Turkey Earthquake Toll Tops 1,500, Iran’s Mass Pardon, Queen B Breaks Grammy Record
Welcome to Monday, where a 7.8-magnitude earthquake kills more than 1,500 in southern Turkey and Syria, Iran pardons tens of thousands of prisoners, and Beyoncé makes Grammy history. Meanwhile, Ukrainian journalist Anna Akage lists the five reasons why Vladimir Putin may be planning a major assault on Ukraine before the end of the month.
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🌎 7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW
• Earthquake in Turkey and Syria: At least 1,500 people were killed and thousands more injured and missing after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck in Turkey near the Syrian border in the pre-dawn hours local time. In Turkey, at least 2800 buildings collapsed. Less than 12 hours later, a second powerful aftershock threatened to overwhelm rescue efforts, already hampered by a snow storm.
• Ukraine defense ministry in turmoil: A day after announcing that Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov would be replaced, a senior lawmaker appeared to balk for now, saying no personnel changes would be made this week. The turmoil comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said troops were fighting fiercely in Bakhmut, Vuhledar and Lyman in the face of an apparent new Russian offensive.
• Iran pardons tens of thousands of prisoners: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has reportedly pardoned or allowed a reduction in jail sentences for “tens of thousands'' of prisoners, including some arrested in recent anti-government protests. However, the pardons will not apply to any of the numerous dual nationals held in Iran, to those accused of “corruption on earth”or “spying for foreign agencies” or those “affiliated with groups hostile to the Islamic Republic.”
• U.S. searches for wreckage of suspected Chinese spy balloon: U.S. Navy divers are working to recover the wreckage of the Chinese surveillance balloon that was shot down off the coast of South Carolina. Fighter jets brought the craft down over U.S. territorial waters Saturday, leaving debris spread over a wide area. The U.S. believes the balloon was monitoring sensitive military sites, while the Chinese authorities insisted it was a weather ship blown astray.
• Adani’s losses top $110 billion as crisis worsens: The crisis engulfing the Adani group intensified on Monday, as dozens of members of India's main opposition party were detained by police during protests, and parliament was suspended again due to disruptions. Adani freefall continues, with the conglomerate's cumulative market value loss topping $110 billion after being accused of stock manipulation, unsustainable debt and use of tax havens by NYC-based short-seller Hindenburg Research.
• Biggest health strike to date in UK: Health workers in Britain began their largest strike on Monday, as tens of thousands of nurses and ambulance workers walked out in an escalating pay dispute. Nurses and ambulance workers have been striking separately on and off since late last year but Monday's walkout involving both, largely in England, is the biggest in the 75-year history of the NHS.
• Viola Davis achieves EGOT status at 2023 Grammy Awards: Viola Davis has achieved EGOT status, after picking up her first Grammy for the best audiobook, narration and storytelling recording for her memoir, Finding Me. Davis is the 18th person to ever win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony award in her career. Here are other highlights of the night, which saw Beyoncé and Harry Styles win big.
🗞️ FRONT PAGE
Fifteen-year-old Brazilian Rayssa Leal was crowned world champion of street skateboarding in Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates, reports Brazilian daily O Estado de São Paulo on its front page. The athlete had gained international recognition when she won a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 at just 13 years old.
#️⃣ BY THE NUMBERS
By winning four new trophies, U.S. music icon Beyoncé made Grammy history, becoming the most successful artist in the history of the competition, as she overtook Hungarian-British conductor George Solti’s long-standing record of 31 Grammys.
📰 STORY OF THE DAY
Now or never? The five reasons Putin is moving up his “spring offensive” to February
The Russian army is fighting fiercely for every kilometer in the Donbas, amid reports of new masses of troops arriving in Ukraine. By most accounts, it looks like Putin has moved up the calendar on a major assault that was originally planned after the winter thaw, writes Ukrainian journalist Anna Akage.
📅 February 24 marks exactly one year since the start of the war, and Vladimir Putin is famously obsessed with big dates in history. Marking anniversaries has been central to his propaganda and leadership style. In this case, however, the war launched last February has lasted far longer than Putin had planned, without any significant victories to account for. Thus it is important that battlefield momentum is going Russia’s way when the Feb. 24 anniversary arrives.
🎖️ Gerasimov, a longtime protege of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, became the chief commander of Russian forces in Ukraine on Jan. 11. Since his arrival, not only have the regular missile and drone attacks continued, but a major ground offensive began in eastern Ukraine. Gerasimov needs significant ground war victories to bring to both his bosses, Shoigu and Putin, and they need to come soon — perhaps no later than the end of February.
💥 The past several weeks have seen Ukraine win the authorization for a range of new weaponry that is indeed farther-reaching. Kyiv will be receiving German and U.S. built combat tanks, 1,300 armored vehicles, while the new U.S. military aid package will also include GLSDB bombs, ultra-precise shells that could change the situation on the frontline. Still, all of this weaponry still needs to arrive, and the Ukrainian troops in some cases will need special training to use it. This too forces Russia’s hand to attack sooner, rather than later.
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📹 THIS HAPPENED VIDEO — TODAY IN HISTORY, IN ONE ICONIC PHOTO
➡️ Watch the video: THIS HAPPENED
“To condemn a person like this is a sin.”
— In an in-flight news conference following a six-day trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, Pope Francis denounced once again the criminalization of homosexuality, saying such laws were “unjust.” This follows the Pope’s recent comments in an interview with the Associated Press, in which he said that although it’s considered a sin, “being homosexual is not a crime.”
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✍️ Newsletter by Ginevra Falciani, Anne-Sophie Goninet, Hugo Perrin and Inès Mermat
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