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.