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Today’s top stories

President Biden and former President Donald Trump have agreed to hold two presidential debates. CNN is expected to host the first one on June 27 — long before early voting begins. ABC is expected to host the second on Sept. 10. The two debates circumvent the fall schedule and traditional format proposed by the Commission on Presidential Debates.

In this file photo from 2020, President Biden and then-President Donald Trump participate in the second and final presidential debate of that election.

Morry Gash/AP


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Morry Gash/AP


In this file photo from 2020, President Biden and then-President Donald Trump participate in the second and final presidential debate of that election.

Morry Gash/AP

  • “For a long time, there were many questions whether the two would actually square off at all,” NPR’s Franco Ordoñez tells Up First. These debates will be held before either man becomes their party’s official nominee. Ordoñez says Trump and Biden pushed for an earlier date because the two candidates “want to separate, kind of distinguish, who they are.”

The United Nations has revised down its tally of women and children killed in the last seven months in Gaza. The revision, which now quotes only the number of women and children killed based on those who have been fully identified by Gaza’s Health Ministry, caused some confusion in media reports. One was shared by Israel’s foreign minister, claiming that the U.N. halved the number. U.N. spokesperson Farhan Haq clarified that the Health Ministry’s death toll of more than 35,000 people killed in the ongoing Israeli military offensive in Gaza remains reliable. The death toll estimate spans the seven months since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks that killed 1,200 people in Israel. Here’s a closer look at the backlash.

Also this week, the Biden administration said it would move ahead with a $1 billion arms transfer to Israel. NPR’s Mara Liasson reports that the White House has been “trying to show the nuances in this issue,” which has caused deep divisions in his party. Biden said last week he wouldn’t give Israel bombs that could be used in Rafah, but made the distinction that other military aid would continue.

Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico is in stable but serious condition after being shot several times on Wednesday, according to local officials. Police have a suspect in custody and say the assassination attempt was politically motivated.

  • There’s been wide condemnation of the attack all over Europe, NPR’s Rob Schmitz reports from Berlin. Slovakia’s Defense Minister Robert Kalinak denounced the political environment that led to the attack. But some political observers say Fico’s government created that environment. Fico has been plagued by corruption scandals and has pushed for state control of the free press.

Picture show

Bertha and Wilson Twitchell stand outside their home in Kasigluk, Alaska. Wilson grew up here. He drew an image of what the land looked like when he was young: Grass and dry land surrounded the house, stretching at least 80 feet to the riverbank, where he remembers playing with toy boats. Now, when the water is particularly high, the house is nearly an island.

https://www.npr.org/2024/04/03/1242451927/permafrost-underlying-many-remote-villages-in-alaska-is-thawing-and-thats-a-prob


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https://www.npr.org/2024/04/03/1242451927/permafrost-underlying-many-remote-villages-in-alaska-is-thawing-and-thats-a-prob


Bertha and Wilson Twitchell stand outside their home in Kasigluk, Alaska. Wilson grew up here. He drew an image of what the land looked like when he was young: Grass and dry land surrounded the house, stretching at least 80 feet to the riverbank, where he remembers playing with toy boats. Now, when the water is particularly high, the house is nearly an island.

https://www.npr.org/2024/04/03/1242451927/permafrost-underlying-many-remote-villages-in-alaska-is-thawing-and-thats-a-prob

Wilson Twitchell and his wife are raising seven children in a small home in Kasigluk, a Yup’ik village of about 450 people in Southwest Alaska. They love their village — but they’re not sure how much longer their house will stay standing. The permafrost beneath their village, once frozen year-round, has begun to thaw. The Twitchells, like families in Alaska Native communities across the state, are in a race against time to move. And it’s not clear where they will go.

See photos showing how climate change is affecting this Alaskan community and read about what can be done.

Deep dive

Mixed race kid enjoying outdoors and the authenticity of connecting with nature in Auckland, New Zealand.

nazar_ab/Getty Images


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nazar_ab/Getty Images


Mixed race kid enjoying outdoors and the authenticity of connecting with nature in Auckland, New Zealand.

nazar_ab/Getty Images

Spending time outdoors isn’t just good for getting some fresh air. It can also improve children’s eyesight. Pediatric ophthalmologist Noha Ekdawi says it’s one of the best forms of prevention for nearsightedness, which has been rapidly growing in the U.S. and worldwide.

  • Myopia, or nearsightedness, occurs when the eyeball stretches and grows too long, which makes far-away objects look blurry.
  • Once a kid gets myopia, the eye will continue to elongate. If it develops into high myopia, it could increase the risks of retinal detachments, glaucoma and cataracts.
  • Light stimulates the eye to release the neurotransmitter dopamine, which can slow the eyeball from stretching.
  • Research suggests kids should be spending at least two hours a day outdoors – every single day. 

3 things to know before you go

Killer whales are pictured during a storm in the fjord of Skjervoy in 2021 off the coast of northern Norway. Researchers say orcas are stepping up “attacks” on yachts along Europe’s Iberian coast.

Olivier Morin/AFP via Getty Images


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Olivier Morin/AFP via Getty Images


Killer whales are pictured during a storm in the fjord of Skjervoy in 2021 off the coast of northern Norway. Researchers say orcas are stepping up “attacks” on yachts along Europe’s Iberian coast.

Olivier Morin/AFP via Getty Images

  1. A pod of orcas sank a yacht off the coast of Spain on Sunday. It’s the latest in a series of orca “attacks” that have left scientists stumped. 
  2. A bipartisan group of senators, led by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, have released a long-awaited report detailing actions Congress can take to address the risks of artificial intelligence
  3. Jared Isaacman, a private astronaut, wants to take a maintenance crew in a SpaceX capsule to help improve the Hubble Space Telescope. After studying the options, internal emails from NASA obtained by NPR through a Freedom of Information Act request show the organization had concerns about the risk.

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.



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