The Russians are coming – climate policy is global political defense policy

Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Greenland are central to the defense of NATO member states.

Anthony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, is visiting Helsinki, and it is expected that he will have “big news” at his press conference in Finland, NATO’s newest member state. It is likely that he will somehow twist Turkey’s arm so that Sweden can become the newest NATO member country, writes Desiree Ohrbeck. Archive photo : Lehtikuva

“If the Russians invade, you must come over here as soon as possible.” This is what my grandmother wrote home to her mother in Copenhagen in the early 1950s. My maternal grandmother, Else Marie, married a US Air Force Sergeant, Forest Edgar Rhodes, after World War II and traveled with him to Texas, where he was from.

I have transcribed the letters she sent to her mother from 1948-1956. It is a time capsule that sets the mood for the Cold War rhetoric that characterized the time. And that’s the rhetoric I thought of when I read the article ” Arctic Risks Loom Large as Blinken Tours Nato’s North ” in The New York Times yesterday.

Russia is not only at war with Ukraine; the country is at war with most of Europe and with the United States, who sends military equipment to Ukraine. Further, Russia is not only a huge power in Eastern Europe, the country is a power factor in the Nordic region as well as in the Arctic region. They have indicated that it wants to make the Arctic region its “fifth military district”. In other words, a tiny country like Denmark, largely because Greenland is a Danish territory, is an important strategic and geographical player on a stage that may look dystopian in the coming years.

Global warming is melting the icecaps and opening new routes for trade – and for the territorial expansion ambitions of military superpowers. Russia has intentions of dominating the Nordic region, and China aspires to gain resources and create a new Arctic silk route by trying to buy ports in Finland and mines in Greenland. It was, among other things, in response to this, Trump wanted to buy Greenland.

We will not see the Chinese arriving to Europe in small dingy boats in Southern Europe, but with huge icebreakers via the Arctic.

All this leads to the conclusion, that it is not solely because of the war in Ukraine that Finland and Sweden will be important NATO state members.

Today, Anthony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, is in Norway meeting with other NATO members. He is also visiting Helsinki, Finland, NATO´s newest member state member. It is expected that he will have “big news” at his press conference in the country on Friday. I wonder if he has come up with a way to twist Turkey’s arm so that Sweden can become the newest NATO member country?

I remember the fear of the Cold War era as a child in the 1980s. Russia could at any point “press the button”. So could the United States. I remember the knot in my stomach when my mother took me and my younger siblings to protest in a small suburb of Aarhus.

Cold War rhetoric is back. As the ice melts, the icy winds of a new Cold War blow. Military planning and access to resources is the focal point.

Russia has nuclear-armed submarines, an air force, its Nordic fleet, and nuclear missiles close to the Finnish border. In response to Russia’s aggression, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland have decided to share air forces. That means that they now have an air fleet larger than both England’s and France’s.

Perhaps it is the military threat from Russia that will finally make decision makers take global warming seriously and understand that it is a matter of life or death – whether it be from a military threat or from melting poles?

Russerne kommer – klimapolitik er storpolitisk forsvarspolitik

Danmark, Norge, Sverige, Finland – og Grønland er centrale i forsvaret af Nato-medlemslande.

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Spreadsheets do not offer sustainable, innovative solutions

Implementing sustainable solutions require trust in authorities, something America can learn from the Nordic countries.

Last Thursday, I spent the day with the Danish ambassador to the United States, Christina Marcus Lassen, the Governor of my state Washington, Jay Inslee, and numerous c-level executives from Nordic companies. They all attented a summit at the National Nordic Museum in Seattle, “Nordic Innovation Summit 2023.” One American speaker after another paid tribute to the Nordic countries, highlighting trust and cooperation as two things the US can learn from Denmark and the Nordic countries when it comes to innovative, sustainable solutions.

Two days before the summit, I went with my 12-year-old son to the Architecture Hall at the University of Washington. Martine Reinhold Kildeby, Head of Strategic Partnerships, for Bloxhubin Copenhagen, gave a guest lecture titled “Copenhagen Blox and Bloxhub : Nordic Hub for Sustainable Urbanisation.”

Kildeby explained what Bloxhub is and how private and public institutions and companies collaborate – for greener and innovative solutions.

After the lecture, I asked Martine Kildeby: What is the biggest challenge when collaborating with Americans? Without hesitation, she answered: “Trust.”

Trust. A small word with a big meaning. The degree of trust in Denmark and the Nordic countries is generally high. The Nordic populations trusts their authorities and trusts that they want the best for the population. The same is certainly not the case for the American population, where mistrust and vigilance are baked into the DNA.

I brought my son to the lecture to show him what a great country he comes from and that Denmark is in the forefront when it comes to sustainable solutions.

“What did you learn from the lecture?,” I asked him as we left the building.

