Tuesday, 30 December 2008


Ken Berwitz

When it was hamas raining artillery and mortars on Israeli civilian targets, this wasn't a problem to the UN. 

But now that Israel is attacking hamas' capability to launch its artillery and mortars, there is a problem.  A big one.

Here is how the UN is addressing it, courtesy of excerpts from an Associated Press article:

UN chief demands immediate Gaza cease-fire

UNITED NATIONS (AP) U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon demanded an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and urged Mideast and world leaders to do more to help end the Israeli-Hamas conflict and promote political dialogue.

Ban on Monday urged Arab foreign ministers, who are holding an emergency meeting in Cairo on Wednesday "to act swiftly and decisively to bring an early end to this impasse." The bombings have killed at least 360 people including 62 women and children, according to the U.N. and wounded some 1,400 others.

"I think regional and international partners have not done enough," the United Nations chief said on the third day of an Israeli bombardment of Gaza. "At the same time, other world leaders must also step up efforts to support a longer term resolution of the issue."

Egypt's U.N. Ambassador Maged Abdelaziz said he was sure there would be swift and decisive action on the part of the Arab League.

"So the Arab side is going to do whatever it takes to ensure that if there is a new agreement to come, after we reach the cease-fire, that this is ... going to be the basis of further actions to be taken into the political process."

While Abdelaziz and the Palestinian U.N. observer, Riyad Mansur, seemed to be looking forward to a renewal of the cease-fire, Israel's Ambassador Gabriela Shalev said the attacks would continue "as long as it takes to dismantle Hamas completely."

"We need and want the understanding, the support of the international community," Shalev said in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. "But first of all, we have the right to defend ourselves and we have the duty to protect our citizens. This comes before the understanding, which we hope to receive, of the international community."

On Monday, Ban said Israel's leaders gave him "a guarantee" that humanitarian supplies and aid workers would be allowed into Gaza but he said he hasn't gotten a guarantee from Israel to stop the bombings.

"I have been urging to Israeli prime minister and foreign minister, and I still may have to work more on this," he said. "I'm mobilizing all possible influence and leadership in the region and I have been working day and night on this matter."

The U.N. Security Council issued a statement early Sunday expressing serious concern at the escalating situation in Gaza and calling on Israel and the Palestinians to immediately halt all violence. While not legally binding, its unanimous adoption was a reflection of world opinion.

On Monday, Ban again condemned "the excessive use of force by Israel," expressing profound sadness at the suffering to civilians, especially children, and demanding that both side "halt their acts of violence and take all necessary measures to avoid civilian casualties."

"A cease-fire must be declared immediately," he said. "They must also curb their inflammatory rhetoric. Only then can dialogue start."

Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. observer, said he urged the Security Council president on Monday to get council members who include the world's major powers to use their political weight to achieve a cease-fire.

He said he told the current council president, Croatia's U.N. Ambassador Neven Jurica: "We need you to use your might, to use your power, to use this position in order to bring Israel into compliance ... with the wish of the Security Council, with the position of the secretary-general, with the entire position of the international community."

"We hope in the next 24 hours ... that this position be turned into reality and Israel to listen, and not to behave above international law," Mansour said.

"I am confident if this is to be stopped, then there will be not firing of anything from the Palestinian side," he said.

Can you believe the BS from these frauds?  Let's look at some of the more egregious examples:

-ban ki-moron thinks "regional partners have not done enough"?  WHAT partners?  The term suggests that both sides have them.  Can anyone list out Israel's regional partners?  When this moron says "regional partners" he is saying "enemies of Israel";

-ban is upset that Israel guaranteed humanitarian access, but did not guarantee to stop bombing?  What of it?  The military objective is to prevent hamas from bombing Israel.  This can only be done by destroying hamas' capability to do so.  If Israel stops bombing hamas's military assets, it insures that hamas will continue to attack Israel -- you know, the attacks that the UN couldn't have cared less about until Israel acted to stop them.  Sorry, ban, nice try;

-"I'm mobilizing all possible influence and leadership in the region"?  To do what; find an equitable solution?  Name any country surrounding Israel that wants anything but Israel's obliteration.  You can't, can you?  So ban's idiotic posturing about influence and leadership is another hot steamy load;

-Finally, about two-thirds of the way through the article, we see where ban really stands (as if we didn't know already).  He condemns Israel's "excessive force". (i.e. go back to the proportional response game that allows hamas to continue hitting Israel at will). 

