Highlights of the week of February 6 to 12: World and Europe events
The earthquake in Turkey. Implications
On February 6 of 2023, two powerful earthquakes with magnitudes of 7.8 and 7.5 on the Richter scale struck Turkey and Syria border. Both shocks happened at a depth of about 18 kilometers. As this is relatively close to the surface, this was one of the reasons for the massive and rapid devastation.
Historically, Turkey is located in a very seismically active region. Earthquakes are not unusual here. However, this tragedy was not like others: the first shocks occurred in the middle of the night when people were asleep in their homes. Thousands of people did not realize what had happened and were trapped alive under the rubble of their homes.
The earthquake on February 6 was the most destructive in almost a century. The last quake of the same magnitude occurred on December 26, 1939, in the eastern province of Erzincan. The earthquake intensity was 7.9 then, and winter frost increased the number of victims almost immediately after the catastrophe.
The death toll rose to 24,617 this week in Turkey alone. Syria has found 3,500 bodies so far. Apparently, as the further clearing of the blockage continues, more and more casualties will come. Experts predict a double increase in both countries.
To help Turkey and Syria, rescue teams from Germany, France, Austria, Israel, Luxembourg, and several other countries have been sent. For the first time in 35 years, Armenia also opened its border with Turkey to send humanitarian aid and experts.
However, there are a few challenges. For instance, German emergency workers had to stop work because of gunfire reports in the area of the accident. Local criminal groups are believed to have divided zones of power and extraction. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has vowed to solve the looting problem.
Seymour Hersh, a journalist, accused the U.S. and Norway of destroying the Nord Streams
The Pulitzer laureate Seymour Hersh published an article titled «How America Destroyed the Nord Stream Pipeline». He refers to the statements of a person involved in the planning of the operation.
According to Hersh, the detonation was already underway in early 2022. While Norway helped find a suitable location in shallow water, U.S. divers set explosives on the pipe in the guise of military training.
The explosion destroyed both gas pipelines near the island of Bornholm, both of which were not supplying fuel at the time.
How should one view Hersh's statements? With a healthy amount of doubt.
Although the desire to find responsible for the sabotage is extremely strong, Hersch has been criticized for conspiracy theories on several occasions. In 2015, The Washington Post even accused him of abusing anonymous sources and violating journalistic standards.
Anonymous sources are a very convenient cover because then there is no one to hold accountable for misinformation. At the same time, the international investigation has not yet provided evidence of anyone's guilt.
France strikes against Macron's pension reform
The new pension regulation will raise the retirement age to 64 by 2030. The plank will be raised by 3 months each year until then.
Mandatory payments to the insurance fund will also be prolonged, up to 43 years old. Although the minimum pension will also increase to 1,200 euros. This reform is meant to save the pension fund from an excessive deficit, which could reach 20 billion euros by 2030.
Trade unions and some political parties, however, do not support this decision. The main argument is that many workers in France, especially those who started their careers young, might not be able to enjoy their peaceful pensions because their average lifespan is lower than the national average.
During the week, around a million people took part in the strikes. About 100,000 of them participated in Paris. There were several reported collisions with the police. The next action of protest is scheduled for February 16.