Finnish arms exports must be more transparent, demands think tank

LACK OF TRANSPARENCY in Finnish arms exports makes it difficult to evaluate the arms export policy of Finland, states a report by SaferGlobe.

STT on Monday said the Helsinki-based peace and security think tank states in its newly published report that the transparency of arms exports is being eroded by the fact that the export licence applications are granted and communicated separately by various authorities, each with their own communication protocols.

Granting licences for exporting military materials falls on the purview of the Ministry of Defence, for civilian materials on the National Police Board and dual-use materials on the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The Ministry of the Interior, in turn, is responsible for weighing up requests to export tools of torture, although its latest annual report states that it received no licence applications.

SaferGlobe viewed that the export policy could be evaluated more thoroughly with the help of a report detailing all types of arms exports, a practice in many other EU countries.

Finnish companies, its report indicates, exported more than 113 million euros’ worth of military materials and 84 million euros’ worth of civilian materials in 2019, adding up to a total that signals no major change from the previous year. Having monitored the transparency of arms exports from the country for already a decade, the think tank reports that the changes over that time period have been modest, some of them increasing and others reducing transparency.

In addition to the number of authorities processing and communicating about licence applications, another challenge is that no information is available on the companies exporting civilian materials and their trade partners.

“The less and more scattered the information on arms exports, the more challenging it is for policy-makers, citizens, researchers and authorities to examine the arms export policy as a whole,” said Kari Paasonen, a researcher at SaferGlobe.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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Q&A: A more transparent approach to recruitment

This week we chat to Jane Bianchini, founder of video interviewing
platform Alcami Interactive. Having already left a corporate role to found her
own recruitment firm that she built up to being a $10 million company, Jane had
identified a hole in the recruitment process – she used funds from her recruitment
business and took out a second mortgage to bootstrap the video interviewing

ISB: What was the motivation behind you setting up your new venture when
your recruitment agency was going along so well?

JB: After being in recruitment for nearly 20 years, I saw a massive gap
between how important hiring is and how poorly it’s often done. Hiring drives
the future of every business and has an enormous impact on society, but it’s
stuck in the stone age: pen and paper, frustrating games of telephone, gut and
recollections and a total black box. I saw this firsthand when running my own
recruitment agency and working with talent acquisition leaders and hiring
managers from some of the world’s largest companies.

ISB: What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting the enterprise
up and running?

JB: As a non-tech tech founder the biggest challenge I faced was the transition from building consulting businesses to learning the ins and outs of building a SaaS product business. The significant differences between the business models, the different metrics and stages of growth. Not to mention the uphill challenge I faced in learning all about the technology and “under the hood” mechanics.

ISB: How did you ascertain when the time was right to “throw all
your eggs into one basket” and make Alcami your soul focus?

JB: Running the recruitment agency I founded (which bootstrapped Alcami Interactive), it came to a point where my mentor said to me, “Jane, you’ve got a shoe in two canoes. You have to pick one business and commit”. It would have been the safe and easy thing to do to stick with an established business and have an easy life. However my passion was in the learning and experience I was gaining in building a tech company. Once I made the decision I never looked back.

ISB: What makes Alcami stand out from other recruitment solutions in the

JB: Unlike most recruiting platforms, Alcami Interactive is designed with the human evaluator in mind. We help organisations make meaningful connections with their diverse candidate base for positive impact. Our platform has world-first diversity and inclusion features to help evaluators minimise biases and make better quality decisions with objectivity. For instance we are able to hide the candidates video to minimise appearance bias, mask the candidates name to minimise any ethnic biases someone may have when seeing the spelling of someone’s name and finally disguise voice to minimise any gender biases.

ISB: How were you able to attract some of the “blue chip”
overseas clients that are now on board to sign up with what ostensibly was an
Aussie tech start-up?

