YLE - Финские новости по-русски

Wage gap between bosses and workers widens, paper reports

Bonuses and pension payments helped CEOs' incomes rise to 48 times that of regular employees.

The CEOs of large companies in Finland earned approximately 48 times the salary of a regular employee last year, according to a report by Finland's biggest daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. In 2010, the difference was 37 times. The wedge has been widened by the awarding of larger bonuses to bosses, but increases in CEO salaries have also been a contributing factor. According to the HS survey, CEOs' fixed basic salaries have risen by 20% since 2010. During the same period, the average salary of an ordinary employee increased by 14%. Since 2005, Helsingin Sanomat has been monitoring the remuneration (basic salary plus bonuses) received by the CEOs of about 40 major companies. In 2010, the report also began to include share-based bonuses and supplementary pension payments. According to the survey, companies have slowly shifted the focus of remuneration towards equity bonuses. Stock bonuses and retirement payments almost doubled the CEO's earnings to an average of 2.1 million euros per year.

Mon, 22 Jul 2019 11:27:31 +0300


Monday's papers: Hungary's anti-Finland propaganda, unpicked berries, and the heatwave continues

Criticism of Finland's press and judiciary, scarcity of berry pickers affecting harvest, and Finland is warmer than Spain.

Leading daily Helsingin Sanomat reports on yet another article by Hungarian news website Origo which is highly critical of Finland’s judiciary and media freedom. The latest piece, entitled “I bet you didn’t know this about Finland”, was written by Zoltán Kovács, Secretary of State for International Relations and Communications at the office of the Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. According to HS, the Origo news website is owned by Orbán’s populist Fidesz party and has produced a string of critical articles since Finland took over the EU presidency at the beginning of July. In the latest tirade, Kovács writes that Finns “preach water, drink wine” which HS interprets as an accusation that Finns are hypocrites about matters like freedom of the press. The article further states that the plurality of voices in Finnish media is "seriously threatened", that Finland does not have a constitutional court, and that the independence of the Finnish judiciary is "non-existent", according to HS. Päivi Nevala, of the Finnish Foreign Ministry, responded to the article on Twitter by linking Kovács to the Reporters Without Borders and World Justice Project reports for 2019. Finland tied for second place in the 2019 Press Freedom Index rankings published by NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Hungary ranked 87th. Berries left to rot Many newspapers describe the problems facing the berry industry this summer, with Turku daily Turun Sanomat reporting that the low numbers of Thai berry pickers in Finland this year will have an effect on the overall harvest. Authorities in Thailand limited the amount of pickers who could apply for visas to Finland to 2,400 - the same figure as last year - despite appeals from the industry for an increase in applicants. In 2015, there were 4,000 berry pickers from Thailand in Finland for the summer season, and the smaller number of pickers will have a detrimental effect on the harvest, according to Janne Naapanki, Managing Director of the Kainuu-based Arctic International. The 2018 conviction of a berry firm owner for trafficking 26 Thais into Finland may have influenced the Thai authorities' decision to refuse the ministry's request. “There is a risk that the current amount of pickers will not be enough to collect the berries, even if there are some in the forest,” Naapanki tells Turun Sanomat. “We would need hundreds more pickers in addition to the hundreds of Thai pickers now coming. Sales would grow even more if we could get the raw material.” Despite the best efforts of the pickers currently working in Finland's forests, bilberries and lingonberries will be left to rot if there are not enough people to pick them, according to TS. Tampere hotter than Las Palmas Many newspapers also carry weather-related stories, as Finland prepares for temperatures of over 30 degrees this coming week. According to tabloid Ilta-Sanomat, many Finns are now regretting their hasty decisions to book foreign holidays after the much cooler start to the summer in Finland. Many of the tourist resorts popular with Finns will be cooler than parts of Finland. The Canary Islands resort of Las Palmas, for example, will be 23 degrees Celsius on Saturday, while it will be a full 10 degrees warmer in the Finnish city of Tampere. Other popular resorts, such as the Mediterranean islands of Cyprus and Rhodes and the Croatian seaside cities of Split and Dubrovnik, will not exceed 30 degrees.

Mon, 22 Jul 2019 10:01:58 +0300


Finnish lawyers propose setting up official register for wills

The Finnish Bar Association says an official repository for last will and testaments would reduce inheritance disputes.

The interest group of lawyers known as the Finnish Bar Association has put out a call to establish a nationwide register for last will and testaments. The group says establishment of an official network of repositories run by Finnish authorities would cut back on inheritance disputes and improve the legal protections of deceased persons. There is currently no standardized procedure for storing such documents in Finland. "It is ultimately up to chance and, to some extent the honesty of the heirs, to produce the will and fulfil the last wishes of the deceased," says deputy chair of the Finnish Bar Association Hanna Räihä-Mäntyharju, a lawyer specializing in family and inheritance law. The lawyers propose the system could be administered by Finland's nine existing local register offices. Submission of the last will and testaments to the register would be carried out on a volunteer basis. Tricky questions need answers The idea was proposed once before in Finland, in 2004. During the last parliamentary session, two MPs submitted a written request to Justice Minister Antti Häkkänen to explore the possibility once again. Häkkänen said at the time that many issues would have to be settled before the proposal could move forward, such as the question of whether last will and testaments in the register would be considered more valid than other, perhaps updated versions that might be turn up after a person dies. "For example, if someone draws up an emergency will just before his or her death, there's a good chance it would never be filed in the register," Häkkänen said. Justice ministry department head Antti Leinonen comments that no major drawbacks have been noted that would necessitate making changes to the current system. "It would be quite unfortunate if the authors of last will and testaments had to worry about getting official stamps and re-submitting the documents to a register every time they wish to make changes or tweaks," he says. Register would make them easy to find Last wills and testaments are currently found in many places in Finland – in safety deposit boxes, lawyer's offices, and under mattresses. Sometimes news that the author has died never reaches the storage location and papers are forgotten. "It's a good idea to tell someone that you've drawn up a will and inform them about where it is kept. There's no need to reveal anything about its content," says the Bar Association's Räihä-Mäntyharju. She adds that the benefit of an official register will increase as the population grows older and memory disorders become more common.

Sun, 21 Jul 2019 18:25:01 +0300


Finnish petrol takes fifth place in weekly EU price ranking

Higher prices for a litre of 95 octane petrol were charted in only Italy, Greece, Denmark and the Netherlands.

The price of 95 RON fuel in Finland is the fifth highest among the 28 member states of the European Union this week, according to fresh figures from the European Commission. As of 15 July 2019, the average price per litre was 1.56 euros, placing Finland in fifth position overall in the weekly report, behind Italy (1.60), Greece (1.62), Denmark (1.66) and the Netherlands (1.69). In contrast, the cheapest prices for the same grade petrol this week were recorded in Bulgaria (1.11), Lithuania (1.14) and Latvia (1.18). At the start of the week, petrol was being sold for 1.36 euros per litre in Estonia, or 20 cents cheaper per litre than in Finland. The price per litre difference between the neighbouring countries for diesel fuel was much lower, at only four cents. Finland's average price for diesel of 1.37 euros per litre comes nowhere near the top of the EU's diesel fuel price ranking, as prices are currently higher in Sweden, the UK, France, Italy, Belgium and Greece. Sweden topped the charts in this area, with an average price per litre of 1.50 euros. Distinct regional differences The European Commission's colour-coded map of petrol prices is clearly divided into three areas: the less expensive east, the mid-priced centre, and the more expensive west and north. The only exceptions to this rule are the Mediterranean countries of Italy and Greece, which have high averages prices for both fuels. In Finland, taxes represent 63 percent of the final price tag for 95 octane petrol and 53 percent of the total for diesel fuel. Taxes on fuel tend to be high in Europe. According to the website GlobalPetrolPrices.com, the average price for a gallon of gasoline in the US on 15 July was 2.76 euros, which is equivalent to 0.73 euros per litre. The weekly chart of consumer prices of petroleum products in the EU is compiled from data reported by the individual member states.

