Climate & Environment
Research: Chilli makes solar cells more effective
Research: Chilli makes solar cells more effective
Credit: unsplash.com / Possessed Photography

The plant substance capsaicin makes chilies hot and it makes solar cells more effective, as scientists from Sweden and China have now discovered: capsaicin is said to minimize power loss and make solar cells more resistant to water. They have processed capsaicin in a perovskite solar cell.

This type of solar cell is seen as the hope for a new generation of photovoltaic systems. They are easy to manufacture with inexpensive materials. Adding the chili ingredient increased the solar cell's efficiency from 19.1 to nearly 22 percent.

Regional News • Europe
Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf says the country's Covid-19 approach "has failed"
Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf says the country's Covid-19 approach "has failed"
Credit: Frankie Fouganthin, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

King Carl XVI Gustaf, the King of Sweden, has criticised the country's Covid-19 approach in the royal family's annual TV review of the year.

"The people of Sweden have suffered tremendously in difficult conditions. I think we have failed. We have a large number who have died, and that is terrible," he told the state broadcaster SVT.

Regional News • Europe
Sweden faces criticism over its handling of the virus; report says it failed to protect the nation's elderly
Sweden faces criticism over its handling of the virus; report says it failed to protect the nation's elderly
Credit: Kremlin.ru, via Wikimedia Commons

Sweden's independent Covid-19 commission states that the nation has partly failed to protect its elderly citizens as elderly care has major structural shortcomings. Mats Melin, the commission president, said Sweden was ill-equipped to handle the pandemic and measures were taken too late and were insufficient.

Sweden has reported a total of 341,029 infections so far and has seen a surge in new cases over the past few weeks. Prime minister, Stefan Löfven, said that health officials misjudged the virus's resurgence and " that most people in the profession didn’t see such a wave in front of them; they talked about different clusters."

Regional News • Europe
Stockholm's ICU capacity has reached 99 percent
Stockholm's ICU capacity has reached 99 percent
Credit: unsplash.com / Linus Mimietz

The intensive care units of the hospitals in Stockholm have reached a capacity of 99 percent and are almost at a point where no new patients can be admitted.

Stockholm region's health and medical care director Björn Eriksson has called for help as "the consequences could be terrible" of nothing would change and if people "go for after-work drinks, do Christmas shopping or meet people outside your household".

Law
Sweden: Mother allegedly kept son locked up at home for almost 30 years

The newspaper "Expressen" reported on Monday evening that a relative had found a 41-year-old man that had been cut off from the outside world since he was twelve years old in a completely neglected flat. The relative told "Expressen" that she had long suspected that the mother had locked up her son. When she heard that the 70-year-old mother of the man was in the hospital, she went to the flat on Sunday evening.

The police did not want to comment on details of the case but confirmed on Tuesday that the woman was arrested. She is under investigation for deprivation of liberty and aggravated assault. The woman denies the accusations.

Regional News • Europe
Swedish Government agrees to supplementary provisions on British Citizen's rights after Brexit
Swedish Government agrees to supplementary provisions on British Citizen's rights after Brexit
Credit: unsplash.com / Kenji Rikitake

As reported yesterday, today the Swedish Government ('Riksdag') debated and voted on bill 2020/21: SfU5 that was put forward by The Social Insurance Committee.

Confirming the decision, the Swedish Migration Agency ('Migrationsverket') detail that it will be called 'residence status', and will be available to obtain between 01 December 2020 and 30 September 2021.

The new residence status will be treated as any other residence permit, expiring after 5 years, where residents will be able to apply to renew it, or if they meet requirements, apply for permanent residence.

When applying, the agency suggest making the application online where it is easiest as the system will ask all questions required to ensure you get the application correct first time.

The Swedish Migration Agency will detail more information regarding the new status on their website in due course.

Regional News • Europe
Swedish Government to vote on supplementary provisions to UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement
Swedish Government to vote on supplementary provisions to UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement
Credit: Taken by Wikimedia Commons user (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Today, 10 November 2020, the Swedish Government 'Riksdag' will onboard their supplementary provisions to the Article 50 Withdrawal Agreement that was initiated when the United Kingdom left the European Union.

