Winter solstice signals lighter days ahead
(Environment) Swedes rejoiced on December 21 as they marked the winter solstice. Now daylight hours increase steadily until summer, providing winter weary Swedes with longer access to the light. In Stockholm, the sun rose at 8:43 a.m. and set at 2:48 p.m. Hello sunshine!

Storm Barbara threatens Christmas holiday
(Holiday) This year might bring Sweden a wet Christmas rather than a white one as Storm Barbara is posing a holiday threat, warns the Foreca Weather Institute and the UK’s weather service. Barbara is expected to affect western Sweden with rain and low pressure arriving on Dec. 25. A Class 1 storm warning has been issued for the holiday. The wild weather should subside around Dec. 28.

Swedish government gets tough on crime
(National) The Swedish government announced today a new agenda to make tougher prison sentences for those who commit violent crimes. Justice Minister Morgan Johansson and Home Affairs Minister Anders Ygeman expressed their intentions of combatting crime in an aggressive agenda with new measures to tackle gang crime. Sentences for serious assault and aggravated robbery will be increased from a jail term of four years to five years. Prison time for aggravated extortion has been increased from 12 to 18 months.

Swedish data collection request rejected
(National) The European Union’s Court of Justice has ruled that Swedish telecoms and internet service providers can not be forced to routinely store data that shows what customers do online and whom they call. Two years ago, Swedish net providers informed the government they planned on suspending data storage but the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority threatened legal fees on operators who did not continue to store customer data. Home Affairs Minister Anders Ygeman criticized the ruling citing tough new measures being put in place to combat organized crime and extremism. The court, however, does permit data storage in limited circumstances specifically for the purpose of crime fighting.

Bird flu spreads north
(Environment) Another case of bird flu has been discovered in northern Sweden, in Utö. Prior to this northern discovery, the H5N8 virus was found throughout Europe, in southern Sweden, eastern Småland, Öland and Gotland. While not known to infect humans, the bird flu is serious for birds with a high degree of mortality.