Sun, 21 Jul 2019 16:39:45 +0300


Former Russian minister: Yeltsin considered selling ceded Karelia territory to Finland in 1991

Andrey Fedorov told the daily Helsinki Sanomat that Finnish decision-makers were never told of the plan.

Leadership of the Russian Federation seriously considered selling the Republic of Karelia back to Finland in 1991, according to an interview with former Russian deputy foreign minister Andrey Fedorov in the Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat. The territory in question, located beyond the eastern border of Finland, was ceded to the Soviet Union during WWII. In opposition to his earlier statements on the matter, however, Fedorov now told the paper that the Finnish government was never informed that such an option was even on the table. In July of 1991, it had been 18 months since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Soviet Union had crumbled and newly appointed President Boris Yeltsin struggled to hold the Russian Federation together. His fledgling government compiled a list of territories with nationalist factions that could potentially rise up and demand autonomy or create border disputes. The Republic of Karelia was included due to what was perceived as rising insurgency in the area, Fedorov told the paper. Later that same year, the state coffers of the former USSR were running low. At this juncture, Yeltsin and his team went to so far as to calculate a 15-billion-dollar asking price for the ceded territory, Fedorov said, with the aim to possibly offer it to Finland. Adjusted for inflation, the modern-day equivalent of the price that was settled on by the Russian authorities is 22.5 billion euros. Contradictory statements This is not the first time Fedorov has gone public with his claims. The former deputy minister of foreign affairs first spoke of old Russian designs to sell Karelia in August 2007. At that time, he claimed that then-Finnish President Mauno Koivisto and Foreign Minister Paavo Väyrynen were aware of unofficial discussions on the matter, but now he told the paper that the deal was never revealed to anyone outside of Russia. "The discussions in the Russian government were held behind closed doors," he told the paper in 2019. Väyrynen has also said he has no recollection of ever discussing the matter with Russian officials. Fedorov said the Russian Federation decided later, in 1994, that the so-called "Karelian question" was officially closed.

Sun, 21 Jul 2019 13:19:12 +0300


Two people killed by lorry in eastern Finland

The victims were hit by an oncoming truck after exiting their car on the motorway near the municipality of Luumäki.

Two individuals were killed on Sunday when a lorry struck them early in the morning on motorway 6. The incident occurred near the village of Jurvala, in the eastern Finland municipality of Luumäki. The car that had transported the deceased reportedly stopped on the road - somewhat blocking traffic - shortly before 2am, when three of the four occupants exited the vehicle to settle an apparent dispute. Two of the three were instantly killed when an oncoming truck slammed into the car and people. The third person who was standing outside the vehicle was injured, and the driver who had remained in the car was unhurt. Police are investigating the incident. Because it was dark on the road when the collision took place, authorities are trying to determine whether the lorry driver had any possibility of seeing the people or the car before hitting them. Updated at 5pm on 21 July to include new information.

Sun, 21 Jul 2019 10:59:41 +0300


Hells Angels kingpin detained, suspected of drug offenses

A known leader of the notorious motorcycle club was detained in Helsinki on suspicion of dealing in "very dangerous" drugs.

The Helsinki District Court reached a decision in a closed trial on Saturday, 20 July to remand a suspect who is believed to be a leading figure of Finland's Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. He was detained on suspicion of a string of aggravated drug offenses that dated back to the start of 2018 and continued until the present. The leader of the criminal investigation characterized the case as unprecedented in its scope. "There are elements of the case that make it quite exceptional, to say the least. Perhaps even in terms of all of Finnish criminal history," said chief inspector Kaarle Lehmus. "We are talking about a drug that has been classified as very dangerous. For investigative reasons, I can't say anything about the quality or quantity or provide any more details," he said. The news agency STT reports that the suspect was known to be a leader of the Hells Angels in Finland, but investigators were unable to confirm his current links to the organisation. Friday rulings perhaps related On Friday, the Helsinki court remanded several other suspects on suspicion of aggravated drug offenses, among other charges. The newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reports that some of the suspected crimes from the Friday case occurred in the same time frame of the crimes associated with the case heard on Saturday. The Netherlands became the first country in the world to completely ban the Hells Angels motorcycle gang in May 2019. Germany has banned local chapters in the past, but not the entire organisation. The United States Department of Justice considers the club to be an organized crime syndicate. The case will now proceed to the prosecution, which is expected to file charges in the case in early 2020.

Sat, 20 Jul 2019 18:43:51 +0300


Finnish Foreign Minister: Safe maritime passage must be preserved in Middle East

Finland's Pekka Haavisto says recent activity in the Strait of Hormuz threatens world trade and resembles piracy.

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto says recent interference with safe passage in and around the Strait of Hormuz should be globally condemned. "It is extremely concerning when one of the world's most important sea routes is exposed to activity akin to piracy," he said. The minister's comments refer to the seizure of the Stena Impero oil tanker, sailing under a British flag, which was boarded and captured by Iranian forces on 19 July. It was later revealed that the tanker was seized by Iran's Revolutionary Guards in retaliation for the British seizure of an Iranian tanker, intercepted on 4 July in Gibraltar on suspicion of smuggling oil to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions. British authorities claim a second tanker was also seized on Friday. Iran said the vessel was boarded because it was involved in an accident, an explanation Britain rejected. In an earlier incident in mid-June, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also accused Iran of being behind attacks on two other oil tankers in the strait. Iran denied the accusations. "Diplomacy is needed" Haavisto said that it is in the best interests of countries like Finland who are dependent on world trade to defend the freedom to navigate and condemn attacks on ships. He said the incidents were clearly meant to attract attention, obstruct shipping in the waters off Iran and make maritime traffic unsafe. The Finnish foreign minister said that the most important thing at the moment is to secure the safety of the crew on the captured vessel and proceed along diplomatic channels. "This is also the position of the British foreign office," Haavisto said. Haavisto pointed out that the European Union has been in support of a constructive and peaceful policy with regard to Iran. He considers it unfortunate that the US abandoned a 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, which had been negotiated for 12 years. "But Iran has now started to pose a threat and exceed the agreed-upon uranium limits, which is even worse," he said. "EU must stand united" Britain has told its ships to avoid entering the strait for the time being, and France and Germany have joined Britain in condemning Iran's activity. A third of the world’s liquefied natural gas and almost 20 percent of total global oil consumption passes through the strait between Iran and the Arabian peninsula, making it a highly important strategic location for international trade. "If maritime traffic in the Strait of Hormuz is hampered and vessels begin to seek out alternative routes, it will greatly impact not only Iran but also the other countries in the region. The EU must stand united behind the principle that freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz is preserved, and that no ships from EU member states or any other country fall victim to these kinds of attacks," Haavisto said.

Sat, 20 Jul 2019 17:37:33 +0300


Mental health 'therapy guarantee' initiative reaches 50K target

A citizens' initiative to ensure swift access to mental health services has received enough signatures to be heard in parliament. 

