NATO accelerates membership for Finland and Sweden
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced yesterday that the security bloc would grant Sweden and Finland accelerated membership. The move increases pressure on Vladimir Putin, who justified Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with what he termed the need to keep the military alliance away from his country’s borders. Follow the latest updates.
The Finnish parliament is expected to ratify a NATO application today, and Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic Party said yesterday it would vote to join. “President Putin wants Ukraine to be defeated, NATO to be brought down, North America and Europe to be divided,” Stoltenberg said. “But Ukraine stands, NATO is stronger than ever, Europe and North America are firmly united.”
Finland’s and Sweden’s decision to apply to join NATO increases the likelihood that the alliance’s troops will line up along Russia’s 810-mile-long border with Finland.
Next steps: An application to join NATO must be unanimously approved by the 30 members. One of them, Turkey, has expressed concerns about the pending applications, although it has suggested it will not oppose admission if its own security concerns are removed.
To the ground: Ukrainian forces have moved near the Russian border in recent days after pushing Russian troops out of the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. Evidence is mounting that Russia’s offensive in the Donbas region is faltering further east after initially modest gains.
In other news from the war:
The Lost Americans
Nearly a million people have died from Covid-19 in the US. Many of the loved ones they left behind carry a grief that feels lonely, permanently and painfully removed from a nation that wants to move on.
In dozens of interviews with The Times, people across America who have lost relatives, spouses and friends to Covid described how they had experienced the pandemic, from the terrifying unknowns of the early weeks to this moment, with a reopened nation moving forward even as more than 300 people die every day.
For now, there is no permanent national monument to the lost, no common place to gather and mourn. And to some, their grief seems almost indifferent.
First person: “For us, the pandemic is not just this blip in our history,” said Erin Reiner, whose mother died of Covid. “People talk about it like it’s such an inconvenience – we can’t do this; we’re not getting this party. I just wish that was all for us, for me, for the countless other families.”
Alternative outcome: If the US had the same Covid death rate as Australia, about 900,000 lives would have been saved. Our Australian bureau chief examines what went right in Australia and what went wrong in the US
Somalia elects president, but terrorists hold power
In a vote postponed for nearly two years, hundreds of lawmakers in Somalia yesterday elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the country’s new president. Mohamud, a former president and peace activist, received 214 votes from the 328 legislatures, who were elected by clan representatives.
His selection ends a bitter election period marred by corruption, his predecessor’s attempt to stay in power and fierce fighting in the streets. Mohamud defeated three dozen candidates after three rounds of voting, including Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who was convicted after extending his term in office last year.
The vote comes amid a host of challenges facing Somalia: rising inflation, a recent deadly drought and the threat from Al Shabab, a terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda. After more than 16 years, the group now has extensive powers, including tax extortion, adjudicating lawsuits, forcing minors into its ranks and carrying out suicide bombings.
context: Somalia’s 16 million people have suffered for decades from civil wars, weak governance and terrorism. The central government is supported by African Union peacekeepers and Western aid.
citable: “Our country must move forward, not back,” Mohamud said after he was sworn in early today. “I promise to build a Somalia that is in harmony with itself and in harmony with the world.”
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What does the data tell us about wealth and happiness?
The richest Americans — the 140,000 who make more than $1.58 million a year — may not be the tycoons you think they are. And the things that make us happy are almost exactly what you’d expect: nature, sex, friends, and exercise, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz writes in this piece from our Opinion section.
Many adults under the age of 35 disregard financial prudence, Anna P. Kambhampaty reported in The Times. Discouraged about the future — amid climate change, a pandemic, war, and more — this group saves less and pursues passion projects, such as coral farming, or risky careers.
There are some historical analogies here. During the Cold War, the threat of nuclear war shaped the plans of young people. And when the 2008 financial crisis hit, saving for a house felt useless to many people. “If you have an apocalyptic vision of the future, why save for it?” said a financial psychologist.
Hannah Jones, a stand-up comic in Denver, put it this way: “I’m not going to deprive myself of some of the comforts of life right now for a future that feels like it could be taken away from me at any moment.”
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SOURCE – www.nytimes.com