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Sweden Politics

Representatives of the Yemeni government and the Houthi movement are sitting down to talk in Sweden and offering us hope for restarting the peace process in their country.
www.nytimes.com | 12/6/18
The United Nations’ special envoy to Yemen said Friday that warring factions there had committed to convening peace talks in Sweden shortly.
www.wsj.com | 11/17/18
The U.N. envoy for Yemen announced Friday the country's internationally recognized government and rival Houthi Shiite rebels have agreed to attend talks aimed at ending their three-year war, which has created the globe's worst humanitarian crisis by pushing the Arab world's poorest country to the brink of famine.
www.foxnews.com | 11/17/18
More than two months after elections that left Sweden in political limbo, lawmakers on Wednesday rejected a proposed minority coalition led by the second-largest party, the first time in Swedish history that a proposal for a new prime minister has been defeated.
www.foxnews.com | 11/14/18

The security of the global Default Free Zone (DFZ) has been a topic of much debate and concern for the last twenty years (or more). Two recent papers have brought this issue to the surface once again — it is worth looking at what these two papers add to the mix of what is known, and what solutions might be available. The first of these —

Demchak, Chris, and Yuval Shavitt. 2018. "China's Maxim — Leave No Access Point Unexploited: The Hidden Story of China Telecom's BGP Hijacking." Military Cyber Affairs 3 (1). https://doi.org/10.5038/2378-0789.3.1.1050.

— traces the impact of Chinese "state actor" effects on BGP routing in recent years. Whether these are actual attacks, or mistakes from human error for various reasons generally cannot be known, but the potential, at least, for serious damage to companies and institutions relying on the DFZ is hard to overestimate. This paper lays out the basic problem, and the works through a number of BGP hijacks in recent years, showing how they misdirected traffic in ways that could have facilitated attacks, whether by mistake or intentionally. For instance, quoting from the paper:

  • Starting from February 2016 and for about 6 months, routes from Canada to Korean government sites were hijacked by China Telecom and routed through China.
  • On October 2016, traffic from several locations in the USA to a large Anglo-American bank
  • headquarters in Milan, Italy was hijacked by China Telecom to China.
  • Traffic from Sweden and Norway to the Japanese network of a large American news organization was hijacked to China for about 6 weeks in April/May 2017.

What impact could such a traffic redirection have? If you can control the path of traffic while a TLS or SSL session is being set up, you can place your server in the middle as an observer. This can, in many situations, be avoided if DNSSEC is deployed to ensure the certificates used in setting up the TLS session is valid, but DNSSEC is not widely deployed, either. Another option is to simply gather encrypted traffic and either attempt to break the key or use data analytics to understand what the flow is doing (a side channel attack).

What can be done about these kinds of problems? The "simplest" — and most naïve — answer is "let's just secure BGP." There are many, many problems with this solution. Some of them are highlighted in the second paper under review —

Bonaventure, Olivier. n.d. "A Survey among Network Operators on BGP Prefix Hijacking — Computer Communication Review." Accessed November 3, 2018. https://ccronline.sigcomm.org/2018/ccr-january-2018/a-survey-among-network-operators-on-bgp-prefix-hijacking/.

— which illustrates the objections providers have to the many forms of BGP security that have been proposed to this point. The first is, of course, that it is expensive. The ROI of the systems proposed thus far are very low; the cost is high, and the benefit to the individual provider is rather low. There is both a race to perfection problem here, as well as a tragedy of the commons problem. The race to perfection problem is this: we will not design, nor push for the deployment of, any system which does not "solve the problem entirely." This has been the mantra behind BGPSEC, for instance. But not only is BGPSEC expensive — I would say to the point of being impossible to deploy — it is also not perfect.

The second problem in the ROI space is the tragedy of the commons. I cannot do much to prevent other people from misusing my routes. All I can really do is stop myself and my neighbors from misusing other people's routes. What incentive do I have to try to make the routing in my neighborhood better? The hope that everyone else will do the same. Thus, the only way to maintain the commons of the DFZ is for everyone to work together for the common good. This is difficult. Worse than herding cats.

