Book lovers return to Finland’s libraries | AFP

Users begin returning to Helsinki’s iconic central library, Oodi, as coronavirus restrictions are relaxed on June 1st. Prior to the crisis the library received 9,000 visitors a day but in recent weeks has been open only for the public to pick up or drop off borrowed items. Libraries are a particularly valued institution in Finland, and alongside books Helsinki’s central library also offers 3D printers, sewing machines and recording studios for free. From 1 June bars, restaurants, sports facilities and cultural sites are allowed to reopen in the Nordic nation which has so far registered 320 deaths and almost 7,000 infections of COVID-19.

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Cheers in Finland as bars reopen | AFP

Customers enjoy drinks on the terrace of Deko bar in Helsinki’s Lasipalatsinaukio square for the first time in over two months after bars and restaurants were allowed to reopen in Finland on June 1. Distancing rules and a 50-person limit on public gatherings continue to apply in the Nordic nation of 5.5 million people which has recorded 320 deaths and almost 7,000 infections of COVID-19. IMAGES of people at a bar in Helsinki

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Children return to school in Finland after eight weeks of coronavirus lockdown | AFP

Finnish schoolchildren return to class after eight weeks of coronavirus lockdown despite warnings from the teacher’s union it may not be totally safe for its staff or the children.

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Schools reopen in Finland | AFP

Pupils at Eestinkallio primary school in Espoo, bordering the Finnish capital Helsinki, return to class after eight weeks of distance teaching as Finnish authorities begin to lift the restrictions designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Strict social distancing rules will be in place in schools for the remaining two weeks of term before the start of the summer holidays in June. Finland has so far recorded 284 coronavirus-related deaths and over 6,000 infections, a lower rate than neighbouring Nordic countries, which has led epidemiologists to warn that future waves of the virus may prove more serious. IMAGES

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Coronavirus: Leaders announce measures for containment | AFP

Leaders from Finland, Ireland, Scotland and Spain announce the measures that are being taken by their countries to curtail the spread of the new coronavirus.

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Tourism’s gifts and woes for Santa and Sami homeland | AFP

Record numbers of holidaymakers are now visiting Finland’s northern Lapland region in winter, in search of an authentic Christmas experience. But despite the economic benefits, the tourism boom faces backlash over concerns about the impact on the area’s indigenous Sami people, and implications for the environment in the vulnerable Arctic region.

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Finland’s Sanna Marin wins parliament vote to become world’s youngest PM | AFP

Sanna Marin, Finland’s 34-year-old former transport minister, wins a vote in parliament by 99 votes to 70 in favour of her becoming the country’s next prime minister.

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Finland reclaims sauna world record from China | AFP

Bathers from 101 different countries squeeze into a sauna in Helsinki, Finland, in a successful attempt to reclaim the world record from China, which won the title in 2013 with 99 different nationalities in one sauna. Under Guinness World Record rules, the bathers have to be in the sauna for a minimum of five minutes, at a minimum temperature of 60 degrees. Participants had to prove their nationality by showing the adjudicator a valid passport. The attempt, organised by students and staff at Haaga Helia University, was successful after organisers asked foreign embassies in Helsinki to help rally as many different nationalities as possible.

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Finland begins fishing plastic ‘ghost nets’ out of the Baltic | AFP

Finnish environmental authorities have begun a project to trawl the Baltic sea and remove abandoned fishing nets, known as “ghost nets”, which continue to trap fish and other wildlife. Plastic fishing equipment disintegrates extremely slowly in the water, and the UN’s food body estimates ghost nets constitute one tenth of all plastic waste in the world’s seas.

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Finnish power companies turn to animal poo for cleaner electricity | AFP

In the search for cleaner ways to generate electricity, power companies in Finland have set their sights on an energy source which is distinctly more brown than green: animal dung. 100 tons of manure from this year’s Helsinki International Horse Show was incinerated to produce enough energy to power the four-day event and heat homes in the capital. Energy company Fortum claims that that the manure produced daily by two horses can heat a single family home for a year. Meanwhile energy company Vantaan Energia has launched a campaign for dog owners to “give poo a new life” by sending their pets’ doings to be incinerated at the firm’s waste to energy plant. Vantaan Energia burns 1,000 tonnes of household rubbish every day, which it says produces efficient energy with limited emissions and leftover waste products.

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Trump fury grows against rising impeachment storm | AFP

US President Donald Trump responds to a report that Adam Schiff received an early account of the whistleblower complaint, saying that the Democratic head of the House Intelligence Committee “probably helped write it,” speaking at a White House news conference with Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto.

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Angry Trump rails against Biden, media, WTO

Unleashing an unusual show of anger, President Donald Trump railed against former Vice President Joe Biden, his son, the media and the World Trade Organization at a joint press conference in the White House East Room with Finland’s president. (Oct. 2)

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Bike riding courses offer Finland’s immigrants new freedom | AFP

It’s a skill you never forget once learnt, as the saying goes: Now immigrants to Finland can receive free cycling lessons to help them better integrate into life in the bike-loving nation.

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Thousands of Lego fans gather to build megacity in Finland | AFP

A Vermeer oil painting, a theme park, and even President Trump all receive the Lego treatment as thousands of models made of the iconic plastic bricks go on show at Finland’s largest ever Lego convention. Organisers expect 15,000 enthusiasts to take part in the mass-building event this weekend, where participants will rifle through millions of plastic blocks to construct their own part of a Lego megacity .

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Finland begins fishing plastic “ghost nets” out of the Baltic | AFP

Finnish environmental authorities have begun a project to trawl the Baltic sea and remove abandoned fishing nets, known as “ghost nets”, which continue to trap fish and other wildlife. Plastic fishing equipment disintegrates extremely slowly in the sea, and the UN’s food body claims ghost nets constitute one tenth of all plastic waste in the world’s seas.

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Brexit without a deal “seems obvious now”, says Finnish PM | AFP

Britain leaving the EU with a no-deal Brexit now appears “obvious”, says Finland’s Prime Minister Antti Rinne, whose country holds the rotating EU Presidency. SOUNDBITE

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Purl jam: Finland hosts heavy metal knitting championship

Knitters from around the world thrash around at the first-ever Heavy Metal Knitting World Championship in eastern Finland. (July 12)

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Signing of bilateral treaties between South Korea and Finland | AFP

South Korean President Moon Jae-In and his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto assist to the signing of bilateral treaties. Moon is visiting the Nordic region and will be spending eight days in Finland, Norway and Sweden. IMAGES

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Ministers pose for family photo as Arctic Council meeting begis

The foreign ministers of the US, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland Norway and Canada arrive and pose for a group photo as the Arctic Council ministerial meeting in the Finnish city of Rovaniemi opens. IMAGES of the family photo

Lavrov and Pompeo meet on sidelines of Arctic Council session

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned China and Russia to “respect our interests” in the Arctic, or face the consequences.
Frozen and desolate, the Arctic region looks set to be the next frontier for competition between the US, Russia, and China.

Speaking at a meeting of the Arctic Council in Finland on Monday, Pompeo launched a broadside against the US’ competitors in the region, particularly China.

“Arctic seaways could become the 21st century Suez and Panama canals,” America’s top diplomat stated.

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Pompeo, Lavrov meet in Finland before Arctic ministerial

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo an Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shake hands before reporters in the Finnish city of Rovaniemi before the beginning of an Arctic Council ministerial meeting. 1ST IMAGES

Pompeo slams “aggressive Russian behaviour” in the Arctic

“These provocative actions are part of a pattern of aggressive Russian behaviour here in the Arctic,” said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at an Arctic Council meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland. SOUNDBITES