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Hard Numbers: Missiles hit Russian border city, ex-FBI informant in Biden bribe case faces charges, Gaza needs new ‘Marshall Plan,’ UK slips into recession, Bangkok’s air becomes unbreathable

​Specialists tend to the body of a victim outside a damaged shopping center hit by a missile strike in Belgorod, Russia, on Feb. 15, 2024.

Specialists tend to the body of a victim outside a damaged shopping center hit by a missile strike in Belgorod, Russia, on Feb. 15, 2024.


7: At least seven people, including a one-year-old girl, were reportedly killed on Thursday by an apparent Ukrainian missile strike in Belgorod, the closest major Russian city to Ukraine. This is not the first time Belgorod has been targeted amid the Russia-Ukraine war – dozens were killed in a strike there last December, as Ukraine seeks to show that it can still strike Russia, even as Moscow’s forces slowly push forward the front lines in the Donbas. Meanwhile, the US warned that the eastern Ukrainian town of Avdiivka, which has seen some of the worst fighting recently, is at risk of falling into Russian control.

25: Alexander Smirnov, a former FBI informant, has been charged with lying about President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden accepting payments from Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings. The US Justice Department said Smirnov gave the false statements because he disliked Biden. If convicted, Smirnov faces up to 25 years in jail.

20 billion: The damage from the war in Gaza so far is estimated to be roughly $20 billion, according to a UN trade body official. The estimate is based on satellite images, but for an exact number, there will need to be an on-the-ground investigation. The official said that the Las Vegas-sized Gaza strip will need a “Marshall Plan” of its own after the Israel-Hamas war, in reference to the US-led effort to rebuild Europe after World War II.

0.3: The UK economy fell into a recession at the end of 2023, dealing yet another blow to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as he hopes for reelection in a vote widely expected later this year. Data released Thursday showed GDP fell 0.3% in the final three months of last year, after shrinking 0.1% in the previous quarter.

156: The air in Bangkok was so polluted on Thursday that city employees were ordered to work from home for two days, and private sector workers were strongly encouraged to do the same. How bad was it? The Thai capital’s Air Quality Index hit 156. When levels go above 100, it’s considered to be unhealthy for sensitive groups, while levels above 150 are dangerous for everyone.


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