Ljungberg to join Sounders of MLS
Former Swedish captain and two-time Swedish footballer of the year Fredrik Ljungberg is set to join the Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer. Ljungberg's move was confirmed during a press conference on Oct. 28 - http://www.nordstjernan.com/news/sports/831/ According to a report on KOMO TV of Seattle, Ljungberg was in Washington state Oct. 26 for a physical. The teams plans to unveil him on Oct. 28. Ljungberg quit the Swedish men's national soccer team in June and was released by West Ham in August, after serving only one year of his four-year contract with the English club. Since then, it has been unclear if the 31-year-old Swede would continue his career. Ljungberg played in the last five major football tournaments for Sweden: the European Championships in 2000, 2004 and 2008, and the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. He was selected Footballer of the Year in Sweden in 2002 and 2006. He won the English Premiership with Arsenal in 2002 and 2004. Ljungberg also was a male model for Calvin Klein underwear until 2007.

Central bank cuts rate again
Sweden’s Central Bank — the Riksbank — slashed its repo rate, the rate it charges other banks for credit, to 3.75 percent Thursday, Oct. 23, in a move to relieve the effects of the financial crisis on the Swedish economy. The Riksbank said it expects to cut the repo rate by another 0.5 percentage points over the next six months. The cut was the second in just over two weeks. The central bank on Oct. 8 cut its interest rate by half a percent to 4.25 percent, in a surprise move coordinated with the European Central Bank, the U.S. Federal Reserve and several other central banks. The central bank said uncertainty in its assessments of the economy was "unusually great" and that it could alter its views depending on the development of the financial crisis. It also warned that the effects of the lower rate will probably be less than usual, since the confidence crisis in the financial system means central bank rate cuts are not being fully passed on to short-term money markets.

Sweden second in global tax league
Sweden has maintained its position as the country with the second highest tax burden in the world. Only Denmark has higher taxes; together, Sweden and Denmark have the highest overall tax rates among advanced countries, and Mexico and Turkey the lowest, although their average tax take is running at close to record high levels, the OECD said recently on data for 2006. Provisional data for 2007 showed that tax burdens rose in 11 of 26 countries, but fell in 13. This signaled that the average would probably stay at recent high levels, having declined in 2001-2004, "temporarily reversing a rising trend witnessed since the 1970's," the data showed. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development also warned that the economic slowdown, aggravated by the financial crisis, would reduce tax revenues. The overall amount of tax levied in the 30 OECD countries in 2006, the latest year for which data is available, was 35.9 percent of output, close to the record of 36.1 percent in 2000. Denmark and Sweden came first, each with a ratio of 49.1 percent. Provisional figures for 2007 showed tax revenues in Sweden dropping to 48.2 percent of output, while Denmark registered a 48.9 percent rate. Among the other OECD figures, the ratio for the United States was 28.0 percent, Canada 33.3 percent, Japan 27.9 percent, Finland 43.5 percent, Germany 35.6 percent, Ireland 31.9 percent, Poland 33.5 percent, Britain 37.1 percent, and France 44.2 percent.

The US election with Swedish eyes
The Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter polled its readers about the upcoming U.S election. Who do Swedes think will win the election? 78% answered Obama, 22% answered McCain. David Strömberg, a Swedish professor in Economy at Stockholm University, has developed a model with which to predict American presidential elections, The Strömberg model, and of all the elections since 1948 the model has proved wrong just once - in the 2000 election. About the upcoming election the Strömberg model predicts Barack Obama will win with a 79% probability.

Financial watchdog says Swedish banks will stand firm
Sweden's four largest banks are strong enough to withstand the current international financial crisis, the Nordic country's financial watchdog said Wednesday. In its annual report on the banking system, the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority said Nordea AB, Handelsbanken AB, Swedbank AB and SEB AB can meet capital regulations even if the region plunges into a recession. “We also make the assessment that the pension companies are prepared for further turbulence," it said in a statement. Investors have been concerned that Swedish banks will also be hit by the financial crisis, which has left many of the world's largest financial institutions bankrupt.

How to approach Le Clézio
Chances are a month or so ago you had never heard the name Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio. Now you know he’s this year’s Nobel Prize Winner in Literature. But why was this French author the winner and why should you read his work? Horace Engdahl, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, gave a few pointers. “What is characteristic of Le Clézio is his hunger for reality and his enthusiasm over what is. He accepts creation and himself as part of it, and puts no blame on anyone. He is the greatest affirmative author of literature today.” Engdahl describes the author as one of “new departures, poetic adventures and sensual ecstasy.” What mood does Le Clézio put his reader in? “A good and light mood, usually. Read Le Clézio and you will be filled of longing for journeys and meetings with new faces. He makes you remember what it is like to be really young.”

