Tag Archives: Finland

Supo suspects Russia of buying up Finnish property for military personnel

The Finnish security and intelligence agency Supo suspects that neighbouring Russia may have begun a programme to buy up land in Finland for military personnel. The tabloid daily Iltalehti reports that as landowner, Russia would have the power to shut down traffic routes and accommodate soldiers.

Finnish Security and Intelligence Police Supo has speculated that Russia could use property it has purchased in Finland as accommodation for its military, according to the tabloid Iltalehti.

Continue reading Supo suspects Russia of buying up Finnish property for military personnel

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Arctia Headquarters / K2S Architects

Architects: K2S Architects

Location: Katajanokka ,
Architect In Charge: Kimmo Lintula, Niko Sirola & Mikko Summanen
Construction Designer: Eero Kotkas
Area: 950.0 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Mika Huisman, Marko Huttunen

From the architect. Docked icebreakers are an essential part of the Katajanokka-shore environment. The new head-quarters of Arctia Shipping Ltd. will be placed in a floating office building in front of the listed main building of the Finnish ministry of Foreign Affairs which was originally designed by C.L.Engel.

The horizontal massing and customized black steel facades relate to the black hulls of the adjacent ice breaker ships. The headquarters building can be seen as one the vessels. The interior of the black “steel ship” is constructed of lacquered wood which related to earlier ship building traditions.

The facades of the building are made of customized wave pattern steel profile. There is a gradient and abstract pattern perforated on the steel profiles which relates to ice crystals and sailor textile patterns.

The building will be completed on a shipyard in western Finland and towed to site. There is a water ballast system which will maintain the floor level of the office building in the same level as the dock.

Finland under more pressure over Russian N-plant plan

Finland’s government has come under renewed pressure over its decision to approve a Russian-built nuclear reactor after legal experts questioned the independence of the economy minister responsible for the plan.

There were also claims that technical plans for the plant were based on a flawed and outdated design by Rosatom, the Russian state-owned company that holds a 34 per cent stake in the project.

Olli Rehn, the Finish MEP and former EU economics commissioner, wrote on his blog on Sunday night that the plan for the Fennovoima nuclear plant was “economically uncertain and politically crippled”.

“Finland has a history of large industrial policy mistakes that have become politically and economically costly,” Mr Rehn said, calling on economy minister Jan Vapaavuori to give a full explanation.

“In the end, it is of course PM [Alex] Stubb who carries the overall responsibility of the government’s industrial policy,” he added.

Mr Rehn is a senior member of Finland’s opposition Centre party, which is running neck-and-neck with Mr Stubb’s National Coalition party in polling for national elections in April. He is seen as a possible foreign minister if the Centre party gets into government.

He told the FT his objections to the nuclear plant were based on his belief that the EU needed to show unity towards the Kremlin, noting the European parliament has called for a reduction of energy reliance on Russia and a cancellation of any newly-planned energy projects with Russia.

“In line with this, the Finnish government would do wisely to revisit the political and economic sense of the Rosatom deal,” Mr Rehn said. “It is also a question of excessive energy dependence. There are other ways to ensure reasonably priced basic energy for the Finnish industry. And we should not crowd out substantial investment in renewable energy sources.”

Ville Niinistö, leader of Finland’s Green party and former environment minister, demanded that the attorney-general examine the legality of the deal. He quit in protest at the project, accusing the coalition government of favouring Russia.

In a major address on Russia policy to be delivered later on Monday in Berlin, Mr Stubb, does not refer to the nuclear deal or broader EU energy policy, according to an advanced copy of the speech provided to the FT.

He will, however, give a robust defence of the EU’s recent hard-line stance on sanctions, saying they are necessary until the Kremlin changes its behaviour in Ukraine and were “exactly the right thing” once diplomacy failed to stem Russian aggression.

“Finland has a longer common border with Russia, 1,300km, than the rest of the EU countries put together,” Mr Stubb will say, according to the draft. “Neighbours are actually a bit like relatives – you cannot choose them . . . Unfortunately, this is no guarantee of a happy marriage. For that end, both parties would actually have to want to work in the same direction. With our relationship to Russia, this is unfortunately not the case at the moment.”

Finland faced criticism earlier this month after it delayed the implementation of tough new sanctions by the EU against Russia, while its foreign minister opposed their adoption altogether. The European Parliament has called on the EU to consider freezing nuclear co-operation with Russia.

Three legal scholars claimed there was a possible conflict of interest after the economy minister in February signed a nuclear co-operation agreement on behalf of the government with Rosatom – a company, not another state. Mr Vapaavuori went on to present the plan for the new power station, which the coalition government narrowly approved two weeks ago.

“The agreement is a textbook example of the improper influence of authority, in this case the Ministry of Employment and Economy,” Olli Mäenpää, professor of law at Helsinki University, told Helsinki Sanomat newspaper. Mr Vapaavuori called the accusations “far-fetched”.

