A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘finland

[NEWS] Some Thursday links

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  • The BBC hosts an article by an Igbo journalist talking about his native language.
  • Bloomberg notes Brexiters’ hostility to the OECD’s prediction of British economic woe outside of the European Union, and looks at Venezuela’s physical shortage of bills.
  • CBC looks at how tourist operators in North Carolina are afraid the anti-trans bill might hurt their business in the long term.
  • MacLean’s and the Toronto Star look at the aftermath of two Alberta parents’ conviction for not getting their son adequate medical care.
  • The National Post looks at the idea of Hitler’s relative normalcy being problematic.
  • The New Yorker looks at how, increasingly and with good reason, people are identifying mental capabilities they have in common with animals.
  • Open Democracy describes official Belarus’ repression of anything to do with Chernobyl.
  • Politico looks at the popularity of Donald Trump with official Russia.
  • Quartz notes that so much technology is designed to default to the requirements of men exclusive of women.
  • Wired looks at Nokia’s venture into the realm of smart tech.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Anthropology.net notes the ancient Bronze Age trade routes between Iran and Mesopotamia.
  • blogTO notes the impending facelift of Osgoode subway station.
  • James Bow overhears a conversation at the DMV started by a guy who wanted special vanity plates.
  • Centauri Dreams notes a proposed satellite that would be dedicated to the search for planets around Alpha Centauri.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that stellar metallicity has nothing to do with planet formation.
  • Far Outliers notes religious warfare in the Central African Republic.
  • Geocurrents notes the superb Middle Eastern maps of the Institute for the Study of War.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the terrible effects of gentrification.
  • Marginal Revolution notes Finland’s introduction of a guaranteed minimum income.
  • pollotenchegg maps the distribution of Russian and Ukrainian populations in Ukraine.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes senior poverty around the world.
  • Transit Toronto notes that the last of the Orion V buses have left the service of the TTC.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Russia’s redirection of traffic from ports in the Baltic States, observes the need for a modern Ukrainian military, and suggests Russia will annex South Ossetia.

[H&F] [DM] “Refugee Crisis and the North”

Friend of the blog Jussi Jalonen has just posted, at the group blog History and Futility, the essay “Refugee Crisis and the North”. Here, Jalonen takes a look at the way the Syrian refugee crisis has impacted both his Finland and neighbouring Sweden, looking at the political climate in both countries. One thing I particularly liked is his prediction of different outcomes for refugee assimilation in each Nordic country, based on–among other things–the two countries’ very different recent histories of immigration.

Some time ago, my hometown on the West Coast made a decision to accept refugees from Syria. The decision was historic. Although the town of Rauma has always had a relatively substantial community of guest workers and immigrants, the town has not accommodated refugees or asylum seekers so far. This morning, the residential building which was supposed to be used as a reception center for asylum seekers became a target of arson attack. Only a few days before, an old garrison building intended for similar use was burned to the ground in Kankaanpää. Evidently some people in Western Finland do not like the idea of providing housing for asylum seekers.

Another piece of news today came from Sweden. The school teacher who was injured in the Trollhättan attack in October has now died from his wounds. The attack made international headlines two months ago, and was also a sign of the times; a sword-wielding masked young man with far right sympathies assaulted a local Swedish school, in a violent assault against the immigrant students. So far, no comparable incident has occurred in Finland, although occasional direct assaults against asylum seekers have taken place. Three weeks ago, an Iraqi asylum seeker was stabbed by three local men at the reception center of Kangasala.

While a good part of the people in both Nordic countries have participated in volunteer work on behalf of refugees and asylum seekers, the refugee crisis has also triggered a wave of xenophobia. The European refugee crisis has occurred at the moment when the Nordic countries are experiencing the apex of the ongoing radical right-wing populist reaction. Sweden, which appears to be accepting the largest number of refugees, is going through a massive political realignment, as the so-far isolated and solidly anti-immigration Sweden-Democrats have enjoyed record poll support, occasionally as the largest political party. The refugee crisis has contributed to additional political radicalization, and earlier this year, the Sweden-Democrats terminated all cooperation with the youth organization of the party. Already in the spring, a number of SD youth activists were discharged due to their links with neo-Nazi groups.

The situation in Finland is somewhat different from Sweden. The main populist party, the True Finns, which contains its fair share of hard-core anti-immigration extreme nationalists, is exercising political power, having accepted a position in the new center-right government coalition. The party has found itself in a very precarious position, especially since Finland, as the only Nordic member of the Eurozone, is now facing impending austerity measures, and the center-right coalition is also enacting new, tougher labor laws. So far, the True Finns have quietly abandoned their former social conscience and their commitment to the consensus society. The party has acceded to these packages, and even moderated their position towards the EU bailout programs. The disappointment of the party rank and file has been visible in the polls, and the support of the party has plummeted. This has generated additional pressure for the True Finns to somehow crack down hard at least on the refugee crisis, and the party has been clamoring for new anti-immigration legislation modeled after Denmark, including cutting the welfare benefits of refugees and asylum seekers.

