Swedish roofs can handle Santa’s sleigh – if he’s careful

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden’s houses should be able to cope when Santa and his sleigh land on their snowy roofs this Christmas – as long as he doesn’t try to deliver too many presents in one go.

The portly Father Christmas probably weighs about 150 kg (330 lb) and his reindeer and sleigh a tonne, the Swedish construction company NCC calculated, allowing another 50 kg for gifts.

Swedish building requirements would easily handle that weight, plus 50 percent extra pressure from the force of the landing on the roof, and half a meter of snow, construction designer Thomas Lecher said.

However, presents for all the world’s 2 billion children, as well as a sack big enough to hold them, would weigh at least 200,000 tonnes if delivered on a single run.

“Under that sort of pressure, a Swedish house would be about as strong as paper,” Lecher said. “But it is clear as day that he has access to some sort of Christmas magic.”

Reporting by Fabian Hamnqvist; Editing by Kevin Liffey

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Swedish train to be named Trainy McTrainface in tribute to Boaty

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – A Swedish rail operator has vowed to name one of its trains “Trainy McTrainface” after a public vote, saying it would bring joy to people disappointed when Britain rejected the name Boaty McBoatface for a polar research ship following a similar poll.

Trainy McTrainface won 49 percent of the votes in the naming competition, conducted online by train operator MTR Express and Swedish newspaper Metro, beating choices such as Hakan, Miriam and Poseidon.

“(This is) news that will be received with joy by many, not just in Sweden,” MTR wrote in a statement.

The train will run between the Swedish capital Stockholm and Gothenburg, the country’s second-biggest city.

Last year, the British government said a new 200 million pound ($ 259 million) polar research ship would be named after veteran BBC naturalist David Attenborough even though the name “Boaty McBoatface” had topped an online poll.

The instigator of the Boaty name later apologized for his suggestion, which won more than 124,000 votes.

As a consolatory gesture, the research ship’s remotely operated undersea vehicle, designed to collect samples from the deep waters of the Arctic and Antarctic, will be named Boaty McBoatface, the government said.

MTR said another train had been voted to be named “Glenn”, an apparent tribute to an IFK Gothenburg soccer team of the 1980s that featured four players of that name — uncommon in Sweden — including Glenn Hysen, who later captained Liverpool.

Reporting by Johan Ahlander; Editing by Catherine Evans

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Bones found in California belong to Swedish girl missing 30 years

Bones found in the Northern California foothills have been identified as belonging to a Swedish exchange student who went missing more than 33 years ago, prompting police investigators to reopen the case, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The remains, consisting of only seven bones, were discovered in Fremont, California, in 2010 and in November were matched to 21-year-old Elisabeth Martinsson, the Marin Independent Journal reported on its website.

Marin County Coroner’s spokesman said he could not immediately comment to Reuters on the case.

Martinsson, of Uddevalla, Sweden, had been staying as an exchange student with a family in Greenbrae, across the San Francisco Bay from Fremont, when she was reported missing on Jan. 17, 1982.

Martinsson, who also had been working as a nanny, vanished after buying a pair of boots in the nearby community of Larkspur and had not been seen in the more than three decades since.

Some 10 days after her disappearance Henry Lee Coleman, 31, and Sabrina Ann Johnson, 26, were arrested after they were found in Oklahoma with the yellow Volkswagen Rabbit that Martinsson had been driving.

Coleman, who had previously served time in prison for rape, was convicted of auto theft and sentenced to five years in prison, according to the Independent Journal.

Investigators were seeking additional tests on the bones and trying to determine Coleman’s whereabouts, the newspaper said. Martinsson’s remains, which were cremated, would be sent back to family members in Sweden.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Bill Trott)

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Saudis says no to Swedish monkeys after diplomatic spat

(Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has blocked the transfer of four monkeys to a zoo in Riyadh from Sweden because of its diplomatic spat with Stockholm, the Swedish zoo where they were bred said on Thursday.

Jonas Wahlstrom, head of the Skansen Zoo, said he had received a call from Riyadh Zoo saying that Saudi authorities would not grant entry to the pygmy marmosets.

At about 12 centimeters long, the pygmy marmoset is the world’s smallest monkey. Skansen sends around 10 pygmy marmosets a year from its breeding program to zoos around the world.

“They told me that this was due to the political crisis”, he said.

