Saturday, December 29, 2007

Report: Finnish Agricultural Subsidy System A Headache

The Finnish agricultural support system is more complicated than others in the EU. The findings are contained in a fresh study compiled by special investigator Kaj Suomela. The report claims that the Finnish agricultural support and monitoring system is more bureaucratic and heavily regulated than others in the EU. Finland's handbook offering guidance on agricultural subsidies is 150 pages long, while the Danish version numbers just 78 pages. Finland is also lagging behind other EU countries in usage of electronic application forms.

Harbour Workers Strike as UPM Switches Ports

Forest products company UPM-Kymmene plans to relocate its marine operations from the Hamina harbour to Kotka port. The company says the new arrangement will take effect from the beginning of next year, and is designed to ensure cost effectiveness, among other things. UPM based its port operations in Hamina in 2006, but was not satisfied with traffic flow at the facility

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Finland: Dangerous Car Chase in Helsinki City Centre

A dangerous car chase in the centre of Helsinki early in the afternoon on Boxing Day put the lives of bystanders at risk. Police have also been kept busy with domestic calls and cases of drink driving. A car pursued by police drove threw red lights and in the on-coming traffic lane. The journey of the white Toyota came to the end beneath the steps of the Kampi shopping mall.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Slower Economic Growth Forecast For Finland

The Finnish Finance Ministry says Finland's economic upturn is levelling off and output growth is slowing down. Economic performance for 2007 is quite close to the autumn forecast, but next year's activity might prove to be weaker than anticipated, mainly due to developments in the global economy.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Finnish Electricity Prices Continue to Rise

The cost of electricity for domestic use is on the rise. Nearly all of Finland's largest electric companies have either increased prices or will increase prices early next year. For example, two of the largest energy companies Fortum and Helsingin Energia have already increased rates. Energy suppliers Vattenfall and Savon Voima are also among those companies which plan to raise prices next year. Rates will jump anywhere from six percent to twenty percent.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Doctor Shortage Worsens at Finnish Public Health Centres

The shortage of doctors at Finland's public health centres is getting worse. The Finnish Medical Association calculates that about 10 percent of posts at the health centres are vacant. In October, more than 350 public health doctors' posts were vacant. Last year all doctors' positions were filled in half of Finland's health centres. Now only 42 percent of the clinics have such a good staffing situation. The situation is worst in small municipal health centres. In those with fewer than six doctors' posts, one position in four is vacant.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Finnish Winter Darkness Depresses Many

Nearly half of Finns suffer from the seemingly enduring darkness of the winter period. In an article in the Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet, National Public Health Institute Researcher Timo Partonen said that 40 percent of over 30-year olds suffer from symptoms such as fatigue and a craving for sweets during the winter.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Finland Falls Short in Helping Human Trafficking Victims

Finland often fails to identify victims of human trafficking, according to a steering group from the Ministry of Labour. Hundreds of human trafficking victims are estimated to pass through Finland annually. But for many victims, Finland is the final destination.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Finland: Salmonella Found in Tainted Water Patients

As many as 15,000 people may have been exposed to stomach infections following the contamination of drinking water in the town of Nokia last weekend. Latest samples from patients reveal the presence of both salmonella and kambylo bacteria, reports the National Public Health Institute.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Water Contaminated: Scores Seek Treatment in Nokia Finland

Human error at the Nokia Waste Water Treatment Plant has seen scores of residents coming down with severe stomach ailments. The authorities are distributing drinking water and disinfecting the water supply in an effort to restore normalcy.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Finnish Retail Chains Admit to Selling Products Made with Child Labour

Finland's largest retail chains admit that they have been selling textiles produced with the help of child labour. Both the K and S groups say that they have cloth on sale manufactured at a textile mill in Narva in the east of Estonia, which has used cotton from Uzbekistan, where children are frequently used in harvesting. One fifth of the output of the Estonian factory is exported to Finland.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Longer Queues For Hospital Care in Finland

Waiting periods for receiving hospital treatment have been growing longer. In many areas, the situation has worsened over the past year. Waiting lists for surgical procedures have lengthened significantly since last spring. Although delays in receiving care began stretching well before a threatened nurses' strike, the labour dispute did have an impact. Numerous wards were shut down in anticipation of a strike, further throwing off schedules and slowing down care services.

Educated Employees in Finland Earn Less Than EU Average

Educated employees in Finland are paid far less on average then their counterparts in other EU countries, according to the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff, AKAVA.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Finnish Hockey Player Karalahti to Stay Behind Bars

Finnish ice hockey player Jere Karalahti will remain behind bars on drug charges, Espoo District Court decided on Friday. The court also placed a prohibition of transfer on Karalahti's property.
Karalahti has been remanded in custody for the past two weeks on suspicion of aggravated drug offences.