I’ve also linked to this essay at Demography Matters, here.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 5, 2015 at 12:41 pm

[LINK] “Russian Border Anxiety Grows as Finland Beefs Up Military Budget

Finland’s strained relations with Russia is the subject of Raine Tiessalo’s Bloomberg article.

The western nation that shares the longest border with Russia is building up its military arsenal, just in case.

Having already moved as close as politically possible to NATO, Finland now wants to spend more on its own war ships, fighter planes and army personnel. Defense Minister Jussi Niinisto says his government has little choice under the circumstances.

“The crisis in Ukraine and increased global tensions have led Finnish policy makers to think that we must take care of our own defenses,” Niinisto said in an interview in his office in Helsinki this week.

A lawmaker for the Finns Party — the nationalist junior partner in Prime Minister Juha Sipila’s ruling coalition — Niinisto has already pushed through Finland’s first increase in military spending in three years. That followed repeated incursions by Russian fighter planes into Finnish airspace in the aftermath of President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea.

The added cost of beefing up Finland’s military is putting pressure on an economy that has contracted for the past three years and that was stripped of its top credit grade at Standard & Poor’s in October 2014.

“Even though Finland is going through hard times, defense and internal security are the only sectors that will get more funding,” Niinisto said.

According to the Finnish Defense Ministry, spending is set to rise 9 percent next year to 2.89 billion euros ($3.1 billion), equivalent to 1.4 percent of gross domestic product. The government has agreed to raise the defense budget by 150 million euros from its current level by 2020.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 4, 2015 at 5:17 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Opening New City Hall”

Torontoist’s Jamie Bradburn describes the scene on the 13th of September, 1965, as the new City Hall was opened.

When the new City Hall opened on September 13, 1965, that afternoon’s Toronto Star editorial echoed many initial thoughts about our new $31 million landmark:

Suddenly today every Torontonian is ten feet high. For the new City Hall is his. He is part of its greatness and shares its beauty. There in its mass and grace is his visible assurance that he is a citizen of no mean city. The building in Nathan Phillips Square is more than an impressive and proud architectural statement of civic status. It gives the metropolis a focus. It is the heart of Toronto’s future. It is the symbol of the new Toronto and we can rejoice in what it means.

Seven years after Viljo Revell’s design was chosen in an open competition, four years after ground had broken, the controversial structure buzzed with activity while preparing for its debut. Forty-two workmen moved furniture, including the mayor’s desk, across Bay Street via overnight dolly runs. Shelves were filled at the new library branch. Workmen scrambled to finish installing desks and rugs, catching up after an eight-week carpenters’ strike. Metro Toronto’s coat of arms for the council chamber arrived late. Officials decided that the first two floors of the podium, the council chamber, and the basement cafeteria were the only areas ready for public scrutiny.

A military band from Petawawa launched the festivities at 1:30 p.m., which drew a crowd of 15,000. The civic guard of honour escorted city councillors and suburban mayors and reeves from old City Hall to the platform in front of the new building. At 2:15, a 100-member honour guard drawn from five regiments marched into the square. Accompanied by the first of several RCAF flyovers, Governor-General Georges Vanier’s motorcade arrived on time. He was followed by the Finnish ambassador to Canada, Torstein Tikanvaara, Prime Minister Lester Pearson, and Ontario Premier John Robarts.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 9, 2015 at 5:31 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly talks about her favourite things in New York City.
  • Centauri Dreams features an essay by Nick Nielsen arguing in favour of manned spaceflight.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the unusual chemical composition of the debris disk of HD 34700.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes Finland’s interest in a guaranteed minimum income.
  • Language Log notes the complexities of Wenzhou dialect.
  • Languages of the World shares an old post on the Roma and their language.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that prison rape in the United States is a real thing.
  • pollotenchegg looks at birth rate trends in Ukraine over 2013-2015.
  • Savage Minds notes the difficulties of life as an anthropologist.
  • Torontoist notes a dance festival in Seaton Village.
  • Towleroad notes the Illinois ban on gay conversion therapy.
  • Transit Toronto looks at the TTC’s service in the time of the Canadian National Exhibition.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at a Ukrainian nationalist criticism of Ukrainian policy after independence, and suggests that fear of a Russian nationalist backlash might lead to a Russian annexation of Donbas.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • At Alpha Sources, Claus Vistesen links to his podcast wherein he argues that too much blame is being placed on the IMF.
  • blogTO notes a documentary on a CBC prop warehouse.
  • City of Brass celebrates the Fourth of July and the end of Ramadan.
  • Crooked Timber is scathing about the IMF, the European Union, and Syriza.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper that studies Gliese 229B, one of the nearest and first-found brown dwarfs.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that half of the banded iron formations extant on Earth are products of microbes.
  • Geocurrents notes how non-inevitable the Saudi state was within its current borders.
  • Language Log looks at the use of Sinitic characters in modern Korea.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money tackles pea guacamole.
  • Marginal Revolution shares photos of an abandoned Soviet space shuttle.
  • Towleroad notes that Cuba has managed to halt mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphillis.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the anti-Ukrainian slur Khokhol’s unacceptability, looks at controversy over national textbooks in Tatarstan, and examines a dying Finnish-language magazine in Karelia.
  • The Financial Times‘ The World warns of radical Islam among Albanians.

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