Good morning. You are reading the Up First newsletter. Subscribe here to receive it in your inbox, and listen to the Up First podcast for all the news you need to start your day.
Today's best stories
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the Israeli military to prepare to evacuate the southern Gaza town of Rafah, despite global concern. The city, populated by more than a million refugees from elsewhere in Gaza, is their last refuge of relative safety.
- NPR's Eyder Peralta reports from Tel Aviv on First podcast that Israeli army announces heavier airstrikes in Rafah overnight were part of a diversionary tactic aimed at freeing the hostages. The Israeli military, in a statement announced today local time, said Israel had rescued two of the 136 hostages that Israel says are still in Gaza. According to a Gaza hospital official, at least 55 Palestinians were killed by the airstrikes.
- Before Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, Kerem Shalom was the main commercial crossing point between Israel and Gaza, with limited supplies arriving in Gaza. Now some Israelis are trying to stop aid trucks from reaching Gaza, despite warnings of famine from aid groups.
- NPR's Daniel Estrin, Greg Myre, Eyder Peralta and Hadeel Al-Shalchi report from the region.
Former President Trump has reignited international questions and backlash over what he would do to America's alliances as president. At a political rally in South Carolina, Trump said he would encourage Russia to “do whatever it wants” to “delinquent” countries in Europe that he said are not spending enough on defense.
- NPR's Stephen Fowler reports First that the White House issued a statement calling Trump's comments “disturbed.” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Trump's suggestion could compromise security and endanger U.S. and European forces. Meanwhile, congressional Republicans have largely ignored the idea by calling “Trump being Trump.” Hunter adds that Trump falsely implies there are countries that have not paid their bills or owe directly to the United States or NATO. He says NATO is not like a country club; it is a group of countries determined to defend each other.
A bill to slow migration across the U.S.-Mexico border failed. But some Republicans say the White House doesn't really need it. Congressional Republicans say the president has the power to stop the flow of migrants across the U.S.-Mexico border.
- NPR's Asma Khalid, speaking to several immigration experts, says the answer is that it is far too simple to think that any president can, with the wave of a magic wand, suddenly close the country's borders. Khalid mentions that some Republicans are comparing a proposed southern border asylum ban to Trump's travel ban on Muslims. But the situation at the border revolves around asylum, not travel restrictions.
Yesterday, at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, the Kansas City Chiefs managed a comeback in the second half to beat the San Francisco 49ers, 25-22 in overtime. The Chiefs are the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowl championships since the New England Patriots nearly two decades ago. Here are some highlights:
- Beyoncé took advantage of her appearance in an advertisement to announce the release of new music. His latest album, which constitutes the second part of his “Renaissance” project, is scheduled to be released on March 29. High school football players who survived the Maui wildfires were honored at the big game. NPR TV critic Eric Deggans ranks the best (and worst) Super Bowl 2024 commercials. Jesus made a return this year in the “He Gets Us” commercials. Here's an NPR explainer on what they mean and who funds them
Since March 2022, the state of emergency in El Salvador, triggered by an increase in gang violence– increased the president’s popularity and lowered the murder rate. But it also had a heavy human cost. Salvadoran photographer Carlos Barrera visually documents how El Salvador's nearly two-year crackdown on gang suspects has affected local communities.
I'm really in
Gracia Lam for NPR's Life Kit
Valentine's Day is Wednesday, and NPR's Fiona Geira's timeless advice reminds us that grocery stores are great for dates. Remembering a treasured trip to Costco with their grandparents, they highlight the beauty of simple moments. Observing what your date selects from the aisles reveals their personality and energy for the ordinary. Geiran suggests, amid a sea of dating apps and restaurants: “Do romantic things in usual places. Because what's more wonderful than ordinary love?”
What do you really like? Fill in this form or leave us a voice note at 800-329-4273, and a portion of your submission may be broadcast online or on the radio.
3 things to know before you leave
Joshua White / JWPimages.com/ The Dean Collection, courtesy of Swizz Beatz and Alicia Keys. © Kwame Brathwaite.
1. Power couple Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz (aka Kasseem Dean) opened their extensive “Giants” art collection at the Brooklyn Museum in New York, highlighting artists from the black diaspora. The exhibition will be open until July 7, 2024.
2. A miniature surgical robot, named MIRA, recently arrived at the International Space Station. A surgeon directs his movements 250 miles from Nebraska and will perform simulated surgical procedures in microgravity, which could impact health care on Earth.
3. Jamaican and Bahamian officials clash with the US State Department travel advisories, rejecting claims of risks to tourist safety due to crime and limited medical services.
Treye Greene edited this newsletter.