Morning headlines: Wednesday 24th June 2020

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Parliament starts debate on MP prosecution request

Parliament will begin a discussion today on whether an MP Juha Mäenpää from the Finns Party can be prosecuted for comments he made in the chamber last June. Finland’s Prosecutor General has asked the Constitutional Affairs Committee for permission to prosecute Mäenpää for comparing asylum seekers to an invasive species, but under the constitution any move to prosecute needs the green light from five-sixths of all MPs. Mäenpää has claimed this was a spontaneous remark and doesn’t rise to the level of criminal hate speech. A vote will take place on Friday and the National Coalition Party and Centre Party are giving their MPs a free vote – with several already indicating they’ll side with the Finns Party, as the Christian Democrats have indicated too. The vote will be held on Friday.

Poll: Most Finns against EU coronavirus subsidies 

A new survey carried out by Uutissuomalainen newspaper group finds that 52% of people are against the idea of a common EU coronavirus bailout fund. Only 26% of people thought it was a good idea, and 22% didn’t have an opinion on the matter. People under 30 were most in favour of the subsidies, but people aged over 70 were mostly against them. The strongest opposition comes from supporters of the Finns Party – which has reasoned that giving common EU coronavirus grants and loans increases Finland’s debt burden and helps the economies of countries that were anyway struggling before the crisis – like Italy or Greece. Supporters of the Social Democrats and National Coalition Party were also less positive about the massive €750 billion support funds; whereas supporters of the Greens and Left Alliance have a more positive attitude to EU subsidies.

Finns increasingly want to separate gaming machines

Finns are increasingly in favour of putting gaming machines in a distinct, separate room according to a new study by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare THL. In a 2019 survey, which has just been released on Wednesday, 52% say they support moving gaming machines into a separate space – that’s up 37% the last time THL asked the question back in 2015. The Institute has been tracking Finnish attitudes towards gambling since 2007 with regular surveys and already in 2019 66& of people were in favour of mandatory authentication which aims to prevent children from playing the machines. In the latest survey the attitude of young people towards the machines – which can be found in supermarkets, petrol stations, kiosks and cafes, but which have seen big reductions in numbers during the last year. Young adults are playing the machines less, and more positive about moving them to a separate space.

Finnish finally gets Duolingo app course

Duolingo language learning app has introduced a new course in Finnish – one of the company’s most often-requested languages. The online course has been put together by a small team of volunteers and language experts in Finland with the company saying it’s supposed to be an extra tool in the language learning arsenal. “If you’re in Finland, having more Finnish will help you in day-to-day life, you might recognise what’s on the menu, or be able to respond to some common greetings and questions” says Duolingo’s Colin Watkins. The company says there’s about half a million people in Finland who don’t have Finnish as their first language and they hope the new app – which aims to have people do 10 minutes of language studies each day on their mobile phone – will help them to become better integrated. As well as dozens of mainstream languages Duolingo also offers some more exotic languages like High Valyrian from Game of Thrones, and Klingon from Star Trek.

Wednesday morning weather

There’s a weather and a temperature split in the country this morning. The southern half will see sunshine and mild temperatures to start the day while over Lapland there’s more cloud cover, scattered showers and temperatures a few degrees cooler – but not much. Those rain showers will be come more persistent and lead to some rumbles of thunder later in the day over Lapland. In southern and central areas temperatures will hit a high of +30°C in some places.

Finnish Meteorological Institute forecast for Wednesday morning 24th June 2020 / Credit: FMI