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10:43 CEST+02:00
It will come as no surprise to Swedophiles among readers that Sweden is the world's second-best country to live in, behind Norway. That's according to an annual survey produced by the United Nations, which ranks 'human development' in numerous areas such as health, education, poverty and technical development. This year a new category was introduced called 'cultural freedom', which may account for Sweden's shuffle up the rankings from last year's third spot (although some of the results of Sweden's cultural freedom may be pushing the concept of human development a bit far). Australia and Canada were in fourth and fifth spots respectively but bringing up the rear in 177th position was Sierra Leone.

The medical company Astra Zeneca is threatening to move their research units out of Sweden, according to Dagens Nyheter on Tuesday. The reason behind the possible move is that local health authorities are apparently not very keen to try new kinds of medication. Much to the drug giant's irritation, stick-in-the-mud doctors are recommending older types of prescriptions, and - confound them - cheaper medication. "Why should we invest 11 billion crowns a year on research in Sweden when the Swedes don't appreciate the work of our 5,000 researchers here?" asked Martin Nicklasson, Research Development Manager at Astra Zeneca.

A worryingly high number of Swedish police officers don't hit target when it comes to shooting practice, according to Svenska Dagbladet on Monday. 13,603 police officers have the authority to carry a gun in Sweden today, an increase of a thousand compared to last year. But according to a survey carried out by Lennart Persson at the National Police Authority, almost 10% of those should not be carrying guns. 368 failed their annual weapons competence test and 963 have not been tested in the last 18 months. And it's not because the test is too hard. "You should be able to handle your weapon so that you or others don't get injured because of your clumsiness," explained Persson. "You should also pass certain target tests but they're not hard. It's not exactly gold medal Olympic standard."

Sweden's religious groups are getting a bad press this year. It's all quiet on the Knutby front but Uppsala's courtroom is dealing with another case against a backdrop of religion. Monday's Aftonbladet picked up on the trial of a 41-year-old Salvation Army woman who allegedly terrorised her friend and the woman's two sons for several years. She forced one of the boys to work naked in the snow and eat horse manure and his own vomit. In addition, the family claims she regularly tied them up and beat them with a riding crop. The young family came over from Denmark a few years ago and became friendly with a religious group at Arken Bible School north of Stockholm. "I was too afraid of defying her", said one of the two boys, who are now 16 and 17 years old. This was said to have taken place around 1996 and, as in the Knutby trial, the court is "relying on the evidence of those involved". The 41-year-old denies all charges.

Saturday's DN reported the results of the government's twelve million crown scheme to retrain civil engineers as teachers. The theory made sense - lots of unemployed engineers, a massive shortage of engineering teachers - but the reality was that only half of those who finished the course actually managed to find a job in teaching. More than a third of the students attending the degree were of a foreign background - prompting accusations of discrimination - and Karin Eliasson, Secretary at the Department of Education, professed herself to be very disappointed with the outcome. She said that the education authority "does not make full use of the competence that these people bring to the profession".

And finally, Sweden uttered a collective grimace and groan as Sweden's top athletics star seriously injured her ankle and announced that she would be staying at home for the Olympics. Kajsa Bergqvist tore her left achilles tendon while competing in Båstad on Sunday. She had an operation but felt strong enough to attend a press conference for a statement, where she "put on a brave face", according to Aftonbladet. She promised "to be back next year".

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