Signs of an addiction in Stockholm
Three signs warning of a common traffic hazard recently popped up in Stockholm: two pedestrians staring at their cell phones. The idea came when Jacob Sempler fell into a bicyclist and nearly got hit by a car as he looked at his phone rather than where he was walking. "I thought that we must do something about this," said Sempler, who created the sign with Emil Tiismann, both of whom work at an advertising agency. The signs, which feature a man and woman walking with their eyes down at their mobile phones, express a danger of society’s mobile addiction and are gaining broader popularity on social media, and MTR, which operates the Stockholm metro: "This would be needed in the subway too. Help and remind each other to look up." The advertising agency set up the signs without city permission, and Erik Johansson, a spokesperson for Traffic Office, says the signs could come down anytime. "It’s illegal to post them, but we agree with the message." Whether these signs stay up indefinitely isn't known, but the message of reminding cell phone users to walk with caution is attracting attention beyond Stockholm and Scandinavia.

U.S. ambassador’s chair remains vacant
There has been a delay in replacing Sweden’s U.S. ambassador. The U.S. embassy in Stockholm has been without an ambassador since July when Mark Brzezinski left following his very successful four-year term. His replacement, Azita Raji, was nominated in October last year, but she still needs to be designated and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. There are currently eight ambassadorial nominees waiting to be confirmed in what appears to be political game playing and delays; but Raji can't start unless she's confirmed by the Senate, and it’s possible that might not happen until the 2017 elections. "Without an ambassador, it's more difficult for Sweden to interact with the U.S. as there is no go-between," said Swedish foreign policy expert in Washington, Erik Brattberg. "The ambassador allows the embassy to interact with the Swedish government at the right level. It's not only symbolic, it's important for both Sweden and the U.S."

Progressive attitudes toward gender equality
Since 2006, the Global Gender Equality Report has revealed different countries' attitudes toward gender equality and where the challenge is most acute. For the first time, the 2015 report also shows changes in attitudes that reveal the economic and social progress slowly being made. Through collated public opinion data from 24 countries, it’s clear which countries have the most progressive attitudes toward gender equality — and Sweden tops the list. All the Scandinavian countries rank high each year, largely because of long-standing equality in education and health and the large proportion of women in the labor force, with small salary gaps and strong representation in high-skilled jobs. According to this year’s data, not only do Swedes have the most progressive attitude toward gender equality in the world, but there is virtually no gap between the views of men and women. That’s a stark difference from Asian countries like China, Hong Kong and Singapore, or in the Middle Eastern countries where data for individual genders isn’t made available. For the specific data, see: Global report: attitudes to gender

Gas prices plummet but charging stations are on the rise
While gas prices are decreasing and breaking records across Sweden, Stockholm is increasing the number of charging stations for electric cars. Oil companies have been reducing fuel prices as a result of falling oil prices on the world market. As of Nov. 13, a liter of 95-octane gas costs SEK 12.79 ($1.47) and diesel is at SEK 12.45 ($1.43), amounting to nearly half the price of just one year ago. Swedes are saying there has never been a better time to drive — in part because today an average car uses significantly less fuel than years ago, requiring less payout at the gas pump. There are also more Swedes driving electric cars. And now they'll have an easier time of it in Stockholm, since the Environmental Protection Agency has assigned funds for the installation of new charging points. The city is expanding the number of charging stations from 700 parking spaces to 1000. "This support means Stockholm Parking can continue to pursue efforts to promote sustainable mobility,” said Daniel Helldén of the City of Stockholm and Stockholm Parking. This step is part of the government's June 2015 budget to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — an investment of aid in the amount of SEK 125 million ($14,363,000). Another SEK 600 million ($68,943,000)has been announced for 2016-2018.