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Swedes should work until they're 75: Reinfeldt

TT/AFP/The Local · 7 Feb 2012, 07:40

Published: 07 Feb 2012 07:40 GMT+01:00

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“The pensions scheme isn’t based on magic. It is a welfare ambition based on large-scale re-distribution and citizens’ own work. If people think that we can live longer and shorten our work life, then pensions will get lower,” Reinfeldt said in an interview with daily Dagens Nyheter (DN).

According to Reinfeldt, the expectation to retire at 65 is a problem in Sweden today.

He thinks that Swedes may have to stretch their working life to 75 years of age in order to keep the same living standard. Not many would be willing to sacrifice the way they live, he said to the paper.

“Are people on a large scale willing to give this up? I think not,” he said.

To keep working that long, Reinfeldt isn’t ruling out that Swedes would need to have more than one career during their working life.

“It is a very challenging view. Our entire life is characterized by the idea that once we have spoken to the student career counselor, we think we are going to do the same thing our entire life,” said Reinfeldt.

But instead, Swedes need to be able to change their career at a later stage in life, said the prime minister.

He also said that student loans for those over 55 wasn’t out of the question.

“Maybe it is worth looking into that,” he told DN.

Reinfeldt also said that those who are 55+ would immediately become more attractive to employers if they were expected to work for another 20 years instead of ramping down after five to six years.

“But it is important to understand that a 30-year-old wouldn’t do the same work as a 70-year-old,” said Reinfeldt.

Sweden has a flexible retirement age, where workers can begin drawing on their pension at 61 or keep working until 67. Of Swedes over 65 years old, 7.8 percent were employed in 2010, says Statistics Sweden.

The prime minister is scheduled to host a meeting in Sweden on Wednesday with the leaders of the Nordic nations, as well as with British PM David Cameron, to discuss among other things the implications of an aging population.

Story continues below…

Reinfeldt's comments prompted a slew of reactions on Tuesday, with the influential Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) arguing that it was not feasible for its members to work to age 75.

"It is totally impossible right now, the average retirement age today is around 64," LO economist Mats Morin told Dagens Nyheter's online site.

He added however that if working conditions improved, employees could stay healthier and work longer in future.

TT/AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:57 February 7, 2012 by witsltd
Good! If this goes through, Greece could learn something from Sweden.

Along with this, healthcare improvements are necessary to keep individual healthy till 80 years.
08:59 February 7, 2012 by isenhand
looks to me like serious miss management! Sweden should have the ability to run good social services with a reasonably fair wealth distribution and equality. To say people need to work till 75 says they have messed Sweden up. But then, you can see that if you open your eyes and look at the tramps on the streets in Stockholm!
09:04 February 7, 2012 by swedengreat
It is difficult for those who are working in hard jobs like snow removing, news paper distribution and lot more. You have to notice the weather conditions also and the people who are in their 60's or more can not work like young. Lot young people today don't have jobs and still it would be difficult for them to get job until they reach 30 or 35. Then how the pension scheme work for them?
09:10 February 7, 2012 by Kevin Harris
Reinfeldt knows the numbers don't add up. The number of people paying into to the current pension system will one day be insufficient to finance, at current levels, the number of people who will draw out of it. The pension system envisaged by successive Social Democrat governments was built on the misconception that any shortfall could be made up by borrowing money from future generations. Unfortunately, the Greek bankruptcy shows that a country will inevitably run out of other people's money to finance its benefits and pensions, and that this policy is unsustainable in the long term.

As Reinfeldt points out, the only way to retire at the luxurious but unsustainable levels of the current pensioners is to pay more in, and/or draw it out much later than now. Or, you can go Greek; spend it all out until there is nothing left, and then borrow more until your creditors won't lend you any more money. Quite what you do after that point ……. I have no idea. But then, neither do the Greeks.