A citizens' initiative billed as a "Therapy Guarantee" has garnered the support of 50,000 Finnish citizens as of Friday evening, 19 July. This means it will proceed to the Finnish Parliament for consideration. The initiative would set a one-month deadline for people to gain access to mental health services. A coalition of 24 mental health groups is behind the proposal, which was submitted in February by Helsinki city councillor Alviina Alametsä. Public debate in recent weeks about widespread mental health issues among young people in Finland provided the needed impetus for the citizens' initiative to meet its target, with some 10,000 signatures added to the proposal in the span of one week. Specialist referrals no longer necessary The therapy guarantee seeks to put an end to people in need of mental health services not receiving care. Some findings posit that only one in two people with mental health problems receive the care they need in Finland. Other figures show that half of the population faces some kind of mental health issue at some point in their lives. The new law being called for would improve accessibility and equity of mental health services, so patients could receive the needed help and support as quickly as possible. It would require patients to be given access to help immediately after their first visit to a health care centre. In other words, patients would no longer be required to show a specialist doctor's diagnosis, as the judgement of a basic health care professional would be considered enough to warrant a referral. Treatment within one month of clinic visit Psychotherapy or some other form of psychosocial treatment to address the acknowledged symptoms would then begin at the latest within one month of the initial health clinic visit. "The therapy guarantee would build an effective network of mental health services within the basic health care framework of Finland. It would supplement the current system by providing faster, easier and more customer-oriented assistance," the proposal reads. The proposed guarantee would also promote equity, as access to the required therapy would be guaranteed for all patients, regardless of their economic means. Early care could create millions in savings The new law is also projected to generate significant savings with time. Earlier access to the proper treatment would prevent longer sick leaves, for example. The OECD estimates that the direct and indirect total cost of mental health disorders in Finland cost the state 11 billion euros each year. The organisations behind the citizens' initiative predict that the reform would promote the rehabilitation of 7,500 individuals, who could then return to the job market. The annual cost of the therapy guarantee is estimated at approximately 35 million euros. Even so, the authors of the initiative have calculated that the resulting decrease in benefits and increase in tax revenue would create close to ten times this amount in savings, or 340 million euros. "A mental health services system with a low threshold to treatment is much more cost-effective than one that relies on specialist care. Early access to treatment is known to have a pre-emptive effect on the worsening of symptoms and disorders, in addition to reducing the need for other health care services," the proposal states.

Sat, 20 Jul 2019 13:34:23 +0300


Sámi language version of Frozen 2 in the works

Disney will soon begin recruiting Sámi voice actors for the film, which will be released in December 2019.

Walt Disney Animation Studios is planning to produce a Northern Sámi language version of the upcoming animated movie Frozen 2. The language known as Northern Sámi is one of nine distinct living Sámi languages. In 2002, it was estimated to have some 15,000 speakers spread over northern Norway, Sweden and Finland, accounting for more than 75 percent of all Sámi speakers. The Sámi-language version of the highly-anticipated film is the result of collaboration between the Sámi Parliamentary Council, the Saami Council and Walt Disney Animation Studios. The producers of Frozen 2 have visited the Sámi region to consult with local representatives in preparation for the project. Spokespersons Tuomas Aslak Juuso (from the Sámi Parliament of Finland), Åsa Larsson-Blind (Saami Council), Aili Keskitalo (Sámi Parliament of Norway) and Per-Olof Nutti (Sámi Parliament of Sweden) released a joint statement in response to the Disney announcement. "We are proud and grateful for the collaboration with Disney Animation. We are delighted to give Sámi children the opportunity to see Frozen 2 in their own language. We are very pleased to be able to share this news now that the UN is celebrating the International Year of Indigenous Languages," the group stated. Left to right: Tuomas Aslak Juuso, Åsa Larsson-Blind, Aili Keskitalo, and Per-Olof Nutti.Sámediggi Animation Magazine's website reported on Friday that the first Frozen movie incorporated many elements of Sámi culture. For example, the film’s opening song features traditional Sámi joik singing, and creation of the character Kristoff drew on reindeer husbandry and traditional Sámi clothing. Walt Disney Animation Studios will soon begin the process of casting Northern Sámi voice actors for the film, which is scheduled to be released at the same time as the other Nordic versions, in December 2019.

Sat, 20 Jul 2019 11:22:26 +0300


Heatwave to hit Finland at the beginning of next week

From Helsinki to Lapland, temperatures will likely rise to +25 degrees Celsius -- and above.

From Helsinki all the way up to Lapland, the mercury will rise well into the mid-20s next week. For southwestern Finland temperatures of +27 degrees are in store, while in Lapland the forecast predicts +25 degrees in Kittilä and +24 degrees in Inari, according to Yle meteorologist Matti Huutonen. ”Heat wave temperatures will be measured from the beginning of the week all the way up to Lapland,” predicts Huutonen. On Monday, from the southwest a zone of precipitation will approach, but it will dissipate before it reaches mainland Finland. Light rain is also expected in the archipelago. After Tuesday, Huutonen says he can’t promise anything for certain. On Wednesday it may rain in central and northern Finland. “The details are uncertain. Wednesday does look like it will see a zone of rain that goes across central and northern Finland,” he says.

Fri, 19 Jul 2019 19:19:27 +0300


Finland facing acute shortage of nurses

The government's plans to increase the number of nurses providing 24-hour care to the elderly may leave gaps elsewhere.

Finland is facing a nursing crisis, according to the Finnish Union of Practical Nurses, as less people are choosing the profession due to the industry's working conditions and relatively lower rate of pay. The union's spokesperson Johanna Pérez told Yle that the current situation regarding nursing numbers is unprecedented in her experience. "It's really worrying that there's starting to be such a shortage of nurses, which has been unheard of during my career," said Perez. Pérez cites the demands of the job as the main reason younger people in Finland are increasingly eschewing the social and healthcare sector and choosing to work in other industries. "The job is a mix of being a bodyguard, a cleaner, a kitchen worker and a laundry worker. And this may come as quite a surprise, especially to younger nurses," explains Pérez. Government's planned changes might aggravate problem Pérez believes the nursing shortage might be further exacerbated by Prime Minister Antti Rinne's government's plans to roll out changes which would see the nursing ratio in the elderly care sector raised to 0.7. This means there would be seven nurses for every ten elderly people, and would therefore require more than 4,000 nurses. Krista Kiuru, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services, told Yle that the government is working on solutions to the shortage, and that one possible solution is to entice former nurses, who have left the profession to pursue careers elsewhere, back to the healthcare industry. "We can make a commitment that these professional working conditions change in a way that attracts former staff. Furthermore, we can also offer full-time working positions. These areas have the most significant potential for getting these things right," Kiuru said. Student nurses failing to finish their studies However, the industry faces significant challenges in recruiting the next generation of nurses to first apply for the relevant courses, and then to complete their studies. Marko Kaira, a board member of the Finnish Student Association Tehy, explained that a pattern is emerging whereby student nurses drop out before graduating. "It is worrying to hear from all over Finland that students decide even during their studies, on the basis of practical training experience or even on the basis of teaching experience, that this is not their field, and they do not finish their studies," Kaira told Yle. The healthcare industry's attractiveness to new recruits has been further undermined by recent revelations about pay cuts and the exploitation of Filipino nurses.

Fri, 19 Jul 2019 17:59:42 +0300


MP al-Taee to return to work following sick leave

The MP took sick leave earlier this spring following a backlash regarding inflammatory comments he made on social media.

MP Hussein al-Taee of the Social Democratic Party will end his sick leave on Sunday. Al-Taee went on leave in May following the backlash that arose surrounding inflammatory comments he had made about homosexuals, Jews, Somalis and Sunni Muslims on Facebook several years earlier. At the time, al-Taee apologised for the posts and said he no longer held those opinions. When al-Taee went on sick leave in the beginning of May, SDP parliamentary group chair Antti Lindtman said that the leave was related to the uproar that had been caused when the MP's old Facebook writings surfaced. Al-Taee was hospitalised during his sick leave. Al-Taee is to take part in a political panel discussion at the Faces Festival in Karjaa, western Uusimaa, on 28 July along with Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto and Mika Aaltola, programme director of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.

Fri, 19 Jul 2019 16:59:49 +0300


Helsinki festivals scramble for replacements as stars cancel

Weekend and Flow announced new headliners on Friday as Cardi B and Swedish House Mafia pulled out.