A second point — not well understood in the security world — is this: a core point of DFZ routing is that when you hand your reachability information to someone else, you lose control over that reachability information. There have been a number of proposals to "solve" this problem, but it is a basic fact that if you cannot control the path traffic takes through your network, then you have no control over the profitability of your network. This tension can be seen in the results of the survey above. People want security, but they do not want to release the information needed to make security happen. Both realities are perfectly rational!

Part of the problem with the "more strict," and hence (considered) "more perfect" security mechanisms proposed is simply this: they are not quite enough. They expose far too much information. Even systems designed to prevent information leakage ultimately leak too much.

So… what do real solutions on the ground look like?

One option is for everyone to encrypt all traffic, all the time. This is a point of debate, however, as it also damages the ability of providers to optimize their networks. One point where the plumbing allegory for networking breaks down is this: all bits of water are the same. Not all bits on the wire are the same.

Another option is to rely less on the DFZ. We already seem to be heading in this direction, if Geoff Huston and other researchers are right. Is this a good thing, or a bad one? It is hard to tell from this angle, but a lot of people think it is a bad thing.

Perhaps we should revisit some of the proposed BGP security solutions, reshaping some of them into something that is more realistic and deployable? Perhaps — but the community is going to let go of the "but it's not perfect" line of thinking, and start developing some practical, deployable solutions that don't leak so much information.

Finally, there is a solution Leslie Daigle and I have been tilting at for a couple of years now. Finding a way to build a set of open source tools that will allow any operator or provider to quickly and cheaply build an internal system to check the routing information available in their neighborhood on the 'net, and mix local policy with that information to do some bare bones work to make their neighborhood a little cleaner. This is a lot harder than "just build some software" for various reasons; the work is often difficult — as Leslie says, it is largely a matter of herding cats, rather than inventing new things.

Written by Russ White, Network Architect at LinkedIn

www.circleid.com | 11/6/18

Thanksgiving is just around the corner in Canada. It's a time of year when the harvest is in, the weather grows colder and families gather to give thanks for all they have.

It is in this moment of gratitude that I want to highlight one of the most valuable and unique offerings in our industry: the ways in which country code top-level domains (ccTLDs) give back. Canadians who choose to use a ccTLD, which for us is .CA, help contribute to investments in the internet community.

CIRA believes that it is important to give back to the internet, whether that be the Canadian internet community or the global internet in which we operate the .CA TLD and participate as a strong contributor. Further, as a not-for-profit organization, CIRA invests its resources into our aspirational goal of building a better online Canada. In fact, we believe so much in this goal that we've invested $6 million dollars over the last five years toward this goal, outside of the investment in our core mandate of bringing .CA to more Canadians and operating a safe, secure and trusted top-level domain.

Many of our ccTLD peers contribute to the internet ecosystem as well. While each organization's program is a little bit different, the intent is the same: to invest in a purpose greater than profit with a return on investment that benefits the communities we serve.

With the exception of a handful of generic TLDs, you won't find this from our more profit-driven peers.

It's a cycle: From community to ccTLD and back

At CIRA, we hold ourselves to high standards in stewarding .CA, which includes providing a safe, secure and stable .CA and underlying domain name system (DNS). We make every effort to provide the best service possible for our customers — .CA holders and others who subscribe to our cybersecurity services.

A portion of the revenue we make, thanks to our customers' trust in us, is funneled back into the Canadian internet community. Here's how:

  • We invest in internet exchange points (IXPs) that provide greater resiliency, data sovereignty and a higher-performing internet in our country. There are 10 IXPs across Canada and we've recently been a catalyst to an additional one in development in the Arctic community of Iqaluit, Nunavut. This will revolutionize the internet there, where right now the community is reliant on satellite connections resulting in slow and expensive internet service.
  • Through our Community Investment Program, we provide grants to organizations across Canada working on the frontlines of the internet. We've contributed $5.45 million over five years through that program. This has included 130 projects from across Canada including one underway now through an organization called Compucorps that will work with Indigenous women to increase their knowledge of website building and online branding to help them engage more in e-commerce. Or the Ragged edge community network stabilization and expansion project that focused on internet infrastructure in Northern Vancouver Island.
  • We're developing and investing in innovative products and services that secure the internet for its users, including our cybersecurity services (our D-Zone suite of products) that keep Canadian schoolchildren safe and add layers of protection to critical healthcare and municipal infrastructure.
  • We encourage Canadians to learn more about their internet by testing its speed and performance through CIRA's Internet Performance Test. There have been over 100,000 tests conducted across the country.
  • We fund, organize and participate in events and forums in Canada and globally where important topics are discussed, which influence internet policy, including an upcoming Canadian Internet Forum, a multistakeholder event being organized for early 2019.

