Birds give residents Halloween fright.
Residents of a Swedish town say a sudden surge in the bird population is making their Halloween appear more like Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller “The Birds,” than Charlie Brown’s “Great Pumpkin.” Thousands of rooks decided Oct. 30 to hold a convention of sorts in the small town in Lund county. Lars Persson, chairman of the Revingeby village committee, said he was standing on his front porch when the birds first descended on the town a couple weeks ago. "I was taken aback at the sight," he said. Residents are legally allowed to shoot and kill the rooks, but Lars-Ewert Jonsson, officer in charge of culling in Lund county, said that solution would be temporary at best. "The first time you can maybe pick off an individual. Then they all flee. The second time, the same result. But the third time the birds start to recognize the hunter's vehicle and fly off without delay," he said. Village residents said they are appealing to officials to take care of the problem.

Another reason for mothers to eat their veggies.
Expectant mothers in Sweden who ate vegetables daily had children less likely to develop type 1 diabetes, researchers found. Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Göteborg and Linköping University in Sweden found of 6,000 children given blood tests, 3 percent had either elevated levels of antibodies that attack insulin-producing cells or fully developed type 1 diabetes at the age of 5. The study, published Oct. 30 in Pediatric Diabetes, found the diabetes risk markers were up to twice as common in children whose mothers rarely ate vegetables during pregnancy. "This is the first study to show a link between vegetable intake during pregnancy and the risk of the child subsequently developing type 1 diabetes, but more studies of various kinds will be needed before we can say anything definitive," corresponding author Hilde Brekke of Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Goteborg said in a statement.

Nordic nations lead in gender relations.
Women remain far behind men in economic and political power, but the Nordic countries come closest to closing the gender gap, according to a survey of 134 nations released Oct. 26. The four Nordic countries — Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden — have topped the Global Gender Gap Index since it was first released in 2006 by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum. They did so again this year, but Iceland replaced Norway at the top of the list with a score of 82.8 percent, meaning it came closest to 100 percent gender equality. Two African countries — South Africa and Lesotho — entered the list of the top 10 countries for the first time while four others remained, New Zealand, Denmark, Ireland and the Philippines. At the bottom of the list were Qatar, Egypt, Mali, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Benin, Pakistan, Chad and Yemen in last place with a score of 46.1 percent. Several countries near the bottom, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India, Bahrain, Ethiopia and Morocco, made gains from the 2008 rankings. In the latest survey, the United States dropped from 27th place to 31st place in the rankings as a result of minor drops in the participation of women in the economy and improvements in the scores of previously lower-ranked countries, according to the survey.

Swedes more positive to immigrants,
More and more Swedes are reporting positive experiences with immigrants. Most positive reports come from women, young people and individuals with higher education. At the same time, however, more people are critical of the wearing of the Muslim hijab (the veil) at schools and workplaces – all according to a fresh study. The sociological study, done by Uppsala University, shows around 67% of the Swedish population as having had positive experiences of working or studying with immigrants. Three years ago, the number was 65%. Among those with a lower level of education, the trend was reversed, with only 43% reporting positive experiences. In 2006, their number was 55%. Amongst the highly educated, the number of positive responses has increased to 79 percent. The younger Swedish population also characterized their contact with immigrants in a more positive light than older citizens, according to the study. While positive attitudes towards immigrants have increased, negative attitudes have diminished to around ten percent. Four percent of the population remains extremely hostile to the idea of cultural diversity. At the same time, Swedes increasingly suggest that the hijab should be banned in schools and workplaces and admit to regarding Muslim women as oppressed.

