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Wednesday's papers: Suffering hero, the gambling poor, dangers of nature

In today's papers, more on Finland's first terror trial, trends in spending, and some warnings about plants and animals.

Hassan Zubier
Hassan Zubier after his release from hospital in Turku last summer. Image: Jesper Alm / Yle

Tuesday saw the opening of the trial of Abderrahman Bouanane, who has admitted stabbing ten people last August in the Turku Market Square. Bouanane, a Moroccan who came to Finland as an asylum seeker, is charged with two counts of murder with terrorist intent and eight counts of attempted murder with terrorist intent.

Several papers, including the tabloid Iltalehti have provided readers with extensive coverage of the opening of the trial and looks back at the August attacks.

Iltalehti also gives an update on Hassan Zubier, British man hailed as a hero after he went to the aid of victims of the Turku attack. Zubier, a paramedic who lives in Sweden, was in Finland as a tourist at the time. He is now permanently disabled after sustaining injuries to his back, side and arm while fending off the attacker while trying to help others.

In a December interview, Zubier told Iltalehti that he had received well over ten thousand messages of appreciation from Finland. His lawyer on Tuesday said that while Zubier is trying to get on with his life in Sweden, he continues to suffer from the physical and psychological effects of the attack.

Hassan Zubier says that he wants to attend the trial and face his attacker. Zubier has filed the largest single monetary claim against Bouanane, totaling close to 200,000 euros.

Where does the money go?

The economic and business daily Kauppalehti reviews research showing that Finnish consumers tend to spend money on the same things, regardless of income level.

It references Statistics Finland figures showing that the share of spending on many household items has barely changed over the past 30 years.

Changes in spending behaviour have also been very similar in all income groups.

The differences in spending patterns between the lowest and the highest income groups was small in 1985, and found to be even smaller in 2016, even though the gap in the amounts spent have grown.

Looking at what has changed, Statistics Finland researcher Juha Nurmela points out that compared with 30 years ago, there has been a clear upswing in car ownership in both high and low income groups. The share of income spent on books and periodicals has declined. On the other hand, spending on culture and entertainment services has risen in all income brackets.

Spending on alcohol grew in the lowest income groups between 2001 and 2016, but remained steady among wealthier Finns.

Meanwhile the freesheet Metro today gives its front page headline to a report that slot machines owned and operated by the State-owned gaming company Veikkaus are most often to be found in areas with the largest numbers of low-income, less well-educated residents.

An analysis of where Veikkaus has installed various gaming and slot machines by the National Institute for Health and Welfare THL shows clearly that more are to be found in residential areas with high rates of unemployment, low levels of education, and low income.

THL researcher Jani Selin points out that merely the ease of physical access to gambling devices is a significant factor in the development of gambling addiction. He added that he does not believe that Veikkaus has intentionally targeted low-income areas, rather it has and does place gaming machines at sites where they bring in the most money.

According to Metro, the company says its decisions on where to install devices are determined on where shops are located, not on socio-economic factors.

Outdoor dangers

A scary headline in the tabloid Ilta-Sanomat says that a dangerous plant, easily mistaken for a common weed, is spreading in Finland, and can kill within 15 minutes.

The plant in question is cowbane or northern water hemlock (Cicuta virosa) which is easily mistaken for a common weed variously known as cow parsley, wild chervil, wild beaked parsley, or keck (Anthriscus sylvestris).

Ilta-Sanomat points to reports of its spread in the Sweden and now a report by the Finnish magazine Piha ja mökki (Garden and Cottage) saying that it is to be found in Finnish forests, as well.

The Poisons Centre of Helsinki University Hospital says that ingesting cowbane can lead to serious toxic effects.

Biologist Susanna Pimenoff told the paper that there are ways to tell the two apart, but her main advice was that if you don't know the difference, it's best just not to touch either.

And in Turku, the newspaper Turun Sanomat warns residents in western parts of the city of another potential hazardous intrusion by nature - a herd of white-tail deer seen wandering around a local traffic circle.

It says that drivers in the Artukainen, Perno and Pansio districts of the city should keep an eye out for the animals. The paper says that police in Turku have to move deer off local roads and highways from time to time, the rarely have to shoot them.

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