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Minnesota’s Finnish guests find a rude airport welcome
The musicians say they were subjected to harsh, demeaning treatment; the U.S. government says it’s investigating.
By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune
Last update: October 28, 2007 – 10:54 PM
When three of Finland’s most popular musicians, including one described as that country’s Bruce Springsteen, arrived for a recent tour in Minnesota, they expected a quick trip through airport customs.
Instead, immigration agents at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport subjected them to more than two hours of interrogation that the musicians considered so harsh and demeaning that they filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki.
“It was almost three hours of screaming, door-slamming and accusations, according to the report I received,” said Marianne Wargelin, honorary Finnish consul for the Dakotas and most of Minnesota, which has the second largest Finnish-American population in the nation.
Erkki Maattanen, a filmmaker for Finnish Public Television who accompanied the musicians on the September trip, said his questioners seemed to think the entourage was smuggling drugs or intending to work without a permit. “I kept trying to tell them why we were here, but they’d just yell, ‘Shut up!”‘ he said.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials at the airport declined to comment, referring questions to regional press officer Brett Sturgeon.
Sturgeon said such behavior, if it occurred, would run contrary to the agency’s policy that travelers must be treated in a professional manner. The complaint has not yet arrived at the Chicago regional office, but when it does, it will be fully investigated, he said.
He speculated that the Finns could have been singled out because they were arriving from Amsterdam, considered high risk for narcotics trafficking.
The incident began about noon Sept. 13 when the artists were standing in line at the airport, waiting for their passports to be checked, said Maattanen. They had been invited to the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota for a cultural tribute to Finnish-Americans. They also planned to travel to Thunder Bay, Ontario, and several small towns in Minnesota and Michigan to meet Finnish-Americans and play music from their homeland.
Finnish Public Television, which was making a documentary about the trip, and the university paid travel expenses, said Prof. Jukka Savolainen, who was waiting at the airport to meet them.
As the artists waited in line, two immigration agents approached musician Jukka Karjalainen, whom Savolainen described as “the Bruce Springsteen of Finland” as well as a devotee of Finnish-American folk music. According to the complaint, they began questioning and yelling at him.
Dogs were brought in to sniff the artists’ bags. Each was taken into a separate room for questioning, which focused on whether they were going to earn any money on their trip.
“They threatened us with severe punishments if we talk to each other,” according to the complaint signed by musicians Ninni Poijärvi and Mika Kuokkanen, “Through the walls, I can hear officers yelling, screaming. They ask about the purpose of our trip — except we are only allowed to give yes-or-no answers. I try to talk about our plans to meet with Finnish-American folk musicians. Nobody listens. They interrupt me constantly and they yell, ‘You are a liar!”‘
Meanwhile, Maattanen was being questioned in another room.
“From the beginning, they said I was lying, that these guys were coming here to work,” said the veteran filmmaker, who said he has travelled to the United States at least 15 times without incident. “They were shouting at me, and people were going in and out of doors. They tried to put you down mentally, to humiliate you.
“I was ashamed for their behavior,” he said.
The four were eventually released with no explanation and no apology, the complaint said. They met Savolainen, who had been in an airport waiting room, and who later said he marveled that immigration agents would think that a wealthy recording artist would travel to the United States “in hopes of earning money playing acoustic music in rural Minnesota.”
Strugeon speculated that uncertainty over the musicians’ travel documents may have led to the questioning. Visitors from Finland are required to carry a valid passport and to fill out a visa waiver that allows them to stay in the United States for up to 90 days. They cannot work, however.
Strugeon said there may have been some uncertainty about whether the musicians would be earning money on the trip.
Two of the musicians are slated to return this year and are worried they may face other problems entering the country, in part because their passports have a big red flag. Immigration agents initially stamped “Refused Entry” on the passports, said Savolainen, and then later simply crossed that stamp out with a pen.
And organizers of the national FinnFest2008, which is expected to draw about 7,000 visitors to Duluth next summer, hope the incident won’t keep these musicians from returning to Minnesota.
“There are a lot of people who want to see these musicians again,” said Ralph Tuttilla, a St. Paul musician who hosted the visitors one night for dinner. “That’s why some action needs to be taken.”
