29 April 2022

Place of the Free Ukraine

The Russian embassy in Stockholm, Sweden, is located next to a city park called Mariebergsparken. The City Planning Board of Stockholm has now decided that the part of this park closest to the embassy will be renamed as "a Place of the Free Ukraine".   

According to Stockholm's Finance Minister Anna König Jerlmyr, the name change to the Place of the Free Ukraine will be made to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people, and should be considered as an important message against the Russian regime's actions.

I think the name change was an excellent move by Swedes. And hope that the change will be also reported to the bloody dictator Josif Stal... hrm... president Vladimir Putin.

24 April 2022

Corruption in Nigeria may affect Europe

An explosion happened in an illegal oil refining business in Nigeria. As a result, more than 100 people lost their lives. 

Oil to such illegal refineries is obtained by stealing from legitimate oil pipelines, which is a popular business among unemployed and poor Nigerians. However, it was only last February when Nigerian authorities pronounced that they would put a stop to this practice, but obviously without great success.

The explosion reminds us that incapable politicians combined with inefficient - and obviously corrupted - authorities are a serious risk for poor people. But it is not only that, but also a barrier to development of national economy.

Actually, Nigeria had a notable economic success between years 2000 and 2015, which resulted in e.g. almost tenfold increase of Gross Domestic Production. But since 2015 the GDP has reduced by about one fifth, mostly due to low oil prices and COVID-19 pandemic

At the same time (i.e. 2000-2020) the population size of the country has increased by 70 percent. Consequently, the rapid economic development per capita seen during the first three quarters of the time has turned to considerable recession. 

The future of Nigeria does not look very good. As oil is the basis of its economy, the green economy transition in western countries will hit the rapidly growing Nigerian population hard. In a very short time, however, the ban of Russian oil in Europe might give Nigerian leaders a window of opportunity. 

Thus, it remains to be seen, if that opportunity will be used to diversify the economic basis of the country, or will the money flow in the pockets of country´s politicians and their cronies in the form of corruption. If so, the price will be high to ordinary Nigerians.

But not only for them, but recession together with quickly growing population in Nigeria could push people to search for better life in Europe as soon as the borders closed due to COVID-19 will be opened. Therefore, corruption in Nigeria may have a major effect also for people living in the European Union in a form of increased immigration.  

23 April 2022

International Master´s degree is an opportunity to be used

A total of  5 649 students from 142 countries applied for the international master´s programs of the Helsinki University. One fifth of them was accepted. 

This mass of young talented people could be a treasure. If their best portion would be hired by Finnish companies - once they have finished their master´s degrees - to strengthen their international readiness or to increase creative thinking in any aspect, it could add considerably to the success of Finnish economy. 

Unfortunately, it happens all too often that international students use Finnish universities only to gain a degree from a recognized western university, and continue to build a professional career elsewhere, especially in North America. Therefore I do encourage Finnish companies to familiarize themselves with the international programs of the universities, and to look for the best talents for recruitment on topics, where international background would be beneficial. 

The fact is, that in taxpayer´s view - who pay for most of the costs of universities - the only justification of educating foreign students is the benefit for the whole society. And therefore universities and companies should be active in finding ways to make profits based on the international education in our country. Otherwise we are just useful idiots.

Previous thoughts on the same topic:
Misuse of taxpayers´ money in Finland

21 April 2022

It hurts Russians to learn about the truth

A major newspaper in Finland - Ilta-Sanomat - published an article on victims of the genocide conducted by Russians in Ukraine, and translated that in Russian. Thereafter an access of Russians to Ilta-Sanomat was prohibited. 

The case shows that it hurts ordinary Russians, whenever they are informed about Putins´s crimes against humanity. And his regime is afraid of the consequences

19 April 2022

COVID-19 against Finland´s NATO plans

The president of Finland - Sauli Niinistö - has an infection of SARS-CoV-2. Fortunately, according to the announcement, his condition is good, and he continues working.