Local readers who think a future Swedish state pension on its own will be sufficient to finance them through their golden years really need to think again. And this is the scary part - Sweden's pension system is relatively well managed compared with many other European countries.
09:32 February 7, 2012 by LimpFish
Could it be that the wage share across the western world is continuously dropping in the last decades that the pension funds are slowly draining out? Low wages equals low tax income and low contributions to pension funds...It's funny how the rhetoric about the "lazy southerners" slowly moves north transforming into the "long-living northerners". And because I love cliches:

First they came for the Greeks

and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Greek.

Then they came for the Portugese,

and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Portugese.

Then they came for the Irish,

and I didn't speak out because I wasn't an Irish.

Then they came for the Italians,

and I didn't speak out because I wasn't an Italian.

Then they came for me

and there was no one left to speak out for me.
09:32 February 7, 2012 by occassional
Does financing the feckless fecundity of the ghettoes come into this too or is that taken care of by the UN quota system?
09:41 February 7, 2012 by saar
I don't mind
09:42 February 7, 2012 by Åskar
Great, one of his faces says that people should work until they're 75. The other face, meanwhile, says that we must provide jobs for the young. Somehow I can't get this together.
09:56 February 7, 2012 by Douglas Garner
@Askar... you bring up a great point. As we age and are less able to do harder physical labor, we need to be allowed more administrative work or retail jobs. These are jobs frequently filled by the young or for which a person previously performing hard labor might be temperamentally suited.

Many of us are better suited for senior management positions than ever, but these are somewhat limited as may be our desire to continue 10-12 hour workdays or extensive travel. Some alternate career paths need to be seriously considered or developed.

I also find it interesting how none of the commenters above mentioned that this is specifically why Sweden MUST have more immigrants... to fill the voids left by the aging populous and to fund our retirement The problem is not new, nor is it unique to Sweden. Anyone with open eyes and the ability to reason has been watching this coming for over 30 years!
10:20 February 7, 2012 by just a question
ok Reinfeldt, you should start with the idea working until 75
10:24 February 7, 2012 by Shawntooth
young people couldn't get jobs and keep postponing their entrance to the labor market; older people remain on the "permanent" position due to prolonged mandatory work duration.....see the problem?

1) while encouraging entrepreneurship, establish retention programs for SMEs, grow new jobs and keep them in sweden

2) let senior citizens retire and give possibilities for young people to enter job market earlier, stop letting old people finance the young and stop letting them occupy possibilities for the young
10:30 February 7, 2012 by inthenovel
I know friends and family in Canada who can comfortably retire at 55. These include a variety of occupations like teachers, nurses and a plummer. Education standards are much better and Canadian health care is free not like here where they tell you it is free but fees keep increasing. Canada takes in tons of refugees etc.

I think it is mismanagement.
10:32 February 7, 2012 by RobinHood
@Douglas Garner

That argument (third para) doesn't stand up. What void? The theory you propagate is put about by those who want unrestricted immigration into Europe, and hope nobody notices the tens of millions of currently unemployed Europeans. Once you put those millions back in the picture, it falls down.

European unemployment figures are massive. Youth unemployment figures are even worse. There is already a giant and vigorous local labour pool ready to pick up jobs vacated by the elderly, and there will be for decades to come. Of course there is always a need for skilled people to carry out tasks the locals cannot do, but inviting in unskilled immigrants to fill imaginary labour shortages isn't a sensible solution; either for an ageing workforce, or for local unemployment. It just makes things worse than they are. When Europe has too many open jobs, and not enough locals to fill them (oh happy days) then you might have a point. But not now.
10:56 February 7, 2012 by HYBRED
If you make people work until a older age, paying they're pension will be delayed. However at the same time there will be young unemployed with families to support living on social welfare. Which is cheaper?
10:57 February 7, 2012 by SimonDMontfort
Governments, across the western world, have badly underestimated the impact of people living for longer (as far as paying their central/state pensions is concerned)

One way out of the impasse is for governments to exercise a little more wisdom and urge each and every one of us to save more for a personal pension - and to start doing it as soon as possible.

Psychologically its difficult for a young person in their early 20s to appreciate they may want to retire in 30-40 years: after all its such a long way off!

