Stories written by Jan Lundius

The Art of the Deal: What Trump May Teach Us

A friend of mine who became wealthy as an art dealer but eventually lost his fortune told me: "Money isn´t everything, but it helps." This made me think of Donald Trump, who likes to describe himself as an entrepreneur, i.e. ”owner of a business enterprise who, by risk and initiative, attempts to make profits."1 The keyword is profits. According to Trump, success is measured through wealth. Like chess and poker, entrepreneurship is about winning and losing. Trump characterizes people he dislikes as losers, while he considers himself to be a winner.

Wealth and Power: Andrej Babiš and Donald J. Trump

When I recently visited the Czech Republic I noticed an increasing Czech opposition against their wealthy Prime Minister. Andrej Babiš has been endowed with the nickname Babisconi since he, like the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, is accused of purchasing and using various means of communication for his own propaganda purposes. Apparently, this endeavour has so far been quite successful, since according to my Czech friends Babiš is still popular among a majority of their compatriots.

Exploitation and Acculturation

There are several means to make profitable use of other human beings, an endeavour that tends to turn others into tools by depriving them of their roots and self-respect. This happened in concentration - and work camps, where individuals were reduced to mere numbers.

Within a Parallel Universe – Monsters of the Dark Web

Human existence includes dreams, thoughts, ideas, music, stories, religion, and other immaterial ”things”. They constitute an important part of our habitat, i.e. the dwelling place of any living organism, consisting of both organic and inorganic surroundings. I learned this when I many years ago found myself among the undulating heights of Cordillera Central, which rise diagonally across the island of Hispaniola, shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Does God Hate Women? A Bangladeshi Murder Case

On 6 April, nineteen-year-old Nusrat Jahan Rafi was by a fellow student brought to the roof of their school. She told Nusrat that a friend of hers was beaten up there. Unknown to Nusrat, Moni who was four months pregnant at the time, had earlier bought burqas and gloves for three of the men who were awaiting them on the roof. Another girl, Umma, was already there beckoning Nusrat to come up. However, when Nusrat entered the roof Umma threw her down and tied her legs. The burqa-dressed men surrounded the defenseless Nusrat, demanding her to withdraw accusations of sexual harassment against the schools´headmaster. When Nusrat refused to give in, one of the men held her head down, while another poured kerosene over her and set her on fire.

America First as a Threat to Mulitlateralism

On 25 April, Joseph Biden announced his candidacy for the US presidency, declaring that his decision was based on fears of Trump being re-elected:

The Burning of Notre Dame and the Spirit of Place

The catastrophic fire in Notre Dame produced a massive emotional reaction. In a Paris famous for its secularism tearful people knelt on the pavement, sang the Ave Maria and prayed to God to save their cathedral. Several stated that it was not only a church burning, but the soul of Paris passing away. What did they mean to say?

Terror and Religion

Just before nine o´clock in the morning of April 21st, Christians in Sri Lanka were in their churches peacefully celebrating Easter Sunday, while tourists were waking up in their hotel rooms. Suddenly explosions blasted three churches and three hotels. Among the ruins lay hundreds of wounded people, as well as 253 corpses of men, women and children. They had been killed and maimed because some fellow human beings believed they acted in God´s name and out of promises of an unproven, heavenly bliss if they killed themselves after obliterating people they did not know; sowing death, lifelong suffering and sorrow.

Lost in the Cyberworld? The Enigmatic Mr Assange

Trump´s electoral success was preceded by a rise of chauvinistic politics in most of Europe, paired with electoral triumphs of far-right candidates in several other countries. A development accompanied by revelations of corrupt leaders laundering and transferring illegally obtained money, aided by financial institutions finding the means to do so. The world seems to move away from a rule-based order to a state of affairs dominated by might and wealth. World leaders´ private business dealings thrive within a global environment where laws intended to protect human rights are becoming increasingly ineffective. Foreign policies appear to be adapted to private gains and personal vendettas. Global financial systems seem to be crafted to facilitate kleptocracy and money laundering, while repression and violence smite whistle-blowers and daring journalists. Endeavours supported by propaganda and smear campaigns orchestrated by political/financial consultants and private investigation firms. All this is made possible through complicated schemes using the internet.

Birds of Passage: An Instant Classic

The Academy Awards, i.e. The Oscars, may occasionly award a worthy movie as Best Picture, though it is far from sure they select films with a unique artistic vision, enduring cultural influence and/or innovative qualities. Take for example the plain family drama Kramer vs. Kramer, which in 1979 won Best Picture and Best Director, while Francis Ford Coppola´s by now classical epic Apocalypse Now was awarded for best sound.

Kathasaritsagara, The Ocean of Tales.

Some memories stay with us forever. From my childhood I remember above all a few extraordinary moments – when I suddenly, after many failed attempts, found that I could swim and the same happened when I could ride a bicycle on my own. Since then, these skills have stayed with me throughout life, becoming part of my existence. However, towering above these instances of bliss is the moment when I realised that I had read an entire novel, one without pictures. One of those books that grown-ups were reading. From that moment the gates of paradise on earth were flung wide open. Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote that without music life would have been a mistake. He was probably right, but for my part I assume that without reading, my life would have been much more difficult, empty and boring. I cannot imagine a life without books. As a teacher my wish has always been to convey to my pupils the happiness and wealth books may bring to you.

