Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Times
Desperation mounts in Turkey and Syria
Two days after a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed more than 12,000 people in Turkey and Syria, families huddled together in makeshift tents in the cold rain, resting on pulled out pieces of furniture of the wreckage. At the border between the two countries, the bodies of Syrian refugees who died in the earthquakes were brought home, but humanitarian aid was not allowed to enter.
Many in Turkey were unhappy that it took so long for rescue teams with heavy machinery to arrive. In Kahramanmaras, where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited yesterday, three bodies were found in a six-storey building. There were at least six other victims in the rubble. “The volunteers were there, but not the state,” said a relative.
Buildings have fallen on streets in southern Turkey, rendering them impassable, and a fire station in Pazarcik has been turned into a makeshift funeral home. The cracks in the walls of the buildings that were still standing were wide enough to pass through. Shattered glass littered the floor, threatening to cut off the feet of survivors, many of whom were still wearing the sleepwear they wore when the quake struck.
Zelensky’s call for fighter jets
Britain will train Ukrainian pilots on jet planes to NATO standards as a ‘first step’, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said yesterday, strongly suggesting the training pledge was a prelude to supplying advanced British fighter aircraft to Ukraine to help fight invading Russian forces. . “As far as planes are concerned, we have already said that nothing is excluded,” he added.
The announcement was made during a joint press conference with Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine, who made a surprise visit to London yesterday during which he thanked Britain for its strong military support to his country , but issued a direct request: to supply Ukraine with fighter jets, a step the British government and the Biden administration have so far resisted.
Britain was at the forefront of offering tanks to Ukraine and promised to send 14 of its Challenger 2 tanks, which Sunak said would arrive within “weeks”. Zelensky called on the West for additional advanced weaponry, without which, he warned, the war in Ukraine could descend into a stalemate with Russia.
Agenda: The press conference followed Zelensky’s address to the British Parliament and his meeting with King Charles III at Buckingham Palace, and he traveled to Paris last night for another stop on the brief tour of Europe, where he met President Emmanuel Macron of France and German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, at the Élysée Palace.
In other wartime news:
There are ‘strong indications’ that Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, approved the supply of a missile system that separatists used in 2014 to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines flight over Ukraine, killing the 298 people on board, according to an investigation.
A mobile clinic in Ukraine is trying to restore medical services to villages once occupied by Russian forces as fighting rages nearby. “They will never beat our people,” said one team member.
China’s global spy balloon program
US intelligence agency officials said China’s spy balloon program was part of a global surveillance effort designed to gather information about other countries’ military capabilities. Balloons have been spotted operating over the Americas, Southeast Asia, East Asia and Europe in recent years, a spokesperson said of the Pentagon.
The balloons have some advantages over satellites that regularly orbit the Earth, US officials have said. They fly closer to earth and drift with wind patterns, which are not as predictable as fixed satellite orbits, and they can escape radar. They can also hover over areas – satellites are usually in constant motion – and can produce clearer images.
China’s military modernization was driven by the belief that the People’s Liberation Army needed to catch up with advanced rivals like the United States, as well as develop weapons and strategies that could give it a surprising advantage. Balloons have become a small but active part of this strategy.
Recent events: US officials said their knowledge of what China was capable of collecting through its balloon program had increased significantly, particularly after last week. In the United States, three balloons have been observed under the Trump administration and two under the Biden administration.
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From the Times: On Tuesday night, LeBron James scored the record 38,388th point that had eluded generations of superstars. At 38, he did so at an age when most players have retired. His longevity is one of the keys to the record – but so are the 3 points. Here’s how he did it.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Take the plunge
At 9 a.m. sharp on New Year’s Day, 130 New Yorkers gathered to jump into the freezing Atlantic Ocean. Some have been doing it for months: they are part of the New York Dippers Club, one of many cold water therapy groups that started this winter.
Cold dives are growing in popularity, writes Alyson Krueger in The Times, driven in part by wellness influencers and social media celebrities. But the idea isn’t new: Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates believed that water therapy could relieve fatigue, and 18th-century physicians recommended cold baths to treat fevers.
The Wim Hof method combines exposure to cold with breathing and meditation to help manage anxiety and stress. The freezing water first causes what feels like a panic attack, proponents say, before the body relaxes and the mind calms down. But the science behind it is still unclear.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to cook
That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. -Natasha
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