Saturday, July 23, 2011

Anders Behring Breivik - Profile

Anders Behring Breivik
[Continuously updated]

The man arrested for the bomb and shooting that have so far claimed 93 lives (a number which i likely to rise) in Oslo and Utøya, Norway, is called Anders Behring Breivik. At least another 97 got injured. The name started to circle on social medias before it was announced in traditional media. Today the name is among the top searches on internet and a hot topic around the world. The shooting of young people in Utøya is said to be the worst in modern history during peace. The police are currently looking into leads about a second shooter, but for now, lets have a quick glance at Behring Breivik without analyzing too much:

Name: Anders Behring Breivik

Age: 32

Nationality: Norwegian

Religious beliefs: Christian

Political views: Conservative and possible connections with the extreme right wing. Calls himself a "nationalist." Been a member of the xenophobic Fremskrittspartiet (FRP). He became a member in 1999 and was also active in FRP's youth group (FPU) 1997-2007. He hated muslims, the political left and the social democratic youth association.

Education: Oslo Upper Secondary School of Business (own translation of Oslo Handelsgymnasium).

Work life: Communicator at Telia callcentre in 1999-2003, started his own company in 2005 with focus on data processing, data storage and adjacent services before it was disolved in 2008. In 2009 he started Breivik Geofarm in Rena, which were growing vegetables, melons and root vegetables.

Other connections: A member of the Johannes Lodge Søilene which is a part of the Freemason Lodge. He claims to have joined a secret underground group, PCCTS, Knights Templar, in 2002. The network is supposedly a sequel to the Knight's Templar, an order that was created to protect crusaders during the 1100's. He claims to have worked purposefully in order to begin the war against what he calls the cultural-marxist elite in Europe. It's unclear if the organisation really exists or if it's a made up story which Behring Breivik explains could be the case since he "can't reveal sensitive information."

Weapons: An automatic and a Glock gun are registered in his name. On May 4th he purchased six tons of artificial fertilizer which is suspected to be used as the bomb. Three tons remains on his farm.
Hobbies: Hunting and body building according to his Facebook profile.

Have been described as: Polite, calm and dutiful, service minded and gave no impression of having bad thoughts about any of his co-workers, says a former colleague at the calling centre at Telia - a telephone company. Neighbors describes him as a person that keeps to himself a lot. Behring Breivik's father hasn't seen his son since 1995 and was shocked to hear about the news through media. He said that he didn't notice any tendencies to this kind of violence when the boy was 15-16 years old and claims he was a "normal boy." Neither his mother suspected his son to be capable to such a thing, and a friend of her says that she was very proud of her son.

On Twitter: Behring Breivik started an account on Twitter just days before the attacks where he has one quote posted by the British filosopher and social liberal John Stuart Mill: One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100 000 who have only interests.

On Facebook: Had an account for several years where he posted extreme right wing views. The page was deleted and replaced by a new one a few days ago where he mostly had been posting music videos. Medias are speculating about the intentions of the latest profile - that it was Behring Brevik's way to warn about the upcoming attacks and to create himself an image with photos (that looks a lot like press photos) that he would like the world to see after the attacks. His latest Facebook profile has now been closed.
Views expressed: Behring Breivik has been active on the right wing forum where he has posted several texts which are controversial and critical against Islam. He calls himself a "nationalist." Read all his posts on here. His posts on the forum contains personal views of the political environment, certain public figures in Norway, marxists and islamists. He was a member of a Swedish neo-Nizi forum called Nordisk, according to Expo, a Swedish group monitoring far-right activity.

