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.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Finland: HIV Trial Begins in Rovaniemi

The district court in Rovaniemi has charged a man with deliberately infecting, or attempting to infect, 19 women with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The prosecutor says five of the women have been infected with HIV. In the case of the infected women, the man is facing aggravated assault charges.

Finnish Nokia Refuses to Return German Grant

Mobile phone maker Nokia has refused to refund grants it received from Germany when it established a factory in Bochum. The finance minister of the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen had demanded that the company pay back the grants it received, plus interest: a total of 41 million euros.

Monday, March 31, 2008

One in Ten Finnish Women is Heavy User of Alcohol

The use of alcohol has been increasing steadily in all age-groups among Finnish women. Approximately one in ten women can be reckoned among the large-scale consumers or "heavy users" who take at least 16 drinks a week. Some 5 to 10 per cent of female problem-drinkers have been driven to serious alcohol-related difficulties, while alcohol-related deaths among women have increased fourfold during the past two decades. The information is based on a recent survey on alcohol use conducted by the National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health (STAKES).

One In Ten Finns Fears Dental Care

Over one-tenth of the population has a serious fear of dental care, according to the Dentists' Association Apollonia. On average women have a greater fear of dentists than men, and the young more than do the old.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Men in The Finnish Capital Die Sooner Than Others

Men in the Finnish nation's capital live on an average three years less than other Finns. Also the differences between Helsinki's other city sections are great and widening as never before. The greates differences between the smaller precincts are over nine years and the larger precincts five years.

Increasing Number of Cases Land at Child Welfare Office in Finland

Abuse cases reported to child welfare services are on the rise. Across the country, drug and alcohol problems are the main reason chid protection services are contacted. Turku University Hospital alone reports over 100 cases of abuse annually.

Hunger Striking Foreigners in Finnish Detention Center

After three days, a hunger strike started by foreigners being kept at the detention unit of the Metsälä Reception Centre in Helsinki does not yet show on the faces of the strikers. However, the purpose of the fast, which began Sunday night, is quite clear. "I am ready to continue the strike until officials grant me a residence permit in Finland.", says Ahid Hachimi, who has been at the reception centre for three weeks.

In addition to refusing food, the strikers say that they are drinking only very little. "My muscles are sore and my head aches. I feel tired", says Elouadi Moshab. Currently 11 residents at the Metsälä centre are on hunger strike. One of the strikers was classified as an asylum seeker on Wednesday, and is no longer at the reception centre.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Investigation Launched into Suspected Finnish Investment Scam

The National Bureau of Investigation, Finland's central criminal police, has started an investigation into the activities of the WinClub "investment club". The NBI says that up to 10,000 people had made on-line investments in the club. The total value of the investments exceeds EUR 50 million.Individual investors may have lost thousands and even tens of thousands of euros in investments. The website of the on-line investment community was shut down at the beginning of this month. Only a few criminal complaints have been made so far.

Prison Sentences Upheld in Finnish Peacekeeper Bribery Case

An appeals court in Helsinki has upheld prison sentences handed down to two Finnish peacekeepers in a bribery case.One man was given a prison sentence of one year and six months, while the other defendant was sentenced to one year and three months. The prosecutor was seeking prison sentences of at least two years. The two men, one a project engineer and the other a translator, were accused of accepting thousands of euros from Afghan companies in exchange for lucrative construction deals between 2004 and 2006.

Finn Breaks Piece of Easter Island Statue for Souvenir

A Finnish tourist faces up to seven years in prison for vandalising one of the ancient Moai statues on Easter Island.A resident spotted the 25-year-old breaking off part of an ear from the statue in order to take it home as a souvenir. The Finn had only been on the remote island a day before defacing the Moai statue on Sunday, and is now in police custody.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Violent Easter Weekend in Helsinki

Several violent crimes were reported in Helsinki during the Easter weekend. One man was killed and two other victims were injured in violent confrontations in private homes in the Finnish capital. Early on Friday, a 44-year-old man was beaten to death in an apartment in Pihlajamäki. Police detained the victim's girlfriend, and the tenant of the apartment. Late Saturday night, a 23-year-old man was stabbed with a pair of scissors in an apartment in Tapanila. The victim's cousin is suspected of having been behind the attack. The victim is expected to recover.

Asylum Seekers on Hunger Strike in Helsinki

A group of asylum seekers began a hunger strike at the Metsälä detention centre in Helsinki on Monday in protest of being held in custody, reports Helsingin Sanomat. Two women and nine men are participating in the strike. Pekka Nuutinen, the centre's manager, says the strike involves an exceptionally large number of people. The asylum seekers are protesting their detention at the centre. According to Nuutinen, the protestors are confused as to why they have been locked down at the detention centre, as they are not criminals.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Helsinki Is World's 7th Most Expensive City

A comparison of purchasing power around the globe puts Helsinki in seventh place in terms of prices and earnings, finds a study by financial firm UBS. Visitors to Oslo, Copenhagen and London are most likely to encounter the highest prices. These three European cities are the most expensive in the world according to UBS. The study considered the prices of numerous products and services, but did not consider renting expenses for flats in its rankings.

Record Number of Finns on Antidepressants

Some 400,000 Finns are on antidepressants. The use of antidepressants grew by ten percent last year compared to 2006, finds a preliminary report by the National Agency for Medicines.Experts say that although the signs of depression are more easily spotted today, the illness is still not being treated correctly. Last year Kela, Finland's Social Insurance Institution, reimbursed some 400,000 Finns for antidepressant medications. Antidepressant use in Finland has been on a constant rise.

Finnish Media Watchdog Raps Helsingin Sanomat for Harassment Story

Finland's media watchdog, the Council for Mass Media (CMM) has formally criticised the nation's biggest daily, Helsingin Sanomat, for an article accusing seven Members of Parliament of sexual harassment. It also issued citations against two publications for invasive coverage of last autumn's Jokela school massacre. On Wednesday the council ruled that the newspaper was guilty of a breach of good professional practice in its coverage of suspicions against six of the MPs. The body said that the paper did not have sufficient evidence for its claims.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Drunken Finnish Clientele Threaten Restaurant-Bar

Drunken Restaurant-Bar clientele has become a subject of talk since an incident last weekend. In a local pub in Turku Finland, late Saturday/early Sunday morning, there were so many drunken customers that the police had to be called in. According to a police investigation on the assault at the bar, four out of the forty customers were near unconsciousness.

