Gaza invasion leads to repercussions in Europe
Rising tensions among resident Arabs in Sweden over fighting in the Gaza Strip spilled over into violence the weekend of Jan. 3-4 with the attempted fire bombing of a synagogue in Helsingborg and vandalism at the Israeli Embassy. According to Helsingborg police, someone “broke a window and threw in something that was burning” Jan. 5 at a temple. Neighbors alerted rescue services before the fire took hold, said police spokesman Leif Nilsson. Unknown assailants also started a fire outside the temple on Jan. 3. On Jan. 4, someone vandalized the Israeli Embassy, Stockholm police reported. The vandals painted several slogans on the front of the building, including “murderers ... you broke the cease-fire” and “don't subject Palestine to ethnic cleansing.” Countries across Europe reported a series of similar crimes against Jews and Jewish organizations in the wake of the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip. Sweden is home to a large Arab population, including a large minority of Palestinians.

Ice storm shuts down Sweden.
Snow may be a staple of Swedish life but ice is a different story. Authorities on Jan. 5 said a nasty mix of ice and snow brought parts of southern Sweden to a near-standstill the weekend of Jan. 3-4. Police reported numerous traffic accidents in southern Sweden and while airlines either canceled or delayed many flights at Stockholm's Skavsta airport, the Swedish news agency TT reported. The ice covered a region from Blekinge in the south to Uppsala in the north although it caused no serious injuries, the Swedish Roads Authority said.

Scania trucks owned by Porsche..?
Truck maker Scania could become part of Porsche even though the German luxury automaker doesn’t want the company. Stock market rules essentially force Porsche to bid on Scania after it bought more than 50 percent of Volkswagen in late December. Volkswagen owns a majority of Scania, forcing Porshe into the position of having to bid for Scania's outstanding shares, news service TT reported Jan. 6. Scania Chief Executive Officer Leif Östling said it was "good for Scania to have the stability," provided by Volkswagen, which increased its stake in the company to 68.6 percent of the voting stock in March 2008. Porsche later took control of Volkswagen, renewing concerns over Scania's future, the report said. Porsche, which has four weeks to present a bid for Scania, has previously said it was not interested in taking over the truck company.

Jesus needed in schools.
"We need Jesus in our Swedish schools!" That's what a 22-year-old blogger named Clara Lidström wrote the other day in Expressen. "It's absurd," she continues, "to have atheism being the norm in our society. Stellan Skarsgård says he doesn't think the state should finance religious schools (so called friskolor), but why should Christian people's taxes finance atheistic schools?" Lidström says she had a high school teacher who, when he revealed he was a Christian, was criticized for not being objective. "But whether you believe in a higher power or not, it's something that's subjective," writes Lidström. "There is no way you can be objective when it comes to faith. You either believe or you don't, either way you take a stance. Atheism is just one of many philosophies in the world. One thing is clear, religious people are in an absolute majority in the world today." Lidström maintains that the Swedish schools are wrong in just presenting natural sciences to the students. "A ban of religious symbols in schools won't make children more tolerant," she writes. "Instead I believe in widening the rights for people to practice their faith in society. Many say faith is a private matter and shouldn't get mixed into politics. I don't understand that way of thinking. Politics in itself is nothing. Politics is the sum of what a person thinks, believes, and hopes for - whether he's religious or not. Christianity is politics, and Jesus is probably the most political person in history. Karl Marx was inspired by him, and took some of his theses straight out of the Acts of the Apostles. Jesus didn't say: ‘Go and make your faith a private matter.’ He said: 'Go and make disciples of all nations.'" Lidström's contribution to the debate is a brilliantly written piece and it has generated many comments. What do you think?

Sparrow creates chaos.
A rare breed of sparrow, a yellow-browed bunting (a bird that breeds in Siberia and winters in central and southern China) was seen in Stockholm and naturally caused a stir. "There was quite a turmoil, because a lot of people wanted to see it," says Henrik Waldenström, ornithologist. It's rare to see this kind of birds in Scandinavia, and this was the first time it's ever been spotted in Sweden. When news reached ornithologists through their special alarm system, many made a pilgrimage to Säbysjön by Järvafältet, north of Stockholm, where the bird was seen. "It was a big moment," Waldenström said.

Lund may ban downtown traffic.
Officials in Lund said they are considering banning cars and buses from the city's historic center. The proposal was one of three suggestions the city came up with as it tackled the city center's chronic traffic congestion. The other two proposals included less stringent street closures and access restrictions. The city council plans to study the proposals and convene a session next fall.

Euro to Höganäs.
Some towns in northern Sweden have already introduced the Euro as a parallel currency to the Swedish crown, and now Höganäs in southern Sweden does the same. "This is excellent marketing for Höganäs in general, and especially for all businesses here," says CEO of Köpstaden in Höganäs, Christer Köhler. "There will be two price tags in all stores, and the banks will handle both crowns and euros. Hopefully the euro will also be available in ATM-machines," adds Péter Kovács, a Moderate commissioner in Höganäs. "It places our town on the map."

Looking fine in 2009.
Did you eat too much over Christmas? Did you enjoy extra helpings of meatballs or ham or risgrynsgröt? Of course you did! You were supposed to! Now, however, time has come to undo it all. Dietician and health blogger Anna Ottosson gives her five best tips for success in shedding pounds in 2009. They are: 1. Make a decision – decide what your goal is. 2. Timing - eat every three hours to maintain a good metabolism while also keeping your hunger in control. 3. Color - make sure you always eat a fruit or a vegetable every time you eat. 4. Drink water - so you don't mix up your hunger with thirst. 5. Reward yourself often when you reach little goals, but don't reward yourself with food! Enjoy your life! This will be a success!

Househusband? Yes please!
Housewives, the women who stay at home, take care of the children and the house, who do an insane amount of laundry, who cook and clean and bake and fix and make the flowers grow. And who don't get paid for their work. A new survey reveals that two thirds of all Swedish men are willing to become "housemen" and give up their careers if their partners support them. Of the 857 men who were asked 64.1% said that yes, they would consider being "housemen" and cook and clean and take care of the kids. Of the 686 women who were asked the same question only 47.7% would consider being housewives. "It was a surprising result, since the meridian age of the people asked was 38. In that age many men are in the middle of their career but are obviously willing to give it up," says Jenny Ohlin, at e-kontakt, the dating site that conducted the survey.

New Year's Resolutions.
What are your resolutions for the New Year? Expressen asked its readers and 38% said they were going to live a healthier life, 29% said they didn't have any resolutions at all, 16% said they were going to date more, 11% said they resolved to work less and have more fun, and 6% said they were going to do something they feared every day!