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Tribune my fucking Europe, ko...eh JÚr˘me

by NordicStorm Tue Feb 24th, 2009 at 06:01:44 PM EST

In light of recent conflict here on ET and the very real possibility that our beloved website won't be around for much longer, it got me thinking a bit (though, be forewarned, very rarely do me thinking lead to anything good) about why I'm here in the first place. Obviously, ET is an excellent source for information when it comes to matters European, and all the hard work and effort that Jérôme and everyone else are putting in is just absolutely tremendous. And highly appreciated. If I never said it before, I'll say it now: thank you.
But I think the main reason I frequent this website is because it's human nature to seek out people who in some sense "get" you. Pro-European and left-wing? Well, sign me up!

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Reilu Tappio: Whither the Finnish SDP?

by NordicStorm Tue Jan 6th, 2009 at 05:41:09 PM EST

The last few years have been tough ones for the Social Democratic Party of Finland. The SDP, armed with a new chairwoman and coming off a stinging electoral defeat in 2007, was looking to reverse the trend in the municipal elections this past autumn. It did not quite work out as anticipated, and the party now faces the challenging task of reclaiming lost territory.

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An Estonian Kosovo

by NordicStorm Sat May 17th, 2008 at 06:44:32 PM EST

Like in most former parts of the Soviet Union, Russian is a widely spoken language in the Baltic state of Estonia, and a significant portion of the Estonian population are ethnic Russians who immigrated during the Soviet-era. Estonia is a small country, home to about 1.3 million people. Approximately 26% of those are Russians. Finnish author and journalist Leena Hietanen has written a book provocatively entitled Viron kylmä sota, Estonia's cold war, in which she takes Estonia to task for its treatment of the Russian minority living in Estonia.

Promoted by Migeru

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A Nordic Union (That Wasn't)

by NordicStorm Sun Mar 30th, 2008 at 09:06:01 AM EST

This year it'll be 40 years since negotiations began in 1968 on the Nordek treaty, which would have established a customs union and common economic area between Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. While the treaty ultimately was never ratified, with the final nails in the coffin being hammered in a mere 2 years later, it could nevertheless be interesting to examine its history and legacy.

Diary rescue by Migeru

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LQD: Liberal Sex-ed

by NordicStorm Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 12:11:14 PM EST

The Swedish Liberal People's Party, part of the current Swedish centre-right government, have proposed modifying school legislation with regards to student exemption in Swedish schools (party chairman Jan Björklund is the current Minister of Education). Under the current law, students may be exempt from certain subjects, which would otherwise be compulsory, on cultural or religious grounds. This has apparently become a bit of problem in Swedish immigrant communities, as a large number of pupils exempt themselves from a variety of subjects, but mostly physical education and sexual education, citing religion or culture.

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The 2007 Session of the Nordic Council

by NordicStorm Wed Nov 7th, 2007 at 05:33:38 AM EST

The annual autumn Session of the Nordic Council was held between October 30th and November 1st 2007 in Oslo, Norway. Two issues in particular were on the top of the agenda for this year's Session: the climate crisis and whether to accept the Faroes as a full member of the Nordic Council.

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Minority MEPs?

by NordicStorm Mon Nov 5th, 2007 at 08:34:02 AM EST

Finland will lose one seat in the European Parliament in the next scheduled elections in 2009. This has caused some concern, as it would likely mean that the MEP of the Swedish People's Party, a party which is supposed to represent the Swedish-speaking minority's interests, would lose his seat (Finland is a single EP constituency with its 14 MEPs being elected using the d'Hondt method; the SPP MEP was the 14th elected in the elections of 2004). One proposal floating around would be to create a special constituency for the Swedish speaking population.
It wasn't a particularly serious proposal, but without necessarily agreeing that minority representation for the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland in the EP would be essential, it got me thinking a bit about the practical issues of creating minority constituencies.

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Elections on the Islands of Peace

by NordicStorm Tue Oct 23rd, 2007 at 08:07:18 AM EST

Last week not only meant election time in Poland and Switzerland, but also in the small autonomous Finnish region the Åland Islands, where elections for the 30-seat Lagting, the regional parliament, were held on October 21st. While perhaps not as significant or newsworthy as the elections in the aforementioned countries, I nevertheless found the results fascinating (though as an Ålander in exile, there may be a slight regional bias in play). Besides, all politics is local.

