Up First briefing: Epstein documents released; blasts in Iran raise Mideast fears

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Today’s top stories

A federal judge in Manhattan unsealed court documents yesterday that disclosed for the first time dozens of powerful men with alleged connections to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, including former presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, actor Kevin Spacey and others. The fact that people were named in these documents doesn’t mean any of them face allegations or evidence of wrongdoing. Many have said they had no awareness of Epstein’s crimes. The documents were compiled as part of a 2015 civil lawsuit.

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  • NPR’s Brian Mann tells Up First that the documents show just how long it took for Epstein to be held accountable. Epstein, who died in 2019 by suicide in prison while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, was first investigated in 2006. Federal investigators decided not to prosecute him at that time. A 2018 exposé by the Miami Herald finally led to federal charges. The newspaper fought for years in court to make these documents public.

Two explosions in southeastern Iran killed at least 84 people and injured dozens yesterday at a commemoration for a prominent Iranian general killed in a 2020 U.S. drone strike, Iranian officials said. It’s not clear who was behind the attacks. No group has claimed responsibility. The incident came a day after a suspected Israeli drone strike in Beirut, Lebanon, killed a senior Hamas leader and six others. Israel has not taken responsibility for the strike.

  • All eyes are on Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese militia, NPR’s Jane Arraf reports from Beirut. The group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, vowed Hezbollah would retaliate. It has been fighting Israel over the Lebanese-Israel border. Arraf describes fears an all-out war along the border could destroy an already fragile Lebanon.

Cities along the southern U.S. border have seen a record number of migrants crossing into the U.S. from Mexico this season. House Speaker Mike Johnson led a visit to the border yesterday, where House Republicans renewed calls for President Biden to crack down on immigration. Meanwhile, Mexican authorities are seeing similar activity at their southern border, where officials have broken up a migrant caravan.

  • NPR’s Eyder Peralta traveled with the caravan and says he saw a lot of hope turn into agony as families were put on buses and separated. Peralta reports this incident gives a glimpse into how Mexican authorities are trying to make it harder for migrants to reach the U.S. border.

Today’s listen

Taylor Swift’s music has touched millions of fans. Joe Garcia credits the musician’s work for helping him get through his life sentence in prison. Garcia and two other people incarcerated in prisons across the U.S. speak with NPR about the challenges they face trying to access music and how it helps them reconnect with the past, endure the present and envision the future.

Life advice

As the East Coast prepares for a major winter storm this weekend, parents should refresh themselves on how to keep children safe and warm in their cars.

  • Extra layers of clothing can leave car seat straps too loose, making them ineffective in a car crash.
  • If you can pinch the harness strap between your thumb and forefinger at your child’s shoulder, you need to tighten it.
  • Remove puffy coats before strapping your child in, and drape the coat or an extra blanket over the harness for warmth.

3 things to know before you go

  1. Thirteen-year-old Willis Gibson of Oklahoma is the first person to beat the Nintendo version of Tetris since it was released 34 years ago.
  2. Ford has recalled more than 112,000 F-150 model pickup trucks because the truck’s ruck’s rear axle hub bolt could break and cause the vehicle to roll away when parked.
  3. Several state capitals were evacuated yesterday due to bomb threats in each state including Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan and Mississippi.

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
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