Jean Hopfensperger • 612-673-4511
Jean Hopfensperger • firstname.lastname@example.org
Just wanted to give a (rather late) heads up for Finnish music followers. Tonight at 7pm HIM will be playing at the Myth Club. Find out more information on their fan website. or via your local ticketmaster.
Also, tomorrow, Sunday October 28th, Nightwish will be performing at the First Avenue in downtown Minneapolis, MN. Tickets are $21 at the door. Nightwish is a Finnish symphonic power metal musical group that just kicked off their world tour maybe a month ago…
In Finland, we went to sauna about 2-3 times per week. The saunas in Finland are not what you think they are when you think about how American saunas are. American saunas are often thought of as steam rooms. In Finland, they use dry saunas. Matti’s parents’ house has a wood burning sauna but it is becoming easier for people to install electric saunas in their homes. I’ve been in both and wood burning saunas are SOOO much better. Here is a brief history of Finnish saunas. Follow the links to read even more about them… Enjoy! We have a sauna tonight, looking forward to it. LOVE sauna!!
The sauna is a small room or hut heated to around 80 degrees Celsius. It is used for bathing as well as for mental and physical relaxation.
While a hot sauna may seem a cruel punishment to unexperienced bathers, it is actually a very pleasant experience. All you need is a towel and at least half an hour of time. Start with a shower, then enter the sauna for a few minutes, listening to your senses. When you’ve had enough, take a refreshing shower, cool off for awhile and repeat once or twice. And no need to worry, it’s entirely safe.
The sauna has a long history and close relatives in other cultures: the Russian banya, the Native American sweat lodge or inipi, the Turkish hamam, even the Japanese onsen. In Finland it has at least a thousand years of histor. (to read about the history click here)
There are 1,212,000 saunas in private apartments in Finland (2002 statistics). With another 800,000 installations in summer cottages and public swimming pools that makes for more than 2 million saunas for a population of 5.2 million. For comparison, we have just under 2.5 million cars and trucks. If you are thinking of building a sauna of your own, start with these ideas and guidelines.
View video of lighting a sauna in an old school (awesome) sauna
There is a great online Finnish store that keeps a running supply of TONS of products from food to clothes, books, magazines, DVDs. I order lots of candy from them. Shipping to the US makes some products not available but non perishable stuff is usually not a problem. Through their site I have subscribed to their email list serv and I wanted to share their recent email announcing their Christmas/Santa Claus items as they get ready for the holiday season. Head on over to check out some great Finnish products shipped directly from Finland (and subscribe to their listserv to so you can be notified of new products!
2007 marks the first year when Suomikauppa.FI is the official supplier of Santa Claus here in Finland and the official Christmas online shop for Finnish expatriates. To launch this co-operation we have opened a Christmas shop with Santa Claus recommended products available in Suomikauppa at http://www.suomikauppa.fi/santaclausshop
“The operations of the Santa Claus Foundation is not the private business interest of any of the interested parties, it is for the good of the entire country of Finland, and its profits will be donated for charitable purposes.”
We have also a wide range of other Christmas products available as well (chocolates, mulled wines, calendars, music, cards..) that you can browse at Christmas Season products.
Gift products updated.
Now you can find a lot of new gift items for example for daddies (note! father’s day 10.11.2007); t-shirts, pillow case. And for children: towels, shirts, soft Moomin figures etc.
6th of December.
On the first week of December Finland celebrates its 90 years of independence!To fill up on your Independence day candle stocks or other Finnish celebratory items, see our selection of Suomi products.
Our music selection begins with a line of compilation records, with mostly Finnish classic rock and pop tunes, but some other remarkable Finnish artists and records are introduced as well. Browse our selection of Finnish music here.
Tip! Remember that you can also place an order to be delivered to a different address than your own! This makes shopping for gifts easy. We’ll also add your personalized message with the parcel if you pass that information along to us on the order comment box.
Hand Made Sokeva sauna and washing brushes.
Sokeva brushes are High quality Finnish handmade products. Sokeva is also a part of the “visually handicapped association” here in Finland. http://www.sokeva.fi/kasityo
You can browse our line of new products Here, or if you want to see what’s on special sale in October click here.
PS. Remember to place your order early to receive your parcel in time for Christmas! >>Delivery methods
Suomikauppa.FI on ensi kertaa tänä jouluna Joulupukin virallinen hovihankkija ja Joulupukin suosittelema ulkosuomalaisten verkkokauppa.
