Up First briefing: Supreme Court ethics code; what climate change costs the U.S.
Today's top stories
The U.S. Supreme Court has adopted its first-ever ethics code, bowing to pressure from Congress and the public. Trust in the court has fallen after mounting revelations about wealthy benefactors giving gifts and trips to justices. The code — which all nine justices have signed — tries to be specific about what they can do. But it lacks an enforcement mechanism for what they're not supposed to do, leaving critics unsatisfied.
- University of Virginia law professor Amanda Frost says the code is a "step in the right direction," but doesn't go far enough. She tells Morning Edition that ideally Congress would pass legislation to put stronger oversight mechanisms in place, such as an inspector general or the type of code that already exists for lower courts.
Israel claims it has evidence of a Hamas military compound beneath the Al-Rantisi Children's Hospital in Gaza City. Israel's chief military spokesperson, Daniel Hagari, appears in a video that purports to show a tunnel outside the hospital and weapons in a room below it, details NPR can't independently confirm. Hospitals in Gaza City are in desperate conditions, with staff on the ground saying patients — including newborn and premature babies — are dying from a lack of treatment and there is no safe way out despite evacuation orders.
- NPR's Greg Myre reports from Tel Aviv that Israel is pressing ahead with its military campaign against Hamas despite growing calls for a cease-fire and pressure from the U.S., where President Biden said he hopes to see "less intrusive action" at hospitals.
- Meanwhile, many Israelis are demanding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu do more to free the roughly 240 hostages being held by Hamas. Myre says the Israeli government is "facing pressure from all directions."
- Violence is spiking in the West Bank too. An NPR team set out to report on the plight of an olive farmer there — then came the drone and soldiers.
Check out npr.org/mideastupdates for more coverage, differing views and analysis of this conflict.
A major report from the federal government lays out how climate change is altering our lives and who is paying the biggest price. Tuesday's National Climate Assessment — the first in five years — says natural disasters cause about $150 billion in direct losses annually, not including lost wages and the mental health costs. And it says people of color and those in poverty are disproportionately affected.
- The report paints the "most sophisticated and complete picture" of how climate change impacts the U.S., NPR's Rebecca Hersher tells Up First. She says the government will use this information to make decisions like where to build houses and highways, and how to regulate emissions.
From our hosts
This essay was written by A Martínez. He came to NPR in 2021 and is one of Morning Edition and Up First's hosts.
A year out from the general election, I spent a week in Iowa asking voters how they were feeling about the president, GOP presidential candidates and what issues are most important to them.
We chose Iowa because, on Jan. 15 at the Iowa caucuses, the state will set the tone for who might be the person to challenge President Biden for the White House. Here's what I learned while in Iowa:
- People ranging from ages 18 to nearly 80 in deeply red and rural Sioux County in northwest Iowa remain as conservative as it gets. Limiting or even banning abortion is extremely important to them, with border security close behind.
- While every person I spoke to wanted anyone but Biden as president, hardly any were happy with the alternatives, not even Donald Trump.
- The majority expressed hope that the next president could put an end to political divisiveness and make an honest attempt to work with the opposing party.
- Many also wanted a president they could be proud of, admire and not have to make excuses for their poor behavior and a lack of good character.
Being in Iowa and asking people about these topics made me notice one other thing. Many seemed to let out a big sigh of either dread or nervousness about what the coming months have in store. If their facial expressions were words, they clearly read, "Oh great ... here we go again."
Researchers have found their first hint that gene-editing can cut high cholesterol, which could eventually provide new ways of preventing heart attacks and strokes. A study involving 10 patients found that editing a gene inside the liver can significantly reduce levels of "bad cholesterol," though more testing is needed. While scientists still have many questions, they're excited about the role gene-editing could play in treating all sorts of genetic diseases. Read the story and listen to it here.
3 things to know before you go
- Only a handful of manufacturers have experimented with a four-day workweek. Here's the story of one who did — and isn't going back.
- A massive fire has indefinitely shuttered a vital stretch of a downtown Los Angeles freeway. Officials say it was likely the result of arson. (LAist)
- Older adults with mild hearing loss are at a greater risk of falling. A new study shows that wearing hearing aids consistently can lower that risk.
This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.
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