I particularly enjoy ban instructing that Israel take necessary measures to avoid civilian casualties.  Has this oompa-loomp ever asked hamas not to fire their artillery from civilian areas, thus making their own people human shields? 

Because hamas does this, Israel's choice is to either protect the Gazan civilians hamas couldn't care less about at the cost of Israeli lives, or protect Israeli civilians by taking out firing locations in the Gazan neighborhoods where they have been placed.

I challenge you to show me any statement from ban that addresses hamas' human shield strategy.  Take your time looking; it's in the pile with step-by-step instructions for untying the Gordian knot;

-Finally, I have to admit there is a bit of unintentional humor here - not from ban, but from riyad mansour, the "palestinian observer" at the UN:  "I am confident that if this is stopped, then there will not be firing of anything from the Palestinian side".  

Wow, peace must be at hand.  The guy who represents Israel's enemy is confident that if Israel would just stop destroying hamas' offensive capability, hamas wouldn't use it.  Like they didn't until now.

I have said this many times in the past, but it bears repeating again now.  The UN is dead.  Morally, ethically, spiritually dead.  And no country knows this better than Israel.

I fervently hope Israel continues until hamas' capabilities are so damaged that it will be months or years before they can re-arm (which they will certainly do, it's all they care about.  Why spend the money on improving their people's lives when there are Jews to kill?)

And maybe, during the interim, Gazans will notice that, when they don't attack Israel, Israel doesn't attack them.   What a nice change that would be.


Ken Berwitz

rod blagojevich, the thoroughly corrupt, thoroughly disgraced governor of Illinois, has selected a replacement for soon-to-be-President Barack Obama. 

His dreams of a huge payday for the appointment are now over (or so it seems; let's remember this is Illinois we're talking about) and he was told flat-out that anyone he picked would be rejected. 

So blagojevich has responded by picking someone who will be extremely hard for Democrats to say no to:  Roland Burris.

Roland Burris, now 71 years of age, is a former state Comptroller and Attorney General.  His reputation - at least until now - is, to my knowledge, very impressive. 

And he is Black, which satisfies the demands of people like former Black panther bobby rush and the Chicago Sun-Times' racist duet, Mary Mitchell and Laura Washington.  These three feel that Mr. Obama holds a "Black" Senate seat, which should under no circumstances be given to a White person.

That makes Roland Burris a hard guy to toss aside, and blagojevich knows it.

It also makes Mr. Burris a lot like Clarence Thomas, who was appointed by George Bush 41 (the current President's father) to the Supreme Court in 1991.  Here's why:

Bush 41 wanted to place a conservative on the court.  But that was a near impossibility, given that Democrats held a 57-43 majority in the senate. 

Clarence Thomas certainly was (and remains) politically conservative.  But he is also Black, which made it much harder for Democrats to vote him down.  That's what Bush 41 was counting on.

The result of his clever gambit?  After a legendarily controversial senate hearing, Mr. Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court by a 52-48 margin.  Eleven of the 52 yea votes were Democrats.  A White candidate with Clarence Thomas's views would never have made it.

This, it seems to me, is something of a blueprint for blagojevich selecting Roland Burris. 

It will be more than a little interesting to see how it ultimately turns out.


Ken Berwitz

Thursday marks 50 years since the young revolutionary fidel castro toppled Fulgencia Batista and became the leader of Cuba.

How has he made out since?  If you ask the hollywoodenhead leftists, castro is a human god.  If you ask almost anyone else, you get a very different story.

Investors Business Daily sees Castro for the disastrous failure he has always been, and has put together a chronology of his unparalleled ineptitude in an excellent editorial commentary.  Here it is:

Communist Cuba: 50 Years Of Failure

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, December 30, 2008 4:20 PM PT

Communism: New Year's Day marks 50 years of communist rule in Cuba. The Castro oligarchy will trumpet its survival and celebrate. But the reality, up close, is that it's the longest-running failure in the New World.

