Thursday, 31 October 2013

My plea for Chelsea Manning

Dear Maj. #Gen_Buchanan,

I plead to you kindly, to reduce the sentence of Chelsea Manning. As a Swede, where whistleblowers have recently been receiving a stronger and stronger protection through new laws (Lex Sarah and Lex Maria), I find it chocking and appalling that Chelsea Manning be imprisoned at all, for an act which was clearly aimed to be in the service of the public. An act which I also feel largely WAS in the service of the public!

Of course, it would have served us better if authorities had taken their responsibility seriously, and made somebody have to answer for the crimes that young Ms Manning exposed! It is a great disappointment to me that this yet has not happened. The fact that Ms Manning has been sentenced to pay such a dear price for her service to us, under these circumstances, is spitting in our face! (And yes, I do consider myself part of the public that Ms Manning's brave action served. National borders are unimportant in these issues of human rights, and crimes of war.)

Therefore I beg you again, please reduce Chelsea Manning's sentence!

Yours sincerely,
Karolina Hagegård

Last day to write and send in your letters now!
I will of course post my own, in signed paper format, during the day. The address is:

Private Manning Support Network
484 Lake Park Ave, #41
Oakland, CA 94610

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Children stories

When I was a child I thought Piglet in Winnie the Pooh was a girl. I thought the rabbit in the (Swedish) Bamse magazine was a girl as well. There are some more that I remember, and there must have been plenty of others in plenty of stories that I've forgotten, that I thought were girls, but it turned out with time, character by character, that I was wrong. None of them were girls. If on the other hand I thought they were boys, then I’d be right. Every time.

When I learned that Piglet was a he, I didn’t like it at first, and I decided to ignore it and let her stay a she in my world. Partly of course since she already was a she to me and it would be hard and a bit of a shame to have to rethink and change everything. Partly because I thought it was more suitable for a small, pink figure to be a she. But partly because I thought that if Piglet was also a boy, then they would all be boys! Piglet, Pooh, Eeyore, Tiggr, well everyone, except Christoffer Robin’s faceless mother! And in the opinion of my little child brain, that wouldn’t be as interesting…

But of course I had to give in pretty soon, when I learned to read myself.

My friend and first love Simon from England was just here for a visit. It turned out that Simon would call everyone and everything “he”. The driver of the car way over there, and of course “the rich man” or “the politician” in the examples, but also the sea gulls, the worms, even the pieces in the checker game.
“How do you know it’s a he?”, I asked a few times, and of course he didn't. Then we agreed that just for fun we would start calling everyone “she” in stead, as soon as we didn’t know, or it didn’t really matter. Simon was quite bad at it in the beginning, but he got better with time.

It was on the final day of his stay that we played checkers. None of us had played it much before so we were happily discussing the tactics, for the mutual learning. I called the pieces “this one” or “that one”, he called them “he”, and so we decided that they must be shes; short, violent little girls fighting to extinguish one another. It didn’t help. When the excitement gripped us I would still say “this one” and he would say “he”. I corrected him time after time, and eventually he interrupted the tactics talk and looked up with surprise…
“Why is it so hard?!”, I asked. “I know you’re trying, so why is it still so impossible to see genderless pieces as ‘she’ when it works perfectly fine to see them as ‘he’?”
“…But I guess I don’t really have a reason to want to change”, said he. “I have to take offence myself, and feel that it's wrong to hear myself call them ‘he’, and I don’t really, quite the contrary! Because in fact, if all the important ones are always hes, then it means that I'm important. It tells me that I am better than you! And that makes me feel goood! Weheeey!”
He rose a fist towards the sky.

After that analysis, all the pieces really where shes, and nobody got it wrong anymore. Suddenly Simon burst out:
“Now all of a sudden it feels unfair that they are all shes!!! Why are they ALL shes, it doesn’t feel good at all, I’m actually a bit pissed off by that!”
We smiled, and then he said with a softer voice:
“And that's scary, because then I realise that this is how you must be feeling all the time…”

Yeah. I suppose it is.

And had the world gone from an equal representation to this tremendous unbalance over-night, had someone suggested: ‘Hey, I know! Let’s make all examples into only one of the genders! For simplicity! (Except parents, some low salary professionals etc, that we'll call the opposite gender!)’, it would never have happened. People would not see the point! People would have objected! And been angry, pissed off! But I was just a child when I slowly learned to realize that I was not to be regarded, never present among the examples. I never got pissed off. Only surprised. Perplexed. Disappointed. Humbled, pushed aside and stepped upon…

Later, there are some who get angry. We have a name for those. We call them 'rabid man haters' and claim contemptfully that they get all worked up over nothing. That they act counterproductively to the struggle for gender equality, which is a totally different thing.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Fiery speach on the International Men's Day

Happy Men's Day, all men! :) This fiery speech is for you.