Nothing really strange about Reinfeldt's words: the UK government recently announced they were bringing forward, by 8 years, a 'later state pension retirement age'
11:07 February 7, 2012 by NickJT
The debate on this topic has to start sometime as it will take quite a while to get people to change their mindset on this topic. I think Reinfeldt just wants to get the ball rolling. Here are some of my initial reactions/thoughts:-

1. If people can work longer then this might make young people unemployment levels even higher than they are today. Surely one can't talk about increasing the pension age until one sees that there are plenty of jobs to go around!

2. People should have a right to choose when they decide to retire after 60 say. If they have provisioned correctly and therefore can afford it let them decide. It means educating people to financially plan for retirement from an early age.

3. I think there should be restrictions on how much overtime people should be able to do. Better to employ 2 people who can enjoy life working a normal working week than have one unemployed and the other stressed out of his/her mind because they work too long.

4. Job sharing is a concept to be looked at. Maybe the combination of an older person with a younger person. The older person can deliver his/her experience plus do back office type support work for the younger person. They work as a team.

5. Older people who become physically or medically unable to continue working need to be protected in some way. Even if one looks after ones body one can never tell when something goes wrong with it. Promoting and even perhaps legislating a heathly lifestyle could help reduce the number of people who do become unfit to work in their 60's and 70's.

6. Generally speaking, mentally and physically older people are not as sharp as they were when younger so what kind of jobs suit these people in dynamic and fast moving companies? Let's define the jobs and think about ways of transitioning people from what they do today to these jobs.

So many more ideas but I'll stop here.
11:41 February 7, 2012 by Rumrunner94
@Douglas Garner & RobinHood

Swedes hardly want to hire the immigrants. How you gonna fix that? Secondly, what the heck ever happened to the idea of on-the-job training in this country? I've been here for almost nine months (married in) and searching for employment for over a year. I speak three languages, broadly and continuously educated, internationally well-exposed, and making the career transitions suggested by Reinfeldt. Every employer DEMANDS experience a.k.a. presently employed in the same industry or sector, and yet the cries rage about needing immigrant workers. ?????????????
11:59 February 7, 2012 by anonymous4
Yup! Keep the elderly working till they die! I figure that the 75 year olds can be "bed testers" and "ache consultants" to those young workers. If Reinfeldt gets a career change as a snow shoveler, he can get an old age job too!
12:07 February 7, 2012 by Great Scott
This incompetent clown has no idea, first he lowers taxes to allow huge tax breaks for the well off. Then he says the poor have to work to 75. That you can bet will be used to pay for the well off to retired at 55 and get golden handshakes that are worth millions... Anyone earning over 500,000 sek per year should face higher taxes to pay for pensions and this should be adjusted pro rata as earnings increase.
12:23 February 7, 2012 by CJ from Sunshine Desserts
Yeah, like I`m sure Phillipa will be there at 75 ! another thing if we´re all here at 75 how will young people get into the job market Mr. Rhinefeldt !? Too many people here in Sweden have taken early retirement & are costing too much...maybe they should return to work...oh I know just send them all down to Greece !
12:31 February 7, 2012 by flintis
Great, I've got to work another 20yrs to pay for the immigration policy. By the time I'm 75, if I attain that age, my pension will still be worth bugger all because there will be 4 times as many unemployed claiming benefits & an increase in work related accidents.
12:39 February 7, 2012 by LimpFish
In case anyone is interested in facts about retirement ages:

12:51 February 7, 2012 by cattie
Unbelievably politically brave to actually utter the truth.

Reforms are needed, and unless someone is willing to mention that today's scheme does not add up, we will be in a worse situation to be "surprised" by the mathmatically obvious.

