Friday, May 13, 2022

Wake-Up Call: Finland Moves To Join NATO

Finland's president and its prime minister announced Thursday that their county should apply right away to join NATO, and even though Finland's Parliament still has to weigh in, it's now almost certain they will apply and be admitted. Sweden is also considering joining NATO and could do the same within days. It's a big turnaround for both countries, with Finland having adopted neutrality after World War Two and Sweden having avoided military alliances for more than two centuries, but their thinking and public opinion shifted dramatically after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February, which led to fears they could be in Moscow's sites as well because of their proximity to Russia. That's a blow to Russia, as President Vladimir Putin had hoped to divide and push back NATO in Europe, but the invasion has caused the opposite to happen. Russia’s Foreign Ministry warned yesterday in response to Finland's announcement that it quote, "will be forced to take retaliatory steps of military-technical and other characteristics in order to counter the emerging threats to its national security."

In developments in the fight in Ukraine, 12 Russian missiles hit an oil refinery and other infrastructure in the central industrial city of Kremenchuk, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy charged in his nightly address that Russian strikes had hit schools in the Chernihiv region, stating, "All Russian commanders who give such orders are simply sick, and incurable." Ukrainian officials claimed to have struck a Russian logistics ship in the Black Sea as it was trying to deliver an anti-aircraft system to Snake Island. An adviser to Zelenskyy said the ship was badly damaged, but not believed to have sunk.


Meanwhile, the first war crimes trial of a Russian soldier since the invasion is set to begin today in Kyiv, with a captured member of a Russian tank unit accused of shooting and killing an unarmed 62-year-old civilian man in the opening week of the war. The attorney for Sergeant Vadim Shyshimarin said yesterday that his client had not yet decided how he will plead. The coordinator of Ukraine's largest human rights group, the Center for Civil Liberties, said they will monitor the trial to ensure the soldier’s legal rights are protected.

➤BIDEN HOSTS ASEAN SUMMIT, FIRST IN WASHINGTON: President Biden hosted the first day of the two-day Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit yesterday, the first time it's been held in Washington. Biden welcomed leaders from eight ASEAN nations for a dinner to start the summit, as the administration seeks to show the U.S. hasn't lost focus on the Pacific region even while it's been dealing with the war in Ukraine. The White House announced that the U.S. would commit to more than $150 million in new projects to bolster Southeast Asia’s climate, maritime and public health infrastructure. The summit is being held ahead of Biden's trip next week to South Korea and Japan, his first visit to Asia as president.

➤JAN. 6TH COMMITTEE SUBPOENAS HOUSE REPUB. LEADER MCCARTHY, FOUR OTHER GOP LAWMAKERS: The House committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol issued subpoenas yesterday to House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and four other Republican members of Congress, a highly unusual step. The panel wants to speak to McCarthy about his conversations with then-President Donald Trump on the day of the attack, and with the other four lawmakers -- Reps. Jim Jordan, Scott Perry, Andy Biggs and Mo Brooks -- about meetings they had with the White House ahead of January 6th as Trump and his aides worked to overturn the presidential election result. McCarthy said afterward that had hadn't, quote, "seen a subpoena," and accused the panel of not conducting a "legitimate investigation" and wanting to go after political opponents. There are seven Democrats and two Republicans on the panel. The subpoenas were issued when all five lawmakers wouldn't agree to requests to voluntarily testify. McCarthy didn't say whether he would comply with the subpoena.

➤AFTER ACKNOWLEDING COVID OUTBREAK, NORTH KOREA SAYS SIX HAVE DIED, EXPLOSIVE SPREAD: One day after North Korea acknowledged having a Covid-19 outbreak for the first time during the pandemic, the country's state media said Friday (May 13th) that six people have died and 350,000 have been treated for a fever that has spread, quote, "explosively" across North Korea. However, the North said it didn't know the cause of the mass fevers. North Korea imposed a lockdown Thursday, and leader Kim Jong Un criticized officials for failing to prevent, quote, "a vulnerable point in the epidemic prevention system."

Daily Mail Graphic

➤POLL..ECONOMY, ABORTION ARE VOTER'S TOP CONCERNS: With the midterm elections just under six months away, a new Monmouth University poll out Thursday that asked about voters' top concerns found they were the economy and abortion. When asked to choose the single most important issue from among six policy options, the economy and abortion were at the top as the biggest concerns, with the economy named by 26 percent and abortion by 25 percent. The abortion issue has come into central focus since the leak early last week of a draft Supreme Court opinion indicating the high court is poised to overturn the five-decade-old decision legalizing abortion nationwide. Next was health care at 16 percent, followed by immigration at 14 percent, gun control at nine percent, and taxes at eight percent. It's been well reported that President Biden has a negative approval rating from voters, but this poll shows they feel even less good about Congress, whose members they will vote for this fall. Just 15 percent of those surveyed approve of the job Congress is currently doing, down from 21 percent in March, with disapproval at 77 percent.

