The Nordic Reporter

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Finland stops fake news

Published on : by Marcel Burger

While everybody in the world is more or less influenced by fake news, there is one Scandinavian country that prides itself in dealing with it successfully: Finland. Sharing an extensive border with Russia the land of the 1001 lakes is long accustomed to the outside (read: Moscow) trying to clout things.

The success of Finland to stop all the mayhem that disturbs the news is based on several pillars. For starters: like in neighbouring Scandinavia kids already are trained in critical thinking of what the sources of information are. Teachers normally stimulate the students to look for information themselves, to check the credibility of the source and double-check if it produces fake news or not.

Moreover the trust in both media and official organisations is still relatively big in Finland. While the media in neighbouring Sweden are somewhat sensational in bringing the news, Finnish media are normally a bit more “boring”. Plus the Fins, used of balancing between Russia and the West since ages, are more accustomed to nuances in how to view Russia. The big powerful neighbour is treated with more respect, without losing critical thinking.

To help this critical thinking the Finnish government launched training courses in how to handle fake news and to recognize deep fake. About 10,000 people have already gone through this program, being guides to others. In March last year Helsinki even launched the awareness campaign The World’s Best Election, motivating Fins to think why the Finnish democracy is great and how to keep it that way.

Discarding fake news with the sword of wisdom is what the Fins believe have succeeded in. The land of the 1001 lakes might now be less open to strange “fairytales”. | © 2020 Marcel Burger, Based on the report by Marcel Burger on VRT Radio 1, Nieuwe Feiten, 17 December 2019, with presenter Lieven Vandenhaute

Radioactive Clouds Over Helsinki

Published on : by Marcel Burger

The highest radioactive cesium-137 values since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster measured in the air over Helsinki. Still, nothing to worry about many say. Has a dirty bomb smuggled into the Finnish capital? Nobody knows. What is certain though: it came with the wind from the east or southeast and it is not the result of a nuclear explosion. I talked about this mysterious stuff on Belgian national radio yesterday. It happened to be a leaking small metal capsule with radioactive waste of the Finns themselves. (Reported by Marcel Burger on VRT Radio 1, 9 March 2016)

Hijacked Arctic Sea Transported Mass Decstruction Material

Published on : by Marcel Burger

The cargo vessel Arctic Sea, is said to have been hijacked off the coast of Öland, Sweden, in 2009, was carrying materials for making weapons of mass destruction.

Finnish security experts Timo Hellenberg and Pekka Visuri state this in their book In the eye of the storm (Myrskyn silmässä), which will be released this week. Speaking to the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, the authors say the chemical, biological or radioactive cargo was stolen from Russia and brought on board in Swedish waters. The destination was an undisclosed customer in the Middle East.

According to the Finnish experts, the European Union and NATO agreed with Moscow not to intervene, so that the Russian navy could enter the Arctic Sea itself near Cape Verde on 17 August 2009. Russia has always denied that weapons were on board. Officially, the ship was carrying wood. | © 2011 Marcel Burger for ANP News Agency (original in Dutch, 17 October 2011, previously unpublished)

Finland Decides To Build Sixth Nuclear Power Plant

Published on : by Marcel Burger

The Finnish government gave the final green light on Wednesday for the construction of the country’s sixth nuclear power plant. It will be located in Pyhäjoki in Central Finland, at the Gulf of Bothnia.

With the chosen location, Finland likely made many Swedes in the northern part of the neighbouring country happy. Initial plans called for construction 30 kilometres from the Swedish border town of Haparanda, causing protests on the Swedish side. The location the Finnish government decided today is 160 kilometres from Sweden.

The Finns say that Pyhäjoki has less earthquake risk than the alternative site in Simo. Construction will start in 2015. | © 2011 Marcel Burger for ANP News Agency (original in Dutch, 5 October 2011, previously unpublished)

Finland Revises Brand New Gun Law

Published on : by Marcel Burger

Finland is again reviewing the new weapons law, in effect since June, in response to the attacks in Oslo.

The Finnish police leadership confirmed this to Finnish media on Tuesday. Just in June, a new gun law came into effect in Finland, which had been a reaction on the school shootings in 2007 and 2008 and in a shopping centre in 2010. A total of 23 people were killed in these incidents. Since June, the minimum age to possess a handgun has been raised from 18 to 20 and the license is reviewed every five years.

