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Up First briefing: Gaza hospitals can't function; Biden will meet with China's Xi

Palestinians arrive south of Gaza City on Sunday after fleeing their homes amid the ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas.
Mahmud Hams
/
AFP via Getty Images
Palestinians arrive south of Gaza City on Sunday after fleeing their homes amid the ongoing battles between Israel and Hamas.

Good morning. You're reading the Up First newsletter. Subscribe here to get it delivered to your inbox, and listen to the Up First podcast for all the news you need to start your day.

Today's top stories

Dozens of Gaza's hospitals have effectively stopped functioning, due to fuel shortages and ground battles between Israel and Hamas. Israel asserts that Hamas fighters are sheltering beneath hospitals, and has ordered facilities in the north to evacuate. Patients and doctors have been caught in the crossfire of heavy street fighting, and humanitarian groups are pleading for combat near hospitals to end.

  • At Al-Shifa, dozens of babies are in danger — and two died — after being removed from defunct incubators. Paul Caney, emergency coordinator for Doctors Without Borders, told NPR that electricity is out, people are hiding in corridors because of sniper fire near the windows and there are no ambulances moving patients.
  • There are growing international calls for a cease-fire, including from hundreds of thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters who marched in London over the weekend. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated there will be no cease-fire until all hostages are released.
  • The Geneva Conventions give hospitals special protection during war, but the shield is not absolute. Experts tell NPR's Greg Myre that a Hamas attack carried out from a hospital could make it a military target — but Israel would have to give hospitals "due warning" and a "reasonable time limit" before any potential retaliation. Plus, the military advantage must be proportionate to the loss of civilian lives. Here's how that calculus works


Check out npr.org/mideastupdates for more coverage, differing views and analysis of this conflict.

President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are set to meet in the San Francisco Bay Area on Wednesday for their first face-to-face talk in a year. The summit comes as Americans' concern about the threat of China reaches record levels, according to a new Chicago Council on Global Affairs survey shared exclusively with NPR.

  • The concern over China is especially high among Republicans. And China has been a major talking point in the GOP primary, NPR's Tamara Keith reports. But she says the political stakes may not be that great for Biden, since domestic issues are far more likely to drive voters' decisions.
  • Both the U.S. and China have made efforts to re-engage in recent months, after February's spy balloon incident sidetracked their already-tense relations. Analysts tell NPR that the meeting could help stabilize their shaky relationship, but probably won't change its trajectory. 


Congress has until the end of Friday to fund the government, but no clear path for how to do it. House Speaker Mike Johnson unveiled a short-term bill that would fund some agencies and programs through mid-January, and others through early February. The plan is already facing opposition from some of Johnson's fellow House Republicans, and is unlikely to pass the Democrat-controlled Senate.

  • NPR's Eric McDaniel says Johnson spent the last week trying to cobble together a different approach from the previous short-term spending plan, which led to former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's ouster — "and we more or less ended up back where we started." 


Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina is suspending his presidential campaign, he announced on Fox News' "Sunday Night in America." Scott — the only sitting Black Republican in the Senate — had centered his candidacy on his Christian faith and experience growing up with a single mom in the South. But he failed to gain traction in national polls, and was unlikely to qualify for the fourth primary debate in December.

Picture show

A worker harvests mangrove "propagules" from a forest planted five years ago in the Indus River Delta in southern Pakistan.
Diaa Hadid / NPR
/
NPR
A worker harvests mangrove "propagules" from a forest planted five years ago in the Indus River Delta in southern Pakistan.

Southern Pakistan is reforesting its river delta with mangrove forests nearly the size of Rhode Island. The plants absorb the carbon dioxide gasses that are dangerously warming the planet. This effort — one of the largest of its kind in the world — is estimated to absorb around 142 million tons of carbon dioxide over the next six decades. But critics are warning of "carbon colonialism."

Life advice

There are extra precautions you can take to protect your data and finances from would-be scammers.
Malte Mueller / Getty Images/fStop
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Getty Images/fStop
There are extra precautions you can take to protect your data and finances from would-be scammers.

Scams can — and do — happen to anyone. Americans reported losing nearly $8.8 billion to fraud in 2022, an increase of more than 30% from the previous year. Imposter scams topped the list, followed by those involving online shopping and prizes. Luckily, you can take simple steps online and IRL to protect yourself:

  • Check your bank accounts every two weeks, and your credit report every four months. 
  • Use your credit card rather than your debit card whenever possible.
  • Sign out of your Venmo app when you're done using it.
  • Change your phone settings to send unknown callers directly to your voicemail.
  • If you suspect a fraudulent charge, call the phone number on the back of your card instead of searching for it online.  

3 things to know before you go

Dr. Ankit Bharat, left, came up with the idea to use breast implants to hold Davey Bauer's heart in place while he recovered enough to get a transplant.
José M. Osorio / Northwestern Medicine
/
Northwestern Medicine
Dr. Ankit Bharat, left, came up with the idea to use breast implants to hold Davey Bauer's heart in place while he recovered enough to get a transplant.

  1. Davey Bauer lived without lungs for a day on his way to a lifesaving double-transplant — thanks in part to DD breast implants
  2. Researchers thought Attenborough's long-beaked echidna, a species of quill-covered mammal, had gone extinct. Then they spotted one on camera in a remote Indonesian rainforest.
  3. Passengers on a recent flight from London to Florida noticed it was unusually noisy and chilly after takeoff. It turns out their plane was missing several window panes

This newsletter was edited by Treye Green and Olivia Hampton.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.