Researcher: Finland's Elder Care Falls Short

Care of the elderly in Finland clearly falls short when compared to other Nordic countries, reports the newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet. Marja Vaarama, a social gerontology researcher at the University of Lapland, said proportionally Finland spends the least on elder care when compared to other Nordic countries.Resources for staff are generally less than in other Nordic countries, and municipal funds for elder care are lacking, she said.

Finnish Foreign Minister Receives Death Threats

Finnish Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva said he's received death threats following his involvement in a recent scandal involving an exotic dancer. Kanerva told the newspaper Iltalehti that he was threatened. However, he did not wish to disclose specific details. Last week, Kanerva apologised publicly for the scandal caused when an exotic dancer said the Foreign Minister bombarded her with hundreds of text messages.

Monday, March 17, 2008

At Least 65,000 Young Finns at Risk of Marginalisation

At least 65,000 children and young people in Finland are in danger of being marginalised form society, calculates the National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health (STAKES). The number is said to be growing by about 1,000 a year. Helsingin Sanomat asked STAKES for an estimate on the matter, because of the large discrepancies in estimates by various officials. Estimates vary between 14,000 to more than 100,000. Marginalisation takes place when a young person falls permanently outside social, educational, and working life, putting him or her in danger of falling prey to alcohol, drugs, and crime.

MP Calls on Finnish Foreign Minister to Resign Over SMS Scandal

National Coalition MP Tuija Nurmi has called for the resignation of her fellow party member, Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva, for his role in an embarrassing scandal involving an exotic dancer. Nurmi feels that the media attention surrounding his ill-conceived behaviour has hurt his reputation in Finland and abroad. She told YLE's local radio in Lahti that in many other western democracies, the perpetrator of such a public furore would have made his own conclusions about his future by now.

Finland Becoming Big Draw for Romanian Beggars

Helsinki should expect hundreds of Romanian beggars on the street this summer. A Helsinki delegation visiting Romania believes that the situation in that country will entice even more beggars to move to Finland temporarily.MORE

Friday, March 14, 2008

Finland: Former Managing Director of Helsinki Water Accused of Corruption

Timo Kulmala, the former managing director of Helsinki Water, faces charges of accepting bribes and misusing his official position. A preliminary hearing in the legal process began at Helsinki District Court on Thursday.

The prosecution feels that Kulmala misused his official position by acquiring goods and services for the construction site of a house he was building in the Vartioharju area of Helsinki at the expense of the water utility. According to the charges, he used equipment belonging to Helsinki Water, and had some of its employees work on the construction during their paid working hours.
In addition, Kulmala is being charged with effectively taking bribes. He allegedly had digging work for his home and his summer cottage done for free by a building contractor which did much work for Helsinki Water. The prosecutor calculates that Kulmala benefited to the tune of about EUR 53,000 from the shady dealings.

Finnish FM Kanerva Apologises Over SMS Sex Uproar

Minister for Foreign Affairs Ilkka Kanerva made a public apology early on Friday morning for the public uproar that emerged from reports of SMS messages that he sent to dancer Johanna Tukiainen. Speaking at a press conference in Brussels in connection with the European Union summit, Kanerva said that he knew that he had behaved tactlessly. National Coalition Party Chairman Jyrki Katainen was very critical toward Kanerva, but said that he still has his full support. Earlier in the day Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen said that the flap had not hurt the activities of the government.

More Victims of Honour Violence in Finland Seek Help

Young girls in Finland have been found to live in fear of religiously motivated honour violence. Girls as young as 16 are seeking shelter fearing violence and arranged marriages. Suspicious accidents have also been reported. Such problems have been reported in several religious communities.

The Turku Women's Centre has helped women seeking help from violence stemming from violations of religious codes. Imams and other individual Muslims are working together to fight the violence. Raija Ala-Lipasti, executive director of the Turku Women's Centre says that in some cases, women have had to flee the city to escape the wrath of fathers and brothers.

She says that in addition to violence, girls and young women are afraid of being compelled into arranged marriages against their will. Arranged marriages are often attempted when a girl has found a boyfriend outside her ethnic or religious community. Using make-up, staying out late, or dressing can also be seen as violations of honour codes.

Finnish Art Work Leads To Child Pornography Charges

Finnish artist Ulla Karttunen is being charged with possession and distribution of child pornography, following the exhibition of a work intended as criticism of the exploitation of children. The prosecutor in the case is asking the court to only fine Karttunen in the case. He has said that consideration has been given to the fact that the artist intended the work as a statement opposing child pornography. The more serious charge of the distribution of child pornography stems from a brochure for an exhibition of Karttunen's art which contained a photograph of the art work which included pornographic images of children.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Finnish Police Look for Illegal Aliens Based on Looks

The police in the capital city region have begun performing sporadic checks of foreign "looking" and "sounding" people as a means of clamping down on illegal immigrants, reports Helsingin Sanomat. The police are keeping a closer eye on places where foreigners are most likely to assemble, such as shopping centres and railway stations. These are places police will home in on to check foreigners' residence permits.

Homelessness Declining Slowly Despite State Efforts

In spite of government efforts, rates of homelessness in Finland continue to decline slowly. Towards the end of last year, the number of single persons without a permanent place of residence was 7,300 down by 100 from the previous year. Destitute families held firm at 300 - the same as in the year before.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Diabetes in young Finnish Adults Increases with Alarming Speed

Diabetes in Young Adults has quickly become more common. According to the National Health Service, the disease has increased among those under forty, in a four percent a year increase in the years between 1992-2001.