All of that investment improves and expands the internet, gets more Canadians online, safely and securely, and makes it easier and more practical for them to participate in the digital economy. It also creates more opportunities to choose a .CA. Thus, the cycle starts again.

And it's global. We've long shared "giving back" experiences with our European peers — but examples are found around the globe. A recent visit to Brazil showed me a ccTLD highly committed to this cycle of giving back. I was impressed with all they do with their resources and encourage others to learn more from them.

Thanks for making a choice to give back

In Canada, as we gather around the dinner table for our Thanksgiving dinners, I want to give thanks to CIRA's customers for making it possible for our organization to give back. Consumers have more choices than ever when it comes to domain names. They can choose to go with .com or .net, or one of nearly a thousand new domain extensions. But what sets CIRA apart, alongside some of our ccTLD peers, is the determination to give back to the internet ecosystem in our countries. To invest what we earn into a higher purpose.

Thank you to those consumers who chose a ccTLD over others — because of you we're getting closer to a stronger, higher performing and more secure internet every day.

* * *

There are several ccTLDs that give back to the internet community. Here are a few examples.

Sweden: The Internet Foundation in Sweden, IIS invests funds to improve the stability of internet infrastructure in Sweden and to promote internet-focused research, training and education. For example, IIS invested 1 million SEK (about $145,000 CAD) roughly one year ago into Foo Café, a meeting place for developers, which sponsors meetups and events to help developers grow their competence and share knowledge.

Brazil: The Brazilian Internet Steering Committee — a multi-sectoral configuration of 21 members from civil society, the government, the business sector and the academic community — guide the healthy growth of the network in Brazil. One of their initiatives is the Web Technologies Study Center (Ceweb.br), created to help the Brazilian public participate in the global development of the web and public policymaking.

The Netherlands: SIDN not only operates .nl, it also provides funding support to ideas and projects that aim to make the internet stronger or that use the internet in innovative ways. For example, SIDN funded AI for GOOD, a project that aims to use artificial intelligence to improve the world. This online platform presents AI programming challenges to students, start-ups, hackers and developers to solve.

United Kingdom: Nominet funded a granting program for 10 years under the name Nominet Trust. In 2017, that fund began independent operation as the Social Tech Trust and Nominet is now focusing funding on connection, inclusivity and security. For example, they are working with Scouts UK to develop a cybersecurity curriculum and with the Prince's Trust on a digital platform to mentor troubled youth online.

Written by Byron Holland, President and CEO of CIRA

www.circleid.com | 10/4/18
Refugees who are settling in Sweden are learning how to become members of Swedish society. For many newcomers from the Middle East, that means shifting thinking about sex and relationships.
www.nytimes.com | 9/28/18
The major blocs vow not to join with Sweden Democrats, a party with racist roots, but do not want to work together. With no one near a majority, Sweden wonders who will blink first.
www.nytimes.com | 9/20/18
Sweden's decades-old centrist politics looks set to be shaken up in Sunday's election.
www.bbc.co.uk | 9/5/18
Government borrowing restrictions and a spike in new construction have softened the market in Sweden, although historic homes are still in demand.
www.nytimes.com | 8/22/18
Sweden is fighting its most serious wildfires in decades — including blazes above the Arctic Circle — prompting the government to seek help from the military, hundreds of volunteers and other European nations.
www.foxnews.com | 7/20/18
[Thomson Reuters Foundation] For the past five years, an unusual gathering of thought-leaders and experts from the realms of science, policy, business and civil society has taken place in Stockholm to tackle the interconnected challenges of food, health and sustainability. This June, the Government of Sweden is for the first time co-hosting the EAT Food Forum in Stockholm.
allafrica.com | 6/18/18
[FrontPageAfrica] Monrovia -On the Occasion marking the Swedish National Day, the Liberian Government has extolled the friendship, generosity, and courtesies from the great people of the Kingdom of Sweden toward the people of Liberia.
allafrica.com | 6/8/18
[New Dawn] President George Manneh Weah has sent a message of congratulations to the Government and People of Sweden on the festive occasion observing that country's National Day and Flag Day, on June 6, 2018.
allafrica.com | 6/6/18
Support for the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats has surged ahead of an election in September to the point where it could be hard for the government or opposition to form a working majority without their support, a poll showed on Tuesday.
www.dnaindia.com | 6/5/18

Prince William is heading to Israel.

