Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Via The Local: The "Nordic way" receives a lot of praise around the world, not least when it comes to sustainability. The Local went in search of the Nordics’ secret, and we were surprised by what emerged. It’s a sunny afternoon on the Baltic island of Gotland. Boats criss-cross the waves off the shores of Visby, the normally staid Hanseatic hamlet that is currently abuzz with the Almedalen political week. The cobblestone street are dotted with tents, and teaming with people. Looking out over the Baltic it’s easy to remember that its waters not only connect Gotland to mainland Sweden, but also to the other Nordic countries. Thus, it serves as a fitting venue for exploring the Nordic way in more detail. And who better to speak with than Brit Bohlin, the former Swedish MP who is now secretary general of the Nordic Council, an inter-parliamentary group based in Copenhagen. Founded in 1952, the Council features representatives from Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Iceland, as well as the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and the Åland islands. The group also works closely with the Nordic Council of Ministers, an intergovernmental body established in 1971. “If you look at our countries, our common history is of course important”, she begins. “But we’re also rich countries which gives us a lot possibilities”. Bohlin goes on to list the region’s hallmark high-tax, high-service welfare states and members’ generally equal societies as things that set the Nordic countries apart. “Without bragging too much, the Nordic countries have a lot to offer and we want to share what we know”, she adds. But when quizzed about the secret of Nordic-style sustainability, Bohlin is at a loss. “Hmmm. It feels so natural, it’s difficult to answer”, she says after a pause. “If you look at what we have here in the Nordic countries, our nature is very special, the water is clean, and there are a lots of reasons to take care of the environment for the next generation. So it’s natural to put sustainability at the top of the agenda”. And the Nordic sustainability agenda is hard to miss at Almedalen this year, with the theme cropping up in a number of seminars being held on “Nordens dag” (‘Nordics’ Day’), a series of events organized by the Nordic Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers.
Monday, June 29, 2015
Via The Local: Sweden has waited. And waited. And waited. But it finally looks as if summer is here to stay, with the mercury climbing to 30C later this week. Good news for Swedes, who this spring and summer experienced their wettest May in decades, followed by a soaked Midsummer's Eve and a strawberry shortage (that's a very big deal in Sweden, by the way). But on Monday the Nordic country breathed a collective sigh of relief as it finally looked as if summer had arrived, as promised by weather forecasters last week. Stockholm and Gothenburg could both experience some rain today, according to meteorologists. But it will get better on Tuesday already, with temperatures set to remain at around 18–21C. “Even though it will be a bit unsteady, we won't have the same cold mass of air we've previously had. And on Wednesday exciting things will start to happen when a high pressure wave thunders in”, meteorologist Nitzan Cohen at Foreca told Sweden's Metro newspaper on Monday. If you live in, or are visiting, the Swedish capital you will be in for a treat. Temperatures of 27-28C are set to sweep in over Stockholm on Thursday, edging up to a whopping 30C on Friday. “It will be the warmest in Stockholm and Gothenburg and Malmö will have around 25C. The heatwave will continue and there is no cold weather in sight”, said Cohen. And on the island of Gotland, where Sweden is celebrating its annual week-long festival of power politics, people were already enjoying the warm weather on Monday afternoon. Last month, temperatures rose above 20C on just three days, with Kristianstad in Skåne recording the country's high of 21.4C, its lowest peak in May since 1962. “The weather has been miserable, especially in the south of Sweden”, said Groth. After the darkest winter on record, Swedes are likely to take full advantage of next week's warmer temperatures, perhaps by going to one of Stockholm's ten unmissable outdoor bars or hiking along Sweden's High Coast.