Finnish Amusement Parks Suffer Safety Flaws

Safety and risk assessment at Finland's amusement parks and funfairs have room for improvement, according to a study by the Finnish Consumer Agency and local and provincial governments. Several accidents occurred at amusement parks and travelling carnivals last summer. According to the report, amusement parks and travelling carnivals often fall short in preparation to deal with accidents.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Finns Eat Healthily but Gain Weight

According to a wide scale survey carried out by the National Public Health Institute, Finns still subscribe to a healthy diet but nonetheless still put on weight. The average male weight has increased by 500 grams and that of women by 900 grams in the past five years. One-fifth of both sexes are overweight.

One in Four Finnish Municipalities Raise Taxes

More than one quarter of Finland's municipalities are raising income taxes next year. However the rate hikes are not directly due to the hefty pay raises promised to some municipal nurses on Monday. The Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities said on Tuesday that 119 municipalities will raise tax rates for next year, more than previously expected.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Helsinki Police Arrest Romanian Beggars

Police in Helsinki recently conducted a search in a van that at least some of the Romanians who have been begging on the city's streets have used as a place to sleep. The search yielded a number of stolen mobile telephones, cameras, music players, and at least one GPS car navigator. Petri Juvonen of the Helsinki police say that some of the goods were wrapped in paper and taped beneath the ceiling panels of the vehicles. Police arrested four Romanian citizens, three of whom were later remanded in custody by Helsinki District Court on suspicion of theft.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Finnish State to Appeal in Rusi Damages Case

A week ago, the court ruled the state should pay some 70,000 euros in damages plus legal costs to political scientist professor and former Presidential Advisor Alpo Rusi. The damages relate to harm caused to him by Finnish security police allegations he had spied for the former East Germany's security police, the Stasi, during the Cold War era.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Finland's Alko Workers Launch Three-Day Strike

A strike by workers of the state-alcohol retailer Alko is expected to close most outlets over the weekend. Queues formed on Thursday outside those stores kept open by managerial staffNegotiations on pay and working conditions to head off the three-day strike ran aground Wednesday night, paving the way for the strike.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Finnish Patient Airlifts Continue Due to Nurse Walkout

The first Finnish patients requiring critical care have been taken in by Sweden's Uppsala University Hospital. The first two sent abroad to ensure care during a possible nurses' mass resignation next week are two expectant mothers. Further patient flights may be delayed because of heavy snowstorms in Sweden.Planes are being chartered to fly some patients from Finnish hospitals to hospitals in Stockholm, Uppsala and Bonn.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Finnish Nurses Union Announces More Resignations

The Union of Health and Social Care Professionals, Tehy, has responded to initial parliamentary approval of the patient safety bill by announcing almost 4,000 more resignations. The union says that the government's proposed law on patient security weakens prospects for a settlement in the ongoing labour dispute. In an interview with YLE Radio News, Minna Helle, Tehy head of interest promotion, said on Monday morning that the bill will not solve the labour dispute, and will actually encumber negotiations aimed at resolving the issue.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Finnish Air-Rage Incident Forces Finnair Plane to Return

A Finnair flight with almost 300 people on board was forced to return to Helsinki Vantaa airport late on Sunday following an air-rage incident involving two Finnish male passengers. The two men attacked the cabin purser and behaved violently towards other passengers. Flight AY905, en route to Bangkok, had been in the air for about half an hour before the captain decided to return to Helsinki. It re-departed later on Sunday evening.

Finnish Friendly-Fire Incident Comes Before the District Court

On Monday morning, the Helsinki District Court began a hearing of the events surrounding a friendly-fire incident involving Finnish peacekeepers in Afghanistan last October.

Finnish Police Arrest Youth After YouTube Massacre Threat

Finnish police have detained a teenage boy who allegedly posted a video on YouTube threatening a massacre similar to the one that occurred last week at a high school in Finland.
The 16-year-old was arrested on Friday in Maaninka, some 400 kilometres (250 miles) north of Helsinki, and questioned the following day, a police spokesman said. Authorities also seized his computer.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Finnish Hockey Player Karalahti Remanded on Drug Charges

Finnish professional ice hockey player Jere Karalahti of the Oulu team Kärpät has been remanded in custody on suspicion of a serious drug crime. Karalahti was arrested earlier this month. Police in Espoo suspect Karalahti of involvement in cocaine and amphetamines.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Swedish Professor: Finns Traditionally More Brutal

"Finns are traditionally more brutal", declared the headline in the large Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter on its web page on October 13th. DN was delving into youth violence, which has been a hot topic of debate recently, interviewing Jerzy Sarneck, Professor of Criminology at the University of Stockholm. He told a generally acknowledged truth - that violence statistics are traditionally more grim in Finland than in Sweden. Sarneck says that the Civil War led to the "brutalisation" of Finnish society, and that violence has been passed down as a legacy from one generation to another.

