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Assange starts last fight against U.S. extradition; Egypt builds wall near Gaza border

Julian Assange supporters hold up a banner that says "Free Assange No U.S. Extradition" outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London in Dec. 2022.
Chris J Ratcliffe
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Getty Images
Julian Assange supporters hold up a banner that says "Free Assange No U.S. Extradition" outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London in Dec. 2022.

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

London's High Court begins a two-day hearing to decide whether Wikileaks founder Julian Assange can appeal his extradition to the U.S. on spying charges. In America, Assange faces up to 175 years in prison if convicted on charges related to his website's publication of classified U.S. documents leaked by Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. Assange's case today could mark his last chance in his decade-long legal battle against extradition.

  • Reporters without Borders and other press freedom groups say Assange's case could set a dangerous precedent for journalists to be charged with espionage for work they do in the public interest, NPR's Lauren Frayer tells Up First. But the U.K. court is not deciding whether Assange is a journalist today — they're only weighing whether he can be extradited safely. Assange's wife tells Frayer she's not optimistic, and she thinks he could be on a plane to the U.S. within days.


Egypt is clearing land and building a walled-off security zone that could take in up to 150,000 Palestinians on its side of the border with Gaza, Egyptian security officials tell NPR. This comes ahead of a planned Israeli invasion into the border city of Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians were told to flee.

  • Relations between Egypt and Israel are tense, NPR's Aya Batrawy reports. Egypt is "very concerned" that any displacement of Palestinians over the border would be permanent and drag the country into the war. Mediators are pushing for a truce before the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, which begins March 10. Still, Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz says fighting would continue if all hostages aren't freed by Ramadan. "There was hope Rafah would be a safe zone, but it's not," Batrawy says. "There's no safe place in Gaza for civilians." 
  • See photos from this past week in Israel, Gaza and Lebanon


The U.S. Supreme Court will hear in April a case that could reshape how cities manage homelessness. The legal issue is whether cities can fine or arrest people for sleeping outside if they have nowhere else to go. A U.S. appeals court previously deemed this cruel and unusual punishment. States and cities — including California and Seattle — say the ruling has contributed to the growth of tent encampments that pose a threat to health and public safety.

Capital One announced yesterday it is acquiring Discover Financial in a $35.3 billion deal. Discover has the smallest reach out of the U.S.'s four major credit card networks, which include Visa, MasterCard and Express. Its credit cards are accepted by 70 million merchants across 200 countries.

Deep dive

As part of his pediatric practice, Dr. Safdar Medina treats opioid use disorder. During a recent appointment at a clinic in Uxbridge, Mass., Medina switched a teenage patient's buprenorphine prescription to an injectable form and checked in about his school and social life.
Martha Bebinger / WBUR
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WBUR
As part of his pediatric practice, Dr. Safdar Medina treats opioid use disorder. During a recent appointment at a clinic in Uxbridge, Mass., Medina switched a teenage patient's buprenorphine prescription to an injectable form and checked in about his school and social life.

Buprenorphine, which curbs opioid cravings, can be a powerful tool to treat teenagers addicted to opioids but isn't always prescribed. Dr. Safdar Medina at UMass Memorial Health has seen firsthand how much this drug has helped one of his patients. Here's what the latest surveys say about teen drug use and how pediatricians can better help their young patients:

  • Drug use among teens is declining, but drug-associated deaths are up. The main culprit is Xanax, Adderall or Percocet pills laced with fentanyl.
  • Many pediatricians say they don't have the right training or staff for drug addiction care.
  • Buprenorphine isn't a popular choice for addiction treatment. Only 1 in 4 residential programs for youth offer it. Pediatricians who prescribe it weigh the possible side effects — including long-term dependence — against the threat of a fentanyl overdose.


This story comes from NPR's health reporting partnership with WBUR and KFF Health News.

Picture Show

Bate-bola crew Bem Feito goes out during Carnival celebrations in Pedra de Guaratiba, a neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, on Feb. 11.
/ María Magdalena Arréllaga for NPR
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María Magdalena Arréllaga for NPR
Bate-bola crew Bem Feito goes out during Carnival celebrations in Pedra de Guaratiba, a neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, on Feb. 11.

On the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, residents celebrate Carnival with the tradition of bate-bola— translated as ball-beaters. Crews don colorful, clown-inspired costumes and race through the streets while bashing large balls on the ground to a frenetic mix of funk, fireworks and fun. In recent years, more women have joined in the historically male-dominated tradition.

See photos of the women in the Bem Feito crew and learn more about how they're breaking through bate-bola's masculine culture.

3 things to know before you go

An Apple TV+ animated special shows how Franklin, the first Black <em>Peanuts</em> character, meets Charlie Brown and friends in <em>Snoopy Presents:</em> <em>Welcome Home, Franklin.</em>
/ ApplyTV+
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ApplyTV+
An Apple TV+ animated special shows how Franklin, the first Black Peanuts character, meets Charlie Brown and friends in Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin.

  1. Franklin, the first Black Peanuts character, is getting his own origin story. Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin is streaming on AppleTV+. It tells the story of how Charlie Brown and his friends met Franklin. 
  2. Odysseus, the lunar lander from Houston company Intuitive Machines, is scheduled to land near the moon's South Pole on Thursday. If its mission is successful, Intuitive Machines would be the first private company to reach the moon. 
  3. Former President Donald Trump has unveiled a line of golden sneakers called the Never Surrender High-Top Sneaker. They sell online for $399 a pair. 

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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