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Finlandisation 2.0: Plus ša change...

by NordicStorm Mon Oct 1st, 2007 at 04:50:22 PM EST

In a previous diary I wrote a bit about the origins of the term "finlandisation", which refers to the intricate relationship Finland had to its largest neighbour during the Cold War, the Soviet Union, while still remaining a functioning democracy. The term can also analogously refer to any undue influence a large country has on a smaller neighbour.
Though the dissolution of the Soviet Union occurred more than 15 years ago, the term remains as relevant as always, in Finland in particular.

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Customer Disservice (angry rant diary)

by NordicStorm Tue Sep 11th, 2007 at 09:21:30 AM EST

A couple of months ago I was in the process of moving apartments. I figured it would probably be a good idea to call well in advance to my phone company and ISP to let them know of my impending address change. As is typical with customer service, I had to wait a good 20 minutes before my turn came up. Oh well, it's just a minor nuisance. Well, at least I thought it to be a minor nuisance when I still had the utterly naive notion that registering an address change would be a simple task requiring merely one phone call.

My phone company used to be a fairly small and local company, before being swallowed whole by the behemoth multinational company that used to be a state run institution, but currently is a...well, behemoth multinational private company.

An all too familiar story... promoted by DoDo

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Finnish Compassionate Conservatism

by NordicStorm Wed Aug 29th, 2007 at 11:00:26 AM EST

Prior to the elections to the Eduskunta (the Finnish parliament) last March, the right-of-centre campaigned on increasing pay equality between men and women in public sector lower wage jobs. Ever since the election, the healthcare workers union has been hounding the now right-of-centre government to make good on their promises, even going so far as mentioning the possibility of a strike.

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

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Sarkozy and the Finnish Media

by NordicStorm Sat Aug 25th, 2007 at 04:21:56 AM EST

Finland is generally considered to be one of the best countries in the world when it comes to freedom of the press. (Reporters without Borders)
But ever so often, you read a head scratcher of an article that makes you wonder whether our beloved press freedom is nothing but conventional wisdom.

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

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Finnish Rosewood (Stasi and Government Secrecy)

by NordicStorm Thu Aug 23rd, 2007 at 10:25:07 AM EST

The Finnish Security Police (Suojelopoliisi, or SuPo for short) has recently found themselves in a bit of hot water over information in their possession on possible Finnish Stasi collaborators, information they have thus far refused to make public. The controversy has sparked lively debate on what the public has a right to know, particularly when it comes to Finnish politics during the Cold War (see also my diary on finlandisation).

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob

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DO Mess with Texas!

by NordicStorm Thu Aug 23rd, 2007 at 06:06:03 AM EST

With the US state of Texas set to carry out its 400th execution since the reintroduction of the death penalty in 1976, the European Union appealed to Texas to halt the execution, issuing the following statement:

We believe that elimination of the death penalty is fundamental to the protection of human dignity, and to the progressive development of human rights. We further consider this punishment to be cruel and inhumane.

Texas Governor Rick Perry was having none of it:
Two hundred and thirty years ago, our forefathers fought a war to throw off the yoke of a European monarch and gain the freedom of self-determination.
... While we respect our friends in Europe, Texans are doing just fine governing Texas.
Yes, that's Texas Governor Rick Perry, arguing for self-determination and essentially telling the EU to mind their own business. Perry's predecessor as governor? Why, none other than noted humanitarian and isolationist George W. Bush!

Read more... (224 comments, 457 words in story)

Sarkozy and the 2008 US Elections

by NordicStorm Thu Aug 2nd, 2007 at 09:34:58 AM EST

When former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich isn't busy comparing himself to Charles de Gaulle, he also doles out campaign advice based on the "French example":

There's a French lesson for Republicans in the election of Sarkozy who called for a clean break from Chirac although he was in the Chirac administration and he ran as the candidate of change. I think Republicans ought to pick five or six big items, I would start with English as the official language of government for example, and draw the line sharply with the candidates of the left.

