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Navalny's funeral draws police presence; over 100 in Gaza killed while seeking aid

Flowers lay next to a picture of late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny at a makeshift memorial organized at the monument to the victims of political repressions in Saint Petersburg.
Olga Maltseva
AFP via Getty Images
Flowers lay next to a picture of late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny at a makeshift memorial organized at the monument to the victims of political repressions in Saint Petersburg.

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

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is expected to be laid to rest near his home in Moscow today. Navalny died two weeks ago under mysterious circumstances in an Arctic prison colony. His widow, Yulia, says her husband was murdered on orders of Russian president Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin has denied the accusation and insists it has no interest in Navalny's funeral proceedings.

  • "We don't really know yet if this funeral will happen," NPR's Charles Maynes tells Up First. Navalny's family says authorities are threatening the funeral services company that is supposed to bring his body to the service. Maynes describes a heavy security presence near the site where the funeral is reported to take place. This includes dozens of police vans, riot police and steel fencing along the route from the church to the cemetery. After several hundred supporters were detained for attending makeshift memorials for Navalny, Maynes says the question now is: "How many more could face arrest for attempting to attend this final send-off?"

Gaza health authorities say more than 100 civilians were killed yesterday while trying to get food from aid trucks. Witnesses say Israeli troops opened fire on the crowd. Israel says their troops were defending themselves. Israel reports a lower death toll and alleges many of those killed were run over by trucks or died in the stampede.

  • Because Israel bans foreign journalists, NPR's Jane Arraf says it's "impossible to get in and report what's happening on the ground." Satellite imagery shows people completely overwhelming aid trucks. "There's so little food reaching Gaza. It just speaks to the desperation of people who have no other way of feeding their children," Arraf says. She reports that U.N. agencies that usually take the lead in providing aid are unable to do so due to security and political obstacles. Jordan has taken the lead in air-dropping aid. Arraf says airdrops are considered a last resort because they're expensive and can't provide as much aid as trucks do.

Scientists have started cloning genetically modified pigs with organs designed to be transplanted into people. Biotech company Revivicor Inc. says the experiments hold promise for alleviating the chronic shortage of organs for transplantation. But the research is garnering ethical and safety concerns.

  • NPR's Rob Stein is the first journalist to tour one of the research farms breeding these pigs. He reports Revivicor has already started testing organs from the pigs in "baboons and in the bodies of people who have been declared brain dead." These tests have raised fears of accidentally spreading a pig virus to people and concerns over sacrificing thousands of these pigs for organ harvesting. Bioethicist L. Syd Johnson tells Stein that the "hubris of a human-created, built-for-purpose animal should really give us pause."  David Ayares, who runs Revivicor, says the company treats the pigs humanely, and they "have the opportunity to transform medicine and save a lot of lives." 

Life advice

/ Alicia Zheng/NPR
Alicia Zheng/NPR

Have you ever had a conversation that just felt easy? Did you feel more interesting and understood? You may have been speaking to a supercommunicator — a person who is consistently able to create authentic connections with others just by listening and talking. Anyone can become a supercommunicator, according to journalist Charles Duhigg. His new book breaks down skills to master if you want to bond with others in more profound ways:

  • Know what kind of conversation you're having: practical, emotional or social.
  • Use a technique called "looping for understanding" to show your partner you're listening. Repeat what they said in your own words and ask them if you understood them correctly.
  • Ask the right questions. Supercommunicators ask 10 to 20 times as many questions as everyone else. When in doubt, ask, "Why?"
  • Make your goal to understand your conversation partner. Your goal should not be to impress them, convince them or focus on what you will say to them next.

Weekend picks

Anna Sawai plays translator Toda Mariko in the new FX series <em>Shōgun</em>.
/ Katie Yu/FX
Katie Yu/FX
Anna Sawai plays translator Toda Mariko in the new FX series Shōgun.

Check out what NPR is watching, reading and listening to this weekend:

Movies: All five films nominated for an Oscar for Best International Feature are worthy of your time. But if you can't see them before the ceremony on March 10th, NPR's guide will tell you enough to keep up at your Oscars party.

TV: NBC's original Shōgun from the 1980s still holds up today. FX's latest adaptation is sexier, more violent and even more thought-provoking and illuminating than the original. You can't go wrong with watching both.

Books: Critic Heller McAlpin writes that Sloane Crosley's first full-length nonfiction book, Grief is for People, is a "meditation on loss and grief that combines her verbal alacrity and mordant wit with moving descriptions that capture the ache of sleepless nights."

Games: Part 2 of the Final Fantasy remake series is out today and hits some incredible highs. Andy Bickerton writes that when the game works, it's amazing. But when it drags, it really drags.

Quiz: Reader, I still have not gotten 100% on one of NPR's weekly news quizzes. Perhaps my clue will help you ace it: not every photo is related to the answer.

3 things to know before you go

Abbie Parr / AP

  1. Iowa basketball phenom Caitlin Clark will leave the Hawkeyes after this season to enter the WNBA draft
  2. Sony Interactive Entertainment is laying off about 900 PlayStation employees worldwide, a reduction of about 8%, the company announced this week.
  3. Scientists who study whales typically identify them by painstakingly comparing photos of their tails. Now, AI facial recognition is making it easier to track them. 

This newsletter was edited by Treye Green.

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

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