Ice balls on Öland – again
The unusual phenomenon with large ice balls forming at the southern tip of Öland has returned according to SMHI (the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute). The large ice balls found on the low beach meadow by Kapellviken were probably created when a snow blizzard in strong winds made rolls of snow, which became balls once they got in the water. Once the water pulled away, the ice balls froze at the beach meadow. Meteorologist Anna Hagenblad at SMHI told Kalmar paper Barometern, that this weather phenomenon occurs at times around the country. “It’s not dangerous,” she said. “It’s not as if they get thrown around like cannon balls in the air.” The first time the ice balls were seen on Öland was before Christmas in 2009, when they were compared to giant “kroppkakor” (a traditional Swedish dish - potato-dumplings with a filling of onions and pork or bacon). “But they are not as big this time as they were in 2009,” explained Magnus Hellström at Ottenby Naturum.

Stockholmsmössan, the 'evil hat'
Everybody, from Crown Princess Victoria and Pernilla Wahlgren to Philippa Reinfeldt and the blogger phenomenon Blondinbella, wears one this winter: the so-called Stockholmsmössan (the Stockholm hat). It’s a simple, knit hat – rather ugly if you ask us – which has a pompom of fur at the very top. And it is this pompom that has caused a bit of a debate: its fur comes from arctic fox, and the fox come from farms that abuse animals. Trend oracle Ebba von Sydow gives thumbs down to the Stockholmsmössa: “It’s ugly and it fills no function. It’s become the evil hat. We Swedes always like to look the same, and this is just another uniform.” What do you think?

Olof Palme – 25 years later
February 23 marks 25 years since Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was gunned down in Stockholm, on a walk home from the movies with his wife. The gunman was never found. This murder is what changed Sweden’s face both nationally and internationally. But what does Palme’s legacy mean today? A short article in Dagens Nyheter, written by Owe Nilsson, takes a look at Olof Palme, who was at the very epicenter of politics for 30 years, today. “No other Swedish politician has had as many streets and squares around the world named after him,” Nilsson writes. “But what remains of his political deeds?” Most talked about in connection with Palme, is his international work – long before Swedish politicians began commuting to Brussels, he built a global network. Less is written about his work in Sweden. But Palme was a central figure during a time when välfärdssverige (the welfare state of Sweden) grew strong, first as the right hand of Tage Erlander, later as a minister on different posts and finally as a party leader and Prime Minister. It is, says Nilsson, impossible to imagine well fare Sweden, social politics, housing politics, study grants, child care system, education and culture politics, work and life reforms, energy politics and equality politics without mentioning Palme. In spite of his confrontational rhetoric, he was during his entire time as a leader of the Social Democratic party, eager to reach across the party lines. It is also impossible to imagine a discussion about what went wrong already in the 1970’s (high taxes, regulations, cost explosions, industry crisis and the beginning of a financial crisis) without Palme. His story is, as the journalist and author Björn Elmbrant puts it, “a story about how most things gradually went to hell.”

25 000 empty apartments
Despite the lack of accommodation in Stockholm there are more than 25 000 apartments in the county, which are empty according to the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce. The reason is strict rules for subletting apartments in combination with the difficulties of getting a new apartment. People who can afford it tend to hold on to their apartments even if they move temporarily to another place.

Vaudeville star Laila Westersund dead
The popular Swedish vaudeville star Laila Westersund has passed away. Known as “the whirlwind from Trollhättan”, Westersund grew up on stage, where she at first performed at age 4 with her father Ehrling. But it is with Liseberg and the Lisebergsteatern, that Westersund is most connected. It was here that she often entertained as king of vaudeville Hagge Geigert’s primadonna. Laila Westersund was 68 years old and died of cancer.