Quotulatiousness

October 16, 2014

Finland is concerned about recent Russian actions, but not enough to join NATO

Filed under: Europe, History — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 15:12

In the Christian Science Monitor, Gordon F. Sander reviews the state of Finnish-Russian relations and the unusually uncomfortable situation Finland finds itself in now:

Seven months ago, when Russia seized and annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine, Finns seemed relatively unconcerned. The world’s northernmost country shares some 800 miles of border with its huge neighbor, but just a quarter of Finns said they felt threatened by Moscow. And a similar number told pollsters their country should consider joining NATO in interest of self-defense.

Since then, Russia’s behavior has become more provocative, and not just in eastern Ukraine. During one week in August, Russian military aircraft conducted three unauthorized overflights of Finnish airspace. The Finnish public reacted accordingly. A poll last month by Finnish daily Aamulehti showed that 43 percent of those polled perceived Russia as a danger, an increase of nearly 20 percent from March.

But support for Finland joining NATO remained almost unchanged: a mere two percent higher, the Finnish Broadcasting Corporation (YLE) found. Why hasn’t Finnish wariness translated into stronger support for NATO membership? And what, if anything, would persuade Finns to join the defense pact?

Defense Minister Carl Haglund says that the foundation for the Finnish public’s aversion to NATO membership stems from its complicated, and oft-misunderstood relationship with Russia. “This [reluctance] goes back to [our] history,” he says, “especially the end of the Second World War and the cold war.”

“Put it this way,” says Pekka Ervasti, political editor of YLE. “Finnish neutrality dies hard.”

October 12, 2014

Finnish research vessel harassed by Russian navy ships

Filed under: Europe, Military — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 12:29

Uutiset reports on a Finnish marine research ship’s run-ins with the Russians in the Baltic Sea:

Finnish research vessel SS Aranda near Turun Linna

Finnish research vessel SS Aranda near Turun Linna (via Wikipedia).

The Russian Navy has twice interfered in the movements of the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) marine research vessel Aranda in international waters. According to SYKE, the two incidents occurred in August and September, when Aranda was conducting research for the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute off the coast of Sweden. In both incidents, the Russian warship attempted to prohibit the research vessel from accessing a sampling location in international waters east of the Swedish island of Gotland.

In the first incident on August 2, the Russian warship made radio contact with Aranda and urged it twice to change course. The Aranda initially obeyed the request, but at the second warning, the ship’s crew replied that it would not deter and intended to stop at the research point as planned. At this time, the crew of the Aranda observed a submarine moving along the surface of the water.

The second incident on September 2 saw a Russian helicopter approach Aranda several times. After this, a nearby Russian warship took a course directly towards the ship’s stern, passing the boat in very close proximity. The Aranda maintained its course and speed throughout the incident.

July 2, 2014

“Fixing” soccer games for fun and profit

Filed under: Business, Law, Soccer — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:49

Bill Barnwell discusses what we know (or what we’ve been told) about corruption in soccer matches all the way from Finland to Cameroon to the current World Cup fixtures in Brazil:

Late Monday night, FIFA’s worst nightmare began to break. The Cameroon Football Federation sent out an urgent press release announcing that they were investigating claims that several of Cameroon’s recent matches were fixed, most notably the country’s 4-0 loss to Croatia during the group stage of the World Cup. The allegations come from a story in German newspaper Der Spiegel, which reported that notable alleged Singaporean match fixer Wilson Raj Perumal told the paper in a pre-match Facebook chat that the African side would have a player sent off in the first half before losing 4-0. Both would later occur in the match. Perumal further alleged that the Cameroon team had “seven bad apples” and has been involved, to some extent, with fixing all three of its group stage matches before exiting the tournament.

Perumal has since issued a statement, via the co-authors of his biography, denying that he predicted the result.

Of course, allegations of fixed soccer matches aren’t anything new. What makes this so shocking and so meaningful is the idea that a World Cup match was fixed. It’s one thing for some third-division match under a rock in front of 40 people to be rigged. If a World Cup match can be manipulated with the globe watching, though, is there any match that can’t be fixed?

[...]

Perumal and an associate eventually found their way to Scandinavia, where they would fix matches at a number of clubs in Finland. Most notably, Perumal offered to invest more than a million Euros in struggling Finnish side Tampere United if they allowed him to invite several awful players from outside the country on the take to come play for the club. They took about half of the money and didn’t bother to play the players Perumal brought on; they’re also now banned from Finnish soccer. For some of his fixes, Perumal was actually able to issue instructions during matches to players on the pitch from the team bench.