“Everything is connected,” he replied as the conversation turned into thoughts about how a simple thing like planting a tree next to a bench in the city involves many agencies and reached the conclusion how important it is for different groups to be able to work together.

At the summit at the New Nordic Museum, I learned about electric boats, green steel, green fertilizer, electric trucks, sewage plants, wind turbines, urban planning, circular economy, and much more. But what kept coming up regardless of what company presented were two things. Everything is connected. And trust. Private and public organizations must be able to cooperate, and to be able to do that you must trust each other.

Cooperation and trust. It is in our DNA in the Nordic countries. It is an integral part of why and how our societies work. Historically, the Nordic countries have had to cooperate to adapt quickly. That attitude benefits us when it comes to sustainable, innovative ideas.

But working together and trust are far from the basic identity in the United States. What working together means to the Nordic countries, competition means to the USA in terms of being a key characteristic. Contrary to what one might think, something as soft as a feeling – trust – is alpha and omega. Not spreadsheets, laws, and rules, which are also important, but not the most important. Cooperating and trust make projects successful, the feeling of being able to trust each other is the cornerstone in order to find solutions.

There is hope, however, then it comes to bringing America up to speed in sustainable solutions. If there is something Americans believe in, it is financial gain. Just as Copenhageners don’t get on their bikes every morning because they want to improve the environment but because it is the most convenient and practical way to get around in the city, Americans choose green solutions – because it makes economic sense. Partnering with The Nordic countries which have innovative ideas and can cooperate make a lot of sense.

On the other hand, by virtue of being the world’s largest economy, having resources and space, the USA is an attractive market. That is why one Nordic sustainable company after another is starting branches in the USA. When Nordic companies give Americans the opportunity to choose a green, sustainable solution, while at the same time providing economic benefits in contrast to traditional “black” solutions, they will make changes and enter into an industrial symbiosis.

Legislation, research and industries must work together – for the well-being of all populations. The Nordic countries cannot be too arrogant in wanting other countries to implement sustainable solutions the Nordic way: Governments and other cultures implement and learn differently. The important thing is not that the world does as the Nordic countries do. The important thing is to create sustainable changes – for the benefit of the entire planet and its population.

Regneark er ikke det, der skal forbedre miljøet

Tillid er nøgleordet – ikke mindst tilliden til myndighederne. Der kan USA godt nok lære noget af de nordiske lande.

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Why did he shoot?

Excommunication from Jehovah’s Witnesses can result in trauma. Maybe that was why a man opened fire in Hamburg last week.

New drug for schizophrenia could meet desperate need for better treatments  -

We know them from public spaces, we recognize their magazines Watchtower and Awake! They engage with people in conversations at train stations and in public spaces. Dressed in a suit or a rather old-fashioned conservative length skirt they knock on our doors on Saturday mornings to proselytize God’s paradise and Armageddon. Maybe you feel sorry for them, especially their kids, when you see them knocking on door after door, preaching their “joyous” faith.

Most people have formed an opinion of them, but very few know what actually goes on in their churches, their Kingdom Halls, and about the indoctrination that pervades everyday life of these witnesses.

A few months back there was a shooting in the US in a parking lot outside a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Thursday, the shootings in and around places of Jehovah’s Witness´ worship came to Europe with a shooting in Hamburg, Germany. Reporters in the US and in Europe have reported the Kingdom Hall shootings and compared them to other right-wing, radicalized perpetrators. But this parallel is problematic. Former Jehovah’s Witnesses who end up as perpetrators of mass shootings do not belong to the same group as racists and anti-Semites who run amok outside mosques and synagogues.

On Thursday, a perpetrator shot and killed six people and injured eight in a Kingdom Hall in Hamburg before turning his weapon on himself.

Violence is never a solution, no matter how much one understands why a person is suffering. Still, I would like to address and offer an explanation to the shootings within the sphere of Jehovah´s Witnesses.

Imagine that you met some incredibly nice people. Maybe you are at a vulnerable state, maybe you are experiencing a personal crisis. You feel lost, rootless, lonely, lacking a sense of purpose in life. A group of people welcomes you into their midst with open arms. You are invited for a cup of coffee, dinner parties, and conversations about the meaning of life. You are invited to talk about your frustrations with humanity, your viewpoints are met with understanding and empathy. Being met with openness and understanding is liberating.

Little by little, almost without you noticing, new ways are introduced to you. When you are invited to a dinner, they say grace before eating. This seems quite harmless, and you are after all their guest plus you want to be accommodating, so you fold your hands and look down at the tablecloth while the man of the house leads his family in prayer. What is said in the prayers may not be entirely to your liking, but you ignore that, there is no reason to spoil the atmosphere. Jehovah’s Witnesses are such nice, well-groomed and smiling people. All their talk of death to unbelievers is far from who you normally think voice such death and destruction-obsessed topics.

