Your Wednesday Briefing

Rescue workers at a collapsed building in Malatya, Turkey.Credit…Emin Ozmen for The New York Times

Earthquake toll exceeds 7,700

Rescue workers dug through rubble yesterday to find survivors of the most powerful and deadly earthquake to hit Turkey and Syria in decades, toiling in a vast and desperate search complicated by geography and geopolitics, freezing weather and the sheer scope of the disaster. At least 7,700 people were reported dead, and the toll is expect to climb, officials said.

There is some slim reason for hope: More than 8,000 people have been rescued in Turkey alone. In Gaziantep, a Turkish city near the epicenter of the quake, four members of one family were painstakingly rescued. And in northwest Syria, residents found an infant crying in the rubble of a collapsed building. But the search for survivors is a fight against time, as temperatures sank below freezing and snow piled up on the debris.

In Turkey, the rescue efforts spanned 10 provinces and hundreds of miles, from sprawling, ancient Gaziantep to rural towns and villages where roads buckled so badly they could not be used. The Turkish Navy sent ships with heavy machinery, blankets, generators and food, and the national emergency management agency dispatched more than 16,000 workers.

Crisis upon crisis: In Syria, rescue efforts were hampered by the location of the quake zone, which includes government- and opposition-controlled lands. The only U.N.-approved crossing for aid between Syria and Turkey was closed because of earthquake damage, officials said, posing serious logistical obstacles.

Response: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a three-month state of emergency in Turkey’s 10 affected provinces. “We are face to face with one of the biggest disasters ever for our region,” he said in a nationally televised address.

Tanks in a village near the front line in eastern Ukraine.Credit…Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

Can Russia sustain an offensive?

As Russia amasses troops in its push to capture more of eastern Ukraine, questions arise about its ability to sustain an offensive. Its troops are attacking Ukrainian positions from five directions along the front lines, allowing it to slowly tighten its grip around the city of Bakhmut.

Western intelligence officials have questioned how long Russia can keep going, and whether Moscow can mobilize enough forces to sustain a prolonged offensive and change the course of the war, as hundreds of its soldiers are killed or wounded every day for just several hundred meters of territory per week.

Ukraine’s military intelligence has warned that Russia plans to mobilize as many as half a million more soldiers to sustain its campaign, but it is unclear whether Russia can find hundreds of thousands more soldiers without setting off a domestic backlash. The Kremlin is already struggling to train and arm the soldiers it does have, military analysts said.

“Fighting for the sake of fighting,” President Biden said, “gets us nowhere.”Credit…Kenny Holston/The New York Times

Biden addresses America

In his first State of the Union address in a new era of divided government, President Biden called for bipartisan support on repairing America’s economy and democracy and to embrace his proposals to raise taxes on the wealthy and extend more social aid to the needy. He stressed that he had signed more than 300 bipartisan laws. “Fighting for the sake of fighting,” he said, “gets us nowhere.”

Biden sought to offer an optimistic vision in sour times, celebrating economic gains at a moment when polls show that many Americans still do not feel them, and to cast himself as a responsible leader harassed by a quarrelsome opposition. Republicans have brushed off his call for cooperation and portrayed the president as a failed leader captured by the liberal wing of his party.

The speech came at a time when Biden has scored major policy successes and forged a broad coalition against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but polls show that most Americans are not satisfied with his leadership and even most Democrats would prefer that someone else run for president in 2024. Of modern U.S. presidents, only Donald Trump’s second-year average was worse.

Related: Jerome Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, said the central bank had more work to do in slowing the economy. A recent slowdown in price increases was “the very early stages of disinflation,” he said.


Around the World

Credit…Pool photo by Oli Scarff
  • Rishi Sunak, the British prime minister, has made moves to recharge his government, but he is being harried by the former leaders Liz Truss and Boris Johnson, who are not fading away.

  • A London police officer was sentenced to life in prison for violent assaults against a dozen women over almost two decades.

  • The Chinese authorities have deployed their propaganda machine to control discussion at home about the balloon that was downed by a U.S. fighter jet.

