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Up First briefing: Biden heads to the Middle East; how screen time changes your eyes

President Biden is pictured at the White House on Oct. 10, giving remarks about the attack by Hamas on Israel.
Evan Vucci
/
AP
President Biden is pictured at the White House on Oct. 10, giving remarks about the attack by Hamas on Israel.

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 plans to travel to the Middle East today to reaffirm U.S. solidarity with Israel and press for humanitarian aid to Gaza civilians. He's expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv and Arab leaders in Amman, Jordan's capital. A ground invasion is expected as Israeli forces gather at the Gaza border. NPR's Tamara Keith will travel with the president.

  • Keith says on Up First that Biden's meeting with the Egyptian president is significant because the country has been reluctant to open its border with Gaza. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the U.S. and Israel had agreed on aid to Gaza after hours of talks yesterday.
  • In Jerusalem, NPR's Peter Kenyon says trucks loaded with supplies headed to the Rafah crossing, but there are reports this morning it has been bombed again.
  • Morning Edition host Leila Fadel visited survivors of the Hamas attack in Be'eri, an Israeli kibbutz community near Gaza. Peace activist Hayim Katsman was one of 30 Americans killed. His brother Noy says most Israelis and Palestinians lose in the conflict. "What does it mean — winning — now after my brother and a thousand people are dead?" he asks.
  • Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad speaks with Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep. Hamad says the militant group has no plans to release hostages.


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

The House of Representatives is set to vote on a new speaker later today. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, is the nominee after Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., dropped out. It's unclear whether he has enough votes to get the job.

  • Among the holdouts are lawmakers worried about Jordan's history of opposing spending bills and aid to Ukraine, says NPR's Susan Davis. The House has a lot to vote on once a speaker is chosen: a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown on Nov. 17 and aid to both Israel and Ukraine.


The Food and Drug Administration is "actively reviewing" a petition to ban the use of synthetic food coloring Red 3 filed by consumer advocacy groups a year ago, according to an FDA spokesperson. The agency faces renewed pressure to weigh in on the dye's use after California banned it and three other food additives last week.

Body electric

/ Daniel Hertzberg
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Daniel Hertzberg

Body Electric is a six-part investigation and interactive project with TED Radio Hour host Manoush Zomorodi exploring the relationship between our technology and our bodies... and how we can improve it.

Myopia (nearsightedness) rates in the U.S. have soared in the last 50 years. Many diagnosed are kids. While bad eyesight used to be chalked up to genetics, experts now think increased time spent indoors — often looking at screens — could also be a culprit.

  • In Part 3 of Body Electric, Zomorodi speaks with University of California, Berkeley School of Optometry professor Maria Liu about the dangers of early onset myopia and why time outdoors can help prevent it.

Today's listen

Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński also breakdances, two skills showcased in Semele at Munich's Bavarian State Opera this year before it heads to New York's Metropolitan Opera next season.
Monika Rittershaus / Bavarian State Opera
/
Bavarian State Opera
Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński also breakdances, two skills showcased in Semele at Munich's Bavarian State Opera this year before it heads to New York's Metropolitan Opera next season.

Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński, 32, thinks he may be the only breakdancing opera singer in the world. As a teenage extreme sports enthusiast, he found "purity and spirituality" in opera and "music and personal expression" in breakdancing.

  • Listen to Orliński sing in his high voice close to a female mezzo-soprano or contralto, and read his interview here

3 things to know before you go

Australia's Josh Inglis plays a shot during the 2023 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup one-day international match between Australia and Sri Lanka in Lucknow, India, on Monday. The sport is coming to the 2028 Olympics.
Tauseef Mustafa / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
Australia's Josh Inglis plays a shot during the 2023 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup one-day international match between Australia and Sri Lanka in Lucknow, India, on Monday. The sport is coming to the 2028 Olympics.

  1. Jeff Balch's mom died in 1992 at 60. He still remembers the day three trash collectors comforted him when he was doing yard work at her house after her passing. He says these unsung heroes remind him to perceive the humanity in everyone. 
  2. The International Olympic Committee added five new sports to the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles: cricket, flag football, squash, lacrosse and baseball-softball.
  3. LinkedIn, the Microsoft-owned social media platform, says it will lay off nearly 700 employees across its engineering, product, talent and finance departments. 

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi and Olivia Hampton.

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

Suzanne Nuyen