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Alexei Navalny has died in prison; Israeli troops raid Gaza's Nasser Hospital

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, shown in a February 2021 court session.
Alexander Zemlianichenko
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, shown in a February 2021 court session.

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

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has died after feeling unwell and losing consciousness following a walk on Friday in the penal colony where he was held, according to the country's prison service. He was 47. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters today that Russian President Vladimir Putin has been informed of his death, and prison medics are working to identify the cause of death.

  • U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan tells Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep that, if confirmed, Navalny's death is "a terrible tragedy" given the Russian government's "long and sordid history of doing harm to its opponents.

"Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis testified yesterday in Georgia to fight off an attempt to remove her from former President Donald Trump's 2020 Georgia election interference case. Trump and other defendants accused her of a conflict of interest stemming from a romantic relationship with special prosecutor Nathan Wade, whom she hired for the probe. They allege Willis benefited financially from the case. Prosecutors insist the relationship did not begin before the Trump probe.

  • The stakes for this case are "quite high" despite the "tabloid-like nature of the story," NPR network station WABE's Sam Gringlas reports for Up First. The window for Trump and his co-defendants to stand trial before the 2024 election is small. Disqualifying Willis could cause delays to the case and make the window even smaller.
  • Trump faces 91 criminal charges across four cases, including the Georgia election interference case. Here's where they all stand.

The Israeli military yesterday raided Nasser Hospital, the largest hospital still functioning in the Gaza Strip. Israeli rear admiral Daniel Hagari says the military has proof Hamas has been hiding and operating out of the hospital. They were searching for Hamas fighters and bodies of Israeli hostages. Meanwhile, the deadly airstrikes between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah militants along Israel's northern border with Lebanon have increased and gone deeper into each country's territory.

  • NPR's Eleanor Beardsley is in Tel Aviv, where she spoke to the families of the hostages. She calls them the "main moral voice in Israeli society." They gathered outside of a war cabinet meeting last night to express their fury over Israel leaving cease-fire talks. "It's going to take time to win this war," Gil Dickmann, whose cousin Carmel is still being held, told Beardsley. "The hostages have no time."

  • Palestinians continue to flee as Israel remains poised to send ground troops into Gaza's southern city of Rafah, which was supposed to offer refuge. More than a million Palestinians are sheltering there. 

Wednesday's shooting at the Chief's Super Bowl parade in Kansas City, Mo., appeared to be the result of a "dispute between several people that ended in gun violence" and not an act of terrorism, according to Police Chief Stacey Graves. Two juvenile suspects are still in custody.

  • NPR's Brian Mann attended last night's vigil for 43-year-old mother, community leader and radio host Lisa Lopez-Galvan. He reports the people there say they don't feel safe. Isabella Videz, a 23-year-old attendee who grew up during the Sandy Hook shooting, told Mann she felt like "nothing ever changes," and she was there because "it's a very lonely feeling, and I don't want to be alone." 

Life advice

Julia Cramer sits with her two children, Maya, 3, and Lily, 6 months, at their home in Petaluma on Dec. 19, 2023. Maya plays with an Elmo doll that she often brings to the doctors' office.
Beth LaBerge / KQED
Julia Cramer sits with her two children, Maya, 3, and Lily, 6 months, at their home in Petaluma on Dec. 19, 2023. Maya plays with an Elmo doll that she often brings to the doctors' office.

Needles can be scary for adults, so imagine what it's like for kids who have never experienced getting a shot before. Pain management research suggests that needle pokes may be children's biggest source of pain in the health care system. The distress can lead to a fear of needles in adulthood, interfering with preventative care. To lessen the sting, Dr. Stefan Friedrichsdorf, a specialist at the University of California San Francisco, recommends the following steps:

  • Numb the area with numbing cream or over-the-counter topicals 30 minutes before the shot.
  • Find ways to comfort babies while they're getting poked. Giving them a pacifier dipped in sugar water or breastfeeding can do the trick.
  • Distract babies from the needle using teddy bears, pinwheels or bubbles to make sure they don't see the poke.
  • Restraining a baby won't help. Parents can hold the baby in their lap instead to make them comfortable. 

Weekend picks

Jennifer Lopez, from her film <em>This Is Me...Now</em> © Amazon Content Services LLC
/ Courtesy of Prime
Courtesy of Prime
Jennifer Lopez, from her film This Is Me...Now © Amazon Content Services LLC

Check out what NPR is watching, reading and listening to this weekend:

Movies: Perfect Days stars Memoirs of a Geisha actor Kôji Yakusho. The 50-year-old cleans public toilets in Tokyo and seems a little too happy. The film explores themes of life's limitations and asks questions about how to live in the face of need, loneliness and disappointment.

TV: As couples everywhere celebrated Valentine's Day this week, Pop Culture Happy Hour paid tribute to the shows that revolve around friendship and platonic love.

Books: Fourteen Days is a COVID-19 throwback that brings together 36 American and Canadian authors to tell the story of the first two weeks of the pandemic. It achieves a unified voice by not telling you who wrote which story until the very end.

Music: More than 20 years after her hit record This Is Me...Then, Jennifer Lopez released its companion, This Is Me...Now. She tells Morning Edition that falling in love with Ben Affleck was the inciting incident behind both records.

Games: Mario vs Donkey Kong, the exquisitely animated and precisely engineered remake of the 2004 Gameboy Advance game, can be as frustrating as it is fun to play.

3 things to know before you go

Caitlin Clark shoots the ball against the Purdue Boilermakers in January in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Andy Lyons / Getty Images
Getty Images
Caitlin Clark shoots the ball against the Purdue Boilermakers in January in West Lafayette, Indiana.

  1. Caitlin Clark has broken the NCAA women's all-time scoring record last night, surpassing 3,527 points. She beat the previous record in 13 fewer games while taking fewer shots.
  2. Tattoos can be an important part of a person's identity. This Ohio-based company will preserve them for you when you die. (via Ideastream)
  3. Alaskan officials say a man died of Alaskapox last month. They believe it is the first fatality from the newly discovered virus. 

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi. Mansee Khurana contributed.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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