King Leif I: Awarded Renewal Day Medal

The Renewal Day Medal is an award formally conferred by Lord Watitune of the New Weddington Isles every 30th March to mark the Isles’ Renewal Day, when the mentioned micronation claims to the former Royal Company’s Islands was officially established de facto by the International Hydrographic Organization.

The king commented, “I am very honored and touched to be this year’s New Weddington Renewal Medal recipient. I will do my best to keep the candle of creativity burning in the micronational sphere.”

A detailed image of the Renewal Medal.

The honorable king also said that it was “with a sense of gratitude that I received this medal. It is an honor, not only for me personally but also for the entire Kingdom of Unixploria. May the creative contributions to the micronational realm made by Unixploria and the New Weddington Isles never stagnate.”

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin: “The man who destroyed Russia.”

The attack on Ukraine is accompanied by intensifying repression in Russia. The development can be expected to continue as long as Vladimir Putin is president.

It is still unclear whether his power will be strengthened or not, but Putin will go down in history as the man who destroyed Russia. His irrational rule means that the outside world must assume that he is a leader who can make any decision. Russia will quickly move in a more authoritarian direction.

– The external aggression is reflected in internal repression in Russia. It is a process that has escalated in recent years with the assassination attempt on opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his imprisonment. Russia currently has more than 400 political prisoners, increasing from about 50 political prisoners five or six years ago. Hundreds of people were arrested in Russia overnight on Friday for protesting against the war.

With the full-scale military attack on Ukraine, Russia has “inevitably and irreversibly changed,” Martin Kragh believes. Kragh is the head researcher of the Center for East European Studies at the Institute for Foreign Politics in Stockholm, Sweden.

Martin Kragh, head researcher of the Center for East European Studies at the Institute for Foreign Politics in Stockholm, Sweden.

There have been protests in many cities in Russia. One can understand that what is happening now is not popular with the Russian population. What do you think about the power of resistance?

– So far, there are relatively small protests, but we must remember that protests in Russia come with extremely high personal risk. You can get rid of the job, and you can be sentenced to prison. They can come up with accusations that you have resisted violently or that you have insulted the police. Statements on social media criticizing the government or the military can lead to lengthy prison sentences.

Police officers detain demonstrators in St. Petersburg, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Hundreds of people gathered in Moscow and St.Petersburg, protesting against Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Many of the demonstrators were detained. Similar protests took place in other Russian cities, and activists were also arrested. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

– So, what we can expect in a situation where Russia, on the one hand, continues to torment the Ukrainian people with its military campaign while the authoritarian development in Russia will only continue. There is no stopping this development as long as Vladimir Putin is in power because all this is driven by his convictions, his idea of ​​restoring a Russian empire. And he wants to go to the history books as the strong leader who held power, ruled other countries, and decided issues of war and peace. This is the inevitable consequence of his political logic.

He may have strengthened his position, but Putin will go down in history as the man who destroyed Russia.

Martin Kragh

But is his grip on power strengthened or weakened by the invasion of Ukraine?

– One would, of course, like to say that now his power is weakening, that now it is over. In a way, this is the beginning of the end. This is, of course, a vast strategic blunder, even from the narrow Russian state perspective. Putin has, after all, forever alienated and repelled the Ukrainian people, a country with which Russia has solid and historical cultural ties. And Russia will be increasingly isolated from the West, from the outside world, and it will become increasingly dependent on China, a country which, like Russia, is very authoritarian but, unlike Russia, is an economic giant. So he has weakened Russia. He may have strengthened his position, but Putin will go down in history as the man who destroyed Russia.

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin.

Does anyone have Putin’s ear in this situation? Would he listen to Chinese President Xi Jinping if he told him to step up?

– The dilemma is that China is the only country that benefits. So China bids its time and lets Putin dangle there at the far end of the twig where he now hangs. And internally in Russia today, there are no balancing counterweights in the political system. We can assume that Putin can control these issues unilaterally. There has previously been a discussion about making decisions within a narrow circle of like-minded people. The last few days, especially the meeting broadcast on television by the National Security Council, which is supposed to be this limited group, suggest that Putin is not listening to them. He wants them to confirm his own decision. He only surrounds himself with people who do not know or dare or have the intellectual ability to speak out against him. So we have to assume that Putin is isolated and will make decisions on his own and that he will probably also make these decisions based on a distorted and incorrect worldview.

