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Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

Malmö Unga, Malmö Youth, is an association for youngsters between 13 and 25 in my hometown Malmö. It was founded on initiative of the young to bring the youth closer to politicians.
Today, October 3, the association organized a charity race for The Horn of Africa, Run for Humanity.
When I see young people do these kind of things I feel a ray of hope for mankind.

It was a threat of rain hanging in the air, but in one of this citys beautiful parks 70 brave souls gathered a Monday afternoon. With all the rain we have had this year the grass is still green and the organizers had chosen a scenic place for the race.

run

Photo: Dan Freed

Before the race there were a little show and a joint warm-up.
warm_up

Photo: Dan Freed

Everyone was invited to participate, also mans best friend.
dog

Photo: Dan Freed

younster

Photo: Dan Freed


Even the youngest people participated.

Being a charity we are all winners and there were all happy faces at the finish line.

finish_line

Photo: Dan Freed

I don’t know the final amount raised, but they got a small contribution for The Red Cross. Personally I don’t think that much of the money even if it help is needed. I think more of the people, the youth, who cares enough to organize these things. Our future…

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Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

We will retaliate with more democracy!

Norway is a small country in a corner of the very north of Europe.
Norwegians are a friendly, happy people. Their way of talking is happy, even if they are upset all their sentences end in major notes. It is hard to take them serious even if they yell at you.

All that died yesterday. In the worst day in Norway, in Scandinavia, since World War II the country was shaken by two terror acts. A bomb in central Oslo, the capital, followed by a shooting at a youth camp. At writing moment 7 people were killed at the bombing and a indigestible 84 people killed at the youth camp. Some still missing and many more injured, some still critical and the death toll will, unfortunately, most likely rise.
I sat all night following three different news channels and a twitter feed where all kinds of theories were presented and different groups were blamed.
The Norwegian public service broadcaster, NRK, had their own specialists in the studio which presented the theory it was an act by extreme Islamists, which most people went on with.

Foto: Jan Kåre Ness / Scanpix

Foto: Jan Kåre Ness / Scanpix

A Norwegian citizen has been caught for the shooting and Police are working according to the theory he is responsible for both attacks.
A 32 year old man, born in Norway by Norwegian parents, with established right-wing opinions. Active in extreme right-wing groups.

This morning I read in my facebook feed some updates from well meaning people,
“ …perhaps a lesson to all those who believe that all the threats and terror only works from outside and made of swarthy men who worship Allah… “

Please, let us have at least one day of grief, one day to collect our thoughts and try to grip this horrible acts before you start talking about lessons.
I think we known all extremes are dangerous, right-wing, left-wing, Islamic, Christians. A celebrity fan club can be dangerous if it goes to the extreme.
But yesterday was not an act by an extremist group, the bombing alone could have been a message, a warning. But to go on and cold blooded shoot over 80 children is not something any association, no matter how extreme, wants to be connected with.
This was an act by a delusional man, there is no lesson, nothing to learn. Just meaningless violence.

If there is something to take with us from this tragedy it is the words of Nowrwegian Prime minister Jens Stoltenberg, “We will retaliate with more democracy!”
George W. Bush words after 9/11, “We’re gonna hunt you down.”

“We will retaliate with more democracy!” – Now that is the words of a true world leader.

I have never been more proud of being a citizen of Norway as I am today.

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Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

Taking a look at Brazil and more specific at Dilma Rousseff. January 1st she was sworn in as president of Brazil. Although not the first feamle head of state in a continent with a wide spread machismo culture she is the first woman to hold the position in Brazil, probably much through help from former president Lula da Silva, regarded as the most popular president in Brazilian history.
She was the chief of staff in da Silvas administration and once elected many expected she would be a reserved or even weak president continuing her predecessors politics.

Dilma_Rousseff

Official phot

But those who know her knows there is nothing weak about her. Fighting with the guerrilla against the military government who ruled Brazil for almost two decades she was imprisoned in 1970 and reportedly tortured. Released closed to three years later she continued her studies and started to build up her life again, always looking forward knowing what she wanted.

After her first three months at office she have earn the nickname Durona – The tough, or “The iron lady”, and proven she is doing well without da Silva and that she has her own political agenda.
She started with alienate the much corrupted PMDB by not giving them all the government positions they wanted, being Brazils largest political party and highly depended on them she is taking a huge risk, but she is also preventing them from skimming the states assets.