Perumal suggests that he didn’t need influence over much of a team to fix a match, preferring to focus on the defense. “I prefer back-line players: the two central defenders, the last man stopper and the goalkeeper. If you can get three back-line players on your payroll then you can execute a fix because, when you want to lose, the attackers can’t help you,” he wrote.

[...]

As for Cameroon, well, it’s hard to say what will become of them. If there are seven players on the team who are proven to have fixed matches at the World Cup, their punishment will be severe, with permanent banishment from the sport a likely option. I’ll be intrigued to see what the investigation reveals, even if I’m very skeptical that an investigation conducted by the Cameroon FA and FIFA will be very thorough. They have little to gain from revealing their own corruption. I don’t know that Cameroon necessarily manipulated results during this World Cup, but I would be surprised if the entire tournament actually went untouched by match fixers. There’s simply too much to be gained and too little to stop it from occurring.

April 15, 2014

Finland to issue “Tom of Finland” erotic postage stamps

Filed under: Europe — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:02

Unlike other Scandinavian countries, Finland isn’t noted as a trend-setter in LGBT issues: still not allowing same-sex marriage even though homosexuality was legalized in 1971. Finland also classified transvestism as an illness until 2011. Knowing that, it’s hard to credit that Itella Posti, the Finnish postal service, will be selling these stamps beginning in September.

From their English-language website:

Finland issues Tom of Finland stampsIn September-October 2014, Itella Posti will release seven new sets of stamps, containing a total of 33 new designs. It is a great collection to choose from; the subjects of the new stamps include male drawings by Tom of Finland, autumnal yard and garden scenes painted by Urpo Martikainen, and Jaakko Tähti’s photos of Finnish bridges. Other subjects for the end-of-the-year stamps include signs of sky and the change in everyday Finland — and, of course, Christmas.

The autumn’s stamp series begins September 8 with Tom of Finland, who is considered one of the most well-known Finnish artists around the world. His emphatically masculine homoerotic drawings have attained iconic status in their genre and had an influence on, for instance, pop culture and fashion. In his works, Tom of Finland utilized the self-irony and humor typical of subcultures.

During his career, Tom of Finland produced more than 3,500 drawings. The two drawings on the stamp sheet were selected by graphic artist Timo Berry, who designed the stamp, and Susanna Luoto, the Finnish representative of the foundation named after Tom of Finland operating in Los Angeles.

The drawings on the stamp sheet represent strong and confident male figures typical of their designer. “The sheet portrays a sensual life force and being proud of oneself. There is never too much of that in this northern country,” says Timo Berry. The miniature sheet contains three 1st class self-adhesive stamps.

The artist behind Tom of Finland was Touko Laaksonen (1920-1991), whose profile is extended in the exhibition Sealed with a Secret – Correspondence of Tom of Finland opening in the Postal Museum September 6. The exhibition will display the busy correspondence of Laaksonen from the early 1940s to his dying year, 1991. The exhibition will be displayed until March 29, 2015, in Museum Centre Vapriikki in the new Postal Museum to be opened in Tampere in September.

January 30, 2014

Scandinavia’s less-than-utopian reality

Filed under: Europe — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:42

Canadians are often found wanting in comparison to Norwegians, Swedes, Finns, or Danes in any international ranking. Except for smugness, where Canada (of course) is the undisputed world leader. But according to Michael Booth, things are not quite as wonderful in Scandinavia as we’re led to believe:

Whether it is Denmark’s happiness, its restaurants, or TV dramas; Sweden’s gender equality, crime novels and retail giants; Finland’s schools; Norway’s oil wealth and weird songs about foxes; or Iceland’s bounce-back from the financial abyss, we have an insatiable appetite for positive Nordic news stories. After decades dreaming of life among olive trees and vineyards, these days for some reason, we Brits are now projecting our need for the existence of an earthly paradise northwards.

I have contributed to the relentless Tetris shower of print columns on the wonders of Scandinavia myself over the years but now I say: enough! Nu er det nok! Enough with foraging for dinner. Enough with the impractical minimalist interiors. Enough with the envious reports on the abolition of gender-specific pronouns. Enough of the unblinking idolatry of all things knitted, bearded, rye bread-based and licorice-laced. It is time to redress the imbalance, shed a little light Beyond the Wall.