Timing of the virus infection was worst possible. That is, exactly in the middle of Finland´s preparation of its application to join NATO.  

There is no doubt that Russians and their trolls would not do their best to take advantage on the situation. An example was already given by a member of the House of Lords of the United Kingdom, Robert Skidelsky, who warned in Twitter that "application by Finland to join NATO would be a catastrophic mistake". 

Therefore I hope the infection would not affect President Niinistö´s activity in this task of utmost importance. But if it does, I hope he will share this duty with the Prime Minister Sanna Marin to get the NATO application submitted without any delay, but taking care of all preliminaries necessary. 

18 April 2022

World oceans are filled with previously unknown viruses

COVID-19 pandemic has been ongoing for ca. 1,5 years now. It started when a new RNA virus SARS-CoV-2 learned to reproduce in humans, and to efficiently transmit between different people. Furthermore, the pandemic has had several waves due to rapid evolution of the virus from the original form to ever increasing variants with more and more efficient transmission between people.

The pandemic underlined the dangers of new viruses. The human immune systems are not prepared for their attacks and neither has evolution prepared our genes to resist their effects. As a result, such a virus may be life threatening and kill millions and millions of people.

Therefore it was interesting to read about new research showing, that oceans of the world are full of unknown RNA viruses. And not only new versions of the kinds of virus types previously known, but completely unknown virus groups rooting in the earliest history of the life itself.

These new viruses are not causing diseases of humans, but mostly multiply in lower eukaryotes, bacteria and archaea. In doing that, these viruses affect evolution of their host organisms, affect marine community dynamics, speed up the cycles of matter in the biosphere and evolve themselves.

It remains to be seen, how the research described above affects practical human life. It is, however, clear that this piece of curiously driven science affects considerably the worldview of virologists and microbiologists and adds to their creativity towards new research projects. 

History has shown that such a cumulative increase of understanding is the basic value of the scientific inquiry. Any piece of new knowledge may ultimately lead to useful practical applications. And that has raised the western part of the world developmentally above rest of the human cultures.  

Previous thoughts on the same topic:
Soil subsides under cities, but every cloud has a silver lining
American black population more vulnerable to the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2

17 April 2022

Riots in Sweden: what next?

Sweden has had the most liberal immigration policy of all EU countries. As a result, the country has a notably large population of people with their roots in developing countries, some of the world´s highest records of sexual crimes and poor results in PISA-tests

During the few recent days many Swedish towns have faced incredible riots with police being violently  attacked and its vehicles damaged. The unrest started as a Danish right-wing politician announced he would burn Quran, and Muslims responded again as Pavlov´s dogs, and started their violent behavior against the Swedish society as expected.

It remains to be seen what happens now in Sweden as the riots have been more serious than ever before. Are they able to find and punish those responsible on the damages? Will they narrow the freedom of speech and expression? Or will they change their immigration policy, and perhaps effectively return criminals and people without a residence permit to their home countries?

And most importantly: will any of those actions - if conducted - change anything? Or has Sweden gone over a kind of a borderline of no return, and will continue towards a highly polarized society, where people and their neighborhoods are divided by religion, language and skin color?

16 April 2022

Demonstration of one´s own stupidity is a sign of western values

During the recent decades a total of 25 Finns have received a medal for  their friendship with Russia. Basically there is nothing wrong with that taken that Finland and Russia have had excellent relationship before the attack to Ukraine. 

It is, though, interesting to note some reactions on those recognitions after Putin started a genocide in Ukraine. Eero Heinäluoma - social democrat and member of the European Parliament - has discarded the medal into garbage after the Russian attack.

In the other extreme is a historian Matti Klinge. He is a professor, who said in 2013 that Crimea should be a part of Russia, and is proud of his recognition. He also has denied that Latvia was occupied by the Soviet Union. 

Even now he positions himself as a neutral person and stands passive avoiding any demonstrations of opinion. However, he could not be completely silent, but said to the journalist that "Ukraine has been problematic for much longer than now".