Sunday, June 28, 2015
Via Disclose.tv: Nylon stockings can be sexy, but in the hands of artist Rosa Verloop, they take a turn toward the grotesque. The Dutch artist is famous for using nylon stockings to create distorted sculptures of the human form. She collects thousands of used stockings in nude shades which she then molds, tucks, and sews together until they take on recognizable human shapes. Verloop layers and clumps the material, sometimes holding it up with pushpins, to produce wrinkled and distorted facial features. Her sculptures may seem just ugly to most people, but the artist herself sees shapes with “power, vulnerability, and silence”. For some reason, fleshy figures like these always give us an eerie sort of feeling that’s quite hard to shake off. We still haven’t gotten over these designer stools that look and feel like real human flesh. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPccKaH4HX0
Saturday, June 27, 2015
Via Before It's News: A 2.5 mile wide comet that researchers have been studying for years is headed toward Earth and scheduled to arrive between September 15 (the end of Jade Helm Drills, and two days after the end of the Shemitah) and September 28 (another Blood Moon) of this year, 2015. Both NASA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have been preparing for a global catastrophe… NASA has launched its "Hypothetical Asteroid Impact Scenario", while FEMA’s begun stockpiling on emergency supplies. Is an asteroid Armageddon just around the corner? Lyn Leahz shares about a phone call with her friend who was given inside information about a comet expected to hit the Earth between September 15-28, 2015. Almost a year ago, the Foreign Minister of France three times publicly announced at a White House press conference a 500-day countdown to “climate chaos”, which will end on September 24, 2015. They know what is coming and have already told you – chaos will erupt on this planet in September 2015. Are you listening? Are you prepared?
Via The Local: As the world reacts with shock and disgust to the terrorist attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait, a Swedish terrorism expert, Hans Brun, has suggested that Sweden needs a stronger focus on women to help stop global terrorism. Brun told Swedish news agency TT on Saturday that the war against terrorism is not fought on geographical terrain, as with conventional wars, but in the minds of people. “It is ideology that must be fought”, says Brun, “and this is a war that must be fought primarily by focusing on women”. By providing vulnerable women in the Middle East and Africa with education and health care they can be helped to take control of their lives. “Those who control their lives do not become suicide bombers”, said Brun. “The USA and Europe needs to address this issue and Sweden could lead the way. But not enough is being done”, he said. Former Social Democrat party leader, Mona Sahlin, now national coordinator against violent extremism, agrees. “Women are key to preventing radicalization. Mothers can help stop their children going to fight for terrorist organizations”. But Sahlin says the Swedish government is not doing enough to help these mothers. “One way to address the problem is the establishment of a hotline which is available in many different languages”. Sahlin says that mothers could turn to such a resource for advice if they fear one of their children is becoming radicalized. Interior Minister Anders Ygeman claims that efforts directed at women and families are made but agrees that staff in both agencies and municipalities need more training. “We have been a little naive, a bit ignorant and have been less able to detect this type of violent extremism than others”, he says. In the late summer, a new national strategy against terrorism will be debated in the Swedish parliament, the Riksdag. The strategy features new measures to prevent radicalization and staunch recruitment to terrorist organizations.
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Via The Local: A social experiment exposing class discrimination in Sweden has called the Nordic country's image as a tolerant nation into question. The Local spoke to a member of the duo behind the viral sensation. A video by the small team at STHLM Panda shows an actor dressed up in smart clothes asking to board buses in central Stockholm without a ticket. The drivers laugh and let him on, every time. But when the actor puts on a different outfit, wearing ragged clothes and carrying his belongings in plastic bags, the result is shockingly different. STHLM Panda's Olle Öberg, who stars in the video, told The Local that he got the idea when he saw a homeless person being refused to board a bus. “From experience I know that sometimes you've forgotten your ticket and the drivers are usually decent and let me on anyway. I wanted to know if the bus driver who had refused the troubled person was an exception”, he said on Wednesday. He turned out not to be. While drivers were happy to take pity on the sharply dressed "rich" person, the above clip (which has English subtitles) shows that not a single driver was prepared to let Öberg's "poor" persona travel. “We suspected that the way I was treated would vary, but not by this much”, he