News from Sweden, Poland and China

Tuesday's World Events   —   Posted on November 6, 2012

SWEDEN – Government pays jobless youth to move to Norway

Soderhamn, Sweden

Under a plan organized by the local authorities in the town of Soderhamn and by Sweden’s national employment office, anyone aged between 18 and 28 can volunteer to take a “Job Journey” to Oslo and attempt track down gainful employment.

Those who sign up get a ticket to the Norwegian capital and are put up in an Oslo youth hostel for a month, with Soderhamn council picking up the $32 a night bill. The package also includes on-the-spot guidance on how to get a job in Sweden’s northern neighbor.

“We had an unemployment rate of over 25 percent, so we had to find solutions,” Magus Nilsen, the man in charge of the project at Soderhamn council, told the Daily Telegraph. “Going to Norway to find work has always been quite popular with young people, but sometimes they want to go but don’t know how to find a job or accommodation so we thought we’d give them a bit of help with both.”

So far around 100 people have decided to leave Soderhamn, a town of 12,000 people 155 miles due north of Stockholm, to try their luck in the bright lights of Oslo, and some, at least, have struck gold.

After two years on the dole [receiving unemployment/government assistance] in his hometown Andreas Larsson opted for a “Job Journey” to Norway and now works as a lorry [truck] driver in Oslo.

“I came here on a Thursday and on Monday morning I had a job, so it was fast,” he told Swedish Radio. “It almost felt a bit unreal, as if you have come to the promised land.”

POLAND – World’s oldest survivor of Auschwitz dies at 108

WARSAW | Antoni Dobrowolski died Sunday, Oct. 21 at the age of 108 in the northwestern Polish town of Debno, according to Jaroslaw Mensfelt, a spokesman at the Auschwitz-Birkenau state museum.

Dobrowolski, the oldest known survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp was a teacher who gave lessons in defiance of his native Poland’s Nazi occupiers.

After invading Poland in 1939, sparking World War II, the Germans banned anything beyond four years of elementary education in a bid to crush Polish culture and the country’s intellectuals. The Germans considered the Poles inferior beings, and the education policy was part of a plan to use Poles as a “slave race.”

An underground effort by Poles to continue to teach children immediately emerged, with those caught punished by being sent to concentration camps or prisons. Dobrowolski was among the Poles engaged in the underground effort, and he was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Auschwitz in June 1942.

“Auschwitz was worse than Dante’s hell,” he recalled in a video made when he was 103.

Dobrowolski, who was born Oct. 8, 1904 in Wolborz, Poland, was later moved to the concentration camps of Gross-Rosen and Sachsenhausen, according to the Auschwitz memorial museum in southern Poland.

After the war, he moved to Debno, where he worked as a Polish-language teacher and as principal at an elementary school and later at a high school for many years.

He was buried in Debno on Wednesday.

At least 1.1 million people were killed by the Germans at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp. Most of the victims were Jews, but many non-Jewish Poles, Roma and others were also killed there.

CHINA – Government imposes bans prior to ruling Communist party meeting

A window handle on the door at the back seat is seen removed in a taxi in Beijing Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012.

BEIJING | …Beijing is tightening security as its all-important Communist Party congress approaches.  The congress, which begins Nov. 8, will name new leaders to run the world’s most populous country and second-largest economy for the next decade. Most of the security measures were phased in in time for Thursday’s opening of a meeting of the Central Committee, the roughly 370-member body that is finalizing preparations for the congress.

China always tightens security for high-profile events…but many of Beijing’s rules seem extraordinary. …Human rights groups report that activists and petitioners are being rounded up ahead of the congress. But the broader security measures may best illustrate how China is trying to leave absolutely no room for disruptions.

The government has blocked searches for the phrase “18th Party Congress” on websites including China’s popular Twitter-like Weibo. Internet posters manage to get around that by using characters that sound like “party congress.” One substitute: “Sparta.”

Taxi drivers have been told to remove window handles, to avoid sensitive parts of the city and not to open their windows or doors if they pass “important venues.” Some taxi drivers, but not all, have been told to ask passengers to sign a “traveling agreement” if they want to go near Tiananmen Square. …

Citizens have taken to Weibo to post photos of doors with handles crudely ripped off. Liu Shi, a client manager in a mass communication company, wrote that the taxi driver had told him that power to electronic window buttons would also be cut.

A memo circulating on Weibo warned taxi drivers to be on guard against passengers who may want to cast balloons with slogans or throw “pingpong balls with reactionary words.” It was unclear who issued the memo and its authenticity could not be confirmed. …

Police in the capital are asking that Chinese show their ID cards and foreigners their passports when buying remote-controlled model aircraft over safety concerns, the official Global Times newspaper reported Tuesday.

One toy store owner said authorities had told him to stop selling medium and large-sized planes.  “This kind of plane can’t fly over long distances and it can hardly carry anything,” said Chen Ziping, holding up a model about half a meter (half a yard) long. “They just told me to stop selling it and I have to follow the order.” …

Wang Ye, an engineer from Beijing who lives in Shanghai, was planning on returning to his home city to run a marathon, but it was postponed with no word on when it might be held. The date of a marathon in the eastern city of Hangzhou, near Shanghai, was also changed.

“There is no official explanation, but we all know that it is due to the 18th Congress,” he said. “(The Beijing marathon) has been held regularly for the past 31 years.  “I guess I will give up running competitions in China and try to attend more abroad,” said Wang. “At least they tell me the schedule one year before the event.”

(The news briefs above are from wire reports and staff reports posted at Telegraph.co.uk on Oct. 31 and YahooNews.com on Oct. 22 and Nov. 1.)