Separately, Jukka Laaksonen, former head of Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) and now vice-president of Rosatom’s operations in Finland, told Keskisuomalainen newspaper that the plans for the new Fennovoima plant were in fact an old design for a nuclear power station near St Petersburg in Russia.

Fennovoima’s order had come as a surprise to the Russian company, Mr Laaksonen told the paper, and there was not enough time to create fresh plans for a new plant, so existing copies of the older plans were filed with the application.

Rosatom was currently formulating a new, safer, specification for the plant, which would be submitted next summer, Mr Laaksonen said. “The Leningrad [now St Petersburg] plant has thin walls, but the [new plant] will be built three times thicker.”

According to the paper, the STUK was unaware that Rosatom’s plans for the plant did not correspond to the documentation accompanying Fennovoima’s application for permission to build it.

In a statement, Finland’s economics ministry condemned “unfounded interpretations” of the nuclear co-operation agreement with Rosatom, and insisted that the minister had been impartial in his handling of the deal. Finland had similar bilateral nuclear deals with several countries, it said, which were necessary to enable specific projects such as Fennomoiva.

The ministry did not respond to the claims about possible safety flaws in the design submitted for the plant.

Jaakko Jonkka, attorney-general, told Helsingin Sanomat in an email on Sunday he had no grounds at the moment to suspect unlawful conduct in the deal.A spokesperson for Mr Stubb said legal scholars needed to take a “deeper look at the subject” before complaining about conflicts of interest in the economy ministry.

Regarding the safety of the Fennovoima design, he said: “Fennovoima has to renew in any case the plans before the construction permit stage, and once again before the plant starts to work.”

Finnish Navy detects unidentified underwater object near Helsinki

Rajavartiolaitoksen aluksia partiossa Helsingin edustalla tiistaina.
Fast patrol boats from the Finnish Navy scour the waters off Helsinki Tuesday. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

Finland’s navy has detected a so-far unidentified object in the sea near Helsinki. The object was detected in Finnish waters near the territorial limit around mid-day Monday – and again on Monday night.

The Finnish Navy said that its surveillance systems detected the possible underwater object on Monday inside but near to the limit of Finnish territorial waters.

The navy’s operations manager Commodore Olavi Jantunen said he was unable to say whether or not the item was a submarine. He also said he preferred not to speculate on what the object might be.

“A possible underwater object. That is the only thing we can say at the moment,” Jantunen told Yle Tuesday.

Another reading for a possible object was recorded Monday night. Surface vessels are currently scouring the area for the possible object.

“When the first sighting was made a search was ordered and a new reading was observed in the search area last night,” Jantunen added.

Following the findings naval officials detonated low-impact depth charges around 3.00 am this morning.

“Low-impact depth charges are meant to issue a mild warning. They aren’t intended to cause any damage, but to act as a warning,” Jantunen explained.

Naval officials are continuing their investigation into the case. Jantunen said that the next step would be to analyse data gathered from the navy’s surveillance systems.

“Different sensors in our systems have generated a certain amount of certain material and it is currently being put through our research system,” the naval officer commented.

He noted that analysis of the data gathered could take days or even weeks.

This Guy Planned The Best European Road Trip So You Don’t Have To

If you thought planning a road trip in the U.S. was hard, try planning one for Europe.

Randy Olson, the brilliant Ph.D. candidate who recently planned the best way to road trip across America, just calculated the most epic European road trip ever. Add it to the bucket list pronto.

To calculate the trip, Olson picked out a list of stops from this Business Insider articleand then removed the places that required traveling over water. After that, Olson plugged the stops into a Python code (which you can find here, if you’re into that sort of thing) to calculate the shortest distance between each stop.

The road trip makes 45 stops in total, passing through the U.K., Ireland, Austria, Germany, Italy and Finland, just to name a few. Here’s what the trip looks like mapped out:

The European road trip is 16,287 miles and 14 total days of driving, compared to the U.S. road trip’s 13,699 miles and roughly nine full days of driving. Each trip would require about three months to complete, assuming you don’t want to drive those full 24-hour days.

Gas is generally more expensive in Europe, so “driving this route will likely burn a large hole in your wallet,” Olson pointed out in an email exchange with The Huffington Post. He also cautioned that “a few points along the route require the use of a ferry, which can complicate the trip a little bit if you don’t prepare for that.”

When asked where he would like to travel on the trip, Olson said he would most like to experience the Aurora Borealis in northern Finland and Rome because he’s “a big history nerd.”

If you’d like to create your own perfect road trip for the U.S. or Europe, use Olson’s Python script to plug in destinations, or use RouteXL, where you can enter up to 20 destinations, and the site will route the trip for you.

Take A Mouth-Watering Tour Of School Lunches From Around The World (And The Embarrassing U.S. Equivalent)

Eating at the school cafeteria could’ve been amazing—if you grew up almost anywhere but the U.S.