told The Local. “The worst part was how I was treated when I asked to go on the bus wearing worn clothes and bags. Several of the drivers saw an opportunity to in a rather unpleasant way tell me that I couldn't travel. My sense of dignity gradually fell as I kept being refused to travel and wasn't respected”, he added. The video has been viewed more than 200.000 times on YouTube in less than two days and has stirred debate in Sweden, a country with a reputation for being egalitarian and open which has also seen a surge in people sleeping rough on the streets in recent years. “It's sick that we treat people so differently depending on what they look like. Why?” asked one appalled Swede on Twitter. Helt sjukt att vi behandlar folk så olika beroende på hur de ser ut? Varför? @STHLMPanda https://t.co/PcYJmmQ724 — Sara Svensson (@Sara00hej) June 23, 2015 “I'm sure Sweden is a very equal country by international standards, but that doesn't mean that there are not people with different preconditions. There are many outcasts and poor people in society who are not treated with dignity and in this clip we trying to convey the message that we have to start seeing each other”, said Öberg. “The clip has mostly had very positive reactions. Several bus drivers have written to us with suggestions of more things we should try and thanking us for what we're doing”, he said. It is not the first time the STHLM Panda group has explored class and racial divides in Sweden. The group has previously hit the headlines with social experiments including a video investigating if richer or poorer areas are more likely to give money to beggars, and another showing a woman being abused by her partner while onlookers stood by and did nothing. “Our goal is to get people to start seeing each other and create some kind of unity in society. There's still a long way to go”, said Öberg.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Via The Local: It used to belong to the Danes in the 1600s. Now, part of southern Sweden is set to join up with the Danish capital again, as a controversial marketing campaign dubs the region "Greater Copenhagen". Copenhagen mayor Frank Jensen is behind the idea which will see the Danish Zealand and Swedish Skåne regions relabel themselves as "Greater Copenhagen". “Rather than thinking small and locally, we need to think large and regionally”, he said when the bid was first floated in August last year, a move which was formalized this week. Southern Sweden and Denmark already enjoy extensive cooperation in several areas and many residents commute daily across the Öresund bridge (made famous in Nordic Noir crime series "The Bridge"), which has linked the two countries since 2000. The new brand, officially announced on Monday by representatives from the two Scandinavian countries at a summit in Sweden's Kristianstad, is set to market the region as "Greater Copenhagen and Skåne Committee". “It is the Scandinavian spirit – sustainability, creativity, equality, trust and togetherness. (…) Greater Copenhagen is in the soul. It is freedom and happiness”, said the project's new website, which notably only had information in Danish and English. While the Nordic neighbors used to fight each other in many wars in the 1600s, this animosity has long since turned into friendly rivalry. In that spirit, the Swedes refused to let themselves be swept off their feet by the prospect of new venture and many took to social media on Tuesday to ridicule the concept. “Cancel the peace in Roskilde”, wrote one Twitter user, referring to the 1658 treaty which saw Skåne returned to Sweden after centuries under Danish rule. However, Henrik Fritzon, chairman of Skåne county, insisted that the new brand would not see the Nordic borders redrawn. “There have been dramatic overtones and talk about Skåne being sold out and that we will not be called Skåne any longer. But that is a misunderstanding. Greater Copenhagen is a marketing concept which we will primarily use as part of large international marketing projects”, he told regional Swedish newspaper Sydsvenskan. All 79 municipalities in Zealand and Skåne are set to be offered membership of a new committee linked to the marketing concept, which will also look at how to improve integration and coordinate on social issues such as welfare benefits. “Even today, border commuters still experience problems with for example social insurance, child care contributions, and unemployment benefits. The goal is that it will be easier to work in different countries”, Fritzon told Sydsvenskan.
Monday, June 22, 2015
Via The Local: Cats are among the most popular pets in Sweden. But more than 100.000 of the furry creatures are believed to have been abandoned by their former owners, according to animal rights organizations. Sweden's total cat population is estimated to be more than a million. But around one in ten of the little felines has no home, according to new figures. Some of the pets are thought to have run off, but many have simply been left to fend for themselves by owners who no longer want the responsibility of looking after them. “They suffer. They fall ill and get injured, break their legs, lack food and get parasites”, said senior adviser Siw Ågren at Animal Rights Sweden (Djurens Rätt).
