U.S. platinum for Icona Pop
The Swedish duo Icona Pop has sold platinum in the US, according to official numbers from RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), the only Swedish groups to have done that before are Swedish House Mafia and Avicii. Icona Pop’s record company TEN Music Group released the news this week that one million copies of the duo’s single “I Love It” have been sold in the US. Icona Pop consists of Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo, who reportedly are over the moon with the news. They are on the ninth spot on the prestigious Billboard list, and are now in New York where tonight, Friday, they are guests on “Late Night” with Jimmy Fallon, after having played on “Good Morning America” earlier. Icona Pop was formed in 2009, and plays electro house music. Hjelt and Jawo grew up in Stockholm. For more on Icona Pop and a taste of their music: www.iconapop.com

S: 'Let's save the school together!'
The Swedish Social Democrats want an extra debate in Parliament to discuss the problems with the Swedish school. The latest report from Skolverket (the Swedish National Agency for Education), continues to show that the Swedish school system is floundering, and the Social Democrats are worried. “It ought to be an alarm clock for everyone,” write party leader Stefan Löfven, parliamentary group leader Mikael Damberg, and deputy chairman in the education committee Ibrahim Baylan on DN Debatt. “We Social Democrats have decided to be the party of the future, which demands that we act when things develop the wrong way,” the party writes, and demands an extra debate in parliament regarding the school situation. According to the party, there are three areas on which to focus in order to turn things around: Teachers, equivalence, and long-term development. The party believes that the state must take on a greater responsibility for the schools with the direst results, and make sure they get enough of much needed resources. The responsibility, according to the Social Democrats, should not be with the municipalities. In the article the trio also criticizes the government for not letting students get the peace needed to study. “The school does not need new grading systems every semester.” But in order to succeed, the Social Democrats also suggest that party politics be put aside. “We need to agree across the party lines what to do in order to get a positive development in our schools,” Stefan Löfven, Mikael Damberg, and Ibrahim Baylan write. The Swedish school system is floundering and Social Democrats Stefan Löfven (the party’s leader), Mikael Damberg, and Ibrahim Baylan demand an extra debate in parliament on how to turn things around.

Teens on hunger strike
Several Afghan youths are on hunger strike outside the Migrationsverket (the Swedish Migration Board) in Gävle, protesting their deportation. And on Vasaskolan, an upper secondary school in the same town, a sympathy strike will be organized as well. The Afghan youths, who came to Sweden two years ago and began their strike last Friday, are carrying posters with children’s rights printed on them. They were recently informed that they may not stay in Sweden, but will be deported to Afghanistan, where they fear they will find their families either dead or disappeared. They also fear for their own lives should they return. Says 17-year old Afsun Mohebat to daily Gefle Dagblad: “The Migration Board doesn’t believe there will be any problems for us in Afghanistan. We come from Jalalabad. It is full of problem. Our mother was killed by the Taliban, and there are many of them there. When we fled, we were separated from out father and our younger brother.” Many people have joined the youths in support and Asylkommittén in Gävleborg (the Political Asylum Committee, a politically and religiously independent organization) has started collecting signatures online, demanding the youths’ cases get tried again. Close to 350 people have signed the petition. Also, SUF (Syndikalistiska Ungdomsförbundet or Swedish Anarcho-syndicalist Youth Federation), is organizing a school strike at Stora Vasa’s schoolyard as a protest against the current asylum policy. Minister for Migration, Tobias Billström didn’t want to talk about the youths particular cases last week when he visited the city of Gävle, saying only: “It’s always sad when people are in trouble. I hope a good dialogue will be possible between the Migration Board and these people so that their hunger strike can come to an end.” The director of the Migration Board’s asylum unit in Gävle, Christian Blackmon, calls the youth strike “distressing”. Meanwhile he says to gd.se that the authority can’t let itself be influenced by it. Sunday, three of the youths were brought to the hospital because of dehydration. They were back on strike this morning. Another hunger strike is taking place in Boden against the Migraion Board’s deportation order. Some ten Afghan men refuse to eat after being notified they can’t stay in Sweden.

Kjell Johansson receives Lagerlof award
This year's Selma Lagerlof award goes to author Kjell Johansson, who made his debut in 1974 with the novel “Det finns en krog på vägen till varje revolution” (There’s an eatery on the road to every revolution). His most famous books are “Gogols ansikte” (The face of Gogol) from 1989, and “Huset vid Flon” (The house by Flon) from 1997. The Selma Lagerlöf literary prize is awarded authors who write in the spirit of Lagerlöf. This year’s award is being handed out in Sunne (the place in Värmland that was Selma Lagerlöf’s home) on August 10 and the sum is 100 000 SEK ($15,300). Last year the celebrated author Klas Östergren was the recipient. Among earlier recipients are Ellen Mattson, Per Olov Enquist (whose book “Boken om Blance och Marie” - or in translation “The Book About Blance and Marie: A Novel” - received quite a bit of attention in English-speaking countries), Kristina Lugn, Birgitta Stenberg, and John Ajvide Lindqvist. Kjell Johansson was born in Stockholm in 1941 and has also been awarded the Moa-priset and Ivar Lo-Johanssons personliga pris. He is regarded as one of Sweden’s greatest contemporary authors. His book "Mammas gata - berättelser från Midsommarkransen" (Mother's Street- tales from Midsommarkransen) has ISBN10_9187347199