Two of Finland's biggest music festivals, Flow and Weekend, hastily added new names to their line-ups on Friday following late cancellations by big-name acts. Weekend, which starts on Friday at the former Suvilahti power plant, announced in the early morning hours via Instagram the main headliner, electronic all-star trio Swedish House Mafia, would not appear. The group cited vague "production issues". Later in the morning, the nearly-sold-out festival announced that SHM would be replaced by Alesso, another Swedish electronic act that rose to international stardom in the 2010s. Late-night cancellation "Yesterday we started to hear rumours that SHM was cancelling their appearance. We didn't get confirmation until around midnight when the artists forwarded a message about it," says Weekend Festival publicist Tomi Lindblom. "Fortunately we had begun to prepare a bit so we got Alesso as a replacement very quickly." The planned SHM gig would have been their first in about five year, so some fans may have bought tickets specifically for that reason. Story continues after photo Swedish House MafiaKiko Huesca / EPA Lindblom apologised on behalf of the festival but said that "if one artist cancels in a multiple-day music festival, tickets are not refunded". "For some artists it seems all too easy to change plans" Also on Friday morning, organisers of Flow, to be held at Suvilahti three weeks from now, announced a change at the top of the bill. US rapper Cardi B cancelled her European tour dates due to "scheduling conflicts", so Flow replaced her with another American R&B/hiphop star, Solange. The younger sister of Beyoncé, Solange was to have appeared at Flow back in 2013 but cancelled. Flow's artistic director Tuomas Kallio told Yle that the festival received confirmation of Cardi B's cancellation this week. Her European shows would have been between scheduled dates in Canada on 4 August and Mexico on the 16th. "According to international contract practices, these artists don't face cancellation penalties. And unfortunately for some artists it seems all too easy to change their plans regardless of contracts," Kallio said. Earlier in July, American rapper Travis Scott cancelled his appearance at Turku's Ruisrock a day in advance. The festival quickly booked another US hip-hop act, Migos, to replace him, but they were unable to make it either due to airline delays. A year ago Weekend faced a much grimmer situation when a scheduled headliner, Florida rapper XXXTentacion, was murdered two months before the festival. Swedish electronic star Avicii, who also died last year, had headlined the festival in 2015 and 2016.

Fri, 19 Jul 2019 15:27:56 +0300


Suspected arson at Hyvinkää church

A storage facility at the Old Church was destroyed before firefighters were able to get the blaze under control.

Police suspect that a fire at the Old Church in the centre of Hyvinkää, a municipality located about 50 kilometres north of Helsinki, was started deliberately. "Based on our preliminary investigation, there is reason to suspect that the fire was intentionally ignited," said Crime Commissioner Leif Malmberg of the Eastern Uusimaa Police Department. "The case is currently being investigated as an act of arson." Malmberg added that as the investigation is currently ongoing, the police cannot yet provide any further details, but that no natural cause for the fire was found. "This was based on a technical investigation which has given us reason to suspect that the fire was intentionally started. There are no suspects at this stage," Malmberg said. The police have asked for the public's assistance in investigating the incident. Passerby raised alarm At approximately 2.30am on Friday, a passerby noticed a fire in a storage building behind the church and alerted authorities. When the Central Uusimaa Rescue Service arrived, the 30-square-metre warehouse was fully aflame. The storage unit contained gardening tools and supplies, said on-duty firefighter Harry Häyrinen, and the warehouse and all of the supplies were completely destroyed by the fire. A blaze was also noticed to have started in the window frame of a 19th century log building, but firefighters were able to extinguish it before it spread. "The window was open, and there was hemp being used as insulation. Some smoke had got in, but it has now been ventilated," Häyrinen explained. The warehouse is about 15 metres away from the Old Church, and the log building is about 25 metres away. Story continues after photo. The storage building at Hyvinkää old church was completely destroyed by the blaze. Pelastuslaitos Häyrinen therefore believes it is unlikely that the fire at the log building would come from sparks that had flown from the storage building. There was no reported injuries caused by the fire. Hyvinkää Old Church is a log building originally built as a prayer room in 1896, based on the designs of renowned Finnish architect Yrjö Sadeniemi. The prayer room was enlarged in 1923 by master builder Heikki Siikonen, and the building was consecrated in 1978. According to the Hyvinkää parish website, the Old Church is a popular location for weddings.

Fri, 19 Jul 2019 14:23:06 +0300


More than 100,000 youth face mental health disorders, long queues for care

A citizens' initiative is underway to reduce the waiting time for patients to access mental health services.

As wait times for mental healthcare services can be up to three months long in Finland, a citizens' initiative to decrease the waiting time has been signed by more than 40,000 people. At least 50,000 signatures are needed for the initiative to proceed to parliament for consideration. If successful, speeding up access to mental healthcare services would cost an estimated 35 million euros a year – a sum that mental health groups say would be recouped within a few years through improved workforce participation. A particular group of concern is Finnish youth, as one in five suffers from a mental health disorder requiring immediate help. Last year, more than one hundred thousand people aged 13 to 24 required mental health services. The umbrella association of mental health organisations (Mielenterveysjärjestöt) was responsible for kick-starting the citizens' initiative for a therapy guarantee that would ensure that long waiting times would become history. Their goal is to ensure that it's possible to gain access to psychotherapy or other forms of care within a month of an initial visit to a healthcare centre, and that an assessment of the need for treatment would be made immediately after the first request for assistance. Critical need for immediate access The critical need for immediate access to therapy is driving the citizens' initiative, according to project head Alviina Alametsä of the Finnish mental health pool (Mielenterveyspooli). ”If a person has self-harming tendencies or symptoms, or feels very bad, three months is an incredibly long time to wait for help,” she says. According to estimates, only half of those suffering from mental disorders receive the help they need. Number of patients growing, but number of doctors not Demand for specialised medical care for youth psychiatry is growing: in the capital region the number of referrals has increased by 40 percent over the past decade. According to Laura Häkkinen, a youth psychiatrist and senior physician at Helsinki University Central Hospital (HUS), about 15 percent of young people in Finland are covered by basic services as their mental health problems are mild or moderate. Nevertheless, every tenth youth receives specialised mental health medical care. According to Häkkinen the problem is that the basic level of services doesn’t work as quickly as it should. “Youth mental health disorders are reasonably easy to identify and care for, so treatment should start as early as possible,” she says. Delays in access to treatment are largely due to a lack of labour resources. Resources for early intervention? The citizens' initiative aims to ensure early treatment and make it easier and quicker to access short-term therapy. Implementing the initiative would require hiring new employees and continuing with existing training. There is already a shortage of workers in specialised mental health care. Last year, of 68 youth psychiatric specialists' posts at HUS, 10-15 were unfilled. Though speeding up access to mental health services with the therapy guarantee would cost some 35 million euros, mental health organisations say that the investment would pay for itself within a few years as early intervention would decrease work absenteeism and sick leaves. Last year, mental health was the most common reason for people in their 20s to take sick leave. ”Specialised medical care is much more expensive than early intervention through therapy, for example,” says Häkkinen. Access to services is poor Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Krista Kiuru and parliamentary Social Affairs and Health Committee vice chair Mia Laiho both support the therapy guarantee initiative. “Access to mental health services for children and adolescents in some parts of Finland is poor and not really optimal anywhere,” says Laiho. ”When there’s an emergency, whether it’s for a wounded knee or mind, it’s important to receive attention quickly,” says Kiuru.

Fri, 19 Jul 2019 13:13:57 +0300


Poll: Narrow majority oppose Nato membership

In line with trends elsewhere, Finns are increasingly unsure about their stance on Nato.

Just over half of Finns polled, 51 percent, said they are against Finland joining Nato in a fresh survey. Supporters of the conservative National Coalition Party (NCP) tend to back Nato membership while most leftists oppose joining. The survey was published on Friday by three newspapers: Maaseudun Tulevaisuus, a rural paper with traditional ties to the Centre Party, the NCP-owned Verkkouutiset, and the main Swedish-language daily, Hufvudstadsbladet. Small sample However only about a quarter (26 percent) of those surveyed stated an opinion on Nato membership. As the poll covered just over 1,100 people, the support results are based on the views of fewer than 300 people. According to the poll, the strongest opposition was among backers of the Left Alliance, with 69 percent saying no to Finnish membership. The most positive were supporters of the NCP, with 57 percent saying Finland should join the western military alliance. In general, Nato support was highest among those respondents with higher incomes and education levels as well as those who described themselves as politically right-leaning. Finland joined Nato's Partnership for Peace in 1994, a year before joining the EU. In 2004 Finland and neighbouring Sweden stepped up cooperation with Nato, joining its Enhanced Opportunities Programme. More uncertainty worldwide Mika Aaltola, Global Security Programme Director at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, says the results indicate that trends in Finland are in line with those elsewhere. "Opposition to Nato has declined in recent years while the number of people who are unsure of their stance has increased," he said. "Nothing dramatic has happened. Twenty-six percent giving a position is a bit more than I expected but not a major change." The survey was carried out by pollster Kantar TNS, which questioned 1,106 people aged 15-74 in early June. The newspapers say that those who responded were Finns. The agency estimates the margin of error at three percentage points. In a poll taken nearly one year ago, one third of Finns surveyed said they would support Nato membership if President Sauli Niinistö endorsed it.