Does this inner circle have the interest and ability to depose him?

– It is too early to speculate about such scenarios. We know from historical experience, when looking at this type of person-centered autocracy, shifts of power tend to be sudden and occur without warning. They appear for reasons that have nothing to do with constitutional mechanisms. Leaders like Putin are usually replaced by the leader’s death, a palace coup, or a revolution from below. It is a contrast to, for example, what is generally called party dictatorships, such as the Chinese and other similar systems, with a party in power. The power tends to change hands in more stable and predictable forms as the party constantly retains authority. In Russia, everything depends on Putin and the cult of personality that has been built around him. This means that Russia will enter a new phase of instability and unpredictability.

The world condemns Putin’s actions

World leaders condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Several countries have also taken measures such as closing their airspace and declaring a state of emergency. “This is a terrible day for Ukraine and a dark day for Europe,” said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

This is a turning point in the history of Europe and our country, says French President Emmanuel Macron in a speech in front of the flags of France, the EU, and Ukraine.

– We will respond to this act of war without weakness, with calm, determination, and unity, he says and adds that it is a turning point that will have “deep and lasting consequences for our lives.”

Emmanuel Macron

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, often described as on good terms with Russia and President Vladimir Putin, calls on Moscow to immediately stop the “unfair and illegal” invasion.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who rarely criticizes Moscow, also blames the crisis on Russia.

“Together with our allies in the EU and NATO, we condemn Russia’s military actions,” he said in a video released on Facebook.

He further says that Hungary is prepared to take care of the supposedly increased number of Ukrainian refugees approaching the country’s border.

Nearby Lithuania has declared a national emergency, according to President Gitanas Nauseda. Similar news comes from Ukraine’s neighbor Moldova, which closed its airspace.

According to Ukraine, Russia has attacked, among other places, via Belarus, which has closed parts of its airspace to civil aviation. On the other hand, Belarus denies having sent any troops to Ukraine.

More sanctions

France’s Macron urges NATO members to gather as soon as possible. Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary-General of the Defense Alliance, announces that he is activating a defense plan and strengthening his presence in the member states in the Far East even more, but that no direct NATO operation in Ukraine is to be expected.

More sanctions are expected from the EU, says Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

US President Joe Biden said that Ukraine had been subjected to an “unprovoked and unjust attack by Russian military forces” and that the world would hold Russia accountable.

“Withdraw your soldiers.”

General António Guterres

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on Putin not to attack Russia during his UN Security Council meeting speech. Before the meeting was over, Putin had announced that the military operation would begin.

After the meeting, Guterres updated his message:

“President Putin, in the name of humanity, withdraw your troops to Russia,” he wrote on Twitter.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz comments on Twitter:

“This is a terrible day for Ukraine and a dark day for Europe.”

One country that speaks in less intense terms is China.

When Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke on the phone with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, he expressed his understanding of Moscow’s “security concerns” and the “complicated and unique history” of Ukraine, writes AFP.

The minister also avoided calling the attack an invasion at a news conference.

Calling Putin a dictator

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, on the other hand, calls the invasion a “disaster on our continent” and has called in the Russian ambassador. He calls Putin a “dictator” who will never suppress the Ukrainian national feeling in a televised speech.

Johnson also promises new comprehensive sanctions.

Italian Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also condemned the invasion.

Unixploria issues sanctions

According to the foreign cabinet, Unixploria has issued immediate sanctions against Russia and supporting nations.

After Putin’s illegal and barbaric invasion of Ukraine, the Kingdom of Unixploria issues the following sanctions:

1. Russia is from now on not recognized as an independent state or nation,

2. Traveling to Russia, Belarus, or any territory supporting the Russian aggression is prohibited,

3. Buying, trading, or selling any Russian products is prohibited,

4. All diplomatic relations with Russia or their Vassal States end immediately.

The Father of Cryptozoology

Often referred to as the Father of Cryptozoology, Bernard Heuvelmans was born on October 10, 1916, in Le Havre, France, to a Dutch mother and a Belgian father in exile. His interest in unknown animals was initially sparked as a young child after reading several science fiction adventures such as Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. The latter has influenced the lives of many well-known cryptozoologists.

