Finland's future, the shrinking moon and Biden on TikTok
TODAY'S BIG QUESTION
How will Finland's new president shape NATO?
A major Nordic power will soon have a new leader, as Alexander Stubb narrowly defeated his opponent, Pekka Haavisto, in a runoff race to elect Finland's next president.
Finland is the newest member of the North Atlantic Alliance, having joined last year following a concerted effort from current Finnish President Sauli Niinisto. Its membership is crucial for the European Union and all Western allies given Finland's shared border with Russia. So how will Stubb's presidency affect Finland's partnership with the world's key military alliance?
What did the commentators say? Finland shares the single-longest land border with Russia, spanning 830 miles. How Finland deals with Russian aggression has "taken on special interest to its European and American allies as the geopolitical order shifts," Erika Solomon and Johanna Lemola said in The New York Times. When Finland joined NATO in April 2023, it represented a "sharp break from its decades of nonalignment, and the risks and responsibilities of the country's new place in the world" have been brought to the forefront.
Stubb will command Finland's military, and "Europe's security is at stake as never before since World War II, due to Russia's invasion," Jari Tanner said for The Associated Press, summarizing the views of Finnish media. With tensions rising, Stubb said his priorities include "maintaining a hardline toward Moscow," strengthening security ties with Washington, and helping Ukraine "both militarily and at a civilian level."
As Stubb takes office, he will "become a president of difficult times, possibly even a wartime president," said Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat. And while Stubb has promoted peace through NATO, he is slightly "more hawkish" than his opponent, Haavisto, said Charlie Duxbury for Politico. Notably, Haavisto "opposed the presence of nuclear weapons on Finnish territory, while Stubb said it might be necessary under certain circumstances."
What next? Stubb will be inaugurated on March 1. Russia may ramp up aggression to hold Stubb's feet to the fire right away. "The authorities should be aware that there is a good chance that Russia is going to try and test Finland in some way," Finnish Institute of International Affairs' Charly Salonius-Pasternak said to the Swedish newspaper Expressen.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy congratulated Stubb on his victory on X. "I look forward to advancing our relations and our shared vision of a free, united and well-defended Europe," he said.
To continue reading this article...
Create a free account
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
register for free
Already have an account? Sign in
Subscribe to The Week
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Subscribe & Save
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Unlimited website access is included with Digital and Print + Digital subscriptions. Create an accountwith the same email registered to your subscription to unlock access.
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us
Statistic of the day
31,159:The number of robots purchased by American companies in 2023. This was a 30% decrease from 2022, a record year for orders that saw 44,196 robots purchased. This sales decline represents the largest year-to-year drop in robot purchases ever and the largest in percentage terms since 2006. Reuters
The moon, it's shrinking!
The moon is often compared to cheese. But lately, it is more like a raisin. That is because the moon has gradually been shrinking and, in the process, shriveling.
How does it shrink? The moon has shrunk by more than 150 feet in circumference over the last few hundred million years because of its core gradually cooling. As the moon shrinks, its surface becomes more defaced because the "lunar shrinking process looks similar to how a grape wrinkles when it becomes a raisin," said Popular Science. "However, a grape has a flexible skin, while the moon has a brittle surface. The brittleness causes faults to form."
In a new study published in The Planetary Science Journal, scientists discovered that this "continuing shrinkage of the moon led to notable surface warping in its south polar region," SciTech Daily said. The study's lead author, Thomas Watters, said in a statement, "Our modeling suggests that shallow moonquakes capable of producing strong ground shaking in the south polar region are possible." The shrinking moon will have a negligible impact on Earth but could pose a bigger problem as lunar exploration continues.
What are the implications? The south pole of the moon has become an area of interest for moon landings, However, the moonquakes could pose a threat to any human infrastructure that might be instated there. "A concept that I think that many people have is that the moon is this geologically dead body," Watters said to CNN. But the moon is a "seismically active body."
The moonquakes are not a death sentence for lunar exploration, because the scope of the upcoming moon missions is small. NASA's Artemis mission, which aims to put people back on the moon, has shown specific interest in the moon's south pole and has 13 proposed landing sites near the region.
Long-term lunar habitation could be a different story. "As we get closer to the crewed Artemis mission's launch date, it's important to keep our astronauts, equipment and infrastructure as safe as possible," study co-author Nicholas Schmerr said in a statement.
Biden makes a Super Bowl TikTok flip-flop
The 2024 election is shaping up to be a frustratingly familiar affair. Looking to shake up the dynamics, President Joe Biden's campaign on Sunday debuted its newest effort to reach younger voters, posting a Super Bowl-themed Q&A on TikTok with the simple caption "lol hey guys."
Just eight months earlier, the Biden campaign disavowed any plans for an official TikTok account, said NBC News. Crucially, TikTok is barred on most government devices over fears of algorithmic manipulation and data collection from the Chinese-owned app. So what’s behind the sudden reversal, and will it really make a difference?
'Meeting voters where they are' The new account is a way to get Biden's message across "every channel and every platform possible" in a media environment that is more "fragmented and personalized than ever," his campaign said to Axios. It also stressed the use of a "sophisticated security protocol," although it did not expand on those measures. Ultimately, the Biden team hopes its foray into TikTok will help with "meeting voters where they are," campaign officials said to NBC News, which noted the app was a "powerful tool in mobilizing Gen Z in previous elections."
Biden's team has "leaned hard into memes," The Washington Post said, highlighting the account's "Dark Brandon" avatar. Nevertheless, Biden has "jeopardized his standing with younger voters" lately, said The Wall Street Journal.