The manifest: A 1500 pages manifest called ”2083 - A European declaration of independence” was released shortly before the attacks. The manifest is published online under the name Andrew Berwick, which is believed to be a pseudonym of Behring Breivik himself, who has also admitted to be the writer. The text contains a diary, starting in 2002, explaining how he got hold of the explosives and guns and planned his deeds as well as an explanation of how Europe will get rid of Muslims. The number 2083 in the title of the document is supposed to be a date that he believes an European war will end the execution of cultural Marxists and the deportation of Muslims. The "civil war" that he talks about would come in three phases: the first runs through 2030 and includes "open source warfare, military shock attacks by clandestine cell systems (and) further consolidation of conservative forces." The second, between 2030 and 2070 is a call for "more advanced forms of resistance groups (and the) preparation of pan-European coup d'etats" and the third and final stage features the deposition of Europe's leaders and "implementation of a cultural conservative political agenda." Parts of the document is a direct copy of the American terrorist Ted Kaczinski's, the Una-bomber's, manifest. In the end of the manifest are pictures of Behring Breivik with guns and the words "I believe this will be my last entry. It is now Fri July 22nd, 12.51." A YouTube video about the manifest has also been released (but continues to be deleted and can also be found here or here).
How the attacks were planned: In his manifest, Behring Breivik explains in detail how he prepared himself for everything during nine years. He sold off belongings to be able to afford bomb materials and the rent of the farm where the bombs were built and where he could plan everything in peace and quiet. He built up his body with anabola steroids and was a little concerned about how his liver would be affected but was happy about his "perfect body" and explains how he was happier than ever. He started to distance himself from friends and other people that could nose around, like neighbors and curious tourists that wanted to take pictures of his farm. In the middle of June this year, he made a test explosion of a bomb in an isolated place, which he declared a success and quickly drove from the area to avoid unwanted attention. He claimes to have carried out the attacks alone.

Motives: During police interrogation, Behring Breivik explains how he wanted to change the politics in Norway through violence. The shooting of over 80 youths in Utøya was supposed to be a warning about an approaching doomsday if the political party didn't change it's politics. He wanted to harm the party and the recruitment as much as possible and called the Labour Party people marxists. He also seems to believe that Muslims are trying to "colonise" Western Europe and that multiculturalism and cultural marxism are to blame for this.

The Guardian

Friday, July 22, 2011

Oslo Attacks - Interview

Here's a quick translation of the personal experiences by Mirjam Liu, who lives in Oslo. Thankfully she wasn't around the two areas when the attacks happened:

"I wasn't close to either the explosion or Utøya. I was on the bus and my mother called me a few minutes after it happened. She and the rest of my family was several kilometers north of central Oslo and heard the bang and wanted to make sure that I was ok.

I reacted with disbelief and wondered if it was an accident or a bomb. I probably didn't realize how extensive theexplosion was and thought that it was probably a small thing until I saw it on the news. I'm still in a bit of a shock and it hasn't sunk in how extreme and tragical all of this is. I was also very scared for my own part since the explosion happened in an area where I spend a lot of time. It was just a coinsidence that I wasn't in the area when it happened.

I haven't been out among people after it happened but I got the impression of (both from what I see on the news and Facebook) that people are handling it relatively well. People are shocked and in disbelief, but in good spirits. Those who had the possibility to watch the news quickly got information from the police to move away from the city centre, avoid larger crowds, go home and stay there. 

I got the impression that the authorities are handling this hard-to-grasp and difficult situation well. They are keeping the people updated about the situation as well as they can, but I got the impression that it's difficult to get a clear outline. Like I said, I haven't been in the concerned areas and the impressions I have are from the news and TV.

I think that Norway is a target of terrorism because of our participation in different conflicts in other countries like Libya and Afghanistan."

My sincere thanks to Mirjam for sharing her experiences. More information and personal stories from the attacks are greatly appreciated. Are you in Oslo? Leave a comment or email me. More stories and updates to come on the blog.

Oslo Attacks

The destruction on Akersgate, Oslo

Late this afternoon, a bomb hit a government building in Akersgate in Oslo, Norway, killing at least seven people and another two are badly wounded. Later a man who was said to be dressed as a police officer started shooting at a Labour Party youth camp in Utøya outside of the capital, at least four people are said to have been killed and one person is reported to have been arrested. Eyewitnesses claim to have seen 20-25 dead bodies on the island. Noone has yet taken responsibility for the attacks but BBC's diplomatic correspondent says that "the fact a government building was targeted makes one think this could be connected with government decisions on Afghanistan or Libya."

The two attacks are believed to be connected, the Norwegian police says.