For a fourth-grader in Italy, school lunch might include a caprese salad, local fish on a bed of arugula, pasta, and a baguette.

A school cafeteria in France might serve steak, brie, and a plentiful helping of fruits and vegetables. In comparison, a typical school lunch in the U.S. looks fairly embarrassing: Some fried chicken, congealed fruit salad, and a giant cookie.

These images are all from a recent photo series, created by the salad chain Sweetgreen, showing what school lunches look like around the world. Each plate is meant to be representative of a typical lunch and was put together by intepreting local government standards and studying Tumblr photos taken by elementary students.

“We wanted to look at how kids are eating around the world—not in a literal way, not that this is exactly how every plate looks, but as a way to relate to how we eat in this country,” says Sweetgreen‘s co-founder Nic Jammet, who started the company with his friends while in college because they were sick of their school’s own mediocre cafeteria food.

The company says that the photos illustrate the basic fact that we shouldn’t necessarily be eating the same thing in every location. “You should be eating what grows around you,” says Jammet. But they also show how far the U.S. has to go to give kids anything approaching a balanced diet.

Thirty-two million students in the U.S. eat cafeteria food each day. Compared to their peers who bring lunch from home, they’re fatter, eat fewer vegetables, and have higher cholesterol. Only 2% of middle school students actually attend schools that fully meet theUSDA‘s nutritional guidelines.

Sweetgreen, which operates a healthy eating education program in schools, argues that part of the solution is education. “Kids have been marketed unhealthy food in a really big way over the years,” says Jammett. “I think it’s time for healthy food to use the same tools.”

Helsinki’s ambitious plan to make car ownership pointless in 10 years

Helsinki, Finland.
Urban mobility, rethought … Helsinki, Finland. Photograph: Hemis/Alamy

Finland’s capital hopes a ‘mobility on demand’ system that integrates all forms of shared and public transport in a single payment network could essentially render private cars obsolete

The Finnish capital has announced plans to transform its existing public transport network into a comprehensive, point-to-point “mobility on demand” system by 2025 – one that, in theory, would be so good nobody would have any reason to own a car.

Helsinki aims to transcend conventional public transport by allowing people to purchase mobility in real time, straight from their smartphones. The hope is to furnish riders with an array of options so cheap, flexible and well-coordinated that it becomes competitive with private car ownership not merely on cost, but on convenience and ease of use.

Subscribers would specify an origin and a destination, and perhaps a few preferences. The app would then function as both journey planner and universal payment platform, knitting everything from driverless cars and nimble little buses to shared bikes and ferries into a single, supple mesh of mobility. Imagine the popular transit planner Citymapper fused to a cycle hire serviceand a taxi app such as Hailo or Uber, with only one payment required, and the whole thing run as a public utility, and you begin to understand the scale of ambition here.

That the city is serious about making good on these intentions is bolstered by the Helsinki Regional Transport Authority’s rollout last year of a strikingly innovative minibus service called Kutsuplus. Kutsuplus lets riders specify their own desired pick-up points and destinations via smartphone; these requests are aggregated, and the app calculates an optimal route that most closely satisfies all of them.

All of this seems cannily calculated to serve the mobility needs of a generation that is comprehensively networked, acutely aware of motoring’s ecological footprint, and – if opinion surveys are to be trusted – not particularly interested in the joys of private car ownership to begin with. Kutsuplus comes very close to delivering the best of both worlds: the convenient point-to-point freedom that a car affords, yet without the onerous environmental and financial costs of ownership (or even a Zipcar membership).

But the fine details of service design for such schemes as Helsinki is proposing matter disproportionately, particularly regarding price. As things stand, Kutsuplus costs more than a conventional journey by bus, but less than a taxi fare over the same distance – and Goldilocks-style, that feels just about right. Providers of public transit, though, have an inherent obligation to serve the entire citizenry, not merely the segment who can afford a smartphone and are comfortable with its use.

(In fairness, in Finland this really does mean just about everyone, but the point stands.) It matters, then, whether Helsinki – and the graduate engineering student the municipality has apparently commissioned to help it design its platform – is proposing a truly collective next-generation transit system for the entire public, or just a high-spec service for the highest-margin customers.

It remains to be seen, too, whether the scheme can work effectively not merely for relatively compact central Helsinki, but in the lower-density municipalities of Espoo and Vantaa as well. Nevertheless, with the capital region’s arterials and ring roads as choked as they are, it feels imperative to explore anything that has a realistic prospect of reducing the number of cars, while providing something like the same level of service.

To be sure, Helsinki is not proposing to go entirely car-free. (Many people in Finland have a summer cottage in the countryside, and rely on a car to get to it.) But it’s clear that urban mobility badly needs to be rethought for an age of commuters every bit as networked as the vehicles and infrastructures on which they rely, but who retain expectations of personal mobility entrained by a century of private car ownership. Helsinki’s initiative suggests that at least one city understands how it might do so.

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