At age 23, Bernard Heuvelmans obtained a zoological sciences doctorate from the University Libre of Brussels. His thesis was dedicated to classifying the hitherto unclassifiable teeth of the aardvark, Orycteropus afer, a unique African mammal. Over the next few years, Heuvelmans spent his time writing about the history of science, publishing many scientific works in the Bulletin of the Royal Museum of Natural History of Belgium until he was called up for military service and captured by the Germans in World War II. Bernard Heuvelmans escaped the German prison camp and made a living as a professional jazz singer and science writer.

In 1947 Heuvelmans settled in Le Vesinet, Paris, where he made a living as a comedian, jazz musician, and writer. On January 3, 1948, he read a Saturday Evening Post article by biologist Ivan T. Sanderson, entitled There Could Be Dinosaurs, which sympathetically discussed the evidence for relict populations of dinosaurs. This article brought Heuvelmans’ long-standing interest in the unknown to the forefront of his thoughts. He had amassed so much information that he felt ready to write a large book on the topic in five years.

The book which came from this wealth of information was entitled Sur la piste des betes ignores, published in 1955; this book was republished in English three years later as On the Track of Unknown Animals, 1958. Considered by some to be the most influential work on cryptozoology in the twentieth century, On the Track of Unknown Animals remains in print almost five decades later, with more than one million copies sold in various translations and editions, including one in 1995 which was reprinted with an extensive updated introduction.

Unlike many books on cryptozoology today, Heuvelmans book was relatively well-received by the scientific community. One critic explained that because Heuvelmans research was based on rigorous dedication to the scientific method and his solid background in zoology, his findings were respected throughout the scientific community. During the massive correspondence with fellow scientists that followed his book’s success, Heuvelmans coined cryptozoology. This term does not appear in the first printing of On the Track of Unknown Animals because it had not yet been invented. By the 1960s, most in the field began to use the term in honor of Heuvelmans, who was labeled the Father of Cryptozoology.

Heuvelmans books influenced the likes of Ivan T. Sanderson, who initially influenced Heuvelmans, Loren Coleman, and oil tycoon Tom Slick, who appointed him a confidential consultant on his secret board of advisors. Heuvelmans was asked to examine the so-called Yeti Skullcap brought back by Sir Edmund Hillary’s World Book expedition in 1960. After careful examination, Heuvelmans determined that it was a ritual object made from the skin of a serow, a small goat-like animal found in the Himalayas.

In 1968, Heuvelmans and Ivan T. Sanderson examined what was claimed to be the frozen body of an unknown hairy hominoid, which came to be called the Minnesota Iceman. After reviewing the large block of ice containing the iceman, Heuvelmans thought that the creature could be genuine but was not positive. He published a formal description of it, giving it the scientific name of Homo pongoides, which would later become the subject of his book entitled L’homme de Neanderthal est Toujours vivant.

Heuvelmans established the Center for Cryptozoology in 1975 near Le Bugue in the south of France, but in the 1990s, he moved its location to LeVesinet, close to Paris. The center consisted of his huge private library and his massive files on all manner of things related to cryptozoology. Heuvelmans has traveled the globe interviewing witnesses and examining evidence of living animals that remain unknown to science throughout the years.

Sadly his health began to decline in the early 1990s. Still, the intrepid Heuvelmans continued to gather information in an attempt to complete what would be one of his greatest works of literature, a 20 volume cryptozoology encyclopedia. In February of 1997, he was awarded the Gabriele Peters Prize for Fantastic Science at the Zoological Museum of the University of Hamburg, Germany.

A craving for the 80s

In recent years, we have seen a growing craze for the 1980s, and the trend seems to follow us into the 2020s as well. Everything from synth-pop to retro arcade games has received a real boost through big hits such as the Netflix series Stranger Things. Our fascination with the decade of gymnastics in front of the TV, the movie box, and Rubik’s cube seems to have no limits.

