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Finland: MPs to debate whether to join NATO | Russia-Ukraine war News

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Politicians in Finland are due to start debating whether the country should seek membership in the NATO military alliance after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted a spike in political and public support for joining the transatlantic bloc.

The parliament session on Wednesday comes despite warnings by Russia of a nuclear buildup in the Baltic should Finland and neighbouring Sweden join NATO.

“I think it will happen quite fast. Within weeks, not within months,” Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin said last week, referring to her country deciding on whether to apply for membership.

Finland’s 200 members of parliament have received a government-commissioned “white paper” that assessed the implications of NATO membership alongside other security options, such as increased bilateral defence agreements.

The report does not make recommendations but stresses that without NATO membership Finland – a European Union member state that shares a 1,300km (810-mile) border with Russia – enjoys no security guarantees, despite currently being a partner of the alliance. It also says the “deterrent effect” on Finland’s defence would be “considerably greater” inside the bloc, while noting that membership also carried obligations for Finland to assist other NATO states.

Sweden is also discussing whether to submit a membership bid following Russia’s February 24 invasion. A poll on Wednesday showed that 57 percent of Swedes now favoured NATO membership, up from 51 percent in March. Those opposed to joining fell to 21 percent from 24 percent, while those who were undecided dipped to 22 percent from 25 percent.

‘Highly likely’

In Finland, after two decades of public support for NATO membership remaining steady at 20-30 percent, the war caused a surge in those in favour to more than 60 percent, according to opinion polls.

Public statements gathered by Finnish media suggest half of the 200 MPs now support membership, with only 12 opposing it. Others say they will announce a position after detailed discussions.

The Finnish government said it hopes to build a parliamentary consensus over the coming weeks, with MPs due to hear from a number of security experts.

On Saturday, Finland’s European Affairs Minister Tytti Tuppurainen said she believed a Finnish application was “highly likely”.

“But the decision is not yet made,” she told Britain’s Sky News.

However, the Finns “seem to have already made up their mind and there is a huge majority for the NATO membership”.

Many analysts predict Finland could submit a bid in time for a NATO summit in June. Any membership applications must be accepted by all 30 NATO states, a process that could take four months to a year.

Finland has so far received public assurances from NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg that the alliance’s door remains open, and support from several members.

But Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said last week that should Sweden and Finland join NATO, then Russia would have to strengthen its land, naval and air forces in the Baltic Sea.

Medvedev also explicitly raised the nuclear threat by saying that there could be no more talk of a “nuclear-free” Baltic – where Russia has its Kaliningrad exclave sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania.

Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto said Russia’s response could include airspace and territorial violations and hybrid attacks, which Finnish NATO proponents believe the country is well prepared to withstand.

Finland declared independence in 1917 after 150 years of Russian rule.

During World War II, its vastly outnumbered army fought off a Soviet invasion, before a peace deal saw it cede several border areas to Moscow.

The Nordic nation remained neutral during the Cold War in exchange for Soviet guarantees not to invade.

After the fall of the Iron Curtain, Finland firmly aligned itself with the West, by joining the EU and becoming a close partner of NATO.

Successive Finnish leaders shied away from full membership believing that military non-alignment was the best way to maintain working relations with the Kremlin.

Neighbouring Sweden is also considering its neutral position. A growing majority of Swedes are now in favour of joining NATO, a poll showed on Wednesday.

Sweden has not been at war since the time of Napoleon and has built its security policy on “non-participation in military alliances”. But like Finland, the February 24 invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”, has forced a radical rethink.



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Not going to fly: Spirit Airlines again rejects JetBlue’s bid | Aviation News

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Spirit shareholders will decide the issue during a June 10 special meeting.

By Bloomberg

Spirit Airlines Inc. rebuffed a hostile $3.3 billion takeover offer from JetBlue Airways Corp., setting the stage for a potentially contentious vote by shareholders on whether to back a JetBlue bid or stand by a pending combination with rival deep discounter Frontier Group Holdings Inc.

Spirit said its board unanimously determined that the JetBlue proposal is not in the best interests of the carrier or its shareholders. The potential transaction “faces substantial regulatory hurdles” and is unlikely to be successfully completed, Spirit said Thursday in a statement. Spirit again recommended shareholders vote in favor of Frontier’s bid.

JetBlue didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Frontier also didn’t immediately respond.

It was the second rejection of a JetBlue bid by Spirit’s board, which stood by Frontier’s $2.9 billion cash-and-stock deal agreed to in February. After an unsuccessful $3.6 billion cash offer, JetBlue on May 16 went hostile, offering the reduced proposal directly to Spirit shareholders in a tender offer.

Spirit shareholders will decide the issue during a June 10 special meeting.

The no-frills carrier stuck by its earlier reasoning that the Frontier offer has a better chance of closing. Market overlap in the eastern US between JetBlue and Spirit could raise antitrust questions at the same time JetBlue battles a federal lawsuit over a business alliance with American Airlines Group Inc.

Spirit shares fell 1.9% to $19.05 as of 7:29 a.m. before regular trading in New York, while JetBlue and Frontier each slipped less than 1%.

