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Famine in Gaza is 'imminent;' how Louisana's abortion ban changed maternal care

A woman watches an annular solar eclipse on October 14, 2023 using special solar filter glasses at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
Carlos Tischler
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Eyepix Group/Future Publishing via Getty Images
A woman watches an annular solar eclipse on October 14, 2023 using special solar filter glasses at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

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

Famine is imminent in northern Gaza, and people are suffering "catastrophic levels of hunger," the world's leading authority on hunger has warned. A report from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification found that 1 out of 3 children under two years old are acutely malnourished, and some have already died. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called it "an entirely man-made disaster" and said the report showed the need for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire.

Palestinian crowds struggle to buy bread from a bakery in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Sunday, Feb. 18.
Fatima Shbair / AP
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AP
Palestinian crowds struggle to buy bread from a bakery in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Sunday, Feb. 18.

Palestinians in northern Gaza tell NPR's Aya Batrawy that they've gone up to two days without a single meal and are feeding their children leaves and animal feed. Others tell her they don't want the haphazard, chaotic air drops of food from countries like the United States. Most of Gaza's borders have been sealed since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks and the war that ensued. Aid groups say Israel is preventing trucks from entering Gaza. Israel says Hamas is to blame for the chaos.

  • In a call yesterday, President Biden warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that an Israeli military operation in Rafah would deepen anarchy in Gaza. Netanyahu agreed to send military and humanitarian officials to Washington to discuss an alternative strategy. 


In Louisiana, almost all abortions have been illegal since 2022. In the wake of this ban, pregnant women have been forced to wait for prenatal care, denied swift treatment for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies and given risky, unnecessary surgeries, according to a new report obtained first by NPR. It's one of the most extensive studies to date on how abortion bans impact pregnancy care and worsen maternal health.

  • "Things are not the way they were before the state banned abortion," NPR network reporter Rosemary Westwood of WWNO tells Up First. Some are telling patients they need to wait 12 weeks before getting prenatal care because a majority of miscarriages happen within that time frame, and treating a miscarriage can look similar to providing an abortion. In some cases where it was clear a pregnancy was ending, some doctors opted to perform a C-section rather than a standard abortion procedure.


The Environmental Protection Agency announced yesterday it is banning chrysotile asbestos, the most common form of asbestos. The cancer-causing substance is linked to tens of thousands of American deaths every year. More than 50 countries have already banned it. Companies fought back when the EPA tried prohibiting asbestos in the late 1980s, and a 1989 ban was overturned in 1991. The new rule doesn't outlaw all forms of asbestos. The substance still lurks in many existing buildings and products nationwide.

Life advice

On April 8, millions of Americans will get the chance to see a solar eclipse sweep across the nation. This celestial event is a stunning — but dangerous — sight. Looking directly at the sun without the proper eyewear before it's completely covered by the moon can permanently damage your eyesight. Here's what to know and how to protect your eyes:

  • You won't feel the sun burning your retina. The damage only becomes apparent hours after it occurs.
  • Make sure your eclipse glasses have the right filters. You can reuse glasses from the 2017 solar eclipse if they're still in good condition. The American Astronomical Society has a list of vetted suppliers.
  • You can view the eclipse indirectly by creating a pinhole projector using household supplies like a colander. 
  • If you're in the eclipse's path of totality, it is safe to remove your glasses once the sun is 100% obscured. The sky will darken, and the sun will become a dark circle surrounded by a ghostly white ring called the corona.

Today's listen

A Tupac Shakur "hologram" was used in the deceased rapper's virtual performance at the Coachella Music Festival in 2012.
Damian Dovarganes / AP
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AP
A Tupac Shakur "hologram" was used in the deceased rapper's virtual performance at the Coachella Music Festival in 2012.

Just because your favorite singer is dead or absent doesn't mean you can't see them "live." The King of Rock 'n' Roll is coming back to a concert hall in November. Elvis Evolution is a concert experience that uses AI technology to recreate the singer. While the technology might seem cutting-edge, it also uses a magic trick that is nearly 200 years old.

Listen to the evolution of "hologram" versions of your favorite artists here.

If the phrase "One Shining Moment" means nothing to you, let us help prepare you for March Madness.
Gregory Shamus / Getty Images
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Getty Images
If the phrase "One Shining Moment" means nothing to you, let us help prepare you for March Madness.

  1. The first round of March Madness begins on Thursday. If you don't know a buzzer beater from a bracket buster, use NPR's dictionary of March Madness vocabulary to stay in the know.
  2. River Adams' family came to the U.S. in 1991 as Jewish refugees from the Soviet Union. During a difficult financial time, Adams' fast-food manager and unsung hero risked his job to help feed them.
  3. New research from the National Institutes of Health finds no unusual pattern of damage in the brains of Havana syndrome patients. The results challenge the allegations that hundreds of government workers and their families were targeted since embassy staff in Havana reported the first case in 2016.

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi. Mansee Khurana contributed.

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