Tag: sweden

Fixing throwaway culture

Sweden introduces tax breaks for repairs in bid to cut waste

The Swedish government has proposed several tax changes designed to incentivize consumers to repair broken items instead of discarding them.

Lawmakers from the ruling Social Democrat and Green Party coalition added provisions into the most recent budget, reducing Sweden’s value-added tax for all bike, clothing and shoe repairs to 12 per cent from 25 per cent. In addition, households that pay to repair appliances such as washing machines will be eligible for a tax deduction. The two initiatives are projected to cost the national treasury $114 million annually, but will be partially offset by a controversial new levy on electronics that contain chemicals the government describes as dangerous to humans. These include the fire retardant pentaBDE, often found on cellphone covers. The initiatives will be voted on later this month, but are widely expected to pass.

Blast From the Past: Sweden Dusts Off Cold War Missile System

Amid unfounded fears of a Russian sneak attack, kindled by high-ranking politicians and military experts, Sweden has been taking steps to drastically re-activate its defense. In an obvious return to the Cold War mentality, Sweden has restored a Cold War missile system to protect the island of Gotland.

During the Cold War, Sweden possessed coastal artillery that protected Swedish islands, ports and waterways. In the modern era, the coastal artillery was gradually dismantled before the 2000 decision to disband coastal artillery for good. Today, a heavy missile system that was defunct for 16 years has been re-activated. The coastal defense is said to be particularly desirable on the island of Gotland, which in Sweden is widely believed to the likely target for Russian “aggression.”

Sweden Concerned over Israel’s Settlement Bill

Sweden’s Foreign Ministry said the country is “deeply concerned” about a planned Israeli bill to allow expanded construction in major West Bank settlements.

The ministry said Friday such settlements are contrary to “Israeli and international law,” and “greatly undermine” the possibility of peace.

Israel’s parliament this week gave preliminary approval to a contentious bill that would retroactively legalize hundreds of homes in West Bank settlements that sit on private Palestinian land, according to AP.

The Swedish Case for Limited Government

Sweden punches way above its weight in debates about economic policy. Leftists all over the world (most recently, Bernie Sanders) say the Nordic nation is an example that proves a big welfare state can exist in a rich nation. And since various data sources (such as the IMF’s huge database) show that Sweden is relatively prosperous and also that there’s an onerous fiscal burden of government, this argument is somewhat plausible.

A few folks on the left sometimes even imply that Sweden is a relatively prosperous nation because it has a large public sector. Though the people who make this assertion never bother to provide any data or evidence.

I have five responses when confronted with the why-can’t-we-be-more-like-Sweden argument.

Danes revive heroic WWII-era practice of smuggling refugees to safety

About 100 Danes, young and old, stood outside Copenhagen City Court in the chilly seaside winds last Tuesday to show their solidarity with four activists alleged to have illegally assisted refugees in their trek across the waters from Denmark to Sweden.

While only two of the accused are Danish citizens, all are members of MedMenneskeSmuglerne, or “Those who smuggle thy neighbor” — an outgrowth of the more broad-based initiative Welcome to Denmark, which welcomes migrants and refugees into the country.

No place to fall sick: How refugees are barred from healthcare

Administrative and legal barriers, together with prohibitive costs, mean those fleeing conflict and persecution are often left without the most basic rights to healthcare.

At this week’s UN summit, heads of state promised to share responsibility for the 65 million people displaced worldwide. The six wealthiest countries host less than nine per cent of the world’s refugees while poorer countries bear the brunt of the crisis.

Lebanon has the highest number of refugees compared to its population, with over a million Syrians living there.

Swedish Scientist Begins Editing Human DNA in Healthy Embryos

A scientist from Sweden is the first researcher to ever edit human DNA in healthy embryos. Using CRISPR, Fredrik Lanner is modifying genes to figure out what they do, eventually hoping to discover more about infertility, miscarriages, and embryonic stem cells.

Whether creating GM crops or making animals disease-resistant, gene-editing has always faced harsh criticism. One fear is how altering human DNA in embryos could recklessly create a fatal genetic disease that would exist for generations.