With the pursuit of Spirit, JetBlue is seeking a burst of growth it can’t otherwise attain. The rival bid by Frontier would combine similarly focused deep-discounter carriers offering bare-bones low fares while charging for extras like coffee, bottled water and printed boarding passes. Either combination would pass Alaska Air Group Inc. to become the fifth-largest US airline by capacity.

Domestic, Leisure Travel

Spirit’s allure stems in part from an industrywide turn toward domestic markets and leisure travelers — the bread-and-butter of ultra-low-cost airlines — as it’s recovered from a pandemic slump. Bigger carriers have moved more heavily onto that turf amid the slow return of overseas travel demand.

Under the Frontier deal, investors in Miramar, Florida-based Spirit would receive 1.9126 in Frontier stock and $2.13 in cash for each Spirit share. The deal implies a value of $25.83 a share for Spirit. Assumption of net debt and operating lease liabilities push the total value to $6.6 billion. Holders of Denver-based Frontier would own 51.5% of the combined company and name seven of the twelve directors. The agreement includes a $94.2 million breakup fee.

JetBlue has said its offer isn’t subject to approval by its shareholders or to a financing contingency, and includes a $200 million “reverse breakup fee” payable to Spirit if a deal is blocked for antitrust reasons. The proposed deal would generate as much as $700 million in annual synergies, the carrier has said.

A Spirit deal would give JetBlue, hounded by Wall Street analysts for much of its 23-year history over cost creep, access to an organization and management team highly focused on keeping operating expenses in check. JetBlue lost out in its only other takeover attempt when it was outbid by Alaska for Virgin America in 2016.

(Updates with additional details beginning in second paragraph)

–With assistance from Justin Bachman.



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Germany school shooting injures one, suspect arrested | Crime News

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The shooting in a secondary school in Bremerhaven injured one person, who is not a pupil, police say.

Police in Germany’s northern city of Bremerhaven have arrested a suspected attacker after a shooting in a school injured one person.

The incident happened on Thursday at the Lloyd Gymnasium, a secondary school in the centre of Bremerhaven, local police said in a statement.

“The armed person has been arrested and is in police custody,” they said, adding the injured person, who has been taken to hospital, was not a pupil.

“Students are in their classrooms with their teachers. The police have the situation on the ground under control,” the statement said.

German paper Bild said the injured person was a woman.

It also reported that a second suspect appeared to be on the run. It earlier reported they were armed with a crossbow.

Police said they were ascertaining whether more than one person was involved.

School shootings are relatively rare in Germany, a country with some of the strictest gun laws in Europe. But a recent spate has rattled the population.

Bremerhaven police said on Twitter that a large deployment was under way in the city centre and asked residents to avoid the Mayor-Martin-Donandt square and surrounding streets, in the vicinity of the Lloyd secondary school.

Previous incidents

Last week, investigators in Germany’s city of Essen said they foiled a school bomb assault, as they arrested a 16-year-old who is suspected to have been planning a “Nazi terror attack”.

Police in Essen stormed the teen’s room overnight, taking him into custody and uncovering 16 “pipe bombs”, as well as anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim material.

In January, an 18-year-old student opened fire in a lecture hall at Heidelberg University in southwestern Germany, killing a young woman and injuring three others before fleeing the scene and turning the weapon on himself.

In 2009, a former pupil killed nine students, three teachers and three passersby in a school shooting at Winnenden, in the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. The attacker then killed himself.

In 2002, a 19-year-old former student, apparently in revenge for having been expelled, shot dead 16 people, including 12 teachers and two students, at a school in the central German city of Erfurt. He then killed himself.

The Winnenden and Erfurt massacres were carried out with legal weapons and spurred Germany to tighten gun laws.

The country currently requires anyone below 25 to pass a psychiatric exam before applying for a gun licence.



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How much do Australian voters care about climate change? | TV Shows

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On Thursday, May 19 at 19:30GMT:
More than 17.2 million Australians are set to vote during this week’s elections – and for the first time, climate change could shape the outcome in a major way.

Massive deadly bushfires in 2019 and destructive flooding in 2021 have changed many Australians’ outlook on climate action. Polls show an increasing number of citizens believe that global warming “is a serious and pressing problem” and that “we should begin taking steps now, even if this involves significant costs.”

Despite this growing support for stronger climate policy, neither major party has pledged ambitious reform. Both Liberal Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and opposition leader Anthony Albanese support a net zero carbons emissions policy by 2050, which analysts say isn’t bold enough. And though 29 percent of Australians cite climate change as their most important issue, most candidates are not talking about it, for fear of alienating voters in coal mining towns.

That’s one big reason why so-called “teal independent” candidates are gaining traction around the nation. This group of nearly two dozen, mostly female candidates are running on an anti-corruption, pro-climate action platform. Political experts say that if a major party fails to secure a majority in Parliament, these independents could tip the balance of power after negotiating more climate-friendly policy outcomes.

Other issues at stake in this year’s elections include the soaring cost of living, government corruption and tackling gender and racial inequality.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll talk about the major issues sending Australians to the polls, and what it could mean for the country’s climate policy. Join the conversation.

On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Kishor Napier-Raman, @kishor_nr
Federal Politics Reporter, Crikey

Intifar Chowdhury, @intifar2210
Associate Lecturer & Youth Researcher, Australia National University (ANU)

Kate Crowley, @Kate__Crowley
Associate Professor, University of Tasmania





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