H&M sales increase.
Ever so popular Swedish fashion chain H&M posted a second consecutive rise in monthly same-store sales, overcoming a seven-month losing streak last year. The retailer said sales at its established stores rose 1% year-on-year last month, compared with an average forecast for a 0.5 % rise at stores operating for more than one financial year. In December the company posted a 3% rise in same-store sales, the first positive result since April, and beat expectations for its quarterly earnings. “That is another positive month, due to the fact that you have easier comparables and due to the fact that it seems that consumers are returning to the stores,” said Søren Løntoft Hansen, analyst at Danish Sydbank. “They're not power shopping, but at least they are coming back.” H&M is expanding its footprint in Asia but its largest market remains Germany, where it could soon be facing competition from British discount retailer Primark. Total sales were up 11%, compared with a mean forecast for a gain of 12.1 %.

Swedes #5 high speed.
When it comes to broadband connections, Sweden ranks fifth in the world, while the USA assumes a modest 18th place, according to a recent report by network provider Akamai Technologies. South Korea (the world's highest average connection speed at 14.6 Mbps), Hong Kong and Japan have the greatest number of fast broadband connections to the Internet. According to the report, growing interest in on line high definition video content is spearheading the consumer demand for faster connections. The survey classifies "broadband" connections as those of 2 Mbps or more. Roughly 40% of Americans have broadband at home.

Bumblebees – model for flying robots.
Imagine a future city where robots are flying around transporting parcels and messages in between the skyscrapers. Does it seem like a sci-fi movie? “It’s not that far-fetched. It could happen in just ten years,” says researcher Emily Baird at Lund University. The construction of flying robots is already in full swing at a Swiss lab, and a group of biology scientists at Lund University are now hoping they can help the engineers understand how insects fly in order to make the robot vision come true. “It’s very exciting to work like this on the border between biology and robots, that insects can inspire engineers,” Baird says. When something is flying it receives less information about the world around than we, who remain on the ground, do. It’s much harder to appreciate speed when flying, for instance. Airplanes are equipped with advanced systems of GPS and radars in order for the pilots to know how fast and how high they’re flying. But on a small robot, these kinds of systems are much too heavy. “What’s so fascinating with insects is that they don’t need these things, they have an even slower speed of process than we have in our modern computers, and yet they can do what we can only do with huge airplanes,” continues Baird. Insects rely almost entirely on sight when they’re flying, and this specific talent is what the robot engineers are after. “They have already developed a system to use sight in order to get around an obstacle.” Baird and her team are now trying to figure out how bumblebees control their speed, and they are training the insects by letting them fly through tunnels, baiting them with sugar. With a high speed camera, the scientists are then studying the way the bumblebees fly. “The engineers can not control speed with sight right now. We know how the insects do it, but it has to be solved technically,” Baird concludes.

Stina to lead Swedish “Actor’s Studio” interviews.
Sweden is getting its own version of the American “Inside the Actors Studio” where the film elite is being grilled in front of a live audience. So far it will not be televised but only seen live in Stockholm, but TV has shown interest. Instead of James Lipton, it will be popular journalist Stina Lundberg Dabrowski who will interview the stars. Says Lundberg Dabrowski: “It will be wonderful to do long, insightful interviews and really get to know a personality from the film and movie industry. I’ve seen James Lipton interview stars like Al Pacino, Julia Roberts and Johnny Depp and it’s great to hear them talk honestly and humbly about their careers, their successes and their shortcomings.” The Swedish version will premiere in April and Åsa Jacobsson from Cinemateket (the movie club of The SwedishFilm Institute), who is behind the project, is hoping TV will catch on. “That would just be natural,” she says. The original version of “Inside the Actors Studio” premiered in 1994 and is currently taped at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University’s New York City campus. The Actors Studio is a membership organization for professional actors, theater directors and playwrights and was founded in 1947 by Elia Kazan, Cheryl Crawford, Robert Lewis and Anna Sokolow. James Lipton is an American writer, poet, composer, actor and dean emeritus of the Actors Studio Drama School in New York City.

Miniature semlor.
There was a time when the delicious “semla” could only be consumed once a year, and that was on Mardi Gras (or Shrove Tuesday). However, with the arrival of the Protestant Reformation, Swedes stopped observing a strict fasting for Lent and the semla in its bowl of warm milk (the so-called hetvägg) became a traditional dessert every Tuesday between Shrove Tuesday and Easter, and today – to the horror of conservatives! – semlor can be enjoyed every day from shortly after Christmas until Easter. Each Swede consumes on average five bakery-produced semlas a year, in addition to all those that are homemade. King Adolf Fredrik died of digestion problems on February 12, 1771 after consuming a meal consisting of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, smoked herring and champagne, which was topped off by 14 semlor, with bowls of hot milk. Semla was the king's favorite dessert. How many semlor do you consume? With Allt om Mat’s recipe for miniature semlor, it’s OK to have a second (or a third) helping. Ingredients: 50 g butter, 8 oz milk, 25 g fresh yeast, 1/2 teaspoon salt, ¼ cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cardamom, 1 egg, 480-540 g flour. For glazing: 1 egg. Filling: 200 g almond paste or marzipan, ½ cup heavy cream, 1 cup whipped cream, confectioner’s sugar. Instruction: Preheat oven to 480 F. Crumble the yeast into a bowl. Melt butter and add the milk and heat till “finger warm” (still quite warm, but just cool enough to touch). Pour the butter-milk mixture over the crumbled yeast and stir until the yeast is completely dissolved. Add salt, sugar, cardamom, egg and most of the flour and work into a dough – you know it’s done when it pulls away from the sides of your mixing bowl. Cover the dough in the bowl with a clean towel and let rise for about 30 minutes. Knead the dough and make 40 round buns. Put the buns on a baking-sheeted baking plate. Again cover with the towel and let rise 30 minutes, beat the egg and brush the buns and then bake in oven for about 5-7 minutes. Let cool. Cut off a “lid” on each bun and take out the insides, mix the insides with grated marzipan and cream. Put this filling inside the buns, whip the cream and put on top of the filling, add the lid and powder some confectioner’s sugar on top. Enjoy your semla as is or as a “hetvägg” (in a bowl of warm milk). More on the semla and how to make your own, full size: http://www.nordstjernan.com/news/food/1055/