Kensington Place announced on Thursday that William, 35, will tour Jordan, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories next month. His trip begins on June 24 in Amman, and includes stops in Tel Aviv and Ramallah before concluding in Jerusalem on June 28.

Can’t get enough of PEOPLE’s Royals coverage? Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!

William’s visit marks the first time a member of the royal family has traveled to Israel on official business. Prince Phillip went in 1994 for a Yad Vashem ceremony honoring his mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg, who saved Jews during the Holocaust by opening the doors of her palace in Greece. In 2016, Prince Charles attended the funeral of former President Shimon Peres.

The high-profile visit was “at the request of Her Majesty’s government and has been welcomed by the Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian authorities,” Kensington Palace said in a statement.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, previously tweeted: “Nechama & I were happy to hear @KensingtonRoyal announcement, and look forward to welcoming #PrinceWilliam, the Duke of Cambridge, on an official visit to the State of #Israel later this year. A very special guest, and a very special present for our 70th year of independence.”

Nechama & I were happy to hear @KensingtonRoyal announcement, and look forward to welcoming #PrinceWilliam, the Duke of Cambridge, on an official visit to the State of #Israel later this year. A very special guest, and a very special present for our 70th year of independence.

— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) March 1, 2018

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Wiliam’s most recent royal tour took him and wife Kate Middleton to Sweden and Norway in January, when the visited with Stockholm schoolchildren, played hockey and had lunch with Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Daniel and her parents King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia at Stockholm’s Royal Palace.

RELATED VIDEO: Prince William and Kate Middleton Step Out for Their Last Day in Snow-Covered Norway

The news of William’s trip to Israel comes just two days after the royal dad made his first appearance after serving as the best man at his bother Prince Harry and Meghan Markle‘s royal wedding. William paid tribute to the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing with a service at the Manchester Cathedral on Tuesday in honor of the one-year anniversary of the attack that left 22 people dead.

Harry and Meghan also attended their first engagement as married couple that afternoon when they appeared at a garden party at Buckingham Palace for Prince Charles‘ 70th birthday.

people.com | 5/25/18
A government leaflet sent to every household suggests stocking up on sardines, lentils and candles.
www.bbc.co.uk | 5/22/18
[Shabait] Asmara -The leaders of the People's Republic of China, Republic of Algeria, Republic of Croatia and Sweden sent messages of congratulations to the people and Government of Eritrea in connection with the 27th Independence Day anniversary.
allafrica.com | 5/22/18
[Times of Zambia] The Swedish Government has so far contributed about K2 billion to Zambia for increased employment opportunities in rural and peri-urban areas, creating opportunities to start and run productive businesses.
allafrica.com | 5/4/18
[Radio Dabanga] Khartoum / Kassala -The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and the Sudanese Government welcomed a high-level donor delegation last week, including representatives from, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, France, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Norway, South Korea, Qatar, Sweden, Switzerland, and the USA.
allafrica.com | 5/4/18
You can now charge your electric vehicle as you drive in Sweden, but only for about 2km (1.2 miles). That's the length of a road outside Stockholm that's been embedded with electrified rail, which is the first length in a government-planned nationwid...
www.engadget.com | 4/12/18
A senior North Korean government official was expected in Stockholm for talks that could be a prelude to a planned summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
www.wsj.com | 3/16/18
A senior North Korean government official was expected in Stockholm for talks that could be a prelude to a planned summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
www.wsj.com | 3/15/18
[ENA] The Swedish government has provided 10.5 million USD for livelihood and resilience-building activities of refugees and host communities.
allafrica.com | 3/6/18
A study by researchers at Stockholm University in Sweden found that people who were more disgusted by bodily odors such as sweat and urine were also more likely to vote for Donald Trump in 2016.
[Addis Fortune] The Swedish government has committed 10.5 million dollars, to back livelihood and resilience-building activities for refugees and host communities at the Dollo Ado refugee camp.
allafrica.com | 2/27/18
MoU signed between SCCI and Maharashtra State Skill Development Society to skill, train and create readily employable women for the industry
www.dnaindia.com | 2/18/18