Estonia Considers Hiring Unemployed Finnish Police Officers

Estonia is considering alleviating its shortage of police officers by hiring unemployed Finnish police. Estonia has a serious deficit of police, while Finland has about 300 trained police officers without a job.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Foreign Affairs Committee Slams Finland's Afghanistan Coordination

Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee has criticised deficiencies in military and crisis management operations in Afghanistan. The Committee said poor planning and cooperation in Finnish crisis management efforts have weakened the impact of peacekeeping activities in Afghanistan. Similar weaknesses have been identified in international crisis management efforts in Afghanistan.

The Committee is fast-tracking the appointment of a permanent representative to Kabul to help improve international cooperation. Vice President of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Markku Laukkanen said the government was not up to date with monitoring of crisis management operations in Afghanistan.

Foreign Workers Short-Changed by Finnish Restaurants

Over half of restaurants employing foreign workers violate labour contracts.An inspection carried out by representatives of the Uusimaa occupational safety district last year found that more than 65% of restaurants employing foreigners either paid them lump sums for their work or neglected to itemize pay slips, as contracts require. In many cases, pay was below the minimum wage set out in labour contracts.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

One in Ten Expectant Finnish Mothers Develops Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is proliferating among pregnant women in Finland, reports Helsingin Sanomat. This type of diabetes varies greatly in different parts of the country. In southern Ostrobothnia more than one in five develops gestational diabetes, whereas in the southwest the frequency is one in six. In the 1990s, the figures were far lower, with gestation diabetes only affecting between three to four percent of women.

Finland: One in Five Kids Have Been Victims of Violence

One in five Finnish children have been the victims of violence in the past year, according to a police poll. Forty percent of ninth-grade boys and 30 percent of girls say they have been the victims of violence. In the sixth grade, the figures are 37 percent for boys and 23 percent of girls.The poll indicates that children are far more frequently victimized by violence than adults, for whom the figure is around ten percent.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Finnish Policeman Stabbed With Life Threatening Wounds in Kuopio

A policeman was stabbed during the night in Kuopio. The stab wounds were life threatening. The investigation was handed over to the central police crimes division. The crime was being handled from the beginning as an attempted murder, stated crimes commisioner Jorma Makkonen.

More Finnish Men Buying Sex from Minors

More and more men are buying sex from minors, reports the Helsingin Sanomat's web edition. The paper says that 178 such cases have come to the police's attention just in the past year - but that this is believed to be just the tip of the iceberg. Police are investigating cases where 13 to 17-year-olds sold sexual services for money - although they say that alcohol, drugs, CD's, jeans and clothes are an even more common form of payment. Around one in three underage prostitutes are boys, but as far as police know, all of the customers have been men.

Finland: Inmate Escapes from Vantaa Prison

An inmate who escaped from the Vantaa prison was on the run for a day before his absence was detected by guards.The inmate, who prison authorities describe as a small-time criminal, escaped on Friday. Nonetheless guards did not realize he was gone until Saturday. The escaped convict is not considered dangerous.Prison security chief Jaakko Jokinen says this is a case of human error, due to the fact that the prison has so few staff.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Dangerous Bacterial Infection In Western Finland

Senior citizens are falling victim to a dangerous intestinal bacterial infection spreading across hospital districts in western Finland. From November last year just about one hundred severe cases of Clostidium Difficile infection were identified. Roughly ten percent of victims have succumbed to the infection. The disease has also been detected in the Satakunta region in south western Finland, as well as the Turku University hospital and the city hospital.

Finland: Criminal Charges Over Nokia Water Crisis

The director of the water utility of the town of Nokia and one person working in a supervisory position in the water company face criminal charges stemming from the contamination of the local water supply. The charges that the two might face would be for neglecting their official duties.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Finland: Harri Olli Dismissed From Ski-jumping Team For Disciplinary Lapses

Harri Olli, 23, has been dismissed from the Finnish national ski-jumping squad for the remainder of the season. He was thrown out of the team by a Finnish Ski Association disciplinary committee that met on Tuesday to examine Olli's behaviour during and after the recent Ski-flying World Championships in Oberstdorf, where Olli was in the quartet that brought home a silver medal in the team event. He was also 6th in the individual event.

Olli's problems stemmed from failure to adhere to the rules governing athletes when representing the country, in that he went AWOL from the team hotel over Friday night and Saturday morning, although he was due to take part in the second round of jumping in the individual event on Saturday afternoon. This was compounded by allegations that he had been under the influence of alcohol during the trip to Germany, and that he had used slanderous language to at least one member of the coaching team on his return to Finland when met by the press at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport.

Economic Growth no Longer Adds to Contentment of Finns

The contentment-level of the Finns has tailed off, despite continued economic growth. After the basic needs have been met by a reasonably high standard of living, the relative happiness of the people can only be added to by immaterial values, such as human relationships, the sense of participation, health, respect from the community, fairness, and meaningful ways of occupying one’s time. The problem is that revising people’s way of living through government means is more complicated than the traditional elimination of poverty and hunger. The details are presented in a recent report by STAKES.

Air Quality Poor in Many Centres in Helsinki Where Children And Elderly Are Cared For

Helsinki's Environment Centre has pinpointed 13 "sensitive locations", where children and old people are susceptible to impurities in the air. The hot spots include day care centres, playgrounds, primary schools, and homes for the elderly, which are located no more than a city block away from a street where the maximum levels set for nitrogen oxides and airborne particles are exceeded.

Finland: Teen Girls Behind Kemi School Threat

Two girls less than 15 years of age have confessed to posting the note on the school's bulletin board that threatened the lives of both students and teachers. The secondary school located in Kemi was evacuated Tuesday morning following the discovery of the note. Police arrived at the scene to conduct security sweeps, and searched all students as they were evacuated.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Finnish Parliament Has Known For Years About Problems of Poor Management

Internal investigations by the Finnish Parliament indicate that the legislative body has been aware of the existence of serious administrative problems for nearly 20 years. "According to various studies, the Parliamentary office has been affected by the same kinds of personnel strategy problems at least since 1992", says a Parliamentary report from 2007. The magnitude of the problems encountered in the administration of the operations of Parliament were made public in the latest report by a hired consultant which was released over the weekend.

