Dobryy ranok*. Today is Tuesday, February 21st.
Turkey’s hard-hit Hatay province was hit by yet another 6.4 magnitude earthquake and a 5.8 aftershock Monday evening, damaging and destroying more buildings and reports of people trapped under the rubble. US Secretary of State was visiting Turkey earlier in the day to provide financial aid and support, meanwhile, US President Joe Biden paid an unannounced visit to Kyiv a few days before the war-torn country marks 1 year war anniversary.
* ‘Good morning’ in Ukrainian.
– Tanem and Atilla
• Swedish telecoms company Ericsson said it plans to cut 1,400 jobs in Sweden as part of a broader plan to reduce costs globally by €820 million by the end of 2023. The company is likely to announce several thousand job cuts in other countries in the coming days, Reuters reports. The company has reached an agreement with Swedish unions on how to manage headcount reductions, a spokesperson said.
• Britain's biggest retailer Tesco agreed to raise hourly pay for about 220,000 store workers by 7%, from April, with workers in inner and outer London getting additional allowances. The increase from £10.30 to £11.02 an hour is the third in ten months and will cost Tesco over £230 million (€260mn).
• Denmark's industrial workers have reached a two-year pay deal with employers to offset the fall in purchasing power. Wages will rise by 2% per year, with minimum wages increasing and youth workers and apprentices getting an 8% pay bump, while parental leave will be extended by four weeks in addition to other improvements in benefits.
• Deutsche Bank's supervisory board will face its biggest revamp in 5 years after seven of the ten employee representatives on the board, which currently has a total of 20 members, decided to step down.
- Some background… German corporate governance rules give staff representatives in large listed companies just under half of the supervisory board seats, ensuring they have a powerful voice in all strategic decisions, Bloomberg reports.
• Raiffeisen Bank International, Austria's second-biggest lender, confirmed it received a request from the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to "clarify payments business and related processes maintained by RBI in light of the recent developments related to Russia and Ukraine."
- Why it matters: Raiffeisen is deeply embedded in the Russian financial system and is one of the only two foreign banks on the Russian central bank's list of 13 "systemically important credit institutions", Reuters reports.
• US President Joe Biden made an unannounced visit to Ukraine in a show of Western solidarity days before one-year marks Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv, Biden also announced an additional $500 million in US assistance, including artillery ammunition, anti-armor systems and air defense radars, along with tighter sanctions on Russia.
• US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Washington strongly supports Sweden and Finland's accession into NATO "as quickly as possible" in his visit to Turkey, as his counterpart Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said they need more concrete action and are willing to approve Finland's bid before they decide on Sweden. Cavusoglu said all members of the alliance must convince Sweden to take more action to address Ankara's concerns such as harboring what they refer to as members of terrorist organizations.
- In accordance: The Turkish FM also denied any link between their opposition to NATO enlargement and Turkey's request for F-16 fighter jets.
• Turkey's already-hard-hit Hatay province was struck by yet another powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 6.4 and an aftershock of 5.8 on Monday, two weeks after the area was devastated by larger earthquakes that killed more than 47,000 people. Hatay mayor said more buildings were destroyed and that there are people who were trapped under wreckage.
• North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea off Japan on Monday, after Saturday's test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), prompting Japan to request an emergency UN Security Council meeting.
- A step back: The second test launch in the last three days follows a year where North Korea launched a record number of 70 missiles, also escalating nuclear threats and strong responses to annual US-South Korea military drills.
• Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the launching of Meta Verified, a $12 or $14 subscription service that will grant users a verified badge, increased visibility, prioritized customer support, and more. In order to sign up, users need to be at least 18 years old, meet minimum activity requirements and submit a government ID.
- Side note: The new service sounds similar to Elon Musk's $8-a-month Twitter Blue, but Meta noted that it won't make changes to accounts that have been previously verified.
• WhatsApp is launching a picture-in-picture (PiP) feature for iOS with its latest update, which will allow users to minimize their video call to look at WhatsApp chats or different apps.
- In addition to allowing users to multitask through PiP mode, WhatsApp 23.3.77 will also let users add captions to documents shared in chats.
• Bank of Japan (BoJ) announced it will start a pilot program in April to test using a "digital yen", joining a growing list of countries looking at the possibilities of adopting a digital currency. BoJ has been conducting experiments related to the digital yen for two years, and launched a central bank digital currency (CBCD) proof of concept experiment in October 2020.
🎥 BAFTA Awards 2023: All the winners.
📺 60 Minutes: Finland's 37-year-old prime minister, Sanna Marin.
🌾 The Big Take: Russia and China have a stranglehold on the world’s food security.