Finland and Trump – A talk by Lasse Lehtinen

By Violetta Teetor, EJN (Finnish branch of the Association of European Journalists)

Lasse Lehtinen is a retired Finnish journalist, MP, MEP and author of Blood, Sweat and Bears, My Forest and Full of Life. His knowledge of the uneasy truce between the Soviet Union and Finland gave us a picture of Finland’s relationship with the USA and why Finnish audiences are so interested in learning more about President Donald Trump. Mr. Lehtinen spoke at the European Journalists Network AGM on 27 February 2018.

Lasse Lehtinen & Violetta Teetor (EJN, annual general meeting, February 2018)

Finns were afraid. The dark years after the war brought about a precarious situation where criticism of the Soviet Union could not be aired publicly. Finnish sovereignty was on shaky ground resulting in Finns turning towards the great Western super power for inspiration and silent protest. At the time, Eljas Erkko, chief editor of Helsingin Sanomat, had the resources to influence thinking and it was due to him that Finland had the highest readership per capita of Donald Duck and Reader’s Digest. Marlboro cigarettes reached no. 1 in the smoking category in the same way as the Finns’ enthusiasm with American films, music and cars. Fullbright scholars came and went between the two countries, Rotary exchange students found homes in both places. Many of the Finnish returnees had had an education in leftist politics from protestors of the Vietnam War and brought their ideology with them.

What now? The symbol of democracy and freedom, the USA, seems to be going down the drain. The answers are opaque. The rust belt want their jobs back. Mr. Trump has promised that. There has also been a tax reform under the guise of lightening the average tax payers load, but is this really so? From all accounts, corporate America is the big winner with ‘pass-through’ companies such as Mr. Trump’s counting among the beneficiaries. The individual can celebrate but not for long since all their benefits come to a screeching halt in 2025, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center.

Should we be afraid? It’s a slippery road and we need studded tyres. Our hope is in President Sauli Niinistö whose visit to the White House panned out to be congenial. Diplomacy is what he’s good at unlike his American counterpart. In the footsteps of President Kekkonen’s brilliant handling of our eastern neighbour, diplomacy is this small country’s strength. Whether to the East or West, let’s cross our fingers that it works again.

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Position of the Association of European Journalists (AEJ), Slovak Section, to the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée

The Slovak Section of the Association of European Journalists (AEJ) is
strongly perturbed by the cold-blooded murder of journalist Ján Kuciak and
his fiancée. This heinous crime was committed while he was pursuing
investigative work to expose crimes of persons linked not only to the
underworld, but also to the political elite of the country. The AEJ,
Slovak Section, demands that the Slovak police authorities fully and
thoroughly investigate these murders and bring the perpetrators to justice
before the courts.

In our perception, this murder was an attack on the basic principle of a
lawful democratic state, on freedom of speech and the press, one of the
constitutional rights of Slovak citizens. This is clearly also a dire
consequence of the systematic long-term aggressive verbal attacks on
journalists by various leading state representatives. At the same time, we
are asking precisely how Slovakia protects those who put themselves at
risk when uncovering antisocial activities?

We are obliged to recall also another two Slovak journalists who vanished
and are still missing – reporter Palo Rýpal since 2008 and economic
journalist Miroslav Pejko since 2015. They were both also active in the
media in investigative journalism. We urgently request that the criminal
authorities inform the public about the current status of investigations
into these murders, and also progress made in the search for the missing

Tibor Macák, Secretary General AEJ Int.,

Juraj Alner, Founder AEJ, Slovak section and Honorary Sec. Gen. AEJ Int.

Július Lőrincz, former head of AEJ, Slovak section,

Ivan Brada, member of AEJ, Slovak section, Investigative journalist,

John Boyd, member of AEJ Slovak section.


Bratislava, 26.2.2018

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AEJ-Bulgaria Annual Report measures rise in threats and pressures on the media

Source: Association of European Journalists / AEJ / News

By Irina Ned, AEJ-Bulgaria


AEJ-Bulgaria’s annual report on the media and free expression in Bulgaria in 2017 says many media are suffering from the tightening grip of a national ‘culture of pressure’ against their editorial independence. The consequences include numerous violent attacks, widespread self-censorship and a collapse in public trust in media content generally.

The general trend is negative. Bulgaria ranks 109th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders’ 2017 World Press Freedom Index, with the country expected to go further down the list in the next edition of the ranking. Alpha Research sociological agency indicates that more than 65% of Bulgarians do not trust the media.

(Read more at Association of European Journalists / AEJ)

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European journalists and civil society groups share strategies to ‘Free European Media’ in Gdansk

Source: Association of European Journalists / AEJ / News

By William Horsley, AEJ-UK

European journalists and civil society groups share strategies to ‘Free European Media’ in Gdansk

The European Federation of Journalists, the Council of Europe and 200 practitioners of journalism and civil rights movements met in the Polish city of Gdansk to debate recent setbacks for press freedom across Europe. They set out priorities for winning basic protections for free and independent journalism. William Horsley reports…

(Read more at Association of European Journalists / AEJ)

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Nokia Launches Blockchain-Powered IoT Sensing as a Service for Smart Cities

Source: Bitcoin Magazine / News


Nokia is launching a set of services, based on Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics, and blockchain technologies, for economically and environmentally sustainable “smart cities.”

In the emerging IoT, billions of connected devices and sensors will generate vast amounts of data. Smart cities will need to retrieve, process, interpret and act upon real-time environmental data in a timely manner to ensure they remain sustainable environments for their citizens. To enable efficient IoT ecosystems for smart cities, it’s important to create new data monetization opportunities for IoT sensor network operators able to provide smart city authorities with real-time processed and analyzed environmental data.