Sunday, June 21, 2015
Via The Local: Researchers at the University of Gothenburg have discovered that starfish which reproduce through cloning age much more slowly than those which reproduce sexually. This reason for this anomaly has been located in the starfishes' telomeres. Telomeres are lengths of DNA found at the ends of chromosomes. They protect genetic data, make it possible for cells to divide, and hold some secrets to how humans age and develop cancer. Each time a cell divides the telomeres shorten in length. As they shorten so we age, says Helen Nilsson Sköld, of the University of Gothenburg, one of the researchers behind the study. Starfish, unlike us humans, can reproduce both through cloning and sexually. When starfish clone the telomeres of the newly formed tissue emerge longer than the old tissue. “You can say that there is a rejuvenation of the telomere when new tissue is formed during cloning as opposed to sexual reproduction”, says Nilsson Sköld. The researchers have even identified the ingredient for the starfish’s fountain of youth - an enzyme called telomaris. The function of telomaris is to regulate telomeres in the cloning process. It is absent when sexual reproduction occurs. However, we shouldn’t get too excited about the prospect of living until the 22nd century. Despite a raft of claims, there hasn't been any confirmed human clone created to date. The fountain of youth still runs dry. But for how long?
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Via The Local: The newest addition to Sweden's royal family has been named Nicolas Paul Gustaf, it has been revealed. The announcement was made by King Carl XVI Gustaf just after 5pm on Wednesday at a cabinet meeting ahead of the Swedish parliament's final sitting before its summer break. He added that prince had also been given the title Duke of Ångermanland, in northern Sweden. While Niklas is a common Swedish name, the royals have picked the more unusual spelling Nicolas for the baby. Sweden's Princess Madeleine gave birth to the little boy on Monday afternoon, just two days after her brother Prince Carl Philip married Sofia Hellqvist in a busy week for the royal family. Nicolas Paul Gustaf was born 49 centimeters long and weighing 3080 grams. "I am tired but very happy”, Madeleine's British-born American businessman husband Chris O'Neill told reporters in his first public appearance on Tuesday morning, when he was seen leaving Danderyd Hospital north of Stockholm just before 8am. Referring to his eldest daughter, he later told reporters: “Leonore thought he was a doll”, adding that the siblings' first meeting had gone well. One of the prince's middle names -- Paul -- honors Chris O'Neill's father Paul Cesario O'Neill, who died in 2004, while Gustaf is a name commonly taken by male members of the Swedish royal family. Awaiting the formal announcement, The Local got people tweeting the #choosechuck and #backbjörn hashtags after suggesting the new baby could be named Chuck to honour O'Neill's American heritage or Björn after the member of Sweden's most famous pop group ever, Abba. According to Sweden's Aftonbladet, Eugen was the most popular name being bet on at Swedish bookmakers ahead of the announcement with Oscar, Wilhelm, and Paul also popular. Nicolas Paul Gustaf is sixth in line to the Swedish throne.
Monday, June 15, 2015
Via The Local: Sweden's Princess Madeleine has given birth to a baby boy, two days after her brother Prince Carl Philip married Sofia Hellqvist in a busy week for the royal family. According to a press release from Sweden's Royal Court, the baby was born in Danderyd Hospital north of Stockholm at 13:45 on Monday afternoon. "Both mother and child are doing well", Svante Lindqvist, a spokesperson for the royal family, said in a statement. Head midwife Anna Ståhl later told a press conference that the Princess had not experienced any problems during delivery. "This was a very uncomplicated normal birth. But of course it feels special", she said. The young prince will be the sixth in line to the Swedish throne and is the second child of the Swedish princess and her British-born American financier husband Chris O'Neill. The couple's first child, Princess Leonore, was born in New York in 2014. It has been an eventful few days for the Swedish royal family, with Prince Carl Philip marrying Sofia Hellqvist in a lavish ceremony on Saturday. The occasion was attended by his then heavily pregnant younger sister. Tributes poured in following the new prince's birth, including from the country's prime minister Stefan Löfven. "We rejoice with the parents and sister Leonore", he said in a statement. Global celebrity magazine Hello, the US Embassy in Sweden and UK-based royal watching site British Royals were among the first to tweet their congratulations in English. Madeleine's older sister Crown Princess Victoria, who is on a state visit to Latvia told Sweden's Expressen newspaper: "It's great fun. I am obviously extremely happy and relieved". Sweden's new prince is the third royal baby to be born in Sweden in three years. Victoria gave birth to Princess Estelle in 2012.
