to get up. I had been lying on top of a dead body. Two dead bodies lay on me. I had a guardian angel.

Kaur did not know if the killer would return, and decided to swim after the others. She was rescued by a boat and met by her father and brother on the shore.

On her way to the summer camp on July 21, Kaur had tweeted:

@PrableenKaur: Er på vei til Utøya - sommerens vakreste eventyr.

@PrableenKaur: On my way to Utøya - summer's most beautiful adventure.

Her final paragraph in the blog post describing the terrifying day says:

Det har gått noen timer siden alt dette skjedde. Jeg er fortsatt i sjokk. Alt har ikke sunket inn. Jeg har sett lik av mine venner. Flere av vennene mine er savnet. Jeg er glad for at jeg kan svømme. Jeg er glad for at jeg lever. For at Gud passet på meg. Det er så mange følelser, så mange tanker. Jeg tenker på alle de pårørende. På alle jeg har mistet. På det helvete som er og var på øya. Sommerens vakreste eventyr er forvandlet til Norges verste mareritt.

Some hours have passed since all this happened. I am still in shock. Everything still hasn't sunk in. I have seen the corpses of my friends. Several of my friends are missing. I am happy I can swim. I am happy I am alive. That God has taken care of me. There are so many feelings, so many thoughts. I think of all the relatives. Of all those I have lost. On the hell that is and was on the island. Summer's most beautiful adventure transformed to Norway's worst nightmare.

Norway: The Online Traces of a Mass Murderer

An Oslo street after the explosion

An Oslo street the day after the explosion, by Francesco Rivetti on July 23, 2011 shared on Flickr (CC-BY-NC-SA)

On Friday 22 July, 2011, at 3:26 PM an explosion in Oslo, Norway killed seven people and caused extensive damage to several government buildings. The terror continued only few hours later when a man masquerading as a police officer opened fire on participants at a Labour Party Youth (AUF) camp [no] on the island Utøya. At least 85 people were murdered on the island before the shooter was apprehended by police and identified as a 32-year old Norwegian man named Anders Behring Breivik.

Breivik's Facebook page was quickly discovered (now offline) as was a single Twitter message he posted on 17 July. Bloggers and journalists in Norway and abroad have continued to look for any trace of the man online that could help explain his unfathomable actions.

Searching for clues to a motive

On Saturday, a blogger named Kevin Slaughter (@kevinslaughter) in the United States found a 1,514 page manifesto and a 12-minute video that appeared to be by Breivik although it was published in English under the pen name “Andrew Berwick”. It's a rambling tirade against “cultural-Marxists” and the “Islamisation of Europe” and it offers advice for would-be terrorists. Norwegian media have confirmed that the document and video were uploaded by Breivik on the same day of the attacks.

While the document can hardly be considered recommended reading, intense curiosity about the identity of the killer, has turned it into a popular topic of discussion.

On Twitter, conversations about the document can now be found on the hashtag #N2083 which is a reference to its title, “2083: A European Declaration of Independence.”

Blake Hounshell (@blakehounshell) the managing editor of Foreign Policy Magazine live-tweeted quotes from the manifesto as he read through it on Saturday.

@blakehounshell: Author gamely concedes, “Being a Justiciar Knight is not for everyone.”

@blakehounshell: “Appear politically correct or at least moderate, dress normally. Try to limit your rhetorical activities. Avoid excessive forum posting.”

@blakehoundshell: Author recommends telling your friends/co-workers/family that you have started to play, say, World of Warcraft and want to focus on that.

Ignoring his own advice, Breivik did in fact make postings to online forums, including to the Norwegian right-wing and anti-Muslim-immigration website His comments here from 2009 and 2010 [no] have been translated to English and reposted on the personal blog of Doug Saunders (@DougSaunders), European bureau chief for the Globe and Mail newspaper from Canada.

As seen elsewhere

On Sunday, the founder of Hans Rustad uncovered that Breivik's manifesto plagiarized entire paragraphs [no] from the manifesto of Ted Kaczynski, also known as the “Unabomber.” Kaczynski sent over a dozen mail bombs to universities and airlines between 1978 and 1995, killing three people. Where Kaczynski wrote “leftist,” Breivik has written “cultural Marxist” instead. Rustad writes that he discovered this from an unnamed source who “studied the manifesto all night, and “coincidentally noticed a likeness”. Responding to intense media curiosity, have distanced themselves [no] from Breivik, pointing to personal criticism of Rustad in the manifesto, and also by highlighting that Breivik also posted to other online forums like Minerva [no] and to the Swedish neo-Nazi site [se].

Previous postings from Breivik have also been spotted in the online gamer's forum Eu.Battle.Net where players of World of Warcraft and other online multi-player games convene to discuss game matters. In one thread entitled “Attacker from Oslo a WoW player??” forum members discuss if they have ever interacted with Breivik, and how his gaming history is likely lead to negative media portrayals of videos games.

On the NY Times news blog, The Lede, Robert Mackey, posted several links to “Web Clues to a Supected Attacker's Motives” and several citizen videos showing the damage on the streets of Oslo.

June 27 2011

China: The politics of hydroelectricity

Sinologistical Violoncellist has a guest post by Kristiana Henderson of Pacific Lutheran University which addresses the politics of hydroelectricity projects in Tibet by looking into the history of conflicts between indigenous Sami community with the Norwegian government since 1850s.

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