31 May 2022

A stupid thief and vandalizing celebrators

Vantaa is a more than 200 000 inhabitant town in Finland. Few days ago its Lutheran congregation faced a loss as someone had stolen a copper-made decoration of its chapel next to a medieval stone church. The stolen materials weighed 950 kg and were worth of at least 100 000 euros. 

Today we heard that the stolen property was found and brought back to the chapel. In addition, police had arrested a suspected thief. The official authority have not revealed details except that the arrested person is not a citizen of Finland. 

During recent years it has been a common practice in Finland to steal copper parts from buildings, often by Romanian citizens. Therefore it would have been weird - or stupid - if the area of the chapel with its 100 000 euros decoration would not have been under a camera surveillance.

The congregation, however, seems not to have been stupid, as police caught a criminal in just few days. Therefore, we should look for the thief, and conclude that his head seems not to have been filled with very brilliant brains. In contrast, he can be considered as type example of an idiot conducting crimes.

* * *

Also another interestingly stupid case happened during last weekend as Finland won the world championship in ice hockey by beating Canada in a thrilling final. That led to massive celebrations in the big towns. 

One would think that after such an occasion people would be happy and full of joy. However, it turned out that a considerable number of celebrators had weird ways of showing their happiness.

In the capitol of the country - Helsinki - some of the people climbed on the roof of a historically valuable building of the restaurant Kappeli, which had just been opened after renovation. As a result of their "joyful celebration", terrace furniture was broken and various wires were torn out of place. Also the roof itself was damaged.

Along the same lines, tens of ice hockey fans climbed on two pavilions under construction in the former capitol of Finland - Turku -  causing damage to at least one building. As a result, the city has asked police to investigate whether the fans were guilty of a crime.

If the copper thief from abroad was not among the most brainy persons, the same can be said about the people climbing on buildings and causing damage. And these people were almost certainly Finnish citizens. 

The question is the following. Why some idiots want to express themselves even in the most joyful moments of the nation? And why there always have to be those, whose destiny is to spoil otherwise memorable historical events?

29 May 2022

Finnish general to Scholz and Macron: no reason to negotiate with a terrorist

A former oligarch,  Mikhail Khodorkovsky, tweeted that "Putin stole (1) part of Ukraine´s territory. He got sanctions for that. To remove them, he stole (2) more, killing thousands of people. Got sanctions. Then he stole (3) all the grain, blocked the ports & threatened to create a famine, demanding the sanctions be lifted. Am I getting this right?"

A retired Finnish general commented on Emmanuel Macron´s and Olaf Scholz´s request to warlord Vladimir Putin about serious negotiations. According to him, there is no reason to negotiate with a terrorist. In his opinion "the only correct solution is to send the sixth fleet of the US navy reinforced by Allied units to escort grain ships and at the same time detain Russian ships carrying stolen Ukrainian grain".

To me it is unbelievable that it takes a Russian refugee and a Finnish general to clarify facts about the dictator of Russia to the two most important leaders of the West-European countries. That is: facts about a  dictator, who has just violated all possible agreements between sovereign countries and is responsible on a disgusting neglect of human rights by his army. 

I think Scholz and Macron should take a look at a mirror, and recognize ugly faces of thoughtless puppets of the most dangerous dictator of our time.

27 May 2022

Historical failure on an issue related to a Finnish beer

The former liberal (in the classic sense) politician and Doctor of Political Sciences Jukka Tarkka reminded us - the older generation - and educated younger ones about an interesting beer-related case between Finland and Soviet Union back in 1968. 

Then the ambassador of the super power - Andrei E. Kovalev - pointed out in his speech that the Karjala beer bottle label included a Carelian (a Finnish county, Karjala, partially located in the Soviet Union) coat of arms. It illustrates two hands against each other, one holding a sabre (eastern sword) and another one a direct (western) sword. The ambassador considered that as provocative and demanded its removal from the bottle.

That launched a nationwide interest to the Karjala beer, and it became for a long time the most popular beer in the country, although before ambassador´s intervention its popularity was quickly vanishing. 