You notice that the important presentations in the Kingdom Hall, where you now come regularly, are given by men. Women are on the sidelines with supplementary roles on the podium, but the microphone time goes to the men, who are also heads of the family. You hear of a great war in the last day, when all who do not share the faith will be annihilated. This includes children. It’s scary, but luckily it doesn’t apply to you, because you saw the light and managed to get the right faith before God’s Armageddon war. You learn that Christmas, birthdays, Easter, indeed all holidays do not have God’s favor, so you must stop celebrating them. And you are told that you should cut off all contact with those in your social circle who do not share your views. And you do that, because you want to be part of your new club, right?

And then the trap snaps. The warmth is still there, if you follow the narrow path defined by the religious community. But if you “stumble”, you will be given a warning behind closed doors after a meeting with three serious-looking elders, who will find Bible scripters showing you that you have committed a great sin – something that, of course, must be punished.

The congregation has a certain number of “elders” who know about the actions and behavior of the individual members – this is known to all members, and this naturally means that you do everything you can to follow the sect’s rules. The “elders” have eyes and ears everywhere, because everyone has a duty to report if they see or hear something unregulated. Excommunication hangs over all members as the supreme shame and fear that pervades every action – the consequences are unfathomable, especially since everything now in your social life takes place exclusively within the sphere of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Critical questions are unacceptable and will, if they persist, lead to excommunication. They were welcomed before you became a member, not after. If you get drunk, smoke a cigarette, have sex without being married, swear, lie, cheat on your taxes… the list is long – you will be excommunicated. The path of virtue is extremely narrow.

There are many reasons why one can be disfellowshipped from Jehovah’s Witnesses. But for the sake of simplicity, let’s follow our imaginary example above. When hormones are raging and a baptized Jehovah’s Witness meets someone (of the opposite sex, naturally) he or she develops feelings for, and if they follow that desire and end up having sex, he or she is excommunicated and loses everything.

Everyone treats the excommunicated person as if he or she had a dangerous virus – the only way to get your life back is to repent, do penance and spend a year in the back row of the Kingdom Hall without being allowed to greet your family, without being allowed to participate, and without the right to seek eye contact with anyone. I know this, I went through it myself in the hope that I would be reunited with my family.

Should you have seen the clear light that makes you doubt whether Jehovah’s Witnesses really have The Truth, you are doomed forever. Even the most peace-loving family-deprived person can be driven to the brink of desperation.

Is this what brought the former member of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Hamburg to his action, which tragically cost the lives of members of the religious community and himself their lives?

Hvorfor skød han?

Udstødelse fra Jehovas Vidner kan resultere i umenneskelige traumer. Det var muligvis grunden til skyderiet i Hamborg i sidste uge.

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Is H.C. Andersen and his fairytales the next to be cancelled?

To become wiser and change the future, we must dare to face the past without censoring it.

Artiklens øverste billede

Regularly, literary writers have their texts dragged through the woke movement´s machinery. This time, the British writer Roald Dahl was the target, but when will it be Denmark´s national icon, HC Andersen? Drawing: Rasmus Sand Høyer

My son and I are reading “HC Andersen’s Fairy Tales & Histories + Complete collection prefaced by Johannes Møllehave” from 2000. The goal is to work through the book this year. We read a few pages every day and talk about the stories and about Danish words he doesn’t know, such as mill wheel, horse carriage, galoshes and wadsack. It is an excellent way to expand his Danish language skills and for his cultural understanding not to mention the quality time I get with him. We just finished “The Little Mermaid,” which my son dryly noted was “very different from Disney’s version.”

My kids loved reading Roald Dahl’s books when they were younger. The British author with Norwegian heritage is best known for “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” but published a total of 49 books for both children and adults. My daughter especially loved “The BFG.” Roald Dahl was anti-Semitic, racist, and a misogynist – traits I actively teach my children are unacceptable.

The way Roald Dahl described gender and obesity tells us something about him and his time that we can learn from today when talking to our children about how to treat each other.

There has recently been an enormous public backlash after Puffin, the children´s imprint of Penguin Random House, publisher of Roald Dahl’s books, announced that they would change the author’s language to make the books more inclusive. The publishing house hired the consulting agency Inclusive Minds, and it was decided that words like “fat” and “ugly” were to disappear, and content that had to do with gender, race, ethnicity, mental health, appearance, and weight would change. “Words mean something,” the publishing house wrote. “The fantastic world of Roald Dahl can transport you to different worlds and introduce you to the most wonderful characters. The books were written many years ago, and we regularly edit the language to ensure that it can be enjoyed by as many people as possible.’

The outcry was substantial – from literary figures such as Salman Rushdie, from the British royal house, and from freedom of expression groups, such as PEN America. So loudly did people protest, that the publisher pulled back and announced that the books would be available both in their edited editions and in their original form. The censorship controversy hits directly into a groping zeitgeist, where the fear of stepping on someone’s toes risks introducing self-censorship and compromise freedom of expression.