Business & Technology

  • A new Microsoft search engine will incorporate a more advanced model of the ChatGPT artificial intelligence system. Google plans to release its own experimental chat bot, Bard. And Meta risks being left behind in the A.I. boom.

  • BP will increase investment in fossil fuels, as well as increasing spending by a similar amount on low-carbon businesses. Oil companies reported record annual profits for 2022.

  • Russia has outmaneuvered efforts to throttle its oil revenue. That may not last.

  • David Solomon, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, is famously an amateur D.J. Some see potential conflicts of interest in his high-profile hobby.

Science Times

Credit…Ian Henderson
  • A puzzle on finding the rectangles in a square has caused a commotion among would-be mathematicians.

  • Miraculous, but expensive, new treatments have cured devastating diseases. When the costs are too much, even for the insured, patients hunt for other ways to pay.

  • Shaking ordinary ice very hard, under very cold conditions, transformed it into something never seen before.

  • The fictional fungus in “The Last of Us” has sent panicked viewers running to mycologists, fungal biologists and other mushroom-world experts.

  • Did Neanderthals feast on roasted extinct elephants? How about crabs?

A Morning Read

Credit…Cole Wilson for The New York Times. Prop Stylist: Kounthear Kuch

For more than a century, the sayings on candy hearts have been reviewed annually, with new ones added and dated ones removed, in something of a barometer of how we reach out to the ones we like.

By the 1980s, “Hep Cat” and “Hubba Hubba” had outlived their audience. “You’re Gay” was retired for obvious reasons. And “Call Me” became “Fax Me” became “Page Me” became “Email Me” became “Text Me.”


How Juventus plunged into a crisis: Wiretaps, a “black book” and exposed WhatsApp messages have left one of Europe’s greatest soccer clubs under siege.

Why Jesse Marsch was fired by Leeds United: Leeds is once again searching for a head coach. Tactical errors and public-relations stumbles spelled Marsch’s downfall.

Manchester City’s uncertain future: City and its fans have to take the rough with the smooth — their success would not have been possible without the 2008 takeover.


The answers on climate change

Climate change is tremendously complex — and we’re here to help. The climate desk at The Times has been answering reader questions. Type your question in the search box to see if we’ve covered it yet. Here are some of our responses, lightly edited and condensed:

How do we know climate change is really happening?

There’s overwhelming evidence, in the form of data from weather stations, satellites and other sources, that the world has been warming since the late 19th century, when the burning of fossil fuels became widespread. On average, surface temperatures are 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than 150 years ago. And the rate of warming has accelerated in recent decades.

Do volcanoes affect climate change?

The effect of volcanic eruptions on warming is minimal, and there is no evidence that volcanic activity has increased over the past 200 years. Human activity generates far more, about 35 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year — 80 times as much as the high end of the estimate for volcanic activity, and 270 times as much as the low-end estimate.

Are we doomed?

The climate has already changed and is already causing grievous harm to millions of people. But if you’re asking whether humanity is destined to some vague and awful fate, the answer is unequivocally no.

Until recently, we were on a very bad trajectory: The global average temperature was on track to warm by more than four degrees Celsius by 2100. That’s no longer the case, thanks to ambitious policies spurred by public pressure, technological advances and the rapidly falling cost of renewable energy. But the pace can still be slowed a lot more — and there are many pathways.

For more: Some people are keeping their travels on the ground to help lower carbon emissions.


What to Cook

Credit…David Malosh for The New York Times.

The bold ingredients in this 30-minute chili recipe do most of the work for you.


Stuck in a mental loop of endless worries? Here’s how to stop ruminating.

What to Read

If you’re looking for a book about what’s wrong — and right — with American men, you could do worse than Isaac Fitzgerald’s memoir, “Dirtbag, Massachusetts.”

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Neighbor of a Norwegian (five letters).

And here are today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Natasha

P.S. Harvey Araton, a former Times sports reporter, reflects on covering LeBron James.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on the earthquake in Turkey and Syria.

You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].

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