In Sweden, the police and security police (SÄPO) have sharpened their surveillance around important buildings in the capital Stockholm after the Oslo bombings. The grade of threat remains the same (which is hightened) as it's been since October last year but Sweden is following the development in its neighboring country closely.

What happened is horrible and deeply concerning, as with any attack against civilians. Akersgate is a busy street in central Oslo, especially on a Friday afternoon. The Labour Party camp is intended for youths and around 700 people were attending it, most teenagers. My heart and thoughts goes out to our friends in Norway and I pray that none of my own friends in Oslo are among the dead or injured.

  • DN writes about the shooting in Utøya (in Swedish)
  • SVD and DN has pictures from the bombing in Akersgate
  • BBC News allows you to follow the events live
  • Reuters has a list of likely suspected groups

Update 23:50: Deputy Oslo police chief Sveining Sponheim tells reporters the man under arrest is 32 and "ethnic Norwegian" and has never worked with the police. The Norwegian national under arrest is believed to be responsible for both attacks. The motive behind the attacks are still unclear.
Are you in Oslo? I would like to get in touch with you to ask some questions about personal experiences. Write me a comment or email me. Thanks!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Prize Package

Last week I won 1st prize in a rhyming competition on BarnNet and yesterday this pretty little package arrived with DHL! All clothes (and the blankets) are organic and comes from MyKidoo. Perfect!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

When Luck Strikes

I'm certainly not one of the lucky ones and have experienced more setbacks than success in my life, but to others in bad situations I have always told them that finally things will go your way (and fully believing it except for my own situation). But as a rare occation, I finally experienced it myself. In two days I got a wonderful job, a great apartment in a nice area and I won 1st prize in a rhyming (!) competition with the prize of ecological baby clothes and toys worth 2000 SEK. None of it could have come at a more perfect time.

The constant nausea, throwing up and migraines have finally subsided although they're still far from gone, but that's what's to be expected. The baby is kicking along and my belly is growing by the day it seems. All that's left now is for my husband to return to Sweden so that he won't miss all of this. I know that there is a risk of him not being here in time for the birth, but I have to stay optimistic, for all three of us. I've planned for others to be there for me, just in case, but there's no point in getting myself stressed up by thinking negative and I still keep my hopes up that everything will be alright in the end and that the baby will have both his/her parents there when it sees the world for the first time.

Yesterday I went to see my two best friends that also happen to be pregnant and due around the same time as myself. We haven't had the oportunity to hang out much for the past few years for different reasons and it feels great to be settled in Sweden and have those two fantastic women to share all the worries and hopes with. Not many people are lucky enough to have their best friends being pregnant at the same time!

I can't move in to the apartment until October 1st, but that will give me some time to sort out the things that are left to be sorted, concentrate on my new job, the baby, my friends and everything in between. And once I've moved in, I'll just have a short walk from Linda, my aunt but sister and closest friend, the one I call when I'm sad and the one that always makes me feel like everything's going to be ok. And see, this time she was right!

Oh, and I'll return to my usual blogging about travelling, saving the world and what not, but for the next few months it will be layered with more personal posts. I hope that's ok.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Intercultural Relationships


My hope is for us to come together not only embracing shared beliefs and values, but acknowledging our differences in ways that promote respect and appreciation. To ask for a shared vision is a fair and legitimate human proposal; what is not fair and legitimate is to dictate the ways on how we get there. If we are to emerge from the long shadows that can engulf us, we must talk with each other, come to understand each other, and renew ourselves and our perceptions of each other.
-  Alma Abdul-Hadi Jadallah

You can live your life telling yourself that you choose your own path, that as long as you work for it you will end up with your dream job, the perfect social life and the perfect partner, but when love strikes (and I don't mean the high school crush, holiday flirts or rebound guys but that one that throws you off balance and compromises your breathing), the choices you've made so far matters little. You can live your life thinking that you're a rational person that would avoid difficulties in order to gain something easier, but when you find yourself eye to eye with that one person, rationality won't matter much. So maybe you one day find yourself in love with the seemingly impossible: a man or a woman from a different culture, with a different background and beliefs, with a different skin color, different values, opinions and thoughts. Then what? Do you walk away from it, hoping to find someone that would be easier to live with or do you cautiostly walk into it with the hopes of being able to overcome the differences?