I wouldn't want to celebrate the International Men's Day by pointing out any "uniquely manly" qualities that make them special and likable. That is just stereotypical and unfair on those who don't fit the model. (Like everyone.) I would however like to honour all men by bringing up some of the injustices that they are subjected to:

- Men still die most from wars.

- Men die most from murders (in most countries, but not all).

- Men die most from suicides (in most countries, but not all). This has to do with the fact that although men are less often depressed, they don't seek help when they are, and therefore often sink deeper.
(See graphics on Fathers For Life)
- Men die younger (in ALMOST all countries..., but not all), due to a long list of culture, society and life style factors. (...And the occasional biological factor as well.)
(See Wikipedia - List of countries by life expectancy)

- Men are, on top of this, always accused of being the guilty half; guilty of wars, violence, sex offences and gender discrimination. And even though there may be some statistical truth in that, it must be tiring for the individual to always be guilty, regardless what you do and what you don't. And... in the end you might ask yourself what is the chicken and what is the egg here...!

Friday, 31 August 2012

Afterthought on Breivik's prison sentence

Blimey! It turned out the way I hoped! That happens so seldom to me...

So Anders Behring Breivik was sentenced to prison, not mental care, and has thus been deemed "sane" at the time of the crime. I was glad when hearing on the radio that the court had rejected the first investigation, the one that claimed that Breivik was not sane, stating among other things that you must differ between a political vision and a delusion caused by insanity! (Implicitly: 'Even if you find the political vision in question quite insane...!')

But the positive surprise soon got a foul after taste when I realised that I had, of course!, ended up in the same lot with the "harsher methods" propagators, and those who are "happy that he will never be out again". That is not me.

Sunbathing at Bastøy prison
I'm the kind of person who likes Bastøy prison in Norway. A "human-ecological" prison, where the interns have access to sauna, horse-back riding, tennis court, forests, beaches and sunbeds, and where they of course have a job to go to Mon - Fri. I found a British article about it here:

Norway’s controversial experiment – healing prisoners instead of punishing

There you can read that while prisons all through Europe have a reoffending rate of 70-75%, Sweden, Denmark and Finland have a reoffending rate of 30% and Norway of 20%. Bastøy has a reoffending rate of only 16%. Isn't that how it should be? Isn't that the point with the whole justice system? To make people stop doing crime?

Perhaps it isn't... It strikes me how defensive the British article is. It has phrases like: "whatever is happening here may be condemned, but cannot be ignored". What? 'Condemned', isn't that a kind of strong word? Why would you condemn something nice and good? I mean you could snarl at it, or laugh, or shake your head believing it will never work, but 'condemn', surely!... That's what you do with crimes against humanity! It could be understandable if it were costly, but it's not - quite the contrary! Bastøy is Norway's cheapest prison per intern, partly because the prisoners work and produce most of their own food, but also because they recycle, handle their own waste, use horses instead of cars and make use of local energy such as wind and solar power. It's in line with the philosophy: We are a part of our environment. If we do harm to nature or people around us, somehow it'll come back at us. And so we should be a positive part of our environment.

The British article says this (defensively) about the cost: "The cost will be of some consolation to those who think the prisoners are having it too easy". 'Some consolation', huh? We need comforting?

Well even the title: "Norway's controversial experiment – healing prisoners instead of punishing", what's so controversial about that? When I first saw the title I actually understood it as being meant ironical, but after having read the article, I changed my mind. Well it actually says, straight out: Fresh opinion polls show that the British oppose recent reforms to stop over-population of prisons and high reoffending rates by shortening punishments and placing prisoners in a work environment. The British instead want longer and harsher punishments. It's good to know the audience you're writing for...

Truly, we are losing. The cruel and ignorant are taking over. Those who don't care about the actual reoffending rates and call for harsher methods, are taking over. Breivik is taking over.

For this is exactly what Anders Behring Breivik is: Cruel and ignorant, calling for harsher methods. And so I would wish that Breivik ends up at Bastøy, and that he gets to learn that stuff about being part of nature, and that if you harm it, it comes back. And that how can we know that we're right if we don't discuss with an open mind, and learn to see it from the other side too? That we have to live and let live, not correct others with violence, because it could happen that we are wrong. That all we can do is to discuss and hope the others will listen, and if not step down, despite still believing that we're right. Since it still could happen that we're wrong. That he will realise that he was wrong, and change... Only then will I be able to say: "Got ya!"

