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Up First briefing: Biden links Israel and Ukraine aid; Russia detains U.S. journalist

President Biden addresses the nation on the conflict between Israel and Gaza and the Russian invasion of Ukraine from the Oval Office of the White House on Thursday.
Jonathan Ernst
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Pool/AFP via Getty Images
President Biden addresses the nation on the conflict between Israel and Gaza and the Russian invasion of Ukraine from the Oval Office of the White House on Thursday.

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

President Biden is expected to ask Congress for billions of dollars in funding for Israel and Ukraine. He called for continued support for both countries in a rare Oval Office address to the American public late Thursday. But NPR's Tamara Keith says the fate of his appeal is unclear, in part because of the instability in the House of Representatives.

  • Biden is also urging Americans to denounce antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hate, as he walks a fine line between support for Israel and empathy for Palestinians. Human rights lawyer Zaha Hassan tells Morning Edition that the message "might ring hollow" because the U.S. had just vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a humanitarian pause in the hostilities. 
  • U.S. officials said the first shipments of humanitarian aid could start arriving in Gaza as soon as today, though the timing remains unclear. The U.N.'s World Food Programme is hoping to cross through Egypt to deliver the nearly thousand metric tons of food it has stockpiled at the border since the Israel-Hamas war began. Palestine Country Director Samer Abdeljaber says the group only has about one day's worth of supplies left of those prepositioned inside the territory.
  • The unrest in the Middle East is prompting the Senate to fill diplomatic posts in the region that have sat empty for months. It held a confirmation hearing on Wednesday for Biden's nominee for ambassador to Israel, Jack Lew, and plans to vote next week. 


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

The Russian government has detained a Russian-American journalist who works for U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Russian authorities accuse Alsu Kurmasheva of failing to register under its "foreign agent law," which carries a sentence of up to five years. She is the second U.S. journalist to be detained in Russia this year.

Rep. Jim Jordan's bid for House Speaker continues after two unsuccessful attempts this week. The Ohio Republican said he intends to seek a third ballot, reversing an earlier plan for a lengthy campaign. Votes could happen as early as 10 a.m. today.

Life advice

There's still time to come up with a budget- and eco-friendly Halloween costume.
studiostockart / Getty Images
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Getty Images
There's still time to come up with a budget- and eco-friendly Halloween costume.

If you don't have a Halloween costume ready yet, fear not. With just over a week to go, NPR's Life Kit spoke with Los Angeles-based stylist (and self-described huge Halloween fan) Sophie Strauss about how to put together a clever, low-cost and sustainably sourced fit. Here are her top five tips:

  • Figure out how much you actually care about dressing up: How much of a "Halloween person" are you? The answer should help guide your efforts. 
  • Look to TV shows, movies, memes and trending topics for inspiration (unless you're a member of still-striking SAG-AFTRA). Or you could take the opposite approach and dress as an object, ideally a fun and unexpected one. 
  • Think of a character whose wicked energy you'd like to embody for a night. A statement jacket and black and white hairspray could make a mean Cruella de Vil. 
  • Look through your closet (and your friends'). You probably already own something that could be part of a costume, whether it's an item of clothing or a statement accessory. 
  • Ditch the pre-packaged costumes. Search the thrift store for costume options. And if you're buying new, pick things that you'll wear again outside of Halloween.

Weekend picks

Lily Gladstone and Leonardo DiCaprio in <em>Killers of the Flower Moon.</em>
Melinda Sue Gordon / Courtesy of Apple
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Courtesy of Apple
Lily Gladstone and Leonardo DiCaprio in Killers of the Flower Moon.

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

Movies: As the weather grows colder, so does my appetite for a nice, long movie. You could head to the theater to catch Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon. But if you're more of a homebody, Pop Culture Happy Hour has recommendations for other three-hour films.

TV: All five seasons of the late-'80s detective/romcom Moonlighting, starring Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd, are finally streaming on Hulu. NPR's Linda Holmes says it's "well worth revisiting."

Books: Forget Ouija boards and seances. Amy Kurzweil's new graphic memoir, Artificial: A Love Story, describes how she and her father used AI to connect with a grandfather she never knew.

Music: Troye Sivan explores aspects of queer life that don't often get a mainstream platform in his latest album, Something to Give Each Other.

Games: Marvel's Spider-Man 2, released exclusively on PlayStation 5, will punch you right in the feels while you're punching bad guys. The game is as much about sacrifice and redemption as it is about web-slinging and fistfights.

Quiz: You may need to brush up on your Britney Spears trivia to get a perfect score on this week's news quiz.

3 things to know before you go

United says it will start boarding passengers in economy class with window seats first starting next week in an effort to speed up boarding times.
David Zalubowski / AP
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AP
United says it will start boarding passengers in economy class with window seats first starting next week in an effort to speed up boarding times.

  1. Starting Thursday, United Airlines will board passengers by seat: window, middle then aisle. The change is estimated to cut boarding time by up to two minutes.
  2. California may become the first state to limit vegetation next to buildings, a change that could reduce wildfire damage but is unlikely to go over well in suburbia.
  3. Attention, meat lovers. A new study finds that people who routinely eat a lot of red meat may be increasing their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

This newsletter was edited by Olivia Hampton. Suzanne Nuyen contributed.

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

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.