89.9 FM Live From The University Of New Mexico
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Jailed U.S. reporter's Russian trial begins. A strange monolith appears near Las Vegas

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

Protesters scatter as Kenyan police spray water canon at them during a protest over proposed tax hikes in a finance bill in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, on Tuesday.
Brian Inganga / AP
/
AP
Protesters scatter as Kenyan police spray water canon at them during a protest over proposed tax hikes in a finance bill in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, on Tuesday.

Deadly protests broke out yesterday in Kenya’s capital Nairobi against a proposed tax hike meant to pay off the country’s huge foreign debt. Police opened fire with live ammunition and tear gas at young protesters as they attempted to storm the Parliament building in Nairobi. Several people were killed and others injured.

  • 🎧 Journalist Emmanuel Igunza saw the violence firsthand. He tells Up First that these youth-led protests started out as opposition to a proposed bill seeking to raise about $2.9 billion in taxes. But protesters say the taxes will make life much harder as it targets items like sanitary pads and diapers; there's also an increase in fuel taxes. This is all happening as the first U.N.-back contingent of Kenyan police officers arrived in Haiti to try and restore law and order. Kenyan President William Ruto, has styled himself internationally as a strong ally of the West, but there is a local perception that “he's doing the dirty work for the U.S. in Haiti while his own backyard is on fire,” Igunza says.


​​​​​​Meanwhile, in the U.S.: The Veepstakes is on. The first presidential debate may be top of mind now, but the Republican National Convention is less than three weeks away. This leaves former President Donald Trump little time to pick a running mate. He’s treating the search much like his old days hosting "The Apprentice" — and vice president nominee hopefuls are rushing to make their final sales pitch.

  • 🎧 NPR’s Jeongyoon Han, who’s been following his VP search, says on Up First that Trump is doing all of this just to show that he can. Han spoke with Republican strategist Ron Bonjean who told her that Trump is intentionally stoking intrigue around the search. She says five candidates are rising to the top of the vice president list in her analysis because they are all trying to show Trump that they are loyal and willing to defend him. She adds that they're all relatively young and have long careers ahead of them, so they're already looking into 2028.


​​​​​​Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich's trial began behind closed doors today in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg. Gershkovich faces up to 20 years in prison if the court finds him guilty of espionage charges that he, his employer and the U.S. government strongly deny.

  • 🎧  NPR's Charles Maynes reports that the press was briefly allowed into the courtroom before the proceedings started. In a video published by state media, Gershkovich appeared with head shaven, in a padlocked glass cage. He smiled briefly and waved to the camera before journalists were escorted out. Maynes adds that Gershkovich's employer said he was fully accredited and vetted by the Russian Foreign Ministry at the time of his arrest. Maynes explains, "He, like anyone working in Russia as a journalist, including me, went through background checks."

Picture show

The 2,000-square-foot Earthship Atlantis, designed by architect Michael Reynolds, was recently completed. It’s on the market for $825,000.
Chris Bentley / Here & Now
/
Here & Now
The 2,000-square-foot Earthship Atlantis, designed by architect Michael Reynolds, was recently completed. It’s on the market for $825,000.

What in the world is an Earthship? If you want to find out, there’s a whole subdivision of these energy-efficient homes in the high desert of northern New Mexico. The construction site of a new Earthship might look like the aftermath of a frat party, but that’s only because these sustainably constructed buildings are made with old aluminum cans and discarded tires. Here & Now's Peter O'Dowd recently spent some time in one.

➡️ You can see photos of his visit here and learn how these structures hover around 70 degrees year round without AC or heating. (Via WBUR)

Deep dive

Fatma Hijazi holds the lifeless body of her 10-year-old child, Mustafa Hijazi, who died due to malnutrition and lack of medication in Deir al-Balah, Gaza. The photo is from June 14.
Ashraf Amra / Anadolu via Getty Images
/
Anadolu via Getty Images
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Image depicts death) Fatma Hijazi, the mother of 10-year-old Palestinian Mustafa Hijazi, who died due to malnutrition and lack of medication, holds the lifeless body of her child and mourns in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on June 14, 2024. UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said that nine out of 10 children in Gaza suffer from severe malnutrition.

Nearly all of Gaza’s population is struggling with food shortages and hunger, and half a million people now face starvation, according to a new report. The analysis was conducted by 35 experts from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classifications, some from U.N. agencies and major aid groups. The I.P.C. was founded two decades ago to address famine in Somalia at the time.

Here’s what their new analysis found:

  • ➡️ After aid access reportedly improved in March and April, increased military action and repeated displacement in May made conditions worse and blocked life-saving aid for Gazans.
  • ➡️ More than half of households in Gaza have had to exchange clothes and other goods for money. A third have resorted to picking up trash to sell.
  • ➡️ The World Food Programme, which distributes food in Gaza says in order to prevent famine, people need to be able to have access to the nutrients found in fresh food, clean water and functioning hospitals.
  • ➡️ Shortages of drinking water have also been reported and the amount of medical aid crossing into Gaza is also insufficient, according to the World Health Organization.
  • ➡️ With experts warning that Gaza is at high risk of famine, here’s when and how famine declarations are made.

3 things to know before you go

This photo provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department shows the monolith found in Gass Peak in Nevada's Desert National Wildlife Refuge.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department / AP
/
AP
This photo provided by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department shows the monolith found in Gass Peak in Nevada's Desert National Wildlife Refuge.

  1. Metallic monoliths have appeared in Utah, Europe and New Zealand since 2020. Another one appeared near Las Vegas earlier this month, though little is known about who started the monolith frenzy or why.
  2. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy has declared gun violence a public health crisis on Tuesday and recommended it be treated as such. Here’s what he suggested in a 40-page advisory that, while strongly worded, is unenforceable.
  3. Questlove talks about the Kendrick Lamar-Drake beef, the current state of hip hop, and the first new album in more than a decade from The Roots.

This newsletter was edited by Obed Manuel.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Majd Al-Waheidi
Majd Al-Waheidi is the digital editor on Morning Edition, where she brings the show's journalism to online audiences. Previously, Al-Waheidi was a reporter for the New York Times in the Gaza Strip, where she reported about a first-of-its-kind Islamic dating site, and documented the human impact of the 2014 Israel-Gaza war in a collaborative visual project nominated for an Emmy Award. She also reported about Wikipedia censorship in Arabic for Rest of World magazine, and investigated the abusive working conditions of TikTok content moderators for Business Insider. Al-Waheidi has worked at the International Center for Religion & Diplomacy, and holds a master's degree in Arab Studies from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. A native of Gaza, she speaks Arabic and some French, and is studying Farsi.