Your Wednesday Briefing – The New York Times

Rescue workers in the earthquake-devastated city of Kahramanmaras pulled two Turkish brothers from the rubble after the men had spent about 200 hours trapped there, one of at least nine such improbable rescues. The pair had survived by rationing bodybuilding supplements, drinking their own urine and swallowing gulps of air, they said.

Relief organizations typically scramble to find survivors in the first 72 hours after a natural disaster, as over time signs of life become much more rare. In the past week, more than 35,000 Turkish search-and-rescue teams joined international workers to dig through the rubble, according to Turkey’s emergency management agency.

More than a week after 7.8-magnitude earthquake leveled towns, killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions in Turkey and Syria, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said it could reasonably be called the “disaster of the century.” The death toll now exceeds 40,000 across the two countries.

More aid to Syria: 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 had been used for all of the U.N. aid flowing to the opposition-held side.

Three unidentified flying objects shot down in the past several days might turn out to have been harmless, according to a top White House official. There was as yet no evidence that the objects were connected to China’s balloon surveillance program, though the debris had not yet been found, he added.

In a wild weekend, American fighter aircraft shot down three unidentified flying objects from Friday to Sunday: the first over Prudhoe Bay, Alaska; the second over the Yukon Territory of Canada; and the third over Lake Huron. The third object landed on the Canadian side of the lake, officials said.

The admission that the administration had more questions than answers about three of the objects prompted a fresh wave of frustration among U.S. lawmakers, who criticized not only the slow effort at recovering the debris but also the lack of clarity about what was floating overhead in the first place.

Theories: Aviation officials determined that the objects had not been operated by the U.S. government. One possible explanation for the objects, a White House spokesman said, might be that they had been operated by private companies or research institutes and were “therefore benign.”

Context: 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.

As Russia continues to make gains, particularly around the fiercely contested eastern city of Bakhmut, NATO defense ministers promised continued military support to Kyiv, whose forces are expending ammunition faster than allies can produce it.

The U.S. defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, said that Western nations were focusing on Kyiv’s “most pressing needs,” including training that could reduce Ukraine’s dependence on artillery fire. “We’re going to do everything we can working with our international partners to ensure that we give them as much ammunition as quickly as possible,” he said.

In Bakhmut, where much of the recent fighting has been concentrated, Ukrainian officials said yesterday that they were urging the civilians still in the city to leave, adding to signs that Kyiv might be preparing to retreat from a city it had defended fiercely for months.

Supplies: Ukrainian officials have said that they are in dire need of NATO-caliber artillery shells to work with allied-supplied heavy guns, as well as more Soviet-caliber ammunition for the T-72 tanks they already possess in large numbers.

In other news from the war:

We seldom talk about big, profound platonic love. Romantic partners gush about love at first sight; parents rhapsodize about meeting their babies for the first time. But it’s rare for friends to wax poetic about the instant they “fell” for one other — even though there’s definitely magic in that moment.

What if we celebrated that kind of connection more?

The soccer-mad couples who get married at their team’s stadium: The ceremonies can include specially embroidered shirts and the same “kickoff” times and anthems.

The stars lighting up the Champions League: As Europe’s elite teams return to action, our experts choose the players they cannot wait to watch.

Libraries aren’t about silence anymore. They’re about versatility. The modern library helps people stay warm in the winter or cool down in the summer. It provides safety, entertainment, education, even hydration. You’re always invited, no reservation needed.

Last fall, The Times sent photographers to local libraries in seven U.S. states. They found toddlers trying to catch bubbles on the loose, grateful seniors enjoying deliveries of crime novels and teenagers strumming guitars together.

See the photos, and share your own memories.

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

P.S. Nicholas Kristof will interview Samantha Power, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., about Ukraine, at 3:30 p.m. Eastern today (8:30 p.m. in London). Here’s the link.

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

You can reach Natasha and the team at

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