In mid-March, Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador to Sweden over criticism of the kingdom’s human rights record and after Stockholm ended a long-standing defense cooperation agreement with Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia has since decided to send its envoy back to Sweden, but relations have yet to return to normal. Skansen hopes the spat will be resolved soon to the monkeys can go to Riyadh.

“Otherwise, we will send them somewhere else,” Wahlstrom said.

(Reporting by Johan Sennero; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Extreme Birth Weights Tied to Autism in Swedish Study

Newborns who weigh much more or less than average may be at risk for disorder, researchers say

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, May 3 (HealthDay News) — A much larger or much smaller birth weight than average may be associated with an increased risk of autism, according to a large new study.

Researchers examined data from more than 40,000 children in Sweden, and found that those who weighed more than 9.9 pounds or less than 5.5 pounds at birth were more likely to have autism than those with a normal birth weight.

Specifically, smaller babies had a 63 percent greater risk, and larger babies had a 60 percent greater risk. The link between birth weight and autism risk was independent of whether or not a baby was born premature or past the normal delivery date.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affect a person’s ability to communicate and interact socially.

The study, published recently in the American Journal of Psychiatry, is believed to be the first to show a link between larger babies and increased autism risk and confirms earlier research showing that low weight babies are more likely to develop autism.

“We think that this increase in risk associated with extreme abnormal growth of the fetus shows that something is going wrong during development, possibly with the function of the placenta,” study leader Kathryn Abel said in a university news release.

Abel is a professor at the Center for Women’s Mental Health and Institute of Brain, Behavior and Mental Health at the University of Manchester, in England.

“Anything which encourages abnormalities of development and growth is likely to also affect development of the baby’s brain,” she said. “Risk appeared particularly high in those babies where they were growing poorly and continued in utero until after 40 weeks. This may be because these infants were exposed the longest to unhealthy conditions within the mother’s womb.”

While the study found an association between having a high or low birth weight and having autism, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

“We now need more research into fetal growth, how it is controlled by the placenta and how this affects how the brain develops. One of the key areas to research is maternal condition and healthy growth,” Abel concluded.

WebMD Health

Gimme shelter and light therapy at Swedish bus stops

STOCKHOLM | Tue Nov 27, 2012 11:33am EST

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Commuters in the northern Swedish town of Umea are being treated to ultra-violet light therapy as the long, dark winter for which the Nordic state is renowned draws in.

Energy company Umea Energi has decided to install ultra-violet lights at about 30 bus stops for people, which will be in place for the next three weeks.

“This is so people can get a little energy kick as they are waiting,” said Umea Energi marketing chief Anna Norrgard. Umea is about 600 km north of capital city Stockholm.

The company also wanted to highlight the fact that its energy comes from environmentally sound sources, she said. Any harmful rays from the light have been filtered out of it, the company said.

Much of Sweden is plunged into long, dark winters, often with lots of snow. The sun in Umea currently rises at about 8 a.m. local time (02.00 am EDT ) and sets at 3 p.m. The daylight hours are shortest in December, when the sun comes up at about 10 a.m. and disappears again at about 2:30 pm.

Some towns north of the Arctic circle have no daylight for several weeks in the winter.

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Swedish woman charged for sexual activities with skeleton

STOCKHOLM | Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:35am EST

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – A woman in Sweden has been charged with engaging in sexual activities with a human skeleton and could face jail time for disturbing the peace of the dead, a Swedish prosecutor said.

Police found a full human skeleton, skulls and a box containing other human bones by chance after responding to a call saying a shot had been fired from her flat in the city of Gothenburg.

They also discovered CD-ROMs titled “my necrophilia” and “my first experience”, and photographs of the woman engaging in various sexual activities with a skeleton, a court document on the prosecutor’s website showed.

It said the woman had handled the bones in a “shameful” and “unethical” manner.

“She is interested in the dead,” Prosecutor Kristina Ehrenborg-Staffas told Reuters. “She has pictures of morgues, churches and graveyards.”

The 37-year-old unemployed woman has also been accused of selling human bones to an artist in Uppsala in eastern Sweden this past summer.

The woman has said she bought the bones, which were around 50 years old or more and from different parts of the world, over the Internet for historical purposes and says that it is not her in the photographs.

Her trial will take place next week and she faces a maximum two years in prison if found guilty.