JB: We invested heavily in our early customers. We
understand their pain points, go above and beyond, and find opportunities to be
helpful. There are always a few key early customer relationships that get every
successful business off the ground. We are fortunate to now work with very
large Federal Government departments here and overseas, along with some of the
world’s leading brands. Our client base is very supportive and never hesitate
to refer us. Saying that, one of the benefits of being a founder from the sales
side of business my skills in business development and networking have served
the company well. We’ve picked up clients on the dance floor, at the local pub,
at conferences and events along with good old fashioned targeted sales and
marketing efforts.

ISB: Finally, what is the number one piece of advice you’d share with budding entrepreneurs contemplating giving up the “safety” of an established career to start their own business?

JB: I’ve always been told businesses fail when the founder gives up. My advice would be if you were to take the plunge, keep going, find a way and never give up.

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Flush and Don’t Flash: Transparent Public Toilets Hit Tokyo Streets

The unusual idea behind the transparent public toilets comes from Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, whose wanted to break stereotypes about public restrooms being dirty and smelly places.

Transparent toilets have hit the Shibuya district of the Japanese capital as part of the Tokyo Toilet Project.

They are made of a completely transparent coloured material called smart glass. However, when a person enters such a toilet, the glass becomes opaque so no one is able to see the visitor.

Besides, the high-tech toilet also functions as a lantern to illuminate paths in parks during night-time.

The project, sponsored by the Nippon Foundation, and carried out by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, aims to upturn stereotypes about public toilets being “dirty and smelly” places.

The solution solves two key issues – first, a visitor can see whether the toilet is clean inside and, second, whether it’s busy or not.

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Gambia calls for transparent probe of U.S. police shooting of diplomat’s son

BANJUL (Reuters) – Gambia’s government called on Tuesday for a credible and transparent investigation into the shooting death of one of its citizens by U.S. police in the state of Georgia last Friday.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) said in a statement on Friday that it had been asked by the police department in the town of Snellville to investigate an officer involved in the shooting of a driver following a car chase.

The GBI identified the driver on Tuesday as Momodou Lamin Sisay, who lived in the nearby town of Lithonia. Sisay, 39, is the son of Lare Sisay, a Gambian diplomat who also worked for the U.N. Development Programme.

The GBI statement on Friday said preliminary information indicated police officers pursued Sisay after he failed to stop when they tried to pull him over for a vehicle tag violation.

The statement said that when the car eventually stopped and officers approached it, Sisay pointed a handgun at the officers, who fired on the vehicle and retreated to find cover behind their vehicles.

During an ensuing standoff with a SWAT team, the statement said, Sisay fired his weapon at the officers, one of whom returned fire. Sisay was pronounced dead at the scene, it said.

Gambia’s foreign affairs ministry, in a statement Tuesday, said it had “asked the Gambian Embassy in Washington D.C. to engage the relevant U.S. authorities including the State Department, to seek a transparent, credible and objective investigation in the matter”.

Gambian media quoted Sisay’s father as saying he was withholding judgment on the incident pending results of an autopsy and findings from a private investigator, while referring to his son as “somebody who abhors violence”.

African leaders have condemned police violence in the United States over the past week following the death on May 25 of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis after a policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Reporting by Pap Saine; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Tom Brown

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EPA concedes it should be more transparent after review into two chemical leaks at Port Pirie

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has conceded it should be more proactive in notifying the public of incidents, after a review into the reporting of chemical leaks at the Nyrstar lead smelter in Port Pirie.

But the environmental watchdog says industry should also take more responsibility in ensuring communities are kept informed.

The South Australian Government ordered the review following an ABC investigation which revealed the public was not told about two chemical leaks which occurred over two years at the regional smelter.

In October 2017, the toxic metal cadmium was found to have leached into groundwater and, in January last year, sulfuric acid spilt into a waterway, leading to “several hundred” fish deaths.

State MPs and members of the Port Pirie community criticised Nyrstar and the EPA for not alerting the public to the spills at the time.

In its review, the EPA listed a number of reasons why it failed to notify the community of the 2019 acid spill, including the lack of public health risks and the potential prosecution of Nyrstar.