Spare us the fireworks and media-parroted claims of Fidel Castro's dictatorship bringing universal health care and education to Cuba. The real story is that a prosperous Cuba was turned into ruins in just five decades.

Its inflation-adjusted gross domestic product is a mere 5% of what it was in 1958, the year before Castro took over, according to Jorge Salazar-Carillo of Florida International University.

"It's a major failure," Carmelo Mesa-Lago, a University of Pittsburgh economist, told IBD. "Cuba is unable to increase food production to meet its needs and now imports 84% of its food. Cuba produced 7 million tons of sugar in 1952. This year, it's 1.5 million tons. This is the result of economic policy of collectivization, killing of individual incentive, inefficiency, constant changes of policy."

Reliable data are hard to come by. S&P refuses to rate the country for that reason. The regime conceals its failures. But if long lines at the Spanish embassy seeking immigration aren't enough of an indicator, the chronology of Cuba's economy tell an important story:

1957: Cuban GDP is about $2.8 billion, unadjusted for inflation.

1959: Castro and his guerrillas take over and begin confiscating U.S.-owned private businesses.

1960: President Eisenhower imposes trade embargo, excluding food and medicine; Castro responds by "rapidly nationalizing most U.S. enterprises," as he himself wrote.

1961: President Kennedy tightens the embargo. Castro blames it for plant shutdowns, parts shortages and 7,000 transportation breakdowns a month, leaving 25% of public buses inoperable. He then targets Cuban companies for expropriation.

1962: Begins food rationing. Half of passenger rail cars go out of service from lack of maintenance.

1963: President Kennedy freezes Cuban assets in the U.S.

1965: Signs deal with USSR to reschedule $500 million in debt.

1966: Signs new deal with Soviets for $91 million in trade credits.

1968: Begins petroleum rationing, says Soviets cut supplies.

1969: Begins sugar rationing in January, announces state plan to produce 10 million tons of sugar by the following year.

1970: Castro announces only 8.5 million tons of sugar produced. Blames U.S. Diverts 85% of all Cuban trade to the USSR.

1973: Tries for the first time to tie wages to productivity.

1974: Ramps up wartime spending to send 3,000 Cuban troops to Africa. It hits $125 per person, highest in Latin America, by 1988.

1975: President Ford announces softening of the embargo, letting foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies sell products in Cuba.

1979: President Carter lets Cuban-Americans visit family in Cuba. Soviet aid totals $17 billion from 1961-79, or 30% of Cuba's GDP.

1980: Economic hardship forces Castro to permit farmers to sell surplus to state quotas in private markets with unregulated prices. 100,000 Cubans flee the island for the U.S. via the Mariel boatlift.

1982: Cuba doubles military spending. President Reagan re-establishes travel ban and prohibits spending money on the island.

1983: Cuba signs accord in Paris to refinance its foreign debt.

1984: "Armed Forces of Latin America" yearbook says: "Cuba is probably the world's most completely militarized country."

1985: Cuba signs new debt restructuring, blaming Mexico's crisis for its debacle. Permits selling of private housing for the first time. Total aid from USSR since 1961 hits $40 billion.

1986: Castro defaults on $10.9 billion in Paris Club debt. Blames sugar prices. Abolishes coffee breaks, cuts subsidies. Soviets give $3 billion more in credit and aid. Castro bans farmers markets.

1987: Stops paying entirely on $10.9 billion Paris Club debts.

1988: Forbids release of inflation data, making it impossible for researchers to assess Cuban economic performance.

1990: By official statistics, GDP per capita declines 10.3%.

1991: Sugar crop falls to 7 million tons. Politburo purged. USSR ends $5 billion in subsidies. "Special Period" of austerity begins.

1992: Horse-drawn carts replace cars, oxen replace Soviet tractors. Time magazine reports tin cans are recycled into drinking cups and banana peels into Cuban sandals.

1993: World Bank says GDP contracts 15.1% per capita, as industrial output plunges 40% per person.

1994: Some private-sector activity permitted. GDP per capita shows no growth, but Castro hails "recovery." Agricultural output down 54% from 1989, with sugar at 4 million tons. Castro blames bad finances, and "errors and inefficiency." Food consumption, according to USDA, falls 36%. Some 32,000 Cubans flee for Florida.

