Carl Karlsson

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A military from the Swedish Armed Forces
Geopolitics

Trying To Gauge Russian Ambitions? Look How Nervous Its Nordic Neighbors Are

The eyes of the world are on the Russian-Ukrainian border as Putin threatens an invasion. However, the more vital stage of the Kremlin’s military ambitions is the Baltic Sea, where the likes of bordering countries like Finland and Sweden are mobilizing troops as Moscow tries to undermine the allegiance of the EU and former Soviet states.

While tensions between the U.S and Russia mount with the Kremlin gathering troops at the border of Ukraine, countries farther north are preparing for the worst.

In Sweden, Dagens Nyheter reports that the country of 10 million people deployed armored vehicles and 100 soldiers to patrol streets on the island of Gotland on Friday in response to Russian landing ships sailing into the Baltic Sea. Even if the Swedish Armed Forces announced soon after that the ships were leaving, serious questions about Russia's military ambitions remain.

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COVID School Chaos, Snapshots From 10 Countries Around The World
Coronavirus

COVID School Chaos, Snapshots From 10 Countries Around The World

Teachers, students, parents and society as a whole have suffered through the various attempts at educating through the pandemic. Here’s how it looks now: from teacher strikes in France to rising drop-out rates in Argentina to Uganda finally ending the world’s longest shutdown.

School, they say, is where the future is built. The next generation’s classroom learning is crucial, but schools also represent an opportunity for children to socialize, get help for special needs … and in some villages and neighborhoods, get their one decent meal a day.

COVID-19 has of course put all of that at risk. At the peak of the pandemic, classrooms were closed for 1.6 billion schoolchildren worldwide, with the crisis forcing many to experiment on the fly for the first time in remote learning, and shutting down learning completely for many millions more — exacerbating worldwide inequality in education.

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

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.

-Analysis-

“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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President  @CyrilRamaphosa  accompanied by Minister  @MondliGungubele , Minister  @PatriciaDeLille , Deputy Minister  @ZiziKodwa , and Premier  @AlanWinde  as he inspects the damage to the Parliament buildings in Cape Town.
Geopolitics

South African Parliament Fire Raises Deeper Questions About Democracy

It took firefighters nearly three days to extinguish the blaze at the historic building in Cape Town, and the damage will persist as South Africans try to figure out how this happened, and what it says about the country’s struggle to reinforce its young democracy.

That the devastating fire at South Africa’s parliament building broke out in Cape Town on Sunday — one day after anti-apartheid hero Desmond Tutu's funeral was held nearby — only adds to the anguish of a nation struggling to reinforce its democracy nearly three decades after its first free elections.

Since the blaze was finally extinguished for good on Tuesday, South Africans have been debating the ramifications of the fire that tore through the 150-year-old building, laying waste to the wood-paneled assembly where the president makes his annual state-of-the-nation address.

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When Countries “Export” Inmates To Foreign Prisons
Society

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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Six Massive Clean Energy Projects That Offer A Shot Of Climate Hope
Green

Six Massive Clean Energy Projects That Offer A Shot Of Climate Hope

Last fall's COP26 climate summit showed the way to, not, move forward on tackling the climate crisis. But all's not lost. From the biggest solar farm in the world to a huge storage plant for C02, here are some of the largest renewable energy projects in the pipeline around the globe.

Following a decade-long fanfare of private and government pledges to combat the warming of the planet, last month’s United Nations COP26 climate summit in Glasgow painted a grim picture of the world’s climate progress. The takeaway: the world is on course to overshoot the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Accords in all but the most optimistic scenario, which would require all announced targets to be fully implemented.

That scenario, however, seems distant today as the pivot to a sustainable energy market is unevenly distributed across the globe, with many fossil-fuel-dependent countries still struggling to close the energy gap as demand for power increases. What is worse, while some countries have improved their ambitions, others slipped backward at COP26 by retracting set climate targets.

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a woman holding a syringe for a COVID vaccine
Ideas

Time To Change The Way We Talk About Vaccines

What we got wrong about the vaccines, what we still don’t know…and why we need to keep vaccinating.