This White House has "carried on a love-hate relationship" with TikTok, said CNBC. While the administration has "openly courted TikTok stars and content producers" to help spread its messages, it has also "tacitly agreed" with "China-skeptical lawmakers" who have criticized the app.
'Using a Chinese spy app' TikTok, like any Chinese tech company, "must allow the Communist Party unfettered access to its data," which should be a "nonstarter" for operating in the U.S., said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on X. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) was more direct in his criticism of Biden for "using a Chinese spy app."
The example Biden is setting "might be even more damaging" than the acute national security risks of his account, said the National Review. By embracing TikTok, the president is "creating a permission structure" for other politicians to join him and "signaling to Americans that they shouldn't listen to the severe alarm" of his own national security officials.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"Some people's entire existence and their perspectives are going to be deemed political, like me as a Black woman. This is going to silence a lot of marginalized people."
Brooklyn content creator Ena Da speaking to The Washingon Post about Meta's recent decision to stop promoting political content on Instagram and Threads
Picture of the day
Members of the Porto da Pedra samba school perform during the annual five-day carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, considered the largest in the world Mauro Pimentel / Getty Images
The migrant crisis at the southern border has led to 44% of Texans being more likely to support secession from the United States, according to a new Redfield & Wilton/Newsweek poll. The poll surveyed 814 Texans and found 21% were "more likely" to back secession, while 23% were "significantly more likely" to back secession.
Hiking in the snow is more than just a good way to get that heart rate up. It also gives you a chance to see flora and fauna bathed in that exceptional winter light. These three hikes can be enjoyed any time but are extra special when there's snow on the ground.
Bryce Canyon Rim Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah The Rim Trail is what you make of it. It connects the park's scenic overlooks, and you can walk for half a mile, like along the paved stretch between Sunrise and Sunset points, or go on a longer trek. Wherever you roam, there are spectacular views of the bright hoodoos — tall, thin rock spires formed by erosion and weathering — topped with snow.
Riverside Trail, William O'Brien State Park, Minnesota Bundle up and prepare for a peaceful, albeit chilly, hike on the Riverside Trail. This 2.7-mile loop goes by the St. Croix River and Lake Alice and through a wooded area dominated by 100-year-old pine trees. Since it is a rolled trail, the snow is packed down, and a pair of snow boots with ice grips is an ideal solution.
Ouachita Trail, Arkansas and Oklahoma The 192-mile Ouachita Trail spans from Arkansas to Oklahoma, with hikers who traverse the entire stretch able to stop at attractions like Lover's Leap, Talimena Scenic Byway and Alum Creek Experimental Forest. You can also go on day hikes along the trail in either state. Expect to see ample wildlife but not a lot of people.
The "fratty, bro-y" enthusiasts of Zyn, a "modern-day snuff," according to The Guardian. The fandom enthusiastically encourages “Zynning” or using the smokeless tobacco pouches, though the brand denies sponsoring them.
Today's best commentary
'Stop pressuring girls to be "cookie bosses"' Karin Klein in the Los Angeles Times The "relationship between Girl Scouts and cookies" has changed, says Karin Klein. The sales no longer seem to be the "low-key experience of my childhood," when I asked neighbors to buy a box and raised a "few bucks for the troop." In these "helicopter-parent days," they have become a "high-pressure" activity to learn "entrepreneurial skills," with rewards as incentives. Isn't scouting supposed to be a "healthy counterweight to materialism and peer pressure"?
'I was a young Republican. Now I want nothing to do with either party.' Jeff Jacoby in The Boston Globe As a conservative teenager, "I gravitated to the GOP," says Jeff Jacoby. Gradually, the "Reaganesque style of Republicanism" was overshadowed by "intolerant" culture warriors. Like millions of others, "I find myself politically homeless today," equally "turned off by the Democrats' toxic obsession with race and gender" and "the Republicans' shrillness on immigration." Maybe America will move on to "something better," like it did when the Federalist Party and the Whigs "finally breathed their last."
'Pakistan's shocking election result shows authoritarians don't always win' The Washington Post editorial board The Pakistan army's effort to block former Prime Minister Imran Khan from power has "backfired," says The Washington Post editorial board. Authorities jailed the cricket star turned politician in August and added more charges days before last week's general election. "It's hard to win an election from prison," but the populist leader's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party led all rivals. Khan's party might be squeezed out of the coalition government, but voters "registered growing distrust of the army and its proxies."
Good day 🐝
… for the BeyHive. Not to be outdone by other singers at the Super Bowl, Beyoncé used her appearance in a Verizon ad to announce "Renaissance Act II," the second installment of her "Rennaisance" album trilogy releasing March 2929, before dropping new music. Her two new country tracks showcase her "smooth vocals and Houston, Texas-bred twang," Entertainment Tonight said.
Bad day 🚕
… fordriverless taxis. A San Francisco crowd set a Waymo robotaxi on fire Saturday night, the local fire department said. While the motive was unclear, Business Insider said the incident occurred "amid ongoing mistrust of driverless technology in the city." A firework was ignited inside the vehicle, reducing it to an "ashen shell."
Evening Review was written and edited by Theara Coleman, Nadia Croes, Catherine Garcia, Harold Maass, Scott Hocker, Justin Klawans, Kelsee Majette, Joel Mathis, Summer Meza, Devika Rao, Rafi Schwartz, Anahi Valenzuela and Peter Weber, with illustrations by Stephen Kelly and Julia Wytrazek.
Image credits, from top: Illustration by Stephen Kelly / Getty Images; peepo / Getty Images; Jim Watson / AFP via Getty Images; Imgorthand / Getty Images