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Up First briefing: Israel Supreme Court ruling; South Korean opposition leader stabbed

Israelis protested against plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to overhaul the judicial system and in support of the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on Monday, Sept. 11, 2023.
Ohad Zwigenberg
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AP
Israelis protested against plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to overhaul the judicial system and in support of the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on Monday, Sept. 11, 2023.

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

In a narrow majority, Israel's Supreme Court struck down a law approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in July that stripped the court of its power to overturn government appointments and decisions. The measure sparked months of protests in Israel at the time. Demonstrators accused the administration of weakening government checks and balances.

  • The court said the law would cause "severe and unprecedented harm" to Israel as a democratic country, NPR's Daniel Estrin reports on Up First. He adds that while Israel's government is dissatisfied with the ruling, officials suggest they won't do anything further to overhaul the country's judiciary while the country is at war with Hamas.
  • Israel's military has announced it would withdraw thousands of troops from the Gaza Strip to focus on targeted operations against Hamas. Dennis Ross, a former U.S. envoy to the Middle East, tells Morning Edition the conflict is gradually moving into a different phase. Ross adds that the military is focused on ensuring that Hamas loses political control of Gaza and the means to threaten Israel again, which he says is a more achievable goal than eliminating every Hamas agent. 


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

South Korean opposition leader Lee Jae-myung was stabbed in the neck during a visit to the city of Busan. Lee was taken to Pusan National University Hospital and will be transported to Seoul for surgery. The attacker was arrested on the scene. A motive for the attack has yet to be released. The attack comes three months before South Korea's general elections.

At least 48 people have died in Japan after a powerful magnitude 7.6 earthquake struck on New Year's Day. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says police, firefighters and military officials worked through the night to rescue residents trapped in collapsed buildings. Seismic activity still rattles the area near the epicenter. Kishida warns residents to look out for magnitude 7 or bigger aftershocks in the coming days.

Deep dive

Supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump look on before the start of a campaign rally at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center on Dec. 17 in Nevada.
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump look on before the start of a campaign rally at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center on Dec. 17 in Nevada.

Voting for party nominees in this year's presidential election starts in less than two weeks. NPR's Domenico Montanaro has 10 questions about what could determine who the next U.S. president will be, including:

  • Do perceptions of the economy improve? Despite strong signs like low unemployment and declining inflation, Americans are pessimistic about the state of the economy — and blaming President Biden.
  • Do third-party candidates gain real traction? Democrats are concerned disaffected voters who would have chosen Biden over former President Donald Trump could split the vote by choosing a different candidate altogether, opening a path back to the White House for Trump.
  • Can Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis actually give Trump a run? Trump has led by huge margins in polls, making the focus on the GOP nominee a race for second place.
  • Do younger voters rally to Biden's side despite misgivings? The Israel-Hamas war, voting rights and student loans have all been areas of frustration for young voters. 

Picture show

Watch the Sam Smith Tiny Desk concert <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_BHC2l30pY">here</a>.
/ Michael Zamora/NPR
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Michael Zamora/NPR
Watch the Sam Smith Tiny Desk concert here.

NPR hosted 120 Tiny Desk concerts in 2023. One of the best seats in the house belongs to photographers, who stand in the front row at the intimate venue. See some of their favorite photos — from Sam Smith's heartwarming huddle with their background singers to Olivia Rodrigo's first in-person concert — and read about what it's like to capture a Tiny Desk concert for posterity.

3 things to know before you go

Tourists enjoy a gondola ride on the Grand Canal by the Rialto bridge in Venice in 2021.
Marco Bertorello / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
Tourists enjoy a gondola ride on the Grand Canal by the Rialto bridge in Venice in 2021.

  1. Venice, Italy, will limit tour groups to 25 people and ban loudspeakers starting this summer in order to limit the impact of tourism on the local community. 
  2. Steamboat Willie, an early Walt Disney movie featuring the first appearance of Mickey Mouse, entered the public domain yesterday. Newer versions of Mickey Mouse remain copyrighted. 
  3. New, high-quality photos of Jupiter's moon Io released by NASA this weekend awed astronomers and stargazers alike. 

This newsletter was edited by Olivia Hampton.

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

Suzanne Nuyen