First of all, cross cultural relationships all depend on the individuals involved and not their backgrounds. It all has to do with how open minded you are, your communication skills (which is mandatory and explained below), expectations, ability to compromise, knowledge and motivations. You can come from two completely different cultures, with different religions and political views, but what it comes down to is the personal traits and if these can be combined - i.e. all the issues that every relationship has to deal with.

Making an intercultural relationship works demands knowledge about each other's cultures, countries, religion and backgrounds. The best way if of course to talk to each other about it, ask every question you have no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Be curious and interested and show it by doing your own research; read books, listen to music and watch movies from the country or region, get in touch with others from the same culture and follow the news. This way you're likely to find out things about your partner's background and history that he/she didn't even know, things that slipped his/her mind during school or that he/she has been too uniterested to find out. The history and culture of one's own country is usually more uninteresting than other cultures, so by learning and discussing your findings can be a great way of both showing your interest and makes a good topic of discussion. Make sure to embrace what you learn; you may not like the music the first few times you hear it, or histories of war and unjustice may make you judgemental of the people that experienced it - but with an open mind it will not only give you new knowledge but also get a better understanding of your partner.

Keep a positive attitude towards the other culture, no matter of the things that you don't agree with or don't like about it. There's always wonderful things to learn and experience while getting to know another culture so it's important to appreciate the differences and be empathic. One thing that has helped me to overcome less attractive attributes in cultures is to simply see it as "exotic." That may seem biased, but it gives a different ground to stand on and a tool to use when understanding or appreciation fails you.

Actress Mae West once said that "I speak two languages, Body and English" which is a skill that is put well to use when communication is a problem. Even though you may speak the same languages you will most likely have different ways of using it. Irony is for example not used or understood in all cultures and the same goes for jokes that can be easily misunderstood and lead to unnecessary arguments if you don't understand the background of the joke. Your social skills will be different; in one culture it may be just fine to call someone fat without meaning anything negative about it, but in others it's a bad insult. Take your time and leard each other's social skills. You'll likely find out about these in time anyways, but it can be done the hard way or by communication. Don't take for granted that your partner can read your expressions and the words said in between the lines: keep it as simple and clear as possible. Don't play mind games and keep a dictionary close at hand when the communication doesn't go your way.

Every relationship has obstacles and problems to overcome; everyone are different to matter if you share the same culture or not. However, intercultural relationships presents its very own set of issues that will have to be dealt with, rather sooner than later in order to know if this will work for you or not. The differences between you can be an adventure and open your eyes and heart for a better understanding of life and the world (big words, I know). That said, it's not always easy and sometimes the differences are just too much. Maybe you will have problems with each other's families, maybe you won't be accepted into the new culture or maybe your religious beliefs don't accept compromises. But as I see it, everything can be overcome with patience, sincerity and motivation. Sometimes you just have to let go of some of your own principles if you want the relationship to work out in the long run. It all depends on how much you value each other and what your priorities are. As with any relationship; you can never expect to change the other person. If you do that, you're most likely doomed to fail. Instead, see the differences and accept them, and equally important; don't forget all the similarities and use them as a bridge to overcome the obstacles facing you.

You'll face prejudices and words of doom from your surrounding so meet them with a smile and let them be a part of your own learning experience. An intercultural relationship doesn't only affect the couple, but also everyone around them. If you have to meet comments, make sure to preach understanding and respect. After all, it's in our every day life that we can save the world from racism, injustice and biases so you might as well start with yourself and the people around you. Soon enough the words will spread:

The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren,
and to do good is my religion.

-Thomas Paine

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sudan Splitting in Two

Map from the Guardian

It is what it is and that's how it's gonna be.

With Sudan splitting in two on July 9th 2011, the two new countries; Sudan and South Sudan, faces many challenges. During a referendum on January 9-15th, 99% of the southerners voted in favor of separation, which came of no surprise. After 50 years of struggle and a decade of strains towards international diplomacy, the day finally arrived when it became clear that the south will be independent from the north. But everything's not all jolly good, as the two new states will be faced with a complete new set of challenges to make it work. The Republic of South Sudan will of course have to deal with every practicality that's involved in creating a new state, but Sudan will be equally vulnerable for many reasons.

