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Up First briefing: Ex-ambassador charged as agent of Cuba; Nelson Mandela's legacy

U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, Victor Manuel Rocha, talks to the press, 11 July 2001.
Gonzalo Espinoza
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AFP via Getty Images
U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, Victor Manuel Rocha, talks to the press, 11 July 2001.

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

Victor Manuel Rocha, a former U.S. ambassador to Bolivia, has been arrested and accused of working for decades as an agent for Cuba. Rocha, 73, is charged with conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government, acting as an illegal agent of a foreign government and using a passport obtained by false statement. He made his initial appearance in a Miami court yesterday, and a detention hearing is scheduled for tomorrow.

  • The complaint against Rocha does not include details on what he did for Cuba or the intelligence he provided, NPR's Ryan Lucas says on Up First. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland calls the case "one of the highest-reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations of the U.S. government by a foreign agent."


Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen attacked three vessels in the Red Sea on Sunday. The U.S. military said a U.S. warship shot down several ballistic missiles and drones. The Houthis assert they're attacking ships with links to Israel, raising concerns that the war in Israel and Gaza could become a regional conflict. Here's what we know about the Houthis and what they want.

  • NPR's Joe Hernandez speaks with Thomas Juneau, a Middle East professor, who suggests that the recent attack sends a message of support to Hamas and helps the Houthis gain favor in Yemen, where there is widespread support for the Palestinian cause.


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

House Republicans are preparing to vote as early as this week to formally launch an impeachment inquiry against President Biden. The move comes as key committee chairs continue to negotiate with witnesses they believe can help develop a case for corruption charges against Biden.

Today's listen

Anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela delivers a policy statement in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Jan. 8, 1994. Mandela called on all South Africans to pledge themselves to peace. Later that year, Mandela became South Africa's first Black president.
Walter Dhladhla / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
Anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela delivers a policy statement in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Jan. 8, 1994. Mandela called on all South Africans to pledge themselves to peace. Later that year, Mandela became South Africa's first Black president.

Today marks the 10-year anniversary of the death of Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first Black president. The anti-apartheid icon and Nobel Peace Prize winner is known for being one of the world's most famous political prisoners.

  • Listen to excerpts of some of his most famous speeches and read about his life, from the 1964 Rivonia trial, where he established himself as the voice of the anti-apartheid movement, to his final presidential address in 1999.

Life advice

Practice gearing up for a cold-weather run by printing and cutting out this paper doll of NPR's Wynne Davis. It looks best when you print on card stock and in color, but regular paper is fine too. <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/1fWioKn5CPiE40wBE3NIjOxCVV5J3AoAe/view?usp=share_link" data-key="1076">Download the file here</a>.
/ Malaka Gharib/NPR
/
Malaka Gharib/NPR
Practice gearing up for a cold-weather run by printing and cutting out this paper doll of NPR's Wynne Davis. It looks best when you print on card stock and in color, but regular paper is fine too. Download the file here.

  • Colder temperatures can present a challenge for those who prefer to work out outdoors. NPR's Wynne Davis is training for her first marathon this year. She speaks with Alison Mariella Désir, athlete and founder of the Harlem Run, for advice on running in the cold
  • Dress in layers you can remove when you start to sweat.
  • Add moisture-wicking accessories like gloves, earmuffs and wool socks when the weather is in the 30s.
  • Prioritize protecting your face and neck if the weather is below freezing.

3 things to know before you go

Mark Rowe (right) and Jeff Kruse (left) decked out their bikes for Milwaukee's annual Santa Cycle Rampage. Rowe declined to share how long his sleigh took to construct.
/ Lina Tran/WUWM
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Lina Tran/WUWM
Mark Rowe (right) and Jeff Kruse (left) decked out their bikes for Milwaukee's annual Santa Cycle Rampage. Rowe declined to share how long his sleigh took to construct.

  1. More than a thousand Santas swapped their sleighs for bikes as they took over the streets of Milwaukee this weekend for the Santa Cycle Rampage, a bicycle ride for charity.
  2. The educational nonprofit behind Sesame Street has created videos caregivers and therapists can share with young children to help explain addiction or why parents need treatment.
  3. Spotify says it will cut 17% of its workforce, or approximately 1,500 people

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

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

Suzanne Nuyen