Obviously Finnish people had not completely accepted the official policy considering Soviet Union as our best friend. And wanted to show it.

Interestingly, the same swords can also be found in the Finland´s coat of arms, but in considerably more provocative setting. There the lion of Finland is standing on the eastern sabre (symbolizing a defeated eastern enemy) and holds bravely the direct sword on its head. 

I have never heard Russians to complain about that. Not even when Finland was an autonomous part of Russia (1809-1917), although its coat of arms included the same symbolism as it has had since 16th century - this you can confirm by your own eyes by visiting the tomb of the king Gustaf Wasa of Sweden in the Uppsala Cathedral.

26 May 2022

Afghanistan now and in the future

Taliban regime is leading its "Islamic empire" by pushing women out of the visible society. That means no school to girls after the sixth grade and coverage of women´s face in public space - and ultimately pushing the more beautiful gender out of the decision making. 

However, according to a Finnish official in the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs that is not the full picture. Although conservatives are now in leading positions in Afghanistan, there are people even in the government, who would like to see also elder girls in the school. 

And we should not forget that after the revolution the country has calmed down so much, that international help can be provided to those who need it. Also the share of people suffering from direct hunger has halved. 

I am not aware what has happened to the corruption, that was enormous in the country during the regime supported by western countries before the Taliban revolution. That, however, is one of the key issues to be solved in attempts to make Afghanistan a decent country for living. 

In regard to the humanitarian development, the most important development will take place among the Taliban leaders. When the current ultraconservative leaders will step out, will they be replaced by similar but younger people? Or will the power be moved to more liberal politicians. 

The latter option might even draw some Afghan expatriates from other countries back to Afghanistan. If so, they could bring skills and attitudes learned in western countries that could accelerate the development of the democracy and economy of the society. 

Although the latter option would change government policy towards more civilized and equal society, the Afghan´s attitudes ares a big question mark. Would they - and especially their most powerful tribal leaders - accept more liberal steps, or would another version of Islamic extremity, namely ISIS, raise its head as a counter reaction? And would that drive the country again into a chaos?

Previous thoughts on the same topic:
The arrival of caliphate citizens must be prevented

20 May 2022

Facts, US Supreme Court and the case of Roe v. Wade

US Supreme Court has prepared overturning Roe v. Wade to give up federally accepted right for an abortion. This was commented by professor Diana Greene Foster in Science magazine. She pointed out - based on her own research - that the aim of the Supreme Court is against scientific evidence. 

Her results have shown that patients who received an abortion were more than six times more likely to report aspirational 1-year plans than those who were denied one. They were also more likely to have a wanted child later and could better take care of the children they already had. 

It is also worth noting that most of abortion patients are already parents. Therefore she considers it clear that a legal abortion has powerful and positive multigenerational impacts. 

She also pointed out that if people are forced to carry a pregnancy to term, they have a higher risk to experience lasting financial hardships, and women from whom abortion has been denied had three times greater odds of being unemployed than those who obtained abortions. They also were four times more likely of being below the federal poverty level.

I am writing from Finland, and this issue does not directly concern me. However, I want to point out that here a new abortion law came into force in 1970. It allowed abortion on social grounds to women under 17 or over 40 years of age, or when a mother had already given birth to four children. And according to instructions from the Medical Board, abortion has been freely available to unmarried, widowed and divorced people. 

Year 1973 was the peak year for legal abortions in Finland, with more than 23 000 abortions recorded. That was equal to the number of illegal abortions before the law change - but removed serious health problems associated with operations performed by quacks. Thereafter the number of abortions has steadily declined and during the recent years the number of abortions per year has been about 10 000. Thus, the liberal attitude towards abortions in our country has in fact reduced the number of abortions. 

Taken together, I hope these facts affect decision makers in all states of the USA if the federal law will be turned down by the Supreme Court. 

Previous thoughts on the same topic:
Sexual harassment and bullying in working life
Obligatory military service gains support

15 May 2022

The Finnish army is respected by Russians

The opinions of Russian people towards its neighbors are always interesting. Especially if they concern your home country. At the end of April, the popular science and technology publication Ferra published a report about the Finnish army. 

