Akesson extends sick leave
Sweden Democrats party leader Jimmie Akesson, who has been out on sick leave, was approved for an extension of his absence until March 31. Åkesson wrote in a press release that his health recovery is headed in the right direction and he feels better, but it's important not to be hasty. During sick leave, his focus is on rest and family, according to the statement. He has been on leave since October, which deputy party leader Mattias Karlsson said was because of chronic fatigue syndrome, arising under extreme conditions during the 2014 general election. Karlsson, who is managing the job “until Jimmie is back and as long as the party thinks I do a good enough job,” has not discussed with Åkesson the possibility of his return to active involvement as a party leader. “The party is very different from the one he left. A lot has happened … politics has become more extreme, but we have not changed our policy,” said Karlsson.

A new commute for Malmo workers
After nearly 10 years of hoping, the people of Malmo will finally have their wish: Rental bikes will soon be available in the city. Financing the program has been a long-term concern while the city considered sponsorships, but a new plan is in place to have the program financed by advertising — the same solution as Lund, Copenhagen and other cities have chosen. Whereas sponsorships can expire and don’t have a history of working well in similar programs, “In advertising, we get a safe and sustainable system,” says Milan Obradovic, councillor at the city of Malmö. The main purpose for rental bikes is getting more commuters to cycle, so starting this fall when the bikes should be ready for use, many of them will be near the bus and train stations. Eventually there should be at least 500 bikes ready for rent throughout the city.

The UN criticizes hate crimes
A rise in hate crimes against ethnic minorities in Sweden has brought criticism from the UN. As part of the second UN review of human rights practices in Sweden (the first was in 2010), Sweden's recent experiences linked to Islamaphobia, anti-semitism and prejudice against Roma (gypsy) migrants were highlighted. The review also noted an increase in sexual violence against women. Annika Söder, state secretary at Sweden's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said she welcomed the "feedback and criticism" from other UN member states, insisting that the Swedish government has launched a number of initiatives against hate crimes; she feels the country is now "on the right track." Several UN member states are calling for a new national independent institution to monitor human rights in Sweden more closely as well. For more info, see Joint submission for Sweden’s second Universal Periodic Review in 2015

New meds for obese Swedes
A medication approved in the U.S. for obesity will soon be approved for Swedes, too. The drug, called Saxenda, has been used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, and proves to have an effect on weight. “It has an appetite suppressant,” says Björn Eliasson, chief physician at the diabetes and obesity clinic at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg. “It is well known that this type of therapy may have beneficial weight effects.” The new drug has been tested in studies in 5800 patients who are overweight or obese. Saxenda is well established in the area of diabetes, but the effects are very individual. Eliasson, who is wary of other anti-obesity drugs that can raise heart rate and blood pressure, emphasizes this could be a solution for many in Sweden, especially people who are on the verge of developing diabetes, who are obese or with an increased risk of developing diabetes.