Fri, 19 Jul 2019 12:03:36 +0300


Friday’s papers: Plastic recycling, healthcare layoffs and wild berry prospects

With little national news, most Finnish newspapers focus on world headlines and local items.

The largest provincial daily, Aamulehti, looks at the US claim that it downed an Iranian drone over the Strait of Hormuz and the sentencing of Mexican drug lord ‘El Chapo’. With the domestic news front quiet, the paper focuses on local stories such as suspicions around foreign asphalting companies and the Tammerfest music festival, which began under sunny skies on Thursday at Ratina Stadium featuring Finnish pop comet Alma and ‘90s Swedish band the Cardigans. Aamulehti also surveys the status of the wild berry harvest that began a couple of weeks ago in the surrounding Pirkanmaa region. According to the paper, blueberries (also known as bilberries) are now ripe, but this year’s crop is skimpy, mostly due to last summer’s drought. Orange cloudberries are also ripe and in bountiful supply. The red lingonberries (aka cowberries) won’t be ready for picking until August but should also be plentiful. Meanwhile the first wild mushrooms, the yellow chanterelles, are just becoming ready for harvesting with local amounts depending on rainfall. Kaleva: Recycling and road mishaps In the northern city of Oulu, Kaleva looks into the spread of ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo and forest fires in Siberia and Alaska amid record-hot, dry conditions. In local news, Kaleva spotlights millionaire Veikko Lesonen, who has invented a plastic recycling system that is to be piloted by a housing company in Oulu this autumn. There’s a report of one local man who is suspected of driving while under the influence of drugs, without a driver’s licence – and with studded snow tyres still on his vehicle. Another motorist struck and killed an elk (known as a moose in North America) on Thursday night in Oulu, causing a traffic disruption and totalling the car but no other injuries. TS: Ambulance layoffs, river bacteria Turun Sanomat likewise concentrates on its southwestern regional beat. Private healthcare firm the Med Group has begun redundancy talks with 57 employees because the public Southwest Finland health care district is taking over more ambulance transport services itself. Meanwhile the city’s Swedish-language university Åbo Akademi wants to expand its training programme for pharmacists to include head dispensers, as the nation faces a shortage of qualified pharmaceutical staff. The most-read stories on the TS site include traffic accidents such a fatal crash in the maritime municipality of Kustavi and a five-car pile-up in Naantali. Another popular item reports on the discovery of E. coli and other harmful bacteria in the Vähäjoki river in northern Turku. The Southwest Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment has banned swimming in the river and any other use of its water pending further tests. Fortunately for local swimmers the nearby Paattistenjoki – a dammed river – is still fine for a splash.

Fri, 19 Jul 2019 09:16:47 +0300


Moomins want to raise a million euros to protect the Baltic Sea

Funds from the campaign will be channeled into conservation projects aimed at reducing the impact of destructive algae.

If Moomin creator Tove Jansson could see the Baltic Sea in 2019, she would do her best to improve it. That's the view of Moomin Characters' current artistic director, Tove Jansson's niece Sophia Jansson. Moomin Characters Ltd, the limited liability company that controls the image and licensing rights of the Moomin characters, plans to raise one million euros next year to protect the Baltic Sea. Company CEO Roleff Kråkström first proposed the idea of using Moomins as patrons, when he witnessed the effect of blue-green algae on the water. Since then, more than 50 companies and organisations have become involved, including the John Nurminen Foundation, known for its protection campaigns in the Baltic Sea. Story continues after photo Moomin Characters' Artistic Director Sophia Jansson and Managing Director Roleff Kråkström believe that Moomins can inspire people to protect the Baltic Sea.Lehtikuva The Baltic Sea campaign will launch in 2020, and will coincide with the 75th anniversary of the publication of the first Moomin story, The Moomins and The Great Flood. According to Sophia Jansson, the sea was an important element for Tove Jansson. "The sea is present in all of the Moomin stories, and was also a very large part of Tove's personality, production and heart. She lived by the sea and in the archipelago all her life," explains Sophia Jansson. Nutrients from agriculture lead to algae The biggest problem in the Baltic Sea is caused by eutrophication, which occurs when a body of water becomes overly enriched with minerals and nutrients, creating algae. When dead algae descends to the bottom, it consumes oxygen. In the Baltic Sea eutrophication has resulted in excessive growth of algae and record-breaking levels of oxygen depletion. "We are in a vicious circle that makes the eutrophication situation in the Baltic Sea difficult, despite the fact that much has been done to improve the situation on land," says Seppo Knuuttila, Senior Research Scientist at Finnish Research Institute SYKE. Knuuttila cites the 60 percent drop in phosphorus loads in the Gulf of Finland since 2000, which he says is largely due to Russia's improved wastewater treatment, as evidence that much is being achieved. However, the phosphorus loads from agriculture are still a major problem. None of the Baltic Sea states have as yet significantly reduced their agricultural nutrient loads. "If this fails, HELCOM's (the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission's) goal of improving the ecological status of the sea will not be achieved," Knuuttila says. The effects of the blue-green cyanobacteria on the Baltic Sea were clearly evident in the summer of 2018. While the level of algae in the water this summer has not been on the same scale, Knuuttila warns that the conditions for cyanobacteria are still rife. "In terms of nutrition this summer, the conditions for vigorous cyanobacterial bloom are in place. The weather conditions have not been favourable for heavy cyanobacterial blooms so far, but the weather of the coming weeks may change that," says Knuuttila. "No time to wait" The money raised through the Moomin campaign will be channeled into conservation projects at the John Nurminen Foundation. According to the Foundation's agent Annamari Arrakoski-Engardt, one way to reduce nutrient loads is by increasing the use of gypsum treatment. "It (gypsum treatment) can significantly reduce the nutrient loads in fields. This should be introduced in Finland in all suitable areas, and also tested in Poland and Sweden, which are major contributors to agricultural nutrient loads," says Arrakoski-Engardt, also adding that she believes the state of the Baltic Sea can be improved. "I know that the Baltic Sea can be saved. I am concerned about whether the measures are adequate and whether the pace is fast enough. Climate change has put pressure on marine protection, and we should do more. There is no time to wait," says Arrakoski-Engardt. Sophia Jansson believes that the Moomin characters can raise a great deal of interest in the Baltic Sea. "Moomins usually solve things in a very harmonious and good way, and with that positive attitude, I believe that a lot can be accomplished," says Jansson.

Thu, 18 Jul 2019 21:28:59 +0300


Finland in spotlight as EU authorities probe Council presidency business links

The European Ombudsman is investigating corporate sponsorship deals as Finland’s BMW-sponsored leadership of the EU Council gets underway.