He also pointed out that "Russia is Russia, and remains a neighbor and a great power. One should try to think about how they see things. According to opinion polls, the majority of the people support President Putin and his foreign policy. It’s hard to say anything about that."

I must admit, that the views of professor Klinge are not mainstream views in today´s Finland. That is, however, a sign of western values in our country - something that Russians can only dream of. 

That includes a freedom of speech - including demonstrations of one´s own stupidity.

Previous thoughts on the same topic:
Political rats and useful idiots
Why a journalist was unaware on the number of Stalin´s victims?

14 April 2022

Is President Putin on his way to repeat the destiny of Czar Nicholas II?

Finland will submit its application to join NATO within next few weeks as promised by the Prime Minister Sanna Marin. This process has also been noted by Russians. 

As a result, Putin´s propaganda office has conducted several actions. They include reminding Finland about their view that joining NATO would not bring stability into the northern Europe, poorly made fake videos about Russian troops on their march towards Helsinki, and as the very latest (today) by threatening Finland (and Sweden) that Russians will strengthen their troops by the borders of Finland - including hints of nuclear weapon placements.

It is clear - however - that Russia in its current position is not able to direct serious military pressure on Finland. Instead, it is almost humorous, how the "master strategist" Vladimir Putin in his stupidity escalated an almost frozen war in Ukraine, and as a consequence started a process in which its North-West neighbors - thus far neutral countries - are going to join NATO. 

And at the same time, the weakness of Russian army in Ukraine prevents Putin from seriously interfering this development. To be honest, I would like to know what he has in his mind: would it be something that we say in Finnish: "vituttaa kuin pientä eläintä" which translates to something like "annoying like a small animal" - although the Finnish wording is not that correct due to the first word pointing towards female genitals.   

We also have another proverb that is suitable in this situation. That is "tyhmyydestä sakotetaan". That translates as "stupidity is fined". 

In this case the magnitude of Putin´s fine will be at least a loss of two neutral nations to the Western military organization - and most probably also a loss of war in Ukraine - and thereafter quite probably a loss of his position as a dictator-like president of the Russia. If so, he might even be repeating the destiny of Czar Nicholas II after the military adventure in Japan 1904-05, which was fulfilled by Russian communists in July 17th, 1918. That is, death via execution.

12 April 2022

A man was murdered in a prison

A man was found dead in a major prison located in Vantaa close to Helsinki. He was there temporarily in a same cell with four other men, two of whom conducted the crime.

The cell did not have a camera due to the privacy reasons. Therefore there was no video-material available to figure out what actually happened - nor to have allowed prison staff a chance to notice the violence before it was too late. It is however known, that the violence was extremely cruel and lasted for days, and that the victim was finally suffocated to death using a plastic bag.

The life of the dead man lasted only 21 years, but during that time he had conducted several sexual crimes. They included a rape and sexual abuse of a 15 and 14 year old girls, respectively. He was moved temporarily to Vantaa prison because of a trial, where his own case as a victim was processed.  

The 23- and 19-year-old murderers were also serious criminals. They had been sentenced to prison due to their previous trials of murders. 

There are several open questions related to the case. The most mysterious one is why the killed youngster did not report on the violence to the prison staff? He would have had several chances to do so. It is also unclear why the two persons not participating in the murder did not do anything to interfere or to report about it to the staff. 

Also the motivation of the murder remains open, but it is generally known that sexual criminals are poorly accepted by other prisoners. Police is also investigating, whether the personnel of the prison had made mistakes during the violence. 

This kind of case is extremely rare in Finnish prisons. The two previous murders in prisons were conducted in years 2014 and 2001, and the one described above in January 2022.

It is naturally unacceptable that people are not safe in prisons no matter how serious or obnoxious crimes they have conducted. Therefore the case of Vantaa prison is important, and it should be asked why the cell was not equipped with cameras to allow the staff a chance to know about it. 