Sudan challenges:
  • Khartoum will have to do without the south's rich oil reserves
  • The continuation of the fighting in Darfur will not be solved with the splitting of the country and will still be the responsibililty of the Sudanese government
  • New conflicts in Southern Kordofan and likely elsewhere will have to be dealt with
  • The identity of Sudan will be affected as it can no longer take pride in being the biggest country in Africa
  • President Omar al-Bashir is accused by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2009 of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur which resulted in a second issue of warrant (the first didn't hold) for charges of genocide. The warrant was delivered to the Sudanese government, which is unlikely to execute it

Southern Sudan challenges:
  • Violence has haunted the region and more than 1500 people have died in battles this year; both in cattle raids and attacks by at least seven separate rebel militia groups fighting for the government
  • Citizenships will have to be issued, as with legal matters
  • Although Southern Sudan is rich in oil, the country will be one of the least-developed regions on earth
  • Ethnic tensions and troubled relations with the north will mean constant security challenges
  • Popular expectations on the new SPLM government are extremely high; people believe that independence means jobs, roads and general life approvements. The government will have to face the discontent when these hopes are not fulfilled without delay
  • The SPLA will face many short-term challenges; accountability, logistics and sustainment; lack of mobility, poor tactical communications; urgent training and new equipment needs; and insufficient funds to support development
  • Poverty, lack of development and the threat of violence will not magically disappear after the splitting

While a southern independence was the goal of a long struggle it will create a whole new set of difficulties. The biggest concern are the unsolved issues between the two new countries as will continue to be dependent on each other, mostly because of the oil in the south and the refineries in the north. However, war is never inevitable and I'll continue to keep my hopes up for a future peace between Sudan and Southern Sudan. If the governments are willing to solve the huge puzzle that lies ahead of them, the problems that today seem overwhelming can be solved. A key to the puzzle, in my opionion, is the involvement of the international community, that can both act as diplomats and help with the development of the two new states. It's up to the people to decide wether it's worth to continue to dispute over issues that can only result in a new war - or to put down their guns and work together for a sustainable peace.

Are you in Sudan or Southern Sudan?
I would like to get in touch with you - either as a guest blogger or to hear your point of view of the splitting of Sudan. Feel free to email me or write a comment and I'll contact you.

Follow the News

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Want to be my Guest Blogger?

I got the idea of publishing a few guest posts here:

  • Do you have decent writing skills?
  • Do you have a specific destination or travel related story you would like to tell? Being political is not a problem
  • Do you have a couple of good personal pictures related to the story?

If so: Send me an email with your idea and some information about yourself and explain why your story would fit in my blog.

The more unique your story is, the more likely I am to publish it here. It could be a personal story about your specific experiences during a political or humanitarian situation, a happy memory from a special remote place you visited, something unjust you've witnessed and would like to shed light on or a historical moment in your home country - there are no special rules as long as you can keep it personal and unique.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Discover Sweden - Marks Municipality

View from Slottsberget, Öresten

I will begin a series of attractions in Marks Kommun, my home municipality. This is an attempt to an introduction to that series and might be edited later on. Future posts will include photos and more specific details about areas.

The word Mark means borderland or border forest. The municipality of Marks Kommun is situated in the South-Western end of Västra Götaland in the West of Sweden and was created in 1971 by combining two market towns and six tier municipalities. It's regional centre became Kinna.

Main Villages
The earliest villages were established along the rivers and streams of Viskan, Surtan and Häggån and ancient graves can be found around these areas. The regional centre, Kinna, is the largest of the villages and the name comes from the word kinn, which means hillside (since it's situated between two hills). Most notable of Kinna are the white wooden estates from the early 19th century for suppliers of raw material like wool, cotton and yarn for spinning and weaving. The material was distributed to the women in crofts and farms in the are, whom made fabrics that the trader bought back and sold forth to merchants and peddlers. The weaving and trading of fabrics around Mark are still famous and has given the region the nickname "Textile Kingdom." 

