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Swedish report
by Euro Reporter
2016-10-11 11:08:23
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Racist and sexist trolls target Sweden's Twitter account

The organizers of Sweden's official Twitter account have revealed that its curators have received an increased amount of racist and sexist abuse in recent months, with the closure of the account as a result a possible outcome should the pattern continue. Sweden grabbed global attention in 2011 when it became the first country to put its own official Twitter account into the hands of its citizens, with a different curator taking charge of it every week. Launched by the Swedish Institute, it was widely hailed as "the world's most democratic Twitter account" and US talk show host Stephen Colbert even used his show to beg Sweden to allow him to take over the account.

sweden_400It currently has over 102,000 followers on the social media platform. But since the summer there has been a marked increase in trolls targeting the curators however, the Swedish Institute’s head of intercultural dialogue Henrik Selin told The Local. “We didn’t see it to this extent at all in the first five years of the account, but the growth in abuse seems to have started at some point in the beginning of the summer. We’re trying to map it out and see if it’s organized, and look at what kind of things may trigger it,” he said. This week’s curator is Jenny Nguyen, a Swedish law student who is currently on exchange in Hong Kong. Throughout the week she has shared the abuse she has received while using the account. “It seems like this kind of abuse tends to be targeted at women. We’re not quite sure yet if that’s a key pattern, but it is mainly women who have received it over the summer,” Selin noted. “It often seems to be new followers of the account who send the abuse, but we’re looking at it just now to try and get a better picture. On other sites you can see a pattern in how trolls organize themselves, so it’s possible that’s the case.”

In response, the Swedish Institute has decided to make two changes this week. The first is to add a code of conduct for followers to the account’s official website. The second, more radical change, is to scrap a policy of wiping the slate on accounts blocked by @Sweden every time a new curator takes over. From now on, the accounts that are blocked will remain blocked. “We’re doing that because firstly we need to care about our curators’ safety: they shouldn’t be afraid. Secondly, if the abuse is allowed to continue then discussions around the account will unfortunately end up being about the wrong thing. It maybe won’t stop it entirely, but it’s a clear line we’re drawing,” Selin explained. If the abuse doesn’t lessen in the long-term, one eventual possibility could be the closure of the account. “That’s always possible,” Selin admitted. “We want to change this as much as we can, but if it doesn’t work and in the end the account becomes flooded with this kind of stuff then maybe we’ll start to think about whether we should continue. But we’re not there yet.”


Sweden threatens legal action against Hungary after it refuses to take refugees

Sweden will take Hungary to the European Court of Justice unless it starts taking back asylum seekers from other EU countries, the Swedish minister of justice and migration has said. Morgan Johansson wrote to the EU migration commissioner, Dimitris Avramopoulos, calling on him to impose the Dublin Rules on Hungary. Sweden has joined Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway in condemning Hungary for breaking EU Dublin rules. The accord stipulates refugees should seek asylum in the first Schengen zone country they arrive in. “The commission is the guardian of the EU treaties. It has to ensure that governments stick to agreements they once signed up to,” Mr Johansson said in a letter.

The minister threatened to challenge Hungary in the European Court of Justice over the violation. He told Swedish radio the EU migration commissioner replied to his letter and agreed Hungary must comply. According to the Swedish Migration Agency, there are some 1,000 asylum seekers who registered in Hungary waiting to be transferred back there. In March, the agency announced it was suspending all transfers to Hungary after it received complaints about their asylum system. Yet Hungary claims the refugees first entered the EU through Greece, so it is responsible for examining their claims instead. According to the Dublin agreement, an EU country has six months to transfer a person to the country they were first registered in. But if the transfer is not made within that timeframe, it becomes responsible itself for the asylum seeker instead.  Government’s spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said Hungary would refuse to accept returns of asylum seekers from other EU states.

"We are not going to take responsibility for the shortcomings of other countries," he said. Austria has also threatened to take legal action against Hungary over failing to meet its Dublin agreement commitment. Hungary has mounted its own legal challenge in the European Court of Justice over the Brussels plan to relocate 160,000 refugees from Italy and Greece using mandatory quotas. In early October, the anti-immigrant government held a referendum on the quota system. More than 98 per cent of voters backed the government in its rejection of the mandatory quota system, but the turnout for the election was 43.9 per cent. While the government claimed the result “sweeping victory”, analysts said the result was an “embarrassing but not totally catastrophic defeat” for Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Mr Oban’s government has erected razor wire fences along its southern borders.


How immigration is fuelling Sweden's economic boom

Immigration has helped fuel Sweden's biggest economic boom in five years, new figures have revealed. The Swedish government, whose policies saw the country take in more refugees per capita than any other in Europe last year, helped lower unemployment rates by increased spending on welfare for asylum seekers from war torn countries like Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. The move helped the Nordic region's largest economy expand 4.5 percent on an annual basis in the fourth quarter of 2015, the most in almost five years and more than twice the growth of Germany, according to Bloomberg. Increased consumer spending and borrowing and high house prices also contributed to the boom which, although projected to fade, has consolidated Sweden as one of Europe's success stories. National Institute of Economic and Social Research fellow Jonathan Portes said economies benefitted from more workers, but emphasised the difference between immigrants and refugees.

"What the Swedish experience tells us is that even in the short term, even when you have a very large influx of refugees, there is a perception this is an impossible burden on the state," he told The Independent. "But in the short term it increases growth." He said the Swedish government needed to have a long-term strategy to successfully integrate refugees and continue the growth. But the news came as Theresa May's government announced plans to curb immigration and the number of skilled migrant workers entering the UK - policies Mr Portes said should be reversed because they will reduce economic growth. "The Government has just announced policies which their own economists have said will reduce productivity and will reduce exports," he said. "That is the last thing that the economy needs.

"The Government perceives that it is important to reduce immigration, even if that reduction in immigration reduces economic growth.”Migrants benefit the UK economy already but the Government wants to reduce migration, even if it means harming the economy. "If anyone was in a position to think about how to improve things, they would reverse these policy announcements. They are entirely negative for the UK economy." Conservative Party plans to slow immigration and could compel firms employing from abroad to use tests to ensure foreign workers do not take jobs “British people could do”. Businesses may even be 'named and shamed' by being forced to publish what proportion of their workforce comes from overseas. Foreigners looking for work driving taxis could be faced with mandatory immigration checks and overseas students will also be hit by much tougher rules.


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Emanuel Paparella2016-10-11 17:14:21
On the problem of the sexist and racist trolls, ultimately it's a philosophical issue. The problem has nothing to do with the instrument itself. Like a pen, it can be used to search for the truth or to defame and slander. The error resides in the conflagration of the two. Socrates ought to have taught some 400 years BC that to confuse philosophy (or the search for truth) with sophistry (the desire to win the argument) is to reduce philosophy to propaganda, to wit the Russian hackers and Donald Trump, the man who has some 25 million followers on twitter and thinks that "I twitter, therefore I am."

Emanuel L. Paparella2016-10-11 19:06:24
Follow up note: on the boom that is immigration, it may come as a surprise to some (especially if they have racist propensities) but in reality immigration has always been a plus for the host country, in the long run, to wit the USA whose prosperity is due in large part to the welcoming of immigrants from all over the world. All that one has to do to be convinced of this is survey the history of the USA, or, for that matter, any other country which has readily welcomed immigrants.

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