In my opinion, the "right for privacy" - the outspoken reason for the lack of cameras - in a prison should be questioned seriously. The pivotal question here is, whether this right is more valuable than a human life - even if it was one of a hard criminal? 

I do not think so. But even if that would be accepted, this price should be included in the law. Now it is not. 

In contrast, the constitution law of Finland states that "everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. No one shall be sentenced to death, tortured or otherwise treated in a manner that violates human dignity... The rights of those who have been deprived of their liberty are protected by law." The 21-year old was not.

10 April 2022

Soil subsides under cities, but every cloud has a silver lining

In a recent scientific publication it was noticed that in most of the coastal cities around the world part of the land is subsiding even more quickly than a sea level is rising. Therefore it can be expected that these cities will be challenged by flooding much sooner than the current sea level rise models predict. 

The problem is most serious in South, Southeast, and East Asia, but the phenomenon is also observed in North America, Europe, Africa, and Australia. The main driving force for this subsidence is groundwater extraction.

I live in Finland, and here the soil - including that under the coastal towns - is rising due to a return from a subsidence that occurred during the last ice age. The problem, however, will also affect our life, as the Baltic sea is connected to other seas via Danish straits, and the land there is subsidizing even without human contribution. 

The outcome of this development will be higher rate of water change between the Baltic sea and Oceans. It will have the following two consequences. 

First. The sea water will become more salty than today, which probably affects also the fauna and flora of the unique brackish water ecosystem along our coasts. And as the level of the Baltic sea uniqueness - i.e. exceptional salinity - will be reduced, it will become even more receiving for all kinds of alien species dispersed by human actions, especially via ballast waters from ships sailing between different geographical areas.

This will worsen the biodiversity problem, which already now is considerable. According to this report, around 140 non-indigenous species or new species with unknown origin have been recorded in the Baltic Sea. And as easily understood, the situation cannot be fixed as eradication of non-indigenous species is not a viable management option for a whole sea.  

Second. The deep waters of Baltic sea are largely suffering of hypoxia, i.e. lack of oxygen. Its ultimate cause is an excess nutrient loading from human activities and in summertime its effects are visible as algal blooms. These blooms sink to the bottom and overuse the available oxygen, which leads to mortality of bottom-living organisms, and ultimately creates dead zones.

The situation is partially regenerative, as in some years more salty water from Oceans enter to the Baltic sea, and due to its heaviness compared to the brackish water, sink down to the bottoms. There it pushes the oxygen-free bottom water upwards and reoxidizes the deep sea basins. 

Now, if water change via the Danish straits increases due to the climatic change and land subsidence, also the area of deep basins suffering from hypoxia will reduce. That will ultimately lead to decrease in algal blooms, which currently considerably reduce the recreational value of the marine nature along the coasts of Finland and other Baltic sea countries. 

Taken together, the sea level rise expected due to the predicted climate change and land subsidence, as well as other human actions, can be expected to have negative effects to the nature of the Baltic sea, but  probably increase the recreational value of the sea to humans. 

For such a situation, we have a proverb in Finnish: "ei niin pahaa, ettei jotain hyvääkin". That means "not so bad, that there would not be something good", or to express that with an English proverb: "every cloud has a silver lining".

Previous thoughts on the same topic:
Measurements of arctic temperatures and sea ice area agree with each other
World Resources Institute had an arrogant demand

9 April 2022

Sexual harassment and bullying in working life

Bullying and sexual harassment have become major issues in working life including scientific realm. Therefore it was interesting to read fresh reports of recent developments on these issues.

In the first case archaeologist Nicole Boivin was removed from a director position in the famous Max Planck Institute. She was already removed from her position in October 2021 due to evidence of bullying and scientific misconduct, but a court reinstated her due to violated procedures. However, after a confidential report supporting the allegations justified her removal. She remains, however, a researcher at the institute. 

