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Up First briefing: Mifepristone ruling; summer COVID tips; Rainn Wilson gets spiritual

A patient prepares to take mifepristone, for a medication abortion. A federal appeals court ruled to impose new restrictions on the drug Wednesday but the ruling will not take effect until the Supreme Court weighs in.
Charlie Riedel
A patient prepares to take mifepristone, for a medication abortion. A federal appeals court ruled to impose new restrictions on the drug Wednesday but the ruling will not take effect until the Supreme Court weighs in.

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Today's top stories

A federal appeals court in Louisiana ruled yesterday that mifepristone — one of two pills used in most medicated abortions in the United States — should not be prescribed via telemedicine, shipped by mail, or past seven weeks of pregnancy. However, the decision won't go into effect because the Supreme Court ruled in April that mifepristone access must remain the same until the Justices can weigh in.

  • The court could hear arguments as soon as this fall, NPR's Selena Simmons-Duffins says on Up First this morning. If the justices agree with the appeals court, mifepristone access would change dramatically, as the ruling would take effect nationwide — even in states that have been working to protect abortion access. While we don't know how the Supreme Court will rule, legal experts say the plaintiffs' case has some weaknesses.
  • As Hawaii residents wonder what the future holds after the devastating blaze, disaster responders are loosening restrictions and letting some residents back into areas in West Maui affected by wildfire. The main road has been opened for the first time since the fire, though the burn area is still off-limits.

  • NPR's Gabriel Spitzer says recovery will be a long effort because of how difficult it is to find and identify human remains among the rubble. Search and rescue teams are also concerned with hazardous chemicals unleashed by the fire. Spitzer visited an aid hub run by locals. He says there's "tension between these grassroots aid efforts and the government response."
  • While recovery efforts have been focused on the historic town of Lahaina, another fire continues to burn in Maui, about 25 miles away. NPR's Eric Westervelt reports from Kula, where he says the rough terrain made it harder for firefighters to control the blaze.
  • Survivors of the 2018 fire in Paradise, Calif., are familiar with what Hawaii residents are going through. They offer advice on coping with wildfire trauma.
  • Before Donald Trump's four indictments, many Americans might consider the Watergate scandal and Richard Nixon's resignation the peak of presidential misbehavior. Jill Wine-Banks, a former Watergate prosecutor, discusses the two cases on Morning Edition.

  • She says that Trump's actions "are much more dangerous to democracy than anything Richard Nixon did." She recalls her team had "huge public support" back then, and there wasn't the "kind of lack of facts that exist now." She adds she's "disgusted and appalled" by the threats election officials and investigators have gotten.
  • Fani Willis, the Georgia prosecutor who obtained the latest indictment against Trump, wants to take the case to trial in March. (via WABE)
  • The indictment has put Trump's complicated relationship with Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp on full display.
  • These charges are also some of the toughest he's facing. Here's why the charges in Georgia could be hard for him to shake.
  • Enlighten me

    Rainn Wilson leans into the idea of a spiritual journey for humanity.
    Evan Agostini / Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
    Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
    Rainn Wilson leans into the idea of a spiritual journey for humanity.

    Enlighten Me is a special series with NPR's Rachel Martin on in-depth conversations about the human condition.

    Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica. Belief in a higher power. Rainn Wilson's iconic role as Dwight Shrute in The Office is pretty silly, but he's not joking around when he calls for a spiritual revolution in America. In May, he discussed his journey from atheism to the Baha'i faith with Rachel Martin, and how keeping hope alive can transform the planet.

    Life advice

    A COVID booster is administered in Jakarta, Indonesia.
    Anadolu Agency / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    A COVID booster is administered in Jakarta, Indonesia.

    The U.S. is seeing an uptick in COVID infections, and WHO also reports that global numbers are rising. The rise in cases has reached my household too: My fiancé has it, after avoiding COVID for three years. Doctors share adviceon boosters and personal safety:

  • The fall booster will be a closer, though not exact, match to the current strain of COVID. If you're worried and want a booster now, discuss your situation with your doctor. 
  • High-risk people should take a COVID test within 1-2 days of developing symptoms like sore throat, congestion, cough, fatigue and fever.
  • Talk to your kids about howwhen, where and if they will wear masks in school. 
  • 3 things to know before you go

    Bradley Cooper plays Leonard Bernstein in a new biopic.
    / Jason McDonald/Netflix
    Jason McDonald/Netflix
    Bradley Cooper plays Leonard Bernstein in a new biopic.

  • Leonard Bernstein's children are "heartbroken" by the criticism of actor Bradley Cooper's decision to wear a prosthetic nose to play the Jewish composer in the upcoming film Maestro. Though many have called it antisemitic, Bernstein's children said he had a "nice, big nose," and the complaints are "disingenuous attempts to bring a successful person down a notch." 
  • The James Webb Telescope recently captured stunning images of two actively forming stars. But eagle-eyed viewers are more curious about a tiny question mark seen in the photo. Scientists say it's probably two or more galaxies merging.
  • Are your loved ones raving about the cult classic film Zepotha and making you feel left out? You're not out of the loop — it's not a real film. Emily Jeffri, an 18-year-old musician from England, started the fake movie trend on TikTok to promote her music. 
  • This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

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

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