Saturday, June 13, 2015
Via The Local: Follow all the latest action as Sweden's Prince Carl Philip marries his long-term girlfriend Sofia Hellqvist at Stockholm's Royal Palace.
Thursday, June 11, 2015
Via The Local: Just days before his own son Prince Carl Philip ties the knot in Stockholm, King Carl XVI Gustaf's banter with a bachelor party in central Sweden has made the headlines. The Swedish monarch came into contact with groom-to-be Robert Sandström and the rest of his stag group while he made an offical visit to Örebro in central Sweden to celebrate National Day. After photos were snapped and publised by the TT news agency this week, one of the friends turned to Swedish viral news site Sweddit on Thursday to brag about the encounter. "It was totally sick!" posted the pal, who chose to remain anonymous. He claimed that he and fellow stag party organizers had known the king was in the area and had hoped they might get a sighting of the royal. In the meantime, the group had taken Sandström - who they had forced to wear tiny shorts, a sports shirt and a winter hat - to the park King Carl XVI Gustaf was due to walk through, in order to humilate him in front of the large crowds of locals also hoping to sneak a snap. "I thought, we must try and get a picture, but I didn't dream that he would stay and greet us", the friend wrote. The king, who is known for his sense of humour and has a reputation for partying, spotted Sandström and went over to shake his hand. "Suddenly I realized that there was a possibility to get my pal and the king in the same picture", said the post on Sweddit. Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet later published a gallery of photos taken by members of the stag party, with Queen Silvia looking on and smiling. While in the UK or America men and women usually know when their stag do (or bachelor party) is set to take place — or even plan part of it themselves — in Sweden they’re often caught completely unawares. Typically, this involves the groom or bride being captured by their friends. “The bridesmaids or groomsmen will often plan a whole day or weekend where they surprise the groom and kidnap him. Normally the other partner knows that this will happen and will lie to make sure that they are in the right place at the right time", Swedish wedding planner Mariella Gink told The Local this week. It is unclear if the king attended his own son's recent stag party, but he will definitely be present as Prince Carl Philip marries his fiancee Sofia Hellqvist on Saturday.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Via The Local: A high school headteacher has been slammed for banning students from waving Swedish or other international flags and singing Zlatan Ibrahimovic's alternative national anthem, just in case their "multicultural" efforts instead promoted xenophobia. Across Sweden, high school students traditionally wear sailor hats, hold Swedish flags and decorate themselves with blue and yellow accessories as they celebrate graduation and look forward to their first summer of freedom. But when pupils at multicultural southern Swedish school Sunnerbogymnasiet in Ljungby were asked to hold the flags of different countries, their headteacher said no. "We do not want anyone to feel offended on this joyous day", Jimmie Nilson told local radio station P4 Kronoberg. He added that he did not want those waving flags from other countries to come across "xenophobic views" from students waving the national flag, saying he felt it was "really a shame" that this had led to a ban on flags. But some pupils were outraged at the decision. Tilda Ragnarsson told Sweden's Expressen newspaper: "We are a multicultural class, which is great fun. Therefore, we wanted to do something for everyone in the class, we were all supporting this". She added: "The Swedish flag has not been a taboo before, but now it's like xenophobic