Because Anders still believes that he's right. He claimed "defence of himself and others" in the court, meaning that he should be acquitted, since he had only done what he saw as necessary to protect the nation. And that he doesn't appeal the conviction is only because he doesn't opine the state to be enlightened enough to understand what he understands, and "in a state which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just person is also a prison" (Henry David Thoreau). Such a just person, a martyr, is he. And of course, the harsher his prison conditions the more unjust is the state, and the more just and martyrish is Anders!

This was not what I wanted. I just wanted Breivik to be sentenced to prison instead of mental care, so that the society must regard him as sane, so that it wouldn't be so easy for them to dismiss him as just a lone lunatic, so that they would have to face up to their own responsibility, scrutinise themselves, and maybe realise how faulty the chosen, harsh road is, so that they could change direction, towards more solidarity, so that in the end we could get more humane, more constructive and of course shorter prison sentences! Yes. ...But you already realised that, didn't you!;)

See also:
On the conviction against Anders Behring Breivik, 2012-08-24 

More quotes about Bastøy from the Brittish article:
'Bastoy takes the opposite approach to a conventional prison where prisoners are given no responsibility, locked up, fed and treated like animals and eventually end up behaving like animals.

‘Here you are given personal responsibility and a job and asked to deal with all the challenges that entails. It is an arena in which the mind can heal, allowing prisoners to gain self-confidence, establish respect for themselves and in so doing respect for others too.’

According to the governor, the principles upon which Bastoy are based can be traced back to a mixture of theories on psychology, sociology and ecology which emerged from the heady hothouse of early Seventies West Coast American academia. But the origins are even older.

‘I believe the UK is going in the wrong direction – down a completely mad and hopeless path, because you still insist on revenge by putting people into harsh prison conditions which harm them mentally and they leave a worse threat to society than when they entered.

‘This system actually has nothing to do with Norway specifically or this island, so I see absolutely no reason why it can’t be adopted in the UK.’

Bastoy’s results, like the prisoners, the guards and indeed the governor, have an unsettling way of speaking for themselves.

Friday, 24 August 2012

On the conviction against Anders Behring Breivik

Today the conviction against Anders Behring Breivik will be known. I don't wish to have opinions on what the court decides, in this they know much more than me. I just wish that the conviction, whatever it will be, will be just. Well founded, correct. And, as a dad to a survivor from Utøya just said on the radio: "not coloured by all these emotions that we are in right now". He wished that the conviction would stand as fair, also 50 years from now, and that is what I wish too.

But if I still were to hope for something, of what this just and correct conviction will be... mental treatment or prison... then I hope for prison. Only because that would make it harder for the establishment to dismiss Mr Anders as just a lone lunatic. Because a lone lunatic we will of course never be able to fully protect ourselves from! In that case there isn't so much more to do, except going over our security routines.

This might further delay the necessary awakening. To see that what we are doing isn't leading in the right direction, and that there is a sky-rocket price to be paid. To realise that we must once more engage all our efforts to start living together in peace! With all that that entails of tolerance, respect, knowledge, understanding and solidarity with each other in times of hardship, perhaps with people who flee to us for their lives. That whatever it costs to do so, the price for not doing it is so much higher.

Read the follow-up: Afterthought on Breivik's prison sentence, 2012-08-31

Monday, 15 August 2011

I accuse you, UK government!

Working shifts as I do now, I don't always manage to watch the news. Thus I missed the beginning of the London riots.
Looters outside a shop in hackney. Photograph: Kerim Okten/EPA
When first I heard of it, I thought there was a lack of analyses in it. I mean, seriously, multiple day riots in the nearby UK, is not what you expect, if you're a Swede! Naturally you ask what on earth has gone wrong! But there was no answer to that on the news. I thought that probably I had already missed that...

Several days later, with riots still going on(!!!), Swedish news report that the start of the riots was when a father of four was shot to death by the police. They also explained that the police had earlier let on that the man had shot first, but that investigations had now shown that the man's gun had never been fired...!

This was reported on the same day as UK prime minister David Cameron went out with the statement that they were going to evict people who had been involved in the riots, and their families, from government subsided homes...


...Ok, that's not the analysis I expected...

And that's where, for a moment, I thought that maybe it was not the UK I was hearing about. It sounded so much like Tunisia a few months back! This was just what you would expect from any underdeveloped country with a despotic regime: Police brutality sparks riots as the poor people turn to rage, feeling that they've had more than they can take. The despotic regime answers by more oppression against these poor people, creating more frustration and largening the divide between the people and the power, disillusioning the youth, but thinking that the method will work if they just manage to scare everybody into obedience, into hiding their true feelings. A terror regime.

