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Wednesday's papers: Jäger parade row, polar vortex and diabetic conscripts

Wednesday's press covers a row over a memorial for elite units in the 1918 civil war, the very cold weather and the end of the line for diabetic conscripts.

Jääkärijuhlan paraatikatselmus ja ohimarssi alkavat Vaasan torilla kello 11.00
Saturday's Jäger parade in Vaasa. Image: Tuomo RIntamaa/Yle

Finland is commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the civil war which heralded the country's birth as an independent state. it's a painful milestone, as the divides evident in 1918 were still evident decades afterwards, and even now the political legacy shows it's face every now and again.

That happened again on Saturday, when the city of Vaasa hosted a memorial parade for the German-trained Jäger troops who returned to Finland in 1918 to fight on the white side in the civil war after the collapse of Imperial Russia to the bolsheviks. Yle covered the parade live on radio and streamed the video online, had fifteen staff on-site in Vaasa to work on the production, and mentioned the parade in the national television news--but that was not enough for the local paper, Pohjalainen.

"I had hoped that politicisation of the events of a hundred years ago had stopped," wrote the paper's editor Toni Viljamaa. "Hopefully it has, and Finns can also be told about the winners of the civil war."

The Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö joined the chorus of disapproval in a blog post, and on Tuesday evening Yle's editor-in-chief of News and Current Affairs Jouko Jokinen's response was published on the Pohjalainen. He denied the Jäger coverage was influenced by political considerations, and said it had been a very busy news day--and that the Jägers had been covered extensively.

Polar vortex

It will have escaped nobody's attention that it is currently fairly cold in Finland. Temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius and lower used to be common in southern Finland, but it has been several years since a similar deep freeze arrived in Finland.

Helsingin Sanomat has several stories on the cold, including one on the excitement of tourists confronted with the 'icy exoticism' of frozen seas, but the paper leads with the reasoning: it is cold in Finland because of the displacement of the polar vortex: the winds swirling around the North Pole keeping the weather cold and the seas frozen.

This cold weather is, believe it or not, a feature of climate change. While the polar winds are displaced from the top of the globe, they bring cold conditions to one side of the planet and considerably warmer conditions to the other. And, the expert asked by HS agrees, wintery conditions are expected to get more common as climate change progresses.

Diabetes an obstacle to military service

Finnish men face conscription after they turn 18, but diabetics can get an exemption. Even so, some suffering from diabetes volunteer to serve each year.

Lapin Kansa reports that that's set to change after a ruling from the General Staff at the beginning of February that soldiers suffering from diabetes can no longer serve in the Defence Forces. The problem is the retirement of the military's only doctor specialising in the treatment and management of the disease, rather than the conscripts' abilities in and of themselves.

This year just six young people with diabetes started their military service. Overall some 17.5 percent of each age group cohort gets an exemption either permanently or in peacetime only.

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