Up First briefing: Gazan Christians worry about survival; EU votes on migration rule


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Today’s top stories

As the death toll in Gaza nears 20,000, U.S. officials say diplomats from Israel and Qatar are meeting in Europe to negotiate another temporary cease-fire. Hamas says one of its senior leaders, Ismail Haniyeh, was in Egypt, which is also trying to broker a ceasefire. Meanwhile, the U.N. is trying to pass a resolution for a humanitarian cease-fire. A vote continues to be delayed as the leaders discuss language that would be acceptable to the U.S. in order to avoid a veto.

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  • Fighting in Gaza has been intense, with heavy shelling from Israel by land, air and sea, says NPR’s Jason DeRose. He reports on Up First that two women sheltering at Holy Family parish church in northern Gaza were shot and killed by an Israeli sniper, according to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. About 1,000 Palestinian Christians live in Gaza. DeRose says there are “real worries about community survival.”

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

The European Union Parliament yesterday voted on sweeping changes to the bloc’s immigration policy. The agreement comes as France defends a new immigration bill that critics say looks like the “anti-immigration platform of the far-right party,” NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley reports. EU countries have been dealing with increased migration from the Middle East and Africa in an “ad hoc, uncoordinated way,” Beardsley says. It’s fueling the popularity of far-right, anti-immigration politicians and putting pressure on the EU to address migration.

The Virginia Department of Corrections is refusing to make public dozens of tape recordings made behind the scenes during executions. They say they want to “protect the privacy of family members.” A lawyer for the Virginia Attorney General’s office said the state would consider releasing them if family members of the executed prisoners want to hear them. NPR spoke to four different relatives of the executed inmates. They all say they want the tapes released to hold the prison accountable.

Deep dive

The Supreme Court is poised to play a pivotal role in the 2024 presidential election. As the justices face scrutiny and waning trust over several ethics scandals, here are the major disputes to watch next year:

  • The court is deciding whether to fast-track a case questioning whether former President Donald Trump has absolute immunity in a case related to his attempt to hold onto power after the 2020 election.
  • Justices will review the case of Joseph Fischer, who was charged with obstructing an official proceeding at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Fischer argues the Justice Department overreached when it charged him under a corporate fraud statute usually reserved for people who tamper with documents.
  • Trump has vowed to appeal a decision Colorado’s Supreme Court made this week to bar him from the state’s primary ballot.

Today’s listen

Steven Spielberg’s 1991 Peter Pan adaptation Hook has been polarizing since its release. While it flopped with critics and some adults, a generation of children grew to love the heartwarming, technicolor film starring Robin Williams. Even the most die-hard fans may not know it started out as a movie musical. A new 3-CD album reveals all of the abandoned song demos, complete with John Williams’ instrumental score. Listen to some of the songs and learn why they didn’t end up in the movie.

3 things to know before you go

  1. Luke Durant is a legend at Mondawmin Mall in Baltimore. This year is his 39th working as a beloved mall Santa that some people drive hours every year to visit. NPR spent a day with Durant, getting to know his secrets to success.
  2. Cashmere clothing used to be a luxury investment. Now, many more affordable options are available — often at the cost of environmental degradation and lower-quality clothes.
  3. An antibiotic taken in the hours after having unprotected sex could work like a morning-after pill for STIs. But, studies are unclear on whether it works for cisgender women.

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi

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