This case has drawn a lot of attention because recent demotions at Mat Planck Institute have disproportionately affected women. Also Boivin was accused of creating an abusive work environment that harmed young women scholars. Whatsoever, this case shows that - in working life - not only males are quilty of bullying, but also women may behave incorrectly.

In the second case it was reported that a high-profile biologist David Sabatini was forced out of the Whitehead Institute in 2021 after he had violated its sexual harassment policies. And now he has also resigned from his professorship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after three senior officials recommended revoking his tenure. Sabatini had violated intitute´s policy by having a consensual sexual relationship with a person, on whose career he could have been able to influence. 

The biologist commented that the situation is "out of all proportion to the actual, underlying facts. I look forward to setting the record straight and standing up for my integrity." 

A female emeritus professor of biology, however called his resignation "a milestone", because "a young woman had the courage to demand that the rules be enforced. And she was heard." 

Hopefully the decision was correct provided that - at least in my home country - women sometimes use untruthful accusations in cases where intimate relations have failed, and the former pair is fighting for sharing their property or child custody. Thus, I hope the recommendation on Sabatini was well based and the possibility of false accusations excluded. 

In the last case reported in Mexico, a government office dismissed allegations of sexual harassment against a plant geneticist Jean-Philippe Vielle Calzada. Four female scientists, three of them his students, had claimed accusations on him for touching without consent, pressing for a romantic relationship and professional retaliation after rejection.

The Internal Control Organ had previously noted "serious" misconduct by Caldeza, but later dismissed two of the complaints, one of them due to a procedural issue. That is in line with a previous Mexican practice highlighted by the fact that only 1% of the last 399 cases of sexual harassment reported in federal institutions have led to sanctions. Thus, although I am not in a position to evaluate the correctness of this very decision, it looks like a serious difficulty in punishing working life misbehavior continues in Mexico. 

Overall, these three cases highlight problems in creating and keeping decent working life culture even among the most highly educated humans, who also have - in addition to career-related ambitions - sexual and other emotions, that affect daily behavior. I have also seen such cases during my career, and can assure that there is often one word against another and the cases raise strong feelings even among outsiders, who eagerly choose their side. And therefore decision making is extremely difficult - and obviously prone to errors. 

Therefore I am afraid that two kinds of mistakes do happen. Either innocent people will be sanctioned or victims are left without justice. In both cases, the efficacy of the working community suffers considerably - including universities and research institutes. 

6 April 2022

Measurements of arctic temperatures and sea ice area agree with each other

Antti Lipponen of the Finnish Meteorological Institute tweeted on the arctic temperature, which - according to him - was 4.9℃ warmer than the March average between 1951-1980. He also told that it was fourth highest since March 1950, and showed the following figure.

That accords relatively well with the area of the arctic sea ice 
 (which should be small when the temperature has been high) in March between years 1987-2022, but differs in its early part of the data, although the area of the ice is sixth smallest since 1987. This NSIDC-data based figure is presented below.

I do not criticize the data presented by Lipponen or NSIDC, but want to point out that the trend line of both arctic temperature and arctic sea ice - based only on the latest years - could also be interpreted differently. Namely, the trend line based on more than a decade of the data presented by Lipponen and on nine last years of the sea ice data would point towards recent arctic cooling instead of continuous warming. 

Based on this we should ask, whether the current climate models unanimously forecasting continuous warming in the northernmost parts of the planet should be re-evaluated and better fitted to the data? Or at least, to be more cautious with our interpretations as long as the trend visible in the figures above - and similar trends in data sets for other months or whole years - will continue in becoming years. 

5 April 2022

Obligatory military service gains support

The Russian war in Ukraine is rapidly changing peoples attitudes in Finland. As an example, I wrote  two weeks ago about changes in the attitude of Finns about joining the western military organization NATO. 

Yesterday it was reported in the second biggest newspaper in Finland that attitudes have also changed towards the military service of women. According to an opinion poll 40.8 percent of Finns would make military service obligatory also for women, while 37.5 percent were opposing the idea. 

