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Friday's papers: New Minister of Culture, trains late, playground shade

This week's final review of the dailies looks at Finland's first ever Finns Party Minister of Culture and related worries, the serious tardiness of long-distance trains and a design problem that could be putting children at risk.

Kuva leikkipuistosta.
Playgrounds are a child's natural habitat, and should have more shady places. Image: Niina Koskela / Yle

One result of the recent ministerial shuffle is that Finland gained its first ever Finns Party Minister of Culture. Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat highlights existing doubts surrounding MP Sampo Terho's new post.

The Finns Party won big in 2011, and their platform at the time included harshly worded policies which many took to be anti-cultural; only art that strengthens national identity was considered worthwhile in their manifesto six years ago, with an added caveat that post-modern fluff would not be tolerated. Understandably, Finland's extended community of artists has been on its toes.

The IS article leads with Terho replying to questions on his stance towards contemporary art, which his party has all but denounced.

"Let's leave these trick questions out, shall we," Terho responded. "But to cultural folk and all people – in the spirit of Finland's jubilee year – I say that I want to take Finnish art forward. Let's make this year a year of overcoming prejudices."

Terho was mum on any specific plans to spruce up Finland's art world, saying that he would speak on policy once he has visited the President and been officially signed in.

There was a surprise in store as Terho was chosen, as the Finns Party's rules (from 1995) do not mention ministerial posts or etiquette related thereto even once, IS reports. Terho was not actually voted in, as the rules did not permit it.

Terho will be sworn in as the new Minister of Culture and European Affairs on Friday next week, the paper says.

Late again

Finnish trains are sometimes jabbed for freezing up in winter and being late as a rule. It seems, based on a Helsingin Sanomat article, that the joshing is based securely on statistical facts.

Hundreds of trains are late every year in Finland, with even ten-minute delays on long-distance routes. Practically every train route experiences tardiness, the article says.

Open Finnish Transport Agency figures on some 350,000 train service trips show that 14 percent of long-distance trains were more than five minutes late compared with their intended schedules.

"The problem has been identified, and we are endeavouring to fix it as actively as possible," says unit chief Jukka Ronni from the Agency.

He goes on to say in HS that so far this year timetables have been improved quite a bit, but that long-distance services are still lagging badly behind.

Cited reasons for the constant tardiness include technical snafus such as electrical disturbances, accidents in the form of fallen trees or other debris on the tracks and simply the backfired effort to offer very frequent transport services without compromising accuracy.

Sun risk unaddressed in playgrounds

Regional paper Aamulehti features an article on a children's health issue that is in need of immediate attention according to the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority and the Cancer Society.

Children are especially susceptible to health risks arising from too much time in direct sunlight, as the sun's UV rays can cause sunburns and melanoma as well as eye damage. Clothing that covers bare skin and sunglasses are essential, but natural shade is also crucial when minimising the risks of UV radiation.

Playgrounds, where children spend much of their time, are entirely underequipped in this department, the AL piece finds.

"Daycare centres continue to neglect this issue," says Virve Laivisto from the Cancer Society. "I hope that new centres will build suitable awnings or roofs under which children can spend time out of the sun."

Pirkko Partanen, mother of 2-year-old Jooseppi, says her child's outdoor play areas are reasonably well shaded, but more could be done.

"The best sort of shade would be a large oak or apple tree. It would also make the environment cozier."

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