Private businesses sponsoring the EU presidency are set to continue with German carmaker BMW supporting Finland’s leadership of the Council of the European Union. Finland’s EU presidency secretariat confirmed that the German car maker is providing 100 vehicles to transport delegations during EU presidency events in Helsinki. This week European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly opened an investigation into the practice, saying the Council “does not have in place guidelines” to regulate it. Finnish Green Party MEP Heidi Hautala was the lead signatory on a letter from MEPs who oppose such sponsorships. Critics say sponsorships are a “conflict of interest” “100 MEPs addressed some months ago the incoming Finnish Council presidency, asking it to refrain from commercial sponsorship, only to discover soon that BMW was going to sponsor the Finnish presidency with cars,” Hautala told Yle News. “There is a clear conflict of interest between the sponsorship by BMW and the Council as lawmaker,” Hautala said. Story continues after photo. File photo of Finnish MEP Heidi Hautala.AOP Sponsorship of the rotating six-month presidency was branded “politically damaging” by MEPs in a letter which called on the Finnish government to “refuse all corporate sponsorship of the Finnish presidency and make a proposal to other member states that all future presidencies agree to such a rule.” In a statement to Yle News, the government said no money changed hands as part of its deal with BMW and that the manufacturer was only providing vehicles, not drivers or fuel. It did not disclose the equivalent monetary value of the sponsorship agreement. No guidance on sponsorships for EU member states In a letter addressed to Secretary-General of the EU Council Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen and seen by Yle News, the Ombudsman said she was opening an inquiry into corporate sponsorship of EU presidencies after receiving a complaint from food industry NGO Foodwatch International about Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of Romania’s EU presidency in the first half of 2019. The complaint is based on the claim that the Council of the European Union “does not have in place guidelines when it comes to Council presidencies being sponsored by private companies.” In response, the Council said that sponsorship deals with private companies were “in principle, a matter for the member state authorities concerned.” MEP Hautala welcomed the Ombudsman’s move. “I am happy to see that the Ombudsman has now opened an inquiry to this sponsorship which indeed can lead to dependency on undue commercial interests,” she said. The European Ombudsman is the authority responsible for promoting transparency and accountability in European Union decision making. No change during this presidency Finnish authorities say they do not intend to raise the issue of corporate sponsorships during their presidency. In a statement first reported by Brussels-based website EUObserver, and repeated by officials to Yle News, a government spokeswoman said, “we do not foresee any discussions about corporate sponsorship of EU presidencies with other member states.” Anja Laisi, head of the Secretariat for Finland’s presidency of the Council of the EU, defended the decision to partner with BMW. In a statement to Yle News she said, “We have selected meeting venues that are easy to reach by public transportation. However, ministers can rarely use public transportation due to scheduling and security reasons, and we therefore organise car transportation for them.” “Following an EU-wide call for tenders, the Secretariat for Finland’s presidency concluded a contract with Oy BMW Suomi Ab – the Finnish subsidiary of BMW AG. No other contracts have been signed for the Presidency period,” she said. Asked whether representatives of BMW would receive opportunities to meet with European political figures as a consequence of the deal, Ms Laiti said, “Representatives of BMW do not have opportunities to meet with Finnish government ministers or political representatives during the Finnish presidency as part of the contract to provide the vehicles or otherwise related to this contract.” “Finnish civil servants – responsible only for practical arrangements for the presidency - are in contact with representatives of BMW as part of the management of the contract.” BMW’s EU Commission allegations In April BMW was one of three car makers accused of breaching EU competition regulations by working together to delay the introduction of new, emissions-reducing technologies in their vehicles. In a statement in April, EU Competition Commissioner Margarethe Vestager said, “companies can cooperate in many ways to improve the quality of their products. However, EU competition rules do not allow them to collude on exactly the opposite: not to improve their products, not to compete on quality.” Story continues after photo. EU Competition Commissioner Margarethe Vestager speaking at the Slush event in Helsinki. Yle News / Tom Bateman Responding to the Commission’s allegations, BMW said, “The BMW Group will contest the EU Commission’s allegations with all legal means if necessary.” Setting out Finland’s aims for its presidency, Prime Minister Antti Rinne (SDP) told Parliament the main goal would be to commit the EU to carbon neutrality by 2050. Speaking in June, Mr Rinne said: “A key priority of Finland’s presidency is the EU’s global leadership in climate action,” adding that the EU should become “the world’s most competitive and socially inclusive low-carbon economy.”

Thu, 18 Jul 2019 19:01:55 +0300


Olli Rehn strong candidate for IMF top job

The Bank of Finland's Governor is reportedly on the shortlist, while other sources say Alexander Stubb is in the frame.

The shortlist of nominees for the International Monetary Fund's (IMF's) next CEO has been narrowed down to four names, with the Bank of Finland's current Governor, Olli Rehn, among the top candidates, according to the New York based financial newspaper the Wall Street Journal. The other shortlisted candidates are the former Dutch Minister of Finance Jeroen Dijsselbloem, current President of the Eurogroup and Portuguese Minister of Finance Mario Centeno, and the current Spanish Minister of Economy and Business Nadia Calvino. The London based Financial Times, however, reports that former Finnish Prime Minister and current vice president of the European Investment Bank, Alexander Stubb, is on the shortlist of candidates, probably instead of Dijesselbloem. The paper also reports that a previous favourite to land the top job at the IMF, current Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, is now no longer being considered for the position. The IMF's current CEO, Christine Lagarde, will relinquish the role to take over as President of the European Central Bank. The shortlist of candidates will be discussed at a meeting of European G7 finance ministers in Chantilly, France. According to the Wall Street Journal, Rehn's candidacy is likely to receive more support from northern European countries, including Germany, while Centeno and Calvino are more popular in the south. Dutch Minister Dijsselbloem's suitability for the role has been questioned by southern European countries, after he refused to apologise for comments he made during the Eurozone crisis which suggested that crisis-hit countries had splurged their money on "drinks and women."

Thu, 18 Jul 2019 17:59:32 +0300


Co-founder of award winning startup embroiled in money laundering scandal

One of four Finnish men being held in Spain has been dismissed from his role with mobile payment startup iQ Payments.

One of the suspects in an international criminal investigation into the operating of a sex services website and the laundering of millions of euros is a significant shareholder and founding member of an award-winning Finnish technology company. According to Spanish police, the man is suspected of money laundering, which refers to the concealing of illegally obtained money through legitimate businesses. The CEO of iQ Payments, Tuomo Parjanen,told Yle that the individual has been dismissed from his role and that the company is not involved in any criminal investigation. "We have nothing to do with his (the unnamed shareholder's) private business. This came as a complete surprise to all board members and shareholders," Parjanen said. Finland's National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) back up Parjanen's statement by confirming that the investigation was not related to any Finnish company. Finnish and Spanish police suspect four foreign-based Finnish nationals of being involved in criminal activity in this case. One of the men was previously named in Finnish media as the administrator of sihteeriopisto.net, a sex services website which served customers in Finland and Sweden for nearly two decades before it was shut down by Spanish authorities, Eurojust and Europol in March 2019. Another of the suspects is known by police to have previously run a brothel in Finland. Company premises searched According to Parjanen, the company was first informed of the investigation when the NBI searched the company's premises on March 26. Parjanen also provided a witness statement on that date. "As soon as we became aware of the matter, we took action, meaning we removed all his rights and obligations," said Parjanen. The suspected man's employment has been terminated and he has been dismissed from the board of directors. However, he is still a partner in iQ Payments. Images from the search of a property by Spanish police revealed Finnish passports. Lehtikuva Yle is prohibited from publishing the name of the man because he is not a public figure and is only suspected of committing a crime at this time. Yle attempted but was unable to contact the man in custody in Spain. The NBI, which is leading the investigation in Finland, would not comment on the identity of the suspects due to the ongoing investigation. Huge international police operation On 26 March 2019, Spanish police arrested four Finnish men in Marbella on the Costa del Sol. Three of them are also suspected of pimping crimes in Finland. The arrests were part of an extensive international criminal investigation into pimping, membership of a criminal organisation and money laundering. The investigation was centred around the popular sihteeriopisto.net website as well as another sex-selling site. The Finnish suspects had been living on the Costa del Sol in Spain. YLE/Arja Lento The suspected involvement of the iQ Payments shareholder in the case was also indirectly revealed in a video published by the Spanish police of the search of a home in Marbella. In the video, an iQ Payments shareholder credit card and business card can be seen on a desk. Moving to the Spanish coast The suspect is originally from the southern Finnish city of Turku, and was a founding member of iQ Payments in 2013. The company trades under the name PayiQ, and according to its own website is a "mobile ticketing platform for transport operators and city event organisers." The technology developed by the company has gained much praise, including being named 'Best Mobile Service 2018' at the Finnish technology and growth enterprise event Slush in Helsinki. By 2018, the app developed by the company was in use by several Finnish municipalities for the sale of public transportation tickets. The company has also received hundreds of thousands of euros in public support, including loans from the public funding agency Business Finland. The suspect had been living for the past few years in Marbella, where he continued to work for iQ Payments. The administrator of the sihteeriopisto.net website also lived on the Spanish coast. The sex services site had previously been hosted in Finland, but a tightening of pimping laws in Finland in 2012 led to the host moving first to the Netherlands and then to Spain. Police suspect the iQ Payments shareholder and the sex site systems administrator subsequently became acquainted in Spain, where it is believed they have a joint business venture. The NBI has not yet been able to question the suspects in Finland, because they are still being held in custody in Spain.

