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Thursday's papers: VR revamp, a silent killer, and a giant waterlily blooms

VR tries to modernise ticket sales, special-needs kids struggle to get the support they need, and thousands of Finns suffer from lung disease--unknowingly.

Helsingin kasvitieteellinen puutarhassa kukkiva lumme
The Kaisaniemi Botanical Garden in Helsinki is hosting a waterlily night on Thursday from 9pm to midnight in anticipation of the blooming of the Santa Cruz waterlily. Image: Antti Kolppo / Yle

National railways VR is overhauling its digital ticket sales, reports business daily Kauppalehti. The move follows a disastrous revamp in 2011 that removed ticket machines from stations while the VR website failed to deliver online tickets to customers. The problems led to a drop in passengers. VR says that seven years ago it envisioned that online purchases would account for no more than 20 percent of sales. Today 65 percent of railway tickets are bought through digital channels.

Special learners

With the school year ending, as many as 60 percent of upper secondary and 36 percent of primary school teachers in Vantaa say their pupils are not getting the special-needs support they are entitled to. That’s according to a fresh survey by Vantaa Regional Parent Association Vanvary and Vantaa teachers’ union VOAY, published in Helsingin Sanomat. These findings echo earlier survey results by the the city of Vantaa. Earlier this decade Vantaa dismantled its network of special-needs classrooms and began ’mainstreaming’ special-needs kids into regular classrooms.

Silent killer

In health news, some 200,000 Finns unknowingly suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, writes national daily Helsingin Sanomat. Most COPD cases are linked to smoking, with many people unaware that repeat flus are actually symptoms of COPD. This is a slowly progressive lung disease which kills some 1,200 Finns every year—the same number as those whose lives are cut short by alcohol-related illness. This incurable lung disease has been off the radar in Finland, though it's predicted to become the third biggest killer worldwide, with cases slowly growing in Finland.

Giant waterlily blooms

The Kaisaniemi Botanical Garden in Helsinki is hosting a waterlily night on Thursday from 9pm to midnight in anticipation of the blooming of the Santa Cruz waterlily, Victoria cruziana, native to South America. Freesheet Metro says the flower blooms for two days, arising from an underwater bud. A white flower turns pink on the second and final day of its bloom. Large enough to hold a person’s weight, the lily can grow to have a diameter of over two meters. The botanical garden’s Victoria cruziana has grown out of seeds gifted in 1908 by the Saint Petersburg Botanical Garden. The seeds survived the bombings of World War II, and today the flower dominates the glasshouse's tropical waterlily room.

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