In her short time of power she have also made some changes in foreign politics turning her back to the Castro-regim and criticize Cuba for lack of human rights.
She also have higher demands on her own administration. Ministers and secretaries used to be in the capital, Brasilia, from Tuesday through Thursday, having long 4-days weekends. President Dilma have taken custom to schedule important meetings to Friday afternoon.

She is no Lula da Silva, he did the dirty work to put Brazil in the right direction. Now they need a Durona, someone to continue the process and take them the last steps on the way. I see four interesting years to come in Brazil.
In a world with a growing feminism movement looking for strong women this is someone to keep track on.

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Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

This is a short post about something I never thought I would write about – Animal rights.

To start off with you will never see me stand on the barricades, I don’t have strong believes in much. I am aware of the fact that the world is not black or white, it is just a huge palette of gray scales.
I do believe in, and support the rights for, freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion and human rights. This is the corner stones in a democracy and a better world.
But this is about animals. Yes, I think we should treat livestock and animals with respect and some ethical ground rules, but I love my meat and will never be a vegetarian. I never wear fur, but breaking in to a mink farm and free the minks is maybe not the best way to protest. Minks breath in a farm don’t survive in the wild and will starve to death, but I can see why people do it. All gray scales…

And then I came across this video. Undercover investigators from Swiss Animal Protection/EAST International toured fur farms in China and got some sick footage. I just can’t go on without help spreading this. You will find the full story here

Please, before you press play you must be aware that this is a disgusting video. I usually don’t listen to these kind of warnings myself, and I didn’t this time either. I wish I did. This is just sick. Understand that this video show animals being skinned alive.
Remember you can press stop at anytime and I will not be offended if you leave the site.

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Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

It’s great to just disappear, grab a suitcase, switch the answering machine on and just go somewhere else. ~Dido

The last few days I have been paranoid. Saturday I saw a documentary about a man trying to disappear for a month. Showing all the ways we leave traces behind us. Nowadays mostly digital. Everything we do is saved somewhere, by governments, by banks and other private companies. Think ebay, Amazon, insurance companies. Even your grocery stores membership award program, what did you eat May 7 2009?

Later that night I stumbled across a site asking the question; Which check-in application (ie, gowalla, foursquare, facebook places etc.) do you recommend?
A CEO for a larger Internet company, which because of the current subject will remain unnamed, answered; “I don’t use location applications because I don’t want my whereabouts at a specific time will be saved online in a searchable format. For the same reason I don’t use cards to pay amounts below 500 dollars.”

Personally I don’t use check-ins either, people don’t need to know where I am all the time, and I don’t feel the need to broadcast I am not home to potential thieves. On the other hand if someone would like to wack me they just need to hang around my local coffee place and they don’t have to wait long for me to show up.
What I am doing is keeping in touch with friends and tell people what I am doing on facebook when traveling. And I always use cards to pay with when possible.
Does that really matter? Probably not, as long as you go on living your life not breaking any laws.

What if you would like yo disappear? The reason is up to you, but is that even possible today? And the fact that I am writing this post, does that put me on an alert list somewhere?
The man in the documentary Erasing David, David Bond had a 7 months pregnant wife which made things more difficult. But if you don’t have a family and no strong ties, is it possible?

I had my escape plan ready ages ago. For many years I traveled on a passport without social security number. For a short period I was even stateless, after what has to be the fastest legislation in Scandinavia that was taken care of and I got my country back. Somewhere out there it is a Lex Daniel printed.

Then some people crashed a plane into a building which led to more restricted air travel, so that didn’t pass anymore. Now I have to travel as everybody else; registered, finger scanned and photographed when passing through security.
I wouldn’t even know where to start. Of course no facebook, no twitter. Preferable no computer at all. No credit cards, no mobile. Avoid contact with old friends.
In a tent camp in Africa or a cave in Asia you probably make it, but if you want to stay in, at least, the semi-modern part of the world. Can you disappear?

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Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

Last night I wrote a blog saying there is no good news anymore. All you read and hear is death, war and violence.
Luckily, I never posted it.

Tonight the people of Egypt is celebrating their victory and a to judge from my twitter and facebook feeds the whole world cheer them on. Less than 2 hours ago Egypt’s Vice President Omar Suleiman announced that President Mubarak steps down and the The Armed Forces is taking over the government.
Those of you following the live stream from Al Jazeera will see the joy of people dancing and singing on the streets, a celebration that will continue for a long time. 2/11/2011 will forever be remembered in Egypt.