Sweden needs to change the conditions that add up to working past 70, because not too many people can do that, (of course some can).
12:57 February 7, 2012 by karex
I don't think that bringing in more immigrants to live off welfare for decades is going to solve the problem. Stop bringing them in and there will be more money left over for the benefits of those who DO pay taxes. What Sweden needs is to have more children. Low birth rates exacerbate these types of problems.
13:03 February 7, 2012 by RobinHood

You might get a job quicker, if you pay attention better. Read my post properly please.
14:09 February 7, 2012 by 4254
first working until 75, then probably until 85, then 95 and so on - just to reduce payouts?

bad management.
15:14 February 7, 2012 by zircon
PM, you lost your cool.
15:51 February 7, 2012 by Svensksmith
Solyent Green is on the horizon.
16:09 February 7, 2012 by avatar
i know a couple of people who felt really sad on retiring at the age of 65. They really wanted to continue working and enjoy their working life.
16:21 February 7, 2012 by Brianito
Great way to get the pensioners to vote for you at the next election, you really are an idiot!
16:34 February 7, 2012 by Puffin
Perhaps Reinfeldt should put his own house in order first!

Under the current rules Swedish Government Ministers get a huge financial bonus is they retire at 50!

So for Reinfeldt - ife her retires at

- 50 - he gets 144,000 kr/month until he turns 65

- 65 - the he gets only 14,687 kr/month

But the rest of us must work until 75!
17:12 February 7, 2012 by millionmileman
Einstein's Theory of Relativity: Danes not wanting to be outdone, to retire at 79!
17:56 February 7, 2012 by Mark737408
i want to pee in his face
18:29 February 7, 2012 by Great Scott

Well said, it only shows it's the only ideas he has. Time to get this useless buffoon out off Swedish politics.
20:06 February 7, 2012 by StockholmSam
I hope that I will not be discriminated against in the job market when I am 65, especially if I live to 85. I know too many people who are retired and bored out of their skulls, wishing they were part of something productive. This kind of initiative will help get employers to see the value and necessity of older workers, and it is necessary as the current model is completely unsustainable. I would rather have the option to work and hopefully not need it than to need the option and not have it.
20:30 February 7, 2012 by The Grand Master
Of course we could always introduce a 30 hour working week, retire at 60 (living another 20-30 years on state pension), and tax everyone at 90% to pay for it.....

Seriously, you lefties on here live in an alternate totally idyllic and illogical universe. Luckily, the Swedish electorate seem to have a slightly higher IQ and are prepared to listed to, and vote for common sense reality, however brutal the truth may be.

Fact. Sweden has the best run economy in the western world. We don't need totally mental leftist outdated policies back to ruin it all.

I have a suspicion that even the Social Democrats are finally starting to get the message. Moderate led coalition with the Social Democrats after the next election???
20:53 February 7, 2012 by calebian22
Reinfeldt is only talking about demographics. Does anyone wonder why there are so many benefits to produce children in Sweden? Anyone slamming Reinfeldt needs to take a statistics class at University. Oh wait! This is Sweden where "high school" is considered educated.
21:09 February 7, 2012 by 2394040
I can tell you from my own experience; you don't get faster and healthier as you get older. There are those who, with a LOT of luck, will be able to maintain their speed and health as they get older. But I would say most will not.

When I was 20 years old, I never forsaw that I might nearly die of a severe viral infection, and after recovering from that, almost die in a head-on collision (the other fellow did die).

By the time I was 24 both of those things had happened. The lesson is that one cannot foresee the future. And those who suggest that more and more people can work until 75 have totally lost touch with reality.
21:18 February 7, 2012 by HYBRED
I don't understand the ones that want to work past retirement age. Lets say you are eldgible to collect a pension of 14,000kr a month. If you keep working, the first day of every month you are taking 14,000kr and just throwing it out the window. I retired at 48yrs old and it wasn't soon enough for me, and I liked my job. To much to do before you die besides work.
21:22 February 7, 2012 by Larry Thrash
We in the Western world are seeing the results of decades of Socialism. There aren't enough "rich people" and workers to support the welfare classes.
21:44 February 7, 2012 by Svensksmith
And therein lies the problem. There would probably be enough money to let people who have worked for 45 - 50 years retire with a modest pension at age 65 if there wasn't so much assistance paid out to those who have never and will never work.
21:45 February 7, 2012 by Debaraja
One more victim of the swine flu vaccine side-effects. Poor Reinfeldt :-(
22:44 February 7, 2012 by TheWatchman
Or you know...the government could stop giving money to foreigners who settled into Sweden with no actual wish to improve the country or contribute.
23:11 February 7, 2012 by workforthesoup
i have a solution:

Large scale immigration of educated, qualified, well experienced people into Sweden.
23:28 February 7, 2012 by samwise
well, who knew the welfare promises were not sustainable?

too bad all the architects designing this ponzi scheme got their votes, got their power, and are living well in some paradise I suppose.

