From a devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria to a rundown of this year's Grammys – Here's your February 7 news briefing
Turkey and Syria have a history of earthquakes.
To start off, we're looking into:
Deadly earthquakes hit Turkey and Syria
The backstory: Turkey and Syria have a history of earthquakes, but most have been pretty mild. Turkey is in one of the world's most active earthquake zones, though. In 1939, the Erzincan earthquake hit eastern Turkey and killed almost 33,000 people. And in 1999, there was another major earthquake that killed over 17,000 people in Turkey's northwestern region.
More recently: Overnight on Sunday, Turkey and Syria experienced an earthquake with a 7.8 magnitude, and most people were asleep when it happened. It was one of the most powerful earthquakes in the area in the past century and was felt all the way in Cyprus and Egypt. The epicenter is near Turkey's Gaziantep, and the historic Gaziantep Castle (used since Roman times) was damaged alongside scores of homes and buildings that collapsed into rubble. Then there was a second 7.7 magnitude quake that afternoon.
The development: Already, the death toll is devastating. At least 3,800 have died, and the WHO has said this number could rise eight-fold. More than 10 search and rescue teams from the EU have been sent out to help find and save people in the worst-hit areas. Other countries have announced aid as the situation unfolds, including the US, the UK, China, Israel, Russia and Germany. People on the ground have described the experience as apocalyptic.
Indonesia unites ASEAN on South China Sea code
The backstory: The South China Sea is a resource-rich and strategic waterway, and China claims most of it for its own. But an international court in The Hague ruled in 2016 that China's "nine-dash line" boundary has "no legal basis." This boundary circles about 90% of the contested area and goes only a few hundred kilometers from the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam, which also claim some ownership of parts of the sea. Brunei is the fourth country with stakes in the tug-of-war over the territory.
More recently: Talks between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) over the territory have been dragging on for years.
The development: In January, Indonesia became the ASEAN's new chair. It's considered neutral in the region, so there's the hope of some progress with Jakarta at the wheel. Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi held a two-day meeting this week with her Southeast Asian counterparts to discuss Indonesia's priorities, including the South China Sea code. They agreed to work together and finalize negotiations with China and help end the Myanmar crisis.
LeBron James is just 36 points away from making history
The backstory: Basketball icon LeBron James, 38, is in his 20th season and continues to dominate the court. He's got a remarkable record of about 30 points per game on average, four championships across three teams, 19 All-Star appearances, and he's even got a shot at being MVP – again (he's won four times before). Now, he's on his way to breaking the four-decade-old record of fellow Lakers idol Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's 38,387 career points set in 1984.
More recently: The Los Angeles Lakers had a rough weekend, losing to the New Orleans Pelicans 131-126. The Lakers were up by eight points with only 10 seconds left, but a crucial mistake at the end of the third quarter cost them the win.
The development: James is headed back to LA to face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, which could be his chance to mark his status as one of the greatest players in the game. He's only 36 points away from breaking Abdul-Jabbar's record. With two big games this week against the Thunder and the Bucks, fans are buzzing, and tickets are selling like hotcakes as people scramble to get a front-row seat to witness this historic moment.
To end, we'll look into:
The Grammys 2023
Music’s biggest night of the year is the Grammys. With red carpet moments, show-stopping performances and iconic awards, Grammys night is always one for the books, and this year was no different. Sunday, February 5, was the 65th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles and a historical moment in entertainment.
Let’s talk “Renaissance.” With her album released last summer, Beyoncé broke records at this year’s ceremony. She now has the most Grammy award wins of all time. That’s not that surprising. What is surprising is that she still didn’t win album of the year, and she’s been nominated for it four times.
Instead, that award went to Harry Styles for his album, “Harry’s House.” During his speech, Styles said, “This doesn’t happen to people like me,” a statement that’s being dunked on all over social media.
But Styles acknowledged other nominees in the category, thanking them and admitting, “Man, I’ve been so, so inspired by every artist in this category with me. A lot of different times in my life, I listened to everyone in this category when I’m alone.” The other nominees were Adele, ABBA, Coldplay, Brandi Carlile, Bad Bunny, Kendrick Lamar, Lizzo, Beyoncé and Mary J. Blige.
Styles also performed his song “As It Was” while wearing a silver tassel-y jumpsuit. Another notable moment was Bad Bunny opening the ceremony with a medley of songs from his album of the year–nominated album, “Un Verano Sin Ti.” Other standout performances included Brandi Carlile, Kacey Musgraves, Lizzo, Mary J. Blige, Quavo and Maverick City Music and a duo by Sam Smith and Kim Petras.
Along with Beyoncé, Kim Petras also made award history Sunday night at the Grammys. She and Sam Smith won for best pop duo and group performance, and she’s the first transgender woman to win in that category. “My mother – I grew up next to a highway in nowhere, Germany, and my mother believed me that I was a girl, and I wouldn’t be here without her and her support,” Petras said. She also thanked Sophie, an influential transgender producer who died in 2021.
Actor Viola Davis won a Grammy for narrating her audiobook memoir, giving her the coveted EGOT status (someone who’s won at least one Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award).
Editors note: A correction was made to this article, which previously said this year marked the 64th Annual Grammy Awards. It was actually the 65th.
In other news ...
📈Stocks: MSCI’s global gauge of stocks is up 0.02% at 2794.10 at the time of writing.
- Dow Jones lost 0.1% to 33,891.02.
- Nasdaq Composite dropped 1% to 11,887.45.
- S&P 500 slid 0.61% to 4,111.08.
