Your Wednesday Briefing: Miracle Rescues in Turkey

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More than a week after the earthquake that has so far killed more than 40,000 people in Syria and Turkey, rescue crews defied the odds by digging nine survivors out of the rubble.

In the devastated city of Kahramanmaras, teams dug a tunnel through piles of fallen walls, floors and piping to reach one woman, in a rescue that was broadcast on live TV.

Two brothers, ages 17 and 21, spent 198 hours under a collapsed building in the same city. They rationed bodybuilding supplements and drank their own urine to survive. “Breathing was easy,” one brother told Ihlas, a local news agency. “We took protein powder.”

The rescues are remarkable: Relief organizations typically scramble to find survivors in the first 72 hours after a disaster, as the passing of time diminishes hope for finding signs of life.

In recent days, desperation has increasingly set in as the rescue missions have turned to recovery. Now, anxiety is mounting over the vast number of people who are homeless, hungry and waiting for aid. Rural areas in Turkey are particularly hard-hit, and some residents have blamed a lack of government coordination for delays in aid.

More aid to Syria: In opposition-controlled parts of northwestern Syria, people who feel forgotten may finally get help after President Bashar al-Assad agreed to open more border crossings from Turkey — a first in the 12 years since Syria’s civil war began. Before the quake, only one crossing was used for all of the U.N. aid flowing to the opposition-held side.

American skies were already crowded with high-flying balloons before a Chinese balloon floated across the country. Now, as the U.S. tries to better scrutinize its airspace, experts fear a paralyzing wave of false alarms.

After three unidentified objects were shot down by the U.S. Air Force over the weekend, experts warned that there were an “endless” array of potential targets. “Thousands of balloons” are floating above the Earth at any given moment, one maker of high-altitude balloons said.

The U.S. has enhanced its radars and atmospheric trackers after the Chinese spy balloon. This could also explain the rash of sightings. “One of the reasons that we think we’re seeing more is because we’re looking for more,” a White House official said.

Investigators have not yet found evidence that the three objects shot down were connected to China’s program of balloon surveillance. The debris from the objects has also not been found. The three unidentified objects might turn out to have been harmless, the official said.

Frequent use: In the U.S. alone, the National Weather Service sends up around 60,000 high-flying balloons each year and NASA runs a program from Texas that over the years has lofted more than 1,700 large balloons on scientific missions that can last for months.

Meanwhile in Beijing: China has sought to cast the controversy as a sign of American decline. The balloon incident “has shown to the world how immature and irresponsible — indeed hysterical — the United States has been in dealing with the case,” read an editorial in the People’s Daily, the ruling Communist Party’s mouthpiece.

The BBC said it was “fully cooperating” with the tax authorities. A spokesman for Modi’s party said that the broadcaster had nothing to fear if it hadn’t done anything wrong, and accused the BBC of having a “hidden agenda” that “cannot be tolerated.”

Under Modi, Indian authorities have raided other independent news organizations as well as human rights groups and think tanks. Activists say the raids are part of the government’s efforts to silence dissent by targeting the organizations’ funding.

Background: Modi’s government has tried to stop the distribution of the documentary, “India: The Modi Question,” by cutting off electricity and detaining student leaders before screenings at universities.

  • Nikki Haley, a former governor and the daughter of Indian immigrants, is running for president. She is the first Republican to officially challenge Donald Trump for the G.O.P. nomination.

  • Senator Dianne Feinstein, the 89-year-old California Democrat, plans to retire at the end of her term. 

Eight years ago, the Czech Republic’s president offered up his country as “China’s gateway to Europe.” Now, the country has soured on China after Chinese investors failed to deliver on promises of major construction projects.

At Ghibli Park, Japan’s tribute to the animation of Studio Ghibli and its founder, Hayao Miyazaki, there are no eye-grabbing attractions or stomach-churning rides. There’s not even a parking lot or a security checkpoint.

Instead, the park was built to coexist with the surrounding forest. “It felt like some kind of bizarre treasure hunt,” Sam Anderson writes, “a theme park where the theme was searching for the theme park. Which was, in a way, perfectly Studio Ghibli: no pleasure without a little challenge.”

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Amelia

P.S. Nicholas Kristof will interview Samantha Power on Ukraine, one year after the invasion, at 3:30 p.m. Eastern today (that’s 7:30 a.m. in Sydney). Here’s the link to the Twitter Space.

“The Daily” is about why the U.S. is shooting down high-flying objects.

Questions? Comments? You can reach me at [email protected].


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