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Supreme Court weighs challenge to EPA rule; student loans wiped under SAVE plan

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a challenge from GOP-led states and industry groups seeking to block the EPA's "good neighbor" provision, which is designed to reduce smog and air pollution.
Catie Dull
/
NPR
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a challenge from GOP-led states and industry groups seeking to block the EPA's "good neighbor" provision, which is designed to reduce smog and air pollution.

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

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in an important environmental case today. It will consider whether to pause a federal rule obligating states to be a "good neighbor." At the heart of the dispute is a provision of the Clean Air Act that protects people and states subject to pollution that floats downwind from other states. These "downwind states" struggle to meet federal air quality standards, and their residents can face health complications due to pollution from afar.

  • Ohio, Indiana and West Virginia, along with several companies and trade groups, want the court to block the rule, saying it is unreasonable and imposes a financial burden. NPR's Carrie Johnson reports on Up First. The Environmental Protection Agency says the rule is already working in many states to limit ozone pollution. 


Alabama fertility clinics are facing an uncertain future after the state's Supreme Court ruled last week that frozen embryos created through in vitro fertilization have the same rights as children. The ruling stems from a case where a patient at an Alabama facility destroyed frozen embryos belonging to three couples, prompting them to file a wrongful death lawsuit. A lower court said the couples couldn't do so because the embryos weren't people, but the state Supreme Court disagreed.

  • The state's medical association has "grave concerns" about the ruling, and some clinics say they will have to shut down, reporter Melanie Peeples tells Up First from Birmingham. She says the case is unlikely to head to a higher court, so it's up to the state to further define its wrongful death statute. Many clinics harvest as many eggs as they can from women to give them the best odds of pregnancy. This practice isn't likely to continue if it becomes illegal to destroy frozen embryos.


Many student loan borrowers are waking up debt-free this morning. The Education Department announced today it zeroed out balances for nearly 153,000 people who borrowed $12,000 or less, have been paying their student loans for at least 10 years and enrolled in the Biden administration's new Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) plan.

Picture show

Caregiver Liliya Khodunay cuts Anna's hair in Anna's home in Milan, Italy, in February 2023.
/ Chiara Negrello
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Chiara Negrello
Caregiver Liliya Khodunay cuts Anna's hair in Anna's home in Milan, Italy, in February 2023.

Before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Italy was the EU country home to one of the biggest communities for people of Ukrainian origin. Many Ukrainians in Italy are women working as caretakers for the elderly. In 2020, photographer Chiara Negrello's family hired Lyubov Mala, a middle-aged Ukrainian caretaker for her grandma, who had suffered COVID complications. The relationship between Mala and Negrello's family became the basis of her project, "Caring for our Past."

See Negrello's photos of Ukrainian caretakers and read about the tensions they experience as they care for Italy's elderly while watching their country at war.

Life advice

This tuna, chickpea and parmesan salad bowl packs a protein punch, which is crucial for building muscle strength.
/ Allison Aubrey/Katie Hayes Luke/NPR
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Allison Aubrey/Katie Hayes Luke/NPR
This tuna, chickpea and parmesan salad bowl packs a protein punch, which is crucial for building muscle strength.

Sarcopenia, or muscle loss, affects more than 45% of older Americans, especially women. The loss of strength can increase the risk of falling — the leading cause of death from injury among older adults. A protein-rich diet is just as important as resistance training to maintain strength. Health experts have some advice for packing more protein into your meals:

  • Greek yogurt or eggs are a great option for breakfast. Yogurt can be eaten sweet or savory. An egg a day won't raise heart disease risk in healthy people.
  • Opt for fish in your salads. Not only is it full of protein, but it also contains unsaturated fats, which are good for heart health.
  • Lentils, chickpeas and tofu are great plant-based options.
  • For the carb-lovers: Farro has twice the amount of protein as rice.

3 things to know before you go

This illustration provided by the European Southern Observatory this month depicts the record-breaking quasar J059-4351, the bright core of a distant galaxy that is powered by a supermassive black hole.
M. Kornmesser / AP
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AP
This illustration provided by the European Southern Observatory this month depicts the record-breaking quasar J059-4351, the bright core of a distant galaxy that is powered by a supermassive black hole.

  • Australian scientists have discovered the fastest-growing black hole ever recorded. It has a mass 17 billion times larger than our sun and swallows the equivalent of a sun every day. 
  • Beyoncé's country single, "Texas Hold 'Em," debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart. She is only the second solo woman to achieve the feat with no accompanying artists, after Taylor Swift.  
  • AI will soon be able to do more than generate ideas. Tech startups like Rabbit are developing "AI agents" that will complete errands like ordering DoorDash or booking a vacation, helping people get more done while spending less time on their phones. 

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.