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Up First briefing: Voices from the West Bank; Sam Bankman-Fried convicted

The Steller's jay, Cooper's hawk, and Wilson's warbler will all get renamed under a new plan to remove human names from U.S. and Canadian birds.
Mick Thompson, Tom Murray, Jerry McFarland/Flickr Creative Commons
The Steller's jay, Cooper's hawk, and Wilson's warbler will all get renamed under a new plan to remove human names from U.S. and Canadian birds.

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

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is back in Israel. He says he's working on protecting civilians in Gaza caught in the crossfire of Israel's war with Hamas. More than 1,400 people in Israel were killed nearly four weeks ago when Hamas attacked, taking more than 200 hostages. Since then, more than 9,000 people have been killed in Gaza, according to Palestinian officials.

Israeli ground forces have been in Gaza for a week. So far, their focus seems to be on Gaza City.
Israel Defense Forces / AP
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AP
Israeli ground forces have been in Gaza for a week. So far, their focus seems to be on Gaza City.

  • Blinken is calling for a "humanitarian pause" in the fighting, not a cease-fire, NPR's Michele Kelemen says on Up First. That's because Blinken says Israel has a right to defend themselves against Hamas, which is still firing rockets into the country. Blinken has also been concerned about Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
  • NPR's Steve Inskeep was recently in the West Bank, where he spoke with a dozen Palestinians ranging from teenagers to senior leaders. Here's what they had to say about their perspective on Hamas and the war in Gaza.
  • Some foreigners, Palestinian dual nationals and aid workers continue evacuations from Gaza to Egypt through the Rafah crossing today. People at the border tell NPR about their experience and what it's like leaving family behind.
  • Israeli writer Yossi Klein-Halevi, who moved to Israel from Brooklyn, says he believes in the Jewish story of returning to their ancient homeland and that Palestinians should have an independent homeland too. He tells Morning Edition he's still processing the Hamas attack, and there's "no way to quantify suffering."
  • Meanwhile, there's been a "significant escalation" in violence between Hezbollah militants aligned with Hamas and the Israeli military at Israel's northern border, according to NPR's Ruth Sherlock. Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah is expected to speak today for the first time since Oct. 7. Because Hezbollah and Hamas are both backed by Iran, Sherlock says there's "huge anticipation" to know Hezbollah's strategy.


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

Disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried has been found guilty on all seven counts, including fraud and money laundering. The former "crypto king" faces up to 110 years in prison. His sentencing will take place in March.

  • NPR's David Gura says the prosecution put together a solid case with millions of pages of documentary evidence, including e-mails and text messages. The U.S. government wants to try Bankman-Fried for violating campaign laws, and his parents are also facing a lawsuit.


There are 243 drug shortages in the U.S. as of this Wednesday, according to the American Society of Health System Pharmacists. Though shortages have eased since they reached a 20-year high this summer, many health care providers say the situation is the worst they've seen in their decades-long careers. The shortages have compromised patient care, led employees to work more overtime and cost hospitals more money.

Life advice

PM Images / Getty Images
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Getty Images

How good are your public speaking skills? Whether you love the attention or you get major stage fright, the assistant directors of UT Austin's speech team have some advice for fixing seven common public speaking mistakes. Here are a few of them:

  • If your speech sounds unnatural, try "writing for the ear" by using short, simple sentences.
  • If your message doesn't connect with your audience, practice your speech in front of friends and family and ask for their feedback.
  • If you mess up or get nervous, take a deep breath, slow down and try again.

Weekend picks

Lily Gladstone, left, plays Mollie Kyle in <em>Killers of the Flower Moon, </em>directed by Martin Scorsese, right.
/ Apple TV+
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Apple TV+
Lily Gladstone, left, plays Mollie Kyle in Killers of the Flower Moon, directed by Martin Scorsese, right.

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

Movies: NPR's Aisha Harris writes about how Martin Scorsese's filmmaking has evolved with his latest movie Killers of the Flower Moon. (Note: This review contains spoilers.)

TV: Netflix's All The Light We Cannot See is a hopeful and heartening tale set during World War II.

Books: What happens at the center of a black hole? Carlo Rovelli's White Holes brings readers a new understanding of time and space.

Music: A newly restored 40th-anniversary version of the Talking Heads documentary concert film Stop Making Sense is in theaters. Founder David Byrne talks about how he's changed since the film was made.

Games: The new horror game Alan Wake 2 is at once scary, cerebral and silly. It's only one out of several great new horror releases.

Theater: X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X opens tonight at New York's Metropolitan Opera, 37 years after it first premiered. The opera's creative team believes the show's message is more relevant than ever.

Quiz: If you've been reading my newsletters closely this week, you should get at least an 8/11 on this week's quiz. How did you do?

3 things to know before you go

  1. Say goodbye to Anna's Hummingbird, Gambel's Quail, Lewis's Woodpecker and more. No, they're not extinct. The American Ornithological Society is changing the names of dozens of birds named after people deemed offensive.
  2. When Marta Kauffman and David Crane were creating Friends, they were unsure whether Chandler Bing was a funny character until Matthew Perry did his audition. The co-creators remember the late actor on NPR. 
  3. Uber and Lyft will pay drivers in New York $328 million as part of a settlement in a case alleging the companies illegally deducted taxes and fees over multiple years. (via Gothamist)

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

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