1995: Havana admits GDP fell 35% from 1989 to 1993. Vice President Carlos Lage claims GDP grew 2.5%, as inflation hits 19%.

1996: Castro hikes private business taxes. President Clinton tightens embargo. Castro claims GDP rose to 7% in year.

1997: GDP reported up 2.5%, falling short of 5% projection. Failed sugar harvest, bad weather, crop pests, foreign debts blamed.

1998: GDP growth claimed at 1.2% with no inflation. U.S. embargo, global financial crisis, low commodity prices, too much rainfall, Hurricane Georges and severe drought blamed. Castro urges other debtor nations to form a cartel.

1999: GDP claimed at 6.2%. Subsidies from Venezuela begin. Castro blames U.S. dollar for woes and urges use of the euro.

2000: Cuban court rules U.S. owes Cuba $121 billion for embargo.

2001: 3.6% GDP growth, output remains below 1989. Blames loss of subsidies, second-worst sugar harvest ever at 3.5 million tons.

2002: Freezes dollar sales to preserve foreign reserves. Shuts down 118 factories due to power shortages. Buys $125 million in U.S. food. Defaults on $750 million in Japanese debts.

2003: Earns more tight sanctions from President Bush and European Union over dissident roundups. GDP rises just 1.8%.

2004: Castro declares GDP a capitalist instrument, adjusts calculations, declares GDP growing at 5%.

2005: Foreign firms asked to leave and market liberalization scrapped. Imports hit three-times the level of exports. Hurricanes blamed for falling farm output. Sugar figures not released. Castro calls economic crisis an "enemy fabrication." Claims GDP up 11%.

2006: Castro claims 12.5% economic growth, "despite the crippling effects of the U.S. embargo," Luxner News notes.

2007: 7.5% GDP growth claimed; adverse weather said to have affected construction and agriculture.

2008: 4.3% GDP growth claimed, far short of 8% forecast. "One of the most difficult years since the collapse of the Soviet Union," economy minister says. Hurricanes and fuel prices blamed.

That, in sum, is Cuba after 50 years. But lest you get the wrong idea, Cuba hasn't failed at everything: "Given their goal to destroy capitalism and entrench themselves they're a success," said Humberto Fontova, an expert on Castro's regime.

There you have it.  The real story of Cuba.  Other than Haiti, it is the longest running national catastrophe in the Western hemisphere.

Wait a minute.  Did I say "other than Haiti"?  I retract that comment.  Cuba is far worse than Haiti. 

Haiti has always been a poor country with no industry to speak of and a horribly uneducated population. 

By contrast, when fidel castro took control of Cuba he had major factories in place, transportation capabilities to ship the goods created in those factories and a well educated, highly trained work force  Plus, he had a hugely successful agricultural sector, especially sugar.  What a great set-up!

But instead of leaving things be, castro expropriated those factories and agricultural assets, while running off the capitalists who built them into what they were.  Communism was going to sustain and increase their success, you see.

The result of this insanity was that, in just a few years, he managed (or should I say mismanaged) to destroy it all.  And, as IBD points out, Cuba has never recovered.

So happy anniversary fidel and brother raul.  No one can say you didn't accomplish something.


Ken Berwitz

Does Barack Obama have anything to say about Israel's attack on Gaza?  If so, he is doing a superb job of keeping it to himself.

Here is the story, from Reuters:

Pro-Palestinian protesters at Obama's Hawaii house
30 Dec 2008 18:56:50 GMT
 By Ross Colvin

KAILUA, Hawaii, Dec 30 (Reuters) - A small group of placard-waving pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered near U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's vacation retreat in Hawaii on Tuesday to protest against the Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

Obama has made no public comment on the strikes, which Israel launched on Saturday. Aides have repeatedly said he is monitoring the situation and continues to receive intelligence briefings but that there is only one U.S. president at a time.

Some critics, however, say Obama did choose to speak out after the attacks on the Indian city of Mumbai in November in which gunmen killed nearly 180 people, condemning them as acts of terrorism.

Obama, who takes office on Jan. 20 from outgoing Republican President George W. Bush, has also spoken out on economic issues facing the United States.