The participating U.S. Airmen and hackers at the conclusion of h1-212 in New York City on Dec 9, 2017

HackerOne has announced the results of the second Hack the Air Force bug bounty challenge which invited trusted hackers from all over the world to participate in its second bug bounty challenge in less than a year. The 20-day bug bounty challenge was the most inclusive government program to-date, with 26 countries invited to participate. From the report: "Hack the Air Force 2.0 is part of the Department of Defense's (DoD) Hack the Pentagon crowd-sourced security initiative. Twenty-seven trusted hackers successfully participated in the Hack the Air Force bug bounty challenge — reporting 106 valid vulnerabilities and earning $103,883. Hackers from the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, and Latvia participated in the challenge. The Air Force awarded hackers the highest single bounty award of any Federal program to-date, $12,500."

www.circleid.com | 2/16/18

Prince William and Kate Middleton kicked off their four-day tour of Sweden and Norway on the ice!

The royals visited an outdoor ice-skating rink in the center of Stockholm on Tuesday to learn more about one of the country’s most popular sports: bandy hockey. And they rolled out the red carpet for Will and Kate as they stepped onto the ice to challenge each other to a fun penalty shoot out!

While Kate is a proven athlete, she came in second to William, losing 2-1.

The royal mom, who is expecting her third child in April, kept warm in a black Burberry coat and sweater by Swedish designer Fjallraven, as she met with a group of local bandy players on the ice, which is situated in the middle of a public park.

The Duchess takes a shot at goal! #RoyalVisitSweden pic.twitter.com/FNjaZrlU6P

— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) January 30, 2018

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They shared hot chocolate with the school children and were then given their own bandy hockey jerseys.

She and William beat the chilly temperatures by taking sips from a flask (they drank an alcohol-free ripple!). The flask was brought in a bandy portfolj, a briefcase that traditionally contains a flask of warm wine or coffee laced with alcohol.

William and Kate sip from a drink brought them in the traditional Bandy briefcase pic.twitter.com/FxN3v9CKGK

— Simon Perry (@SPerryPeoplemag) January 30, 2018

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Bandy hockey, which is now played in the Winter Olympics, differs from traditional hockey in that it is played with a curved stick. And instead of a puck, players use a ball.

The royals, who are staying at the residence of the British ambassador in the capital, touched down in Sweden on Monday evening, after welcoming Prince George and Princess Charlotte home from school in London. Unlike their summer tour of Poland and Germany last year, the couple are traveling without their children on this tour.

Following their first event, Will and Kate will travel to the Royal Palace of Stockholm to attend a luncheon hosted by King Carl KVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. Crown Princess Victoria and her husband Prince Daniel were also in attendance. Victoria and Daniel have a lot in common with the British royals. In addition to being the future King and Queen, they are also parents to two young children: 5-year-old Princess Estelle and 1-year-old Prince Oscar.

Following the luncheon, Will and Kate, accompanied by Victoria and Daniel, will walk through the picturesque cobbled streets of Stockholm from the royal palace to the Nobel Museum. From the Nobel Museum, they will travel to Ark Des, Sweden’s national center for architecture and design.

Later in the evening, they will attend a black tie dinner at the residence of the British ambassador, attended by members of the Swedish royal family, and representatives from government, and popular culture, including Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, and actors Stellan Skarsgård and Alicia Vikander.

Kate, who is expecting her third child in April, will keep a busy schedule this week, missing just one event during their visit to Norway so that she can pace herself during the four-day tour, according to a royal spokesman.

people.com | 1/30/18

James (Jon) Castle - 7 December 1950 to 12 January 2018

Over four decades Captain Jon Castle navigated Greenpeace ships by the twin stars of ‘right and wrong’, defending the environment and promoting peace. Greenpeace chronicler, Rex Weyler, recounts a few of the stories that made up an extraordinary life.