First, let’s look at Denmark, where Booth has lived for several years:

Why do the Danes score so highly on international happiness surveys? Well, they do have high levels of trust and social cohesion, and do very nicely from industrial pork products, but according to the OECD they also work fewer hours per year than most of the rest of the world. As a result, productivity is worryingly sluggish. How can they afford all those expensively foraged meals and hand-knitted woollens? Simple, the Danes also have the highest level of private debt in the world (four times as much as the Italians, to put it into context; enough to warrant a warning from the IMF), while more than half of them admit to using the black market to obtain goods and services.

Perhaps the Danes’ dirtiest secret is that, according to a 2012 report from the Worldwide Fund for Nature, they have the fourth largest per capita ecological footprint in the world. Even ahead of the US. Those offshore windmills may look impressive as you land at Kastrup, but Denmark burns an awful lot of coal. Worth bearing that in mind the next time a Dane wags her finger at your patio heater.

Okay, but how about Norway? Aren’t they doing well?

The dignity and resolve of the Norwegian people in the wake of the attacks by Anders Behring Breivik in July 2011 was deeply impressive, but in September the rightwing, anti-Islamist Progress party — of which Breivik had been an active member for many years — won 16.3% of the vote in the general election, enough to elevate it into coalition government for the first time in its history. There remains a disturbing Islamophobic sub-subculture in Norway. Ask the Danes, and they will tell you that the Norwegians are the most insular and xenophobic of all the Scandinavians, and it is true that since they came into a bit of money in the 1970s the Norwegians have become increasingly Scrooge-like, hoarding their gold, fearful of outsiders.

Finland? I’ve always gotten on famously with Finns (and Estonians), although I haven’t met all that many of them:

I am very fond of the Finns, a most pragmatic, redoubtable people with a Sahara-dry sense of humour. But would I want to live in Finland? In summer, you’ll be plagued by mosquitos, in winter, you’ll freeze — that’s assuming no one shoots you, or you don’t shoot yourself. Finland ranks third in global gun ownership behind only America and Yemen; has the highest murder rate in western Europe, double that of the UK; and by far the highest suicide rate in the Nordic countries.

The Finns are epic Friday-night bingers and alcohol is now the leading cause of death for Finnish men. “At some point in the evening around 11.30pm, people start behaving aggressively, throwing punches, wrestling,” Heikki Aittokoski, foreign editor of Helsingin Sanomat, told me. “The next day, people laugh about it. In the US, they’d have an intervention.”

[...]

If you do decide to move there, don’t expect scintillating conversation. Finland’s is a reactive, listening culture, burdened by taboos too many to mention (civil war, second world war and cold war-related, mostly). They’re not big on chat. Look up the word “reticent” in the dictionary and you won’t find a picture of an awkward Finn standing in a corner looking at his shoelaces, but you should.

“We would always prefer to be alone,” a Finnish woman once admitted to me. She worked for the tourist board.

Sweden, though, must be the one without any real serious issues, right?

Anything I say about the Swedes will pale in comparison to their own excoriating self-image. A few years ago, the Swedish Institute of Public Opinion Research asked young Swedes to describe their compatriots. The top eight adjectives they chose were: envious, stiff, industrious, nature loving, quiet, honest, dishonest, xenophobic.

I met with Åke Daun, Sweden’s most venerable ethnologist. “Swedes seem not to ‘feel as strongly’ as certain other people”, Daun writes in his excellent book, Swedish Mentality. “Swedish women try to moan as little as possible during childbirth and they often ask, when it is all over, whether they screamed very much. They are very pleased to be told they did not.” Apparently, crying at funerals is frowned upon and “remembered long afterwards”. The Swedes are, he says, “highly adept at insulating themselves from each other”. They will do anything to avoid sharing a lift with a stranger, as I found out during a day-long experiment behaving as un-Swedishly as possible in Stockholm.

H/T to Kathy Shaidle (via Facebook) for the link.

September 3, 2013

Microsoft buys Finland

Filed under: Business, Europe, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:16

Oh, sorry, I misread the headline … it should say “Microsoft buys Finland’s tech sector“:

Microsoft has agreed a deal to buy Nokia’s mobile phone business for 5.4bn euros ($7.2bn; £4.6bn).

Nokia will also license its patents and mapping services to Microsoft. Nokia shares jumped 45% on news of the deal.

The purchase is set to be completed in early 2014, when about 32,000 Nokia employees will transfer to Microsoft.

While Nokia has struggled against competition from Samsung and Apple, Microsoft has been criticised for being slow into the mobile market.