Finland: Many Lawbreakers Caught During Road Safety Campaign Week

The police checked over 28,000 vehicles in its mid-February road safety campaign -- and discovered a host of offences. Over 3,000 people were found riding without their seatbelts, 44 of which were children -- figures which police say actually indicate a rise in seatbelt use compared to last year's monitoring campaign.Monitoring of drivers' speeds led to 4,500 speeders getting caught.

Of the speeders, 167 speeding violations were serious to the extent that the drivers' licenses were seized immediately. During the course of the campaign, police not only stopped traffic violators, but also caught 12 auto thieves, and 112 persons wanted by the police, and discovered 48 narcotics crimes, in addition to 319 other offences. Police also stopped 200 motorists without licenses.

Air Finland Pilots Threaten to Strike

Pilots working for the airline have threatened to strike in two weeks. On Tuesday, the Confederation of Unions for Professional and Managerial Staff (AKAVA) issued a strike warning concerning Air Finland pilots to the Conciliator General. Pilots' working conditions, specifically the airline's on-call duty systems, underlie the strife.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Finnish Internet Fraudsters Costly for Police

The investigation of crimes committed on the Internet comes at a high price for police officials. Expenses include tele-operator charges incurred by police attempting to determine the computer addresses of Internet crooks.Many cases of Internet fraud involve instances in which goods are sold, but the merchandise is not delivered to customers once they have parted with their money. In these cases, the merchandise most often includes gaming consoles, mobile phones and concert tickets.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bedbugs Are Making a Comeback in Finland

Bedbugs (Cimex lectularius) are coming back after having disappeared from Finland during the post-war years. In recent years, these nocturnal insects have been detected in homes in the Greater Helsinki area, but also in Tampere and elsewhere in the Pirkanmaa region, as well as in Oulu. "The number of cases has increased clearly in the course of a few years", reports Jouni Siltala from Rentokil, the leading provider of pest control in Finland. Bedbugs can leave a nasty bite producing a itchy reddish rash.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Honour-Related Violence Increases in Finland

Immigrant women's organisation supports victims of violence

Young immigrant women who have lived in Finland for a number of years, are most likely to face conflicts between norms of Finnish society and their own culture. Women like these are the ones that most frequently contact Monika - Naiset liitto, a multicultural organisation set up ten years ago to help immigrant women and children who face domestic violence, says Reet Nurmi, the organisation's executive director.

Nurmi defines honour-related violence as actions perpetrated by those who feel that a woman's behaviour has hurt the honour of her husband or family. There are no precise figures on the frequency of the problem. Monika-Naiset was contacted 28 times last year over alleged honour-related violence.

According to the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare, domestic conflicts involving issues of honour have emerged among immigrants from countries such as Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Afghanistan. Reet Nurmi says that the police do not always know how to investigate the cultural factors behind acts of violence.

Three Finns Sentenced for Organising Illegal Dogfights

The Forssa District Court has sentenced three men for their roles in organising illegal dogfights last March in southern Finland.One of the men was sentenced to a 60-day unconditional jail term for animal cruelty. The two other men were handed a six-month suspended sentence. The Court also ordered the men to hand over their own dogs to the state, and ruled the men cannot own a dog for five years.Police in Finland were tipped off to the dogfights by the BBC, after one of its reporters secretly filmed the fights last spring in Ypäjä, in southwest Finland. One of the dogs had to be put down due to the severity of its injuries. Several of the other dogs sustained serious injuries as well.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Finnish Ice hockey League Seeking Tougher Measures to Curb Crowd Trouble

The SM-Liiga, Finland's top ice hockey league, is becoming concerned at an increasing level of crowd disturbances at matches, and is seeking tougher measures to weed out troublemakers among fans. The league is applying to the Ministry of the Interior for permission to check out the identity of troublemakers, in order that they can be prevented from entering arenas at the door. What is in question is a specific authority normally granted only to police officers, and which the ministry has not previously passed on to sports clubs - indeed, the sports fraternity has not previously sought such powers.

Finnish Maritime Safety Chief to be Charged With Resisting Guard

Finnish national daily Helsingin Sanomat reported Wednesday that Paavo Wihuri, head of maritime safety and at the Maritime Administration, would be charged with resisting an authority in charge of maintaining public order.

Single Finnish Mothers Face More Problems

Single mothers in Finland tend to stay at home with their children and fall outside the job market more frequently than other mothers. They are also more likely to be in the lower income brackets. While single mothers are a diverse group, research indicates that their position is deteriorating in Finland, as in other countries. On the international level, Finland's single mothers were seen as among the best-off back in the 1980s and 1990s, but their position has weakened since then. Today, more than a third of single mothers are in the bottom fifth of the income scale, says Anita Haataja, special researcher for the Social Insurance Institution, or KELA.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Time For Finns to Practice What They Piously Preach

Kissinger and Nixon's views on Finland are contained in a new book published by the US Department of State entitled Foreign Relations, Volume XXIX, Eastern Europe; Eastern Mediterranean, 1969-1972.


According to the book, US officials saw Finland as being "Finlandised" -- subjugating and self-censoring itself in fear of a Soviet threat -- although Washington officially recognised Finland's neutrality.


The US Ambassador to Helsinki, Val Peterson, fired off a heated memo to Washington saying, "Finnish reaction seems to be disproportionately strong... The Finns are not as careful in their language in speaking of the United States as their thin skin in this instance might suggest... Finland cannot expect and should not be permitted to embarrass a fine Ambassador... let alone presume to bother the Secretary with this matter. It is time these people practice what they piously preach."

Islamic Teachings in Finnish Schools Stir Debate

Some Muslims living in Finland are dissatisfied with Islamic religious education in schools. Critics say that the teachings are too closely tied to one or another sect. Finnish public schools are required to offer lessons in 'general Islam' - that is, teachings that all Muslims agree on. However in Turku, Shiia Muslim parents say that all of the city's teachers are instructing in the Sunni tradition. The issue is particularly relevant at the Lausteen school in eastern Turku, where almost half of the pupils are from immigrant families, mostly from Iran, Iraq, Somalia and Kosovo.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Finland: Truck Stalled on Track Hit by Train

A truck stalled on a train track in Lauka Sikomäki at 6:30 in the morning. The tail end of the van was left on the track and was hit by the train, the cab flew in a ditch. The driver was in the cab at the time of impact, but was unhurt.

