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Politiken is a leading Danish daily broadsheet newspaper, published by JP/Politikens Hus in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was founded in 1884 and has a circulation of 278,000 (2017).
Photo of a person looking at lines of code on a laptop
Carl-Johan Karlsson

From Snowden To Pegasus: What Is Espionage In The Digital Age?

It was Jane Austen, back in 1816, who wrote that "every man is surrounded by a neighborhood of voluntary spies." That neighborhood is getting quite a bit bigger these days as our digitized lives and economies extract ever-deepening rivers of private data from the daily lives of citizens.

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Norwegian Salmon v. Danish Trout: Lessons On Ecology And Economics

Norwegian Salmon v. Danish Trout: Lessons On Ecology And Economics

The Danish government has banned further growth in sea-based fish farming, claiming the country had reached the limit without endangering the environment. A marine biologist says it is a misguided policy for both economic and ecological reasons.


“They’ve got the oil in the North Sea, but don’t let Norway get all the pink gold too…”

That was a headline of a recent OpEd in Danish daily Politiken, arguing that misguided environmental concerns are giving neighboring Norway a monopoly on the lucrative salmon industry.

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When Countries “Export” Inmates To Foreign Prisons
Carl Karlsson

When Countries “Export” Inmates To Foreign Prisons

A recent report revealed that Denmark plans to rent prison cells abroad, raising troubling questions about the expanding global trade in penitentiary services.

In January 1788, 11 British ships carrying convicts arrived at the shores of the colony of New South Wales, effectively founding Australia. In the 80 years that followed, with British cities filling up and petty crime proliferating, more than 160,000 prisoners would arrive down under from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Fast forward to 2021, and punishment by exile has mostly been abolished, with colonial powers like France and Britain closing their last overseas penal institutions around the time of World War II. But while these outposts are associated with oppression and atrocity today, the export of prisoners has nonetheless survived, and is now experiencing something of a revival.

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Businesses in London have returned from lockdown this summer
Carl-Johan Karlsson

COVID-19 Lockdown Policy: Are We All Sweden Now?

It's now been four months since most of the world reached the agreement that Sweden's no-quarantine strategy had failed. In the end, it was the only European country to never go into lockdown, and as the virus spread inside nursing homes, Sweden's death toll raced beyond that of its Northern neighbors to eventually pass the 5,000-mark in June.

Still, this week, some in Sweden are claiming "vindication" for the country's policy — partially based on the approach of herd immunity — as all-time low numbers of cases have been registered this week as neighbors face rising infections.

For many of the rest of us, our lives have been a constant alternation between mask-on and mask-off, open borders and closed borders, back to office and telework and back to the office again — all to keep the economy going while avoiding our hospitals filling back up. Israel's decision this week to reimpose a three-week lockdown is a notable exception to what has otherwise become clear the past month: Sweden's springtime strategy is now essentially the world's strategy.

Of course, Sweden's healthcare system was never overburdened in the first place, and that everyone else is now emulating the model doesn't necessarily give the lie to the claim of failure. After all, state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell said himself the country had failed to protect its elderly.

We're still in a fog of uncertainty.

But it's worth considering that had Swedish nursing homes not reeled from decades of neglect and lack of resources, the death toll could have been less than half, and the denunciations heaped upon the health authorities might instead have been praised for not buckling under misplaced international criticism.

This is hypothesizing after the fact, but it's just one more attempt to try to cull meaningful lessons from outcomes we still don't fully understand.

Yet, it's only natural that both policymakers and the rest of us are left trying to establish the limits of our own freedoms, while making sense of often contradictory numbers and reports continuously cascading around us: What does it mean that in many countries infection rates are rising to their highest levels, but death rates continue to plateau? And what to make of the muddled public message when someone like Boris Johnson — who not so long ago was fighting for his life in London's St Thomas' Hospital — tells reluctant Brits to gather "courage" and go to the office? Meanwhile the French government, which imposed one of the world's strictest quarantines in March, is now dismissing even the possibility of another general lockdown even as cases multiply by the day. "It's called "living with the virus," Prime Minister Jean Castex was quoted as saying by Le Monde.

The bigger question tying together the persistent COVID uncertainty: How are we faring against the pandemic?

At a lakeside beach in Stockholm last August — Photo: Wei Xuechao/Xinhua/ZUMA

Established "certainties' continue to prove all but that, not only regarding how the virus spreads (mask-on, mask-off) but also what it does to our health. As school openings are in full swing across the globe, an article in Danish daily Politiken reports a growing number of young people suffering from persistent headaches and respiratory issues months after having recovered from the initial infection. And then there's the ceaseless trickle of new crunched-down medical studies and theories on symptoms ranging from the most trivial ailments to chronic brain damage — all daily and promptly delivered to a population unable to tell the science and the bogus apart. And we haven't even mentioned the vaccine!

Indeed, despite all our efforts, we're still in a fog of uncertainty. And beyond our physical health, the uncertainty itself risks real damage to our mental well-being. Yes, we've gotten through pandemics before, but not in a digital age where we must also battle our addiction to information.