"He is talking about how many jobs he is going to create but he is refusing to speak about this," said one of the protesters, Carolyn Hadfield, 66.

Hadfield was one of eight protesters standing with placards reading "No U.S. support for Israel" and "Gazans need food and medicine, not war" near Obama's rented vacation home in Kailua, an upmarket suburb on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, where Obama is in the second week of a vacation with his family.

Obama had not left the compound on Tuesday morning and did not see the protest.

Obama has in the past called Israel one of the United States' greatest allies and has vowed to ensure the security of the Jewish state.

He has also said he would make a sustained push to achieve the goal of two states -- a Jewish state in Israel and a Palestinian state.

Israel on Tuesday pressed on with air strikes in Gaza that it says are in response to rocket fire by Hamas militants deep inside the Jewish state. Medical officials put Palestinian casualties at 383 dead and more than 800 wounded.

The Bush administration has so far backed Israel's actions in Gaza and demanded the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas stop firing rockets into Israel and agree to a lasting ceasefire.

"We are very upset with what is going in Palestine. There is a very great need for change in U.S foreign policy toward Israel and Palestine. We need to stop giving Israel a blank check," said another protester, Margaret Brown, 66.

The protesters were rebuffed when they tried to hand a letter signed by dozens of U.S. activist groups to a Secret Service agent guarding the access road to Obama's beachfront compound.

The protesters have a point when they note that Mr. Obama has spoken out about a bunch of things since being elected, including the Mumbai attacks. 

Why is he mum on Israel/hamas?

Is this tacit support for Israel?  Or is he just running scared from a controversial issue by invoking the "one President at a time" position?

It seems to me that Mr. Obama better start thinking about saying something.  Every day he avoids a position is a day he looks weaker.  And weakness is not a good thing to display when it comes to Middle East politics (or, for that matter, any other kind).


Ken Berwitz

According to Peter Coy of Business Week magazine, these are the ten of the worst predictions of 2008.   Maybe you have other candidates for the top ten, but it's hard to dispute that these at least deserve finalist status:

The Worst Predictions About 2008

Here are some of the worst predictions that were made about 2008. Savor them -- a crop like this doesn't come along every year.

1. "A very powerful and durable rally is in the works. But it may need another couple of days to lift off. Hold the fort and keep the faith!" -- Richard Band, editor, Profitable Investing Letter, Mar. 27, 2008

At the time of the prediction, the Dow Jones industrial average was at 12,300. By late December it was at 8,500.

2. AIG (NYSE:AIG - News) "could have huge gains in the second quarter." -- Bijan Moazami, analyst, Friedman, Billings, Ramsey, May 9, 2008

AIG wound up losing $5 billion in that quarter and $25 billion in the next. It was taken over in September by the U.S. government, which will spend or lend $150 billion to keep it afloat.

3. "I think this is a case where Freddie Mac (NYSE:FRE - News) and Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM - News) are fundamentally sound. They're not in danger of going under I think they are in good shape going forward." -- Barney Frank (D-Mass.), House Financial Services Committee chairman, July 14, 2008

Two months later, the government forced the mortgage giants into conservatorships and pledged to invest up to $100 billion in each.

4. "The market is in the process of correcting itself." -- President George W. Bush, in a Mar. 14, 2008 speech

For the rest of the year, the market kept correcting and correcting and correcting.

5. "No! No! No! Bear Stearns is not in trouble." -- Jim Cramer, CNBC commentator, Mar. 11, 2008

Five days later, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM - News) took over Bear Stearns with government help, nearly wiping out shareholders.

6. "Existing-Home Sales to Trend Up in 2008" -- Headline of a National Association of Realtors press release, Dec. 9, 2007

On Dec. 23, 2008, the group said November sales were running at an annual rate of 4.5 million -- down 11% from a year earlier -- in the worst housing slump since the Depression.

7. "I think you'll see (oil prices at) $150 a barrel by the end of the year" -- T. Boone Pickens, June 20, 2008

Oil was then around $135 a barrel. By late December it was below $40.

8. "I expect there will be some failures. I don't anticipate any serious problems of that sort among the large internationally active banks that make up a very substantial part of our banking system." -- Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman, Feb. 28, 2008

In September, Washington Mutual became the largest financial institution in U.S. history to fail. Citigroup (NYSE:C - News) needed an even bigger rescue in November.