The village of Skene is situated just West of Kinna and also along the river Viskan. The name is most likely a combination of the words skadh and vini, which would mean stream and pasture. On a small hill called Nycklaberget overlooking the village is a place called Galgbacken from 1682, which used to be an execution site where people were hanged, beheaded or burned for their crimes.

Örby lies East of Kinna and the name comes from the word ör which means gravel, and by which means village. Although Öresten doesn't technically belong to Örby anymore, is used to be part of the parish. Öresten used to be an important (and the largest in Västergötland) foothold for the war against the Danes and was mentioned the first time in Swedish history in 1366. The castle, which is situated on the hill of Slottsberget (Castle Mountain) fell in the hands of the Danes the same year. Although the castle was destroyed three times during its many battles, it was rebuild twice, which wasn't all that popular among the countryfolk as it was a general opinion that Öresten was the main reason for the many troops that burned and destroyed what came in their way. The countryfolk gathered 100 oxes to buy the castle, just to destroy it. The year was 1521 and Öresten was destroyed for the third and last time. Today it's a beautiful area for strolling among leafy forests and the stream of Slottsån (Castle Stream) and from the top of the hill is a gorgeous view of the surrounding forests, fields and waters. A few stones still remain from the ruins of the castle as well as the remains of the moat.

Mark is characterized by wide forests, valleys, hundereds of lakes and streams and is an excellent area for exploring the wilds. The Courier Trail is a perfect way to discover the area and is said to have been ridden by postal couriers 600-700 years ago. Several nature reserves provide a closeup with nature. My personal favourite is Hyltenäs Kulle (Hyltenäs Hill) which used to be the site of a large hunting lodge belonging to the merchant George Seaton. The lodge was burned to the ground in 1923 but the basement's narrow passages are still there and makes an exciting playground for children and adventurous adults. Today the hill is a popular picnic area that provides excellent view of the surrounding forests and lakes with a rich birdlife. The forests mostly consists of hazel, birch and mountain ash and a lime alley that was planted during George Seaton's time leads into the nature reserve. Other plants that were once cultivated but now grow wilde include privet, spiraea, sycamore maple and chestnut. Hiking tracks have been created around the hill and down to the lake.

Other reserves includes Lekvad Nature Reserve in Berghem, along the river Viskan. It provides charming views of mighty tree formations on the steep slopes and a thick vegetation. Sea lampreys and salmon trout have their spawning grounds past the mill canal. Seven Streams in Torestorp is a splitting of the Torestorpsån River into seven streams. A footpath follows babbling brooks and leafy greenery. The area is considered to be the mostbeautiful in spring, when it's covered with wood anemones and the water volume is at its greatest.
Björkesbacka Nature Reserve lies east of Örby and it great for seeing how people lived in the area with its old buildings, rich flora and fauna. Although the buildings aren't open to the public it still gives a good opportunity for a glimpse in the past. A trail, that is accessible to all (including disabled), takes you through the area. It's planned that Björkesbacka will continue to retain the character of the old working forest home in the 1900s. Meadows will be cut with scythes and pastures will be grazed by sheep and Highland cattle.

Links and Contact Information

Mark's Tourist Office:
Marks Turistbyrå
Boråsvägen 40
511 80 Kinna
Tele. +46 (0)320 21 72 70
Fax +46 (0)320 148 82

Open Monday-Friday 10.00-16.00. In summer (June 13-August 20) 10.00-18.99, Saturdays 10.00-15.00. Also on Sundays during July from 10.00-15.00.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Travel Links

I'm working on a new page called Travel Links which can be found in the upper right corner of the blog. I'll gather some useful links on travel (like airline and visa information among other things), with focus on my favourite destinations. It's a work in progress and I know it looks a bit messy at the moment so please be patient and feel free to provide me with more links!

Thanks to my dear uncle Jan Murtomaa for giving me the idea of the new page and for providing the first link!

Meanwhile, enjoy this video by Playing for Change, an amazing cover of Bob Marley's "One Love."