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Finland for Thought » 2007 » August | Politics, current events, culture - In Finland & the United States | Blog of an American living in Finland

Finland for Thought
             Politics, current events, culture - In Finland & United States

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31.8.2007

Alcohol taxes to increase

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 11:21 am

Well the alcohol crisis in Finland has been solved! No more drunk drivers, no more winos in the streets, no more punk kids breaking bottles, no more trips to the emergency room. We’ll finally go back in time to 2003, a much better time in Finnish history, when alcohol was used but once a year for weddings and special occasions…

Taxation on alcohol beverages is also to increase. The tax on spirits will go up by 15 percent. The price of a bottle of grade 3 middle beer will increase by five cents, wines by about 20 cents.

Young people all over Finland are crying out, “Five more cents a bottle?!?! Looks like I’ll have to give up drinking and getting laid, and study at the library instead!”

Politicians are crazy if they think this will effect people’s drinking habits one bit. All it will do is make Finland’s poor a little poorer, and that will lead to even greater social ills.

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30.8.2007

South Africa, and the Iraq, everywhere like such as

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 2:02 pm

Yeah yeah, I know you’ve all seen it, but for those who haven’t…. (and for those who have, check out the Tube Map for Miss South Carolina)

Wait 10 to 14 hours at Helsinki emergency room

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 1:02 pm

Wow, for doctors to have sent an open letter like that, this problem has obviously been going on for a long time

Patients seeking emergency treatment at the Maria Hospital in Helsinki are forced to wait several hours before seeing a doctor. Doctors at the hospital have sent an open letter listing their concerns to directors of the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa.

According to the doctors, labour shortages are behind the problem. Patients often have to wait 3 to 8 hours to see a doctor. During peak times, some patients have been forced to wait 10 to 14 hours. Other patients have been treated in corridors when bed space hits full-capacity.

Doctors have proposed hiring two more physicians to deal with the high workload, as well as increasing the number of on-call doctors during evenings.

Summer is over, snow in Northern Finland

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 12:53 pm

Well summer graced us for about three weeks this year, and now it’s over. Break out the winter jackets and the noose. This morning I took out the dog and it was +6C (43F), today’s high is +12C (54F). Last night many parts of Finland were below freezing, and they even had heavy snow up north… (Photos here)

The first snowfall of the season was seen late Wednesday night near Enontekiö in Finnish Lapland.
Snow continued to fall heavily through the morning hours as well. By mid-morning some localities were reporting around five centimetres of snowcover. [...]According to listeners to YLE’s Lapland regional radio service, early snow was also seen in 1986 when the ground was cloaked in white on the last day of August.

29.8.2007

Firearm ownership in Finland is the third highest in the world

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 11:25 am

Finland has the third highest number of guns in the world per capita, yet everyone isn’t shooting each other!? This must really confuse the anti-gun advocates! Or maybe, it’s not the *guns* that are the problem…??

Firearm ownership in Finland is the third highest per capita in the world, according to a new international survey.

The Small Arms Survey 2007 by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies says that there are 56 guns for every 100 residents in the country.

On a per-capita basis, the United States has the world’s most heavily armed citizenry, with 90 guns per 100 people, followed by Yemen with 61 per 100 people, and then Finland.

The study says that civilians hold around 650 million handguns worldwide, 40 percent of them in the United States.

Other countries with high per capita levels of private firearms are Switzerland (46), Iraq (39), Canada (31), Sweden (31) and Germany (30).

27.8.2007

My first Finnish police road block

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 9:49 pm

I’ve been driving in Finland for over four years now and the other day I finally hit my first police road block and was stopped and breathalyzed. I was nervous and anxious, my heart was pounding, yet I’ve done nothing wrong.

At first I was thinking to myself “fuck the po-lice!”, but once in four years ain’t bad, I could have been driving drunk every day for four years and never got caught. The officer was polite and even switched to English after I complimented him on his blue leather, full body jumpsuit that made him look like a white Eddie Murphy Delirious.

