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Turkey Earthquake Toll Passes 5,000, BP’s Record Profits, Google’s ChatGPT Rival

Turkey Earthquake Toll Passes 5,000, BP’s Record Profits, Google’s ChatGPT Rival

Amid the rubble in Diyarbakir was a clock that appears to have stopped at the moment (4:17 a.m.) Monday, the 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit southeastern Turkey.

Ginevra Falciani, Inès Mermat and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 侬好*

Welcome to Tuesday, where the death toll in the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria rises past 5,000, energy giant BP registers record profits just days after Shell, and Google unveils its answer to ChatGPT. Meanwhile, Cefas Carvalho in Brazilian independent news agency Saiba Mas zeroes in on the particular vulnerability of older generations to the traps of fake news that is spread on the WhatsApp messaging platform.

[*Nóng hō - Shanghainese]


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• Turkey-Syria earthquake update: The death toll in the massive quake near the Turkish city of Gaziantep passes 5,000, with 5,775 buildings confirmed collapsed. More than 24,000 people are currently involved in search and rescue activities. The UN’s cultural agency UNESCO said it was ready to provide assistance after two sites listed on its World Heritage list in Syria and Turkey sustained damage.

• Ukraine reports record Russian deaths: Ukraine said on Tuesday the last 24 hours were the deadliest of the war so far for Russian troops, as Moscow hurls tens of thousands of freshly mobilized soldiers and mercenaries into relentless winter assaults in the east. The Ukrainian military increased its running tally of Russian military dead by 1,030 overnight to 133,190, and described the increase as the highest of the war so far.

• Deadly landslides in Peru:Landslides in southern Peru have left at least 15 people dead, 20 injured, with officials warning that the toll from the disaster could rise. Rescue efforts continue as heavy rains soaks regions like Arequipa, a center for recent anti-government protests.

• BP sees biggest profit in 114-year history: Energy giant BP has reported record annual profits as it scaled back plans to reduce the amount of oil and gas it produces by 2030. The company's profits more than doubled to $27.7 billion in 2022 compared with $12.8 bn the year before, as energy prices soared after Russia invaded Ukraine. Other energy firms have seen similar rises, with Shell reporting record earnings of nearly $40 bn last week.

• Boeing layoffs: Boeing expects to cut about 2,000 white-collar jobs this year in finance and human resources departments through a combination of attrition and layoffs. The company also confirmed it is outsourcing about one third of those jobs to Tata Consulting Services in India in an effort to simplify its corporate structure and focus more resources into manufacturing and product development.

• George Santos accused of sexual misconduct: Former aide Derek Myers has accused Republican George Santos of sexual misconduct and of an ethics violation for having him work as a volunteer. The accusations are the latest in a series of controversies for Santos, who has admitted fabricating parts of his resume and biography since his election in New York last year.

Harry Potter’s first transgender character: The soon-to-be-released “Hogwarts Legacy” video game — set in J.K. Rowling’s fictional Harry Potter wizarding world — will include the franchise’s first transgender character, Sirona Ryan. J.K. Rowling, who is known for her anti-trans opinions, is not involved in the creation of the game, and has yet to comment on the character.


International newspapers, including Istanbul-based daily Hürriyet here, are relaying the shock after a powerful earthquake devastated southeastern Turkey and Syria in the early hours of Monday, killing more than 5,000. See how 23 other publications around the world featured the news here.



Google has unveiled a new artificial intelligence chatbot tool called Bard — its own rival product to compete with the highly popular ChatGPT. After opening it first to “trusted testers,” the tech giant plans to make the AI tool more widely available in the coming weeks. Just like ChatGPT, which was released publicly at the end of 2022 by AI research company OpenAI, Bard is expected to provide detailed responses to users’ prompts by drawing from “information from the web.” Just for the record, asking Google (traditional) search what “Bard” means, offers this as the top result: “a poet, traditionally one reciting epics and associated with a particular oral tradition.”


Meet Brazil's “WhatsApp aunts and uncles” — how fake news spreads with seniors

Older demographics are particularly vulnerable (and regularly targeted) on the WhatsApp messaging platform. We've seen it before and after the presidential election, writes Cefas Carvalho in Brazilian independent news agency Saiba Mas.

🧓📱 For years, journalists have debated the effect of WhatsApp groups on people aged 55-70 years old. There are the funny (but dangerous) caricatures of “WhatsApp uncle” and “WhatsApp aunt," who take in any information — unsourced, unverified — and don't even open the link, reading only the title before passing it on to other people of the same age and socio-cultural status, through WhatsApp groups. From then on, for this group, a lie becomes a truth.

🗳️ For example, the damage caused to the campaign of Fernando Haddad by the fake news as “Mamadeira de piroca,” which alleged that the party he represented, the Workers' Party, promoted the distribution of baby bottles with penis-shaped spouts in the country's pre-school facilities. Haddad was a serious teacher and excellent minister of education during the Lula and Dilma governments. This type of lie was decisive for Jair Bolsonaro's victory in 2018.

🌎 But why and how in 2023, five years and a presidential election after the 2018 fake news outbreak, do so many people continue to believe obvious lies? It seems simplistic to think that they believe because it is what they want, and the news fits with their own worldview. A psychologist friend said that millions of people around the world are experiencing a sort of detachment from reality, where the boundaries between truth and lies are slowly being deconstructed.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


“The balloon does not belong to the U.S.”

— China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning addressed the U.S.’ destruction of the Chinese balloon that Beijing says had “accidentally entered U.S airspace” and was suspected of espionage. Ning lodged a formal complaint with the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, accusing Washington for overreacting and violating “the spirit of international law and international practice,” adding that “the Chinese government will continue to resolutely safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.”

✍️ Newsletter by Ginevra Falciani, Inès Mermat and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Kids In The Crossfire — A Village School's Bittersweet Return After Russian Occupation

Almost one year after being occupied, a village near Kyiv is being rebuilt as locals try to piece their lives back together.

Photo of two women walking down a school hall in Novyi Bykiv, Ukraine

School life restarting in Novyi Bykiv, Ukraine

Iryna Andreytsiv

NOVYI BYKIV — In this village east of Kyiv, when the invasion began last Feb. 24, the local school became a prime flashpoint — it was at the school that the Russian occupiers would wind up setting up their main base of operations.

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Natalia Vovk, the director of the school for Staryi and Novyi Bykiv, two halves of one village separated by a river, remembers that day well. She says after hearing the first explosions from her house at 6:30 a.m. on Feb. 24, and soon after ordered the students to stay at home and told any staff who had arrived to leave.

And soon enough, locals began to receive reports that a Russian column was heading toward them. “I didn’t think they would stay here for 33 days," says the school's deputy director Natalia Samson. "I thought we were not their concern.”

The occupation was more brutal and damaging than they could have imagined. Now, almost one year later, local residents are trying to piece their lives together. Rebuilding the local school destroyed under occupation has become a crucial project for the town.

When military equipment started entering the village 80 kilometers (50 miles) last February, residents were left without electricity, gas, and communications. The local Territorial Defense forces tried to do something, but there is little you can do against military machines. On the first day, six boys were killed.

“They were lying at the entrance to the village for about a week,” recalls Natalia.

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