Majority of Finns Ready to Boycott Irresponsible Finnish Companies

Most Finns are prepared to use their purchasing power to punish companies they deem as irresponsible. Some 70 percent of Finnish consumers say companies' activities affect their purchasing decisions, finds a survey commissioned by Helsingin Sanomat and carried out by TNS Gallup.

Many Finnish Schools Suffer from Moisture and Mould

Up to half of the schools in Finland have been damaged by excessive moisture, reports the newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet. One-fifth of the country's 6,000 school buildings suffer from serious moisture and mould problems.

The Ministry of Education places the blame on municipalities. It says much of the moisture damage has occurred because municipalities have been negligent in caring for building structures. However, some of the schools have suffered moisture damage due to poor construction.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hundreds Try to Enter Finland Illegally from India

Over 200 people from India have been prevented from boarding Finnair planes since direct flights were launched between Finland and India. The would-be travellers were denied entry because of insufficient or falsified travel documents.

Tax Criminals Rarely Spend Time Behind Bars in Finland

According to the Finnish Tax Administration, last year 179 people convicted of tax crimes were given a conditional prison sentence, while just 16 were handed an unconditional jail term. However, only six people convicted of tax fraud were sentenced to over a year in prison. Meanwhile 154 people were required to pay a fine. Penalties are far milder in Finland than in neighbouring Sweden, where 81 to 92 percent of those found guilty of gross tax fraud have been put behind bars in recent years.Experts from Finland's Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Finance have said that the sentences are far too lenient in Finland.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Deaths Due to Alcohol-Related Diseases on the Rise in Finland

The number of deaths due to alcohol-related diseases in Finland is growing at a faster rate than alcohol consumption, says the National Public Health Institute.Every year, about a thousand people die of alcohol-related liver diseases. Still more die of alcohol-linked stomach cancers. Annually these cases cost about a billion euros in direct and indirect costs, says Professor Jouko Lönnqvist of the National Public Health Institute.

Finnish Union Fined for Illegal Action Against Stora Enso

The Union of Salaried Employees (TU) has been fined for illegal activities following protest action against large scale layoffs by the forestry products company Stora Enso. TU is itself a member of the umbrella union, the Confederation of Salaried Employees, the STTK. Altogether a sitting of the industrial tribunal slapped the union (TU) with a fine of 10,000 euros.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Finland's Kaisa Varis Given Lifetime Ban by International Biathlon Union

The International Biathlon Union (IBU) has unanimously agreed to impose a lifetime ban from the sport on Finnish biathlete Kaisa Varis. In early January, Varis tested positive for doping for the second time. On a previous occasion Kaisa Varis was found guilty of doping in 2003, when she gave a positive sample at the FIS Nordic Skiing World Championships in Val di Fiemme. In both cases the substance was the blood booster erythropoietin, or EPO.

Study: Many Finnish Adolescents And Parents Alike Come up Short on Financial Literacy

A market research study on financial literacy conducted by Danske Bank in the Nordic countries, in the Republic of Ireland, and in Northern Ireland indicated that 53 per cent of all 18- to 19 year-old Finns do not know what the term ”interest rate” means. Moreover, six in ten young people cannot choose the most favourable loan out of the four alternatives given, while only around half of them know the definition of "disposable income". In certain respects, their parents are little better prepared in terms of financial literacy.

Worsening Shortage of Russian-Speaking Workers

One quarter of eastern and south-eastern Finnish companies would hire more Russian speakers immediately, if they were available, according to a fresh study. According to the survey by the Lappeenranta-based consulting firm TAK Oy, the demand for services in Russian has resulted in the need for more Russian-speaking workers. The need is greatest in the retail trade due to growing numbers of Russians crossing the border to shop. The Finnish school system has not produced anywhere near enough Russian speakers for many years. This spring, in fact, the number of school leavers aiming for certification in Russian nationally is just 680 -- a decline from last year. In comparison nearly 26,000 students are seeking certification in English.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Finnish Families Left with Less Money in Hand

After taxes and child benefits, Finnish families are left with less money than other families with children elsewhere in Europe. This became known after the report by the state tax office chief economist, Jaana Kurjenoja, compared Finland to families with children in 11 other European states.

Quick Loans Land More Finnish Debtors in Courts

The number of bad debts referred to the courts for legal action grew by 25 percent last year. During the course of 2007 some 194,000 bad debt matters were referred to district courts - that's 40,000 or 20 percent more than the previous year. A report in the Savon Sanomat newspaper quotes the Justice Ministry as saying that the growth in bad debts is due in large part to borrowers defaulting on instant loans.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Finland: Rat Scratches Sleeping Baby's Face

The dreams of a baby sleeping outside were badly interrupted this week in the Luodo county of Phhjanmaa. While the baby was sleeping, a rat jumped into the buggy and scratched the child on the face. The baby was asleep in a buggy in the yard when all of a sudden the mother which was inside of the house, heard the warning cries. The mother ran out of the house and lifted the baby from the carriage, which had blood dripping from around one of its eyes.

Parliamentary Secretary: Harassment Not Common in Parliament

Despite the recent furore over allegations of sexual harassment in Parliament, Parliamentary Secretary Seppo Tiitinen says it's no more prevalent in Parliament than in any other workplace. He told YLE's political discussion programme Lauantaiseura that perhaps the inclusion of more support staff like personal assistants in the offices of Parliament has contributed to the problem.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Finland: TeliaSonera Cutting 2,900 Jobs

The Finnish-Swedish telecommunications company TeliaSonera is starting talks with employees on cutting 2,900 jobs by the end of next year. Last week, the company reported fourth-quarter profits of over three quarters of a billion euros.

The company plans to eliminate nearly 1,000 jobs in Finland and around 2,000 in Sweden -- or about one-sixth of its workforce. The downsizing is aimed at 530 million euros in savings.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Finnish Youths Calling Mental Health Care Workers Rising

Youths are now more often than ever before, the ones making calls to mental health crisis lines. According to Seura (magazine) the number of youths under 18 calling in to crisis hot lines, has noticably risen last year. The total number of those calling crisis hot line numbers last year was 120 000...

