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Friday’s papers: Sámi identity, school mornings, Donner redux and a steampunk gin joint

On 13 March the Finnish newspapers again preview the upcoming elections and the last full day of this Parliament’s legislative term, with MPs expected to ratify the UN treaty on indigenous rights. On a more offbeat note, could Friday the 13th be an auspicious day to open a steampunk fantasy bar?

Sámedikki dievasčoahkkin guovvamánus 2015
Image: Vesa Toppari / Yle

The national rural paper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus reports on an election panel discussion it hosted on Thursday evening with party representatives including the leading candidate for the prime minister’s office, Centre chair Juha Sipilä.

All those present besides the Greens and SDP backed the idea of combining the Environment Ministry with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to create a new ‘superministry’.

They also debated issues important to forest owners, including a law approved this week by Parliament limiting subsidies for supplying scrap wood to be burned as fuel. Sipilä and other opposition candidates say the plan, which was backed by the forest products industry, should be scrapped as it will create more bureaucracy and discourage investment. All those present also said no to more taxes or fees on forest and agricultural land.

MT also writes about Thursday’s decision by the Council of State to change the law governing the Sámi Parliament, which represents the indigenous people of northern Finland. Earlier in the week, the outgoing Parliament rejected a government bill redefining who is a Sámi_._

Justice Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson said she was very disappointed by this dismissal of wording agreed in three years of talks between representatives of the Sámi Parliament and the government. The bill would have required individuals to prove that they maintain ties to Sámi culture in order to take part in indigenous decision-making processes. On Friday, the last full day of its legislative term, Parliament is to vote separately on the long-delayed ratification of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

AL: School mornings, hockey nights

Tampere’s Aamulehti, meanwhile, carries front-page commentary by columnist Anu Leena Koskinen criticising a plan whereby schools would not begin until 9 am. An Education Ministry panel made the recommendation on Thursday. Koskinen labels it “another incomprehensible school idea that will just complicate life”. While the concept might sound good at first, she says, it will make the daily lives of working parents even more exhausting. If young children do not go to school before nine, their parents will have to work later – and stay there later – which makes juggling after-school activities even more problematic, she argues.

AL also devotes much front-page space to local ice hockey team Tappara’s 2-1 overtime win over Kalpa in the last game of its regular season. With the victory, the Tampere team ended the regular season in second place for the third year in a row. Both teams advance to the playoffs.

Hbl: Bear bites, Donner writes

The Swedish-language Hufvudstadsbladet reports on a rare bear attack in eastern Finland. On Thursday a woman was bitten by a bear that she apparently surprised while it was sleeping in Juuka, Northern Karelia. The woman, who was not seriously injured, was able to call an ambulance and to walk to it when it arrived. The bear ran away after the incident, which took place some 400 meters from the nearest home. Police and local wildlife warden have decided that the bear should be shot.

The paper also reviews the latest novel by filmmaker, author and politician Jörn Donner, who is retiring from Parliament this week at the age of 82. The critic points out that the title of Son och far (Son and Father) hearkens back to one of Donner’s best-known books, Far och son from 1984, but mostly dismisses it as a “cynical comedy”.

Hbl also delves into the Finnish capital’s latest theme bar, Steam Hellsinki in the Kamppi district, which officially opens on Friday. It celebrates the retro-futuristic world of steampunk novels and films, where Victorian-era design meets anachronistic technology in a what-if parallel universe. The owners claim to offer Finland’s widest assortment of gins, served from an airship-styled bar. Steampunk began as a literary subgenre of US science fiction in the 1980s and became a worldwide fashion and handicraft movement over the past decade –  but has been slow to take hold in Finland.

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