9. "In today's regulatory environment, it's virtually impossible to violate rules." -- Bernard Madoff, money manager, Oct. 20, 2007

About a year later, Madoff -- who once headed the Nasdaq Stock Market -- told investigators he had cost his investors $50 billion in an alleged Ponzi scheme.

10. A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win, the title of a book by conservative commentator Shelby Steele, published on Dec. 4, 2007.

Mr. Steele, meet President-elect Barack Obama.

If I had to pick the single worst prediction among these eminently worthy candidates, it would be Barney Frank's idiotica about Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.  That is because, unlike most of the others, who at least had the decency to admit they screwed up, Frank threw an angry hissy-fit and blamed everyone else. 

It's not like we haven't seen this routine from Frank before.  But in view of how transparently dishonest and/or ignorant his comments were and how many investors, big and small, lost their shirts because they believed him, it stands in a league of its own.

But don't worry, Barney:  You're a hardline leftist, you are gay and you have a speech issue.  In your district (Newton, MA), there are enough voters who think electing someone like you makes them better human beings, to insure that you can be as ridiculous as you want and you'll never lose anyway.

On the other hand, someday you may be challenged in the primary by a transvestite illegal alien with a learning disability who belongs to Code Pink, has AIDS and advocates a national monument to che guevara.  He/she (they?)  would probably give you a run for your money. 


Ken Berwitz

Since it has become the national pastime to blame President Bush for anything and everything, I thought I'd join the fun too.  This comes to us from USA Today:

Iraqis to take charge of Green Zone in 2009
BAGHDAD When the calendar flips to 2009 on Thursday, Iraq's government will gain control over the Green Zone and its own airspace and some jurisdiction over security contractors under the terms of a deal that will fundamentally change how the United States operates here.

The changes, outlined in a landmark security agreement the Bush administration signed in November, are part of the broadest transfer of responsibilities to Iraqi hands since 2004, when the government regained sovereignty from the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA).

The most visible changes will take place in the Green Zone, the fortified section of Baghdad that has been the U.S. headquarters since the invasion in 2003.

Last week, Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, called it the Iraqi Security Zone. U.S. forces will continue to issue ID cards and act as advisers for months to come, but except for the sprawling U.S. Embassy complex along the Tigris River, the Iraqis "will be in charge" Jan. 1, Odierno said.

The changes represent "a palpable shift in power," said Daniel Serwer, former executive director of the Iraq Study Group, a panel appointed by Congress in 2006 to assess the situation here. "If the Americans had the bigger office on Dec. 31, they'll have the smaller one on Jan. 1."

Considering that this was a lost war (just ask harry reid and dozens of his cohorts in the Democratic Party), that ain't half bad.

I'm sure their apology is in the mail......


Ken Berwitz

Some women think their male friends are really hot.  But none of them has anything on the Swedish woman in this story, which comes to us from www.thelocal.se:

Failed party trick lands Swedish man in burn unit

Published: 27 Dec 08 07:03 CET

A Swedish mans attempt to impress his girlfriend on Friday night backfired, putting him in the hospital with serious burn injuries and facing allegations of endangering the public.

The woman told police in Vstervik in south eastern Sweden that her boyfriend poured gasoline over his arm and set the fuel on fire.

It obviously didnt go well. He burned his arm and other parts of his body and was in a state of shock, said Kalmar police spokesperson Reine Johansson to the TT news agency.

Dont ask me what the point of the trick was supposed to be.

The 33-year-old man was taken via ambulance to the hospital in Vstervik.

According to police he will likely need specialized care at the burn clinic of Linkping University Hospital.

Following the failed stunt, the man is also under suspicion for negligence which endangers the public.

Police add that they have no reason to believe the man's burns resulted from actions other than those described by his girlfriend.

We havent been able to talk with him yet; his condition is too bad to allow it. But we naturally plan to do so as soon as possible, said Johansson.


Is this guy a finalist for the Darwin awards, or what?

By the way, I intentionally left in the three links which appear after the first paragraph, on the theory that they could be in the running too.

What's going on in Sweden?

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