Finland's Nokia Could Face Series of Court Cases in Germany

The announced closure of the Nokia mobile telephone factory in Bochum threatens to put the company through a round of court cases in Germany. The State of North Rhine-Westphalia announced on Tuesday that it wanted Nokia to refund EUR 41.3 million in investment subsidies that the company received in 1998 and 1999.

Mumps Threatening to Make a Comeback in Finland

Whilst it is hardly endemic, mumps seems to be making a bit of a comeback in Finland. Last year, six cases of mumps were identified, four of which occurred in September-December, one case per month. In 2006 and 2005 eight and six cases of mumps were reported respectively. Before that, however, the number of annual mumps cases has been considerably lower. For example, at the turn of the millennium not one single case was diagnosed. And this was how it should be, for steps had been taken to eradicate the illness altogether.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Finnish President Raps State, Parliament on Ownership Policy

President Tarja Halonen says the business community has a duty to the wider society and reminded the Parliament that it has the power to shape the state's ownership policy. The President made the comments in a formal address at the official opening of Parliament on Tuesday.Halonen raised the example of the government's stance on the partially state-owned company Stora Enso. She referred to the government's position, which did not reflect employment or regional development responsibilities beyond the scope of normal corporate social responsibility.

Finnish Embassy in Kenya Receives Warning of Attack

Finland's Embassy in Kenya has received warnings of a possible terrorist attack. Ambassador Heli Sirve says that the Embassy received three e-mails over the weekend warning of an attack.
Sirve told YLE that she does not believe the threats are linked to the unrest and rioting in the country. She says they have been in contact with the Kenyan police, who are now trying to discover the source of the e-mails. The authors of the e-mail warning have Somali names, and they say the terrorist threat originates from Ethiopia.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Finnish Police Chief Gets By With Ticket For Speeding

Kangasala Police Chief, Mauri Moisio gets by with a ticket for speeding. According to western-Finland's provincial police commisioner, Mikko Paatero, the matter has already been settled. A police patrol caught Moisio last week on Turtolan street in Tampere, where he was driving his car 81 kilometers an hour in a 50 kilometer an hour zone.

Finns Not Prepared for Financial Difficulties

Nearly 70 percent of Finns are financially unprepared for economic difficulties. A new study conducted in January for local cooperative banks by the research company Protone Ltd interviewed more than 500 people over the age of 15 to arrive at the findings.

More than 35 percent of respondents could not identify any circumstances that might destabilise them financially. The most oblivious to financial setbacks were the youngest respondents.More than 20 percent of those interviewed thought that the worst threat to personal finances was becoming unemployed.

Poor Prospects for Finnish Law Enforcement Graduates

Increasing numbers of law enforcement graduates in Finland are unable to find jobs on police forces. The newspaper Kaleva reports that of the nearly 800 graduates of police training institutes over the past two years, one quarter are unemployed.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Data Protection Ombudsman Fears Spread of Identity Theft to Finland

Data Protection Ombudsman Reijo Aarnio fears that the practice of identity theft is likely to become increasingly common in Finland. Most cases of identity theft in Finland are relatively low-tech - stealing someone's bank debit card and buying something with it. In the United States, for instance, identity theft is one of the fastest-growing forms of crime.

Finland: Worrying Decline In Language Skills

Experts are increasingly concerned about a decline in language skills among the Finns. Fewer of even the highly educated are able to speak Finland's second official language, Swedish. Meanwhile, language choices have been cut back in primary education.

Language studies opportunities are becoming an increasingly rare privilege. In only a few towns is it any longer possible to take up any language other than English or Swedish as a first foreign language in elementary school. Language teaching is increasingly concentrated in major cities. Last year, middle schools in over 40 municipalities closed down all non-required foreign language courses.

Finnish Lapland Residents: State Jobs Unfairly Distributed

The regional dispersion of public jobs has done little to solve Kemijärvi's mass unemployment problem. The void left by Salcomp's departure has yet to be filled, and an ongoing regionalisation program won't be of much help to Kemijärvi, as Stora Enso's close down will leave hundreds more jobless.

The municipalities of Kemijärvi and eastern Lapland have taken the hardest blows when it comes to their inhabitants finding work. These northern corners have garnered sympathy, but little concrete help from the government's regionalisation efforts.
The last time the government promised regionalisation aid through the dispersion of public jobs was when the area lost 700 Salcomp jobs to China. City officials don't see that the promises made have carried through to acts.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Finland: Neo-Nazi Concert in Tampere Sparks Concern

An anti-racism network in Tampere is urging foreigners to avoid downtown areas of the city on Friday evening. The Rasmus Network against Racism and Xenophobia says police have warned them of possible unrest surrounding a concert to be staged by four neo-Nazi bands.

The groups -- one German, one Greek and two from Finland -- are scheduled to play at a heavy metal rock club on Hämeenkatu in central Tampere. According to the club's promoter, Toni Törrönen, the concert was sold out well in advance.

The tour is organised by the Pagan Front record label, which bills itself as "the Hammer of National Socialist Black Metal". The Greek band's website praises the Nazis, while former members of the German band are in prison for murder and neo-Nazi activities.

Finnish Media Council Issues Reprimand over Racist Comments by YLE Morning TV Guest

The Council for Mass Media in Finland has issued an official reprimand to YLE over comments made by a participant in a regular discussion segment on YLE Morning Television on January 11th.

Retired prosecutor Ritva Santavuori, a regular guest on a weekly informal discussion segment on the programme had made what the council considered racist comments about the appearance of the Kenyan grandmother of US Presidential hopeful Barack Obama.

