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Monday’s papers: Layoff season approaches, Finland’s unsolved murders, and the cost of mental arithmetic problems

This morning’s papers include reports on how mass redundancies can have a devastating effect – or can open the door to a new life. Elsewhere, there’s a grim rundown of Finland’s 170 unsolved murders. And if you struggle with everyday sums, could you be suffering from a little-known condition called dyscalculia?

Mustavalkoinen kuva Kyllikki Saaren murhatutkimuksista
A detective investigating the still-unsolved murder of 17-year-old Kyllikki Saari in 1953. Image: Suomen valokuvataiteen museo

No single story dominates the papers on Monday, although both Helsingin Sanomat and Iltalehti run front-page features about the personal impact of losing your job. Autumn in Finland is the season of union codetermination talks in many workplaces, where management outline their plans for redundancies. As that time approaches, Iltalehti reports on the distressing reality for many of Finland’s 330,000 unemployed jobseekers, with readers having written in to tell their own stories. “Even the kids have to haggle and compromise over everything,” reads the paper’s front-page headline.

Helsingin Sanomat, meanwhile, takes a different tack. “Mass layoffs can also work out well,” reads the front-page head. It reports on a glass factory in Ylöjärvi which two years ago cut 250 jobs. The laid-off staff received training for new professions, such as nursing. Now, the paper says, only a few dozen of those made redundant are still out of work.

Unsolved crimes

A grim picture gallery of the faces of murdered men, women and children accompanies an Ilta-Sanomat report this morning revealing that there are still around 170 unsolved killings on the police's books, going back 60 years. This means that the same number of murderers could still be walking free, the paper notes – although admits that some of these are almost certainly now dead. The cases include the brutal murder of two parents and their young baby in their bed in Kirkkonummi in 1990, and the shooting last year of a 40-year-old father of three in Tampere’s Tesoma.

In dozens of the unsolved cases, the police have a strong suspicion of the killer but insufficient evidence for a conviction. Police Chief Inspector Tero Haapala also says that in many cases police believe they have DNA samples of the suspect. Such as in the case of Mohamed Addo, a 34-year-old Somali man who was shot dead in Porvoo in 1994 while going to visit his girlfriend. But no match shows up when the samples are run through the police’s DNA register, which only contains entries from people with previous convictions.

In other cases, even if modern forensic techniques had been around at the time, the killer still may not have been identified. And in the older cases many potential witnesses are likely to have passed away, making revisiting so-called cold cases even harder, Haapala tells the paper. The vast majority of the time, murders are perpetrated by someone known to the victim, he adds.

The list goes back as far as the 1950s, when the body of 17-year-old Kyllikki Saari, who had been missing for five months, was discovered dumped in a swamp in Isojoki, southwest Finland. The discovery led to a massive public show of grief, with 25,000 people attending her funeral.

Police say that they regularly get new leads from the public whenever outstanding cases are publicised – and Haapala says that’s their hope this time too.

Problems adding up

What's cheaper - a shirt costing €29.90, or one at €49.90 at a 50 percent discount? If that's too much mental arithmetic for you then you're not alone, according to a report in Helsingin Sanomat, which claims that hundreds of thousands of Finns struggle with basic sums thanks to a little-known condition called dyscalculia.

An expert tells the paper that on average one Finn per school class - or around seven percent of the six million population – suffers from the condition, which can interfere with daily life so severely that it can hinder tasks like setting an alarm clock, measuring out oats to make porridge or funding the right building number on a busy street. That makes it more widespread than dyslexia.

Dyscalculia – which the paper says is much more specific than simply being “bad at maths” –results in the sufferer being twice as likely to end up unemployed, and could cost Finnish society 80 million euros a year, according to one estimate.

The first signs become visible at around four years old, but problems usually emerge after a child is in grade three of school, aged 9. There’s currently no known cure, but experts say that specific teaching can help deal with the effects, even in adult sufferers.

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