Sweden OKs gas pipeline
Sweden and Finland cleared the way for the Nord Stream gas pipeline project aimed at linking Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea. Both countries after a lengthy assessment gave their permissions to have the pipeline, built by a Russian-German-Dutch consortium, run through their waters. Denmark last month was the first of five affected countries to issue a permit; with Sweden and Finland following this week, only Russia and Germany have still to give their green light — observers say that's but a formality. "This is an important day for the Nord Stream project," Matthias Warnig, head of the Nord Stream consortium, said in a statement. "These two permits are further significant milestones for our project." Nord Stream is a planned 758-mile natural gas pipeline directly linking Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea, bypassing transit countries in Eastern and Central Europe. The $11 billion pipeline is designed to eventually deliver up to 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year, enough for around 25 million households. The construction of Nord Stream is planned to begin in early 2010, with the first pipeline operational in 2011 and the second in 2012. Nord Stream says it has spent around $130 million on environmental studies and the permitting process.

Sweden to expand ticket program.
The Swedish government said Nov. 1 it plans to expand a program that pays unsuccessful asylum seekers to return to their homelands. For the past two years, refugees from Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, the West Bank and Gaza have received funds from the Swedish Migration Board to pay for their trips home, the Swedish news agency TT reported. On Nov. 1, the program added 20 more countries, most in Africa, as well as Kosovo and parts of Russia. About 18,000 repatriation cases will be handled in 2009, authorities say. Of these, about 10,000 are expected to involve people unwilling to leave after asylum applications are rejected. Police then carry out deportation orders. The Migration Board hopes the expanded assistance program will result in more people willingly returning to their homelands.

President Reinfeldt?
Could it be that Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt is emerging as one of the frontrunners for the permanent position of president of the European Union? Reinfeldt has already downplayed speculation in the Swedish media linking his name to the new position of president of the council of EU leaders. Referring to next year’s general election he has told journalists at home that he “has a meeting with voters in the fall of 2010, and he doesn't intend to miss it.” However, this denial of interest hasn't quite reached the international media who have since touted his name among the top list of contenders for the job, including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker. The successful candidate is expected to be announced soon and the position will come into force once the Lisbon Treaty has been ratified by all 27 EU states. The full-time president will serve a two-and-a-half-year term, strengthening the current rotating system of a six-month presidency, of which Sweden is currently at the helm.

State of the Swedish Nobility.
Thanks to disregarded right of inheritance, discrimination, subsidies, and a bunch of helpful social democrats the Swedish nobility has managed to keep enormous riches. In his new book, journalist Björn af Kleen writes about how the provincial nobility in Sweden has managed to retain the power of the land. Three out of the fifteen Swedish farms that receive the biggest grants from the European Union are so called fideikommiss (holders of entailed estates). That means that the people receiving these hefty grants are noble landowners, firstborn sons in families where only firstborn sons inherit. How about that! Af Kleen’s book “Jorden de ärvde” (The land they inherited), takes a look at how land has remained in the hands of provincial nobility for hundreds of years, a privilege that has been exempted from taxes and that has been supported and protected by an unjust and sexist law. The injustices have hit daughters, widows, and younger sons for generations, when children’s and widows’ right of inheritance has been put out of play with the aid of the government. “It’s a patriarchal tradition that’s still alive between the state and the nobility,” af Kleen says. “They want very much to be on good terms with each other. I get really mad because of the slackness in politics. Why is it considered important that one and the same family administers the same property over the years? I think that’s a snobbish and elitist idea. And the wrong people are being favored.” Björn af Kleen himself belongs, as his name suggests, to the noble class, but it’s on his mother’s side and thus means nothing. Jorden de ärvde Weyler Bokförlag, www.svanteweylerbokforlag.se 328 pages, Swedish. ISBN 978-91-85849-25-3

Royals must wait for flu vaccine.
Daniel Westling, Crown Princess Victoria’s fiancé, has received the swine flu vaccine after being placed in a high-risk group following a kidney transplant earlier this year. The rest of the Swedish Royal Family, however, has to wait patiently for the jab just like everybody else. King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia have previously revealed their intention to be vaccinated against the swine flu (H1N1) virus, but they aren’t jumping the line. ”The National Board of Health and Welfare has recommended the vaccine,” Nina Eldh, head of information at the Royal Court, told Expressen. ”They will have it when it is available,” she added. The Royal Court also confirmed that Daniel Westling had his first swine flu vaccine around a week ago. Following a kidney transplant earlier this year he was placed in a high-risk group of patients. It is likely that the rest of the Royal Family will have the vaccine within the next week.

Apples à la Pernilla Wahlgren.
Pernilla Wahlgren, famous singer, musical artist and entertainer (currently starring in “The Producers” in Göteborg) is now also a famous blogger on www.mama.nu, where she shares her thoughts on being a single mom of four. She is also quite a cook and baker and frequently posts interesting and yummy recipes. Here’s one involving apples, and what could be better for the fall season? Bake it better in a bigger form. Ingredients: 200 g almond paste or marzipan, 150 g butter, ½ cup sugar, 3 eggs, 8 oz flour, 6 oz baking powder, 1 apple peeled and grated, 3 apples peeled and sliced, cinnamon. Preheat oven to 390 F. Grate the almond paste/marzipan in a big bowl and add the butter (which should be at room temperature) a little at a time, and stir until an even batter. Add sugar and all eggs, one at a time. Mix flour and baking powder and stir it into the batter along with the grated apple. Pour the batter into a large buttered gratin-dish and put the sliced apples on top, push them down a bit into the batter, and sprinkle cinnamon on top. Bake for 35-40 minutes.