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Up First briefing: Gaza deaths top 20,000; Colorado Supreme Court Justices threatened

More than 20,000 people have now been killed in Gaza since the start of the war, according to Gaza's Ministry of Health. Above, a home in Rafah is shown in the aftermath of an Israeli airstrike.
Anas Baba/NPR
More than 20,000 people have now been killed in Gaza since the start of the war, according to Gaza's Ministry of Health. Above, a home in Rafah is shown in the aftermath of an Israeli airstrike.

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

Israel's military offensive in Gaza has killed more than 20,000 people, according to Gaza's health ministry. It says 70% of those killed are women and children. Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council has been deadlocked for three days on a resolution calling for a cease-fire and allow the U.N. to inspect aid trucks and speed up the arrival of food and fuel for Gaza. U.N. negotiators have weakened the language in the proposal in an effort to avoid a U.S. veto.

  • U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield seemed to be satisfied with the changes in the new text, NPR's Michele Kelemen reports on Up First. Thomas-Greenfield told reporters last night the new proposal gives Arab countries what they think they need to get more aid into Gaza. Kelemen adds that the U.S., which backs Israel's fight against Hamas, has been working to ramp up aid. Though the Biden administration would rather not veto another resolution, it says the wrong resolution risks complicating an already complicated situation. The new resolution draft doesn't call for the U.N. to inspect trucks and calls for "creating conditions for a sustainable cessation" rather than an "urgent cessation" of hostilities.
  • Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner-general for UNRWA — the U.N. relief agency that aids Palestinians — says each time he visits Gaza, "it gets more desperate." He gives All Things Considered an inside account of what it's like to deliver aid to Gaza and what the U.N. needs to get more food and medicine in. 


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

Violent rhetoric has surged online since the Colorado Supreme Court disqualified former President Donald Trump from appearing on the state's 2024 primary ballot this week. Personal information of some of the Colorado Supreme Court justices is circulating in far-right spaces online, as well as calls to arm up to hurt or kill perceived political foes.

  • "It is important to understand how the baseline threat level is evolving," reports NPR's extremism correspondent Odette Yousef. She speaks with Daniel J. Jones of the nonpartisan nonprofit Advance Democracy, who tells her it's not just the "uptick in violent language" that concerns him but the lack of pushback from political leaders on the right. Other extremism researchers say that if high-profile figures on the right would disavow the violence, it would help bring the temperature down.

From our hosts

/ General Use
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General Use

This essay was written by Michel Martin. She hosts Morning Edition and Up First. She's previously hosted Weekend All Things Considered, the Consider This Saturday podcast and Tell Me More.

I've been asking everybody I've talked to about The (new) Color Purple film, set to hit theaters Christmas Day. I want to know when they first encountered any version of the work: the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1982 novel by Alice Walker, the hit 1985 film directed by Stephen Spielberg, the hit 2005 Broadway Musical or the (possibly even bigger) hit Broadway revival in 2015.

I know why some people remember their first time so well. The Broadway show was the first one some people ever saw — like Danielle Brooks, who plays Sofia in the new movie. The 1985 movie and Broadway shows were star-making vehicles for others: Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey and Cynthia Erivo.

And some people will tell you that the story of Celie and her triumph over vicious abuse was the first piece of art they experienced that helped them feel less alone.

I am almost embarrassed to tell you I don't remember how I first knew about The Color Purple. I grew up in New York going to shows (the cheap seats) and what can I say? I read a lot. Always have.

Still, all these years later, the story — in whatever form — has the power to shock, inform and motivate. Some stories just stick with you.

This one does.

Listen to Michel's conversation with director Blitz Bazawule and actor Danielle Brooks here.

Weekend picks

Queen Elizabeth II, as portrayed by Olivia Colman (left) Imelda Staunton (center) and Claire Foy (right).
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Netflix
Queen Elizabeth II, as portrayed by Olivia Colman (left) Imelda Staunton (center) and Claire Foy (right).

Check out what NPR is watching, reading and listening to this weekend:

Movies: In The Zone of Interest, director Jonathan Glazer depicts the family of Auschwitz camp commandant Rudolf Höss as they go about their daily routines while a massive machinery of death grinds away next door.

TV: Netflix said goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II with its final season of The Crown. Imelda Staunton speaks with NPR's All Things Considered about the show's attempt to portray the royal family in all of its truth.

Books: Are you still Christmas shopping for a kid in your life? These are some of NPR's favorite children's books of 2023.

Music: David Byrne of the Talking Heads has a gift for old and new fans: a holiday playlist he personally curated.

Quiz: Think back to some of the biggest stories of the year in this New Year's Resolutions-themed quiz.

3 things to know before you go

Vinyl Records are seen for sale at the Sound Garden record shop in Fells Point, Baltimore.
Eric Baradat / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
Vinyl Records are seen for sale at the Sound Garden record shop in Fells Point, Baltimore.

  1. Is there a song that brings you a sweeping sense of nostalgia every time you hear it? Morning Edition wants to know which song it is and where it takes you. Submit your responses by December 26 at 5 pm E.T., and you could be featured in an upcoming newsletter.
  2. How do reindeer find food in an expanse of white snow? Unlike humans, their eyes can see ultraviolet light
  3. The COVID-19 pandemic is no longer a global health emergency this year. But that doesn't mean things are back to normal. Here's everything you need to know about new variants, traveling safely, vaccine boosters and more.

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

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

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