Osoitteessa http://www.suomikauppa.fi/joulukauppa voit selata Joulupukin suosittelemia Santa Claus -tuotteita.
Valikoimaa päivitetään vielä kohti joulua, mutta jo nyt Suomikaupan joulukaupasta löytyy useita Joulupukin suosittelemia Santa Claus tuotteita. ”Joulupukkisäätiö lahjoittaa vuosittain hyväntekeväisyyteen Joulupukin Lahjan maailman lapsille.” Lisätietoa Joulupukkisäätiöstä ja sen toiminnasta voit lukea osoitteessa http://www.santaclausplaza.com.
Suomikaupasta löytyy toki paljon muitakin jouluisia tuotteita, joita voit selata sivuillamme kohdassa Joulun sesonkituotteet. Suklaakonvehteja, joulukalentereita, joulumusiikkia, glögiä sekä paljon muuta!
Lokakuun puolivälissä päivitettiin myös lahjatavaravalikoimamme ja valikoimiin saatiin muunmuassa useita uusia lahjatavaroita lapselle! EIKU Ry: Koko perheen tenavaooppera. 2 x DVD-R+, lastenpaitoja, Muumi-pehmoja, käsinpainettuja froteepyyhkeitä...
Muistathan, että joulun sesonkiin kannattaa varautua hyvissä ajoin, jotta paketit ehtivät pukinkonttiin! >>toimitukset
Isänpäivälahjat marraskuun toiselle sunnuntaille 11. päivä ulkosuomalaisille tarjoaa tietenkin Suomikauppa.FI!
Esimerkiksi: T:mi Anna Maria Pokela – Tyynyliina: Isä 50x60cm tai R-Collectionin reilukokoinen käsinpainettu laadukas t-paita 100% puuvillaa. ”hikiliikkuja”, ” suomalainen sisu”, ” pelimies”…
Suomen 90-vuotisitsenäisyyspäivä 6.12.2007!
Suomikaupasta löydät itsenäisyyspäivän kynttilät sekä muut suomi-tuotteet ja liput suuntaamalla osoitteeseen Suomi-tuotteet.
Vinkki! Muistathan että Suomikaupasta voit tilata tuotteita myös lahjaksi valitsemaasi osoitteeseen! Voit myös halutessasi kirjoittaa tilauksen kommenttikenttään toivomasi terveiset lahjan saajalle, jotka lisätään lähetykseen.
Löydä omat suosikkisi Suomikaupan ikivihreiltä Suomirock- ja pop-kokoelmalevyiltä sekä kotimaisen musiikin unohtumattomilta artisteilta. >>Kotimaista musiikkia.
Sokeva Hand Made Käsityö.
Suomikauppa sai lokakuussa valikoimiinsa myös laadukkaita Sokeva Käsityön Hand Made -pesuharjatuotteita, jotka soveltuvat hyvin lahjoiksi pehmeään pesuun tai saunaan. Kaikki tuotteet ovat kotimaista käsityötä ja ne on pakattu lahjapakkauksiin. >>Hand Made Sokeva Käsityö
“SOKEVA-KÄSITYÖ on Näkövammaisten Keskusliitto ry:n yksikkö ja RAY tukee sen palvelutoimintaa.” http://www.sokeva.fi/kasityo
Lokakuun uutuustuotteita pääset selaamaan täältä ja tarjoukset täällä.
