Feb 10, 2023 - Podcasts

Getting aid to Turkey and Syria

The death toll from the earthquake and its aftershocks in Syria and Turkey has now surpassed 20,000. The scale of the destruction and the freezing temperatures are hampering rescue efforts. The first UN humanitarian aid convoy finally entered northwest Syria on Thursday.

  • Plus, Biden takes control of the debt ceiling narrative.
  • And, sports betting at the Super Bowl.

Guests: Axios' Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath, David Lindsey, and Kendall Baker.

Credits: Axios Today is produced by Niala Boodhoo, Alexandra Botti, Fonda Mwangi and Alex Sugiura. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

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NIALA: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today!

It’s Friday, February 10th.

I’m Niala Boodhoo.

Today: Biden takes control of the debt ceiling narrative. Plus, sports betting at the Super Bowl. But first, today’s One Big Thing: getting aid to Turkey and Syria as the earthquake death toll keeps climbing.

Getting aid to Turkey and Syria as the earthquake death toll keeps climbing

NIALA: The death toll from the quake in its aftershocks in Syria and Turkey surpassed 20,000 on Thursday. The scale of the destruction and freezing temperatures are hampering rescue efforts. But the first UN humanitarian aid convoy did enter northwest Syria yesterday.

Axios’ World Editor, Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath is back with the latest for us. Hi Laurin-Whitney.


NIALA: Can you put in context to us how this compares to other recent natural disasters, the scope of this?

LAURIN-WHITNEY: Sure. I mean, obviously every, natural disaster is incredibly tragic, but I think this one in particular has some unique aspects that are making, getting aid and humanitarian workers to sort of the epicenter of where they need to be to help people, a lot harder. First, governments that are trying to send aid have to deal with both Turkey and Syria. Obviously a lot of Western countries have great relations with Turkey.Turkey is a part of the NATO alliance. so that hasn't been as difficult.

The big issue is really in northern Syria, particularly in opposition held areas. There's only one border crossing from Turkey into this part of Syria. As you mentioned, it was only recently that aid was able to start going via that border crossing. That was because the road leading to that border crossing Turkey was highly damaged by the earthquake itself.

So that's part of the problem and then secondly, any aid that a country might wanna send via Damascus, the Syrian government and the Assad regime, will control what goes to opposition areas and what doesn't. So I think there's a lot of fear, particularly in sort of the humanitarian circles, that aid won't be getting, to sort of these opposition areas where we know there are a lot of people affected by this earthquake won't get the aid that they need as quickly as possible.

NIALA: So how hopeful are rescue teams about continuing to find survivors?

LAURIN-WHITNEY: I mean, I think rescue teams are as hopeful as they can be. Obviously as more days go by, it's going to be less likely, particularly in northern Syria. There's subfreezing temperatures in this area. So that adds to the hurdles of trying to get people out of the rubble.The other thing you have to remember is a lot of these rescue workers who first responded, they also have been affected by this earthquake.

NIALA: I imagine a lot of our listeners are keeping up with this news and wanting to know how they can help. What are some things people can do?

LAURIN-WHITNEY: Sure. I mean, I think the biggest thing is, donating to places that you feel comfortable donating to is sort of, the big ask. And then I think the other thing is not forgetting this, and particularly not forgetting this in month two, month three, month four. There's been an incredible humanitarian tragedy for over a decade there, and I think a lot of Syrians, at least those who have talked to the media, fear that they've been forgotten. And I think there's a huge fear that, you know, as more time goes by, they're gonna be forgotten again.

NIALA: Axios World Editor Laurin-Whitney Gottbeath. Thanks Laurin-Whitney.


Biden takes control of the debt ceiling narrative

NIALA: In Washington this week, the debt ceiling, Twitter on the hot seat and 2024 comes into focus. Here for our Friday politics State of play is Axios’ Managing Editor for Politics David Lindsey.

David, the State of the Union was one of the biggest stories of the week in Washington. How did President Biden's performance signal his stance on the debt ceiling?

DAVID LINDSEY: I think he really took control of the narrative, before the Republicans had come in and wanting to link the debt ceiling to budget cuts. And he said, that's fine, we can talk about budget cuts but he wanted to separate the debt ceiling. He really charted a course for ‘24 in this speech also. Laying out what he called a blue collar blueprint for America and touting his, uh, job growth and low unemployment during his administration. But then he went off script and basically baited Republicans into shouting, uh, that they wouldn't cut Social Security or Medicare. And he signaled to Republicans in doing this that he's not gonna be a pushover in budget talks. He reminded them of Florida Senator Rick Scott's Sunset proposal. But I think more importantly what he did also was to signal to fellow Democrats and to voters that he may be nearly 82 on election day in 2024, but he still packs a punch. And right now there's not really any talk among Democrats about challenging him.