Captain Jon Castle onboard the MV Sirius, 1 May 1996

James (Jon) Castle first opened his eyes virtually at sea. He was born 7 December 1950 in Cobo Bay on the Channel Island of Guernsey, UK. He grew up in a house known locally as Casa del Mare, the closest house on the island to the sea, the second son of Robert Breedlove Castle and Mary Constance Castle. 

Young Jon Castle loved the sea and boats. He worked on De Ile de Serk, a cargo boat that supplied nearby Sark island, and he studied at the University of Southampton to become an officer in the Merchant Navy. 

Jon became a beloved skipper of Greenpeace ships. He sailed on many campaigns and famously skippered two ships during Greenpeace’s action against Shell’s North Sea oil platform, Brent Spar. During his activist career, Jon spelt his name as "Castel" to avoid unwanted attention on his family.

Right and wrong

Jon had two personal obsessions: he loved books and world knowledge and was extremely well-read.  He also loved sacred sites and spent personal holidays walking to stone circles, standing stones, and holy wells.  

As a young man, Jon became acquainted with the Quaker tradition, drawn by their dedication to peace, civil rights, and direct social action. In 1977, when Greenpeace purchased their first ship - the Aberdeen trawler renamed, the Rainbow Warrior - Jon signed on as first mate, working with skipper Peter Bouquet and activists Susi Newborn, Denise Bell and Pete Wilkinson.

In 1978, Wilkinson and Castle learned of the British government dumping radioactive waste at sea in the deep ocean trench off the coast of Spain in the Sea of Biscay. In July, the Rainbow Warrior followed the British ship, Gem, south from the English coast, carrying a load of toxic, radioactive waste barrels. The now-famous confrontation during which the Gem crew dropped barrels onto a Greenpeace inflatable boat, ultimately changed maritime law and initiated a ban on toxic dumping at sea.

After being arrested by Spanish authorities, Castle and Bouquet staged a dramatic escape from La Coru?a harbour at night, without running lights, and returned the Greenpeace ship to action. Crew member Simone Hollander recalls, as the ship entered Dublin harbour in 1978, Jon cheerfully insisting that the entire crew help clean the ship's bilges before going ashore, an action that not only built camaraderie among the crew, but showed a mariner's respect for the ship itself. In 1979, they brought the ship to Amsterdam and participated in the first Greenpeace International meeting.

In 1980 Castle and the Rainbow Warrior crew confronted Norwegian and Spanish whaling ships, were again arrested by Spanish authorities, and brought into custody in the El Ferrol naval base.

The Rainbow Warrior remained in custody for five months, as the Spanish government demanded 10 million pesetas to compensate the whaling company. On the night of November 8, 1980, the Rainbow Warrior, with Castle at the helm, quietly escaped the naval base, through the North Atlantic, and into port in Jersey.

In 1995, Castle skippered the MV Greenpeace during the campaign against French nuclear testing in the Pacific and led a flotilla into New Zealand to replace the original Rainbow Warrior that French agents bombed in Auckland in 1985.

Over the years, Castle became legendary for his maritime skills, courage, compassion, commitment, and for his incorruptible integrity. "Environmentalism: That does not mean a lot to me," he once said, "I am here because of what is right and wrong. Those words are good enough for me."

Brent Spar   Action at Brent Spar Oil Rig in the North Sea, 16 June 1995

One of the most successful Greenpeace campaigns of all time began in the summer of 1995 when Shell Oil announced a plan to dump a floating oil storage tank, containing toxic petroleum residue, into the North Atlantic. Castle signed on as skipper of the Greenpeace vessel Moby Dick, out of Lerwick, Scotland. A month later, on 30 April 1995, Castle and other activists occupied the Brent Spar and called for a boycott of Shell service stations.

When Shell security and British police sprayed the protesters with water cannons, images flooded across world media, demonstrations broke out across Europe, and on May 15, at the G7 summit, German chancellor Helmut Kohl publicly protested to British Prime Minister John Major. In June, 11 nations, at the Oslo and Paris Commission meetings, called for a moratorium on sea disposal of offshore installations.