Previously only a marginal part of people were favorable to the idea, but now even the political left - especially Social Democrats and Greens - was notably positive for it. Also 30,2 percent of women supported the obligatory female military service, whereas 43,2 percent opposed. Among males it was supported by a majority, namely 51,5 percent.

Today women may have a voluntary service, but for males it is obligatory, although they may select between military and civilian options. However, only 65 percent of men get a full training, whereas six percent do the civil service. The rest are dropped out, which means that the Finnish defence forces are composed of selected high quality soldiers. 

Currently only a total of 1 200 women have finalized their military services. Therefore obligatory service for them would increase the size of the Finnish army considerably. That, however, is not necessary right now, as the the defence forces consider the current number of troops adequate. 

In my opinion, these changes - on NATO and on female military service - are the last steps out of the compliant policy towards Russia that was adopted by Finland and largely accepted by its citizens after the WWII. At the same time, they are a notable sign to Moscow about the willingness of Finns to stay independent of its eastern neighbor, and a full member of the the western world.  

3 April 2022

Military specialist: Russian plan in Ukraine was incredibly poor

Russia is losing the battle of Kiev in Ukraine. This can be deduced from recent news and videos of towns and villages liberated from Russian attackers, but also from the claims that Putin would have accepted most of the Ukrainian preconditions for the peace. 

After this failure it was more than interesting to note, that a Finnish military specialist, researcher and former colonel Martti J. Kari stated that Russian attack plan was useless. So poor, that if someone in a Finnish officer education would have suggested something similar in an exam, he would have been discarded. 

He also assumed, that the Russian intelligence service agency was lead by people, who are close to Vladimir Putin. And therefore they did not forward unpleasant information from their employees to the dictator, but instead lied something, that they know would be gratifying by him.

It remains to be seen, what will be the next steps in the war. It is, however, clear that as long as it continues, the Russians will continue a genocide of Ukrainians. Including brutal executions. And the western world will be following powerlessly - in fear of Russia’s nuclear weapons.

Previous thoughts on the same topic:
Finland and NATO - problems to be solved
Political rats and useful idiots

2 April 2022

A nurse´s question: who deserves health care, and who does not

In Finland there has been a long debate about nurse salaries. Those were raised considerably in 2008, which contributed considerably to the slow recovery of Finland from the Great Recession that was seen globally in 2007-2009. 

Despite that, the Finnish nurses are again on strike for their salaries, which they consider as left behind from other fields in the public sector. The employer´s representative somehow agree on the problem, but has also pointed out that there is no taxpayer´s money available to cover exceptional increases. However, most of the ordinary citizens support higher wages for the nurses, probably because many nurses leave their profession and nurse salaries are in other Nordic countries higher compared to Finland.

The strikes may turn long lasting, as the public sector of Finland has been running quickly into debt because of the loose economics policy in Finland and EU during the last years as well as additional costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and consequences of the ongoing Russian war in Ukraine.

Very interestingly indeed, I saw today something I could not have imagined. It was a short story by the MTV3-media, in which a former nurse put the cat on the table. She said loudly the main problem of public health care in the modern democracies by pointing out that "now either the government or the employer has to say who no longer deserves care".

This is The Question, because the problem arises from the development of medical research, which continuously develops solutions to new health problems - and often they are very expensive. That leads to ever increasing costs of health care, and sooner or later - perhaps right now in Finland - the costs exceed the taxpayers ability to pay. 

So, it will be interesting to follow what happens next. Will the nurse´s comment make its way to political discussion or will it be quietly passed. Also, will the nurse be demonized on her "inhuman opinion", or will it be admitted that she has a valid point. 

It is, however clear that deciding on who will be treated from her disease and who will not is a question which is almost impossible to touch by politicians. Whatever they say or decide will raise a loud voice against them. And as well known, keeping voters happy is a serious concern for anyone who depends on the number of supporting votes in a free democracy.