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Thursday’s papers: Air exercise invitation, no charges in police shooting, dangers of drink

Most newspapers on Thursday morning carried at least one article about the delivery of a written invitation from the United States to Finland to take part in joint air force exercises.

Hornet F-18
Finnish Air Force F-18s. Image: Ilmavoimat

Finland's largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat, pointed out to its readers that the exercises in question are intended to focus on technical skills, not on a scenario repulsing a hostile attack.

It quotes the commander of Estonia's Ämari Air Base as saying that there is no "script" for the exercises involving attack and defense. Estonian Colonel Rauno Sirk told the paper that instead, the intention is to sharpen technical proficiency.

President Sauli Niinistö said on Tuesday that Finland cannot take part in any US-Estonian air exercise involving NATO defense of Estonia.

With this in mind, Helsingin Sanomat says that one barrier to participation by the Finnish Air Force has been eliminated. 

Last year Finnish Air Force Hornets took part in an air show marking the 95th anniversary of the Estonian Air Force, and in a NATO-led regional exercise that practiced indentifying lost aircraft and directing them back on route.

The four-week exercise for which Finland now has an invitation is to take place in March-April and include a US contingent of a dozen aircraft and 300 military personnel.

Troubling leak

Savon Sanomat, the main daily published in Kuopio, carried an interview with former defense minister Seppo Kääriänen in which he said he is troubled by the fact that information concerning the US invitation was leaked to the media from a meeting between the president and the cabinet's foreign affairs and defense committee .

Kääriänen pointed out that these gatherings are closed meetings that discuss sensitive issues, and in his view should include one hundred percent confidentiality.

The former defense minister described the publicity surrounding the affair as "messy".

"It creates a poor picture of defense policy decision making and the exchange of information among important decision-makers," Seppo Kääriänen told Savon Sanomat.

The tabloid Iltalehti picked up on one minor embarrassing detail concerning the written invitation delivered to Finland on Wednesday. Typed on US Department of the Air Force stationary and signed by General Frank Gorenc, USAF, it is dated 21 January 2014.

The US Embassy did confirm to Iltalehti that the letter was sent yesterday, not one year ago.

No charges in police shooting

The Oulu-based Kaleva reports that the local prosecutor has ruled that police officers who shot and killed an axe-wielding suspect in that city last week were acting in self-defense and no further investigation into their actions will be conducted.

Police shot the man, who had killed two people with an axe at pub, when he attacked an officer attempting to take him into custody, striking him with the same weapon he had used earlier in the day.

The prosecutor says that police followed established procedure, and no legal violation occurred. He noted that the suspect's attack, its unexpected nature and violence justified the use of firearms in response.

Dangers of drink

Turun Sanomat carries an item from the Finnish News Agency STT about a report by the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) stating that daily consumption of even small doses of alcohol increases the risk of death.

As an example, it says that drinking a single medium-strength beer every day increases the risk of breast cancer among women. Other types of cancer linked to small daily doses of alcohol are those that affect the head and neck regions as well as the large intestine.

Based on an EU-funded study, the THL report does note that there is some evidence of daily drink lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes in some population groups. However, THL advises against daily consumption of alcohol aimed at beneficial effects, as the dangers are proven to be greater than the potential benefits.

According to Health and Welfare Institute recommendations, average daily consumption of alcohol by women should be kept to less than 10 grams of pure alcohol and for men to under 20 grams. One medium-strength beer contains around 10 grams.

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