Thu, 18 Jul 2019 16:32:43 +0300


Lost and found: Amusement park's Anaconda snake went missing for 2 weeks

An amusement park worker says 'Houdini' would be a good name for the snake, which was found on Wednesday.

A metre-long Anaconda snake, which went missing from Tampere's Särkänniemi Amusement Park two weeks ago, has been found. The search effort resulted in the complete dismantlement of the park's Aquarium terrarium, where the snake had been housed before its escape. The snake, which was found on Wednesday night, has become a minor celebrity, according to Sarkänniemi’s director of development Ville Aarresuo. The snake’s disappearance ended happily when the snake, which had been lost in the terrarium’s structure for two weeks, suddenly fell from the ceiling of the aquarium’s entryway where it was discovered by surprised visitors. "There were definitely a lot of screams of excitement,” says Aarresuo. Now that the snake has returned, many have suggested that it should be given a new name. One of the most popular suggestions has been Houdini, after Harry Houdini, the early 20th century master escape artist. ”I think that this is one of the strongest options for a name at this point,” says Aarresuo. The Anaconda, or water boa, is a nonvenomous snake usually found in South America and can grow to a length of more than four metres. The predominantly nocturnal species spends much of its life in water, floating with its nose just above the surface. When prey comes close, the Anaconda strikes by coiling itself around the body of its prey and suffocates it.

Thu, 18 Jul 2019 15:02:56 +0300


Finnish village gives pedestrians and cyclists the right of way

Locals hope the cost-effective Dutch model mixed-use road will make the journey to school safer for children.

Pyhtää, a community in the Kymenlaakso region, is the second municipality in Finland to adopt a Dutch model of a cost-effective mixed-use village road that gives pedestrians and cyclists the right of way, with motorists in second place. About 50 students from Pyhtää's Suur-Ahvenkoski school helped to transform the Pyhtäänkuja alley into a road. Alongside the 250-metre long road is a 1.5-metre wide lane for pedestrians and cyclists. Motorists can use the lanes in the middle that are three metres wide. Less expensive than traditional road The cost savings come in as the existing road has been transformed without having to redeem extra land or lay new foundations which would have potentially cost up to twice as much. Supervisor Iikka Voutilainen from Pyhtää’s technical services says that the total cost for the road works were under 10,000 euros. ”This is a good solution for the taxpayer,” says Pyhtää’s technical director Janne Kaulio, who was involved in planning the road last winter. The Pyhtäänkujan road was fixed up and repaired at the beginning of the summer. New lanes were painted last week and signs erected to inform pedestrians, cyclists and motorists of the new traffic guidelines, where the speed limit is 30 km/h. Instructions on how to use the new mixed-use road.Olli Törönen / Yle The community of Pyhtää, which has about 5,000 residents, is hoping that the road that leads to the local school will be safer for children to travel along. “We’ll likely receive feedback when school starts,” says Vuotilainen. Finland’s first mixed-use road based on the Dutch model was opened last fall in Hattula, Kanta Häme. Earlier this spring, the Cycling Network (Pyöräilykuntien verkosto ry) chose Hattula as the cycling municipality of the year for 2019. One of the reasons was the Dutch model road, which was carried out by community initiative.

Thu, 18 Jul 2019 13:43:29 +0300


Finland's defence exports grow by 17%

The country's defence exports last year primarily went to the countries of Poland, Turkey and Sweden.

The value of Finland's defence exports was 128 million euros in 2018, representing an increase of 17 percent compared to the previous year, according to a press release issued by the Ministry of Defence. The top three countries to which Finland exported defence equipment were Poland, Turkey and Sweden. Other countries that purchased military gear from Finland included Oman, France, Estonia, Switzerland, the UK, India and the United Arab Emirates. Last November the ministry announced it was no longer granting new arms export permits to Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates, citing the alarming humanitarian crisis in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is involved in a military conflict. However, before the permits were stopped, Finland exported 9.7 million euros worth of military equipment to the United Arab Emirates during 2018, according to the ministry. The top military equipment Finland exported included precision rifles and accessories, armoured steel parts as well as armoured vehicles and components. The highest-valued permits were granted to Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and France, according to the ministry. Finland issued 257 permanent defence export permits valued at 175.5 million euros last year. The majority of permits were granted to European countries, which accounted for 67 percent of exports.

Thu, 18 Jul 2019 11:52:26 +0300


Thursday's papers: Majority don't hate, €16bn elevator deal murmurs, is summer coming?

Survey finds most people don’t harbour hate, Kone's rumoured interest in Thyssenkrupp's elevator business and warm weather just might be in store.

Daily Helsingin Sanomat (HS) leads with a slightly tongue-in-cheek editorial entitled 'The Majority of People Don’t Hate Anybody.' Although there is much talk about hate speech these days, according to HS the majority of people living in Finland can’t or don’t want to name any one person who makes them cranky or angry. "This is good news," writes the paper, citing a survey carried out by communications agency Tekir and research consultants Kantar that interviewed people in Finland about who makes them cross. Respondents were allowed to name three people. HS says it wasn’t surprising that the list was topped by politicians, especially those who have recently been in the headlines. The most disliked on the list were former PM Juha Sipilä (Centre Party), current prime minister Antti Rinne (Social Democratic Party), and Finns Party leader Jussi Halla-aho. Kone’s biggest deal ever Financial newspaper Taloussanomat reports that Finland-based global elevator firm Kone is reportedly considering a 16 billion euro business deal, which according to an analyst would be the most significant deal the firm has ever made. Taloussanomat writes that German industrial giant Thyssenkrupp is said to be preparing to sell off its elevator business, as was reported earlier in July, and that one of the purchaser candidates is Kone. Kone has not commented on the rumours. According to Taloussanomat, if Kone does acquire Thyssenkrupp’s elevator business, it would be one of the largest business deals in Finnish business history. All up to Barry Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reports that Hurricane Barry holds the key to what type of weather Finland will have for the rest of the summer: Will warm, sunny weather return or will cooler temperatures prevail? All of Europe is dependent on Barry, which has raged over the western states in the US and is currently gathering strength in the Gulf of Mexico. Now, the powerful storm is moving through the northern parts of the US towards the Atlantic. “The hurricane will likely shake up the world’s greater weather picture. Next week may bring weather surprises,” predicts Foreca meteorologist Jenna Salminen in an interview with the tabloid. Europe may also see another heatwave as the Mediterranean and central Europe are forecast to receive another heatwave with more than 40-degree Celsius temperatures like those the region saw in June. So, far Finland has not been embraced by the sizzling temperatures this summer, and not long ago it seemed that the small Nordic country would not be affected by the hot temperatures. However, that looks set to change. “Now it looks as though the heatwave will also stretch into Finland,” Salminen tells the paper, saying it will bring warm, humid weather and thunderstorms.

Thu, 18 Jul 2019 10:16:41 +0300


Rovaniemi, Kuopio and Oulu most lucrative for residential investment

A real estate forecast also predicts that rents in Finland will rise at an annual rate of two percent over the next few years.

