Morning headlines: Friday 6th November 2020

News Now Finland morning news headlines and weather first, every weekday at 09:00.

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Report: Neste responsible for rainforest destruction ‘the size of Paris’ since 2019

A new report claims that Finland’s majority state-owned fuel company Neste is responsible for the destruction of at least 10,000 hectares of rainforest since 2019 – an area the size of Paris. Friends of the Earth Netherlands Milieudefensie says Neste also continues to buy palm oil from suppliers in Liberia with links to armed militias who extorted land from villagers to grow the lucrative crops.  The new report catalogues a litany of other environmental scandals associated with Neste and its operations as well. “These companies are responsible for deforestation, fires, land disputes and bribery” says the Dutch NGO which describes Neste as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” when it comes to environmental issues and human rights. Neste dismisses most of the well-documented accusations as baseless, but says it will investigate any new evidence. Read more at our original story here.

Supreme Court upholds fine for judge in Axl Smith case

The Supreme Court has issued a ruling Friday morning to uphold a fine against a judge in the Axl Smith sex tape case. Helsinki District Court judge Maritta Pakarinen was fined for negligent breach of duty in the case which saw disgraced Finnish entertainer and television personality Smith convicted in 2017 for secretly filming 29 women, including with a camera hidden in his bedroom, and distributing the images. During the trial the judge decided the case was so sensitive that the names of seven of the victims should be fully or partially withheld. The District Court uses a system to redact the names but ultimately it is the judge’s responsibility to ensure their privacy was maintained. However the seven names were included in the final judgment which was sent out to 140 media email addresses. Judge Pakarinen was fined 25 days income by the District Court – equal to €1450 – and ordered to contribute €2000 in compensation to the victims. They also received €1000 each from the state. In the appeal, lawyers for Judge Pakarinen say she had written and checked more than 150 pages of judgment in the case and that it was human error rather than negligence, that the names were not properly redacted.

Declining foreign language studies at Finnish universities

The number of people applying to study foreign languages at Finnish universities is declining – or remained unchanged – for all foreign languages except English. That’s according to a survey by Uutissuomalainen newspaper group published on Friday which found the general interest in learning languages at university level has weakened at bachelor and master’s degree level. The survey was answered by all universities offering foreign language teaching to degree level including Helsinki, Eastern Finland, Jyväskylä, Oulu, Tampere, Turku and Åbo Akatemi. For example when it comes to universities offering a Russian language degree programme, only the University of Tampere filled all the student places. Universities also reported difficulty getting enough students to fill German, French and Italian degree course places.

Swedish Heritage Day celebrated

Flags are flying on Friday to mark the annual Swedish-Finnish Heritage Day – or Svenska Dagen – in Finland. The event celebrates the contribution that Swedish-speaking Finns have made to the history and culture of the country and has been celebrated annually since 1908. The date for Svenska Dagen was chosen by the Swedish People’s Party originally to help unite Swedish-speaking people in Finland and promote, and preserve Swedish language and cultural heritage. Today there are around 300,000 Swedish-speaking Finns, roughly 5% of the population, with their language rights enshrined in the constitution. Did you know: there are no monolingual Swedish municipalities on the Finnish mainland, however there are 16 municipalities in Åland; and 15 municipalities in the rest of Finland with a Swedish-speaking majority.

Friday morning weather

If you’re living in the southern part of the country you’re enjoying the best of the sunshine in Finland today. There’s sunny skies in the forecast for Jyväskylä, Tampere, Turku, Uusimaa and also into Vaasa and up north around Rovaniemi as well. Elsewhere there’s a bit more cloud cover but no rain in the forecast for the start of the weekend. Temperatures range from a few degrees below freezing for northwest Lapland up to +11°C down the west coast in Pori and Rauma.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Friday morning 6th November 2020 / Credit: FMI