It also noted there was no public notification of the 2017 cadmium spill because it “had been contained on-site and was recorded on the EPA public register”.

Despite these findings, the EPA conceded it needed to be more transparent and proactive in notifying the public.

Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said the EPA had no legal requirement to notify the public under their protocols, but the environment watchdog could “strengthen communication”.

“There are times when the public has an interest in knowing about certain incidents, even if it is later determined that there were no health risks,” Mr Speirs said.

EPA says industry must also take responsibility

The EPA said Nyrstar also had a responsibility to inform the public of the two chemical spills and criticised the lead smelter for its lack of public reporting.

It called for greater onus to be placed on industry to inform the community of environmental activities.

“The board also noted that Nyrstar did not proactively notify the Port Pirie community, and asked that the review also consider how industry can be encouraged to take greater responsibility for keeping their neighbours, stakeholders and communities informed.”

The ABC has contacted Nyrstar for comment.

Public register ‘should not be relied upon’

Previously, the EPA only reported environmental incidents that posed a risk to public health but, under the proposed changes, this would be extended to include incidents where there is a high public interest.

“The subcommittee saw an opportunity to increase communication,” the report noted.

The EPA’s report also acknowledged it could make better use of social media to quickly and efficiently disseminate important information to the public.

But, the report noted, residents and communities directly affected would need to be informed first.

The authority said it would continue to make documents accessible online, recognising its website as “an important tool to aid in transparency and access to government information” but conceded it was not a method to be relied upon.

“It’s the board’s view that the form and function of the public register mean that it should not be relied upon as a mechanism for proactive public notification,” it said.

Greens MP Mark Parnell welcomed the findings and said it was in the best interests of communities that the EPA operates transparently.

“The public does have a right to know when things happen in their communities, such as pollution incidents,” he said.

“If all of these pollution incidents are kept secret, then there’s no way the community can apply that pressure.”

The review is now available for public consultation.

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Nicks admits Crows could have been more transparent with Stengle situation

Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks admits they might handle an issue like the Tyson Stengle drink driving situation differently next time around.

Stengle was suspended for four games and fined $2500 by the club for blowing a reading of 0.125 when stopped by police on April 9th.

The 21-year-old withheld that information from the club for a few days and Adelaide chose to keep it private once they found out about it in order to investigate further.

They have been criticised for it, with Kane Cornes saying “it’s just not good enough”, given the lack of transparency with members and the media.

Nicks said he was fine with the way they handled the situation, but feels they should have been more upfront.

“I understand the perception that has come through on that. It is something we have spoken about,” Nicks told SEN SA Breakfast.

“We went through this process very deliberately and we wanted to number one, look after Tyson, and number two we want to look after all of our people and all of our members and our supporters and our community and we made some decisions around it.

“In hindsight you look back, could we have come out with a short statement, we didn’t have a lot of information early and that’s why we didn’t, but I totally understand why there’s been a lot of questions asked about that.

“It was nothing more than making sure we got the detail right before coming out and that was all about looking after our player and that’s what we’re about and we’ll be like that going forward.

“I think there’s something in it maybe we might release a short, quick statement earlier on in the piece.”

Adelaide CEO Andrew Fagan was strong in his defence of the club’s decision to keep the information private.

“I think we’ve been very transparent about it. The timing was the issue and we did take a few days,” he told SEN’s Dwayne’s World.

“If this was the middle of the season and we were playing every week, then we probably would have a reason to rush this out as quickly as we could, but it would also mean we were having face to face contact with all the necessary people.

“It took us a few days to be notified, then we wanted to sit with Tyson and make sure he was okay and we wanted to investigate the incident properly and try and get the appropriate information from the authorities and it took us a little bit of time.

“Then we had a scheduled meeting with the playing group on Friday morning … we didn’t seek to change the timing of that meeting and the intention always was to release it later on Friday, which we did.

“The fact that we took four or five days after him notifying us is not a significant issue at all. We’ve been very open on what’s occurred.”

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