But according to two Finnish police chiefs, that is not enough. In Finland there are 32 private firearms per 100 inhabitants, according to the Finnish Ministry of the Interior. The country has 5.4 million people.

Sweden is also looking at its gun law. The Justice Ministry in Stockholm believes that about 2,500 of the 9.6 million Swedes have a similar firearms license as Anders Behring Brevik, the Norwegian who confessed to committing the attacks in Oslo. In most Swedish cases this would be members of the regional defence and police. | © 2011 Marcel Burger for ANP News Agency (original in Dutch, 26 July 2011)

Sweden Concerned About Outcome Elections Finland

Published on : by Marcel Burger

Concerns have arisen in Sweden after the anti-European party Perussuomalaiset (True Finns) won 39 of the 200 seats in the parliamentary elections in neighbouring Finland. The position of the Swedish minority in Finland is particularly feared.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt writes on his weblog that he is “concerned”. ”Not in the least about the tone against Swedish as a minority language”.

The leader of Sweden’s largest political party, Håkan Juholt (Socialists), is “worrying that a party without social responsibility achieved such a large election gain.” The True Finns have become the third political party in the Finnish parliament.

Finnish national broadcaster Yle reported Monday that at least half of the new parliament is in favour of abolishing Swedish as a compulsory language in Finnish education.

Also, the only Swedish-speaking brigade of the Finnish armed forces is slated to be cut. About 291,500 of the 5.3 million Finns have Swedish as their mother tongue (5.5 percent). At the beginning of 1900 this was still 15 percent.

Sweden lost Finland to Russia in 1809 in a war. Finland became independent in 1917. | © 2011 Marcel Burger for ANP News Agency (original published in Dutch on 18 April 2011)

Finns hoard iodine pills

Published on : by Marcel Burger

Inhabitants of Finland have been hoarding for iodine pills after the explosions at the nuclear power plants in Japan. Finnish and Swedish media reported this on Monday.

Many Finnish pharmacies had already run out of stocks on Friday. However, the Finnish radiation safety service Stuk warned on Monday about the side effects of taking iodine pills. This can lead to stomach and skin problems. “Taking the iodine pills is unnecessary and can be harmful,” said a spokesman on Monday. Iodine protects the body against, among other things, cancer formation in the thyroid gland due to radioactive radiation.

According to Finnish doctors, the pills should be taken in case of severe exposure. According to Swedish experts, any radioactive particles from the leaks in the Japanese reactors will reach Scandinavia in 10 to 14 days. But the radioactivity, which comes to Earth with precipitation, for example, will have such low values ​​that there will be no consequences for humans, according to the experts.

Last April, the Finnish government decided to build two new nuclear reactors. The country already has four nuclear power plants. | © 2011 Marcel Burger for ANP News Agency (original in Dutch published 14 March 2011)

Finland: Liberalisation National Mail Service

Published on : by Marcel Burger

The Finnish parliament on Wednesday morning approved the liberalisation of the national postal service.

Finnish parliament voted 108 to 72 in favour of allowing competition for the national postal service. The law will come into effect next fall. The decision is a logical consequence of the European Union’s requirement that the Member States open their postal markets to free market forces.

As in the Netherlands and Belgium, there is also the threat of extensive action by postal workers in Finland. On Friday, a small group of 30 postmen in the capital Helsinki stopped all work. The largest trade union (PAU) said on Sunday that more protests are coming. A spokesman said on Wednesday that postal workers will stop work and take to the streets. It is not known when the actions will start.

Opponents of the new law warn against the impoverishment of mail delivery, including by closing post offices in smaller villages. Experts cite a large chain of smaller kiosks as a possible first, native competitor. Nothing is known yet about interest from foreign companies.

Due to the Finnish decision, the only Scandinavian postal service still a state monopoly is the one of Norway, which is not an EU member. Sweden already opened up for delivery of letters in 1993. Only in recent years the country’s Posten lost about 90 percent market share here, according to observers.

The Swedish and Danish national postal services merged in 2009 to form Posten Norden (later PostNord, owned: 60% Swedish state, 40% Danish state), which, by agreement between the two countries, is to become a publicly traded company on a date to be determined. But there is growing resistance in the Swedish parliament against government plans to privatize state services such as telecom company Telia Sonera and energy company Vattenfall. Vattenfall is the parent company of the Dutch Nuon. | © 2011 Marcel Burger for ANP News Agency (original in Dutch, 9 March 2011)