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Up First briefing: Qatar's PM visits D.C.; Texas border control dispute escalates

A unit of Israeli soldiers return with their tanks to the Israeli side of the border with the Gaza Strip on Sunday, after spending months in the Palestinian territory engaged.
Menahem Kahana
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AFP via Getty Images
A unit of Israeli soldiers return with their tanks to the Israeli side of the border with the Gaza Strip on Sunday, after spending months in the Palestinian territory engaged.

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

Qatar's prime minister is in Washington, D.C. for talks with U.S. officials aimed at finalizing a framework for a deal to stop fighting in Gaza and free Israeli hostages. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani is also warning that tensions in the region are "boiling up" following the attack on U.S. troops in Jordan, for which the U.S. blames an Iran-backed militia group and has promised to respond.

  • NPR's Eyder Peralta tells Up First from Tel Aviv that the attack came at a critical time in the Israel-Hamas war, with a mounting Palestinian death toll, more than 100 Israeli hostages held in captivity and high-level negotiations happening in Paris. Hamas has launched rockets at Tel Aviv for the first time in weeks, while the Israeli military killed three Palestinians in a raid on a West Bank hospital. 
  • The worry, Peralta says, is that any American retaliation has the potential to impede the peace process. He says mediators — including from Qatar and the U.S. — have spoken optimistically about the deal, though the two sides have yet to agree on how long a cease-fire would last.
  • The Pentagon says there have been 160 attacks on U.S. bases since the Israel-Hamas war began. Here's what we know about the strike in Jordan that killed three service members and wounded more than 40. 


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

The dispute between Texas and the Biden administration over immigration and border control is escalating. The state has seized control of Shelby Park, a park on the banks of the Rio Grande River, and blocked federal border patrol agents from accessing the area, which has been a hot spot for illegal border crossings. That's despite the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week that federal agents can remove barriers — including miles of razor wire — set up by state officers.

  • Julian Aguilar with the Texas Newsroom tells Up Firstthat Texas officers have been arresting migrants on trespassing charges, as opposed to federal agents who often detain then release some migrants while they await immigration hearings.  
  • Steve Vladek, a constitutional scholar at the University of Texas at Austin, says the Supreme Court ruling essentially protects the government from sanctions if they remove the wire, but doesn't order Texas to stop doing anything. Aguilar says the court will ultimately have to decide who holds the authority on immigration: states or the federal government.


Nearly 100 tech companies laid off some 25,000 employees in January alone, on the heels of last year's mass layoffs. All of the major tech companies downsizing this year are wildly profitable. So what's behind the frenzy? Experts told NPR that the layoffs appear to be aimed at satisfying investors — and peer pressure.

Today's listen

The object spotted in the Pacific Ocean by deep water equipment aligns with the size and shape of Earhart's aircraft.
/ Deep Sea Vision
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Deep Sea Vision
The object spotted in the Pacific Ocean by deep water equipment aligns with the size and shape of Earhart's aircraft.

A deep sea exploration company has captured sonar images of what could be Amelia Earhart's lost airplane at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. A drone team with Deep Sea Vision spotted the plane-shaped item late last year about 100 miles off Howland Island, where Earhart and her navigator were supposed to refuel before they disappeared in 1937. CEO Tony Romeo told Morning Edition that the next step is to send a camera some 15,000 feet deep to get a closer look at the potential plane's paint and serial number.

Deep dive

Scientists are exploring interventions that might help slow the rate of aging.
/ Maria Fabrizio/NPR
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Maria Fabrizio/NPR
Scientists are exploring interventions that might help slow the rate of aging.

Researchers can estimate how quickly you're aging — and say they're getting closer to figuring out how to slow that process down. NPR's Allison Aubrey participated in a study at the Human Longevity Lab at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, where scientists are studying which kinds of interventions may help people live longer and healthier lives.

  • Factors like poverty, housing, stress and crime can all play a role in life expectancy, in addition to healthy habits like eating well and avoiding smoking. 
  • Beyond lifestyle changes, researchers told Aubrey that there may eventually be other ways to slow down aging, such as drugs or gene editing. They are looking for interventions that can benefit everyone, regardless of socioeconomic status. 
  • Motivated by her experience in the lab, Aubrey started a new project, How To Thrive As You Age, and welcomes your habits and hacks at thrive@npr.org.

3 things to know before you go

Manatees are generally solitary creatures, but tend to gather at warm water sites in the winter.
/ Florida State Parks
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Florida State Parks
Manatees are generally solitary creatures, but tend to gather at warm water sites in the winter.

  1. Nearly 1,000 manatees recently gathered at a Florida state park, breaking a record and giving us FOMO. 
  2. An international sports tribunal has banned Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva for four years for doping. It also disqualified her 2022 Olympics competition, clearing the way for Team USA to receive its gold medal
  3. A Houston public school teacher is defying Texas' restrictions on books with a secret shelf of banned books. Her students tell NPR the titles make them feel seen

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

Copyright 2024 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.