What’s in a Name? Everything.

On March 19, 78 years old Nursultan Äbisjuly Nazarbayev unexpectedly announced his resignation as President of Kazakhstan, referring to the need for “a new generation of leaders”. The same day the speaker of the nation´s parliament was appointed as interim president, awaiting presidential elections scheduled for 2020.

Words Matter: Trump and the Massacres in Christchurch

These lyrics are from Fire, the only hit by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, which in 1968 sold over one million singles. Brenton Tarrant played it in his car while he triumphantly left the Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. He had just gunned down around 100 unarmed worshippers and was on his way to another mosque to continue the slaughter before Friday prayers ended on 15 March. His murderous rampage finished by the Linwood Islamic Centre, where he could not find the entrance. He shut a man and his wife, whom he encountered outside the building and then shattered a window with a hail of bullets, killing five more inside, while he shouted that everyone had to leave the mosque. A courageous shop keeper rushed out and throw a credit card reader at Tarrant, who rushed back to his car followed by the shop keeper, who shattered the windshield with a handgun he had picked up from the ground. Tarrant run away, but was almost immediately restrained by police who had been able to trace him.

Europe under Siege: Collusions, Dugin and Bannon

EU Parliament elections take place every fifth year and votes have steadily been decreasing. In the last 2014 election, the overall turnout was 42.54 percent of those entitled to vote, in some nations it was just around fifteen percent. Nevertheless, results will not only be eagerly awaited by pro- and anti-EU activists, but also by ideologist from non-member countries. Particularily vociferous among such people are Steve Bannon, who wants to “Make America Great Again” and Aleksandr Dugin who wants to “Make Russia Great Again”.

Birds of a Feather: Kim Jong-un and Donald J Trump

After his first meeting with Kim Jong-un Donald Trump declared: "And then we fell in love, okay? No, really – he wrote me beautiful letters, and they're great letters." Maybe it was a joke, maybe not. At least Trump indicated that he and Kim Jong-un were friends. In his book De Amicitia, written 44 BCE, Marcus Tullius Cicero wrote "A friend is, as it were, a second self." Are Trump and Kim Jong-un really friends? At least they seem to have many personal traits in common.

Criminality, School Dropout and Gender Equality

I assume it was the Swedish author Stieg Larsson´s Millenium trilogy (2005-2007) that generated the popularity of Scandinavian Crime Fiction, as well numerous movies and TV-series that followed in its wake. A typical Nordic Noir novel takes place within a gloomy landscape of dreary towns, or a semi-deserted countryside, where under the thin surface of an apparently well-ordered society, murder, misogyny, rape, racism and international crime syndicates are thriving.

The Wall: Thirty Years Ago European Walls Were Destroyed, but Others Are Being Built

On January 25, 2017, the Trump administration signed Executive Order 13767, instructing the Government to begin new constructions and replacements of walls between the US and Mexico. From December 22, 2018 to January 25, 2019, the federal government was partially shut down due to President Trump's declared intention to veto any spending bill that did not include $5 billion in funding for a border wall. It was with good reason the Congress withheld such an enormous sum of money. As the European experience indicates, building walls between countries has proven to be both obsolete and disastrous.

Roma the Movie: The Hidden Drama of Domestic Workers

Roma, a 2018 Mexican film written and directed by Alfonso Cuarón, is currently on a triumphal journey through the world. It won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, the best director and best foreign language film at the Golden Globe Awards, best director and best picture at the Critics´ Choice Awards, best film, best direction and best cinematography at the British Academy Film Awards. Furthermore, Roma has a record high ten nominations for the upcoming Academy Awards (The Oscars). Not at all bad for a black-and-white movie, which appears to have been directed by a sophisticated cineaste and custom-made for an art-house audience. Moreover, Roma deals with a highly controversial and seldom treated theme – the plight of poor, women domestic workers.

Seas of Death and Hope

The Mediterranean Sea is currently a sea of death. On the 20th of June every year, i.e. The World Refugee Day, an organization called UNITED for Intercultural Action publishes a “List of Deaths”, summarising information on where, when and under which circumstances a named individual has died due to the “fatal policies of fortress Europa”. The data are collected through information received from 550 network organisations in 48 countries and from local experts, journalists and researchers in the field of migration. The list issued in 2018 accounted for 27 000 deaths by drowning since 1993, often hundreds at a time when large embarkations capsize. These deaths account for 80 per cent of all the entries,1 there are probably thousands more dead, corpses that were never found and/or not accounted for.

Sex Education and Women´s Health

Is there a connection between sex education, gender equality and promiscuity? On this website, Fabiana Fraysinnet recently denounced a Brazilian crusade against sex education conducted by conservative and religious sectors. Such initiatives are common in several other countries, where politicians and religious leaders accuse sexual education of blurring boundaries between male and female and thus foment homosexuality and transsexualism, as well as a moral relativism undermining family structures and adherence to religious guidance and dogma.

Back to the Future: Vietnam Now and Then

In 1989 I watched Back to the Future, Part II by Robert Zemickis, a complicated story about a youngster who from 1985 time travelled to 2015. Within the movie I spotted a poster from the imaginary 2015: US AIR Surf Vietnam. Back in 1989 I associated Vietnam with the war that lasted from 1955 to the fall of Saigon in 1975 and by different media was brought into the homes of millions, radicalizing and engaging youngsters, not the least me.

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