Where do we draw the line if we start canceling books and make them unavailable? Censoring or making things disappear because times have changed is a dangerous direction. Shouldn’t large parts of the Bible then be cancelled as well? How do you accept the art of the past when it is based on views we have moved away from? How do we make room for literature written in another time when the content holds viewpoints, we now find inappropriate?

We are finding ourselves in a time of change. Most of us can remember a world that looked somewhat different from the global society we live in today and this forces us to grabble with this topic.

That reality is, that we must find a way where diversity is embraced and where it is simultaneously ok that literature does not satisfy all viewpoints, skin colors, religions, or body sizes. Because if we start introducing censorship, if we start regulating what our kids and youth have access to – then we are moving frighteningly close to totalitarian societies we pride ourselves of being far removed from.

Should Salman Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses” disappear, should books written with a British imperialist worldview? The balance is difficult – because what kind of literature is ok today if we simultaneously advocate freedom of expression and the importance of learning from the past as we move forward?

I don’t like seeing women depicted as cashiers if they could be research scientists or CEOs, as they now are in the edited Roald Dahl work, or to see someone being called “enormously fat.” The way Roald Dahl described gender and obesity says something about him and his time that we can learn from today when we talk to our children about how to treat each other and how a short time ago people looked at and mocked women and minorities. But the reactions to changing “mother” and “father” to “family” and the elimination of “girls and boys” to “children” and that phrases like “beautiful light skin” has been changed to “beautiful smooth skin,” shows that the woke movement is not backed by the general population.

When HC Andersen wrote “The Little Mermaid,” Denmark looked different. Denmark was a homogenous country, a country where Muslim headscarves, dark skin, and a diverse cultural population were not a natural part of the cityscape. If you wanted to experience the big world, you had to do like Andersen and go outside the country’s borders by horse-drawn carriage. The ideal of beauty was fair skin, blue eyes and blond hair.

And it is that reality, Andersen writes his stories from. Not the global world that surrounds us today. Therefore, the little mermaid is “the most beautiful of them all, her skin was as clear and bright as a rose petal, her eyes as blue as the deepest lake.”

Is this problematic? Is it something that should be cancelled the next time HC Andersen’s collected works are republished? No, because if we erase the past, we erase the possibility of conversations with our children about where we come from, what beauty is, how people before us were viewed. And we delete the possibility of taking a stand and making conscious choices based on a reflection on the world in which we find ourselves.

Hvornår begynder de at rette i H.C. Andersens eventyr?

For at blive klogere og ændre fremtiden er vi nødt til at turde se fortiden i øjnene uden at censurere den.

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I don’t care if the gunman was bullied as a kid, hates people of color, women, gays, or had a tough childhood

Never before have we soon that many mass shootings in such a short timespan in the United States. The number one cause of death for children and youth in the United States is gun violence.

“This is the second mass shooting I have lived through,” said a female student in an interview with CNN on Monday after a shooting at Michigan State University. Since Columbine in 1999, 300,000 students have been in school during a school shooting. 90% of teenagers killed are girls. Every single number is a human being who either died or experienced the consequences of America’s insane gun access. It’s gut-wrenching in a way that makes the reality I live in almost unbearable.

I can’t write this column accurately and fast enough before another mass shooting is reported.

Never before has the United States experienced so many shootings in such a short time. 71 mass shootings according to the Gun Violence Archive – in six weeks. The definition of a mass shooting is four or more dead or injured, not including the perpetrator. America is experiencing an epidemic, but politicians are not acting. Meanwhile, children and young people grow up with drills to increase their chances of survival if they experience a school shooting. 4.6 million American children live in a home with a loaded gun that is not in a secured, locked cabinet. It’s crazy, it’s sick, and it’s the primary reason I can’t fully embrace the country I call home.

After the Covid 19 pandemic, which kept many children and young people home for more than a year, the number of shootings increased. In 2021 alone, there were 250 shootings in and around schools, four of which fell under the category of mass shootings. Last year there were more than 300 shootings on school grounds. The worst school shooting occurred in Texas, where 22 were killed and 17 injured. Shots are fired at basketball games, in school cafeterias, in classrooms and in school parking lots. Each death often represents a child.

It’s absolutely insane! A shooting at a school should send the whole community into a frenzy, make people take to the streets by the millions, make everyone write their representatives to force the politicians to do something. Society should reach a stand still until something was done to make it safe to send the most vulnerable, our children and young students, to school.

I can’t write this column accurately and fast enough before another mass shooting is reported. Today is February 18th and there have already been 17 mass shootings – this month! On television, at municipal meetings, in public hearings, parents stand with a picture of their child and account one heartbreaking story after another – and describe who their beautiful child who is no longer in this world because of guns. The attitudes around gun laws have become so polarized that you are put in an extreme box on one or the other side of the political spectrum when you speak out.