“These figures, however, are just readings from the screening breathalysers. The more accurate results achieved by blood testing and with precision meters are usually considerably lower”, reveals Chief Inspector Heikki Seppä from the Helsinki Traffic and Special Police reveals.

The screening meters used by the police in the field work are not 100% reliable. The readings they give are too high if the person being tested has just had a drink.

My girlfriend thought I was an ass for disrespecting an officer of the law, and I’m sure most Finns would think the same. But you need to understand that I dealt with American cops for 23 years. American cops in general are corrupt and have this “out to get you attitude”. In the states it’s an “us” vs. “them” attitude between the people and the police. My parents never once did anything illegal except maybe go over the speed limit on occasion, and they disliked and distrusted the police.

A few kids in my high school became cops. In high school these same kids were picked on, made fun of, given no respect. Now they got that badge and that gun and they become they bullies, respect is given to them out of fear. There are alot of good cops out there but they’re overshadowed by the bad ones. All too many times Americans hear stories about cops raiding the wrong house, shooting an innocent guy, singling out blacks and other minorities, ignoring the real crime and going after the easy targets, or locking some kid up for smoking pot. And every American has experienced the asshole cop treating you like a terrorist as he writes you a speeding ticket.

So when you hear us foreigners talk bad about the cops (I’d bet Russians share my same phobia), think of us like battered women who’ll never be able to trust a man again cause she was beaten by her husband for years on end. Maybe after 23 years in Finland I’ll finally become comfortable with the police.

Illegal pharmaceuticals and socialized healthcare

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 9:14 pm

Healthcare is “free” in the welfare state, yet way too many Finns are taking serious health and criminal risks by ordering illegal pharmaceuticals online. Are Finns too poor to purchase these drugs in the country? Or are these drugs too expensive? Either way, it seems that socialized medicine isn’t doing a good enough job.

And aren’t we supposed to hate these evil capitalist pharmaceutical companies who only jack up the prices? I guess we should be happy that so many are sticking it to these big corporations…

Last year, Finnish Customs confiscated 180,000 counterfeit pills, the majority of which were potency and slimming medicines. At the same time, a total of 532 pharmaceutical offences occurred. However, Anssi Kartila from the National Board of Customs believes that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

“It is surprising what large quantities of pharmaceuticals are bought from the Internet, even though the risks are so high. After all, one can never be sure of the contents of the drug”, notes Kartila.

By June, a total of 140,000 pills had already been confiscated by the Finnish customs authorities, which means that this year’s figures will be considerably higher than those for last year.

26.8.2007

Helsinki Thai Massage the Sausage

Tags: Uncategorized — Author:   @ 11:11 pm

The Helsingin Sanomat has revealed a “public knowledge” publicly. Namely that “Thai Massage” parlours offer massage of the sausage. They claim through their empirical test of 30 “Thai Massage” parlours that each one is there as a front of sex than massage. The only place where sex was not initially offered was one where a Finnish woman was “standing-in for the regular” – but when asked she said “of course if the price is right”. The vice squad says they know of this, but as prostitution is not “publicly disturbing” does not take place in a “public venue” as a street or restaurant and there is no pimping involved they have “more pressing things to worry about, like the Russian & Estonian mob pimps”. As there were not much if any receipts given out, the tax authorities answer was similarily “we know of it but really we got bigger fish to catch”…

For the benefit of our linguistically challenged readers, the HS International Edition article in English

25.8.2007

Finnish boy fined for YouTube video

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 7:13 pm

Wow this punishment seems rough, fining forcing a 15 year old kid to pay $4,220 (I should say, ‘fining the kid’s parents’) for jokingly calling his teacher “a lunatic singing at the karaoke of the mental hospital” on YouTube. I sometimes question Finland’s beliefs in free speech…

A 15-year-old schoolboy was fined Friday for posting a video on YouTube showing a karaoke performance of his teacher and for claiming she was a lunatic.