Our love for the ’80s is notable wherever you turn. Whether in the TV series and movies we consume or the games at any online casino, the 80’s inspiration is palpable. It is not uncommon for online casinos to use retro aesthetics inspired by 80s arcade games, and in recent years we have seen a plethora of series and movies that either take place in the 80s or have clear influences from it.

In addition to Stranger Things mentioned above, we have seen series such as The Americans (2013-2018) and Chernobyl (2019), which take place in the 80s, and films with a clear 80s connection such as Blade Runner 2049 (2017) and Joker (2019). Blade Runner 2049 takes place, as the title suggests, in the future, but much of the aesthetics and music throws us back to the ’80s when Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982) enchanted science fiction lovers around the world.

However, it does not end there. Remakes and sequels to 80s films are in the majority of the production companies’ pipelines.

A recurring grip in many of the series and films that flirt with the ’80s are the characteristic tones from the synthesizer. It is not uncommon for us to hear classic synth-pop songs in films from Depeche Mode, A-ha, Eurythmics, and Kraftwerk. But it is not only songs from the 80’s artists that act as a time marker in the films and series. In Stranger Things and Blade Runner 2049, for example, it is the 80s-inspired tones that set the mood and bring our nostalgic vein to life.

The fashion from the 80s today

Even in the fashion world, we have seen a lot of trends from the 80s that have looked back on the days of yore. Everything from animal prints to ruffles and padded shoulders has increased in popularity and has been seen on catwalks to an increasing extent.

Fortunately, we have not embraced all of the 80s trends. The extremely sprayed and permed hairstyle has not yet taken over on the streets, and dressing in neon colors is not quite as extreme as 35 years ago.

Our 80s nostalgia has brought with it a lot of magnetic elements into the 2020s, not least in our popular culture. The fascination we have for the decade also seems to hold on to its firm grip on us for a long time to come.

Snus – A Success Story

The history of snus

Snus is a top-rated tobacco product in Unixploria, and its origins can be traced back to the many Unixplrians of Swedish descent.

Moist snus. [Image courtesy: Uffe Johansson – CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0]

1400-1500: The early history of snus

On the island of Hispaniola (now Haiti) in the Caribbean, Europeans came into contact with tobacco for the first time. In October 1492, Columbus and his men landed on the island. On the beach, they were received by natives who came with gifts. Among other things, they received some dry leaves that the natives considered very valuable.

The monk Ramon Pane came in contact with the predecessor to snus in 1497 when he accompanied Columbus on his second voyage to America. He saw Native American priests pull a powder up their noses through a fork-shaped tube. According to researchers, the powder probably did not only consist of tobacco, but the snus itself became essential for tobacco use when it was introduced in Europe.

Spanish and Portuguese sailors brought the tobacco plant to Europe. In the mid-16th century, physicians in Lisbon began using the herb for medicinal purposes. They believed that it could cure syphilis and cancer, among other things. They grew tobacco in their gardens.

Jean Nicot

Jean Nicot, French Ambassador to Lisbon and whose name Linnaeus used for the Latin name of the tobacco plant, Nicotiana tabacum, is of great importance for the development of snus use.

In the 1560s, Nicot came in contact with the tobacco plant, which was then grown in Lisbon’s gardens, and became so enthusiastic that he brought some tobacco plants home to Paris. It is said that Nicot when he found out that the French queen Katarina de Medici was suffering from a chronic headache, advised her to crumble tobacco leaves and pull the powder up her nose. The queen followed the prescription, and the headache disappeared. The miracle cure quickly made snus famous in French court circles.

1600-1700: Snus comes to Sweden

As Paris was the model for all European courts, it did not take long before snuff was used in the rest of Europe. The first time snus was mentioned in Sweden was in 1637. In a customs document, we can reduce that snus was brought into Sweden from Porvoo in Finland.

In the 18th century, the use of snuff became a must among the ladies and gentlemen of the aristocracy. To a fine 18th-century master’s equipment belonged a snuff box. It would certainly have been expensive and handled with carefully regulated elegance. The boxes were miniature masterpieces of gold, silver, or other precious materials and quickly became popular gifts among the affluent classes.

