Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hundreds of Immigrants Busted for Sham Marriages

Sham marriages for the sake of residence permits have become a lucrative business in Finland. The daily Turun Sanomat reports that courts rejected 300 residence permit applications last year that were based, say authorities, on marriages of convenience.

All in all last year, 1,930 people applied for residence permits on the basis of marriage to a Finn.
Increasingly, marriages are being arranged for large sums of money. The newspaper interviewed one Moroccan man, who says that the cost of a marriage runs from thousands to tens of thousands of euros.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Nearly Half of Population Queuing for Doctors' Appointments

The findings are the conclusion of the National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health. Forty-five percent of the population lives in areas where on a weekly basis, some patients are unable to see a doctor even if their condition has warranted an appointment.

Finnish Police Who Questioned Kauhajoki Shooter Suspected of Offence in Office

A police officer who questioned the man responsible for the Kauhajoki school shooting is suspected of neglecting duties of office. Prosecutor Timo Luosma has decided to move forward with consideration of charges. The Office of the Prosecutor General will determine whether or not to press charges.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Senior Physician Criticises Finnish Social Insurance Institution Kela's Evaluation Procedures

Senior physician Risto Pelkonen has criticised the procedure for evaluating the working capacity of some sick leave applicants used by the Finnish Social Insurance Institution Kela. Although a doctor caring for a patient might recommend sick leave, Kela's medical consultants may dismiss the application without even seeing the patient.

A Fifth of Finnish Young Men are Problem Drinkers

Some twenty percent of men below the age of 35 have at some point struggled with alcohol-related problems, such as work absenteeism, relationship woes and addiction, reports Helsingin Sanomat. Young men who drink heavily in their 20s usually tend to lower their consumption as they get older. However some men don't cut back on drinks with age.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Finns Opt Out From Cluster Bomb Ban Treaty

Finland has decided to opt out of the treaty banning cluster weapons, which is being signed in Oslo this week. The Finnish Defence Forces say that cluster weapons are a necessary replacement for the infantry land mines that Finland has agreed to give up, somewhat reluctantly. However, the treaty means that considerably less development and trade in the weapons will be taking place, and that cluster weapons might not be as easily available as the Finnish military would like.

Alcohol Main Cause of Death in Finland

The number of people who die from alcohol-related diseases or alcohol poisoning continues to rise. Alcohol remains the most common cause of death for men and women in Finland.
A total of 2,184 people died of alcohol poisoning or alcohol-related diseases last year. The number is up nearly nine percent from 2006.

Coronary heart disease is the second leading cause of death for Finnish males between the ages of 15 and 64. For women, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death. However the number of people under 65 who die as a result of coronary heart disease has dropped by half over the past 20 years. Meanwhile death from breast cancer has remained unchanged over the past decade.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Nine Finnish Police Officers Suspected of Malfeasance

A preliminary investigation into activities of some members of the Helsinki Drug Squad and the National Bureau of Investigation has been completed. Nine officers are suspected of offences including the misuse of their authority. The case centres on fake drug purchases by the drug squad police.Five police officers at the National Bureau of Investigation are suspected of breaking confidentiality rules and malfeasance.

Thousands of Chickens Die in Finland after Attack on Poultry Farm

Suspected radical animal welfare activists raided a poultry farm in Närpiö in the southwest of Finland Thursday night. The raiders broke eggs, and destroyed electric equipment, causing the ventilation system to break down. Up to 5,000 of the 26,000 chickens are believed to have died for lack of air.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Organised Crime in Finland on the Rise

Crimes committed in Finland by professional gangs from eastern Europe are on the increase. The upswing in crime stems from the expansion of the passport-free Schengen area last year. The National Bureau of Investigation says this type of crime poses a considerable threat to Finland. The free movement of people between the 24 countries of the Schengen area within the EU has opened the door to professional criminals.

Majority of Finns Believe Politicians Can Be Bought

A clear majority of Finns see nothing wrong with business people or trade organisations offering financial support to political campaigns. Nevertheless, an even greater number of Finns say they believe politicians' opinions can be bought, according to a survey commissioned by YLE.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Finns Show Little Interest in European Health Card

Finns appear to have little interest in the European Health Insurance Card offered by the Social Insurance Institution (KELA), This free card allows travellers to obtain basic medical services in other EU countries at the same charge as local residents.