At the end of the report was a survey for readers, where the answer was given by clicking one of four options. The question was: “if Russia for some reason launched a ´special operation´ against Finland, the result would be…”

The most popular option was “worse than in Ukraine”. It received 30 percent of responses.

Option “NATO would have joined the conflict and World War III would have begun” was the second most popular, and received acceptance from 29 percent of Ferra readers.

Option “better than in Ukraine” was clicked by 14% of respondents, with the fourth option receiving the same figure was “roughly the same as in Ukraine".

Thus, it looks like Finnish army enjoys considerable respect among Russians. And NATO is considered as a support for our country already now, although Finland is not yet even a member. These are interesting opinions in a country where propaganda in overwhelming and truth lies somewhere between the written lines.

Previous thoughts on the same topic:
Russian army not comparable to western military services
Obligatory military service gains support
Why a journalist was unaware on the number of Stalin´s victims?

13 May 2022

Ivory trade from Greenland to Ukraine

Vikings settled on the uninhabited southwestern coast of Greenland thousand years ago. That was enabled by a technological innovation that allowed them to use wooden ships in long distance sailing. However, after just few centuries the early settlements along the southwestern coast disappeared. 

The reason for the disappearance of Norse has thereafter remained a mystery. The explanations presented include cumulative environmental damage, gradual climate change, conflicts with Inuit peoples, loss of contact and support from Europe, cultural conservatism and failure to adapt to an increasingly harsh natural environment and opening of opportunities elsewhere after the black death had left many farmsteads abandoned in Iceland and Norway as well as declining value of ivory in Europe.

The last option was based on the fact that some Vikings are known to have organised summer trips to the more northerly area, where they hunted walruses, narwhals and polar bears for their skins, hides and ivory. Besides their use in making garments and shoes, these resources also functioned as a form of currency, as well as providing the most important export commoditie.

Recently it was reported in Science that Vikings shipped walrus ivory all the way to Kyiv, the capital of today´s Ukraine. This trade route is much longer than was thought based on previous studies - up to 4 000 km. This information was worked out by DNA and chemical analyses, which linked Ukrainian walrus tusk materials to a genetic group of walruses found only in the western Atlantic Ocean. 

The trade was obviously highly profitable, and may have lead to overhunting of Greenlandic walruses, due to the consumer demand in Eastern Europe. That seems to strengthen the hypothesis that Norse settlers abandoned Greenland in the 1300s at least partly due to the ending ivory trade.

This finding is just one of the historical facts that shows how medieval people had connections over long distances. And partially highlights how incorrect we are, if we consider our time as completely unique in its global connections and trade. Instead of qualitative differences, the change is only quantitative. That is, in the speed that allows us to make contacts throughout the world. 

Previous thoughts on the same topic:
World oceans are filled with previously unknown viruses
Soil subsides under cities, but every cloud has a silver lining
Vikings and the technological cutting edge

12 May 2022

Why Finland will apply for a membership in NATO

President of Finland, Sauli Niinist√∂, explained why he wanted Finland to join NATO. I think there is a lot of wisdom in his message, and therefore I decided to translate it here. 

"I said in my New Year’s speech that ´in a fast-paced world, it is even more valuable than previously to know when to hurry, when to be patient´. This spring in Finland we have succeeded in this in a great way. Together we have rushed and tempered. The Finnish democracy has shown its exceptional strength.

Ensuring Finland's security has always been the most important goal. That has taken determined and rapid movements, but also time and cold-headed considerations were needed.

Now is a time to make the decision. I shared my opinion today with the Prime Minister: Finland must apply NATO membership as soon as possible.

With NATO membership, Finland maximizes its own security. It does not take anything from anyone, and neither is it against anyone. As a member of the alliance, Finland will responsibly carry its share on the security of the entire community.

Even for a NATO member, the geography stays immutable. Russia is and will remain a border neighbor of Finland. Therefore we must be able to take care of practical issues with Russians also in the future. NATO country Norway has been able to do this.