The main supplementary provision is a new visa for British Expats who are legally residing in Sweden by the last day of the transition period. British people (who don't already have residence status) would be able to apply to the Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) for the new visa for a period of 10 months from 01 December 2020.

Once granted, the visa will enable the holder to continue to travel freely within the EU without visas.

The Riksdag are poised to confirm and accept the provisions in their vote tomorrow (11/11/20) on the recommendation from The Social Insurance Committee.

Regional News • Europe
Sweden to ban China's Huawei and ZTE from upcoming 5G networks
Sweden to ban China's Huawei and ZTE from upcoming 5G networks
Credit: Kārlis Dambrāns (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) announced Tuesday a ban to telecom equipment from Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE in Sweden's 5G network. According to PTS, the ban is over a security assessment made by the Swedish Armed forces.

Sweden is the home of Ericsson, one of Europe's leading telecom equipment suppliers.

Climate & Environment
IKEA ends sale of disposable batteries
IKEA ends sale of disposable batteries
Credit: Pendect (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

From October 2021, the "IKEA" Group will stop selling disposable alkaline batteries to reduce waste. According to its own information, the Swedish company sold about 300 million alkaline batteries worldwide between September 2018 and August 2019. By replacing this amount with rechargeable batteries, IKEA calculates that 5,000 tons of waste can be avoided annually.

Climate & Environment
Climate activists state that "We don't have leaders who are treating this crisis as a crisis" after meeting Angela Merkel

The climate activists Greta Thunberg from Sweden, Anuna de Wever and Adélaïde Charliér from Belgium and Lisa Neubauer from Germany have met the German chancellor Angela Merkel for a 90-minute conversation.

According to Neubauer, they talked about international politics, CO2 pricing and trade agreements. She stated that "it became very clear that we are looking at the issue from different perspectives" and Thunberg said that "we have discussed some demands, but it is complicated".

De Wever stated that during the conversation there main request had been that "what we want are leaders" as "we don't have leaders who are treating this crisis as a crisis".

Health
Report: Masks recommended for students in schools by Swedish researchers
Report: Masks recommended for students in schools by Swedish researchers
Credit: unsplash.com / Rusty Watson

Based on data from South Korea, the United States and Israel analyzing the infections and spread of the coronavirus through children, researchers now believe that children can contract Covid-19 and easily spread it.

A group of 26 researchers from Sweden wrote that "Because children are contagious, can become seriously ill, and it is unclear today how a mild infection affects their future health, we should already at the start of school take measures to keep the infection down".

They recommend sport only outdoors, eating meals seperated in classes, avoiding group tasks and that masks should be worn at all times.

Regional News • Europe
EU leaders reach deal on €750 billion coronavirus recovery package
EU leaders reach deal on €750 billion coronavirus recovery package
Credit: EU2017EE Estonian Presidency (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Following the fourth night of talks, EU leaders have struck a deal on a huge post-coronavirus recovery package involving €750 billion in grants and loans to counter the impact of the pandemic in the 27-member bloc. The deal includes as well as a seven-year €1 trillion EU budget.

Member states were split between those hit hardest by the outbreak -- Spain and Italy --, and those more concerned about the costs of the recovery plan --Sweden, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands and Finland. While the first group wanted a minimum of €400 billion in grants, the later set €375 billion as their upper limit.

The €390 billion figure was suggested as a compromise, and "frugal" nations were reportedly won over by the promise of rebates on their contributions to the EU budget.

Climate & Environment
Higher-than-usual radioactivity detected near Baltic Sea, origin and source unknown
22 /23 June 2020, RN #IMS station SEP63 #Sweden🇸🇪 detected 3isotopes; Cs-134, Cs-137 & Ru-103 associated w/Nuclear fission @ higher[ ] than usual levels (but not harmful for human health). The possible source region in the 72h preceding detection is shown in orange on the map.
22 /23 June 2020, RN #IMS station SEP63 #Sweden🇸🇪 detected 3isotopes; Cs-134, Cs-137 & Ru-103 associated w/Nuclear fission @ higher[ ] than usual levels (but not harmful for human health). The possible source region in the 72h preceding detection is shown in orange on the map. Credit: @SinaZerbo (Lassino Zerbo), via Twitter