Finnish Conscripts' Hearing Worsening

number of Finnish military conscripts are suffering from hearing loss. A report in the Finnish Medical Journal, one in five conscripts has trouble hearing. Mild hearing problems were found in two-thirds of conscripts. A loss of hearing is mainly due to exposure to loud music and shooting hobbies.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Kids Queue for Finnsh Day Care

The shortage of day care centres is infuriating parents with young children. Parents are especially perturbed by local authorities' poor preparation to meet childcare needs in unexpected situations, such as in the Nokia water crisis last winter.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Finland: Romanian beggars Set up Camp on Open Land Between Highways

A group of Romanian beggars who arrived in Helsinki from Poland a week ago have set up camp on an unused area of land between major highways. On Monday afternoon the mothers of the Matei and Varga families kept a campfire burning, accompanied by two young children. The men were in the centre of the city panhandling. The families had heard about the tough line taken by Helsinki officials toward children begging in the streets. The official stance taken by Helsinki is that children accompanying beggars will be taken into foster care. “We cannot keep children in the streets. That is why we are here and not in the streets”, said Margareta Matei on Monday.

Finnish Prime Minister Warns of Political Crisis

Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen says Finland faces the threat of a political crisis amid revelations that dozens of Members of Parliament have flouted campaign finance laws. He called on lawmakers to re-check their campaign funding reports and release any information that might be missing by the end of this week. MORE

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Finnish Patria Suspected of Bribery in International Contracts

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has launched a preliminary investigation into aerospace and defence group Patria's deals in Egypt.The aim of the investigation is to determine whether Patria's subsidiaries or personnel are guilty of bribery in connection with the company's field gun manufacturing technology sales in Egypt.

Public claims have been made that "incentive money" changed hands. The NBI is also making a preliminary investigation into Patria's tank deals in Slovenia, in which the company is also suspected of having given bribes.

Finns Worried About Elder Care

The majority of Finns are concerned about the quality of elder care, according to a poll commissioned by the Union of Practical Nurses (SuPer). A total of 83 percent of Finns are concerned about the care of the elderly. Nearly half say they are extremely concerned, according to the poll.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Food Crisis Hits Finland's Poorest

Countries and international organisations around the world are recognising the problem of rising food prices and their impact on the poor. Here in Finland, the "silent tsunami" as it's being called, is beginning to make itself felt among society's vulnerable groups.

Racist Online Agitation Spreads in Finland

With the rise of crimes motivated by racism in Finland, the internet has become an increasingly significant sounding board for extremist groups and anti-minority organisations in Finland. Law enforcement officials see online extremism to be a growing threat to everyday security. Kirsi Westphalen of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs fears that racist crimes is on the increase, and like all negative phenomena, racism appears to have infiltrated the internet as well.

Thousands of Finnish Businesses Ignore Waste Disposal

Several thousand businesses in Finland currently ignore their legal requirements on waste disposal. According to present legislation, firms and importers must ensure the recycling of waste or arrange other forms of waste handling at their own expense.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Many More Domestic-Violence Shelters Needed in Finland

Finland has just over 100 shelters for those fearing violence, but according to EU recommendations there should be nearly five times as many. However due to a shortage of funds, there are no prospects for setting up new shelters. The need for safe houses for those seeking crisis help and emergency shelter is greatest in eastern and northern Finland.

May Day Leaves Record Amount of Trash in Finland

The cleanup effort in the aftermath of the First of May holiday is expected to take several days in many Finnish cities. In Helsinki more trash was left on streets and in parks than ever before. Jyväskylä, Turku, and Kuopio also report more trash than usual.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Finland's Maritime Traffic At Growing Risk

Maritime traffic experts are demanding that the state provides more funding for the monitoring and management of the growing ship traffic in the Gulf of Finland. According to the Finnish Maritime Administration, dozens of Finland's coastal radar and radio facilities are in need of immediate replacement.