forces have taken over it", she added. The school also stopped pupils from copying star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic's version of Sweden's national anthem "Du Gamla, Du Fria" which he released last year in collaboration with Volvo with the help of his friend, music producer Max Martin. The player, whose parents were born in Bosnia and Croatia told Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri at the time that he felt his alternative rendition demonstrated that "we are all different, yet similar". It includes lyrics such as "I want to live and die in Sweden". "One thing could lead to another and suddenly Zlatan's national anthem could become a debate about something completely different", argued Nilsson. "I don't want to risk anything", he added. "It is sad that it even have to be a discussion about this, but we respect the principal's decision and have chosen a different song", said Ragnarsson. "We have absolutely no xenophobic opinions and had chosen Zlatan's song because we thought it was a good fit for everyone". Swedish media reports of the row became the most read and most shared stories across the country on Wednesday as thousands of people joined in a national debate about whether or not the school had made the right decision. Some suggested the head teacher had been too influenced by reports of growing racist rhetoric in Sweden following the rise of the nationalist Sweden Democrat party (SD), which scored 12.9 percent in the country's last general election in September 2014. "Is it any wonder that more and more [people] trust in the SD, when our own national anthem and flag are taboo?! When can we be proud of Sweden without being afraid of being called racists and creating debates", Jennie Lundgren, a local politician for Sweden's centre-right Moderate Party wrote on Facebook. Author Carl Göran Lindgen suggested on Twitter that Nilsson would end up losing his job over the row, writing "back door opening for the headmaster". Twitter user Christer Andersson went even further, posting: "SCANDAL. Banning flags and national anthem....the head teacher should take responsibility. RESIGN!!!!!". The Local has contacted Jimmie Nilsson for comment.
Sunday, June 07, 2015
Via The Local: The Swedish Coast Guard ship Poseidon will see its first rescue mission in the Mediterranean on Sunday. The ship is set to rescue around 300 migrants in distress off the coast of Libya. According to the Swedish Coast Guard, the Poseidon will make its way on Sunday to a point north of the Libya capital Tripoli to pick up the migrants, who are traveling in an older wooden boat. “The first thing that will happen is we will get everyone on board [the Poseidon] safely and make sure about the number of migrants involved”, Lars Langman, a Coast Guard chief-of-staff, told the TT news agency. The Poseidon has been on patrol in the waters between Italy and Libya since June 1. It is taking part in Triton, an international search-and-rescue operation being run by Frontex, the European Union’s joint border control agency. The Poseidon has been kitted out with special equipment in order to take on a large number of migrants. The ship has portable toilets and private rooms for women and children. Sails have been put up to create shade for protection from the Mediterranean heat.
Thursday, June 04, 2015
Via Disclose.tv: According to SkyWatchTV ”Pope Francis is reportedly about to disclose the existence of extraterrestrial life. Whether or not this claim is true, two things are sure: The Vatican’s Astronomer: More evidence building up towards the Vatican’s acceptance of aliens was when the president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation confirmed that it is only a matter of time before alien life forms are discovered, which will pave the way to questions about God’s relationship to intelligent beings outside our planet.