🛫PASSENGERS ARE UNHAPPY AS AIRLINES GET BACK TO POST-PANDEMIC SCHEDULES:  Many Americans are taking to the skies again after spending the last two years at home, and it seems many are unhappy. The new J.D. Power survey of airline passenger satisfaction is out, and it shows overall satisfaction is 798 out of 1,000, down more than 20 points from a year ago. And there were many reasons—passengers expressed dissatisfaction with the flight crews, and the ongoing suspension of alcohol service in premium classes. But the thing making passengers most dissatisfied was the cost of flights, which has increased 20 percent so far this year. Overall satisfaction with cost and fees fell 66 points for premium economy passengers, 33 points for economy passengers, and 21 points for first and business class passengers. JetBlue was the highest-ranking airline in customer satisfaction, taking the top honors in the first/business class segment as well as premium economy, topping last year’s winner: Delta.  

➤STRANGE DREAMS MIGHT HELP YOUR BRAIN LEARN BETTER:  What’s the strangest dream you’ve ever had? Researchers exposed a computer brain simulation to different dreams during the three known phases of sleep: wakefulness, non-REM sleep, and REM sleep. They found the three phases appear to have complementary functions for learning: experiencing the stimulus, solidifying the experience, and discovering semantic concepts. Lead study co-author Jakob Jordan adds, "While non-REM dreams resemble waking experiences quite closely, REM dreams tend to creatively combine these experiences.” Lead study co-author Nicolas Deperrois adds, “We think these findings suggest a simple evolutionary role for dreams, without interpreting their exact meaning. It shouldn't be surprising that dreams are bizarre: this bizarreness serves a purpose. The next time you’re having crazy dreams, maybe don't try to find a deeper meaning - your brain may be simply organizing your experiences.

🏀NBA PLAYOFFS: Results from second-round games yesterday:
  • Miami Heat 99, Philadelphia 76ers 90 - Miami wins series 4-2
  • Dallas Mavericks 113, Phoenix Suns 86 - Series tied 3-3

🏒NHL PLAYOFFS: Results from first-round games yesterday:
  • St. Louis Blues 5, Minnesota Wild 1 - St. Louis wins 4-2
  • Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Toronto Maples Leafs 3 (OT) - Series tied 3-3
  • Boston Bruins 5, Carolina Hurricanes 2 - Series tied 3-3
  • Edmonton Oilers 4, L.A. Kings 2 - Series tied 3-3

🏀HEAT DEFEAT 76ERS TO ADVANCE TO EASTERN CONF. FINALS: The Miami Heat defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 99-90 last night to win their second round playoffs series 4 games to 2 and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Jimmy Butler lead the Heat with 32 points. Miami will play the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks-Boston Celtics series, which the defending NBA champion

🏒BLUES TOP WILD TO ADVANCE TO SECOND ROUND: The St Bucks are leading 3 games to 2 with Game 6 tonight. . Louis Blues beat the Minnesota Wild 5-1 last night to win their first-round playoff series 4 games to 2 and advance to the second round for the first time since 2019. The Blues will play the Colorado Avalanche in Round 2.

🐴KENTUCKY DERBY WINNER RICH STRIKE WON'T RACE IN THE PREAKNESS: There won't be a Triple Crown winner this year, after Rich Dawson, the owner of surprise Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike, announced Thursday (May 12th) that the horse won't run in the Preakness on May 21st. Dawson said he and trainer Eric Reed agreed to stick with their initial plan before Rich Strike's huge Derby upset to rest him for five weeks before running in the Belmont Stakes on June 11th, instead of doing the short two-week turnaround and race in the Preakness.

🏈RAMS TO HOST BILLS IN NFL SEASON OPENER ON SEPTEMBER 8TH: The Super Bowl champion L.A. Rams will host the Buffalo Bills to kick off the season on Thursday night, September 8th, it was revealed yesterday as the 2022-23 NFL schedule was released. In addition to the three Christmas Day games, there will be a Christmas Eve game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Pittsburgh Steelers, and there will be 14 games on New Year's Day, which is a Sunday, which will force some college football bowl games to move away from January 1st.

⚾GUARDIANS PITCHING COACH TO MANAGE AFTER COVID OUTBREAK SIDELINES FRANCONA, COACHES: The Cleveland Guardians said Thursday pitching coach Carl Willis will be acting manager for a three-games series this weekend against the Minnesota Twins after manager Terry Francona and five coaches were sidelined due to a Covid-19 outbreak. The Guardians' game on Wednesday was postponed due to the outbreak, however Cleveland said there were no new cases on Thursday, on a day when the team was off. So far, no Guardians players have tested positive.

🏌GOLFER MUNOZ SHOOTS 60 AT BYRON NELSON, FIRST TO DO SO TWICE IN A SEASON: Colombian golfer Sebastian Munoz shot a 60 in the first round of the Byron Nelson in Texas, becoming the first player in PGA Tour history to have two rounds of 60 in the same season. Munoz also had a 60 in the opening round of the RSM Classic in November. He's currently at the top of the leader board, ahead by four shots.

➤THESE STATES ARE IN FOR AN ALARMINGLY HOT SUMMER:  Summer is supposed to be hot, but a new government report predicts it’s going to be really hot in several states. The Climate and Health Outlook report, from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE) government agencies, predicts which states and counties are expected to experience “extremely hot days.” They define this as when the daily maximum temperature is above the 95th percentile value of the historical temperature distribution in that area. They predict this will happen in 203 counties across 14 states, but Texas is being hit particularly hard—with the state accounting for over half of the extremely dire weather threats. And in general, the North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME) predicts the average temperature will be 1.8 to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above-normal for most of the continental U.S., with Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska experiencing a higher 90-day average temperature of 3.6 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

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