I refuse to become numb, I refuse to shrug. I refuse to accept the how some Americans insist on their beloved second amendment. We are at a stage where we only hear about shootings in the news if they take place at a school, university, or is racially or religiously motivated. When something is sick and heartbreaking, it doesn’t become any less unfathomable due to its number. I choose to hold on to that, even if it tears my soul to pieces.

I don’t really care if the perpetrator was bullied as a kid, hates people of color, women, gays, or had a tough childhood. When you live in a country where there is virtually free access to guns that fire 30 rounds per second, you get a society like America. Denmark and Europe would look like the USA if they had the same attitude towards guns as we have here.

One thing is how traumatizing it is for children and young people and the rest of society to have to navigate a world where the risk of being in public must be constantly considered. It’s another thing to experience and survive a mass shooting. I think about how they experience the psychological toll, the inability to focus, having your childhood upended instantly, and losing faith that the adults will look after you. It is unbearable to think that someone puts the right to bear arms above the well-being of our children and their right to live a life of safety and security.

The United States is the only Western, democratic country that has mass shootings as an epidemic scale problem. Every day, 12 children in the United States die as a result of gun violence, 32 are shot or injured. There is no reason to believe that Americans are more violent, mentally ill, or stand out significantly from an ordinary Dane. But the easy access to guns, meant for warfare, makes the outpouring of hatred, anger and destruction is so much more deadly.

Jeg er fløjtende ligeglad med, om gerningsmanden er blevet mobbet som barn, hader sorte, kvinder, homoseksuelle eller har siddet skævt på potten

Aldrig før har der været så mange masseskyderier på så få uger i USA. Den største årsag til børns og unges død i USA er våben.

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Irmas lukning får rige storbyboere op i det røde felt

Det er så uendelig ligegyldigt, om Irma eksisterer eller ej.

Da jeg boede på Nørrebro i København, handlede jeg i Aldi ved siden af Ungdomshuset, aldrig i Irma.

Irma var for de rige og veluddannede, dem, der kendte forskel på vindistrikter og druer, jeg aldrig havde hørt om. Irma var for dem, der kendte til procenter i chokolade, ost, der havde stået hengemt i et kloster, og kød fra dyr, der var blevet kælet for. Aldi var for os andre fattigrøve, der enten ikke kendte til Irmas lækre varer, ikke havde råd til at købe dem eller ikke ville være til grin, hver gang vi åbnede pengepungen. Nyheden om Aldis lukning har sjovt nok ikke fået bedsteborgerne til at udbryde i ramaskrig.

“Irma er passé, forbrugerne har talt og valgt andre steder at købe ind.

”Chokerende” er ord, der bliver hæftet på lukningen af Irmakæden, der begyndte i 1886 som en æggeforretning på Nørrebro. Hør her: Irma er altså bare en del af en privat virksomhed, der ikke tjener penge nok, til trods for at de kræver overpriser for deres varer. Men når man har råd til at handle i Irma, så har man også råd til at handle online og få maden bragt lige til døren – hvis Irma havde været forudseende, kunne de måske have undgået et massivt underskud og rent faktisk leveret det, tiden kalder på. Irma er passé, forbrugerne har talt og valgt andre steder at købe ind.

Hvordan storbyboerne kan komme op i det røde felt over en butikskæde, der lukker, er for mig komplet uforståeligt. Især i betragtning af, at hvis samme madbevidste borgere løfter blikket en lille smule fra Irmapigen og ser ud i verden, så er der temmelig mange andre emner, der kunne have gavn af deres harme. Loyalitet og varme følelser er der nok af godgørende sager, der har brug for, brug engagementet på dem i stedet for en butikskæde.

Tilsyneladende mener folk, at de mister deres identitet, når Irma lukker. For når man handler i Irma, er man en af de forbrugerstærke, smarte byboer, der med sin indkøbspose, hvis man da ikke medbringer sin egen af lærred, signalerer, hvilket samfundslag man tilhører. Til det vil jeg blot sige, at det siger en hel del, at Irma aldrig er slået igennem i Jylland eller på Fyn.

Selvom Irmahønen ikke længere blinker i mørket, er hun en del af vores kulturelle sangskat takket være Kim Larsen. Hvil i fred, Irma – og så er det vist tid til at engagere sig i andre presserende emner af langt vigtigere karakter, ikke?

Denmark is funding anti-democratic organizations and religious groups

Freedom of expression should never be up for discussion – but government funding should.

A burnt Koran in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm. BBC News is showing the extreme right politician Rasmus Paludan on my screen. He couldn’t have timed his happening better. We have seen the play before, now follows an international crisis. The Turkish president Erdogan has already announced that he will be voting no to granting Sweden a NATO membership.