Finland: Vague Threats Cause Anxiety in Schools

Pupils fled the Kirkkoharju middle school in the Kirkkonummi city centre Friday morning, following information that a threat against the school had been published online. Students fled the building once they heard there had been a threat of actions similar to those in the Jokela school shooting. The school's principal Maarit Rossi says students were informed in class of the threat against their school.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Finnish Tragedy Sees Eight Finns Murdered in School

An 18-year-old student shot eight people dead at a school in Tuusula, southern Finland on Wednesday. According to Eero Hirvensalo, chief doctor at the Töölö Hospital in Helsinki, several others were injured. The gunman, 18-year old Pekka-Eric Auvinen, succumbed to a self-inflicted bullet wound late Wednesday evening.The victims included the school's principal and the school nurse, as well as five male students and one female student.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Finnish Novel Runs Afoul of Syrian Religious Officials

In Syria, a book tour by Finnish author has been cut short after her novel stirred an angry response from Muslim leaders. Leena Lander's book 'The Home of the Dark Butterflies' is the first Finnish book ever translated directly into Arabic.

World Cup Slalom Races Moved from Finland to Austria

The Alpine skiing events scheduled to be held in Levi in Finnish Lapland over the coming weekend have been transferred to Reiteralm in Austria, because of a lack of snow. Although falling temperatures in the area have made it possible to produce artificial snow, the situation was not satisfactory from the point of view of the International Ski Federation (FIS).

Alcohol Main Cause of Death for Working Age Finns

Alcohol-related diseases or poisonings are the most common causes of death among Finns of working age. Alcohol has been killing more Finnish men than coronary heart disease for the past two years. Last year 1,300 Finnish men died of causes related to drinking.Last year alcohol caused the deaths of 354 women, constituting a doubling of the death rate in two decades.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Finnish Exports Growth Rate Decelerates in August

In August, Finland's trade surplus narrowed to 407 million euros from the year-ago 443 million.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Finland Down to 6th on WEF Competitiveness List

Finland slipped from 2nd to 6th in this year's World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report.

Among the considerations that will have hurt the Finnish ranking this time around are the aggregate tax burden and ancillary labour costs, where Finland comes well below the top ten and in the middle of the pack or lower.

Finland is singled out negatively for the rigidity and restrictive nature of its labour markets, for instance in a lack of flexibility on wages.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Farewell to Finnish Subsidies?

National subsidies are a must to farmers in Finland. The European Commission has a different view. If subsidies were slashed, that would have a negative impact on Finnish attitudes towards the European Union, writes Kyösti Karvonen, Managing Editor of the newspaper Kaleva.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Finnish Police Set to Investigate Director-General of the Finnish Maritime Administration

The City of Helsinki has asked police to investigate allegations that the Director-General of the Finnish Maritime Administration as well as certain other maritime office holders and employees have been renting a Nauticat 33 vessel at a peppercorn rate from Alfons Håkans Oy, the largest towage, rescue, and heavy transport company in Finland.

Finnish State Alko Workers on Strike From November 15

Workers of the state-owned alcohol retail monopoly Alsko will go on a 3-day strike from November 15.

On Tuesday, the action was confirmed when the umbrella union for the employees in the alcohol, gaming, insurance and financial services trade, Suora, granted permission to strike and strike support to the Professional Association of Alcohol Trades. The strike warning was delivered to the Conciliator General on Tuesday.

Finnish Consumers Expect Rising Prices

Finnish consumers expect that the pace of price rises will increase. The latest consumer survey by Statistics Finland shows most people believe that prices will rise by more than 3% over the next few months.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Two Finnish Parliamentarians Convicted in Separate Court Cases

The Tampere District Court on Friday sentenced National Coalition Party MP Kimmo Sasi to 70 day fines in a case involving a fatal crash in March in which he was the driver. With Sasi's monthly income of slightly more than EUR 9,000, the income-linked fine amounts to EUR 6,160. Meanwhile, another National Coalition Party MP, Petri Salo, was found guilty of slander by the Vaasa Court of Appeals.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Finnish Figures for Losses Caused by Shoplifting Among Highest in Europe

According to the Federation of Finnish Commerce estimates, the nationwide annual loss caused by shoplifting is about EUR 437 million, which translates to 1.34 percent of the total net sales. Whilst this marks a decline from a 2003 study, the figure is still one of the highest in Europe. Of this sum, the actual thefts constitute around EUR 360 million. Another 50 to 100 million is spent on surveillance systems.

