Ice Age Now
Sept 24, 2014
Thick snowfall covers eastern Finland
Heavy snow fell in parts of North Karelia during Monday night and Tuesday morning, along the border with Russia.
Residents in the small town of Ilomantsi, the easternmost in Finland, woke up to find a blanket of over 25 cm (10 inches) of snow. Authorities warned that roads in the area are very slippery and said there have been reports of minor collisions.
Snowy conditions are forecast to continue into the week.
“The snowfall is new September record for North Karelia,” says reader Toni Lund. “It has been very cold also in Southern Finland, and as I write this, the night temperature is -1 Celsius (30 F).”
This news story with a photo can be found here:
Thanks to Toni Lund for this link
Thanks to Argiris Diamantis for these links
by Dana Gabriel
Be Your Own Leader
December 30, 2012
The Arctic has become an important part of North American perimeter security. Recently, the U.S. and Canada signed two new agreements that will expand bilateral military training, security and defense operations in the region. Both countries are working together to prepare for any real or perceived threats and are moving towards merging their Arctic foreign policies.
On December 11, 2012, the U.S. and Canada signed the Tri-Command Framework for Arctic Cooperation which will further integrate United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM), Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) and North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). According to a press release, the framework is designed to, “promote enhanced military cooperation in the Arctic and identify specific areas of potential Tri-Command cooperation in the preparation for and conduct of safety, security and defense operations.” USNORTHCOM, CJOC and NORAD will work more closely in the region with regards to planning, domain awareness, information-sharing, training and exercises, operations, capability development, as well as in the area of science and technology. This also ties in with the Tri-Command Training and Exercise Statement of Intent. The newly signed military document is aimed at, “enhancing joint and combined readiness in support of safety, security and defense missions through combined training and exercises and reinforcing partnerships and collaboration among the Commands.”
The latest U.S.-Canada military agreements are part of the Tri-Command strategy and demonstrate the importance being placed on the Arctic. The Tri-Command Vision has previously called for USNORTHCOM, NORAD and Canada Command which has now been replaced by CJOC to, “Improve unity of effort with each other and with our respective mission partners; develop a culture of continuous collaboration and cooperation in planning, execution, training, information management, and innovation; enhance intelligence and information sharing and fusion.” In order to better achieve these objectives, “The Commands shall develop and share comprehensive, situational awareness and a common operating picture, and must strive to interact seamlessly with each other and with our respective civil authorities, non-governmental organizations and other mission partners.” The Tri-Command is part of efforts to merge both countries, security and military priorities under the umbrella of a single, U.S.-dominated North American Command.
As part of the April 2011 U.S. Department of Defense Unified Command Plan, responsibility for the Arctic region is now shared between USNORTHCOM and USEUCOM. With the move, USNORTHCOM was given the primary task of planning and advocating for future Arctic capabilities, as well as engaging with stakeholders across the U.S. military, other agencies and international bodies. This is significant considering USNORTHCOM’s partnership with CJOC, along with NORAD and was instrumental in the development of the Tri-Command Framework for Arctic Cooperation. In an example of what we can expect with regards to joint Arctic security, Canada’s 2010 military sovereignty exercise, Operation Nanook included the U.S. and Denmark. The Arctic is also an emerging issue for the NATO alliance. Canada and the U.S., along with other NATO member countries have participated in the annual Cold Response war games. Strengthening its military presence in the region and enhancing security collaboration with Canada and other northern partners has become an essential component of America’s Arctic strategy.
In mid-2013, Canada will begin chairing a two-year term of the Arctic Council with the U.S. assuming the leadership role from 2015–17. Many view this as an opportunity for both countries to advance a North American Arctic agenda. The intergovernmental forum which also includes Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Russia promotes cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic states. The Arctic Council has signed an Agreement on Cooperation in Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue which became the first legally binding deal ever negotiated between all the eight Arctic nations. As far as military and security concerns go, in April 2012, Canada hosted a meeting of the Northern Chiefs of Defence to discuss shared Arctic interests. This included common safety and security issues in the region such as emergency response and support to civilian authorities. The conference provided a setting to hold multilateral and bilateral talks focused on the Arctic and there are calls to have similar meetings on a regular basis.
The U.S. and Canada share similar goals and concerns in the Arctic and are further building up their military presence in the region. With a strategic framework in place, both countries are working towards establishing a North American Arctic foreign policy. At times, Canadian and Russian rhetoric in regards to Arctic sovereignty has been reminiscent of the Cold War era. Rising tensions could further escalate the militarization of the far north. Increasing diplomatic efforts is the key to building the foundation for more multilateral cooperation in the area. While the process to resolve territorial disputes and the scramble to secure resources has thus far been peaceful, the Arctic still remains a potential flashpoint for conflict.
Related articles by Dana Gabriel
Strengthening U.S.-Canada Security Interests in North America
Future U.S.-Canada Joint Arctic Security and Control
NATO Arctic Security and Canadian Sovereignty
Perimeter Security and an Integrated North American Command
Dana Gabriel is an activist and independent researcher. He writes about trade, globalization, sovereignty, security, as well as other issues. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit his blog at Be Your Own Leader
November 30, 2012
Dutch parliament approves a motion to scrap law that made insulting God a crime. The move is welcomed by freedom of speech supporters and confirms anti-Islamists’ right to criticize religion.
The blasphemy law is no longer relevant in the 21st century, a majority of Dutch parties stated. This law has not been in use for more than half a century, Dutch MPs added.
Liberal parties’ predominance in the current Dutch parliament has made the repeal of the 1930s law possible, with the same motion blocked by Christian political party’s allies back in 2008.
The issue was brought to the attention of the parliament following the 2011 Geert Wilders case.
Wilders, a far-right anti-Islam MP, was acquitted after facing trial on charges of inciting hatred and discriminations against Muslims. The judge ruled Wilders’ comparisons of Islam to fascism “acceptable,” allowing further criticism despite it insulting Muslims.
The blasphemy law abolition was welcomed by freedom rights activists across the globe as a victory.However the decision was dubbed as a “painful loss of a moral anchor and a symptom of a spiritual crisis” by Dutch Christian SGP party, media reported.
It is still illegal to insult police officers or the country’s monarch under the Dutch law.
Many European countries still have blasphemy laws restricting freedom of expression, rights activists say. Others have replaced such laws with more general legislation criminalizing religious hatred.
The UK has annulled its blasphemy law, replacing it with the Racial and Religious Hatred Act in 2007. The new law implies a prison term of up to seven years and an unlimited fine for the intention of stirring up religious hatred.
Ireland stood out by introducing a new blasphemy law in 2010, instead of abolishing it. The recent Irish Defamation Act makes “publication or utterance of blasphemous matter” punishable by a fine of up to €25,000.
Although such laws have not been invoked for decades in most of Europe, there remain some countries where charges on grounds of religious hatred have often been exercised.
In Poland causing offense to religious feelings is considered a crime, even though there is no separate blasphemy law as such. Several cases of people charged with violating the Polish criminal code for religious offence have attracted media attention over the last decade.
In 2008 a Finnish court sentenced the far right activist Seppo Lehto, to two years and fourth months in jail for defamation, inciting ethnic hatred and religious blasphemy against Islam.