High status gig.
Do you have a high status job? And what exactly is a high status job? According to people in Stockholm, a doctor is a the mightiest of the mighty (not surprising), people who work with advertising are just not high on the status list at all. “They are not on the good side,” says an expert. Joining the advertisers on the “bad side” are: military people and policemen. Stockholmers do not care for those at all. No, you better be a doctor, an architect or a scientist. A new study by United Minds reveals what inner city Stockholmers feel about your (and their) titles. “The jobs that are at the top signal knowledge and education but also a higher purpose”, says Marie Söderqvist Traulau, Managing Director for United Minds and author of the book “Status – vägen till lycka” (Status – the road to happiness). “It’s about helping others, that gives status and respect.” Working in the field of advertising is a sign you’re after making money and that is not a good sign according to the survey. There is also slight differences depending on where in Stockholm you live. People on Södermalm like artists and musicians more, while on Östermalm people are more accepting with militaries and priests than the rest of the Stockholmers. Find your status: Doctors: 95,4%, Architects: 92%, Scientists: 89.8%, Lawyers: 85.5%, Authors: 68.8%, Journalists: 46.8%, Politicians: 39.7%, Artists: 37.7%, Musicians: 37.3%, Teachers: 36.3%, Priest: 36.3%, Police: 33.7%, Advertising: 29.3%, PR-consultant: 28.7%, Military: 20.1%.

Vattenfall+Industrikraft=More Power.
Swedish Vattenfall, Europe’s fifth largest generator of electricity and the largest generator or heat, is now in joint venture with Industrikraft to launch a project to secure energy production and electricity supply at competitive prices in the future. The agreement aims to ensure new and cost-effective base load power. At the heart of the collaboration is the shared view that there will be a shortage in base load power once Sweden’s nuclear plants are decommissioned. These will have to be replaced with new base load power that is carbon-free. “As far as Vattenfall is concerned, we are extremely pleased to be continuing our close collaboration with representatives of Swedish industry and working together on the energy solutions of the future, including renewable energy sources,” comments Hans von Uthmann, Senior Executive Vice President Vattenfall AB and Head of Vattenfall Nordic. “We are focused on setting up and taking part in concrete projects for new base load power. Naturally, we see nuclear power as one alternative, but we will also be studying other options. The joint venture with Vattenfall gives us a strong partner in energy production,” explains Magnus Hall, Chairman of Industrikraft. Does Sweden need more nuclear power? Dagens Nyheter polled its readers and 71% said “Yes” and 29% said “No”.

Are dyslexia and anorexia real?
According to a school principal in southern Sweden, dyslexia and anorexia are nothing but “made-up diseases”. The principal, Gert Åkesson, made fun of a number of illnesses and handicaps in a column published in a local Malmö newspaper. “Sometimes it’s a mix of state, regional, and self-appointed agencies. Examples of the latter are associations and councils created for all of the handicaps and diseases invented after the 1980s like allergies, Asperger’s, DAMP, ADHD, anorexia, dyslexia, dyscalculia, oral galvanism, anal magnetism… the limits can only be found in one’s imagination,” writes Åkesson. Anal magnetism is a made-up disease from a wildly popular Swedish television program from the 1980s called Nöjesmassakern (‘Fun Massacre’), featuring comedians Gösta Engström and Sven Melander. Oral galvanism refers to a condition, which received a great deal of attention in Sweden as far back as the 1970s. However, questions about whether or not the condition actually existed were never fully resolved. “Concern over the harmful effects of oral galvanism (electrical currents in the mouth resulting from the presence of metal), said to cause discomfort, has been great in Sweden, a country where excitement is, perhaps, hard to find,” reads the abstract from a 1990 article detailing questions about the condition published in the Journal of the American Dental Association. Åkesson’s implied allegations that diseases such as dyslexia and anorexia were invented rather than clinical diagnoses prompted a storm of criticism from advocates for those who suffer from the conditions. A researcher from Capio healthcare company, which operates eating disorder treatment centers in several locations around the country, called Åkesson’s article “one of the most dangerous things I’ve ever heard”. For many years, it was widely rumored that the Swedish king, Carl XVI Gustaf, had dyslexia. Journalists noted that he misspelled his name when signing his accession document, and in 1973, when visiting a copper mine in Falun, he misspelled his name as "Cal Gustf" when signing it on a rock wall. In an interview on Swedish television in 1997 the condition was admitted publicly when his wife Queen Silvia addressed the issue. "When he was little, people did not pay attention to the problem," she said. "He didn't get the help he needed." She also noted that the couple's children have "a bit of" dyslexia themselves.