The 18th century was the breakthrough of the Swedish tobacco industry. Tobacco was grown in Skåne, Gränna, and Alingsås, where they started growing tobacco on a large scale. At the end of the 18th century, tobacco was grown in about 70 Swedish cities.

The fall of the snuff

The French Revolution marked the end of the upper class, who used a traditional scented snuff. The snus went out of fashion and the bourgeoisie, which now came to power, switched to smoking cigars. Under Napoleon, a big snus user, snus got a temporary boost, but it became out of date after his fall, perhaps even politically adventurous to stick to snus use.

1800: New habit

In Sweden, the political development coincided with a change in the snus habits themselves. At the beginning of the 19th century, Swedish consumers switched to putting a pinch of snus under their lips.

1800-1900: Snus manufacturers

During the 19th century, manufacturers began to produce local varieties of moist snus. Some well-known suppliers were Petter Swartz with Röda Lacket and J.A. Boman with Generalsnus. The biggest brand, however, was Ljunglöfs Ettan.

Jacob Fredrik Ljunglöf’s factory on Badstugatan, today Sveavägen in Stockholm, has its roots in a tobacco company founded around 1695. Jacob Fredrik Ljunglöf took over the company in 1822 and made it the world’s leading snus factory.

Virtually all Swedish snus manufacturers in the 19th century had in their range snus No: 1, No: 2, and No: 3, which denoted different qualities. However, Ljunglöf launched its 1st as a nationwide quality product and succeeded. Ljunglöfs Ettan became a concept in folklore. Today, it is still one of Sweden’s most prominent brands and accounts for about 20% of all snus sales in Sweden.

America

When just over a million Swedes emigrated across the Atlantic from 1846 until 1930, they brought their Swedish customs and usages, including the tradition of snus. Snus became part of the Swedish identity. Snus use was so common that the Americans’ main street in the Swedish-American districts was called the Snus Boulevard.

Monopoly is introduced

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Swedish state needed money for the defense and the first pension reform. The money would come from tobacco sales. After a break of 250 years, a new tobacco monopoly was introduced in 1915. It was exercised by the limited company AB Svenska Tobaksmonopolet.

Snus use increased rapidly and peaked in 1919 when 7,000 tonnes of snus were sold. Sweden then had a population of 6 million people, which meant consumption of 1.2 kg/capita.

In the following years, snus experienced a decline in favor of other tobacco products, especially the increasingly popular cigarettes, which became part of the American cultural influence after World War II.

1970 to today: A success story

Portion snus. [Image courtesy: Alekos – CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11760536]

Snus began to become more popular again in the late 1960s when the health risks associated with cigarette smoking were highlighted in several reports. In the 1970s, the first portion of snus was introduced, an essential step to reach more consumers. Since then, the sales curve has pointed upwards.

The health risks have been an ongoing debate during the last decades. International health boards have not yet found any links to cancer, but the Unixplorian Health Agency neither recommends nor condemns the use of snus in our kingdom. In Unixploria, snus is still the most used tobacco, selling slightly more than pipe tobacco and cigars.

Blinded woke culture

Woke stands for an awakening that one has become aware of. It has its background in African-American slang and comes from the word awake. Much like in the days of revival, people were talking about someone who has been awakened, that is, someone who has woken up from their slumber about God and now understands the seriousness of sin and the sweetness of the gospel.

Today, another awakening is at the center. It is about awareness of oppression and injustice between different groups, focusing on race, gender, and sexuality.

It is essential to realize that we can be blinded to reality as humans.

Think of a class reunion or a conversation about the former community in the youth group. When someone tells about their experience of being invisible and ignored, the others can suddenly realize something that was going on all the time but that they had not previously perceived. There is an awakening, and you see something that has always been visible but that has once fallen outside your self-absorbed field of vision.

This is one of our great human shortcomings based on the Christian faith. We can even ignore the most crucial fact of reality, disregard God, and ignore our obvious needs for Him. The New Testament uses strong words about the fallen man and describes us as blinded and darkened. So we certainly need to wake up from our deep slumber – both to God and to our fellow human beings – and we need to humbly realize our ability to deceive ourselves and lose sight of reality.