Describing the deal as a “big, bold step forward”, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer told the BBC that his company was in the process of transforming itself from one that “was known for software and PCs, to a company that focuses on devices and services”.

“We’ve done a lot of great work in the two-and-a-half years that we’ve been in partnership with Nokia, going literally from no phones to 7.4 million smart Windows phones in the last quarter that was reported,” he said.

But he admitted: “We have more work to do to expand the range of applications on our product.”

I guess we can now retire the “Microsoft is buying RIM Blackberry” rumours…

June 4, 2013

Finland’s cardboard box babies

Filed under: Europe, Health, History — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:56

An interesting bit of history on the BBC News website:

It’s a tradition that dates back to the 1930s and it’s designed to give all children in Finland, no matter what background they’re from, an equal start in life.

The maternity package — a gift from the government — is available to all expectant mothers.

It contains bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, as well as nappies, bedding and a small mattress.

With the mattress in the bottom, the box becomes a baby’s first bed. Many children, from all social backgrounds, have their first naps within the safety of the box’s four cardboard walls.

Mothers have a choice between taking the box, or a cash grant, currently set at 140 euros, but 95% opt for the box as it’s worth much more.

The tradition dates back to 1938. To begin with, the scheme was only available to families on low incomes, but that changed in 1949.

“Not only was it offered to all mothers-to-be but new legislation meant in order to get the grant, or maternity box, they had to visit a doctor or municipal pre-natal clinic before their fourth month of pregnancy,” says Heidi Liesivesi, who works at Kela — the Social Insurance Institution of Finland.

So the box provided mothers with what they needed to look after their baby, but it also helped steer pregnant women into the arms of the doctors and nurses of Finland’s nascent welfare state.

In the 1930s Finland was a poor country and infant mortality was high — 65 out of 1,000 babies died. But the figures improved rapidly in the decades that followed.

February 2, 2013

“The welfare state we have is excellent in most ways. We only have this little problem. We can’t afford it.”

Filed under: Economics, Europe, Government — Tags: , , , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:02

Based on this report in The Economist, we really should strive to be more like Sweden, and not for the reasons most Canadians would expect:

Sweden has reduced public spending as a proportion of GDP from 67% in 1993 to 49% today. It could soon have a smaller state than Britain. It has also cut the top marginal tax rate by 27 percentage points since 1983, to 57%, and scrapped a mare’s nest of taxes on property, gifts, wealth and inheritance. This year it is cutting the corporate-tax rate from 26.3% to 22%.

Sweden has also donned the golden straitjacket of fiscal orthodoxy with its pledge to produce a fiscal surplus over the economic cycle. Its public debt fell from 70% of GDP in 1993 to 37% in 2010, and its budget moved from an 11% deficit to a surplus of 0.3% over the same period. This allowed a country with a small, open economy to recover quickly from the financial storm of 2007-08. Sweden has also put its pension system on a sound foundation, replacing a defined-benefit system with a defined-contribution one and making automatic adjustments for longer life expectancy.

Most daringly, it has introduced a universal system of school vouchers and invited private schools to compete with public ones. Private companies also vie with each other to provide state-funded health services and care for the elderly. Anders Aslund, a Swedish economist who lives in America, hopes that Sweden is pioneering “a new conservative model”; Brian Palmer, an American anthropologist who lives in Sweden, worries that it is turning into “the United States of Swedeamerica”.

[. . .]

This is not to say that the Nordics are shredding their old model. They continue to pride themselves on the generosity of their welfare states. About 30% of their labour force works in the public sector, twice the average in the Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation, a rich-country think-tank. They continue to believe in combining open economies with public investment in human capital. But the new Nordic model begins with the individual rather than the state. It begins with fiscal responsibility rather than pump-priming: all four Nordic countries have AAA ratings and debt loads significantly below the euro-zone average. It begins with choice and competition rather than paternalism and planning. The economic-freedom index of the Fraser Institute, a Canadian think-tank, shows Sweden and Finland catching up with the United States (see chart). The leftward lurch has been reversed: rather than extending the state into the market, the Nordics are extending the market into the state.

Why are the Nordic countries doing this? The obvious answer is that they have reached the limits of big government. “The welfare state we have is excellent in most ways,” says Gunnar Viby Mogensen, a Danish historian. “We only have this little problem. We can’t afford it.” The economic storms that shook all the Nordic countries in the early 1990s provided a foretaste of what would happen if they failed to get their affairs in order.