“Finally, we are even, Ritt!” was the title of a bar happening on the extreme left. Recently deceased Ritt Bjerregaard was Mayor of Copenhagen when the police cleared young squatters from a house because the municipality sold the property. The bar event prompted a storm of protests. The Youth Center where the bar event took place receives 2 million Danish Croner in public subsidy each year and some voices want that funding stopped.

“If you take away the financial support for political parties, you risk an American-like system. Trust me, you don´t want the political arena in Denmark to become like the USA, where politics is permeated by economic interests.

Distasteful and reprehensible – is a label fitting for both Rasmus Paludan’s and The Youth Center´s happenings. But they are both legal. And they both receive state funded support.

You can have more than one thought in your head at the same time in this debate. The subsidizes come from the same place, regardless of whether it is a budget in Copenhagen or state-funded support for political parties, associations, organizations, and religious movements.

We must never erode the rights we enjoy in a free democracy where we have freedom of speech. Period. However, this does not mean that we should aid movements whose aim it is to destroy the fantastic democracy Denmark is.

It makes no sense to support religious communities, organizations, and associations that has as a core value to overthrow democracy. To name a few, extreme right- and left-wing groups that work towards a revolution and want to take the fight to the streets, Jehovah’s Witnesses, who do not believe in democracy, but theocracy which also seem to be the attitude towards democracy some Muslim circles. The list goes on and on. Unfortunately.

So, what about the political parties who do not believe that democracy is the right form of government, parties running for parliament? Do we want to keep aiding them with subsidizes? Both the extreme left and right have groups fighting for a system that is not a democracy. If these political parties are eligible to run, they have met the democratic rules enabling them to work within the framework we have set for the democratic process. These parties should be supported financially, as is the case in today’s Denmark – because the foundation for society is based on the individual citizen’s experience of participating actively as part of our democracy.

If you take away the financial support for political parties, you risk an American-like system. Trust me, you don´t want the political arena in Denmark to become like the USA, where politics is permeated by economic interests. The question then is whether changes should be made to the requirements for running as a party. The more diverse the population in Denmark becomes, the greater the risk of seeing parties running, that do not want to continue the welfare and democratic model, generations before us have built is This topic is a discussion for another day.

We must be vigilant about the values and rights we pride ourselves on, especially when they are tested. We can do this by letting people enjoy basic rights to believe, speak, and think freely – but we do not have to make it easier for them to spew their venom by financially aiding them to practice their anti-democratic views.

Hypocrisy is never pretty. Apparently the hurt is greater when a newly deceased well-known Social Democrat is under fire than when a relatively new religion is mocked. However, one of the things that makes a democracy differ from totalitarian regimes is accepting positions that are not represented by the incumbents and to know that people with far-out opinions have the right to and can express their point of view.

The discussion is not about freedom of speech. In Denmark, and other democratic countries, citizens have the right to oppose political and religious ideas. You can demonstrate, you can be provocative, you can burn the Koran, you can draw Jesus Christ with an enormous erect penis, and you can mock a recently deceased politician, like Ritt Bjerregaard.

How about instead of financially supporting forces that aim to overthrow democracy, we redirect the support to groups and initiatives that work to support democratic values?

Time has run out for places like Noma

Showing our distain for the treatment, employees in the culinary world must endure can be done when being mindful of where we put our money.

The closest I’ve come to dining at the world-renowned Danish restaurant Noma was when I visited The Willows Inn on Lummi Island. The chef used to work at the famous Copenhagen restaurant.

Sipping on my sparkling bubbles at an outdoor patio overlooking the Puget Sound, the tranquil atmosphere was abruptly interrupted when an infernal noise erupted. A mixture of shrill shouts, chants, megaphones, and musical instruments handled so effectively that every note that was out of tune reached me and the other guests.

“I’ll go talk to them,” I told my husband. All he wanted was to enjoy an evening without kids, hold hands, and have a private conversation. But he knows me well enough, so he didn´t object.

“What are you protesting against?” I asked them.

The person in charge told me about unpaid wages, inhumane working conditions, non-existent overtime pay and sexual assaults.

We often talk about that night. Not because the food left an impression, it was rather boring and predictable – but because that night we got to talk about what gentrification does to a community and about, and I understand this may come across as a bit of a white woman´s privilege, that we as consumers have a choices to make when it comes showing our values by being mindful of what we decide to spend our money on.

Had I known that the restaurant on Lummi Island with its 900 residents was at the center of a controversial case about pay, gender discrimination and physical and psychological abuse, I would never have set foot in that place – regardless if the food had been world class or not.

This weekend I watched the movie “The Menu” and couldn’t help but think of Noma and other high-ranking Michelin-aiming restaurants known for unacceptable working conditions.