Kirpeää syksyä toivottaa Suomikauppa.Fi
Muumi – Muumipappa 20cm (pehmolelu)
Havi: Itsenäisyyspäivän antiikkikynttilä – Sinivalkoinen 2kpl
Smurffit: Tykkihitit vol 11
Meidän Joulu 2
Lapuankankurit – Kuumavesipullo – Katti – 21 x 33 cm
Suomirokkia 12 (2 CD)
Hårdstedt, Martin ; Hyrkäs, Seppo (kääntäjä): Suomen sota 1808-1809
Erja Raittinen – Pitkähihainen paita – “Paras vekara”
MELLIS: Löylytipat – MUSTIKKA LÖYLYTUOKSU 50ml
FAZER Verraton – makalös – kermatäytteisiä suklaakonvehteja 225g
MYLLÄRI Myllärin Ruisleipäaines 2 kg
EIKU Ry: Koko perheen tenavaooppera. 2 x DVD-R+
Hand Made Sokeva Käsityö – Pieni pyöreä- ja neliöharja
PANDA: Kultainen Crisp 130g
Toivonen, Sami Havukainen, Aino: Tatun ja Patun Suomi
Jaye, Edward; Holmström, Ritva: Pipari Sutra
Tactic – Tuntematon Sotilas – lautapeli
Arabia, Muki ”Muumipappa”
Muumi – Mörkö 20cm (pehmolelu)
Muumi – Muumimamma 20cm (pehmolelu)
In an effort to streamline all my Finnish posts/experiences/photos/recaps, etc. into one blog I am going to repost some items from my previous blogs that have been currently resting in the side bar. If you have been following Frozen-Reindeer or my other blogs, I apologize for the reposting but if you are new, you should find some enjoyment and lot of info on the Finnish culture, lifestyle, etc. because I talked more about experiences in Finland in my first few blogs (before I started to feel like a local). Also, I have moved the subscribe via email link to the top of the side bar. This is a great feature if you want to be dropped a line when I have made new posts rather than checking back to see if anything is new. Basically, you’ll get an email when there is something new and you will not be sent anything when there are no posts. I use Feedburner for my subscriptions which is a great FREE tool if you want to look into it.
Enjoy! Hopefully I’ll find time to put up some original content soon…
So, I am a tech geek and I have to get this posted…tech and Finland, totally needs to be included…
Google buys Finnish instant-message startup Jaiku
By Eric Auchard | October 9, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Google Inc <GOOG.O> has acquired the Finnish company Jaiku, one of a new class of start-ups that offer instant-messaging tools for Web and mobile phone users to keep track of their friends’ daily activities.
Writing on Goggle’s official blog, Tony Hsieh, a Google product manager, said his company had acquired Helsinki-based Jaiku Ltd. Google confirmed in a separate statement that the deal had closed but did not reveal financial terms.
READ FULL STORY
If you look at a Finnish calendar, you’ll see on each day of the calendar names of people in the corner. This represents the celebrated names on that particular day. In Finland (similar to some other countries in Finland) they celebrate name days throughout the year.
Courtesy of Finnguide.fi
“The names used and their date placement in the calendar are often associated with religious names, religious days, national historical personalities and national historical events. Normal country specific Christian names, and even new Christian names which have been integrated and accepted into a countries list of nationally recognized names, are also given their own position in the calendar.
The official Name Days Almanac of Finland is published by the Almanac Office at the University of Helsinki and contains all Finnish official Name Days lists (Finnish, Swedish, Sami and Greek Catholic). The University of Helsinki Almanac office, was established in 1994 and has a staff of three astronomers.”
If you feel Wikipedia is a good source of information they discuss the origination of name days from medieval times.
“During medieval times name days were of little significance in the Nordic countries, except for the celebration of patron saints for various guilds. A more widespread celebration of name days began in the 17th century, at first in the royal court and among aristocracy, but successively also among the general population. The Church of Sweden promoted celebration of name days over birthdays, as the latter was seen as a pagan tradition.”
From my experience, kids are celebrated more on their name days than adults. This is just what I’ve seen from my personal experience with my boyfriend’s family. His nephew will get a card and a small present on his name day. Some people celebrate with flowers and other gifts from friends and family.
To view the full list of Finland’s Namedays check out the full calendar here.
Today, October 6th, 2007, Hyvää Nimipäivää to Minttu and Pinja
Reader’s Digest recently released an article talking about the most livable and greenest places on earth to live and Finland, overall, beat out everyone. View the full list here (and see where the U.S. ranked). You can pick up the recent issue of Reader’s Digest to view the other category rankings including air quality, energy efficiency, environmental health, etc. (Highest ranking for the U.S. was in the area of environmental health- 16th) Granted we have a TON more people and produce more “stuff” than Finland and most other countries in the world but…we can do better, don’t you think?
So, you’ve been thinking about breaking the law, eh? Well, here’s a handy pocket guide to help you decide what fine you’re comfortable paying.
Fishing without a license $120
speeding 30 miles over the limit $282
DUI Possible jail + $1000
Shoplifing up to $5000
Possession of Firearm by Convicted Violent Offender $30,000
Fleeing a police officer resulting in death Jail + $80,000
Sharing some songs you like with others $220,000