In the first case of its kind in Finland, Nurmes District Court found Toni Vesikko guilty of intentional defamation and fined him 90 euros, or about $120. He also was ordered to pay 800 euros ($1,000) in damages for “causing harm and suffering” and 2,200 euros ($3,000) in court costs.

Vesikko, who took the video of his teacher singing karaoke at a school party on April 30, admitted posting the video on the popular video-sharing site YouTube a day later. He said he did it as a prank and had not intended to insult the teacher.

But the court said Vesikko’s actions “falsified facts” — about the institution and the teacher’s mental state — and caused her to suffer anxiety, depression and insomnia. The video was watched more than 600 times before Vesikko took it off Google Inc.’s YouTube on May 7 on the orders of the principal of the school, near Lieksa, 330 miles from Helsinki.

The video, which Vesikko called in English “Karaoke of the mental hospital,” named the teacher and said she was “a lunatic singing at the karaoke of the mental hospital.”

The Nurmes court found that the video had become “very well known and public” after its release, both in school and regionally, and could be accessed internationally. It said the video added anguish for the teacher, who had already been teased by pupils for about two years, according to her own account.

23.8.2007

Nordic road fatalities

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 4:31 pm

Why does Finland lead the Scandinavian nations in road fatalities? Don’t say “alcohol tax drop” because Finland has always lead in traffic deaths, and it seems almost every country has seen a dramatic decrease since 1990.

A total of 41 people were killed in road accidents during the month of July in Finland. This is eight more than in the same month last year.

According to a recent study at Berkley, mobile phone while driving does not cause more accidents…

It’s conventional wisdom that talking on cell phones while driving is risky business, but two University of California, Berkeley, graduate student economists report that a spike in cell phone use in recent years and on weekday evenings is not matched by an increase in fatal or non-fatal car crashes from 2002-2005.

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22.8.2007

Finland’s lack of privacy has dangerous consequences

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 4:28 pm

Finland has a *serious* lack of respect for its citizens’ privacy. Welfare Statists claim an “openness” in personal records is essential to keep the welfare state ideology afloat, but as YLE reports, Finland’s lack of privacy has some dangerous consequences for its people…

Each year, a thousand people in Finland seal their contact information from the public because they fear for their own or their family’s safety.

Roughly half of the orders are sought for professional reasons, and the rest because of abusive family situations. In fact, Finland’s organization for victim support recommends privacy orders to protect personal safety, especially when restraining orders fail to do the job.

“We recommend privacy orders in situations related to abusive spousal relationships – especially when the abuse does not end with divorce,” says Jaana Koivukangas of Victim Support Finland.

Lauri Haikarainen, director of the Helsinki register office says he sees a clear rise in perceptions of insecurity among certain professional groups. Public servants including social workers, police, security guards, and even doctors of late, are seeking privacy orders as a measure to guard against threats arising from their line of work.

A privacy order seals address and domicile information, making the information accessible only for select authorities. At the moment, there are 6700 injunctions in force, most of which are concentrated in southern Finland’s larger municipalities.

Paula Risikko needs a vacation

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 4:15 pm

Wow, Minister of Socialist Health and Services, Paula Risikko (Kokoomus), has been a busy girl since she started in office! She wants to raise the alcohol tax

Health and Social Services Minister Paula Risikko wants to see an increase in alcohol taxes from the beginning of next year.

And now she wants the use of images (like the one to your right) on cigarette packages…

Mandatory pictures indicating the dangers of smoking are to be included on cigarette packages in Finland. The newspaper Kaleva writes that Social Services Minister Paula Risikko will sign a statute ordering the use of the images in the autumn.

And raise taxes on cigarettes…

Minister of Social Services Paula Risikko wants a ten per cent increase in the tax on tobacco products from the beginning of next year.

Please woman, take a vacation!! Aren’t you supposed to be from the tax-slashing conservative Kokoomus party!? I want the Social Democrats back!!

