Today's headlines: the death toll from quake in Syria and Turkey exceeds 8,700; Thailand expects 30 million tourists this year; Australia bans coal mining near the Great Barrier Reef; Dispute in Russia over the name of the former Stalingrad; Tomb of the father of Azeri literature destroyed in Iran.
Despite geopolitical tensions, trade between China and the US peaked in 2022 at USD 690.6 billion. US exports grew by 2.4 billion to 153.8 billion. However, the trade deficit with the Chinese, who exported 536.8 billion (+31.8 billion) worth of goods to US soil, increased.
The provisional number of victims of the earthquake on the Turkish-Syrian border has now exceeded 8,700, with 6,200 dead in Turkey. While rescue operations continue, offers of help arrive from many countries, including from Taliban-held Afghanistan. Chinese and Taiwanese intervention teams are present.
According to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, more than 30 million tourists will arrive in the country this year, exceeding the previous estimate of 20 million. After the removal of foreign entry restrictions due to the pandemic, the government adopted a series of measures to facilitate the recovery of the tourism sector.
The Australian Government has decided to ban coal mining operations near the Great Barrier Reef. The ban concerns a mining plant that was to be built 10 km from the well-known natural site.
Colombo's main creditors (Paris Group) are ready to give financial assurances to allow the International Monetary Fund to release .9 billion worth of aid to the island.
Protoierej Leonid Kalinin, member of the Patriarchal Commission for Culture, commented on the discussion on the return of the city of Volgograd to the name Stalingrad. In his opinion, "it would be right to return to the even older name of Tsaritsyn", the "city of the tsars", which would provoke less discussion and return to the title under which it was founded.
In Iran, the historic tomb of the 13th century Azerbaijani poet Izzeddin Gasanoglu, the first author of literature in the Azerbaijani language, has been destroyed in the city of Khorasan. This was announced on social media by a folklore scholar, Ali Šamil, who appealed "to our intelligentsia and official circles" not to let the incident pass over in silence.