Finnish Court: Man Intentionally Infected Five Women with HIV

A district court has ruled that a Rovaniemi man intentionally infected five women with HIV. The ruling furthermore said that he is guilty of attempting to infect several others.

Friday, April 25, 2008

New Fertility Laws in Finland Drive Patients Abroad

Some Finnish patients receiving fertility treatments have taken their fertilised embryos abroad to Estonia or Latvia for treatment. Last autumn a new law came into force in Finland, which prohibits the anonymous donation of reproductive cells. The law has meant that embryos created by unidentified donors can no longer be used.

Minister Calls for Doping Investigation in Finland

The Ministry of Education, which oversees sports, has called for the Finnish Ski Federation to respond to claims that Finnish cross-country skiers used doping, i.e. performance-enhancing drugs, in the 1990s.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Finnish Police Commissioner's Use of Official Car Probed

A preliminary investigation is being launched against National Police Commissioner Markku Salminen, following a probe by the Interior Ministry. According to the Espoo district prosecutor, the initial probe did not rule out the possibility that Salminen may have misused his official car by driving between his work and home. He is being investigated for breach of official duties.

Finnish FM Disagrees With PM on Olympics Attendance

Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb says that under current circumstances, he personally would not attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, noting that "human rights go before sports".

Finland's Oil Spill Response Insufficient

Current measures for oil spill prevention and response on the Gulf of Finland are insufficient, according to a report by rescue departments, the WWF, and Finland's Environmental Administration.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Finnish Union Criticises Proposed Hike in Day Care Costs

The Association of Kindergarten Teachers in Finland has criticised the government's proposal to increase day care fees. The trade union argues that the planned hike will undermine the position of families with children, and weaken children's rights to public day care. Members of the union say that the proposal could result in parents who earn less than average salaries having to pay the most for day care.

Finnish Report: Depression Costs Society 1bn a Year

The costs of clinical depression to Finnish society are higher than previously thought -- about one billion euros annually, according to a report broadcast Thursday by YLE television's current affairs programme "Silminnäkijä" ("Eyewitness").

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Finnish Gunman Spent Months Planning Massacre

Police investigators say that Pekka-Eric Auvinen, the 18-year-old pupil who shot dead eight people and and took his own life at the Jokela School near Helsinki in late November, had been planning the attack at least since March 2007. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) released about 600 pages of investigation material on Thursday. Police also reported that Auvinen had been a victim of school bullying from the age of 10.

Finnish Marine Safety Boss Fired After Scuffle

The Finnish Maritime Administration has fired its Director of Maritime Safety after he was involved in a scuffle with a security guard.Paavo Wihuri was dismissed by the administration's board following an incident last July when he refused to show his identity card to a security guard after working hours and shoved him out of his office.

Finnish Universities Face Cuts in Art and Cultural Study Spots

Fewer students in Finland may be granted university study spots in humanities and cultural fields. For example, by 2012 the number of students majoring in culture and arts is to be reduced by 50 percent.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Inflation Surge Pushes Prices up in Finland

Prices in Finland rose by an average 0.9 per cent in March, according to Statistics Finland. Prices rose very quickly. If the rate were to stay the same all year, the annual inflation rate would reach 11.3 per cent, up from 2.5 per cent for last year. The rate would be the highest seen in Finland since the 1970s. Under the price stability goals of the European Central Bank, inflation is seen to be under control if it is no more than two per cent a year.

Helsinki Immigrant Services Backlogged

Police services for immigrants are suffering serious backlogs. In recent months immigrants have had to queue for hours at a time simply to file applications for residence. Police say the slowdown is the result of a sharp rise in immigration.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Leader of Finnish National Coalition Party Called a Turncoat

Former Minister for Foreign Affairs Ilkka Kanerva, who was forced to resign after a furore involving about 200 text messages that he sent to an erotic dancer, says that his departure was prompted by a sudden change of heart by National Coalition Party Chairman Jyrki Katainen. In a newspaper interview, he said that US President Bill Clinton was caught for something considerably worse than sending text messages, and he was not removed from office.

