St. Ansgar’s in NYC closing in 2010.
St. Ansgar’s Scandinavian Catholic League was founded in New York in 1910 for Catholics of Scandinavian background and Americans interested in the rebirth of the faith in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland, where a large part of the population belongs to the Lutheran State Church. St. Ansgar’s celebrates Lucia every year, with mass, a beautiful Lucia procession and a social gathering (where Father John Halborg’s most delicious glögg can be enjoyed as can cakes and cookies) with jultomten (wonderful Rolf Kristian Stang) entertaining the children. After 100 years, the league is sadly folding next year, with a celebration at the Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. For more information:

No fair for foreign researchers.
Sweden isn’t doing enough to ensure equal working conditions for foreign researchers pursuing doctoral studies at Swedish universities, students and teachers rights groups claim. “The universities have proven themselves unable to manage the situation, so we think it’s time for the government to step in,” said Lars Abrahamsson, chair of the doctoral candidates committee with the Swedish Association of University Teachers. Both the union which represents university researchers and lecturers (SULF) and Sweden’s association of student unions (Sveriges förenade studentkårer - SFS) are intensifying their demands for foreign researchers' equality following a report on the Sveriges Television (SVT) investigative news program Uppdrag Granskning. “We’re seeking a national debate on these issues and we are asking that institutes of higher learning actually fulfill their responsibilities and guarantee that doctoral candidates receive reasonable financing,” said Martin Dackling of SFS in a statement. According to SVT, Swedish universities offer much more favorable employment conditions to most Swedish PhD candidates in comparison to those offered many researchers from other countries. While Swedish doctoral candidates are often offered full time employment with a starting salary of around 23,000 kronor ($3,200) per month and full social benefits, foreign researchers are often forced to live on stipends averaging about half as much – and without access to the social benefits afforded other Swedish workers. “In Sweden, equal competence and equal work should give equal compensation, both in terms of salary and social benefits,” Abrahamsson said.

Swedish films remade in the U.S.
The enormously popular film “Män som hatar kvinnor” (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) – based on the equally popular thriller by Stieg Larsson, will now get an American version. As will another Swedish film – “Låt den rätte komma in”, by Tomas Alfredsson. Hollywood Reporter announces that Sony is in final deals regarding the purchase of the American rights to both films, and it looks like Steven Zaillian, the script writer who got an Oscar for “Schindler’s list”, will transform Larsson’s book to an American script. Meanwhile the American version of “Låt den rätte komma in” will be directed by “Felicity”-director Matt Reeves, it will be called “Let me in” and it will take place in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Kodi Smit-McPhee will play Owen, the boy who unknowingly befriends a girl vampire, played by Chloe Moretz. In the Swedish version the story took place in a wintery Blackeberg.

Best Swedish CDs in 2009
What was the best music this year? Looking back, what should you pick from the crop? Dagens Nyheter’s music critics took a look (or a listen, rather) and here’s what they think you should not miss: Artist: “Kent” CD: Röd Style of music: Pop “Many artists manage to capture exactly how we feel, think and breathe today, in Swedish,” writes Johanna Paulsson. “But Kent are the kings and Sweden’s biggest rock band has done this year’s best pop album.” Artist: Taken By Trees CD: “East of Eden” Style of music: Pop “Singer Victoria Bergsman returns to the world of indie music and marries it with an Eastern-style mysticism,” writes Niklas Wahllöf. Artist: Trio Trespassing CD: “Transforming frames” Style of music: Contemporary art music “Jesper Nordin, Niklas Brommare and Daniel Frank. A new kind of art music that dares to stick out and to look for new paths. Perhaps the most important Swedish CD in 2009,” writes Martin Nyström. Artist: Anne Sofie von Otter CD: “Bach” Concerto Copenhagen Style of music: Baroque “Anne Sofie von Otter returns to the love of her youth, Bach, and opens up his music like nobody else, with a disarming way informed by opera and cabaret,” writes Martin Nyström.

Grattis to this year’s Göteborgare!
“I am a person with a big heart,” said Nigar Ibrahim, this year’s Göteborgare (Årets Göteborgare) as she received cheers and applause from people who had gathered at Nordstadstorget. Nigar received her title because of the work she has done for future Göteborgare, and to make Göteborg an integrated city where people respect each other. She has helped and supported a great number of people, helping them find ways to live abroad. Nigar, who is a lawyer, has worked hard to counteract honor related violence through her work at Sharaf hjältar (honor heroes). And several of the youths from Sharaf were here to celebrate her. “We love our country and we love our city,” said Nigar. “We are members of the world as well as Göteborgare.”