The benefits of the candy tax
Earlier this year Norway imposed a tax increase on sugary foods and drinks by as much as 83 percent — raising the tax on chocolate, for example, to about $2 per pound. Critics predicted the increase would send more Norwegians across the border to Sweden, where there is no sugar tax (and already does about $1.87 billion of business annually from cross-border trade). A sugar tax has been in place in Norway since 1922, but the decision to increase it in order to improve the national diet — while raising revenues — is indeed sending people to Sweden for cheap candy and sodas, especially in time for Christmas.

Swedes go to the source to use less tech
The SCRIIN team in Stockholm is a group of software engineers who recognized a need to encourage a good balance of screen time. Their new app, SCRIIN, makes it easier to achieve a better balance between technology and life. The smartphone app, which is aimed at anyone but particularly parents and children, measures screen time and tracks physical activity throughout the day, on the phone and on a central control at home. Up to six family members can share the app, which retrieves activity data from a health app and captures time spent on screens. Malin Sjöstrand, mother and senior software engineer, co-founded the non-profit to get children and adolescents moving again. "Technology brought us here - let’s use technology to solve the problem." www.scriin.com

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Modified committee to choose Nobel Prize in Literature
The Swedish Academy, which has historically awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, announced in November that the 2019 Nobel Prize in Literature winner will be chosen by just five of its 18 members along with two authors, two critics and one translator, all of whom are Swedish. Anders Olsson, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, said the decision to build a new committee was taken "in consultation with the Nobel Foundation," which had warned the academy that if it doesn't resolve its tarnished image related to a fierce internal debate over a sex scandal and financial crimes, another group could host the award. The new committee will also choose the delayed 2018 literature prize and 2020 prize winners.

Sweden helps secure release of American
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström for Sweden’s help in securing the release of a U.S. citizen from North Korea. American Bruce Byron Lowrance was detained by Pyongyang since he illegally entered North Korea via China in October. Pompeo also thanked the Swedes “for their support and services as a protecting power in North Korea,” and discussed other issues of mutual concern. Sweden serves as a liaison channel between the U.S. and North Korea, which have yet to establish diplomatic ties.