Finland: Jet Fuel Spills into Kemi River

A tanker truck that skidded off the road near Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland has spilled 20,000 litres of jet fuel, most of which flowed into the waters of the Kemi River. The truck was carrying around 50,000 litres of the jet fuel. Emergency service units at the scene blocked off a ditch leading to the river in an effort to prevent more of the spill from polluting the still partly ice-covered waters. Although this type of fuel quickly evaporates, it does pose a hazard to river wildlife.

Some Foreigners Pay Big Deposits for Phone Contracts in Finland

Persons with foreign backgrounds may have to pay deposits of up to 600 euros before a Finnish mobile phone operator takes them on as a customer, reports the newspaper Savon Sanomat. DNA, Saunalahti and Elisa can ask for deposits of hundreds of euros. The money, which they can hold onto for up to a year, does not collect interest.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Finnish Social & Health Care Fees Up in August?

The government wants to raise social and health care fees sharply next autumn.Under the cabinet's proposal, some fees would rise by 16.6 percent as of early August. For instance the maximum fee for child day care would rise from 200 euros to 233 euros. Meanwhile some other fees would decline.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Diplomat Staff Suspected of Abusing Workers in Finland

The staff of two embassies in Finland are suspected of keeping female workers in nearly slave-like conditions. The newspaper Keskisuomalainen reports that authorities discovered two cases where domestic workers' freedoms of movement were severely limited, and they were forced to work exceptionally long days. The women managed to escape and alert the authorities of their plight.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Witness Intimidation on the Rise in Finland

In as little as a year, the number of cases necessitating witness protection by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has doubled. Hundreds of witnesses or victims are threatened each year. It's becoming more common for witnesses to testify from behind screens and some even resolve to changing their identities.

Finnish Teachers: Pupil Behaviour Worsening

More than half of Finnish teachers say that pupils' behaviour has become worse during their careers, according to a survey carried out by the Trade Union of Education in Finland and the magazine Kotiliesi. Classroom teachers who responded to the poll said pupils aged seven to 12 are more restless, self-centred and have shorter attention spans.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Finland's FIIA Director Gets Verbal Warning for Alcohol Use

The board of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (FIIA) has handed the institute's director, Raimo Väyrynen, a verbal warning concerning his use of alcohol. The board considered complaints from the institute's staff on Tuesday. Last week, YLE reported that several FIIA employees had complained about Väyrynen's behaviour to the board. Several of the complaints mentioned alcohol use.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Street Violence More Common in Finland's Cities

Violence has risen 20 percent in the past five years in Finland's larger cities. Violence has risen particularly in the cities of Vantaa and Turku. Recently, the Oulu Police noticed an alarming trend in the increase of assault crimes -- and decided to thoroughly examine crime statistics. Oulu has more unemployed youths that rely on assistance from the state than the rest of the country. In their study however, the police found that violence has risen particularly in the cities of Vantaa and Turku over the past five years.

Crime Up in Finland

Crime went up slightly last year from the year before. According to Statistics Finland, 815,000 crimes were reported to police in 2007. The regions of Etelä-Savo and Southwest Finland saw the largest relative increases in crime. The data includes 238,000 traffic violations.

Battered Babies on the Increase in Finland

More and more infants are turning up at hospitals with injuries that authorities suspect are caused by violence. According to research published in the Finnish Medical Journal, enquiries into cases of suspected infant abuse in south western Finland have nearly tripled over the last few years.

Record Number of Drowning Victims So Far This Year

A record number of individuals have drowned in Finland so far this year. Finland's Environmental Administration warns people that ice in Finland is not safe to walk on, with the exception of Lapland.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Finnish hunters Suspected of Animal Cruelty in Estonia

A Finnish group of hunters on a trip to the Estonian island of Saaremaa has been accused by an Estonian animal welfare group of animal cruelty and violating the country's law on hunting. In a video shown on the Estonian television channel TV3, a Finnish-Estonian hunting party, who appear to be intoxicated, have caught a young wild boar, which an Estonian man pulls by the ears. The animal squeals and tries to escape, as the hunters' dogs attack it.