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Saturday, December 9, 2023

McCarthy’s job threatened; robot fights sargassum seaweed : NPR

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

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy broke with his party this weekend, working with Democrats to pass a stopgap spending bill to avert a shutdown and keep the government open until Nov. 17. Now, his job is on the line as Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz threatens to introduce a motion to remove him as speaker of the House.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., pauses as he addresses reporters about efforts to pass appropriations bills and avert a government shutdown at the U.S. Capitol on Friday. He is joined at right by House Homeland Security Chair Mark Green, R-Tenn., and Rep. Monica de la Cruz, R-Texas.

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House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., pauses as he addresses reporters about efforts to pass appropriations bills and avert a government shutdown at the U.S. Capitol on Friday. He is joined at right by House Homeland Security Chair Mark Green, R-Tenn., and Rep. Monica de la Cruz, R-Texas.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

  • On Up First, NPR’s Susan Davis says Democrats now have “tremendous power” over McCarthy’s fate. If they vote en masse with an additional five Republicans, they could remove him. The question now is if he needs Democrats to survive, what do they want in return?
  • Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman is also under fire following the spending bill vote. Republicans allege he intentionally pulled a fire alarm in the Capitol complex to delay the vote. Bowman says it was a mistake. 

Former President Donald Trump is expected to appear in a New York court today for the start of his civil fraud trial brought on by New York Attorney General Letitia James. Trump is accused of lying about his property values and faces a $250 million fine if found guilty. Judge Arthur Engoron has already issued a ruling ordering Trump and his son to sell off large pieces of their company.

  • The judge’s ruling addresses one cause of action in AG James’ complaint, NPR’s Andrea Bernstein reports from the Manhattan courthouse. Six more causes of action against Trump include accusations of drawing up false documents, conspiracy, and lying to insurance companies. 
  • This trial is one of four pending lawsuits Trump faces in New York alone. Here’s where all of his civil and criminal trials stand. 

The Supreme Court starts a new term today. Some familiar issues are on the docket: guns, abortion and partisan gerrymandering. Front and center is a case that will determine how easily Americans can get mifepristone — the pill that accounts for more than half of U.S. abortions. Here are the biggest cases the court will consider this term.

NPR’s climate solutions week

Seaweed Generation’s marine biologist Duncan Smallman at the company’s workshop in Glasgow, Scotland.

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Seaweed Generation’s marine biologist Duncan Smallman at the company’s workshop in Glasgow, Scotland.

Robert Ormerod/Robert Ormerod for NPR

NPR is dedicating this entire week to stories and conversations about the search for climate solutions.

Sargassum algae levels in the Caribbean Sea have been ballooning since 2011. In the open ocean, it can be a rich habitat for marine life. But on shore, sargassum decays, releasing a stinky gas that causes symptoms like headache, nausea and rashes. U.K.-based startup Seaweed Generation believes it has a solution: AlgaRay, a robot that can drag sargassum into the open ocean and sink it.

Check out all of NPR’s Climate Solutions Week stories, including why we’re focusing on solutions and how these doctors are trying to lessen the health care system’s massive carbon footprint.

Today’s listen

After more than 20 years of hosting All Songs Considered — and bringing hundreds of artists to the Tiny Desk – Bob Boilen is retiring.

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After 35 years at NPR, Bob Boilen is retiring. He directed All Things Considered for 18 years, created All Songs Considered in 2000 and Tiny Desks in 2008. Hundreds of artists, from BTS to Juvenile, have graced the desk since. Boilen’s favorite artists came to bid him farewell as he reflected on his time with NPR on his last episode of All Songs Considered.

3 things to know before you go

Singer Taylor Swift and actor Ryan Reynolds are seen ahead of the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J.

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Singer Taylor Swift and actor Ryan Reynolds are seen ahead of the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J.

Elsa/Getty Images

  1. Is anyone more powerful than Taylor Swift right now? Tickets for yesterday’s Kansas City Chiefs vs. New York Jets game jumped after reports indicated Swift would be there. 
  2. California Gov. Gavin Newsom named longtime Democratic adviser and labor leader Laphonza Butler to replace the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Butler will be the second openly lesbian person to serve in the U.S. Senate and the third Black woman. (via KQED)
  3. A Tennessee judge has ordered the end of the conservatorship between former NFL player Michael Oher and the Touhy family. Oher and the Touhys were the subject of the Oscar-winning film, The Blind Side

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

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