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization has detected slightly increased levels of isotopes produced by nuclear fission near the Baltic Sea. The CTBTO is a network of hundreds of monitoring stations checking for nuclear weapon tests worldwide but is also able to identify other nuclear activities. One CTBTO station detected higher-than-usual levels of the radionuclides caesium-134, caesium-137 and ruthenium-103 earlier this week that are "certainly nuclear fission products, most likely from a civil source," but "it’s outside the CTBTO’s mandate to identify the exact origin," so a spokesperson of the Vienna-based CTBTO.

Nuclear fission products are atomic fragments that are left after an atom is split into two or more smaller nuclei and are radioactive.

Transportation • Air Transportation & Traffic, Flying
Swedish and Danish governments to rescue SAS airline
SAS plane at Gothenburg Landvetter Airport, Sweden
SAS plane at Gothenburg Landvetter Airport, Sweden Credit: Miguel Ángel Sanz

The Scandinavian airline SAS presented on June 15 a recapitalisation plan estimated in $1.3 billion. The company's two principal shareholders Sweden, with a 14.8% stake in the carrier, and Denmark, with a 14.2% share, are expected to inject capital to help the airline face the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The aim of the plan is to ensure that SAS is fully funded and that shareholders’ equity will be at levels reported before the COVID-19 pandemic when anticipated business volumes return to pre-corona levels in 2022,” SAS said in a statement.

Regional News • Europe
Sweden overtakes all other European countries in Covid-19 deaths per capita

Over the course of the past seven day recording period that ended Tuesday, Sweden has recorded the most Covid-19 fatalities per capita in all of Europe. The Scandinavian country recorded an average of 6.25 deaths per single day per million inhabitants according to the research platform "Our World in Data".

Health
Greta Thunberg donates $100,000 to UNICEF to support children affected by Covid-19
Greta Thunberg donates $100,000 to UNICEF to support children affected by Covid-19
Credit: Anderspangpang (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Greta Thunberg, 17-year-old Swedish climate activists, donated $100,000 she previously won from a Danish foundation to UNICEF to help support children affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Thunberg stated that "like the climate crisis, the coronavirus pandemic is a child rights crisis," and asked people to join her in her effort to "support of UNICEF's vital work to save children's lives, to protect health and continue education".

The Danish NGO Human Act is said to match Thunberg's donation.

Climate & Environment
Sweden's last coal plant to be closed two years early
Image of Coal Plant
Image of Coal Plant Credit: pexels.com/@pixabay

Sweden's last coal-fired power station, which was set to seize operation in 2022, has been closed prematurely. A statement on Stockholm Exergi's website read: “This plant has provided the Stockholmers with heat and electricity for a long time, today we know that we must stop using all fossil fuels, therefore the coal needs to be phased out and we do so several years before the original plan." Sweden is the next European country to go coal-free, following Austria and Belgium.

Business • Real Estate, Housing & Infrastructure
IKEA announces that 70% of materials during 2018 have been renewable or recycled

The furniture retailer and producer from Sweden has announced that in their pursuit of using 100% materials that are renewable or recycled by 2030, they have reached the milestone of 70% in 2018.

Health
Greta Thunberg states she believes to be infected with Covid-19

On Wednesday, Greta Thunberg stated on her Instagram account that she believed she had gotten infected with the Coronavirus while travelling through Europe. Both Thunberg and her father experienced symptoms related to the virus – fatigue, coughing and a sore throat.

According to Thunberg, they have been isolating themselves in their home in Sweden upon their return. "I have [...] not been tested for COVID-19, but it’s extremely likely that I’ve had it, given the combined symptoms and circumstances.", so Thunberg in her Instagram post.

Health
IKEA donates 50,000 face masks to hospital after finding forgotten stock

The Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg has gotten an unexpected gift from IKEA. In one of the stores, 50,000 face masks have been found that were bought during the bird flu outbreak. After finding them stocked away in a warehouse the management agreed to donate them to Sweden's biggest hospital.