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Campus protests over Gaza could affect graduation; Steve Inkseep interviews Blinken

Georgia State Patrol officers detain a demonstrator on the campus of Emory University during a pro-Palestinian demonstration on Thursday, April 25 in Atlanta.
Mike Stewart
Georgia State Patrol officers detain a demonstrator on the campus of Emory University during a pro-Palestinian demonstration on Thursday, April 25 in Atlanta.

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

Hundreds of students have been arrested across the country as pro-Palestinian protests spread nationwide. It's been one week since police cleared an encampment of demonstrators at Columbia University. The students quickly reestablished their encampment. Since then, schools like UT Austin and the City College of New York have organized similar protests against Israel's war in Gaza.

  • Columbia officials on Wednesday gave students 48 hours to disperse, or they would consider "alternative options," NPR's Adrian Florido tells Up First. That deadline is now looming. Protesters suspect they will be forcibly removed, as the encampment is taking place at the center of the school's graduation ceremony location. USC has already canceled its main graduation ceremony. Florido says other schools may begin to do the same because student protesters say they aren't going anywhere.
  • Eleanor Stein is a college professor who protested in the Vietnam War as a student in 1968. On Morning Edition, she compares her past experience with the what's happening at Columbia today.

After hearing arguments yesterday, a majority of the Supreme Court seemed skeptical of granting former President Donald Trump immunity from prosecution for criminal acts. Trump's lawyers argue that the steps he took to stay in power after President Biden won the 2020 election were part of his official duties, thus, he can't be prosecuted for them. Here's everything you need to know about what the court's decision would mean for Trump — and the presidency as a whole.

  • NPR's Nina Totenberg analyzes how the conservative Supreme Court justices' experiences could shape their opinion on Trump's immunity.

New York state's top court has overturned the 2020 felony sex crime conviction of former Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. The New York State Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday that Weinstein did not receive a fair trial in part because the trial judge allowed women to testify about allegations that were not part of the case. Weinstein was one of the most high-profile men accused of sexual assault during the #MeToo movement. Though the appeals court ordered a new trial, Weinstein will remain in prison for a separate conviction from a California sexual assault trial. Editor's note: This report includes descriptions of sexual assault.

  • The New York trial judge allowed witnesses to testify to prior "bad acts" under the Molineux rule, whose precedent dates back to the 90s, NPR's Anastasia Tsioulcas reports. But legal experts tell her allowing Molineux witnesses leads to a very subjective decision, which makes a conviction easier to challenge. 

From our hosts

This essay was written by Steve Inskeep, Morning Edition and Up First host. Steve and the Morning Edition team have returned to China — and Steve has noticed it's a lot different than when he was last there five years ago. He'll share some of his observations and what he's heard from locals on Morning Edition today and in the coming days.

Delivery rider in Beijing, China, on April 24, 2024.
/ Stefen Chow
Stefen Chow
Delivery rider in Beijing, China, on April 24, 2024.

It's been hard for outsiders to get a firsthand view of China in recent years. First, the country sealed itself off from the pandemic; then, many expatriates left China; and now, though pandemic restrictions were long since lifted, journalists and others don't get in quite as often as at some other times. So we've taken a chance to look around while covering diplomatic meetings: this week's visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

One of the ways we've looked at the economy is by talking to delivery drivers, who whiz through the streets on silent motorbikes (all of them electric, by law), delivering meals, groceries, clothes, water cooler tanks and almost anything else. The pay is better than some other jobs — some drivers left their home villages to earn more in the city — though one driver, Liu Shiwei, said business isn't good. As he ate a simple lunch of noodles and beer, he said orders were down, and too many drivers competed for them.

Why are there so many drivers? Liu thinks it's because there's not enough work elsewhere, and he may be right. Last year China's youth unemployment soared so high the government stopped publishing statistics. That's just one sign of the strains on the world's second-largest economy, which has not recovered from the pandemic in the way many of its people wanted.

Steve sits down with Secretary of State Antony Blinken following a meeting between Blinken and China's President Xi Jinping and other top Chinese officials. Listen to Steve's exclusive interview with Blinken here.

Weekend picks

Protagonist Zau, flanked by the Masks of the Moon and Sun he'll use to fight through the enchanting world of Kenzera.
/ Surgent Studios
Surgent Studios
Protagonist Zau, flanked by the Masks of the Moon and Sun he'll use to fight through the enchanting world of Kenzera.

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

Movies: The trailers for the Zendaya-led Challengers have been steamy. But the Pop Culture Happy Hour hosts say this terrific new film is so much more than a sexy tennis movie.

TV: Netflix's Baby Reindeer is a dark, haunting story of a comedian who is cruelly stalked by a mentally ill woman. NPR's Glen Weldon writes that it's both troubling and troublesome — because it depicts queer sexuality as something that happens to people.

Books : Amy Tan, best known for writing The Joy Luck Club, didn't set out to write a book in 2016. She was depressed with the state of the world and trying to lose herself in nature through bird watching. That experience inspired her latest book, The Backyard Bird Chronicles.

Music: St. Vincent tells NPR that her newest album, All Born Screaming, is an exercise in "tension and release" — with some moments that play as sonic "jump scares."

Theater: The new Broadway play Stereophonic features music from Arcade Fire's Will Butler. It offers a hyper-realistic look at the costs and glories of making art.

Games: Tales of Kenzera: ZAU has everything you love in a video game: sprawling levels, frictionless movement, frantic combat, and a lush soundtrack. Moreover, its story provides a deep lesson on grief and the power we hold in the face of indescribable loss.

Quiz: The results of each week's NPR news quiz can hit you right in the gut. I was called "wholly adequate" for my 9/1 score. How will you do?

3 things to know before you go

Rick Mangnall remembers the time he was helped after a serious car accident by two Hispanic men in an old white pickup track.
/ Rick Mangnall
Rick Mangnall
Rick Mangnall remembers the time he was helped after a serious car accident by two Hispanic men in an old white pickup track.

  1. Rick Mangnall was stranded on the road in 2008 after a serious car accident. He says he'll never forget the gesture of comfort his unsung hero gave him when two men in a white pickup truck stopped to help. 
  2. More than 280 popular musicians, including Billie Eilish, Chappell Roan and Diplo, have signed a letter urging lawmakers to reform the concert ticketing system
  3. A Chicago woman is accusing American Airlines of racial discrimination after a flight attendant allegedly confronted her for using the plane's first-class bathroom.

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

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

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