Morning headlines: Monday 24th February 2020

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

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Racist death threat forces Kokoomus Youth Group resignation & apology

A member of the Kokoomusnuoret Youth Group of the National Coalition Party has resigned after a racist death threat he sent to a local politician came to light. Left Alliance City Councilor Suldan Said Ahmed says he hadn’t previously interacted with Oscar Toivonen before getting an unsolicited threatening message from him on Facebook messenger in April 2019. “Muslim girls are forced to wear a veil. Next time you will find this in your head” Toivonen wrote to Said Ahmed, adding a dagger emoji. He sent another message more recently but out of the blue decided to apologise to Said Ahmed. In doing so, his actions were condemned by his party and Toivonen quit the Kokoomus Youth Group and deleted his social media accounts. The Kokoomusnuoret organisation has a troubling recent history with accusations of xenophobia and racism, and in January had to apologise after an incident where Prime Minister Sanna Marin was compared with Marx and Lenin at an official event. Read more at our original story here.

Finns delayed by Canary Islands sandstorm heading home

Hundreds of Finnish passengers on flights delayed by a massive sandstorm that hit the Canary Islands are on their way home. Finnair says their flights have been delayed by several hours – and in one case had to make a stop at another Spanish airport en route to the Canary Islands – but are getting to their destinations eventually. There’s been approximately 200 passengers on six affected Finnair flights in recent days; and Norwegian has also had a flight which turned back to Helsinki, which means more than 1200 people have been impacted by the Calima sandstorm which blew in from the Sahara. At one point visibility at Las Palmas airport was reduced to 400 meters as authorities closed the runway. Spanish authorities now say that all airports in the Canary Islands, except Tenerife South, are back open for business.

Poll: A quarter of Finns would support 3rd term in office for President Niinistö

Twenty-five percet of Finns say they would support a third term in office of incumbent President Sauli Niinistö – even though the Finnish constitution sets the limit at two terms in office. That’s the findings of a poll published Monday by Rural Future magazine which showed that although almost 60% of people don’t think a president should be able to have a third term, a sizable minority are in favour, while 15% are not sure. The biggest supporters of letting the president run again for office are from the National Coalition Party and the Finns Party. Any changes to the constitution would have to be approved by five-sixths of MPs in Parliament.

Ähtäri Zoo pandas could soon be ready for mating

It’s been two years since a pair of giant pandas, Lumi and Pyry, arrived in Finland from China. Lumi and Pyry have grown up while living in specially-built enclosures at Ähtäri Zoo and the head keeper there says they’re starting to see the first signs that the female panda might be ready for her first attempt at mating – but panda love a very tight time schedule! “The opportunity for breeding lasts about 48 hours and of course the pre-signals are starting a couple of weeks before that. We are getting close but not quite yet” says Anna Palmroth, the Head Panda Keeper at the zoo. Read more about Pyry and Lumi and the role they play in global conservation efforts at our original story here.

Monday morning weather

It’s a bright and sunny start to the week for many parts of the country. The best of the sunshine is in Vaasa and down the Ostrobothnia coast, into the southwest, the capital city region and in eastern border areas as well. Into Central Finland there’s sunshine but also snow as the temperature dips a few degrees below freezing. There’s cloud to along the western border from Kemi through Enontekiö up to Kilpisjärvi. Across Lapland temperatures range from -3°C to -8°C.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Monday morning 24th February 2020 / Credit: FMI