Tuesday’s news cycle was jam-packed with coverage of Donald Trump’s arraignment at a Manhattan courthouse, but the former president’s history-making moment as he was charged with 34 felony counts wasn’t the only big news that took place yesterday. Here are some of the other major stories you might have missed.
Finland joined NATO
Finland became the 31st nation to join NATO, ending the country’s long history of military neutrality.
“The era of nonalignment in our history has come to an end — a new era begins,” Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said on Tuesday.
Finland’s entry into the 74-year-old alliance of European and North American countries, Yahoo partner the Associated Press points out, means that Finland will benefit from NATO’s security guarantee that “an attack on any one of its member countries will be met with a response from them all.”
This guarantee comes at a critical time, as military aggression in neighboring Russia has intensified. Finland submitted its application to join NATO in May 2022 — weeks after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 — and NATO’s expansion is considered a huge blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“When Putin launched his brutal war of aggression against the people of Ukraine, he thought he could divide Europe and NATO. He was wrong,” President Biden said in a statement on Tuesday. “Today, we are more united than ever.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky congratulated Finland on joining NATO, writing on Telegram that “amid Russian aggression, the Alliance became the only effective guarantee of security in the region.”
Ukraine — along with Sweden, Bosnia and Georgia — is eager to also join NATO, though larger NATO member nations are reluctant to accept Ukraine while it’s in the middle of a war with nuclear-armed Russia.
Chicago elected a new progressive mayor
Progressive Democrat Brandon Johnson was elected as Chicago’s 57th mayor, narrowly defeating moderate Democrat Paul Vallas after earning 51.4% of votes.
“We have ushered in a new chapter in the history of our city,” Johnson said in a victory speech to his supporters.
Johnson, a former teacher, was endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union and the American Federation of Teachers as well as progressive politicians such as Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. As Yahoo News reported, Johnson ran on a liberal platform of increasing taxes on the wealthy to fund citywide services and investing in mental health response initiatives, and managed to come out on top despite being outspent by his tough-on-crime opponent. Vallas, a former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, spent $8 million from March 1 to April 3, NBC News reported, compared to Johnson’s $4.3 million during that period.
Current Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot — who made history as the first openly gay and first Black woman to serve as the city’s mayor — lost her reelection bid in February after failing to finish in the top two during the first round of voting, becoming the first incumbent Chicago mayor to lose reelection since 1983. Lightfoot’s campaign ended up being a referendum on crime after the city saw a historic increase in murders in 2021.
A new liberal majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court
Liberals gained control of the Wisconsin Supreme Court for the first time in more than a decade, with Judge Janet Protasiewicz elected to serve a 10-year term to replace retiring conservative Justice Patience Roggensack.
“Today’s results mean two very important and special things,” Protasiewicz said at her election night party. “First, it means that Wisconsin voters have made their voices heard. They have chosen to reject partisan extremism in this state. And second, it means our democracy will always prevail.”
Protasiewicz defeated conservative Dan Kelly by 11 percentage points in what has been called “the most expensive judicial election in U.S. history,” and the election results will likely have ramifications reaching well beyond the swing state of Wisconsin. The new 4-3 liberal majority is expected to reverse the state’s abortion ban, end gerrymandering legislative maps and serve as an obstacle to Trump or any other candidates who may attempt to contest future elections in the courts. Wisconsin’s Supreme Court was the only one in the country to agree to hear then-President Trump’s challenge to the 2020 presidential election, according to the New York Times.
Some also say that Protasiewicz’s decisive victory is indicative that abortion rights could be a winning issue for Democrats in 2024.
Kelly, who previously served on the court and was endorsed by Trump during his failed bid in 2020, had bitter words for his opponent during his concession speech Tuesday night.
“I wish that in a circumstance like this, I would be able to concede to a worthy opponent,” Kelly said. “But I do not have a worthy opponent to which I can concede. This was the most deeply deceitful, dishonorable, despicable campaign I have ever seen run for the courts.”
Severe storms slam the South and Midwest
About 65 million people in the Midwest and South were expected to be affected by a severe storm system, with thunderstorms, tornadoes and hail pounding states Tuesday evening and Wednesday, Yahoo News partner The Hill reported, and blizzard warnings affecting 1.2 million people.
According to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, there were more than 100 reports of hail by about 10 p.m. ET Tuesday, and five preliminary tornado reports, CNN reported.
The storms that started Friday and into the weekend “spawned deadly tornadoes in 11 states,” stretching through Arkansas into the South, Midwest and Northeast, according to the Associated Press. The same conditions that fueled those storms, the AP said, contributed to the threats on Tuesday, with baseball-size hail and hurricane-force winds of up to 90 mph in some areas.
More severe storms were expected on Wednesday, with dangerous weather conditions reaching states from Illinois, Michigan and the Ohio Valley to parts of Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri — where at least five have been reported dead following devastating tornadoes.