According to Santavuori, the pictures of Obama's grandmother, which had been circulated in the world media, showed "typical negroid features" and a nose like gorillas have.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Finnish Biathlete Varis Doping Suspicions Confirmed

One of Finland's top biathletes, Kaisa Varis, has again tested positive for the illegal use of EPO-hormones. Her career could now come careening to an ignoble end. Her b-sample confirmed what the a-sample indicated: that Varis was using the hormone during January's biathlon World Cup event in Ruhpolding, Germany. She now faces a possible lifetime ban from competitions, because this is her second doping offence. Five years ago she was suspended for using EPO-hormones during the cross-country skiing world championships.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Finnish Newspaper Publishes Anti-Semitic OP-ED Plagiarized From Neo-Nazi Website

An anti-Semitic op-ed was recently published in a Finnish newspaper, the Koillis-Häme-lehti, in the city of Jämsä. It has been discovered that the anti-Semitic op-ed in question was plagiarized from a Neo-Nazi website, The National Alliance.

Finnish Sexual Harassment Often Goes Unreported

Sexual harassment at the workplace often goes unreported in Finland. However, 22 percent of women in Finland have experienced sexual harassment on the job, reports the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. Harassment is often downplayed at the workplace. But according to the law, sexual harassment is discrimination, and sufficient grounds for dismissal. Still, some women fear that reporting harassment could be detrimental to their careers.

Gloomy Work Situation at Finland's Aker Yards

There is less work to go around at Aker Yards' Finnish shipyards. The strong euro combined with a dwindling US cruise liner business is putting a damper on the demand for new construction orders. The Helsinki shipyard's situation is the bleakest, where full employment is not guaranteed after the summer, reports the daily Turun Sanomat. Chief shop steward Mikko Mielonen says unofficial labour discussions have already begun, whereas formal labour negotiations are likely to open next month.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Finnish Economic Difficulties to Threaten Medically Disabled Retirees

Economic difficulties to threaten medically disabled retirees, whose retirement pension will be markedly cut back within the two years. Among other things, support for patients with depression and those moving disabilities will decrease, perhaps even by a hundred euroes a month.

Finnish Consumers’ Confidence in Economy Continues to Weaken

Recent pessimistic economic news as well as the uncertainty of the financial market have unsettled Finns’ belief in the economic outlook. According to the data gathered by Statistics Finland’s Consumer Survey, Finnish consumers’ confidence in the economy was in January already slightly weaker than the long-term average.

The consumer confidence indicator stood at 13.1 in January, having been 20.3 in August 2007, while the long-term average is 13.9. In January, Finns still believed that the financial situation of their own household would remain good, even though their views concerning their own economy were more cautious than before.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Most Illegal Drugs Used in Finland Pass Through Helsinki

Most of the illegal drugs sold in Finland pass through the Helsinki region en route to other parts of the country. According to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), drugs move in smaller quantities to other parts of Finland from wholesale suppliers in the Helsinki area. "Almost every larger drug case has linkages with the Helsinki region", says special investigator Tuija Hietaniemi of the NBI.

The drug market grew evenly in Finland from the early 1990s to the present decade. Now the market has evened out. Per capita consumption of illegal drugs in Finland is estimated to be at about an average level for Europe.

Finnish Biathlete Kaisa Varis Suspected of Sports Doping

Finnish biathlete Kaisa Varis is under a cloud of suspicion for using illegal substances. Varis herself informed YLE Sports about the suspicions on Thursday. In her message, Varis denied violating any rules of the sport. The Finnish Biathlon Association confirmed that sports doping substances had been found in her A sample.

Finnish Traffic Deaths Rose in 2007

A total of 377 people died in traffic accidents in Finland last year. That's 47 more than in 2006, reports Statistics Finland.However, the number of people injured in traffic accidents fell slightly. In 2007, 8,411 people were injured in road accidents. That is 109 fewer than in 2006.Overall 6,624 accidents involving bodily injury occurred in 2007.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Finnish Schools Subject to Copycat Threats

Twenty-four schools in Finland have been the target of threats of violence since last autumn's Jokela school shooting. According to the newspaper Savon Sanomat, schools in 18 localities have been threatened with shootings or bombings since the Jokela tragedy last November.Thousands of pupils have been evacuated from schools or warned to stay away at times as a result of the threats.

Finnish Provinces Lead Homicide Statistics

In proportion to the population, most homicides in Finland are committed in provincial cities, according to the daily Helsingin Sanomat. Homicide statistics are led by Imatra, Lahti, Kerava, Joensuu and Pori. Larger cities, Helsinki, Espoo and Tampere witness fewer homicides than the national average. The Helsingin Sanomat survey, carried out by the National Research Institute of Legal Policy, looked into homicides in towns with over 25,000 inhabitants committed during the years 2000 - 2006.

Sexual Harassment in Corridors of Power in Finnish Parliament

As many as one-third of women employed by parliament say they have experienced sexual harassment at their work-place. One in seven says the harassment was physical. In nearly half of the cases, the perpetrator was an MP. According to researcher Hertta Niemi, harassment generally took the form of inappropriate phone calls or emails.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Finnish Crime Reports Up

Preliminary figures show a 7% rise in reports of crimes filed with the police in Finland. Statistics show an increase especially in assaults and cases of driving while intoxicated. Regionally, reported crimes shot up most in the eastern area of South Savo (16%), and in the south-western area of Varsinais-Suomi (15%). The number of assaults reported to police last year stood at 34,000, an increase of 11% over 2006 figures. Cases of aggravated assault, 2,400 of them, were up by 16%. During this decade the annual average number of assaults has been around 30,000 and aggravated assaults approximately 2,200.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

EU Commission Takes Finland to Court Over Car Taxes

The European Commission is taking legal action against Finland over the country's system of car taxation. The dispute concerns the levying of a tax similar to value-added tax on top of the separate vehicle tax, which the Commission says violates EU legislation. The complaint to the Court of Justice of the European Communities involves events in 2002 when Finland lost a dispute over the personal import of a Mercedes Benz car by Antti Siilin, forcing Finland to ease the taxation of personal imports of used cars.

Finnish Ice Hockey Player Faces Serious Drug Charges

Finnish ice hockey player Jere Karalahti has been slapped with charges of aggravated drug crimes. If found guilty, Karalahti will receive a minimum sentence of one year's imprisonment without parole. The trial will start on January 29 at the Vantaa penitentiary. The charges are part of a wider set of drug-related infringements of the law.