After three weeks, British police managed to evict Castle and the other occupiers and held them briefly in an Aberdeen jail. When Shell and the British government defied public sentiment and began towing the Spar to the disposal site, consumers boycotted Shell stations across Europe. Once released, Castle took charge of the chartered Greenpeace vessel Altair and continued to pursue the Brent Spar towards the dumping ground. Castle called on the master of another Greenpeace ship, fitted with a helideck, to alter course and rendezvous with him. Using a helicopter, protesters re-occupied the Spar and cut the wires to the detonators of scuppering charges.

One of the occupiers, young recruit Eric Heijselaar, recalls: "One of the first people I met as I climbed on board was a red-haired giant of a man grinning broadly at us. My first thought was that he was a deckhand, or maybe the bosun. So I asked if he knew whether a cabin had been assigned to me yet. He gave me a lovely warm smile, and reassured me that, yes, a cabin had been arranged. At dinner I found out that he was Jon Castle, not a deckhand, not the bosun, but the captain. And what a captain!"

Again, British naval police evicted the occupiers, but Castle and the crew kept up pursuit. Then the Spar suddenly altered course, heading towards Norway. Shell had given up. The company announced that Brent Spar would be cleaned out and used as a foundation for a new ferry terminal. Three years later, in 1998, the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR) passed a ban on dumping oil installations into the North Sea.

"There was no question among the crew who had made this possible, who had caused this to happen," Heijselaar recalls. "It was Jon Castle. His quiet enthusiasm and the trust he put into people made this crew one of the best I ever saw. He always knew exactly what he wanted out of a campaign, how to gain momentum, and he always found the right words to explain his philosophies. He was that rare combination, both a mechanic and a mystic. And above all he was a very loving, kind human being."

Moruroa

After the Brent Spar campaign, Castle returned to the South Pacific on the Rainbow Warrior II, to obstruct a proposed French nuclear test in the Moruroa atoll. Expecting the French to occupy their ship, Castle and engineer, Luis Manuel Pinto da Costa, rigged the steering mechanism to be controlled from the crow's-nest. When French commandos boarded the ship, Castle stationed himself in the crow's-nest, cut away the access ladder and greased the mast so that the raiders would have difficulty arresting him.

Eventually, the commandos cut a hole into the engine-room and severed cables controlling the engine, radio, and steering mechanism, making Castle's remote control system worthless. They towed the Rainbow Warrior II to the island of Hao, as three other protest vessels arrived. 

Three thousand demonstrators gathered in the French port of Papeete, demanding that France abandon the tests. Oscar Temaru - leader of Tavini Huiraatira, an anti-nuclear, pro-independence party - who had been aboard the Rainbow Warrior II when it was raided, welcomed anti-testing supporters from Britain, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Sweden, Canada, Germany, Brazil, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, the Philippines, and American Samoa. Eventually, France ended their tests, and atmospheric nuclear testing in the world's oceans stopped once and for all.

“Moral courage”

Through these extraordinary missions, Jon Castle advocated "self-reflection" not only for individual activists, but for the organisation that he loved. Activists, Castle maintained, required "moral courage." He cautioned, "Don't seek approval. Someone has to be way out in front... illuminating territory in advance of the main body of thought."

He opposed "corporatism" in activist organisation and urged Greenpeace to avoid becoming "over-centralised or compartmentalised."  He felt that activist decisions should emerge from the actions themselves, not in an office. We can't fight industrialism with "money, numbers, and high-tech alone," he once wrote in a personal manifesto. Organisations have to avoid traps of "self-perpetuation" and focus on the job "upsetting powerful forces, taking on multinationals and the military-industrial complex."

He recalled that Greenpeace had become popular "because a gut message came through to the thirsty hearts of poor suffering people ... feeling the destruction around them."  Activists, Castle felt, required "freedom of expression, spontaneity [and] an integrated lifestyle."  An activist organisation should foster a "feeling of community" and exhibit "moral courage." Castle felt that social change activists had to "question the materialistic, consumerist lifestyle that drives energy overuse, the increasingly inequitable world economic tyranny that creates poverty and drives environmental degradation," and must maintain "honour, courage and the creative edge."