As a member of NATO, Finland will not grow any bigger that its size is. Determination is not always intended to look imposing. Our constructive line is appreciated.

Our Nordic connection is becoming even closer with the NATO membership. Alongside with well-being, democracy and human rights, the Nordic model will in future be even more widely known for its way of security thinking. We will have a strong, stable and responsible North. It increases stability, not only in the Fennoscandian countries, but also throughout the Baltic region and in the entire Baltic Sea area.

We are now in a historical turning point. But NATO membership will not change everything. The security of Finland will continue to be the most important goal of our foreign and security policy also in the future."

I think the text was typical to President Niinist√∂, and in my understanding opens even to foreigners why he has an extremely high confidence among the citizens. It is also an excellent coincidence that he happened to have his high position right now, when Finland was taking the last step towards a full membership among the western community of nations. 

Had there been his predecessor Tarja Halonen, these historical developments would almost certainly not have been taken. Instead, we would - even after the tragedy in Ukraine - have exposed ourselves to the Russian aggressor. And possibly ended sooner or later into a situation similar to the one in year 1939.

6 May 2022

Russian army not comparable to western military services

Russians have lost half of its generals, who have participated in the war in Ukraine. The New Your Times reported that this was enabled by a help of the US intelligence service.

Americans also helped Ukrainians to destroy the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, cruiser Moskva, some time ago. Undoubtedly such a help has been highly valuable to Ukrainian efforts to stop its aggressive neighbor in the war. 

The news referred above must have hit hard president Putin´s thoughts. Before the war in Ukraine he most probably imagined his conventional army to match with the western military forces. But now even Ukrainians - with a help of American intelligence service - are able to stop it and even kill its highest officers. 

It has turned out, that even if the Russian army played a major role 80 years ago in stopping Hitler´s army, its strength has vanished since the fall of the Soviet Union - or perhaps even earlier. And right now rebuilding its capability will be unrealistic for decades due to the economic and technological disconnection from the western markets due to Putin´s own stupidity in attacking to Ukraine. 

Even worse for Putin: these facts are undoubtedly understood also by other Russians in high positions. Therefore it is only a matter of time, before Putin will follow the last Czar and be set aside from his position as the president of Russia. 

2 May 2022

Tractor course for Ukrainians

We are all aware of Ukrainian tractors pulling Russian military equipment. In addition, we have seen many tractor cartoons and drawings ridiculing the Russian army.

We also know that there are millions of Ukrainians - mostly women and children - who have left their home country in order to find a safe place while their army is fighting for their future. About 25 000 of those have come to Finland, my home country. 

Today I was reading a newspaper and put my attention on a story, which reported on Finns teaching Ukrainians to drive tractors. One of the the teachers told that the Ukrainians have shown high willingness to participate in society and work. According to him, they are "top crew". 

It remains to be seen, however, how much the Finnish tractor training adds to the efficacy of Ukrainian tractor forces against Russian tanks. 

1 May 2022

Could China take advantage on the weakness of Putin´s Russia?

The Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs has asked China to offer Ukraine security guarantees. The request was reported also in Chinese media with critical comments on Russian´s military activities in Ukraine. 

China has thus far been notably neutral in the conflict. The request by Ukrainians, however, put them to a new situation, where all decisions can be interpreted as support to either of the sides.

Russia is an important neighbor to China, but economically insignificant compared to the western world. That would not change even if Chinese could take advantage on the Russian´s blockade from international trade, and use them almost imperialistically as a source of cheap raw materials.

Thus, the Chinese leaders are now in a position, where they are forced to make decisions. And most interestingly, one option for them might be to drive Russian economy so down, that they could ultimately negotiate about the position of the borders between China and Russia. After all, China had to give Russians large areas in peace negotiations around year 1860 - and they have not forgotten that. 

If so, that would be the final step in the loss of Putin´s dream to become a significant Russian  leader comparable to Peter I the Great or Josef Stalin. Instead, he would be remembered as one of the most notable losers in the Russian history.