Walkouts After Stora Enso Announces 1,100 Job Cuts in Finland

Stora Enso is to slash at least 1,100 jobs in Finland. The company is to permanently shutdown the Summa Paper Mill, one magazine paper machine at Anjala Mill, and the pulp mill in Kemijärvi. Employees at many Stora Enso plants have walked off the job in protest against the closures. Some 15 million euros in state aid has been promised to help areas affected.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Beggars On Helsinki Streets

Many claim to have seen a big van bring them to their pitches and drop them off, and then the beggars set themselves up suitably at intervals of a couple of hundred metres from each other. For many, the sight of these beggars brings to mind the familiar organised - and even violent - gangs of beggars seen in the metropoles of Southern Europe, and they worry lest such a phenomenon might be taking root here in Finland.

National Crime Rate Rises Seven Percent

Crime is on the rise, according to preliminary statistics released by Statistics Finland. All in all, 624,000 crimes were reported to police from January to September, which is an increase of seven percent over the same period last year.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Finnish MP Faces Involuntary Manslaughter Charges in Court

Parliamentarian Kimmo Sasi appeared in court on Monday to face charges of involuntary manslaughter and dangerous driving following a motoring accident earlier this year.

Finnish MP Faces Charges Over ASEM Riot

Paavo Arhinmäki, a Member of Parliament of the Left Alliance Party, has been charged in Helsinki District Court over a clash during the Smash ASEM demonstration in Helsinki last autumn.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Finnish Police Chase of Rwandan Refugee Leads to Attempted Suicide

A Rwandan woman who had been hiding in the city of Lahti after being refused asylum has attempted suicide. She attempted to kill herself after police started searching for her hiding place in private accommodation.

The police were looking for the woman after the Directorate of Immigration refused to once again consider her application for refugee status.She has faced expulsion since last spring. She arrived in Finland in May, 2005 but her application for asylum was rejected.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Traffic Discipline Very Slack In Helsinki

Road accidents are on the increase in Helsinki, and in particular there are signs of deteriorating traffic discipline in the capital region. While the empirically observed number of violations is quite obviously on the increase, the authorities are concerned at the impunity with which people run red lights and exceed speed limits. There are calls for an extension of the zero tolerance policies applied recently on Highway 51 leading west from Helsinki.

Cash-Strapped Emergency Call Centres May Be Halved

Severe financial difficulties may force Finland's Emergency Response Centre to shut down half of its call centres, reports the newspaper Savon Sanomat.

Nearly 13,000 Finnish Nurses Ready For Mass Resignation

The Union of Health and Social Care Professionals (Tehy) announced Monday morning that about 12,800 nurses are ready to hand in their resignations, effective November 19th. Tehy predicts that if the action begins, it would paralyse Finland's health care system.The stoppage would have its most serious impact on the large hospitals of Helsinki, Turku, and Tampere.

Finland Falls Behind Many Other Countries On Climate Issues

Finland has fallen far behind the other Nordic Countries in cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions. Finland ranks 36th on the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), putting it on a par with Algeria and Belarus. Sweden is at the top of the list, and Denmark is in third place."Finland has settled for a place in the back row", says Professor Jyri Seppälä of the Finnish Environment Indstitute.

Historian Heikki Ylikangas Challenges Finnish National Mythology

This is not a man who is afraid of being right - or of being alone. Last Tuesday, Heikki Ylikangas published the book Romahtaako rintama? ("Is the Front Collapsing?") whose basic thesis is that the Finns executed more of their own soldiers for desertion during the final phases of the continuation War than had been previously disclosed.

YLE Censors Muhammed-Cartoons Documentary

Danish film director Karsten Kjær has reacted with anger and astonishment at a decision by the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) not to show his film Bloody Cartoons, which analyses the controversy surrounding the publication of caricatures depicting the prophet Muhammad by a Danish newspaper in early 2006. The film is part of the world's largest international documentary project called Why Democracy?

Finnish Teenagers Have Less Pocket Money Than Their Nordic Colleagues

Finnish teenagers lag behind their Nordic contemporaries on the income front. Where a Danish youth has an impressive EUR 152 at their disposal per month, a Finnish teenager has to survive with a mere EUR 48 of spending money. The primary source of income for the Finnish 13 to 17-year-olds is their parents, but the Finnish providers are fairly tight-fisted compared with their Scandinavian counterparts. In Finland the average amount of monthly allowance for a teenager is EUR 40, against Denmark’s 50, Sweden’s 63, and Norway’s 70 euros per month. Furthermore, four out of ten Finnish youngsters do not get any spending money at all. In Sweden, on the other hand, very few parents deny their kids a monthly

Finnish PM And Self-Censorship In Finland

Could the worries of Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre) about the limits to his own privacy be the road to self-censorship of the media? Will it lead to us journalists becoming wary of spreading information that might be objectionable to Vanhanen? Will we for instance henceforth refrain from any references to his romantic adventures before the rings have been exchanged or before Vanhanen has himself promised to publish news of his dating?