Government announces new economic measures.
The center-right government of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt moved yet again to mitigate the effects of the global recession on Sweden. The government, on Jan. 22, offered a two-month tax break to small companies and decided to offer guaranteed loans to struggling automakers Saab and Volvo as well as contractors and smaller companies involved in the auto industry. The tax relief move came in answer to burgeoning unemployment in the country. According to the latest data, Sweden’s unemployment rate jumped to 6.4 percent in December, up from 6.2 percent in November. The tax relief program would allow companies to postpone up to two months payment for employer fees and employees' preliminary taxes. The government said it believes the move would help small businesses in particular ward off bankruptcy and deal with the liquidity squeeze. “There was risk we'd have a powerful increase in bankruptcies in January, February and March, if we didn't take some sort of measures,” said Swedish Finance MinisterAnders Borg. “Many companies, first and foremost smaller companies, are finding it difficult to lend, when the bigger companies can't borrow internationally. We want to make it easier for these companies.” The proposition, which needs parliamentary approval, is the latest in a string of stimulus measures to prop up the country's open, foreign trade-dependent and industrials-heavy economy that's suffering badly as the global economy deteriorates. One industry the recession has hit particularly is the auto industry. The government said it the National Debt Office authority to grant emergency loans to the country's top struggling vehicles companies. Small- and mid-sized auto companies would be able to seek support with Almi Företagspartner, a government institution, the government said. The Swedish government said last month it would provide up to 25 billion crowns ($3.1 billion) in credit guarantees and emergency loans to its ailing auto industry. The package included 20 billion crowns in collateral-backed credit guarantees, directed toward the manufacture of more emissions-friendly vehicles, as well as "rescue" loans of up to 5 billion crowns.

Porsche files for control of Scania.
German luxury carmaker Porsche made its mandatory takeover offer for Scania Jan. 19, but it did so with all the enthusiasm of a coma patient. Porsche had to file for control of Scania after it acquired a controlling stake in Volkswagen, which in turn had a controlling stake in Scania. Porsche, when it filed for the takeover, made clear it is only going through the motions and has no "strategic interest." Volkswagen controls about 68.6 percent of the votes and around 37.7 percent of the capital in Scania. Volkswagen, which also is the biggest single shareholder in Scania's German rival MAN AG, is pushing for closer cooperation between the two companies under its own guidance. Scania received some good news the same day when the Finnish Defense Forces picked the Swedish company to supply trucks to its military. The Finns awarded Scania a contract for 91 vehicles, with an option for an additional 190 trucks.

Reinfeldt visits Afghan troops
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan to see Sweden’s troops working in the northern part of country, the government announced Jan. 19. A government statement said Reinfeldt went to Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Afghanistan's northern province of Balkh, to see Swedish troops based there. The statement did not give any details about the visit or how long Reinfeldt would stay in Afghanistan. Reinfeldt, on his arrival, met with the commander of the Swedish troops in the country. Afterward, he told military reporters he believes the Swedish troops are making a difference. "It's important to see things as they are, here on the ground," Reinfeldt said. Swedish news agency TT said Reinfeldt is the second prime minister to visit its peace-keeping troops abroad. Current Foreign Minister Carl Bildt visited Swedish troops serving with the United Nationals in Bosnia as prime minister 17 years ago. Sweden has a detachment of nearly 390 soldiers in Afghanistan. The contingent provides security and surveillance for convoys. Sweden also provides Afghanistan with humanitarian and development assistance. The statement said Afghanistan is now the biggest recipient country of Swedish aid in Asia.

Drink coffee - reduce chances of Alzheimer's.
A new Swedish-Finnish study shows that middle-aged people who drink moderate amounts of coffee may actually lower their risk of getting Alzheimer's disease. "Middle-aged people who drink three to five cups of coffee a day lowered their risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's by 60 and 65 percent later in life," said Miia Kivipelto, professor at the University of Kuopio, Finland and at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. The study was based on repeated interviews with 1,409 people over more than two decades. They were asked about their coffee-drinking habits and their memory functions were tested when they were in their 50's and again when they were 65 and 79 years old.

Best dressed.
During the recent prestigious ELLE-gala some fashionable winners were picked, such as best dressed and best photographer and model of the year. Best dressed woman was: musician Lykke Li; best dressed man: musician Håkan Hellström; photographer of the year: Marcus Ohlso; model of the year: Sara B.

Too much sugar.
Your food contains a lot of sugar, maybe too much. And we’re not talking cookies and ice cream, but real food. Did you know that blood sausage contains more sugar than Coca Cola, for example? Livsmedelsverket has a new list of hidden sugar traps in our food. “It’s often the breakfast products, which are very sweet. It’s a problem for children as well as adults,” says dietician Anna Ottosson. When we eat too much sugar, our energy gets going and our blood sugar spikes – the problem is that when it falls, it falls deeper than before, thanks to the sugar spike. And so to get that sugar high again, we eat some more sugar. A vicious circle. “And it’s not good for our cells or for our weight,” Ottosson says. “Keep an eye on the amount of sugar in your food. Try to buy food without excess sugar. Put fresh fruit in your yogurt instead.” A poll conducted by Expressen showed that Swedes do keep an eye on their sugar intake: 52% of the readers are always aware of sugar amounts when they do their grocery shopping, 26% say they sometimes think about it, and 22% declare they very rarely think about it. Here is a short list of 100 gram-samples of foods and their amounts of sugar: honey 74.7%, lingonsylt 35%, ketchup 19%, semla 19%, peanutbutter 15%, blood sausage 12%, yogurt 12%, Coca Cola 8% and blåbärssoppa 6%.

Maja and Lukas in the top.
The most popular names in Sweden in 2008 were Maja and Lukas. According to fresh statistics from, Maja, a name that has been near the top during the last 8 years finally became a winner when 783 parents decided to name their girls Maja. Lukas was in fourth place in 2007 and moved into the top spot when 1,001 boys got the name in 2008. The top-five list for girls looks like this: 1. Maja 2. Julia 3. Emma 4. Elsa 5. Ella, and for boys: 1. Lukas 2. Oskar 3. Elias 4. William 5. Hugo.