(Reporting by Mia Shanley; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Wolves kill worker at Swedish wildlife park

STOCKHOLM | Mon Jun 18, 2012 12:22am EDT

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – A pack of wolves attacked and killed a worker in their enclosure at one of Sweden’s most popular wildlife parks on Sunday, said police, who did not know what had triggered the attack on the 30-year-old woman.

“She was so badly hurt in the attack that she died of her injuries,” said a police spokesman for the Ostergotland district, where the Kolmarden park is located.

“We do not know why they attacked.”

Police remained on the scene to investigate the incident at the biggest wildlife park in the Nordic region, located around 150 km (93 miles) south of Stockholm.

The woman’s body was recovered after rescue workers and park staff entered the enclosure, forcing the animals back while an armed park official stood by to shoot the wolves in case they attacked again, the website of Norrkoping Newspaper, the local daily, quoted a rescue official as saying.

News agency TT quoted Kolmarden zoological chief Mats Hoggren as saying there were no eyewitnesses to the attack so it was not clear exactly what had happened.

Kolmarden, founded in 1965, is one of the most popular attractions in Sweden, with more than 500,000 visitors a year.

(Reporting by Patrick Lannin; Editing by Sophie Hares)

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Swedish sperm donors are well-adjusted men: study (Reuters)

(Reuters) – Men who pass a screening process and donate to sperm banks in Sweden score better on personality measures, such as responsibility, confidence and self-acceptance, than other men in their peer group, according to a Swedish study.

Sweden was the first country to pass a so-called non-anonymous law, which entitles children to contact the sperm donor if they choose. Britain, Australia and other nations also require that donors consent to being contacted.

The United States allows donors to remain anonymous and for them to get paid, unlike Sweden, where men can only volunteer.

The non-anonymous laws could be a problem for both sides since nobody can prepare themselves for their reactions if a child decides to contact the biological father, said Gunilla Sydsjo, lead author of the study and a professor at Sweden’s Linkoping University.

“A decision made at the age of 25 might be crystal clear for the individual at that time but might take on other dimensions 20 years later,” she wrote in an email to Reuters Health.

“We have, in this study, shown that the men who are accepted for the program were all in the normal range of character and also demonstrated a mature personality and a stable character.”

The study, published in the British obstetrics and gynecology journal BJOG, looked at 115 men who donated sperm at clinics in Sweden between 2005 and 2008, comparing them with men of similar age who did not attempt to donate sperm.

Donors in Sweden go through a screening process that weeds out men with psychological or health problems. The study questionnaire asked about behaviors, emotions and social skills.

On two measures, self-directedness and cooperativeness, the donors scored higher than the comparison group, showing that they pursue goals, stick to their values and take responsibility, researchers said.

The donors scored lower on one measure, called harm avoidance.

“This indicates that the sperm donors described themselves as being less worried, uncertain, shy and less subject to fatigue,” the researchers wrote.

All other personality traits, including persistence and novelty seeking behaviors, were similar between the two groups.

The results suggested that the donors would not be thrown if a child decided to contact them, said Robert Oates, president of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology, who was not involved in the study.

“They will be able to handle it if in the future somebody comes to them and says, ‘I am your donor child’,” he added.

“I think the majority are just nice people who want to help people out. That may be a different personality from the 21-year-old college student who wants to make a lot of money.”

Two recent studies have shown that uniting children with donor fathers is usually a positive experience, but the researchers wrote that they were not aware of any children in Sweden taking advantage of the transparency law to contact their biological fathers.

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/vvRuq6

(Reporting from New York by Kerry Grens at Reuters Health; Editing by Elaine Lies)

Yahoo! News: Oddly Enough – Reuters

Swedish bank robber busted by forgotten urine (AP)

AP – A Swedish bank robber forgot to cover his tracks and left three bottles of urine behind after hiding inside a bank vault in Copenhagen for three days. The 27-year-old man and his accomplice used the bottles to relieve themselves after sneaking into the vault on a Friday in May and remaining there until the bank opened again the following Monday.
Yahoo! News: Odd News – AP

Stockholm explosions suicide attack: Swedish television

Two explosions in central Stockholm Saturday were a “terrorist” attack, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said, with one television report saying the only person to die was the bomber. Bildt’s comments, sent from his Twitter account, effectively
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