18.8.2007

Crayfish and saunas

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 9:58 pm

Been here in Finland five years and tonight I *finally* had the infamous crayfish. If you haven’t had crayfish yet…you’re not missing much. It’s a very subtle flavor, tastes like bland shrimp, nothing special. If you enjoy crayfish I recommend you visit Baltimore and try out Maryland steamed crabs, there’s much more meat a whole lot more flavor.

Crayfish is a popular dish in Scandinavia, and is by tradition primarily consumed during the fishing season in August. The boil is typically flavoured with salt, sugar, ale, and large quantities of the flowers of the dill plant. The catch of domestic freshwater crayfish, Astacus astacus, and even of a transplanted American species, Pacifastacus leniusculus, is very limited and to satisfy demand the majority of what is consumed has to be imported. Sales depended on imports from Turkey for several decades, but after a decline in supply, China and the United States are today the biggest sources of import.

Before the sauna, about 10 of us crammed naked into a sauna/jacuzzi room. Three different families representing, three were adult men and one little girl. Could you imagine what would happen in the U.S. if three naked men were caught in a room with a naked little girl?! We’d all get shipped off to prison, then when we’re finally out of prison, we’d have to place an ad in the local newspaper announcing our previous sexual abuse to the neighborhood – our previous conviction would ruin any future chances of real employment, however we could make it as nurses in the Finnish public healthcare sector.

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17.8.2007

Basic Income is like you’re a child all over again

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 4:32 pm

Any supporters of “Basic Income” out there? It’s a state-run welfare plan where every adult citizen is given the same monthly stipend regardless of income, age, or anything else. It’s like you’re a child all over again and your parents are paying you a monthly allowance.

There’s support from the Greens, Communist-sympathizing Left Alliance, and Nationalist True Finns about implementing this concept in Finland. How much would Mother Finland pay you each month? 440 euros…

Even Timo Soini, the chairman of the True Finns who is known as a proponent of basic income, said he would not grant it to the “very young”, while Martti Korhonen, the head of the pro-basic income Left Alliance, said he harboured doubts about the impact of basic income on the activity of jobseekers.

YLE did not reach Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (centre) for comment but quoted him as saying earlier that “basic income is a wage for those interested more in partying than working”.

The Greens have of late promoted a basic income, saying it would encourage unemployed people to accept short-term work.

I’m not sure how increasing your welfare benefits will encourage you to find work. There’s around 4.2 million Finns of adult age, so that’ll cost us about 1.8 billion euros per month and around 22 billion euros per year. The government’s budget for 2007 was around 40 billion euros. So where’s this addition revenue going to come from? (= How much are they going to raise our taxes to fund this?)

Nurse poisioning and stealing

Tags: Uncategorized — Author: @ 11:21 am

In health care recruitment it is practically impossible to find out comprehensively what kind of misdemeanours or serious crimes a potential member of the nursing staff may have previously committed.

The matter was brought to daylight in connection with the murder suspicions surrounding the deaths of two mentally handicapped patients in Ylöjärvi. A 26-year-old woman is suspected, among other things, of poisoning two people.

Your past crimes are no business of anyone else at anytime in my opinion. You did your time
and paid your dues. It’s a violation of your privacy for some individual or company to tap into some state-run database and snoop into your past life. However, if you’re (for instance) convicted of poisoning, and all the hospitals in Finland black list you for life, that’s their prerogative.

In the spring the woman was actually charged over several cases of shoplifting totalling goods worth EUR 40,000 damage from a Nokia supermarket, where she worked as a salesperson and as a cleaner for a period of over two years.

This time she was convicted of theft, but the penalty was annulled after she replaced EUR 20,000 of the sum.

In the court’s view a prison sentence and a criminal record might have complicated the woman’s chances for future employment. At the time she was only a health care student.

Likewise, the court saw that imposing heavy fines would have been unreasonable, given the fact that the woman had already taken out a large bank loan in order to repay the losses to her former employer.

A criminal record might complicate someone’s chances for future because an employer can snoop through that person’s private past, so no prison sentence is given out. So judges shouldn’t hand out proper punishments to criminals? Or should your previous convictions be a private matter?

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