New Swedish Honorary Consul in New York.
A NYC Swedish Honorary Consul was appointed today, Oct. 26: Mr. David Dangoor, President of Innoventive Partners LLC. MR. Dangoor is highly qualified for the post as Honorary Consul. An alumni of Stockholm School of Economics, he held various senior executive positions in several countries at Philip Morris/Altria Group. Now at the head of or on several boards of directors such as BioGaia AB, Lorillard, or ICP Solar Technologies. The tricky part of his new responsibility will be to balance and offset the downsizing of services in the greater New York area - a full time staff of five will be hired by the new consul and locally employed to work on both consular matters and information or PR, which is less than a quarter of the staff at the closing Consulate General. (Read a bit more about the closing here )

Church of Sweden says yes to gay marriage.
In a vote held Thursday morning, the Synod of the Lutheran Church of Sweden came down in favor of church weddings for homosexuals. The decision, which is based on a proposal from the church’s governing board, means that the Church of Sweden will conduct wedding ceremonies for both heterosexual and homosexual couples. The proposal was approved by 176 of 249 voting members. The decision comes just three days after the 30th anniversary of the date when homosexuality stopped being classified as a disease in Sweden. “The Synod’s decision takes a stance in favor of an inclusive view of people. Regardless of whether one is religious or not, this affects the entire social climate and the view of people’s equal value,” Åsa Regnér, head of the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU) - the country's largest gay rights group, said in a statement. In June, the church board took the first step towards permitting same-sex marriages by submitting a petition to the Church of Sweden Synod – the church's highest decision-making body. The board proposed that the church continue to perform wedding ceremonies following new legislation, which came into force on May 1st and grants same-sex couples in Sweden the same legal marriage status as heterosexuals. Current church regulations will likely continue to apply in practice, with some alterations, such as replacing “man and wife” with “lawfully wedded spouses” when a homosexual couple is married. Individual pastors would also still be able to refuse to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. Since 2007, the Church of Sweden, which counts around 74 percent of Swedes as members, has offered gays a religious blessing of their union.

Starbucks to Sweden.
The omnipresent Starbucks, which is a Seattle-based chain of coffee houses in case you’ve been hiding under a rock, is now to open its first outlet in Sweden. Starting next year, travelers passing through Stockholm’s Arlanda airport will have the chance to be among the first to knock back mocha frappuccinos and skinny hazelnut lattes on Swedish soil. The shop is to be opened within the framework of an existing strategic partnership with the Scandinavian Service Partner (SSP) restaurant and travel company, Starbucks said in a statement. Although Starbucks is the world’s largest coffee house chain, it has yet to penetrate a Swedish market already served by a number of local chains such as Espresso House, Coffeehouse by George, and Waynes Coffee.

Suicides decline.
According to a new Swedish study, the number of suicides reported among the Swedish adult population has declined considerably and anti-depressants are credited with saving up to 500-600 lives yearly. In 1995 1,783 Swedes took their own lives. Ten years later the figure had declined to 1,451, a drop of 18 %. Over the same period the use of anti-depressant medication increased dramatically among the Swedish adult population. "This should be taken into consideration in the development of national guidelines for the treatment of depression," said Göran Isacsson, one of the researchers responsible for the study at the psychiatric clinic at Karolinska University Hospital. The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) wants to see the use of conversational therapy as the initial treatment for patients suffering from depression. The board argues that medicine should not be used in the first instance as studies indicate that conversational therapy works just as well. The board's final recommendations will be presented in the beginning of 2010. Sweden has regularly been rumored to have the highest rate of suicide in Europe - but World Health Organization statistics from 2003 show conclusively that this belief remains nothing but an urban myth. Lithuania in fact carries the distinction with a rate of 75.6/100,000 for men and 16.1/100,000 for women. Sweden has 19.7/100,000 for men and 8.0/100,000 for women. France, New Zealand, Australia and Germany, among others, all have higher rates of suicide than Sweden, which comes in only slightly higher than the USA and Canada. The myth of Swedish suicide has its roots in the late 1950s and a speech given by the then US President Dwight D. Eisenhower, which had been based on an inaccurate briefing. The President's speech was intended to paint a negative picture of Sweden, then a country advocating a brand of third-way cradle-to-the-grave socialism and adopting a stance of post-war neutrality outside NATO and U.S influence. Since Eisenhower's speech many people have accepted the picture as fact and thus helped to perpetuate the myth.

Ingmar Bergman’s house sold.
The late film director Ingmar Bergman’s house on Fårö has finally been sold. The buyer is a Norwegian businessman, Hans Gude Gudesen, and he will now along with Bergman’s daughter Linn Ullman create an artist center with the estate. Gudesen is an archaeologist, inventor and founder of big businesses, which has made him a wealthy man. Even before he bought the director’s house, he was in contact with Ullman, telling her he wanted to do something non-profit about it. “I think it’s a wonderful solution for everybody involved,” Linn Ullman stated, “it is great that there are people who can and will make things like this possible.” Gudesen also bought most of the furniture and other paraphernalia belonging to Ingmar Bergman that was auctioned of by Bukowskis in September.