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Finland for Thought » 2009 » December | 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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31.12.2009

6 dead in shooting spree at Finnish shopping mall

Another random shooting in little Finland?! And another mass killing at a Helsinki area shopping mall?! Finland is known around the world for snow, Nokia, and now shooting sprees.

Do you still feel safe in Finland?? Of course you do, everyone is white, it must be safe. Ignorance is bliss.

But nevermind today’s attack, the shooter has a foreign name, so it’s not really a Finnish thing, it’s us foreigners.

UPDATE: It appears the shooter is the sixth dead, he appeared to have offed himself. Glad he did justice to his crimes, cause the Finnish courts would never have gave him justice, he’d be pardoned by the President aftter a few years, as is the custom.

UPDATE 2: Here’s an old interview with him…

A sad day. I feel terrible for all those involved. From Helsingin Sanomat…

Six people have been reported dead on Thursday morning in a shooting incident that took place at the Sello shopping mall in the Leppävaara district of Espoo.
Apparently a man in his early forties, whose identity is known to police, began shooting in the Prisma supermarket with a 9mm handgun at around 10 a.m. Police named the suspect as Ibrahim Shkupolli.

First reports indicated that three men and one woman were killed. A fifth victim was later found at a private apartment in Leppävaara, and is believed to be the gunman’s 42-year-old ex-girlfriend.
She was employed at the Prisma supermarket in Sello, and is thought to have been the primary target.
A restraining order had earlier been imposed on Shkupolli with regard to this woman.

The search continued for the gunman, and his body was eventually found a couple of hours later at an apartment in the Suvela district of Espoo. Indications are that he shot himself.
All of the victims at Sello were apparently members of the sales staff. One man was shot twice in the head. A woman was shot in the stomach and two other men were shot on a different floor of the mall complex, one of the largest in the Greater Helsinki area.
The male victims in the mall were born in 1969, 1975, and 1982. The woman was born in 1964.
No further details were given of other casualties.

The mall was emptied and police continued the search for the gunman in the shopping centre and the surrounding area, before extending the net to known addresses, where the man’s body was eventually discovered.
Prisma store staff and witnesses were taken to the public library on the premises.
The police held a press conference on the matter at 14:30, after a photograph of the suspect had been released to the media before the man was found dead.
Police had warned Shkupolli was armed and dangerous. He had previous convictions for firearms offences in 2004 and 2007.
Numerous police vehicles and ambulances attended the scene, and for some hours commuter trains were not stopping at Leppävaara station.

Police were not particularly forthcoming with details of the killings, or of whether others were hit by gunfire, but the impression given was that the primary target was the 42-year-old woman, and it is known that those killed in the shopping mall were her colleagues.
Whilst no specific reason has been given for why they were singled out by the gunman, the indications are that this horrible tragedy was not a “shooting-spree” killing of the kind that has made Finland internationally known in the past two years, following school massacres in Jokela and Kauhajoki by disaffected teenage pupils.
Nonetheless, it will inevitably reopen old wounds and will prompt further discussion on the large number of handguns owned in this country and on the tightening of restrictions on access to firearms.

30.12.2009

Top 10 Amazing Finnish Winter Attractions

Tags: Ridiculous,Visiting FI — Author: @ 7:50 pm

Visit an Eskimo Village

How did Finns live over 200 years ago? Why not see for yourself! Finland’s indigenous eskimos (known as “Sami” in Finnish) are scattered throughout villages in the northern part of the country. Some villages still don’t have accessible roads leading to them, an eskimo guide can be hired to take you there for a reasonable fee.

 

Swim with the Penguins, Play with the Polar Bears

Finland is home to the world’s largest polar bear habitat, and second largest penguin habitat. While penguins are only found on Finland’s Arctic Coast. polar bears can be found all over Finland, even in Southern Finland during the winter during migration season. Don’t forget your binoculars!

 

World’s Largest Snowball

Finland is responsible to several records in the Guiness Book of World Records. Arguably its proudest record is the annual World’s Largest Snowball in Jakobstad. Each September the entire village’s male population spend five days creating this monstrosity and each year they attempt to break the previous year’s record. Be sure to visit by June before it melts!

 

24 Hours of Complete Darkness

For six months (from October to March), Finland is in a state complete darkness. While most humans would see this as a time of depression and despair, the Finns see it as a celebration! Snow, family time, sleeping in, reading, naps, television, going to bed early and alcohol…like the Finnish polar bears, Finns hibernate to prepare for summer!

 

Zamboni Races

Finns are known throughout the world for their zany annual competitions: Air Guitar, Wife-Carrying, Mobile Phone Throwing, Alcoholism, and of course…Zamboni Races. The zamboni, a Finnish invention, created by Yrjö “Jöäkjöäk” Zamboni in 1904, was originally designed as a means of public transportation for the elderly of the northern Finnish village, Tampere.

 

Ski the Tallest Mountain in Europe!

Finland is partially home to Europe’s tallest mountain in Europe, Mt. Tarjasbäk (it’s Finnish name). The mountain sits on the borders of three nations: Sweden, Russia, and of course Finland. While the peak lies on the Russian side, the best skiing is found on the Finnish side. Take the gondola up, or travel like a Finn and have a herd of reindeer tow you to the peak!

 

Pieksämäki, Winter Wonderland

The Lappish village of Pieksämäki in Central Finland has become known as “Europe’s Winter Wonderland”. Tourists from the ends of the earth make the bi-yearly pilgrimage for it’s brilliant lights, classy night clubs, and leather glove sales. It’s the happiest place on earth! Word of advice though: Be careful during “wolf season”.