December 5, 2012

Finland’s excellent education system can’t be exported

Filed under: Asia, Europe — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:46

Finland frequently comes in at or near the top of the rankings for quality of education, and some countries are tempted to replicate the Finnish model to improve their own domestic school systems. Unfortunately, as Eero Iloniemi points out, the model is actually more cultural than educational:

One such similarity is orthography. Both languages are written almost exactly as they are pronounced. Therefore, a child who can spell one word will be able to spell every word, even when they hear it for the first time. An eight-year-old Finn will have no trouble identifying every letter when he hears the word ‘kertakäyttösyömäpuikkoteollisuus’. So while native English speakers practise spelling well into their teens, Finnish and Korean kids are busy brushing up on other subjects.

Another thing Finland and Korea share is a fairly homogeneous culture. Ethnic minority groups are small and immigration to both countries is conspicuously low. As Horst Entof and Nicole Miniou of Darmstadt University of Technology noted in their 2004 study, PISA results are higher in countries which have strict and/or highly selective immigration policies than they are in countries with more liberal immigration policies. The name of the study says it all: PISA Results: What a Difference Immigration Law Makes.

This point is underlined by the fact that Finland performs significantly better in PISA studies than neighbouring Sweden. Why? Sweden has an immigrant population that is 10 times bigger. When these socially and economically similar countries are compared, omitting first and second generation immigrant children from sample groups, the results become almost identical.

Update: Oh, and it’s also a myth that the Finns pay their teachers at the same level they pay their doctors.

August 27, 2012

Finland and the dangers of being a company town

Filed under: Business, Economics, Europe — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:09

I had no idea that Finland’s economy was so tightly tied to the fortunes of Nokia:

Nokia contributed a quarter of Finnish growth from 1998 to 2007, according to figures from the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy (ETLA). Over the same period, the mobile-phone manufacturer’s spending on research and development made up 30% of the country’s total, and it generated nearly a fifth of Finland’s exports. In the decade to 2007, Nokia was sometimes paying as much as 23% of all Finnish corporation tax. No wonder that a decline in its fortunes — Nokia’s share price has fallen by 90% since 2007, thanks partly to Apple’s ascent — has clouded Finland’s outlook.

[. . .]

Strip these sorts of firms from the list and only one resembles Nokia: Taiwan’s Hon Hai, an electronics manufacturer. Yet Nokia made 27% of Finnish patent applications last year; the corresponding figure for Hon Hai was 8%. Although numbers are falling, Finland is home to the greatest number of Nokia employees; Hon Hai’s staff is mostly in China. It is a similar story with other firms. Sales of Nestlé, a consumer-goods company, weigh in at 15% of Swiss GDP but its share of Swiss jobs is punier than Nokia’s in Finland. Samsung, whose revenues are twice Nokia’s, has half its clout as a share of GDP: South Korea’s economy is more diversified. The importance of Nokia to Finland looks like a one-off.

June 13, 2012

John Kay on the Finnish frontier

Filed under: Europe, History, Military — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:58

Finland had a very chancy time over the last hundred years. John Kay is visiting now, and reflects on how Finland survived to today:

The Finnish border is an anomaly. In 1918 the Finns won independence for a state that extended to the gates of St Petersburg. Russia captured territory in the 1939-40 Winter War. Finland then fought on the losing side in the second world war and did not remain neutral in the cold war. So the once thriving Finnish industrial city of Viipuri is today the depressed Russian outpost of Vyborg.

A cynical commentator on 20th-century history might observe that the political ineptitude of Kaiser Wilhelm and subsequently of Adolf Hitler brought America in on the opposite side of Germany’s quarrel with Russia in 1917 and 1941. Only when the democratic politicians of modern Germany made the rational alliance did Finland achieve the favourable political and economic outcomes it now enjoys. To pass the watchtowers and barbed-wire fences on the Finnish-Russian border is to be reminded of how fragile, and how recent, are the stability and security we take for granted today.

[. . .]

That observation is evident on the Finnish-Russian border. The razor wire kept Russian citizens in when the living standards of planned societies and market economies diverged. But now the border is easy to cross and the gap in per capita income has narrowed, though not by much. The very different income distributions of egalitarian Finland and inegalitarian Russia can be seen in the car parks and designer shops of Lappeenranta.

In the Soviet era, Finland produced Marimekko; Russia made no clothes any fashion-conscious woman would want to buy. Post-Communist but still autocratic Russia made surveillance equipment; democratic Finland led the world in mobile phones. Today Russia’s geeks hack into your bank account, while those of Finland develop Angry Birds.