For some ungodly reason American conservatives have fallen madly in love with Sarkozy (see this endorsement from Redstate.com for example), but I'm not sure there's really a lesson to be learnt here for the Republicans.

Rescued from the diaries ~ whataboutbob

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Island Power

by NordicStorm Fri Jul 27th, 2007 at 09:07:22 AM EST

If you have a more than passing familiarity with the Nordic countries, you might be aware of (at least) two Nordic island regions which are a bit peculiar (well, slightly more so than the rest of the Nordic region, at any rate): The Faroes and ┼land. The two have a lot in common: far-reaching autonomy from its mainland (Denmark and Finland, respectively), a different majority-language than the mainland (Faroish and Swedish), special status in regards to the EU (the Faroes being completely outside of the union and ┼land being outside of the EU tax area). They also have something else in common: increased reliance on renewable sources of energy.

Promoted by Colman - living on a medium sized island in the Atlantic I'm always interested in wave power.

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Newt Gingrich: American Gaullist

by NordicStorm Tue Jul 24th, 2007 at 02:22:26 PM EST

Former Speaker of the House and master of humility Newt Gingrich is definitely maybe running for US president. To those of us who have a modicum of familiarity with the guy, it sounds like a very bad joke. In fact, you shouldn't joke about things like that. Ever.
Nevertheless, he's contemplating a run. Gingrich recently made the following comments about a possible run for the presidency:

Pressed by The Examiner about whether his political baggage renders him unelectable, Gingrich compared himself to a famous French statesman. "This is like going to De Gaulle when he was at Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises during the Fourth Republic and saying, 'Don't you want to rush in and join the pygmies?'" he said.

Not only is Gingrich's grasp of French modern history impressive, but the parallels between Charles de Gaulle and Newt Gingrich are obvious.

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(More) Klaus and (Anti-) Global Warming Talking Points

by NordicStorm Thu Jun 28th, 2007 at 06:41:24 AM EST

This morning I was reading my newspaper, the Swedish-language Finnish newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet, when I noticed an interesting letter to the editor on global warming, written by Folke Stenman, a Professor Emeritus of Physics at Helsinki University and apparent global warming denier. The letter to the editor in question is critical of Oras Tynkkynen, the recently appointed expert on climate issues to the Finnish government. Stenman's letter to the editor is interesting primarily for the following passage:

From the diaries (with title edit) ~ whataboutbob

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On Finlandisation

by NordicStorm Fri Jun 15th, 2007 at 06:33:28 AM EST

In a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, neocon Norman Podhoretz argues for a military strike in Iran (op-ed deconstructed by JÚr˘me Ó Paris here). In this op-ed Podhoretz writes at length about Finlandisation, writing for example the following:

Of course, by the grace of God, the dissidents behind the Iron Curtain and Ronald Reagan, we won World War III and were therefore spared the depredations that Finlandization would have brought. Alas, we are far from knowing what the outcome of World War IV will be. But in the meantime, looking at Europe today, we already see the unfolding of a process analogous to Finlandization: it has been called, rightly, Islamization.
As a Finlander, I find the term "Finlandisation", as it is most commonly used, rather offensive. The term always struck me as an indictment of Finland during the Cold War (referred to by Podhoretz above as "World War III"). More often than not, the term is used in a pejorative sense, as Podhoretz does in his op-ed, where he invokes it as a policy of cowardice and Chamberlainesque appeasement in the face of ultimate evil (note that I, or any person with a semblance of sanity for that matter, do not share his views on the alleged threat of "Islamofascism," though that is beside the point of this diary). In using that analogy, Podhoretz seems to be making the assumption that there was a preferable alternative to Finlandisation.

from the diaries. -- JÚr˘me

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Icelandic Al■ing Elections (with update)

by NordicStorm Sun May 13th, 2007 at 04:51:55 AM EST

On May 12, 2007, elections will be held for one of the oldest parliaments in the world, the Al■ing of Iceland. Iceland doesn't seem to be getting a whole lot of attention, not even in the other Nordic countries, so I figured I should write a word or two about the upcoming elections.

Update: See Nanne's comment below: "Reuters: Iceland government clings to majority by a seat" and full election results below the fold.

bumped up ~ whataboutbob

Read more... (79 comments, 639 words in story)
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