Up First briefing: Strike kills U.S. troops in Jordan; Israel-Hamas talks continue
Today's top stories
President Biden is vowing to respond after a drone strike in northeast Jordan killed three American service members and wounded at least 34 more early Sunday. The White House blamed Iran-backed militias for the attack — which occurred at a support base on the Jordanian side of the border with Syria — though Iran denies involvement. U.S. officials say many service members are suffering from traumatic brain injury, and expect the number of wounded to fluctuate.
- NPR's Jane Arraf tells Up First from Amman that military analysts expect the U.S. to retaliate directly on Iranian forces in the region, which would be the first direct confrontation between the two.
A deal is in the works to release Israeli hostages held by Hamas in exchange for a prolonged pause in fighting in Gaza, where the humanitarian crisis is worsening. NPR's Daniel Estrin reports from Tel Aviv that it would be similar to the November exchange of Israeli hostages and Palestinian detainees, done in phases over several months.
- CIA chief William Burns, as well as top officials from Israel, Qatar and Egypt, have been meeting in Paris to try to strike a deal. Estrin says there are still gaps between what Israel and Hamas want — especially when it comes to pausing versus ending the fighting — and more talks planned for this week. The U.S., U.K. and other countries have suspended funding to UNRWA, the United Nations' main humanitarian agency in Gaza, after Israel presented evidence alleging that 12 of its Palestinian employees were directly involved in the Oct. 7 attack. The U.N. has fired several employees and is calling on countries to resume funding.
Check out npr.org/mideastupdates for more coverage and analysis of the conflict.
The Republican-led House Committee on Homeland Security released two draft articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, accusing him of "breach of public trust" and "willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law" for failing to manage the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats and the Department of Homeland Security are calling the articles a "sham."
- NPR's Deirdre Walsh tells Morning Edition that even if the articles pass along party lines in the committee and full House, the Senate is not likely to convict and remove Mayorkas.
- Meanwhile, a bipartisan deal to address the border crisis may come together in the Senate this week — despite former President Donald Trump's lobbying against it. Walsh notes that any effort to scuttle this deal means there won't be any aid to Ukraine, since the two are linked.
Nanmoku, Japan's most aged village, could have no one left in just over a decade. With its majority-elderly population and low birth rate, it's a leading example of the rural depopulation that many Asian and European nations are experiencing. It's offering financial incentives in the hopes of attracting young people and staying on the map. NPR spoke with residents about their experiences and hopes for the future. Read the story and listen here.
An art exhibit by incarcerated artists is currently on display at President Lincoln's Cottage in Washington, D.C. Several years in the making, Prison Reimagined: Presidential Portrait Project challenges U.S. presidents' records on mass incarceration through watercolor paintings, mixed media collages and colored pencil portraits. Creator Caddell Kivett, who coordinated the project from prison in North Carolina, told NPR he hopes visitors will leave with a deeper understanding of the direct impacts of mass incarceration — and take their concerns directly to their elected officials.
3 things to know before you go
- The Sundance Film Festival wrapped up this weekend. Here are the films that stood out most to NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour.
- Sixty years ago, American teen Randy Gardner stayed awake for over 11 days to break a world record. Sleep researchers have learned a lot since then.
- Many Greyhound bus stations — once a big part of America — are being shut down and redeveloped, leaving passengers without a comfortable place to wait between rides.
This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.
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