Monday, January 14, 2008

University of Helsinki to Probe Treatment of Jewish Scholar

The University of Helsinki said Thursday that it would investigate whether Israel-Jakob Schur, a Jewish orientalist, had been ill-treated in 1937. In the unprecedented probe in Finnish academic history, the university is to establish how the scholar's honour may be restored in the case wrongdoing is unearthed. The university rejected the Helsinki-born candidate's doctoral thesis in 1937.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Two Finnish Police Officers Face Charges

In February, two police officers will face charges of assault and professional misconduct in conjunction with the September 2006 Smash Asem demonstration in front of Kiasma, the Museum of Contemporary Art in central Helsinki. Two policemen, drafted in to Helsinki from Lahti to assist the local police during the Asia Europe Summit, are suspected of having assaulted an apprehended youngster in a police car on the way to a custody cell in the district of Töölö.

The officers had detained the young person on Mannerheimintie in front of the Parliament Building, as he was suspected of wilful damage and causing a disturbance. According to the prosecutor, the detention did not take place in the demonstration situation itself.

Finnish Day Care Centres Urged to Beef Up Playground Security

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is ordering day care centres to secure their playgrounds. New directives sent to municipalities at the beginning of the year are also proposing that the centres lay out safety procedures. The objective of the nationwide guidelines is to make safety a part of the everyday routine in day care centres. Every year scores of children slip away on their own and escape day care centres. Last year 11 tots slipped away in Tampere, in Espoo the figure was 16, while in Helsinki and Vantaa the tiny adventurers numbered 14 and 10 respectively.

Finnish Building Costs Going through The Roof

Construction costs in December rose by 5.6 percent compared with a year earlier.Labour costs rose by 4.3 percent while prices for materials shot up by 6.3 percent. Other costs rose by six percent, Statistics Finland reported on Friday.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

High Cost of Living Drains Finnish Workforce

Expensive living costs limit opportunities for people to move to the capital city area, and reduce the pool of potential workers. Commuting is often the only reasonable option.However, it is not viable for a family with two children to move to the Helsinki area unless a new job comes with a monthly salary in excess of 3,000 euros. It is more often a better option financially for those with families to commute, rather than move. For an unemployed person living alone, it pays to accept a new job in the greater capital area if the salary is no less than 2,600 euros monthly, calculates the Pellervo Economic Research Institute (PTT).

Surge in Traffic Causes Environmental Problems in Helsinki

High traffic levels have led to a deterioration of the environment in Helsinki. According to Finland's Environmental Administration, the main environmental problems are the worsening of air quality, noise pollution, and an increase in carbon emissions caused by traffic.The review examined expert views on the current and future situation of the environment in the capital.A surge in the number of commuters and the increased use of cars have resulted in heavy traffic, particularly on the outskirts of the capital. Meanwhile, one-third of Helsinki residents live in a region disrupted by the noise of traffic.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Public Confidence in Finnish Government Wanes

Just over one third of Finns believe that the four-party coalition government will achieve its most important goals, according to a fresh opinion poll commissioned by the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. Nearly two thirds of respondents felt that the success of the government is fairly unlikely at best. The greatest change has taken place among supporters of the conservative National Coalition Party; a majority of supporters of the party, the second-largest group in the government, no longer believe that the goals of the government can be achieved. In a poll taken in the summer, supporters of the National Coalition were the most confident.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Fraudulent Insurance Claims Cost Finnish Companies Millions

Between 100 and 200 million euros are swindled from Finnish insurance companies each year due to fraudulent claims, estimates the Federation of Finnish Financial Services. The number accounts for five to ten percent of the total amount of reimbursements paid out by insurance companies, reports the Sunnuntaisuomalainen newspaper supplement.

Finland: Arson Suspected Cause of Fire at Lappeen Church

Police are questioning one person after a fire broke out early Sunday morning at the Lappeen Church in Lappeenranta, south-eastern Finland. Officials suspect arson was the cause of the fire. Fire officials were alerted to the scene around two a.m. According to the South Karelia Rescue Department, the fire was started outside the church and had penetrated the building's interior structure. Fire-fighters were forced to break down a side wall to get control of the blaze.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Neo-Nazi Organisation Plans Concerts in Finland

A Neo-Nazi network called the Pagan Front has organized a concert tour in Finland, reports the newspaper Aamulehti on its website. The three-band tour made up of German and Finnish groups will perform in February in Tampere and Pori. International anti-fascism groups have warned about the tour on their websites. The Pagan Front calls itself a pro-Aryan organisation that opposes Judeo-Christian and satanic influences.

Kaskeala: Finnish Military Too Big, Poorly Equipped

Admiral Juhani Kaskeala, Commander of the Finnish Defence Forces, warns that the country's defence is weakened by a military with too many soldiers and not enough resources. "The credibility of the armed forces does not rest solely on quantity, because insufficiently equipped and trained forces do not constitute an effective preventative defence," Kaskeala told a Defence Forces anniversary gathering in Mikkeli on Thursday.

Dozens Evacuated in Hospital Fire in Helsinki

Smoke spread from the entire wing via ventilation ducts to other wings as well. All four wings in the building were evacuated within an hour, reported the acting fire chief on duty. Altogether 50 people were evacuated.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

More Woes For Finnish Holidaymakers as Flights Delayed

The recent spate of long delays at airports for Finnish holidaymakers continued over the Christmas and New Year period, with the most prominent case being a delay of 15 hours for a Finnmatkat flight to Phuket in Thailand on Sunday. The TUIFly Nordic flight was due to leave Helsinki in the early hours of Sunday morning, but took off only at 18:30 on Sunday evening. The delay was caused by a technical fault in the Boeing 747 aircraft’s wing.

Many Foreign Students Over-Paying for Health Insurance in Finland

Many foreign students have been paying far too much for health insurance, reports the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. One of the problems, reports the paper, is that students cannot buy health insurance from any Finnish company.

Authorities have been recommending a Danish company IHI, believing it to be reasonably priced, but this recommendation was based on a mistake. Authorities believed the price quoted was for a full year, when in fact it was only for three months. As a result, many foreign students ended up paying four times that price annually.