Sweden, a fat cat?
The Swedish business sector continues to criticize how the government handles business policies. 'Sweden has become a fat cat when it comes to reforms,' says chief economist Stefan Fölster. In a new book presented during a seminar in Almedalen (a park in Visby on Gotland, known for the annual Almedalen Week filled with speeches, seminars and other political activities), Fölster describes how the reform tempo under the conservative government’s later years has decreased significantly. Fölster points out that Sweden has fallen behind five spots in the World Bank’s ranking of business environment. In 2007, 12 reforms passed and had great, positive impact for the business climate in Sweden, as well as 14 with some positive impact. Three years later, in 2010, no reforms passed with great, positive impact and only five with some positive impact. In 2011 four reforms passed, and they only increased costs for businesses, according to Fölster, who adds there’s nothing wrong per se with the business climate in Sweden today. The long string of positive reforms that has been taking place since the crisis in the 1990s, has paid off. “But neither the government nor the opposition today talk much about improvements of the business climate, in spite of the fact that many countries advance very quickly. This means, that in five to ten years, the effects will be known, and Sweden will fall behind,” he says. In particular, Fölster points to the sluggishness in simplifying regulations for businesses.

Every tenth 4 year old girl overweight
More than one in ten 4 year old girls in Stockholm county is overweight or suffers from obesity. In socially vulnerable places those numbers are even higher. In total, 13.5 percent of the 4-year-old girls in the county were overweight or obese in 2010. The equivalent number for boys was 9.1 percent. In neighborhoods like Botkyrka and Rinkeby-Kista almost one in five of the 4-year-old girls is overweight. “It’s frightening that social and economic differences may be of such influence on such young children,” says Claude Marcus, a professor at the Rikscentrum för barnfetma (National Center for Childhood Obesity) at the Karolinska University Hospital. Marcus says he doesn’t know why the number is not as high among boys the same age, but adds that “in older children the differences aren’t that great.” The numbers can be found in Barnhälsovårdens annual report for 2011 and includes children born in 2006. So what’s there to do? Claude Marcus’ advice to prevent obesity is to keep regular mealtimes and a fruit snack.

Fewer deaths in traffic
127 people died in traffic during the first six months of the year. It's a 16 percent decrease compared to the same period last year, according to new statistics from Trafikverket (The Swedish Transport Administration). “The trend is a continued decrease,” says director-general Gunnar Malm. Last year there was an increase in deadly traffic accidents, and there were worries that the last years’ positive spell had been broken. Malm now says that the goal to decrease the number of traffic deaths by 50% between 2007 and 2020 will be met. “We will reach our current goal, we’re fairly sure of that,” he says.

'Prison kills your intellect'
Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson, the two Swedish journalists condemned to 11 years of prison in Ethiopia, are thankful for the public outcry of support they’ve received. The two journalists were recently visited by people from the Swedish Embassy in the Kality Prison in Addis Ababa, as it is now one year since they were arrested. “Thank you for all the support we’ve received throughout this year,” they said in a statement. “The longest in our lives. The first time was spent making sure we got enough food, and keeping warm on the cement floor and not getting sick. Today, the challenge is of psychological nature. Prison kills your intellect. In order to survive we tend to our spice garden, listen to Guns n’ Roses through the loudspeaker system in the zone, and read Strindberg. It gives us hope and a taste of freedom. We hope for an end soon, so that we can travel home and reunite with our families. Have a great summer and enjoy your freedom!” Johan Persson’s father Kjell says: “Under the circumstances they are doing well.” He adds that the two live together with 200-250 other prisoners in a very small space, and that it’s never quiet, but they are very close to each other. “They have an amazing feeling for each other. It’s been an enormous support for them.” The Swedes were sentenced for illegal entry into Ethiopia and for terror crimes. Rather than appealing the court’s decision, they chose to ask to get pardoned. “There’s a dialogue going on, but we have no idea time-wise when they may be freed,” said Kjell Persson.