Morning headlines: Wednesday 18th November 2020

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

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Climate change protesters closing capital streets

Climate change activists Extinction Rebellion are holding a protest on the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy that is expected to shut down Helsinki city streets for several hours today. Roads are closed between Hallituskatu and Kirkkokatu on Mariankatu from 08:45 until around 14:00 as protesters block the roads. The EU’s system of agricultural subsidies is set at €354 billion in the latest budget but Elkoapina and other activists want to see more robust action to cut the use of pesticides, nutrient runoff and antibiotics in animals, and increase the amount of agricultural land which is certified organic. Campaigners believe the current system of subsidies does little to promote good environmental action and simply props up big agricultural businesses.

Ministry prepares for coronavirus border changes

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has instructed local councils and hospital districts to start preparing to limit the spread of coronavirus infections when Schengen border controls come to an end at the start of next week. The Finnish government has one of the toughest border regimes in Europe right now, and it’s been credited in part for Finland having the lowest instance of coronavirus cases on the continent during the second wave of the pandemic. However there has also been pressure on the government from business lobby groups, regional tourism authorities and airlines – as well as from the EU – about how long Finland has maintained internal border controls with other Schengen and European Union nations, and the impact it has on the economy and tourism in particular – although its not clear where tourists might come from, with many EU countries also strongly advising their citizens not to travel abroad. Those internal border controls are due to end on 23rd November.

Court to decide Finns Party youth racism verdict today

The Pirkanmaa District Court is set to announce the verdict in the case of three political activists charged with race-related crimes. At the time of the incidents in 2019, all three defendants were involved with running the Finns Party youth wing. Two of the charges related to a picture and text published on the group’s Twitter account, while another is about a racially-charge Facebook status update posted on the group’s official account ahead of the European Parliament elections in spring 2019. Charged with incitement against a group of people – the Finnish legal term for racism charges – the prosecutor is demanding day-fines of up to 80 days for each of the accused. The defendants denied their guilt. Finns Party politicians, including the party’s leader and several Members of Parliament, have been convicted of race-related crimes linked to their writings or posts on social media. They continue to frame it as a freedom of speech issue.

Youngest MP announces baby’s early arrival

The youngest Member of Parliament Iiris Suomela (Green) has announced the arrival of her new baby. Writing on Twitter she described the baby as “the best Christmas gift in the world.” The baby had been due closer to Christmas but came earlier than expected and Suomela said “I got to spend International Premature Children’s Day in the hospital with my very own small but vigorous baby. Hard to imagine this greater happiness.” Suomela thanked medical staff saying “Finland is the safest country in the world for births and babies. We have one of the lowest premature mortality rates in the world and it is precisely thanks to the welfare state.”

Wednesday morning weather

It’s a fairly mild start to Wednesday morning across the southern half of the country, with Central Finland enjoying temperatures of +6°C, rising to +10°C in the capital city region. Further north it’s a bit colder with the chance of sleet across Lapland. Meteorologists are warning of high winds and stormy conditions moving through the country on Thursday however, bringing rain to southern areas and snow to central Lapland.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Wednesday morning 18th November 2020 / Credit: FMI