While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, May 16

Nato foreign ministers said the accession process – which usually takes up to a year – would be expedited. PHOTO: REUTERS

Finland, Sweden on the fast track to Nato membership over Ukraine

Finland and Sweden are on the fast track to becoming the newest members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) following their respective governments’ historic announcements on Sunday that they will seek membership in the military alliance over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The motion will be debated in the Finnish Parliament on Monday, but with a majority of lawmakers in favour and record levels of public support for the proposal, a formal application for Nato membership appears to now only be a formality.

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto confirmed the bid to reporters in the presidential palace in Helsinki a day after informing his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin of the move, prompting Mr Putin to warn that bilateral ties would be hurt.

“Today, the President of the Republic and the Government’s Foreign Policy Committee have jointly agreed that Finland will apply for Nato membership after consulting Parliament. This is a historic day. A new era is opening,” Mr Niinisto said.


Kim Jong Un orders N. Korean military to ‘stabilise’ drug supply amid Covid-19 outbreak

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guided an emergency politburo meeting and ordered the military be used to stabilise the supply of medicines in Pyongyang as the country battles its first confirmed Covid-19 outbreak, state media reported on Monday.

The country reported 392,920 more people with fever symptoms, with eight new deaths, state news agency KCNA said.

North Korea had previously claimed no confirmed cases of the virus, and is one of only two countries in the world that have yet to begin a Covid-19 vaccination campaign, according to the World Health Organisation.


Suspect in New York shooting was detained for mental health check last year

A white teenager who fatally shot 10 people in a racist attack at a New York grocery store in a Black neighbourhood had been taken into custody and given a mental health evaluation a year ago, but was released after roughly a day, authorities said on Sunday.

The suspect, Payton Gendron, 18, surrendered to police on Saturday at the Buffalo, New York, grocery store after what authorities called an act of "racially motivated violent extremism."

He apparently publicised a racist manifesto on the Internet.


British PM Johnson sees room for a deal on Northern Ireland post-Brexit trade

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wanted to resolve a standoff with the European Union over Northern Ireland's post-Brexit trade rules, but he kept open the option of unilateral action that the EU says could start a trade war.

Johnson was due to travel to Belfast on Monday to urge local political leaders to form a new power-sharing government, a key institution under the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement.

After elections this month, pro-British unionists refused to join a new administration because of their opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol which governs post-Brexit trade.


Tennis: Djokovic beats Tsitsipas to claim sixth Italian Open title

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Novak Djokovic won his sixth Italian Open title on Sunday after a straight-sets victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas, 6-0, 7-6 (7/5) in Rome.

World number one Djokovic saw off Monte Carlo Masters champion Tsitsipas to claim the last major tournament before Roland Garros gets underway later this month.

The 34-year-old won his first tournament of the season and confirmed his return to form after an opening few months of the season dominated by Covid-19 vaccination controversy.


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