Well loved hero

Susi Newborn, who was there to welcome Jon aboard the Rainbow Warrior way back in 1977, and who gave the ship its name, wrote about her friend with whom she felt "welded at the heart: He was a Buddhist and a vegetarian and had an earring in his ear. He liked poetry and classical music and could be very dark, but also very funny. Once, I cut his hair as he downed a bottle or two of rum reciting The Second Coming by Yeats."

Newborn recalls Castle insisting that women steer the ships in and out of port because, "they got it right, were naturals." She recalls a night at sea, Castle "lashed to the wheel facing one of the biggest storms of last century head on. I was flung about my cabin like a rag doll until I passed out. We never talked about the storm, as if too scared to summon up the behemoth we had encountered. A small handwritten note pinned somewhere in the mess, the sole acknowledgment of a skipper to his six-person crew: ‘Thank You.’” Others remember Castle as the Greenpeace captain that could regularly be found in the galley doing kitchen duty.

In 2008, with the small yacht Musichana, Castle and Pete Bouquet staged a two-man invasion of Diego Garcia island to protest the American bomber base there and the UK's refusal to allow evicted Chagos Islanders to return to their homes. They anchored in the lagoon and radioed the British Indian Ocean Territories officials on the island to tell them they and the US Air Force were acting in breach of international law and United Nations resolutions. When arrested, Castle politely lectured his captors on their immoral and illegal conduct.

In one of his final actions, as he battled with his failing health, Castle helped friends in Scotland operate a soup kitchen, quietly prepping food and washing up behind the scenes.  

Upon hearing of his passing, Greenpeace ships around the world - the Arctic Sunrise, the Esperanza, and the Rainbow Warrior - flew their flags at half mast.

Jon is fondly remembered by his brother David, ex-wife Caroline, their son, Morgan Castle, born in 1982, and their daughter, Eowyn Castle, born in 1984. Morgan has a daughter of eight months Flora, and and Eowyn has a daughter, Rose, who is 2.   

Prince William and Kate Middleton have been packing as many official visits into their already busy royal schedule before the arrival of baby number 3, who is expected in April.

The next big event on the royal agenda is a tour of Sweden and Norway, where William and Kate will visit with the royal families of each country. They have also been invited to a special lunch at the Royal Palace of Stockholm by Their Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden. During their trip to Norway, William and Kate will join Their Majesties King Harald V and Queen Sonja at Oslo's Royal Palace for an official dinner.

But it's not only royalty the Duke and Duchess will meet with; they will also attend a black-tie dinner with with Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, and actors such as Alicia Vikander and Stellan Skarsgård. The Lara Croft actress will be a representative of the country's popular culture.

The Duke and Duchess have apparently requested to meet with "as many Swedes and Norwegians as possible" throughout their tour, visiting those working in the "mental health sector, and leaders in business, academia and scientific research, government, civil society and the creative industries."

The official press release from Kensington Palace doesn't state whether Prince George and Princess Charlotte will be attending. Since Charlotte just started nursery and George is busy getting up to mischief, it's possible the young royals will stay at home. That means, unfortunately, we won't have any new hilarious photos of Prince George's facial expressions during the royal tours. Fingers crossed mom and dad decide to take them along after all!

[Zambia Reports] The Swedish Government through Swedish International Development Cooperation (SIDA) has donated 25 basic support ambulances worth K13 million the Zambia government.
allafrica.com | 12/22/17

Politics of Sweden takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic constitutional monarchy. Executive power is exercised by the government, led by the Prime Minister of Sweden. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament, elected within a multi-party system. The Judiciary is independent, appointed by the government and employed until retirement. Sweden has a typical Western European history of democracy, beginning with the old Viking age Ting electing kings, ending with a regular royal power in the 14th century, that in periods became more or less democratic depending on the general European trends. The current democratic regime is a product of a stable development of successively added democratic institutions introduced during the 19th century up to 1921, when women's suffrage was introduced. The Government of Sweden has adhered to Parliamentarism — de jure since 1975, de facto since 1917. Since the Great Depression, Swedish national politics has largely been dominated by the Social Democratic Workers' Party, which has held a plurality (and sometimes a majority) in parliament since 1917. During the period from 1932-2006 the Social Democrats presided over the government for 65 years, almost exclusively without a minor partner.


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