NIALA: Twitter faced congressional hearings this week as well. A GOP-led House committee is investigating the company's role in limiting posts in 2020 about Hunter Biden's laptop. What did we learn from this hearing?

DAVID: We learned that there's a lot of bitterness. Maybe we didn't learn that. We knew that. But there’s a lot of back and forth going on here, and a lot of discussion about the First Amendment right to free speech. But something to keep in mind about all of these Republican investigations investigating the Biden administration. Really they're all about 2024, how Republicans want to reshape the narrative about 2024 and reshape the narrative about the Biden administration.

NIALA: And speaking of 2024, David, what are you thinking next week on the GOP side when it comes to the presidential rate?

DAVID: We are thinking it starts to look a little more crowded. There's a lot of buzz about Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor making an announcement as soon as next week. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has not announced, but everyone thinks he's gonna run and big money is piling up to support him. And this week, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu said he's thinking about running. So, the bottom line here is that Donald Trump isn't really scaring off other contenders like he has in the past.

NIALA: David Lindsey is Axios’ Managing Editor for Politics. Thanks David.

DAVID: Thanks Niala.

NIALA: After the break, sports betting’s super bowl moment.


Sports betting at the Super Bowl

NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today, I'm Niala Boodhoo.

This Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs will face the Philadelphia Eagles at Super Bowl 57 in Glendale, Arizona. It's the first time the Super Bowl is being held in a jurisdiction with legalized sports betting, an industry booming nationally. 33 states and Washington D.C. already have live legalized sports betting with three more that have legalized, but have yet to implement.

Here with more Axios’ Sports Editor Kendall Baker. Hey, Kendall.

KENDALL BAKER: Hey, how's it going?

NIALA: So the Super Bowl's gonna be in a stadium with its own sports book. Would you say that this shows an evolved U.S. stance on gambling?

KENDALL: Oh, for sure. As you mentioned, you know, 33 states plus D.C. now have live legal markets. Five years ago it was one Nevada, a pretty short amount of time for it to go from one state to a majority of the country. And the fact that the biggest sporting event in the country, um, is at a stadium with a place to place those bets on its grounds again, I think speaks for itself, how far we've come as a country and also how far the NFL's come. I mean, the NFL was one of the most outspoken leagues against sports betting five years ago. Their main concern being match fixing and you fast forward again five years and they've embraced it as much as any league. And as, as I just mentioned, you know, the Super Bowl people will be able to bet right outside the stadium.

NIALA: Kendall, what changed in those five years then?

KENDALL: I think, you know, it was a combination of the ability for states to make their own laws. And then I think the tidal wave that caused people to reflect on sports betting itself and kind of the stigma that's long been attached to it kind of started to fall away. And I think it was very easy for people to look at sports betting and associate it closer to things like fantasy sports, and less close to, you know, slots or poker or your typical casino games. And I think that's really helped the image of sports betting as more of a, you know, something you research and you maybe you have an edge over someone because you watch a lot of sports versus, you know, you're just going in and gambling your money away.

NIALA: So how much money do experts think will be wagered on this year's Super Bowl?

KENDALL: So the American Gaming Association does an annual, uh, survey they've been doing since, regulation. And this year they're expecting 50 million Americans or adults to wager $16 billion. And both those figures are double last year, which was a record of course.

NIALA: Kendall, I feel like it would be irresponsible if we didn't talk about gambling addiction. Are there concerns about that and finding resources as sports betting becomes so easily available? Like just an app on your phone?

KENDALL: Absolutely. There's concerns and I think it's very easy for people that maybe are addicted to it, to brush it off as not a gambling addiction because it's not, they're not playing a game that's purely luck. it's very easy to do and it's very gamified and it's very easy to make it feel like it's not gambling.

NIALA: If you need help with gambling addiction, we will provide a link to some resources in our show notes, so please check that out. Kendall Baker is Axios’ sports editor. Thanks Kendall.

KENDALL: Thank you.

NIALA: That’s all for this week. Axios Today is produced by Fonda Mwangi, Robin Linn, Naomi Shavin and Lydia McMullen-Laird. Our sound engineer is Alex Sugiura. Alexandra Botti is our supervising producer. Sara Kehaulani Goo is Axios’ editor in chief. And special thanks as always to Axios co-founder Mike Allen.

I’m Niala Boodhoo. Stay safe, enjoy your weekend and we’ll see you back here on Monday.

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