- Hang Seng Index tumbled 2.02% to 21,222.16.
🧠Some quick factors to bear in mind:
- US stocks took a hit on Monday with uncertainty about the Fed's future policy stance on interest rate hikes and rising bond yields as investors wait for more data this week.
- Fed Chair Jerome Powell recently said things were headed for a "disinflationary" process, and the last interest rate hike was lower than the ones before. But, Friday's strong US jobs report worried investors about a potentially higher interest rate hike and shift in direction to raising rates above 5% later this year.
- Tech and retail were hit, with stocks like Apple and Target declining while defensive stocks like Merck and Coca-Cola boosted.
- This week, investors are preparing for big earning reports, including from Disney, Chipotle, Dupont and PepsiCo.
- On Monday, China's stock market took a dive with weak corporate earnings and dissipating bets on the country's reopening. Investors also worried about heightened US-China tensions after the spy balloon fiasco.
- A more tense relationship between the US and China has the market worried about potential new curbs against Chinese businesses.
👄Some comments and chatter:
- “Most stock market participants are a little shook ... by the huge increase in yields for a second straight day. The move in the 2-year over two days is incredible. And I think that’s driving most of the moves,” said George Cipolloni, portfolio manager at Penn Mutual Asset Management.
- “Fed Chair Powell remains a big wild card every time he speaks. Investors will be looking to see if he ‘walks back’ his very dovish tone from last Wednesday, particularly with respect to financial conditions and the US ‘disinflationary process.’ We still believe that the Fed will be ‘higher for longer,’” said Chris Senyek at Wolfe Research.
🛢Oil: On Monday, the oil prices market was a bit of a roller coaster, but prices eventually went up. Considerations of China's increased demand went against news of supply issues after the earthquake in Turkey stopped operations at a major oil terminal. With this, US crude climbed 1% to US$74.11, and Brent rose 1.3% to US$80.99 per barrel.
👛Bitcoin: At the time of writing, Bitcoin is down 0.85% at US$22,742.30.
💬Putin pledged not to kill Zelenskiy: Last Saturday, former Israeli PM Naftali Bennett, who met with Putin right after Russia invaded Ukraine to see if there was a way to mediate, said that Putin told him he wouldn't kill Zelenskiy or ask Ukraine to disarm. On Sunday, Ukraine said these were "lies."
🧕Protests in Iraq over gender violence: Last Friday, Iraq's Interior Ministry announced that a 22-year-old YouTube star named Tiba Ali had been strangled by her father, who then turned himself in to police. It was an "honor killing," according to reports. On Sunday, dozens of Iraqi protesters demonstrated against gender violence, calling for reform legislation with harsher punishments for perpetrators.
📢UK strike breaks records: Labor disputes have been brewing in the UK recently, with public servants especially expressing dissatisfaction with wages and working conditions. On Monday, tens of thousands of nurses and ambulance workers went on strike over a pay dispute. This is the largest strike in NHS history and put a major strain on the health service.
✈Taiwan's opposition leader will visit China: This past year has seen heightened tensions between mainland China and Taiwan. On Wednesday, deputy chairman Andrew Hsia of Taiwan's Kuomintang (KMT) opposition party will visit China to meet its head Taiwan policy-maker.
📩Cyprus election goes to runoff: Cyprus held its presidential election on Sunday. Former foreign minister Nikos Christodoulides ran against leftist-backed candidate Andreas Mavroyiannis. Neither got the majority of the vote, so there will be a runoff election on February 12.
💸Adani selloff sparks panic in India: The Adani Group in India is going through a crisis after being accused of stock manipulation, using tax havens and building unsustainable debt. It's now lost US$110 billion in the market. On Monday, hundreds of members of India's opposition parties held protests for an investigation into these allegations.
💻Dell layoffs: The tech layoffs just keep piling up. This time, it's electronics manufacturer Dell that's letting employees go, cutting about 6,650 jobs.
🤖Google's Bard: Google has been planning on releasing a competitor AI platform like ChatGPT. Now, it's said that its AI service "Bard" is about to open up to testing and will be ready for the public to use in a few weeks. It will be powered by LaMDA – which you may remember made headlines last year when one of Google's engineers called it "sentient."
👩⚖️Hong Kong court rules in favor of trans men: Hong Kong is seeing a lot of progress in establishing rights for the queer community. It's already been legal for trans people to put their preferred gender on their IDs, as long as they've undergone sex reassignment surgery and legally changed their name. On Monday, Hong Kong's top court ruled that trans people can change their gender on their government-issued ID without having reassignment surgery.
🐍Anti-venom delivery: In southern China, a delivery driver was alerted to an emergency need for snake anti-venom after a woman was bitten by a snake last week. Courier Yang Zhuofan sped as fast as he could to the patient, telling her, "In order to save you, I put my life on a bet to fight against the God of Death. As long as I can save you, my life will have no regrets." He made the half-hour trip in a speedy 20 minutes.
🌙Jupiter's moons: For a while, Jupiter had the most counted moons in the solar system, but it was overtaken by Saturn in 2019. Now, Jupiter is taking its title back after 12 more moons were discovered orbiting the planet. It now has a total of 92 known moons.
🧊A new form of ice: Scientists figured out how to create a form of ice that's not found naturally on Earth. This kind of amorphous ice is really close to water, as rather than being organized in crystals, its atoms are arranged in a total, chaotic mess. They discovered it by mixing around normal frozen water in a jar of ultracold steel balls.
Written and put together by Joey Fung, Vanessa Wolosz, Shebby Farooq and Christine Dulion