Your Thursday briefing: Finland and Sweden could join NATO

We cover potential NATO expansion and Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s presidential campaign in the Philippines.

Finland and Sweden plan to apply for NATO membership in the coming weeks and are widely expected to join, underscoring how the invasion of Ukraine has backfired on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Instead of crushing Ukrainian nationalism, he strengthened it. Instead of dividing NATO and blocking its growth, he united and perhaps enlarged it.

The prime ministers of the two non-aligned Nordic countries held a press conference in Stockholm today, with the Finnish leader saying a decision could be made ‘within weeks’.

Meanwhile, the Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian presidents traveled to Ukraine on Wednesday in a show of support, as investigators ramped up efforts to collect evidence of reported Russian atrocities outside Kyiv. An initial report by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe revealed “clear patterns” of violations of international law by the Russian military.

The coronavirus pandemic, now in its third year, has reached monumental proportions across the world. Countries have now recorded 500 million confirmed cases of Covid-19, including more than 200 million this year alone.

Compared to two weeks ago, cases have fallen by 34% to around 1 million per day and deaths have fallen by 24% to around 3,700 per day.

But the true numbers are almost certainly much higher due to a lack of sufficient testing in many countries, including the United States. A WHO analysis estimated that 65% of Africans had been infected by September 2021, almost 100 times the number of confirmed cases on the continent.

Health experts and regional authorities have expressed concern that the lack of adequate testing could limit global preparedness. “If you don’t test,” said one epidemiologist, “then you don’t know what variants you have.”

In other pandemic developments:


Ferdinand Marcos Jr. spent much of his life defending his family’s name against accusations of greed and corruption under his father’s brutal rule from 1965 to 1986. He is now the clear frontrunner in the election presidential election next month.

Marcos, known by his childhood nickname “Bongbong”, is set to rewrite the history books in more ways than one. Targeting young voters with no memory of martial law or the killing of political prisoners under his father’s regime, Marcos called the criticism ‘fake news’ and dismissed presidential debates, opting instead to rely on social media to spread his message.

“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against oblivion,” said Maria Ressa, a Nobel Prize-winning journalist and outspoken critic of Marcos. “If the facts don’t prevail, we’ll have a whole new story.”

Storm Deaths: Landslides caused by Tropical Storm Megi, the first such storm this year, buried a remote community in the central province of Leyte in the Philippines, killing at least 48 people.

McKinsey & Company consultancy works for many of the world’s largest companies, as well as governments in the United States, Europe and Asia. A Times investigation found that working on both sides of the fence was part of McKinsey’s talk. In the United States, this allowed employees who worked for opioid makers and other pharmaceutical companies to also consult for the FDA, raising serious questions about conflicts of interest.

In “5 Minutes That Will Make You Love…”, The Times asks musicians, critics and experts to recommend songs in a certain musical style. The latest edition explores a lesser-known area: Renaissance music.

“We wanted to shine a light on music you’re unlikely to hear in your local symphony,” Times classical music critic Zachary Woolfe told us. “There is incredible variety in 15th and 16th century compositions, but this selection focuses on some of the finest choral writing ever produced.”

The songs on the list evoke the experience of living centuries ago. In many of them the celestial harmonies resound as if resounding in a cathedral. Others are fun and surprising: “Come, sirrah Jack, ho”, a casual ode to drinking and smoking, it’s like a night in a tavern, with singers guaranteeing that the tobacco – which is “very, very good” – is “perfect”. Trinidad.

Listen now.

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