Great Tits dominate Sweden.
According to beak reckonings this winter, there are more than 100,000 Great Tits (parus major) in Sweden. By some 15 thousand, these dainty green, black and yellow birds have surpassed the usually prolific Mountain Finches in number. Known as "Talgoxe" in Swedish, the much-admired Great Tits – which are easily trained to eat from people's hands - can turn from vegetarians into killers. Although they prefer to dine on pine nuts, hemp and sunflower seeds, the diet of this 13-15 cm long, quite tame bird can vary so much that in leanest winter months, they can kill and eat the meat of bats.

Trade deficit, export drops.
Swedish exports decreased 16% compared to 2008 and imports from the US rose 2% in the last quarter. The value of Swedish exports amounted last year to 998 billion kronor ($140 billion), a decrease of 16% compared to 2008. At the same time, imports plunged 17%, resulting in a trade surplus of SEK 87 billion kronor. Imports from the US rose 2% compared to January-September of 2008. Exports to EU (minus 19%), other European countries (minus 18%) and the US (minus 19%) and Asia (minus 4%) dropped generally in 2009. However, exports to China rose 21% at the same time as imports from China fell 6%. Exports of machinery and transport equipment plunged 22% during 2009, with exports of road vehicles down 42%. Exports of iron and steel fell 45% and wood and paper products dropped 4% while chemicals and rubber products increased 2% due to an increase in exports of pharmaceuticals by 14%. Exports of food, beverages and tobacco rose 5%. source: Swedish Bureau of Statistics (SCB)

Cash can double.
The deposit on aluminum cans made in Sweden will be doubled to one crown apiece (almost 15 cents) this autumn on September 15. According to Returpack, the company that runs the can deposit operation nationwide, the concept is for each and every can and bottle sold in Sweden to be recycled. Doubling the payoff is also expected to attract school classes and a variety of public clubs and organizations to gather and cash in the cans as a revenue to support their activities. For more info see

Saint it ain't.
Canonized by the Roman Catholic Church in 1391 and today designated as one of Europe's six patron saints, Birgitta Birgersdotter (1303-1373) gained religious acclaim for pious revelations, prophecies and pilgrimages. Fulfilling St. Birgitta's last wish, her bones were transported from Rome to Sweden, her homeland, and to Vadstena Abbey, where they were placed in a relic casket in 1374. For centuries, faithful worshipers paid believed that two skulls were the remains of St. Birgitta and her daughter, Katarina (1331–1381), whose previously buried remains were relocated in the shrine in 1489. However, recent research conducted by Uppsala University experts shows that neither skull to be from St. Birgitta nor her daughter. DNA analyses proved that the skulls were not maternally related. What's more, radiocarbon dating revealed a 200 year difference in age, and neither dating result coincides with the lifetimes of the actual pair. While scientists concluded that both skulls are from females aged between 60-70 years and 50-55 years, the ”Birgitta” skull dates from between 1215 – 1270. This means that the person died before the saint was born. Even more, the skull purported to belong to Katarina was from a person who lived lived in the 1600s - up to 300 years after the daughter's demise. At times, pieces of the St. Birgitta relics have been given to churches and monasteries. Among some 23 other bones, a femur is still thought to be from Saint Birgitta. Beyond this, researchers did not speculate about the mysterious disappearance of the true bodily remnants oft the saint and her daughter, nor did their work explain the unidentified bones in the casket.

Butter better.
A study of at Lund University in Sweden shows that butter leads to less blood fats elevation after meals than olive or flaxseed oil. Butter won because it consists of good fatty acids (short and medium length) that are used directly as energy. “Intestinal cells prefer to store butter fat rather than long chain fatty acids from vegetable oils,” explains doctoral candidate Julia Svensson. Their findings indicate that different food fats have different advantages, although Svensson cautions, “All fats have high energy content, and if you don’t burn what you ingest, your weight will go up.”

Majority wants the king to remain.
He’s becoming a senior citizen next year, our King Carl Gustaf, but the majority of all Swedes want him to remain on the throne. Only 16% feel that he should abdicate in favor of Crown Princess Victoria – who also happens to be the most popular member of the royal family at the moment. More men than women want the king to remain as head of state, and also more big city folks. The king has more support among right-wingers, whereas sympathizers of the Social Democratic- and Left Parties prefer Victoria to ascend the throne. When it comes to time of departure for the king, most people feel he should remain on the throne for life, and only abdicate should he get seriously ill. These numbers come from a fresh poll made by DN/Synovate, in which 1038 people were asked.

Carl Philip denies controversial romance.
It’s getting exciting! Prince Carl Philip, who was mum just the other week, is suddenly denying his romance with controversial girl Sofia Hellqvist. Why would he do that? And why now? Royal expert Johan T. Lindwall has all the details in what promises to be a royal soap opera. It’s now two months since Carl Philip’s affair with Sofia was revealed. Sofia is, as you may remember, a former reality TV star who has also posed for the magazine Slitz. It was Lindwall who broke the news, which made quite a stir among Stockholm’s younger upper class. It didn’t seem right for Carl Philip to be involved with a reality TV star, although the prince himself seemed to think otherwise. The couple had secret dates in Stockholm and there were dinners and visits to the movie theater. But Carl Philip’s friends were adamant: They wanted him to go back to ex-girl friend Emma Pernald, a girl he dated for almost ten years. And soon enough, Carl Philip realized that his dallying with Sofia would eventually cause him to lose Emma for good, so last week he made what looked like a drastic attempt to keep Emma on his side: He denied dating Sofia. In an interview with newspaper Expressen he said: “I am single.” Wow! What will happen now? Says Lindwall: “I see the light at the end of the tunnel for Emma, but I feel a bit sorry for Sofia. I think when Carl Philip said he was single, he was really making a pass at Emma.”

Rationed coffee for the elderly.
Coffee and milk for the elderly in Timrå in Västernorrland County, will now be rationed. All in the name of saving money of course. A new diet has been negotiated and only what’s absolutely necessary will remain. Ham and cheese, and other “pålägg” is included in the bread ration, which now includes two slices of bread – one of these slices can be saved for a snack if one doesn’t want both for breakfast. The butter packages, which are delivered on Mondays, must last for the entire week. Many of the nursing personnel have expressed shame when an older person has asked for a second helping of a rationed product. The daily snacks are a welcomed pause at the dining table for many, but personnel are now required to make a weekly order and they aren’t allowed to hoard food. So what will breakfast look like for an older person in Timrå? Try 8 oz of milk, two cups of coffee and two slices of bread. Writer and activist Jan Myrdal calls this “äldrehat” (hate aimed at the elderly). “Many of our elderly are trained at being obedient,” he says. “In Sweden we view them as being difficult and a burden financially. These people have worked hard all their life, they were once spreading the idea of a better life for older people, they are now seeing this idea disappear little by little.” What do you think?

Store roof fell in.
The roof of an Ica Maxi store in Kristinehamn in Värmland fell in because of too much snow. According to rescue personnel, nobody was hurt. “Approximately a third of the roof fell in,” said Peter Backman, director of the rescue team. An alarm sounded at around noon and the rescue effort lasted two hours. “We’ve combed through the store with dogs several times. No person has been harmed and there’s nobody missing,” Backman added. The roof never completely collapsed to the floor, but fell on shelves and desks. It was sheer luck nobody was hurt. Said an eyewitness of the accident: “We saw the roof curve and then there was a big boom. We’re OK now, we’re right outside.”