(Read more at Bitcoin Magazine)

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Turkey moving away from rule of law – The sentencing of five Turkish journalists to life imprisonment shows that the Turkish judiciary cannot make independent decisions

by Otmar Lahodynsky, President of Association of European Journalists (AEJ)

The release on bail of Deniz Yücel, Turkey correspondent for the German daily Die Welt, after being held for a year without charge in a high-security prison, cannot be taken as evidence of a freely-functioning Turkish judiciary. Yücel, now in Germany, still faces the threat of up to 18 years in jail for “encouraging terrorism”.

On the same day, six defendants, five of them journalists, were sentenced to life in prison for “attempting to abolish the Turkish constitution” and also for encouraging terrorist acts.

Two of them, the brothers Mehmet and Ahmet Altan, are prominent figures: one is a writer and political columnist, the other an economics professor at a university in Istanbul. Mehmet Altan was accused of broadcasting “subliminal messages” on television about the impending July 2016 military coup. One of his lawyers explained to me what this accusation was based on: the statement made on the day before the coup attempt in a TV station that Erdogan would not rule forever; this was taken as proof of insider knowledge of preparations for the coup. Altan’s statement was also falsified by the prosecutors.

Further evidence of Mehmet Altan’s complicity with the preacher Fetullah Gülen, allegedly the man behind the coup, was said to be a one-dollar bill found in Altan’s wife’s handbag. Because of its mysterious symbols, the dollar bill was taken to be proof that Altan was a support of Gülen’s movement.

The extent to which the Turkish judiciary is dependent on politics is also demonstrated by a dispute between different courts. In January 2018, the Turkish Constitutional Court ordered the release of Mehmet Altan, pointing out that his constitutional rights had been violated. An Istanbul High Criminal Court then refused to release Altan because the Constitutional Court had supposedly exceeded its powers. The fact that judgements of the Constitutional Court are no longer recognized by lower-ranking courts is another indication of how far Turkey has drifted away from the rule of law.

More than 150 Turkish journalists are still in prison, most still waiting for the charge against them. Media lawyers report that in some indictments entire passages from other cases are identical: the “copy and paste” method apparently saves time.

It is high time that the Council of Europe in Strasbourg – of which Turkey is a member – takes action. So far, the Court of Human Rights has accepted only a small number of complaints from Turkish journalists, often pointing out that nothing can be done until the appeal has been heard in the Turkish courts. But as is becoming evident, the Turkish judiciary is no longer either free or impartial.

The EU recently invited Turkish President Recep Tayipp Erdogan to a special summit in Varna, Bulgaria. EU diplomats are hopeful that Turkey now seeks better relations with the EU. But that will not be possible as long as journalists and academics are sentenced to life imprisonment on the flimsiest of charges.

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Safeguarding space for nature and securing our future: developing a post-2020 strategy

Source: Institute of Zoology / / Scientific Events

The challenge

We are rapidly losing Earth’s wild species and wild spaces, with global vertebrate populations having declined by two-thirds by in the last 40 years. Under the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have pledged to protect at least 17% of land and freshwater and 10% of our oceans by 2020. The plan focuses on areas of importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services in systems of effective, equitable and ecologically connected protected and conserved areas.

(Read more at Institute of Zoology)


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Should we give up half of the Earth to wildlife?

Source: The Guardian / Environment / Wildlife

Populations of all kinds of wildlife are declining at alarming speed. One radical solution is to make 50% of the planet a nature reserve

The orangutan is one of our planet’s most distinctive and intelligent creatures. It has been observed using primitive tools, such as the branch of a tree, to hunt food, and is capable of complex social behaviour. Orangutans also played a special role in humanity’s own intellectual history when, in the 19th century, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, co-developers of the theory of natural selection, used observations of them to hone their ideas about evolution.

But humanity has not repaid orangutans with kindness. The numbers of these distinctive, red-maned primates are now plummeting thanks to our destruction of their habitats and illegal hunting of the species. Last week, an international study revealed that its population in Borneo, the animal’s last main stronghold, now stands at between 70,000 and 100,000, less than half of what it was in 1995. “I expected to see a fairly steep decline, but I did not anticipate it would be this large,” said one of the study’s co-authors, Serge Wich of Liverpool John Moores University.

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MEPs set ambitious targets for cleaner, more efficient energy use

Source: European Parliament / News /

  • By 2030, EU should boost energy efficiency by 35%
  • Renewable energy sources should account for 35% of total consumption
  • MEPs vote to ban palm oil in biofuels from 2021

MEPs are ready to negotiate binding targets with EU ministers to boost energy efficiency by 35% and the share of renewables in the total energy mix by 35%, by 2030.

Parliament endorsed committee proposals for binding EU-level targets of an 35% improvement in energy efficiency, a minimum 35% share of energy from renewable sources in gross final consumption of energy, and a 12% share of energy from renewable sources in transport, by 2030.

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In response to Trump’s fake news awards, CPJ announces Press Oppressors awards

Source: Committee to Protect Journalists /

Amid the public discourse of fake news and President Trump’s announcement via Twitter about his planned “fake news” awards ceremony, CPJ is recognizing world leaders who have gone out of their way to attack the press and undermine the norms that support freedom of the media. From an unparalleled fear of their critics and the truth, to a relentless commitment to censorship, these five leaders and the runner-ups in their categories have gone above and beyond to silence critical voices and weaken democracy.

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