Morning headlines: Monday 19th August 2019

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Oil spill off the Helsinki coast 

The fire department is investigating the cause of an apparent oil spill off the coast of Helsinki. The spill was discovered on Sunday evening and has covered the sea around Ullanlinna and Kaivopuisto areas. Efforts to locate the source of the spill and any cleanup operation were hampered by darkness but this morning rescue crews were back on scene at 08:00. Samples of the spill have been taken for analysis, but the Helsinki Rescue Service says this is nothing like a crude oil spill, and more like light fuel oil which has been spilled into the sea, appearing as a thin film on the surface of the water. A working theory is that one of the boats in the harbour is leaking fuel.

Iran Foreign Minister arrives in Finland 

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif is visiting Finland today for talks. The trip comes at a time when Iran is again caught up in a dispute over the nuclear treaty which stops it developing weapons-grade materiel. The country’s Revolutionary Guard paramilitary force has also been under suspicion of mining several oil tankers in the Persian Gulf and capturing a British ship. An Iranian oil tanker was held in Gibraltar, suspected of breaking sanctions by smuggling oil to Syria. That ship has now left Gibraltar and sailing towards Greece, after Gibraltarian authorities denied a request by the US to detain the vessel. Foreign Minister Zarif’s visit will be hosted by his Finnish counterpart Pekka Haavisto (Green) and he’ll also have meetings with the Minister for Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari (SDP) and President Sauli Niinistö. Topics for discussion include bilateral relations and human rights issues, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Zarif will give a press conference this afternoon in Helsinki before traveling to Sweden and Norway.

Immigrant students disappear from schools 

Police in Helsinki and Turku are aware of a number of students with immigrant backgrounds who go missing over the school holidays, and don’t return back when classes resume. Ilta-Sanomat newspaper reports this morning that this is more likely to happen to girls than boys. Police say the children are usually sent to their parents’ home countries to be immersed in the culture and some simply don’t come back to Finland. Officers say a small percentage of the disappearances are for forced marriages, or for female genital mutilation. In Helsinki a working group is preparing guidelines to help schools identify and prevent the problem. Police stress these are isolated cases and not a large scale issue.

Prime Minister heads to Iceland 

Prime Minister Antti Rinne (SDP) is heading to Iceland today, with Arctic issues at the top of the agenda. This evening he’ll have bilateral talks with Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir in Reykjavik, and tomorrow will be taking part in a meeding of Nordic Prime Ministers, which includes a lunch meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Susijengi beaten in weekend friendlies

The Finnish men’s national basketball team took on two of the world’s top sides this weekend and came up short. Susijengi played against Lithuania on Friday at Metro Arena in Espoo and lost 72-88. Then on Sunday evening the team played against Russia and were beaten 67-81. The games were warmups for the Lithuanians and Russians who head to the basketball World Cup in China which starts in 10 days. Finland however did not qualify for the tournament and instead was using the opportunity to give more experience to younger players ahead of the 2021 EuroBasket qualification games which start already in February.

Monday morning weather 

There’s plenty of rain in the forecast for Monday morning so if you started the week in the capital city region, Tampere, Jyväskylä, in Ostrobothnia, and up in Kemi then chances are it’s wet outside where you are. Elsewhere there’s a lot of cloud and not a lot of opportunities for sunshine this morning. It’s still fairly mild however, with temperatures ranging from +16C in Inari, +15C in Lapland, +13C in Oulu, +14C through Central Finland, +15C in the south west, +18C in Hanko and +15C down the eastern border and in Uusimaa.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Monday morning 19th August 2019 / Credit: FMI