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.