Government adds to bank bailout.
The Swedish government said Feb. 3 it added $6 billion to its bank rescue package to help spur lending. "Getting the credit markets working again is essential to avoid a worsening of the economic downturn," Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg and Financial Markets Minister Mats Odell said in a statement. "The purpose of the capital infusion program is to increase the banks' ability to provide households and companies with credit at reasonable terms.” The government said it would exchange the fresh capital for up to 70 percent of new share issues under market pricing. The funds come with a catch. Banks accepting funds from the package must agree to freeze executive and board pay and skip bonus payments for two years.

Green Sweden to go nuclear
The Swedish government Feb. 5 announced a 'novel' way to meets its self-imposed goal of going oil-free: It plans to build nuclear power plants. The government said it plans to scrap a three-decade ban on building new reactors as it struggles to develop alternative energy sources such as hydropower and wind to meet its growing energy demands. If parliament approves scrapping the ban, Sweden would join a growing list of countries rethinking nuclear power as a source of energy amid concerns over global warming and the reliability of energy suppliers such as Russia. Britain, France and Poland are planning new reactors and Finland is currently building Europe's first new atomic plant in over a decade. The government’s proposal calls for new reactors to replace 10 reactors schedules for deactivation. The government's energy plans calls for renewable energy to account for 50 percent of Sweden's energy in 2020. Today that figure is roughly 40 percent, one of the highest in Europe, mostly because of hydropower. The government also said it aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels, partly by expanding wind power and raising taxes on fossil fuels. Swedish public opinion polls show growing support for nuclear energy in recent years because of the lack of alternatives.

The Swedish Language.
As you probably already know, Swedish belongs to the northern (Scandinavian) group of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. It is closely related to Danish and Norwegian, and is spoken predominantly in Sweden and in parts of Finland. Like all Germanic languages, Swedish originated from Old Norse, which began to split into Old West Norse (Norway and Iceland) and Old East Norse (Sweden and Denmark) in the 9th century. In the 12th century, Swedish and Danish emerged as distinct languages. They became Old Swedish and Old Danish in the 13th century, both were heavily influenced by Middle Low German, the language of the region around the Baltic and North Seas during the medieval period. Early medieval Swedish had a more complex grammar than modern Swedish. Nouns, adjectives, pronouns, and certain numerals were inflected in four cases and three genders (nominative, genitive, dative and accusative), whereas today there are only two (nominative and genitive). The verb system was also more complex: It included subjunctive and imperative moods and verbs were marked for person and number. By the 16th century, the case and gender systems of the colloquial spoken language had been largely reduced to the two cases and two genders of modern Swedish, and the verbs lost their conjugation. Swedish is the de facto language of Sweden, although is does not have the status of an official language. For native speakers of English, Swedish is considered to be a “Category 1” language in terms of difficulty, a category it shares with Afrikaans, Danish, Dutch, French, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian and Spanish. According to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) the approximate time to achieve speaking and reading proficiency in Swedish is 23-24 weeks with 575-600 hours in a class where the student is approximately 40 years old and has a good aptitude for language study as well as knowledge of several other foreign languages. In "Category III" we find languages which are exceptionally difficult for native English speakers: Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese and Korean. For these languages you need 88 weeks and 2200 class hours to achieve proficiency. Svenska – lätt som en plätt!

Marcus said No to Obama.
Swedish chef Marcus Samuelsson said "No thanks" to the job as President Obama's White House chef because he'd rather work on his own projects. "But I wouldn't mind doing a guest stint at the White House," Samuelsson explains. He tells that he was asked about the job, although it wasn't a job offer per se. "I chose not to apply for the job," says the chef who grew up in Sävedalen and eventually ended up at Restaurant Aquavit in New York City. "Because I'm too busy with my own projects, from Tokyo to Los Angeles, a job at the White House would've meant I had to let everything else go. But sure, I'd visit the White House and help them arrange an African or Swedish dinner.” Marcus Samuelsson recently designed his own line of cups, saucers and plates, and he has also created his own line of spices. "Food is much simpler than politics," he says. "But if you eat a real good African couscous you might not say anything bad about black people afterwards." Samuelsson is newly married to Maya and lives in Harlem. He is interested in soccer, culture and music (apart from food of course). At home he likes to make an Ethiopian stew with couscous.

Marcus Samuelsson's Mango Sambal.
In his book "The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa" Marcus Samuelsson writes, “Where I grew up in Sweden, we have a tradition of serving sweet accompaniments with game and poultry. These jams and compotes are homey and comforting, but they tend to focus on one flavor note: sweetness.” Here is Samuelsson’s Mango Sambal, which he says he loves to serve as an accompaniment to grilled fish, chicken or meat. Ingredients: 1/4 cup peanut oil, 1 medium red onion, finely diced, 2 garlic cloves, minced, 1/4 cup peanuts, one 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated, 2 bird’s-eye chilies, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, 2 mangoes, peeled, pitted and cut into 1-inch dice, 2 mint sprigs, leaves only, chopped, 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil. Heat the peanut oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the peanuts, ginger, chilies and chili powder, and sauté until the peanuts are golden brown, about 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let cool. Transfer the peanut mixture to a bowl and stir in the mangoes, mint, sesame seeds and sesame oil. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

As time goes by with Alice Babs.
Duke Ellington adored her and we do, too. How can you not love her? Alice Babs recently turned 85 years old – congratulations, Alice! – and has a “new” CD out. It’s called “As time goes by” and includes some pearls from Alice Babs’ career. Babs had a remarkable ability to go from the darkest of blues to the lightest of swings, just like the black jazz musicians in America in the 1930’s during the worst of racial discrimination and the depression. Alice Babs said she got it from her mother, whose “trallar” kept the joy alive in the household when things were rough. Born in Kalmar in 1924 as Hildur Alice Nilsson, Alice Babs worked in a wide number of genres such as Swedish folklore, Elizabethan songs and opera but is best known internationally as a jazz singer. Her breakthrough was in the film “Swing it magistern” in 1940. But the youth culture forming with Alice Babs as its icon caused outrage among the older generations. A vicar called the Babs cult the “foot and mouth disease to cultural life.” A long and productive period of collaboration with Duke Ellington started in 1963; among other works Alice Babs performed his second and third Sacred Concerts that were originally written for her. Her voice had an extreme range, and Ellington said that when she did not sing the parts that he wrote for her, he had to use three different singers in her stead. So what’s on “As time goes by”? Well, there’s her swingy “Can’t we be friends”, and the cool Latin “Flamingo” and a sharp “Stormy Monday” with Svend Asmussen on electric violin. In the duet with Arne Domnérus “No words blues”, Alice Babs turns her voice into a clarinet! Masterful!

The health of Swedish children threatened.
The health of Swedish children is in jeopardy due to a lack of co-operation and flaws within the School Health System. This warning comes from a study carried out by the Swedish Medical Association, the Swedish Dental Association and the Swedish Association of Health Professionals. Out of 1500 local doctors, school nurses and dentists, 94% believed that healthcare for children needs to be better coordinated among them. Only 29% felt that they were given the resources and the support needed by local authorities to work towards better health for children. The worst hazard for Swedish school children today is an unhealthy lifestyle resulting from issues related to weight and obesity, according to the report.