Swedes are getting heavier and taller
A survey made for clothing- and shoe chains shows that the Swedes are getting heavier and taller. Just how much you ask? Well, men are 5 cm (1.96") taller and women are 3.4 cm (1.33") taller than in 1972. The men are 5.3 kilos (11.7 lbs) heavier and the women have increased their weight with 4.4 kilos (9.7 lbs). The average height for Swedish women today is 166.8 cm (5'5"), and for men it's 181.5 cm (5'11"). The average weight for women is 64.7 kilos (142.3 lbs) and for men, 80.6 kilos (177.3 lbs).

Trompe l’oeil at Nationalmuseum
Believe your eyes… or don’t? Nationalmuseum in Stockholm has an exciting exhibition called Lura Ögat (Fool the Eye), showcasing art created to pull your leg, surprise you, and erase the border between what’s fictive and what’s real. Over 150 paintings, art works, digital installations, and videos make this the first and biggest trompe l’oeil exhibition in Sweden. Artists included are: Olafur Eliasson, Anish Kapoor, Jean-Baptiste Oudry, and René Magritte.

Round house
Tired of being square? Interested in something more rotund? Perhaps a round house? There’s one in Huddinge that’s for sale. “Folks think it’s impossible to furnish, but it’s not,” says seller Anette Bengtsson. Valdemar Hagström designed the house in 1955, and according to Bengtsson, who moved in with husband and three children in 1984, it’s one of only two cylinder-shaped, one family houses in Sweden. It has five rooms, a sauna, and a small outdoor pool. The price tag is 1,995,000 SEK.

First female Master of Wine
Madeline Strenwreth is Sweden’s first female Master of Wine. There are around 278 people around the world with the title, and 73 of them are women. Master of Wine is a unique international wine education with practical and theoretical training, all crowned with a dissertation. Does this mean that Madeline is the best sommelier in Sweden? “No,” she says. “Rather it says something about my knowledge. I can taste a glass of wine, say where it’s from and why. I can say where this particular grape is from and things like that.” All right, Madeline, if you could take a bottle of wine with you to a deserted island, which would it be? “Champagne, if there was a fridge on the island, and also some fresh oysters to go with it!”

Abba-Benny’s new horse
Benny Andersson of ABBA-fame has bought a new horse for 8 million SEK. He bought it at the British Tattersalls, auctioneers of racehorses. The horse has of yet no name, but rest assured his name will not be ABBA. Whether or not he will be a good racehorse remains to be seen, it takes about a year to tell. Benny Andersson’s stable is called Chess Racing and he’s had some great racehorses like Vigelere, Sibelius, and Jungo.

Stockholm – city full of rats
Sleek design, spotless sidewalks, and vast colonies of…rats? Yes, that’s right. Welcome to Stockholm, Scandinavia’s rat capital. No one at the Gamla Stan subway station looks at the iconic 17th century building across the way, neither the locals nor the tourist. What they are preoccupied with is an impromptu appearance of Stockholm wildlife right there on the platform. The world imagines Sweden as a uniquely clean and healthy place. One need only walk the tidy streets of central Stockholm to confirm the partial truth of this preconception. To see a less-publicized Swedish reality, step into most any subway station, then glance down to the tracks, and you’ll see rats and rats. A typical randy brown rat couple produces 80-100 offspring per year. No wonder rat expert Håkan Kjellberg, Technical Manager at Anticimex, believes putting a number on Stockholm 's ever-rising rat population is "pointless”. "We hope for the best," he says. "And plan for the worst."

Winter fashion
It’s time to update your winter closet. “Think 1990’s, but with reason,” is Expressen Fredag's editor Cecilia Blankens' advice. “The fashion for this winter calls for substantial and sturdy pieces in earthy colors.” She picks out lace-up boots, colorful tights (to wear with your all-black ensembles), and a cozy knitted sweater with a snowflake motif (that’s right) as her favorite pieces for winter. Remember you read it here first.

Crown Princess Victoria beats Crown Princess Mary
According to Svenskdam.se’s readers, it is Crown Princess Victoria who is the Fashion Princess this fall. What has happened to Victoria? New fall, new look, and almost a new princess, too. Never has Princess Victoria looked as good as when she showed up for the Polar Prize Award Ceremony. Gone was the beige and brown of yesterday, Victoria’s dress was a beautiful shiny orange – a true contender. Watch out, Mary, Madeleine, and Máxima!

Swedes pinch pennies in search for love
Swedes are much less inclined to spend large sums in their efforts to find the loves of their lives in comparison to their European counterparts, a new study reveals. On average Swedes spend just over 1,000 SEK ($140) per year attempting to track down that special someone, while Norwegian singles shell out 3,089 SEK and Danes fork out the equivalence of 2,150 SEK a year heading out to bars and clubs or on membership fees for online dating services. The study was done by matchmaking website Parship.se.

Do you believe in marriage?
Yes, absolutely said 80.5% of Expressen’s readers when asked. No, marriage is old-fashioned and obsolete said 19.5%.