Friday, February 10, 2023
Cameron Hood, Newsletter EditorCameron Hood
Newsletter Editor
Welcome to Grid Today, bringing you context and clarity on the most important stories of the day. 

Today, I take a closer look at the aftermath of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, and China Reporter Lili Pike tells me all the things we’ve learned about spy balloons this week.

Also in this newsletter:

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Turkey’s earthquake was devastating enough. Weather and politics have made things worse.


Turkey and Syria are grappling with the devastating aftermath of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake on Monday that destroyed cities and towns across a vast area of the two countries. The earthquake
matched the size of the strongest-ever one to strike Turkey.

On Friday, the death toll from the
earthquake passed 21,500, my colleague Nikhil Kumar reports, with officials warning that the number is likely much higher. The toll is now larger than that from Turkey’s infamous 1999 earthquake, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.


❄️ Climate: 
Bitter winter cold — including “freezing temperatures, rain and snow,” Nikhil writes — and aftershocks, along with the lack of shelter facing many survivors, have made relief more urgent than ever — but also more complicated and delayed.

🌍 Global: The Turkish city of Gaziantep, which is located right in the earthquake’s epicenter, is also home to “the
largest refugee population on earth — survivors, most of them, of the brutal, decade-long Syrian civil war.”

🇸🇾 Syria: The areas of northern Syria hit by the earthquake “are largely controlled by different opposition and rebel groups, a legacy of the civil war that has raged for more than a decade in that country,” Nikhil writes. “Part of the northwest is controlled by Turkey, another by a rebel group with links to al-Qaeda; and the northeast is in the grip of Kurdish-led groups, backed by the U.S. and opposed by Turkey.” Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, who is under international sanctions, controls the rest of the country. The Assad regime has demanded that all aid come through Damascus, complicating aid deliveries to the northern regions held by rebel groups.

🇹🇷 Turkey: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been in power for two decades,
faces an approaching election this year and harsh criticism of how his government has responded to the earthquake so far. A temporary block of social media this week affected people’s ability to share information about rescues and relief efforts.

📉 Economics: The disaster has also dealt a
blow to Turkish financial markets. On Thursday, the ratings agency Fitch estimated that economic losses could reach more than $4 billion.



5 things we learned about Chinese spy balloons this week

One week ago, the nation was transfixed by a Chinese balloon flying over the U.S., and the Pentagon seemed to be downplaying the risks. One week later, U.S. officials have gone to great lengths to publicize the risks and describe what they say is a worldwide problem of such incursions by China. And on Friday, the U.S. went so far as to shoot down another flying object — this one the size of a car, according to the Pentagon — that was hovering over Alaska.

A lot has happened in one week.

tables have turned in the Chinese balloon saga — the observer is now being observed. Since the balloon was shot down off the South Carolina coast on Saturday, Navy divers have already salvaged some of the remnants in the Atlantic. Those remnants, along with U.S. observation of the balloon while it was still in flight, have helped shed light on its mission. Lili Pike, China Reporter


The context on what you need to know today:
  • Fashion’s reckoning with PFAS: The fashion industry has used so-called forever chemicals, known by manufacturers as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), because they help to make clothing water-repellent and stain-resistant. Many other consumer products companies also use PFAS, Khaya Himmelman reports. But studies have also shown that the chemicals can have permanent effects on our health including liver damage and cancer. Read more on what we know about PFAS and the ongoing controversy.


What else I’m reading today:


“In early January, NFL safety Damar Hamlin collapsed and suffered an on-field cardiac arrest in an incident that resurfaced discussions around how risky football is. U.S. opinion is split on whether there are enough safety precautions for both amateur and professional football players, according to exclusive polling data from the Harris Poll. Despite these debates, most adults say the incident doesn’t impact their interest in watching televise football.” Anna Deen, data visualization reporter


Some of the chart-toppers for Grid readers:
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👋 That’s all for today. Have a great rest of your Friday. –Cameron

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