-Analysis-

It’s now been little over a year since the news broke that Pfizer and Moderna had developed respective vaccines that were well over 90% effective, and had no serious side effects — and they’d done it in less than one year, breaking all speed records for vaccine development.

Coming in the midst of a dark period of infections rising again around the world, the news was the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

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A Nomad's Christmas Brood: On Crypto, COVID And The Speed Of Time
Son Of A Gunnar

A Nomad's Christmas Brood: On Crypto, COVID And The Speed Of Time

Our roving Swedish reporter's darkish holiday dispatch from Sofia, Bulgaria.

SOFIA — It was the Scottish poet Alexander Smith who called Christmas the day that holds all time together.

While that is obviously true in the Gregorian sense, Smith likely had in mind something more cosmic; perhaps that simultaneous longing for the past and future that only deep nostalgia can serve up. Yet for those of us who’ve spent our adult lives hopscotching around the world, Christmas memories tend to be an incoherent blend of vacated offices and hotel rooms and awkward well-wishing with dressed-up strangers.

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anuela Schwesig (SPD), Minister-President of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, (l-r)  take a selfie with Chancellor-elect Olaf Scholz (SPD)
Son Of A Gunnar

Germany or Sweden? Two Models Of Social Democracy Put To The Test

From afar, new Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and incoming German Chancellor Olaf Scholz share much, both in their views and the political system where they rule. But subtle differences, which arose in the rubble of World War II, can be everything.

My dad has died ...

That was my first thought a few Fridays ago when I saw that Netflix had added another series to its growing Nordic-noir category: a six-part crime drama about the 1986 assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme.

Well, OK, my very first thought was trying to guess who they’d picked for the role of Palme’s assassin; but almost immediately after that, my second thought was that indeed, most certainly yes, Gunnar Karlsson had clocked out.

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Photo of a passenger walking past a sign indicating the testing center in Heathrow Airport in London.
Coronavirus

Keep Calm And Travel On? Why We Can't Return To Global Shutdowns

The Omicron variant has sparked a new wave of COVID-19 travel restrictions, but the chances of returning to worldwide shutdowns are slim for a series of reasons.

SOFIA — Two weeks ago, I was swabbing my nose in a minuscule London hotel room, trying to navigate the faulty app that came with my COVID-19 home-test kit. Home ... as in, I need this damn test to be able to fly home.

After re-installing the app and re-reading the instructions, I called the phone number for the support line and got a friendly female voice with a Cockney accent. I asked if they'd had similar glitches in the past. “We get a lot of calls,” she said. “Bit of a pain, innit?

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Photo of a deer with antlers crossing a highway at night
Green

Urban Jungles? See Wildlife Moving Into 7 Cities Around The World

Wild boars in Rome, big cats in Colombia cities, polar bears in Russian towns: a series of factors, including climate change and urbanization, is creating unlikely encounters between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom.

Wild boars jogging down the street, pumas sauntering through the neighborhood, coyotes patiently waiting for the traffic light to turn green… This isn't the stage set for a new Jumanji or Ace Ventura movie, but an increasingly common sight in residential areas around the world. In recent decades, deforestation, changing agriculture and livestock practices, global warming and the rapid expansion of urban areas into the natural habitats of animals have forced a growing number of species to adapt to life in the city.

And with no sign of urbanization slowing down, some experts suggest that we have entered into a new era where city dwellers must get used to sharing their space with four-legged neighbors.

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Gaddafi And Marcos Jr., When A Dictator’s Son Runs For President
Ideas

Gaddafi And Marcos Jr., When A Dictator’s Son Runs For President

Over the past few weeks, the offspring of two of the 20th centuries most ruthless strongmen have announced they'd like to become the (democratically elected) leaders of Libya and the Philippines.

-Analysis-

PARIS — The son of the brutal Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi announced this week he is running for president, which follows a similar headline last month from Ferdinand Marcos Jr. What does this say about the state of democracy?

It was about a half-century ago that two of the most brutal dictatorships of the modern era began.

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