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Thursday’s papers: Cowboy builders at school, Brother Christmas probe advances and popular AI course now in Finnish

Shoddy workmanship behind classroom ceiling collapse, a probe into a charity figure wraps up by Christmas and a popular AI course targets Finnish speakers.

Helsingissä Oulunkylän ala-asteella havaittiin maanantaiaamuna, että yhden luokkahuoneen sisäkatto oli romahtanut. Koska katto romahti todennäköisesti viikonloppuna, luokkahuoneessa ei ollut lapsia tai opettajia. Oulunkylän ala-asteella tehtiin peruskorjaus hiljattain.
Investigators say the ceiling was secured with smooth nails instead of screws. Image: Lehtikuva / Markku Ulander

Tabloid daily Iltalehti reports Thursday that workmen used regular smooth nails instead of screws to secure the collapsed ceiling of a classroom at a school in Oulunkylä, Helsinki.

According to IL, the details emerged when Helsinki deputy mayor Anni Sinnemäki revealed at a council meeting that the ceiling had been nailed in instead of screwed to roof supports. The method meant that the nail heads were facing the ground, causing them to give way under the weight of the ceiling.

Lead investigator of the Safety Investigation Authority Kai Valonen told IL that he had encountered the same error in the past. “We have come across this phenomenon before at the Safety Investigation Authority. In 2000 we had our first experience [of this], when the roof of a 1,700 square-metre store collapsed in Sysmä,” he added, noting that similar cases have occurred since then.

“It’s frustrating to come across the same thing time and again,” Valonen declared, adding that this method of securing a ceiling is best suited to a summer cottage or semi-detached home, but is absolutely not recommended for large spaces.

Brother Christmas probe to wrap up by Xmas

Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat highlights the case of philanthropist Ari Koponen who also goes by the name of Brother Christmas and a police investigation into his charitable activities.

According to the paper, police now say that they expect to complete their probe by the time the holiday season rolls around. Koponen is suspected of a number of aggravated felonies, including embezzlement, accounting fraud and fundraising offences.

Brother Christmas became a social media sensation over his apparent big-hearted moves, but newspaper probes into his activities raised suspicions of wrongdoing. Police have been investigating him since April.

IS reports that for his part, Koponen has tried to clear his name and had himself ordered an independent audit of the charitable programmes run by the Brother Christmas association.

AI course localised for Finnish speakers

Earlier this year, Helsinki University teamed up with IT firm Reaktor to roll out a wildly popular Elements of AI course aimed at ensuring that one percent of Finnish residents – or 54,000 people – would gain some kind of proficiency in the subject during 2018.

That programme is available in English, but now according to largest circulation daily Helsingin Sanomat, the course has been localised into Finnish and starting Thursday, people who are not comfortable with English can also brush up on their AI expertise.

Back in May some 100,000 people registered for the course and just over 9,000 completed it. Head lecturer for the programme Teemu Roos told HS that the unit is worth two course credits at Helsinki University. He added that the main idea of the localised Finnish version is to ensure the democratisation of access to information.

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