 

Reindeer Hunting

Reindeer are abundant in Finland, in fact, too abundant. They’re known to rummage through your trash cans, defecate outside grocery stores, attempt to race cars down the highway, and trample infant babies to death. Each autumn the military, along with any volunteer over the age of five who can pull a trigger, are loaded onto helicopters and sent out to hunt reindeer. Join them for an enthralling bloodbath!

 

Experience -70C

At -69C, male urine will freeze before it hits the ground from one meter off the ground. Fortunately over the centuries, native Finns have developed thicker blood, so it only feels like -44C at most. This is why Finland doesn’t allow immigrants into the country, no because they’re racist, dark skinned people will simply freeze to death.

 

Curling!

There’s an old Finnish saying: “Finns learn to curl before they learn ride a reindeer” and they couldn’t be further from the truth. As soon as a Finnish child learns walk, they have a curling wand (or curling broom for girls) in hand. Finnish women are known to keep the tidiest huts in the world thanks to their intense sweeping skills as a child.

 

6.12.2009

Happy Independence Day, Finland!

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 9:20 am

Farmville_Finnish_flag

See the Finnish flag? This is in Farmville, in Facebook. The flag is made of white and blue hay bales.

Happy Independence Day!

5.12.2009

Do Finnish government bodies regard the High Administrative Court as a joke?

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 10:27 pm

The High Administrative Court (Korkein Hallintooikeus) in Finland issued a clear statement on September 9 stating that what Veropörssi is doing is illegal. You can see the text of the statement here in Finnish. The actual court decision is here. In it they emphasize protection of privacy.

In October, after that statement was issued, I sent a web feedback to the Tax Authority (Verohallinto) requesting that they respect my privacy in accordance with the court’s decision, KHO:2009:82, and got a reply, which was a copy-paste of the law regarding the publicity of tax records. And guess what else? Veropörssi is back on the store shelves with the 2010 edition. It seems that the Finnish Tax Authority regards their own Administrative High Court as a complete joke. Also Iltalehti, Iltasanomat, YLE, etc. all have their own lists or databases so the Tax Authority has been selling tax records to the press just as before, even if a court decision came out over a month prior emphasizing protection of privacy.

In October, I also sent an e-mail to the Finnish Data Protection Ombudsman. In it I said that the court decision sounds great and they seem to agree with your stance, and that I would hate to have my taxation personal data end up in publications or the internet once again. The data protection board are the ones that ultimately make the decision, though, like they did before. When the Data Protection Ombudsman try to bring a little order to this tax record publication circus previously, the Data Protection Board completely undermined his efforts by defending freedom of speech/press. Well who wants to try to regulate the quality of journalism? What kind of publishing of tax records is OK and what isn’t? Veropörssi is a lot closer to the traditional definition of journalism than, for example, YLE’s Verokone. Trying to define what is journalism and what isn’t won’t get far. That can eventually end up in the European Court of Human Rights and lose. The simplest approach would be to treat all personal data like personal data, and regard the universal human rights more highly than archaic Swedish governing principles used so the state, church and neighbours could police how much each person was paying. That has no place in modern society, unless the Tax Authority is totally incompetent, of course. In that case we should outsource them anyway. And if the court says that protection of privacy is important, does that mean now, later, 6 months from now, or whenever it is convenient?

If government transparency was working the way it should work, I could easily search and find the yearly budget of the Data Protection Board office, so that people would know how much tax they are paying for people who don’t seem to be willing or interested in really protecting their personal data, but instead defend people selling and publishing it with “freedom of speech/press” or bicker about what is journalism and what is not. It’s probably a lot of money, money Finland probably doesn’t have to waste. And more is about to be wasted on upcoming court cases, now that noone seems to have paid any attention to the High Administrative Court’s verdict.

I was told by an involved government official that I should file charges with the police. I am not sure who is guilty and who to file the charges against. When the government bodies treat a decision from their own High Administrative Court as a joke, one is not really sure where to turn anymore. Maybe all national remedies have been exhausted and the only place left is the European Court of Human Rights. They might find a case like this interesting for a change. The cases coming out of Finland in the ECHR have mainly dealt with the long length of court proceedings. A clear, serious Human Rights offense case they might find rather engaging. (the right to  protection of one’s private and family life)

PS, according to a priest friend of mine, you can calculate if people belong or don’t belong to one of the official churches (Lutheran or Orthodox) by calculating their tax percentage vs. income. I haven’t verified that myself. At least you can probably quite clearly see, however, people who have left the official churches during sequential tax periods.  How about a “Luopiopörssi”? Heh, heh imagine that.  If that’s true, I don’t think privacy protection (or lack thereof) gets much worse than this.

Amazon Kindle reaches every 1st world country except Finland

Tags: FI vs. Foreigners — Author: @ 4:19 pm

Ugh, this is annoying – The Amazon Kindle wireless capabilities are available in 81 countries, Finland not one of them.

Have a look at the service map below, I am jealous of those in Tanzania, Kazakhstan, Haiti, and inhabitable regions of Russia. Remember the days when Finland used to be a world leader in internet and technology? What happened!?

amazon-kindle-finland

Artificially sweetened beer?

Tags: Everything — Author:   @ 3:07 pm

I have come across two different brands of beer sold in Finland that is artifically sweetened with saccharin. Both of them are Czech and assure you on the label of the authenticity and quality of the product. The brands are Kozel and Eggenberg. The Kozel dark beer is artificially sweetened, whereas the other products aren’t. The only Eggenberg beer I have seen in Finland is the dark, artificially sweetened variety and it is usually sold in a brown cardboard box of 4 cans. There’s no warnings on the label of either.

Why would a beer brewery that claims to have been around since 15-something need to sweeten its beer with saccharin?

Fortunately, I have not seen Finnish beers doing this (yet anyway).

Recipe authenticity fail!

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