The most attractive cities for residential real estate investors in Finland are Rovaniemi, Kuopio and Oulu, followed by Turku and Jyväskylä - all of which are university cities, according to a forecast published jointly by the Finnish Landlords Association and the Pellervo Economic Research Institute. According to the forecast, the best returns on investment for rental properties in Finland are to be found in smaller university cities. Both organisations predict that long-term rental income will remain steady for the foreseeable future, but regional differences are expected to increase, especially in the value of housing. The high cost of real estate in Helsinki has contributed to the capital's low ranking of ninth on the forecast's index. Tourism raising Rovaniemi's popularity Rovaniemi, in Finnish Lapland, rose four places from last year's forecast, and is now the number one location with the best outlook for residential property investment. "Rovaniemi's absolute strength comes from the University of Lapland," explained Tuomas Viljamaa, corporate relations manager at the Finnish Landlords Association, in a press release. "Increasing tourism creates positive prospects for the regional economy. The large number of tourists has brought a lot of opportunities for short-term rentals," the press release continued. According to Viljamaa, rental income in Rovaniemi has been good despite fluctuations in housing prices. Differentiation also visible in cities Traditionally, the potential increase in the value of a dwelling has been a significant consideration when investing in housing. Nowadays however the situation is different, as the value of the investment property is expected to fall in many popular locations. "The segregation between the housing and rental markets is also visible within cities," explained the Finnish Landlords Association's legal adviser Tarik Ahsanullah. "A value increase of about four percent is predicted in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, while the value of capital appreciation at the edges of the capital city would be less than two percent. Even on the outskirts of the Helsinki metropolitan area, value appreciation may be negative." A total of 24 cities were included in the forecast, which analysed factors such as rental income, value of housing and regional factors. The forecast also predicts that rents will rise at an annual rate of two percent over the next few years.

Wed, 17 Jul 2019 19:27:00 +0300


Iraq's claimed 'deported' children were not related to Isis, Finland says

The foreign ministry said no Finnish citizen children with ties to the terror group had been returned to Finland.

Finland's Ministry for Foreign Affairs clarified details on Wednesday concerning a claim made earlier in the week by Iraq that it had deported underage Finnish citizens who may have relatives involved with the terrorist group Isis. On Monday, Iraq announced it had deported hundreds of children, including ones with Finnish citizenship, claiming they could have family links to the terrorist group. There was some initial speculation that the child deportees referred to were linked to Finnish nationals living at the al-Hol refugee camp in northeastern Syria for family members of Isis combatants. But according to information obtained by Yle from the foreign ministries of Finland and Iraq, the deportations of Finnish children which Iraq had referred to Monday appear to be related to a kidnapping case from 2016. Two children returned to Finland "The children were in the custody of Iraq officials," the ministry's current affairs communications director Vesa Häkkinen said on Wednesday. "The foreign ministry requested and received assistance from Iraqi officials in 2017 to return the children to Finland. The children have returned to Finland." In a text message to Yle, the Iraqi foreign ministry's communications chief Ahmed al-Sahaf said that Iraq had handed over two children to the Finnish consulate a couple of years ago. Häkkinen, meanwhile, said those children had no connections to the terror group. "It has nothing to do with Isis or deportations. Something of this nature has not taken place for two years," he said, saying that no Finnish children with ties to Isis had been returned from Iraq to Finland. Finnish authorities have still not received clarification on Monday's announcement from the Iraqi foreign ministry. "They have not been in contact with us," Häkkinen said.

Wed, 17 Jul 2019 18:42:28 +0300


Solar-powered barge gobbles up trash in Finland's waterways

Organisers aim to clean up lakes and rivers but also educate people about the impacts of littering.

A diminutive aluminum floating barge measuring five meters long by a few meters wide is Finland's newest tool in fighting litter floating on the country's inland waters. Using solar energy, the Roska Roope (Garbage Roope) boat sucks up debris and trash floating on the surface as it roams waterways, according to preservation group Keep the Archipelago Tidy Association. ”This is our 50th anniversary gift to Finland’s waters. It's also part of an education campaign as we want to make people aware that littering is a growing problem in inland waters,” says the association's secretary general Aija Kaski. There's a metal-filtered trough in between the barge's floats, which catches debris and litter on the water's surface. Story continues after photo. The metal-filtered trough in between the boat's floats catches floating garbage.Mika Moksu / Yle Small garbage can become a big problem While there has been much news about micro-plastics polluting the sea, only recently has the topic become an issue of concern regarding Finland’s inland waters. Garbage tends to especially accumulate in waters near highly-populated areas. Despite the use of water purification systems as well as other anti-pollution techniques, small items such as cotton swabs often end up in waterways. Though Roska-Roope isn't able to collect all of the unwanted elements in the water, part of its role is to educate the public about the effects of litter. “For example, a yogurt container that ends up in the water will be ground into micro-plastics. Then, it ends up in fish -- and ultimately in people when they eat the fish," says Kaski. She said people play the most important role in keeping water clean. ”The biggest impact would be made, of course, if everyone would take care of their cigarette butts and other rubbish so that no waste would get into the waters,” adds Kaski. Keep the Archipelago Tidy Association is an environmental organisation for boaters and everyone travelling in and around Finnish waterways; it was established 50 years ago.

Wed, 17 Jul 2019 17:22:01 +0300


Three manicured parks in Kotka receive Green Flag Award

Communities around the world vie for the accolades, which a UK-based group hands to exemplary parks and green spaces.

Three public parks in the southern coastal city of Kotka have received the UK-based Green Flag Award, a distinction that is granted to well-managed recreational green spaces around the world. The Sapokka Water Park, the Katariina Seaside Park and the Karhula River Park were recognized as quality areas by the UK-based group. The Green Flag Awards are handed out for a year at a time. Green Flags are handed to cities with green spaces that score high on accessibility and management. Tourism chief at Cursor, the regional development company for the region of Kotka and Hamina, Kati Paasi, said the award is a golden opportunity for businesses in the area. "For instance, restaurants could sell picnic baskets with meals that customers could pick up and take to the park," she suggested. To date, a total five Finnish green spaces have received the award. Previously, the Pikku-Vesijärvenpuisto Park in Lahti and Tampere's Hatanpää Villa Park and Arboretum in southern Finland received the accolade. The award group's green-coloured flag is flown at each of parks it honours around the world, of which there are currently more than 2,000. Most of the group's accolades have been handed to parks and green spaces in the UK, but also in Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and the UAE. Story continues after photo. Katariina Seaside Park in Kotka, Finland.Miina Sillanpää / Yle Strict criteria The first park in Finland to win a Green Flag was when the Häme University of Applied Sciences' campus park won the distinction in 2016. In order to be eligble, local officials need to apply to the group to be considered for the award. After the application is accepted, a two-stage judging process begins. "In this first stage the judges will assess the site-specific management plan and associated documentation, and a response to the judges’ feedback from the previous year," the award website stated. The first phase is worth 30 out of 100 points, while the second is more rigorous. Story continues after photo. Sapokka Water Park in Kotka, Finland.Miina Sillanpää / Yle "The second stage will comprise a site visit where the judges assess whether the management plan is in practice on the site, and how well the Green Flag Award expectations have been met, by observation and by questioning staff, volunteers and visitors." The judges for the three Kotka parks were the award's primary judge Mary Atkins from the UK and local Tampere judges Sara Luhtaniemi and Titta Holmala-Kylmäkoski. The judges assessed the three locations in eight different categories, which together contained 27 quality criteria. Sustainable management, accessibility and opportunities for visitors to contribute to the area's wellbeing is also a priority. "One of the main points is how a regular citizens can use the park," said Holmala-Kylmäkoski. "We also scrutinise how true to nature and how safe the areas are." The Green Flag Award is coordinated in Finland by the Finnish Association of Landscape Industries.

Wed, 17 Jul 2019 15:24:47 +0300