Chinese company may jeopardize Volvo future.
Volvo Cars, Sweden’s third-largest private employer, may lose contracts with some suppliers unless Zheijang Geely Holding Group Co., the favored bidder, promises to protect their patents and not plagiarize products in China. “Big, tech-heavy suppliers are definitely concerned about China’s record when it comes to copyrights and Volvo would be in real trouble if it ends up not being a preferred customer among suppliers,” said Sven-Ake Berglie, who heads FKG, a group that represents 300 automotive suppliers. “Just as carmakers choose suppliers, suppliers choose carmakers.” Ford Motor Co. said Oct. 28 it has focused talks on the sale of Volvo to one bidder, a group led by Hangzhou, China- based Geely. Ford has yet to resolve concerns about protecting intellectual property, a person familiar with the talks said. Suppliers to Volvo include Autoliv Inc., the world’s largest maker of automotive air bags, and IAC Group, the U.S. interiors supplier owned by Wilbur Ross. The auto-parts industry in Sweden employs 72,000 people, mainly in the southwest part of the country, where Volvo Cars, Saab Automobiles and Volvo AB, the world’s second-largest truckmaker, are based. Sweden’s vehicle industry accounts for 14 percent of all exported goods and employs 140,000 people, according to FKG.

Sweden releases Serb war criminal.
Former Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic, walked out of her prison cell Oct. 27, two-thirds into an 11-year jail term for war crimes, the Swedish prison authority said. The Yugoslavian war crimes tribunal in The Hague, which convicted Plavsic in February 2003, consented last month to grant her an early release, a decision Bosnian Muslim relatives of victims of the 1992-95 war protested and Bosnian Serbs celebrated. "Plavsic was transported this morning to Arlanda. There she was picked up by a plane," the Swedish Prison and Probation Service said in a statement. "What happens hereafter is up to her...." Plavsic, 79, was one of three members of the presidency of the Serbian Republic, headed by Radovan Karadzic, who Monday boycotted the start of his trial at The Hague on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide at Srebrenica. Plavsic pleaded guilty to persecution on political, racial and religious grounds by "inviting paramilitaries from Serbia to assist Bosnian Serb forces in effecting ethnic separation by force." Charges of genocide, extermination and murder were dropped as part of a plea bargain.

A Nordic Union?
A union with the Nordic countries would give Sweden (and the rest of those countries) a place in the big, international counsels, according to sociologist and historian Gunnar Wetterberg. He would like to see Danish Queen Margrethe II as the regent, and draws a parallel to the Kalmar Union, which was a series of personal unions (1397-1523) uniting Denmark, Norway, and Sweden under a single monarch. The union was the work of Queen Margaret of Norway (1353-1412), daughter of King Valdemar IV of Denmark. Re-establishing a union like that, Wetterberg says, would make the Nordic countries more powerful, and together they would create the world’s 10th largest economy, larger than both Russia’s and Brazil’s, and one of the five or six largest economies in the European Union. “The job as a regent could be on rotation between the countries,” Wetterberg states. “With 25 million inhabitants the Nordic culture would get a stronger base. The market for Nordic literature, theater and music would be much bigger than it is today.” What do you think? Cast your vote in our poll in the right column of our home page.

Soleless boots for Swedish soldiers.
Shortages in standard issue military clothing have forced Swedish conscripts to train in boots without soles. According to a report filed by Captain Bengt Nitz of the Amf 1 amphibious regiment, based in Hårsfjärden outside of Stockholm, the boots issued to the unit’s soldiers were of such poor quality that one commander considered ordering soldiers under his command to refrain from participating in training assessments. “The soldiers’ boots lacked soles and in some cases had been previously issued to other soldiers up to eight times,” Nitz writes in his report. Furthermore, the regiment is so short on uniforms that soldiers are forced to continue wearing their only set of military clothing for days on end without washing them.

Butter is good for you.
Butter up – it’s good for your heart. Fatty foods in combination with fruit and vegetables can lessen your risk for a heart attack, according to a new study from the county council in Kronoberg. It’s medical doctor Sara Holmberg who is behind the study, and she has spent 12 years researching the diets of 1,700 men and how many of them who suffered and/or died of heart attacks. The result, which has been published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, shows that those men who ate fruit and vegetables on a daily basis in combination of large or moderate amounts of fatty dairy products had a lower risk for cardiovascular diseases than those men who consumed less high-fat products. “Today there’s an established hypothesis that fat food leads to high cholesterol which in turn leads to heart attacks, but it’s a thesis that has never been proven,” Holmberg said. The study also showed that the intake of fat had no effect among the men who did not eat fruit and vegetables daily. “One hypothesis is that the fruit and the vegetables contain many vitamins, but that many of these are fat soluble, which means that our bodies cannot utilize them unless there’s fat in our food.”

Our new prophets.
It’s almost All Saints’ Day, a time for reflection. Now that we’re up to our elbows with the financial crisis, a new wave of spirituality is washing over Sweden. Many of us are looking for an answer rather than a quick fix. Here are some paths worth investigating. Lisa Lalér is a yoga teacher and the owner of the yoga studio Yoga Shala in Stockholm. “Yoga means uniting body and soul,” she explains. “By training physically you learn to become aware of the process and you become a fuller self.” When Lalér first tried yoga, she claims the experience was almost religious. Yoga helped her get rid of the stress in her life. “It’s easy to get lost in the world of consumption,” she says. “But buying stuff fills our inner empty room only momentarily. It’s not a true experience.” Sante Poromaa is a Zen Buddhist, a sensei or teacher, and for him daily meditation is the key to inner peace. “To live without anchorage and deep conversations make us unsure and fearful. Shopping is not enough, we’re much too intelligent for that,” he says. Poromaa guides his students, has workshops and offers conversations of a therapeutic character. “Zen,” he explains, “is an individual religion. Nobody else can make you to do it, it’s all about your own wish to explore your inner life.” Poromaa says mostly young people come to him, curious young people who are looking for something more than material comfort. “There’s a spiritual hunger in this country, and it is so intense it threatens to eat you alive.” Thus spoke a famous psychiatrist about the increasing need to be seen, when he talked to Pastor Olle Carlsson. And Pastor Carlsson agrees, he’s a pastor in the Church of Sweden and when he holds services the church is full of people – fairly unusual for Sweden. “I believe spirituality is about true relations and not rules about how we are to curb our lives. It’s in our relations with our inner self that we find our relation with God. In spite of all roles we play, inside all of us, deep inside, we are all children of God. No matter our culture or our way of living.” Why do people come to hear Pastor Carlsson speak then? His services are pretty traditional, with the difference that he lets another person share a story or an experience that meant something for them; a memory, a story or a difficult incident. “To hear other people’s true stories and their doubts make it possible for ourselves to put words on what bother us. Life isn’t always easy to handle, and we all have a need to mirror ourselves in others to understand that we are not alone. It’s soothing.” Carlsson believes that one of the most important assignments for the church today, is that it must be open to everybody and not dictate how people should live their lives.