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
Via Yahoo! News: The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will start smashing particles together at unprecedented speed on Wednesday, churning out data for the first time in more than two years that scientists hope might help crack the mystery of "dark matter". The LHC, a 27 km (17 mile) underground complex near Geneva, will smash protons at 13 tera-electron-volts (TeV), almost twice the energy achieved in an initial three-year run that began in 2010. This proved the existence of the elusive Higgs boson particle, a discovery that produced two Nobel prizes in 2013. Nobody knows quite what the LHC might reveal with its new particle collisions -- mini-versions of the Big Bang primordial blast that brought the universe into being 13.8 billion years ago -- but scientists hope it will produce evidence of what has been dubbed "new physics". This concept includes "dark matter", thought to make up some 96 percent of the stuff of the universe while being totally invisible, and super-symmetry, or SUSY, under which all visible particles have unseen counterparts. "The only thing we really know is that there is 'new physics' because the model that we have is not complete", said Luca Malgeri, a scientist working at the European physics research center CERN. "It might be linked to dark matter or it might not. It might be linked to something totally new". In a brief statement on Tuesday, CERN said the LHC would begin early on Wednesday morning "delivering physics data for the first time in 27 months". If there is a particle missing from current knowledge of the building blocks of the universe, CERN scientists hope that it might be spotted, even fleetingly, in the debris of the billions of collisions, just as the Higgs boson was. The first results might come early, Malgeri said, because the LHC already searched for smaller particles on its previous run, and a bigger particle might show up quickly, if high energy collisions are the key to its existence. It may have extremely weak interaction with other forces, which might explain why it had never been observed before. "MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION" The CERN scientists would hope to detect any dark matter by noticing that some energy was missing after the collision, which would betray the existence of such a particle, Malgeri said. If the hoped-for particle is only created very rarely, it may take many more collisions to find it, which is why the number of collisions - the LHC's "luminosity" - will increase over the next three years until it is 10 times brighter than on its first run. Whether anything will be observed, however, is anybody's guess. "This is the million dollar question," Malgeri said. "We are wide open. After the first run of the LHC, all possibilities are equally probable for new physics".
Tuesday, June 02, 2015
Via The Local: From mingling with royals to visiting one of the country's leading research establishments and meeting CEOs, India’s President Pranab Mukherjee has enjoyed a busy three-day trip to Sweden. President Pranab Mukherjee is the first Indian head of state in history to visit Sweden. He arrived over the weekend at the invitation of King Carl XVI Gustaf and was welcomed at Stockholm's Arlanda Airport by Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel before being given a ride in a horse-drawn cortege through the streets of the Swedish capital. Ahead of his visit, Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström posted a welcome video on YouTube, describing the president as a "very important global actor" at the helm of the world's fourth largest economy. She said that Sweden and India had enjoyed a "good cooperation" for many years and hoped for fruitful discussions on climate change, the environment and economic matters during his trip. Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven met with President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday, before the Indian statesman attended a lunch at Stockholm City Hall, where sustainable urban development was the focus of discussions. India and Sweden first established diplomatic relations back in 1949. Sweden's export of goods to India in 2014 amounted to 10.377 million kronor, or 1 percent of the Scandinavian country's total exports. This makes India Sweden’s 20th most important market for exports of goods.
Monday, June 01, 2015
Via The Local: With wet weather soaking most of the country to mark the start of June, Swedish meteorologists have revealed that May was one of the coldest and wettest in decades. Sweden hasn't experienced such a wet May since 1962, according to meteorologists, with double the average rainfall for this time of year across much of the Nordic nation. The capital bore the brunt of the recent downpours. In fact, Stockholm hasn't had such a rainy month at this time of year for more than two centuries and the recent soggy weather has dampened a number of major events in the city including the annual marathon. Norrbotten in the north of the country also scored badly in May, with 300 percent more rainful than usual in most of the region. And the south-west of Sweden experienced a battering, with rain and thunder storms hitting the region. One house even burned to the ground after it was struck by lightning. The weather was also colder than average, with temperatures edging above 20C on just three days in Skåne in the south of the country. Kristianstad recorded a high of 21.4C, its lowest peak temperature in May since 1962. Cloud was also a problem in the north, with Luleå, Umeå, and Borlänge recording what Swedes call an "antisolskensrekord” (a record lack of sunshine). Not since May 1983 has the sun kept itself so tucked away. Per Stenborg, a forecaster for Swedish television network SVT said on Monday that the country had been "extremely rainy and sun-starved" in May, and added that "a few hot days" had skewed average temperatures during what felt like an extremely cold few weeks for many people. Meteorologists are advising Swedes to keep their waterproofs handy in the coming days, with showers expected in the north and south of the country on Monday and Tuesday, and fresh rainfall on Wednesday across the country. The hottest day of the year so far has been April 20th, when Arvika in Värmland in western Sweden reached an unusually high 22C. Sweden's bad weather comes as other parts of Europe are basking in sunshine, with France set for a heatwave later this week and Switzerland also expecting a hot spell.