30 January 2016

Violence in Sweden

There are a lot of things happening in Sweden that makes everyone who is not Swedish feel very uncomfortable.

The most recent of them is the attack to immigrants by about 100 masked people in central Stockholm. Although it appears that Sweden is welcoming immigrants it is rather clear to someone who lives here that a large fraction of people do not like them. The attacks that took place today are not the first. They happen, perhaps at a smaller scale, almost weekly. But it is a policy in Sweden that violence should not be reported. Central Stockholm and Uppsala, as well as many other Swedish towns, are accommodating immigrants from many countries, including Syria, Afghanistan, Romania, etc. One sees them on the streets. You can't go to a supermarket without seeing beggars often staying outside in the cold. Many people "help" them by giving them tips but even this is hard because the Swedish government adopted the policy of discouraging people from using cash, the intention being to force everyone use credit cards. Some beggars are now carrying credit card readers so they can accept credit card donations from people. But many people would rather not see anyone who looks darker than them. And since they cannot express their opinion openly, they put on a mask and beat street people up.

I know some people who work for the Uppsala city council who tell me that the phenomenon of attacking Syrian refuges camps is not uncommon. "I've never heard anything about it", I said. "You won't", they replied, "because the attacks are not reported." Apparently, only when something leaks out one finds out officially. Otherwise, it's hard to know what's going on. A few weeks ago there was this mass sexual attack in Cologne, Germany, from the other side: that is, by migrant people. Someone I know in Uppsala told me, around the beginning of the year, that similar things have been taking place in Sweden. "I can't believe it", I said. Again, the answer was "they are not reported". And, indeed, 2 weeks ago something leaked out. There were sexual attacks, by migrant youths but police did not make the information public. When the BBC found out they questioned the chief of the Swedish police who admitted that information is not released.

It happens both ways. Regardless of whether Swedes attack immigrants or the other way around, one cannot always find out: these attacks often don't make the news. Not by negligence; but by design.

In 2013, the now infamous Stockholm riots took place. A relatively high proportion of immigrants and second-generation immigrant residents, including a substantial number from Somalia, Eritrea, Afghanistan and Iraq instigated a mini-revolution by burning cars, throwing bricks, vandalizing, etc. Somehow, this was thought to be against the image that Sweden is portraying towards the outside world so it was not reported. When it leaked out, police declared it was terrorist groups. Although one may call such acts terrorism, it's not the kind that take place elsewhere. Apparently, the revolting migrants were expressing their frustration for their segregation and attacked innocent, of course, people. Just like in Paris suburbs a few years ago, at a smaller scale. As for segregation, it is rather obvious that many people who don't like typical Swedes are being kept apart. There is a neighborhood in Uppsala, Gottsunda, where they put immigrants. When we first moved to Sweden and were looking to buy a house we were explicitly warned not to go to Gottsunda. Such racist comments I thought existed only in Texas (and had experienced them). But Sweden, in some sense, is even more racist.

Back in 2011, when we had just moved to Sweden, there was this infamous mass killing in Norway by that human monster called Anders Breivik. The day after the killings, several people in Sweden started posting on Swedish newspaper sites, anonymously, their support for Breivik. I remember I got a call from Stockholm and was told to take a look at what they were saying. With the help of Google Translate, I read several of their comments and was appalled and scared. Good to know, however, I thought, that many people around me in Sweden support Breivik and would kill those whom they consider responsible for supporting immigrants. But my thought was quickly overturned: the Swedish newspapers decided to censor the readers' comments by deleting them and by closing their sites for a couple of days. They also created filters and other gadgets so that readers can't post anonymously (and, who knows, censor those who expressed their sympathy for Breivik).

Taking the train to and from Stockholm, one encounters some sad angry youth in neo-Nazi uniforms and tattoos: SS tattoos on their shaved heads. The reaction of passengers is to ignore them. I think they are scared, but I can't tell because they don't discuss it. I met Nazi demonstrations in Uppsala a few times. In 2010 or 11 there was this riot at the center of Uppsala by a bunch of angry young Nazis with pictures of blond men chasing black people. I approached one of them and asked him what's up. He said "we're against immigrants because they steal our jobs". I replied that "I'm an immigrant too and have the job of a professor in the University." I think I was aggressive and the young Nazi got scared. He replied  "it's only black immigrants we don't like. White Europeans are OK." "But I'm American", I said. He looks at me and says "It's OK, Americans are white Europeans." I didn't finish my sentence when a cop approached me and told me to get away.

And then, sometime later, we saw more riots of neo-Nazis, probably from the so-called "sverige demokraterna" party. The funny thing was that they had asked support of Greek Nazis from the equivalent "golden dawn" Nazi party. They brought them to Sweden for support!

The times are very fearsome. There is violence from all sides and it's rather clear that violence will escalate. I'd rather know than be in darkness. So I don't appreciate the censorship of information in Sweden. The Police view is that they should not "disturb" people by revealing that there was violence, rapes, murders, etc. But not all agree. It is silly and irrational not to know the truth. Take, for instance, the pre-war Jewry in Germany. Many of them were in denial that something bad would happen to them. Would it not have been better if they knew so they could get out while the could? When they finally found out what the true intentions of the Nazis were it was too late.

P.S. The latest response by Swedish government: Deport 80 thousand immigrants.  Previous response (4 weeks ago: fence borders.)

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What measure theory is about

It's about counting, but when things get too large.
Put otherwise, it's about addition of positive numbers, but when these numbers are far too many.

The principle of dynamic programming

max_{x,y} [f(x) + g(x,y)] = max_x [f(x) + max_y g(x,y)]

The bottom line

Nuestras horas son minutos cuando esperamos saber y siglos cuando sabemos lo que se puede aprender.
(Our hours are minutes when we wait to learn and centuries when we know what is to be learnt.) --António Machado

Αγεωμέτρητος μηδείς εισίτω.
(Those who do not know geometry may not enter.) --Plato

Sapere Aude! Habe Muth, dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen!
(Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason!) --Kant