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Up First briefing: Israel won't agree to a cease-fire; how tech messes with our senses

Rockets and "light bombs" are seen over the Gaza strip on Monday, Oct. 30, 2023, from Sderot, Israel. As Israel's response to Hamas's Oct. 7 attacks entered its fourth week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the war would be a long one and would amount to a "second war of independence."
Dan Kitwood
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Getty Images
Rockets and "light bombs" are seen over the Gaza strip on Monday, Oct. 30, 2023, from Sderot, Israel. As Israel's response to Hamas's Oct. 7 attacks entered its fourth week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the war would be a long one and would amount to a "second war of independence."

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

Despite international calls for a humanitarian pause to Israel's military operation against Gaza, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he will not agree to a cease-fire. Israel has been bombing Gaza for 24 consecutive days in response to Hamas's attacks on Oct. 7 that killed 1,400 people in Israel. More than 8,300 people in Gaza have been killed, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. More than a third of the victims are women and children.

  • For Up First, NPR's Tom Bowman spoke with retired Gen. Frank McKenzie a former commander of U.S. Central Command, who told him Israel is likely to target Hamas command posts, ammunition dumps and hostages.
  • Restrictions are heightened, and security forces have stepped up operations in the West Bank as well. At least 11 Palestinians in Jenin have been killed in Israeli strikes and raids since Oct. 22, leaving residents wary.
  • In the U.S., House Republicans have introduced a bill that would send roughly $14 billion in aid to Israel — but would not provide any funding for Ukraine. The money would be offset by  $14 billion in spending cuts to IRS funding. NPR's Franco Ordoñez says the deal reflects a "broader shift in the Republican party away from hawkish foreign policy."
  • On Morning Edition, Palestinian Ambassador to the U.N. Riyad Mansour discusses last week's U.N. vote on a non-binding resolution calling for a humanitarian truce. The U.S., Israel and 12 others voted "no." 


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

Google began its defense in a complex monopoly trial yesterday in D.C. District Court. CEO Sundar Pichai was the first to take the stand to defend deals where Google pays billions of dollars yearly to companies to ensure its search engine is the default on devices like computers and phones.

  • Pichai says the goal of the deals is to make Google services "seamless and easy to use," but NPR's Dara Kerr reports the Justice Department disagrees. The DOJ argues other companies can't compete because Google dominates the market and pays to be there.


The block button is a valuable tool to battle online harassment. But should public officials be able to block their critics on social media? The Supreme Court is expected to weigh in on this question today as they evaluate several lawsuits.

Americans with sickle cell disease are one step closer to accessing a revolutionary treatment that uses a gene-editing technique called CRISPR. A committee of advisers to the FDA is expected to meet today to examine the scientific evidence for the treatment and the research into its long-term safety. The disease disproportionately affects people of African, Middle Eastern and Indian descent. If the FDA approves the therapy, it would be the first clinical use of gene editing.

Body electric

/ Daniel Hertzberg
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Daniel Hertzberg

Most of us are familiar with our five senses: sight, taste, touch, smell and hearing. Interoception, a lesser-known sense, involves noticing and responding to how our bodies are feeling — often subconsciously.

Zomorodi speaks with neuroscientist Sahib Khalsa to learn how unplugging can help us better tune into our body's signals. Plus, she explores what we can learn about the mind-body-tech connection from the "TikTok tics" outbreak — when thousands of teens developed Tourette-like symptoms after watching TikTok videos in 2021.

Today's listen

Priests, played by Max von Sydow and Jason Miller, try to help a possessed child in <em>The Exorcist,</em> from 1973.
/ Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
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Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
Priests, played by Max von Sydow and Jason Miller, try to help a possessed child in The Exorcist, from 1973.

The Exorcist is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. The film regularly tops "scariest movie" lists. But its director has always insisted it's not a horror movie but one about faith.

Gabrielle Thomas, an ordained priest and Emory University professor speaks with NPR's Neda Ulaby about what The Exorcist can teach us about evil.

3 things to know before you go

Charlie the superdog is the only member of the King family who got two Halloween outfits this year. His other costume is a doughnut.
/ Joelyne King
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Joelyne King
Charlie the superdog is the only member of the King family who got two Halloween outfits this year. His other costume is a doughnut.

  1. Is your furry friend dressing up with you today? You're not alone — Americans are expected to spend $700 million on pet costumes this year. 
  2. Women cook more meals than men in all but one country, according to a new survey. So where's a girl to go if she enjoys a home-cooked meal? Italy!
  3. American hockey player Adam Johnson has died after his neck was cut by another player's skate during a game in England on Saturday, according to his team. 

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

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

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