Politician is a strange profession, you may have to resign if you take $100 dollar bribe, but you are just fine if you waste $100,000,000, so long as you come up with a nice excuse for it, like saving the world from man-made global warming.
04:19 February 8, 2012 by engagebrain
The basic idea that we live longer and are healthier than ever and that our longevity stresses pensions funds is sound. Most 65 year olds could do some useful work and that this would obviously reduce pension payments.

A jump from 65 to 75 is absurd and basically means that around half the population would never actually collect a pension. However an increasing number of the the 65+ would end up retiring on health grounds, so the saving would be far smaller than expected. An extra 2 years would make huge difference to the pension industry and is probably a reasonable payback for increased longevity.

But a major benefit of retirement is to clear out the intellectually moribund, or those past their prime, from top jobs. Many in the 65+ will perform useful work but some really should to leave or at lest move to less important posts.
07:03 February 8, 2012 by Douglas Garner
Lots of interesting comments! Of course the article was about "maintaining lifestyle" . So, Reinfelt's salary which evaporates after 65 will clearly not provide the life style to which he is accustomed... let alone make car and house payments!!! Will yours?

For those who suggest that immigration should be halted to assure employment for the young just don't understand the facts. This is a long term problem and will get exponentially worse before it gets any better. Yes, we need to retire to provide vacancies in the job market.... but a 23 year old does not have my univ degrees or 40 years of management experience! Our age bubble has created a void that will only be filled over time... in the meantime we need folks to take care of us and begin the long education process. Many of them will be immigrants to Europe and the US and Canada!
09:47 February 8, 2012 by Great Scott
@The Grand Master

Why do people like you always rant on about "lefties" as you like you call them, you sound like small children, for god's sake grow up.

You are obviously one of the mislead people, where you believe that people that have a comfortable life tell you what to think.

Your statement "the Swedish electorate seem to have a slightly higher IQ and are prepared to listed to, and vote for common sense reality" has already been proven wrong this morning, "An overwhelming majority of Swedes disagree with Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt's suggestion that workers should be ready to stay on the job until they are 75, a new poll shows.".

Sorry what was you saying about the Swedish electorate, you have no idea. And where did you get the idea that "Sweden has the best run economy in the western world".

Sweden like most other European countries lives in a grown up world, where people respect each other when it comes to health, education and retirement. It is only the few that want to change health, education and retirement and these are people with no financial worries, in fact their greed wants even more money. It is these very people that mislead others for their own financial gain.

Anyone earning more than 500,000 per year should be taxed accordingly and increased pro rata. Not everyone was born with a golden spoon in their mouth, and some were never even born with a wooden spoon in their mouth. Work and money should be shared more fairly in this world, poverty, homelessness and health worries must be stamped out.

We are humans, we all have the same right. But this is not happening, the few are walking away with the most.
16:35 February 8, 2012 by jostein
@Douglas Garner

Jan Ekberg puts the economic effect of immigration to sweden at a transfer of wealth from natives to foreignborn at 1.5-2% of GDP:


Jan Tullberg writes a critique of his findings which puts the transfer of wealth at 3%.plus.


The natives should have been allowed to put this huge wealth into pensionfunds instead of immigration they did not ask for and that was decided over their heads.
10:41 February 9, 2012 by kinan
75 is too much till 70 is somehow ok . but you can also allow other people who can not find jobs in contributing to the society and paying taxes ( to help maintaining the balance in the system ) by giving them jobs !