The mood has changed, the winds are blowing in a different direction. It’s no longer cool to brag about having been to Noma – on the contrary, it’s almost considered a distasteful waste of money that could have been spent in so many other useful ways. The Menu points a finger, claiming that dining at a high-end Michelin restaurant is like a metafiction. The clown is the guest who leaves behind thousands of dollars on the restaurant table where he has been taken for a fool all night. Through a nonsense avantgarde description of food, the guest is tricked into believing that what he consumes is art – and so what ends up in the toilet is praised through a dance of words.

It is not benign things kitchen workers at Noma must put up with: odd working hours, being treated like brainless amoebas, physical and psychological abuse, poor pay, etc.

In the film “The Menu” it is clear that the emperor has no clothes in the sense that one of the guests, a woman who does not belong to the one percent of the population who can afford to eat at a fancy Michelin restaurant, lets the chef know that his food is boring and that she would rather have a cheeseburger.

Maybe it’s time to tear down restaurants instead of the people who work in them? And maybe it’s time for us as guests to make choices that don’t show what sophisticated avantgarde-ish we are. Maybe it´s time to stand up for people who´s working conditions we would never ourselves accept?

Tiden er løbet fra Noma

Med pengepungen kan vi vise vores modstand over for den behandling, medarbejdere i den kulinariske verden arbejder under.

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Egregious contempt from Danish politicians towards their constituents.

Gaslighting the Danish population is what comes to mind, when hearing politicians attempting to reason why they want to slash a holiday that dates back to 1686 arguing that an extra day at work will finance a stronger defense system.

Denmark is in dire need of manpower, the welfare state is not functioning properly because of a shortage in key positions within the public sector. Here is an idea: Instead of punishing hard-working Danes, how about getting those on welfare into the labor force?

“Immigration to Denmark must not challenge cohesion,” reads one of the headlines in the Ministry of Immigration and Integration’s report “Status on integration” from May last year.

The Danish population has changed significantly over the past 40 years. In 1980 I was five years old – back then approximately 51,000 immigrants and descendants with a non-Western background lived in the country. Today, the number is more than 500,000. This would not be a problem if integration and assimilation had followed, but unfortunately it did not. Who and what is to be blamed for this can be debated endlessly.

Similarly, we can debate whether the extra working day Danes are facing will finances tax breaks or more welfare. The answer will depend on whether your glasses are blue or red toned. The fact is that far too few with a non-Western background living in Denmark are participating in the work force. The fact is also, that hard-working Danes get up every day and contribute their share by going to work. Through their taxes, they pay for those without the same sense of responsibility – people who enjoy living a safe and comfortable life in Denmark with free healthcare, childcare, education, rent etc. – without ever feeling the need to contribute to the welfare state they have been invited into.

How dedicated is Denmark really? After all, they do not reach the goal of the commitment they made decades ago of 2 percent of GDP for their defense system until the year 2030.

The welfare system in Denmark is fantastic. Most people agree on that. My grandmother never missed a chance to tell me what the Social Democrats and the unions did for the life her children and grandchildren were able to live. I am, and will always be, grateful for the opportunities I and other Danes have enjoyed and benefitted from. Danes inside and outside the country’s borders are proud of the Danish model. I am one of them. As an Lecturer at the University of Washington in Seattle, I have lectured classes on how amazing a country Denmark is and how well we take care of our citizens.

But I have also had to teach the students that the welfare model requires a population with values that are alligned; that one must be able to identify with one’s neighbor in order for the system to work. It is easier to get people to accept a high level of taxes if you feel you are paying to someone similar to yourself – in appearance and in culture. A welfare system works when the population is fairly homogeneous. You must believe that when you are able, you have an obligation to contribute to society via being a part of the work force. Similarly, when you are in need, you can rest assured that you have the right to benefit from the welfare system.

Denmark is no longer like that. The model only works if everyone feel like this and if the life cycle of a citizens life is predictable. But the more diverse a population is, the more difficult it is to predict, the more deviations from a homogeneous mass there will be. Therefore, societal changes are necessary for the Danish model to survive. The problem is that politicians cannot say this out loud – for fear of creating division or because they risk being called racists or worse.

That is why they have invented a phrase, they repeat over and over: The reason for slashing a holiday is a need to finance the Danish defense system.

But the argument does not hold up, because Denmark has long ago committed to spending 2 per cent. of GDP – they just never did. Furthermore, this government is far from the first to say that the Danes must sacrifice a holiday in order to finance welfare. The circumstances are the same, now as it was then: lack of tax dollars revenue to fund welfare. The difference between now and then, however, is that previously there was no war in Europe that the Danish politicians could use as an excuse.

So, when Social democrats, Liberals, and the Moderates repeat in one debate after another that taking care of Denmark is their main focus and that the Danes must therefore wholeheartedly pay their share by living up to our international obligations, it is at best hypocrisy if not an outright lie.

How dedicated is Denmark really? After all, they do not reach the goal of the commitment they made decades ago of 2 percent of GDP for their defense system until the year 2030.