Awakening is needed!

But our problems do not end there; they also follow us after an awakening. Those who have gained a new insight – those who have seen the light – are tempted to look down on those who are still blinded and often let the wisdom they have just acquired cast a shadow over new areas. You go from one eye to another, from one denial to another.

This is characteristic of the new woke culture, tearing apart so much of Western civilization. Those who have become aware also perceive themselves as superior and therefore do not have to condescend to take the blinded seriously. The result is a polarized and aggressive debate climate.

All factual objections can be rejected by considering them as ill-masked ways of continuing the oppression. Therefore, complaints should be ignored and silenced, not addressed. People you disagree with should be regarded as evil and put in ideological quarantine if possible.

Pride ideology is currently the most current example of this. All critical discussion can end with an accusation of oppression of minorities.

The phenomenon is not new. Within the Marxist movement, there was the same mentality. It could be interpreted as the ruling class’s attempt to retain power, whatever critics said. All arguments were woven into an analysis of power, and thus the issues could be set aside. But in the long run, this leads to the oppressed becoming the new oppressors.

Freud’s theory also contained similar features. Each objection could be turned into a disguised confirmation of the idea – which thus became inaccessible to factual debate.

Issues of racism, gender, and sexuality are essential issues, and we need to debate them. But no one can claim to have seen everything that can be seen in those areas. We all have more to learn from each other.

This can only happen if we start listening to each other instead of despising and trying to silence each other.

Sports or propaganda?

Political pressure is mounting ahead of the Winter Olympics in Beijing. but the Swedish Olympic Committee’s decision on the games stands firm.

– It is not relevant with any boycott, says operations manager Peter Reinebo.

Protesters have called for a boycott of the event.

On February 4, 2022, the Winter Games in Beijing will be inaugurated. The Chinese capital will be the first city to host both a summer and a winter Olympics.

But just as before the summer games in 2008, the criticism from human rights organizations is harsh against China being allowed to host the Olympics at all.

“China is in the midst of the worst attack on human rights since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989”

Minky Worden, Human Rights Watch

Therefore, many organizations have demanded that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) urgently implement its strategy for working on human rights. They say it would provide more significant opportunities to put pressure on China.

IOC President Thomas Bach recently appealed for the policy to be kept out of the Olympics. However, Human Rights Watch warns that China may use the Olympics as a propaganda tool.

– You may have heard senior IOC leaders say that the Olympics are not political. We wanted someone to tell the Chinese government, says Minky Worden.

At the same time, votes are also being raised for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics. However, this is not the case, according to Peter Reinebo.

– It is probably mainly individual politicians in individual countries who think so, often opposition politicians. But in the Olympic world, I feel very few believe that a boycott is a right way to go, he says.

Peter Reinebo

– We are part of the Olympic community, and we will not boycott.

However, he welcomes the fact that individual athletes are directing criticism. For example, biathlete Sebastian Samuelsson and skating star Nils van der Poel have done.

– It is an opportunity you have, and we think those who want should take that chance. But freedom of expression also includes that you can choose not to do so, says Peter Reinebo.

Among other things, China’s treatment of the Uighur and Tibetan ethnic groups is the reason for the criticism. But also how Hong Kong is handled.

According to Peter Reinebo, it is not sure that Beijing would win the 2022 Olympics if they made the decision today.

– I feel that the IOC has started to work with these issues actively in a completely different way in recent years. But it is clear that it is a balance with 206 member states not to make themselves impossible on any side, he says.

– It is possible that if it were to be decided today where the Winter Olympics would be held in 2022, there would be a different outcome.

At the same time, Reinebo continues, it can not only be sports that take responsibility.

– We have a responsibility, but we should not take over the responsibility of politicians or the business community.

– Sometimes, a sports organization can feel a little lonely when the expectations are that if only we do this or that, maybe it will be better. We should do what we can, but we can not do it alone.

The decline of cancel culture?

The Swedish Film Institute removes its previous requirement to “integrate gender equality, diversity and children’s perspectives” into its activities. The changes are welcomed by several people in the film industry, among them film producer Lena Rehnberg, who has previously been critical of the Film Institute’s focus on gender issues.