I am almost 27 and have a Swedish bachelor degree in economics and still i can not get a job ! so give me a job before making my tired 60+ neighbor to work till the age of 75 !
13:09 February 9, 2012 by si
It's already hard enough to fire dribbling invalids in the swedish workplace - why compund the problem ?
16:39 February 9, 2012 by Rebel
This is what Swedes get for not having enough babies.
17:53 February 9, 2012 by philster61
Any means to tax people..... What a desperate Prime Mi ister
18:22 February 9, 2012 by Steggles
One should be able to retire at 50.....because if you reach 50 you have done good.......but from then on you start living the shortest period of your life, so why shouldn't you be able to enjoy it.
10:01 February 10, 2012 by sureiam
Well,,,, I kinda of like the idea of "Reinfeldt" as long as I can secure a job that wont break my back.................then you , me there at the job till 80 years... Seriously!!!!
20:22 February 10, 2012 by james_g
Those in favour of virtually unlimited (and unregulated?) immigration - how are the pensions of those immigrants going to be paid for...?
21:09 February 10, 2012 by Dan in Halmstad
Is there such a thing as political suicide here in Sweden? Reinfeldt may have just committed it. As a sovereign nation, the government of Sweden could issue enough money to cover any shortfall in the pension system or any other shortfall for that matter. It would not create any inflation so long as there was still an unfilled demand. Problem solved. If the bankers were cut out of the equation life would become a lot simpler and better for one and all (except the bankers who would then have to find honest work).
21:26 February 10, 2012 by Ron Pavellas
1. What's wrong with lowering one's standard of living after retirement from employment? How much stuff and expensive entertainment does one really need?

2. One can continue to be useful to others without being employed. One can provide social and loving glue to family and friends that is not manufactured or provided by any organization.

3. Books, CDs and DVDs are free at the library.

4. I get a discounted SL card which takes me anywhere in Stockholm Län.

5. When I need to travel by car, I use the Bilpool which, unfortunately, went broke--but there seems to be a resurrection of sorts.

6. The communal garden (Koloni) is a great thing to engage with: hands in the Earth; flowers and fruits and vegetables that one helps to nurture, for the table and just for pure enjoyment. What a treat to sit in the sun and hear the birds and the wind through the nearby trees.

7. Find some younger people to mentor in a non-intrusive way. Just be a friend and it flows naturally.

8. Quit thinking "I'm Old"!
21:29 February 10, 2012 by meatpie
He uttered the magic words. The pensions scheme isn't based on magic. The more I hear what Reinfeldt has to say the more impressed I am with him. Smart guy, telling it the way it is. You only has to look to Greece, France, Spain, to see the consequences of the fantasy that psnsions are a "right. The entitlement attitude that grips Europe is it's demise. Reinfeldt is separating Sweden from that. We should be grateful, we have a very smart Prime Minister who cares about his country.
00:14 February 11, 2012 by roberzo

Don't mix up things you don't know. Pensions come from public money, right? But in Spain or Ireland there's no problem with public debt, but private. Just check out the numbers (% of GDP). The bad news is there's some other problems affecting a possible recovery, like corruption and greed (wealth in the world is finite, so it should be equally shared).

This seems to me a more like global conspiracy. As some guy from a union once said in a meeting: the Chinese market is rising and their workers want those same conditions of the Western world. They'll just make those working conditions worse for all of us and those Asian workers would be equal already.
10:10 February 11, 2012 by Borilla
Work until age 75, whether one is a nuclear physicist or a manual laborer. Change an educational system that allows bullies to control the classroom and drive children to suicide to one that additionally allows the bullies to choose their own curriculum. Provide "more jobs for young people". All this in one issue of The Local. Perhaps this is an example of what the Moderates expect for the future, when the population has been dumbed down and a thinking middle class eliminated. How exactly do young people with no fundamental education, who have been allowed to run rampant in a school system that, essentially, allows anarchy to prevail, find these marvelous jobs? What exactly will they be qualified to do, dig ditches until age 75? Perhaps one should also be asking at what age Mr. Reinfeld and his cohorts plan to retire and what their retirement pay will be.
14:04 February 12, 2012 by biddi
Retire at age 75?? Where has all the money gone? Please tell.
11:35 February 14, 2012 by sureiam
Give the job 1st..................
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'There was no future for me in Turkey'
People-watching: October 12th
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Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
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'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
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Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
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Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
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