My fiance laughed when he heard about it, and said: "This could just be Kenya!". (He's Kenyan.)

But it wasn't Kenya. And it wasn't Tunisia. It was no country that we have - up till now - considered underdeveloped. It WAS in fact the UK.

UK government, rethink!! Where's the love?? You can never create a society where people are happy and prosperous by terrorising the population! By kicking out the innocent children, parents and spouses of rioters on the street! By creating a larger and larger divide in society, between the rich and the poor, or between the masses and the few in power! Don't you know that people who feel like they belong to the society are productive members of it, whereas those who feel like they are outsiders and as if society would be happier if they just seized to exist, often do lots of harm to this same society, as well as to themselves, and people in their proximity? Well, to which category do you think the poor children and spouses that you are about to send to the streets will belong?... Maybe that is why collective punishment is prohibited by international law. It creates more bad than good.

Well, you had better do better. If your goal is for your country to stay rich and prosperous, with a largely happy, loving and creative population, simply if you want to make a country where people can have good lives, now and in future, then you'd better build the foundation: A population where everybody feels included. Where they feel that their rights are being respected, and if not, then they can protest and know that society will bring them justice.

If on the other hand your goal is simply to stay in power as long as possible, and you don't care which methods you have to use or how your people feel, or for that matter, that you may do great harm to your society that it will take future governments a generation or two to fix... Well, perhaps even then you should consider doing better. We all know what happened to the Tunisian government, after they had sparked the rage of their poor, and then tried to stop the riots with more oppression.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

A critical eye on the power

A friend of mine told me that my last post was quite "conspiracy theoretical and stupid". It made me sad. Especially for that expression "conspiracy theoretical". As if it were a descriptive adjective. And what description might it hold? Probably something like 'paranoid, insane, ridiculous and of course very wrong'. But that would be the same as saying that those in power would never conspire; that it would be paranoid, insane, ridiculous and wrong to question the ever altruistic cause of powerful people!...

The next day I remembered something. I remembered that I myself had said something spookily similar, less than 3 years ago! A dear acquaintance of mine said something about 9/11 being an 'inside job', and I brushed it off, amused, saying that I think it's so comical with suchlike conspiracy theories. But then ey said one thing, after which I pretty much shut it and listened. And checked out more and kept looking into it all the way till now, and with time I came to bitterly eat my words...

WTC collapses

What ey said was this: Look at how the buildings fell. If they would have fallen in an uncontrolled way, following an unsymmetrical damage, then why did they fall so symmetrically? Straight down into a neat little pile of dust! That's just how buildings fall when demolished by explosives, and it takes quite some measure of engineering skill to achieve this. Further they fell with a speed close to that of free fall. The official version says that every floor fell on to the floor below and made also that floor collapse, but in that case every floor that broke the fall would slow the process down. Instead the buildings fell nearly as if they had no resistance at all... As if they just pulverized...

That became very tough for me (as an engineer) to digest. Now when, for the first time, I thought about this, it really occurred utterly strange to me that the buildings would fall in quite that manner.

Just now I realize that ey probably said one more thing, that at the time I didn't know whether to believe or not, but which has later turned out to be true: There was one more building, several blocks from the twin towers, called 7 WTC. It also fell. There has been an official explanation saying that the collapse of the twin towers somehow started a fire inside building 7, making it collapse, but the big official investigation whose job it was to investigate everything around the terror attack of 9/11/2001 didn't even mention the collapse of building 7 in their report. On the whole it has been rather quiet around it, hasn't it?...

But my critical friend said he would need to read from a physicist sorting out this with the twin tower collapse and all. Are there more out there who would like this? Well, we can arrange it. Here is:
Physics 911,
created by a "Scientific panel investigating 9/11", consisting of scientists, engineers and other professionals.

But why stop there? While we're at it, why not also check out:
Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth
Firefighters for 9/11 Truth
Pilots for 9/11 Truth
Scientists for 9/11 Truth
Scholars for 9/11 Truth
Veterans For 911Truth

...and perhaps a few more. "When you have ruled out the impossible, what remains is the truth, regardless of how improbable it may seem", as Sherlock Holmes said. That is precisely what the above organisations are doing; ruling out things that are impossible.

(A final note, here at the end: Not even the FBI believe that Osama bin Laden is guilty of the 9/11 attack; just look at their website! (edit: they have changed it now, but I printed it here.) And how can so many news media report bin Laden as having been among FBI's "top 10 most wanted", but happen to omit the fact that what he was wanted for was bombing embassies in Kenya?!... You see, they only put up wanted pictures where a criminal charge has been formally filed. And so a formal charge must exist for the terror attack in Kenya. But not for 9/11...)