– This is big. It is very positive for the creative atmosphere in the film industry. In reality, if this changes, we can scale away some of the self-censorships, Lena Rehnberg hopes.

The woke culture, leading to censorship and what some refer to as cancel culture, has been the norm in the macronational sphere for years.   

Woke stands for a sense of awakening that one has become aware of. The word has its background in African-American slang. Much like in the days of revival, people were talking about someone who has been awakened, that is, someone who has woken up from their slumber concerning God and now understands the seriousness of sin and the sweetness of the gospel.

Today, another awakening is at the center. It is about awareness of oppression and injustice between different groups, focusing on race, gender, and sexuality.

It is essential to realize that we can be blinded to reality as humans. When someone tells about their experience of being invisible and ignored, others can suddenly realize something that was going on all the time but that they had not previously perceived. Think of a class reunion. There is an awakening, and you see something that has always been visible but that has once fallen outside your self-absorbed field of vision.

This is one of our significant human shortcomings based on the Christian faith. We can even ignore the most crucial fact of reality, disregard God, and ignore our obvious needs for Him. The New Testament uses strong words about fallen men and describes us as blinded and darkened. So we certainly need to wake up from our deep slumber – both concerning God and to our fellow human beings – and we need to humbly realize our ability to deceive ourselves and lose sight of reality.

But our problems do not end there; they also follow us after an awakening. Those who have gained a new insight – those who have seen the light – are tempted to look down on those who are still blinded and often let the understanding they have just acquired cast a shadow over new areas.

This is characteristic of the new woke culture, tearing apart so much of civilization. Those who have become aware also perceive themselves as superior and do not have to condescend to take the blinded seriously. The result is a polarized and aggressive debate climate.

All critical discussion can end with an accusation of oppression of minorities. All factual objections can be rejected by considering them as ill-masked ways of continuing the oppression. Therefore, complaints should be ignored and silenced, not addressed. If possible, people you disagree with should be regarded as evil and put in ideological quarantine.

The phenomenon is not new. Within the Marxist movement, there was the same mentality. It could be interpreted as the ruling class’s attempt to retain power whatever critics said. All arguments were woven into an analysis of power, and thus the issues could be set aside. But in the long run, this leads to the oppressed becoming the new oppressors.

Freud’s theory also contained similar features. Each objection could be turned into a disguised confirmation of the idea – which thus became inaccessible to factual debate.

The new initial steps from our neighboring macronation may very well be a step in the right direction. Issues of racism, gender, and sexuality are essential issues, and we need to debate them. But no one can claim to have seen nor noticed everything that can be seen in those areas.

It is absurd to censor books, films and plays because they portray a reality different from ours. We cannot view historical eras through contemporary glasses. Instead, we all have more to learn from each other, perhaps even learn from the past. Positive changes in the way we think about race and gender can only happen if we listen to each other instead of despising and trying to silence each other.

Deployment complete!

The US space agency NASA’s new space telescope has passed the last, decisive, and difficult step.

Credits: NASA GSFC/CIL/Adriana Manrique Gutierrez.

The James Webb telescope unfolded the huge, flower-shaped mirror on Saturday, which will try to capture the secrets of space and which the researchers call the GoldenEye.

– I’m emotionally taken. It was a fantastic milestone. We see its beautiful patterns out there in space, says Thomas Zurbruchen, head of NASA’s research department.

The telescope with a reflective flower of 6.5 meters had to be folded in to be brought into space with the rocket launched from South America two weeks ago. The development of the mirror began from the air traffic control in Baltimore on Friday, when the left side was unfolded.

On Saturday, the right side of the mirror folded out, like a folding table folded according to Japanese origami. Previously, the sunscreen, as big as a tennis court, was developed over two days.

James Webb, named after a former head of Nasa, will replace the Hubble Space Telescope but, unlike its predecessor, will not be in orbit around the Earth – but around the sun.

The new telescope will be parked in orbit 1.5 million kilometers from Earth. The telescope is robust, with observations in a much larger part of the infrared light spectrum than its predecessor, Hubble. The resolution will be higher, and thus the researchers can look forward to new information about the first stars and galaxies.

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