The pristine countryside of Finland contrasts with the degraded physical state of much of Russia: a demonstration of the unexpected finding that regulated democratic capitalism preserves the environment more successfully than any other system of government.

March 19, 2012

Finland’s cold-cut warrior, RIP

Filed under: Economics, Europe, History, Media — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:13

The most unusual cold war hero died recently. Eero Iloniemi tells the story of Finland’s Väinö Purje and how his TV commercials featured in the Cold War in the Baltic:

While Purje is virtually unknown in the West his exploits are legendary in the Baltic States, especially in Estonia. Alo Lohmus of Estonia’s leading daily Postimees referred to Purje’s contribution to the Cold War as part of a ‘spiritual nuclear bomb’ that blew apart a corrupt system.

High praise, indeed, for a modest tradesman. That a butcher could gain such a position in a global conflict is one of the most curious chapters of Cold War history.

Due to its proximity to the Baltic Soviet republics, Finnish television broadcasts penetrated the Iron Curtain, into Estonia and on occasion Latvia. Purje, who was the star of Finnish retail chain Kesko’s food adverts, became a cult figure in Estonia. From 1974 to 1981 he featured in more than 100 television spots showcasing sausages and cutlets, all virtually unknown in the then Soviet republics.

February 7, 2012

Finns vote to stick with the EU

Filed under: Europe, Government — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:48

A summary of the recent presidential election results in Finland, from The Economist:

Those who argued that Finland is fast becoming a Eurosceptic country that is against the country’s membership of the European single currency, the euro, have been proved wrong by its presidential election. The run-off on February 5th was contested between the two most pro-European candidates. Timo Soini, leader of the anti-euro True Finns, which took a spectacular 18% of the vote in the general election last April, was humiliatingly pushed out in the first round. The winner, Sauli Niinisto, a former centre-right finance minister, took 63% of the vote to 37% for the loser, Pekka Haavisto of the Greens (who was also the first openly gay candidate for the post).

Mr Niinisto declares himself to be firmly in the pro-EU, pro-euro camp—indeed, as finance minister he helped get the country into the euro in the first place. That matters because the Finnish presidency is more than a ceremonial post, especially in foreign policy, even if recent constitutional changes have made it weaker than it once was. Most power, especially in domestic issues, rests with the government, a cumbersome six-party coalition led by Jyrki Katainen, the conservative prime minister. The arrival in the presidential palace of Mr Niinisto, a fellow conservative, will strengthen Mr Katainen’s hand. Yet strains within the coalition, which was designed largely to keep the True Finns out of power, are likely to persist.

January 1, 2012

Bargain hunting: pay only $103,000 for a car costing $2.2 million

They’re pretty exclusive: so far they’ve only made 239 of them, and they start at $103,000 per unit. They have, however, taken on a bit of US federal government funding:

It’s another example of USA tax dollars at work — in Finland:

From ABC News, Oct 20th, 2011:

    With the approval of the Obama administration, an electric car company that received a $529 million federal government loan guarantee is assembling its first line of cars in Finland, saying it could not find a facility in the United States capable of doing the work.

    Vice President Joseph Biden heralded the Energy Department’s $529 million loan to the start-up electric car company called Fisker as a bright new path to thousands of American manufacturing jobs. But two years after the loan was announced, the company’s manufacturing jobs are still limited to the assembly of the flashy electric Fisker Karma sports car in Finland.

Let’s do the math.

239 cars produced for 2012 model year.

$529,000,000 USD in Government loans

That works out to $2,213,389 (2.2 million) per car.

Selling price $103,000 USD, that leaves only $2,110,389 in taxpayer funded overhead per vehicle. And, they’ve only sold 50 so far.

Such a deal.

Of course, when your promotion strategy revolves around a sitcom based on Charlie Sheen, such things are bound to happen

September 20, 2011

Finnish MP calls for military coup in Greece

Filed under: Europe, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:33

I guess somebody felt they needed a bit of international headline stimulant:

Jussi Halla-aho, an MP for the populist True Finns party, wrote on social networking website Facebook on Wednesday that the Greek government should use military force against workers on strike.

“What Greece needs at this particular point in time is a military junta that would not have to worry about its popularity and could use tanks to enforce some order among strikers and rioters,” Halla-aho wrote.

The Facebook entry soon sparked outrage, with Halla-aho removing it and retracting his comment.

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