A modern revolution starting with a facebook appeal, without weapon, just the strong will of the people and Internet to keep the world updated. Even though Mubarak tried to silent the people with ungrounded arrests and torture, cut the communications to the outside world and state it was a domestic affair, this epic event could not end in any other way. Dictatorship and oppression of a people can not and will not be accepted in this modern-day world. When information is spread to thousands, billions of people in matter of minutes old silent acceptations is worth very little. Which democratic government would like to admit they are supporting a despot?
Just 20 minutes after the announcement wikipedia was updated “On February 11, 2011, Vice President Omar Suleiman announced that Mubarak had resigned as President of Egypt, transferring authority to the Higher Council of the Armed Forces, following 18 days of protests challenging his thirty-year rule”. This says a lot of this new world we live in, no deeds goes unseen anymore.

Wish the people of Egypt the best of luck and hope they do their best of their new won freedom.

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Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain – and most fools do.
~Benjamin Franklin

While having leftover pizza for breakfast yesterday I was gazing at morning reruns of old sitcoms when I suddenly got an epiphany, yes there is a lot to learn from sitcoms, a new life philosophy – Do not complain.
It’s quite simple in theory, if you don’t complain you have no problems, if you don’t have any problems you have a great life! So clear… And I made it a full 2 hours without complaining. Until I went out to get my daily dose of coffee.
My regular coffee bar is located in a corner by the worst trafficked crossroad in the neighborhood and even though I am used to it peoples driving skill and behavior amazes me every weekend. It is a three way crossing but on regular basis two cars manage to block each other.




Anyway, this particular morning it wasn’t the usual hormone-fueled BMW drivers blocking traffic. It was a senior citizen who got the idea to make a illegal u-turn not minding the heavy traffic. Of course it was just a matter of seconds before he was stuck. Instead of backing up and smoothly trying to get around he started honking the horn and argue with all and everyone. I admit I did complain a little.
But why? We in the free industrialized world just expect everything to work and run smoothly and blow all these small disturbance out of proportion. The trains are snowed in and cannot move, the bus is 5 minutes late, someone is blocking traffic. Or think if Internet connection is down for an hour! We would all be sent back to the stone ages.

Later that day on my second coffee round I met a couple of friends who spent some time in Belarus. The Belarusians never complains, they don’t have any other option than to deal with the situation. So the bus is not in time, the schedule says 9:14 but it can just as well be 9:00 or 9:30, want can they do? If they miss is they can only wait for the next one. Oh the electricity is out? It will come back, it always do. This thinking permeate their whole life. My friend tried to explain our western symptom “burned out,” they just could not understand it. “What do you get stressed over?” “Why?” “If you cannot do anything about the situation why care so much?”
I do appreciate our democracy, freedom of speech and freedom to think, but sometimes I wish I could think less about the things I cannot change.
Today I made it almost 6 hours without complaining, sure I have been home alone most of the day but if feels like a progress. I don’t give up, if I start every morning with the intention to not complain one of these days I will make an entire day.

I will start fresh tomorrow again, Monday… Not that I am complaining.

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Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.
~Albert Einstein

I hate people. There, I said it. Seriously, I do. One of these day I’m going Brenda Ann Spencer on my surroundings. When I do, I am convinced the judge will see it was justified.
Well, I don’t hate all people, just the every day people. The people you meet and see on the streets, I am pretty sure they are bugging me by will. How they stop in all the wrong places. How they get in the way all the time – I have seen some making a great circle just to cut me off further down on the street. And in general how they act, both to my annoyance – Like stand in line in a supermarket for 15 minutes and still don’t be ready to pay when the cashier has registered their shopping cart full of groceries, no, they have to rummage around in their purse for another minute and preferably pay with small bills and coins, and for their own safety – have you ever seen how some people have to stand just on the curb at crosswalks? Feet together and toes millimeters from the street, I don’t know if it is plain stupidity or some kind of silent demonstration, “I have the right to use the whole sidewalk”. Well, vehicles have the right to use the full carriageway so don’t be surprised if a bus pass and hit you in the head with the rear mirror (I have seen it happen).