It is a “talking point” when politicians repeatedly highlight increased defense spending as the reason for the extra working day. And it is disrespectful and insulting to the Danes not to tell the truth.

Denmark has changed from when previous generations created our fantastic welfare system. Unfortunately, some would rather reap the benefits than contribute to the society they are a part of. As long as no one has the guts to say this out loud, the utility worker, the caregiver, and other working groups will slave away every day, while other groups sit back while sipping mint tea in stead of feeling obligated to take part in the community that takes such good care of them.

Tror politikerne, danskerne er idioter, når de siger, store bededag skal finansiere mere forsvar?

Danmark mangler arbejdskraft. Så hvad med at få dem, der ikke yder, ud på arbejdsmarkedet i stedet for at straffe hårdtarbejdende danskere?

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Jehovah´s Witnesses violate the rights of children

Exclusion of minor children is in violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Norway’s State Administration has settled a case in which it determines that children’s rights are violated when Jehovah’s Witnesses practice their exclusion methods. Children are exposed to negative social control and are held accountable within the organization´s closed legal system – and are judged as adults. All children deserve the same level of rights, not just Norwegian children.

If you are registered as a “recognized religious community” (Act no. 1533 of 19 December 2017 on religious communities outside the national church) in Denmark, you have a number of financial advantages regarding (property) tax and VAT. In addition, members can donate a tax-dectable amount.

In Norway, brave members of Jehovah´s Witnesses contacted the authorities because they felt trapped and did not dare to leave the sect for fear of the personal consequences it would have. Yesterday, Norway’s State Administration announced to the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization that the religious freedom of the members is violated when the organization expels its members. The decision does not mean that Jehovah’s Witnesses will disappear from Norway. They can still practice their religion, they just no longer get millions of tax crowns every year, and then they lose the right to seal marriages.

In October, Jehovah’s Witnesses in Norway were warned that the financial state support was about to end. On the same occasion, the organization was asked whether it wanted to change its exclusionary practices so that it could continue receiving government support. To that, the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization replied no. At the same time, the organization hired a high-profile lawyer.

Jehovah’s Witnesses practice what was previously known as “excommunication” and has since changed name to “exclusion,” probably to create an illusion to the public of a softer punishment.

But excommunication is exactly the same as exclusion. In practice, it means that you are dead to your family and former friends. I know how it works, because I have experienced it myself. If you are walking in the street and pass someone you have known since you were a child, he must pass you by without acknowledging you. If you call home, your parents must hang up immediately. No contact, whatsoever, is allowed. If you become desperate and show up outside your parents’ doorstep, they must must close the door on you – the treatment of an excommunicated member is the same, no matter how old or young he or she is. Imagine how many excommunicated members die from suicide or go back into the cult – not to mention those who do not dare to leave for fear of the treatment they know they will have to endure.

That is precisely why Norway has now had enough. It is inhumane to treat especially children and young adults like this. When I confronted my mom with this, I was told that had made the choice when I chose to be baptized and therefore knew the consequences when I chose to leave the sect. To be clear, I was baptized two weeks after my 14th birthday, had not yet had my first period, had never been in love, or kissed a boy – in short, I had accepted restrictions, I had no understanding of.

The sect strongly encourages you to get baptized as early as possible – after that you are reliable for your actions according to their rules and restrictions. You are held accountable for your actions on equal terms with adults. I have heard of children as young as 8 who have been baptized – and judged as adults when they start asking questions or breaking the sect’s rules.

There has been a citizens’ proposal to deprive Jehovah’s Witnesses in Denmark of their recognition as a religious community. Unfortunately, not enough signed the petition for the Danish Parliament to consider the proposal.

That’s a shame. On the one hand, Jehovah’s Witnesses are immensely happy to receive the economic benefits that the Danish state provides, on the other hand, such a state-supported economy is de facto a symbol of accepting the inhumane, sectarian doomsday cult’s practice, which, with its Gestapo methods, forces the members to rat on each other – with severe personal consequences.

So, what has been Jehovah’s Witnesses reaction to the decision in Norway? Ironically, they state that they are a persecuted minority, that their freedom of religion is challenged, that they are the victims of a crusade that tries to make the lives of the witnesses as difficult as possible, and pressure them to change the interpretation and practice of the Bible’s message, which they of course “have no intention” of doing. It is tragicomic to see how their manipulative rhetoric trickery is turned upside down.

My hope is that more countries will look to Norway as a pioneering country – not only when it comes to financial support and lucrative tax-exemptions for Jehovah’s Witnesses, but for all religious communities, cults, and sect organizations that take children and young people hostage and use social control contrary to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and general common sense. The state must play a greater role – especially in democratic countries. After all, we can only expect more insane religions and sects on our doorstep in the future.

Børn skal ikke straffes som voksne – men det bliver de inden for Jehovas Vidner

At udstøde mindreårige børn er i strid med Børnekonventionen

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