Questions

1. For each of the 3 countries, give the following information:
a) location/the countries that share its borders
b) the religious breakdown of the population
c) the type of government
d) the chief of state (and head of government if different) [If monarch or dictator, since what date has he/she ruled? – include name of heir apparent for monarch]e) the population

[Find the answers at the CIA World FactBook website. For each country, answers can be found under the “Geography” “People” and “Government” headings.  Go to worldatlas.comfor a list of continents.]

2. For SWEDEN:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) What will the local Swedish government give unemployed Swedes who take part in the program?
c) Why has the government implemented this program?
d) Should the Swedish government concentrate on job growth in Sweden or is it better for the government to pay citizens to go to Norway to get jobs?
e) What do you think of Andreas Larsson’s reaction to finding a job after being unemployed for two years: “It felt a bit unreal, as if you have come to the promised land.”?

3. For POLAND:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) Mr. Dobrowolski was not Jewish. Why was he sent to Auschwitz?
c) How did the Nazis view Polish people?

4. For CHINA:
a) list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b) List the items/activities banned by the government, and the assumed reason for each. (from the news brief, and information under “Background” below the questions)


Free Answers — Sign-up here to receive a weekly email with answers.

Background

POLAND – Auschwitz-Birkenau is the best-known cemetery and place of genocide in the world. Started in 1940 as a concentration camp for Polish political prisoners, in 1942 the camp became a center for the extermination of European Jews. During the years 1940 to 1945, approximately 1.5 million people died there. The majority of the camp’s victims were Jews, along with Poles, Gypsies, Russian POWs and members of other nationalities.

  • All over the world, Auschwitz has become a symbol of terror, genocide, and the Holocaust.  The direct reason for the establishment of the camp was the fact that mass arrests of Poles were increasing beyond the capacity of existing “local” prisons. Initially, Auschwitz was to be one more concentration camp of the type that the Nazis had been setting up since the early 1930s. It functioned in this role throughout its existence, even when, beginning in 1942, it also became the largest of the death camps. (from auschwitz.org)
  • Auschwitz (1940–1945), was a network of Nazi concentration and extermination camps built and operated by the Nazis in Poland during World War II.
  • It was the largest of the German concentration camps, consisting of Auschwitz I (the base camp); Auschwitz II–Birkenau (the extermination camp); Auschwitz III–Monowitz, also known as Buna–Monowitz (a labor camp); and 45 satellite camps.
  • Auschwitz II–Birkenau was designated by Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, and Germany’s Minister of the Interior, as the place of the “final solution of the Jewish question in Europe.”
  • From early 1942 until late 1944, transport trains delivered Jews to the camp’s gas chambers from all over Nazi-occupied Europe.
  • The camp’s first commandant, Rudolf Höss, testified after the war at the Nuremberg Trials that up to three million people had died there (2.5 million gassed, and 500,000 from disease and starvation),a figure since revised to 1.1 million, around 90 percent of them Jews.
  • Others deported to Auschwitz included 150,000 Poles, 23,000 Roma and Sinti, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, some 400 Jehovah’s Witnesses and tens of thousands of people of diverse nationalities.
  • Those not killed in the gas chambers died of starvation, forced labor, infectious disease, individual executions, and medical experiments.
  • On January 27, 1945, Auschwitz was liberated by Soviet troops, a day commemorated around the world as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
  • In 1947, Poland founded a museum on the site of Auschwitz I and II, which by 2010 had seen 29 million visitors—1,300,000 annually—pass through the iron gates crowned with the infamous motto, Arbeit macht frei (“work brings freedom”). (from wikipedia)
  • CHINA – Government rules for taxis, model planes and knives during Communist party congress:

    • A man who answered the phone at Wan Quan Si taxi company in the south of the capital said the rule applies to all taxi companies in Beijing. He declined to give his name.
    • Beijing investment company worker Li Tianshu said she didn’t believe colleagues’ claims that door handles had been removed until she got into a taxi herself the other day.
    • “There were no handles for three of the four windows,” she said. “The driver told me that their company asked them to do it to prevent passengers spreading leaflets. The driver complained that if they don’t take the handles away or the passengers throw leaflets out of the taxis, they will be fired.”
    • A man who wouldn’t give his name at Tong Hai taxi company in central Beijing said it had received orders “from higher authorities” to reinforce security measures and a memo, but he wouldn’t elaborate.
    • The Global Times quoted an unnamed police officer from Aoyuncun station in Chaoyang district as saying that people wanting to buy model planes during the congress should go to the vendor’s local police station to register. When the buyer receives approval from the station’s police chief, he can make the purchase, the officer said.
    • Still, they won’t be allowed to fly model planes in the city, and balloons also are on the blacklist, the newspaper said. It cited another officer from Chaoyang district Public Security Bureau as saying that pigeon owners must keep their birds in their coops during the congress.
    • Chen Jieren had a run-in with the security rules Sunday after the handle of his knife broke while he was cooking dinner. He took his ID card to the supermarket, knowing that people must show identification when buying knives during sensitive periods.
    • “Well, it didn’t work this time,” Chen said in a telephone interview. “I was told by the police that no more knives can be sold, not even pencil sharpeners. And I don’t think the shopkeeper was kidding, because several days ago I saw myself that police were asking the sales assistants in the stationer’s not to sell pencil sharpeners.
    • “I went back and got an old knife and tried to sharpen it. I guess I have to live with it until the Congress finishes,” he added, glumly.

    Resources

    POLAND:  Visit the website for the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp museum at: en.auschwitz.org/m