WASHINGTON: The US Senate ratified the entry of Sweden and Finland into NATO Wednesday, strongly backing the expansion of the transatlantic alliance in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Senate voted 95 to 1 in favor of the two Nordic countries’ accession, making the United States the 23rd of the 30 NATO countries to formally endorse it so far, after Italy approved it earlier Wednesday and France on Tuesday.
President Joe Biden hailed the Senate’s quick ratification process — the fastest since 1981.
“This historic vote sends an important signal of the sustained, bipartisan US commitment to NATO, and to ensuring our Alliance is prepared to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow,” Biden said in a statement.
The sole opponent was Republican Josh Hawley, who agreed that the United States should focus on protecting its homeland, but that Washington should concentrate on the challenge from China rather than Europe.
One senator, Republican Rand Paul, voted “present” rather than endorsing or opposing the motion.
Senate leader Chuck Schumer said it was a signal of Western unity after Moscow launched a war on Ukraine on February 24.
“This is important substantively and as a signal to Russia: they cannot intimidate America or Europe,” Schumer said.
“Putin has tried to use his war in Ukraine to divide the West. Instead, today’s vote shows our alliance is stronger than ever,” he said.
All 30 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization must agree if Finland and Sweden, officially non-aligned but longtime adjunct partners of the alliance, are admitted.
According to a NATO list, seven member countries have yet to formally agree to the new double-entry: the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Turkey.
Only Turkey has raised a challenge, demanding certain concessions from Finland and Sweden to back their memberships.
Ankara has demanded the extradition of dozens of government opponents it labels “terrorists” from both countries in exchange for its support.
Turkey said on July 21 that a special committee would meet Finnish and Swedish officials in August to assess if the two nations are complying with its conditions.
McDonald’s worker shot in New York over cold fries
A man in New York has been charged with attempted murder after allegedly shooting a McDonald’s worker for serving his mother cold french fries, police and reports said.
Multiple gunshot incidents occur daily in the Big Apple.
In this latest case, Michael Morgan, 20, shot the 23-year-old McDonald’s employee in Brooklyn on Monday evening, according to police and the New York Post.
The victim is in critical condition in hospital.
The incident started as an argument between a 40-year-old woman and the victim, whom she accused of having given her cold fries, the tabloid said.
The woman made a video call to her son Morgan, who burst into the fast-food chain and argued with the employee before the two of them went outside.
Morgan then shot the employee, according to a police source cited by the Post.
The accused has been arrested several times for various crimes, the tabloid said.
Morgan was also slapped with a charge of criminal possession of a loaded firearm, a New York Police Department spokesperson told AFP.
The number of shooting victims in New York is down almost nine percent compared to last year, falling to 988 from 1,051, according to weekly statistics from the NYPD.
There are almost 120 guns for every 100 people in the United States, according to the Small Arms Survey group.
More than 45,000 people were killed in 2020 by firearms, half of them by suicide, according to the Gun Violence Archive.