This might be all Swedish manners, when traveling, business or vacation, I don’t see much of this behavior. Of course I usually go off the beaten track and in low season. Smaller places and less tourist means less people. But even on busy airports, Schiphol, Heathrow and Charles de Gaulle to mention a few, people act normal. Everyone is going somewhere and they are in a hurry to get there. And in crowded cities like London, New York or Mexico City people are actually moving and don’t stop just because they happen to turn a corner.
Thinking about it, been ripped-off by cab drivers, met stoned diving guides and paid occasionally bribes then just write it off as part of the culture my tolerance level is probably somewhat higher when visiting other countries.
Are people the same all over the world? Now that is a depressing thought…
Could it be all me? Naah..

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Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday. ~Oprah Winfrey

2011 has made its entrance and we start a new count down for a perfect year. I marked all my e-mail as read and my appointments as done, ready to start the year clear.
New years eve were great, old and new friends from all corners of the world. My Spanish friend Susana took on the Latin cape and cooked – plenty. A variety of tasty Spanish dishes and French desserts.

dinner

Dinner and laughs. Photo: Dan Freed

newyear

New years menu. Photo: Dan Freed

Midnight came and went, without any New year resolutions given, not by me anyway. But I promise to be the same charming and humble man I am.

fireworks

Fireworks. Photo: Dan Freed

Event if we had a somewhat warm night, snow dripping from the roofs, I am fed up with this cold and snow. I need to go somewhere warm and that soon.
I will go back to my beloved Mexico in a few months. Just for a week to warm up. Later this year I am thinking of going a bit further south, Guatemala or Costa Rica.
Both beautiful countries with a lot to offer. Both has their pros and cons. It is a hard decision, anyway I am not much for planning anyway. I always have a bag packed with essentials and prefer to just grab it and get to the airport and see where I can find a good deal. I have arrived to a new country with now idea where to spend the night more than once and I love it. It’s not for everyone though and that’s why I prefer to travel alone. Sometimes I book the first night in advance on some cheap hotel, but have everything set for the whole trip, like an all-inclusive or a charter is not my thing. When I travel I like to mix up with the locals and figure out my own way around.
Guatemala or Costa Rica I would like to hear your recommendations.

Meanwhile I am looking forward to a new adventurous year!

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Previously posted in www.planningmexico.com

For 200 years we’ve been conquering Nature. Now we’re beating it to death.
~Tom McMillan

The year is coming to an end and it is time for a recap.
It has been yet another fun year full of adventures. But it has also been a year full of tragedies. Is it fair to say this was the year nature stroke back?
Of course there is terrible things happening all the time, but this many in one year? More than 260 000 fatalities, not counting the, more or less, man made disasters like mining or drilling. Compare it with 2009 with not even 11000 deaths by the natural disasters.
No, this year mother earth threw everything she had on us, earthquakes, volcanoes, rain with following landslide and flooding, heat and fire, and it looks like the year will end the same way it started with extreme cold and snow. Europe and North America are suffering from an extreme winter, in Sweden we set one new record after another regarding temperature and snow mass. Even Peru suffered from a severe cold this year although not as bad as the January storm causing The Urubamba river to swell destroying the home for 20 000 in the Cusco area.
It has been a lot to follow, I guess Haiti have escaped no one, on going all year one thing after another.

Soon after Chile was shaken by an earthquake. Flooding in Pakistan and Guatemala, even parts of southern Mexico was affected. South China had extreme heat and drought followed by heavy rain and, yes, flooding. This less than a month after the third big earthquake of the year shook the Chinese province Qinghai.
Also Russia had its drought and wildfire peaking on close to 7500 square kilometers (2900 square miles) and over 2000 homes were lost.
Iceland, recovering from a financial meltdown put its mark on the map with Eyjafjallajökull, luckily no one died, but not only did it ground air traffic all over Europe and across the Atlantic the already bleeding country got to see crops and livestock covered with volcanic ashes. In October a volcano in Indonesia unfortunately took close to 400 lives.
I could go on but I think I got my point through, it has been a lot this year.

I have set some kind of record myself this year, donating more money than I ever done before, in total. Primary reason, it was needed, but also because I like individuals doing stupid/weird/extreme things promoting their cause like this guy, Travis Kiefer.
And, to be honest, this year countries I visit and some friends have been suffering. It’s not that a flooding in Pakistan is not as bad as a flooding in Guatemala, but I have no relation to the country and can’t donate to everything. I choose my causes and really trying to make a difference instead of do a little for everyone.

Save the earth? I don’t know, it seems to take care of itself pretty good. Save the humans!

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