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U.S. faces firefighter shortage; global condemnation toward Israel mounts

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Today's top stories

Israel is receiving international condemnation following an airstrike on Rafah on Sunday that caused a fire at a tented area for displaced people. The attack killed at least 45 Palestinians and injured dozens more, according to local health officials. Israel's military said it was targeting a Hamas installation and hadn't expected to harm civilians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a "tragic mistake." But U.N. relief chief Martin Griffiths said, “To call it ‘a mistake’ is a message that means nothing for those killed, those grieving, and those trying to save lives.”

 Palestinians grieve relatives who were killed in an Israeli airstrike on an encampment for displaced people on Sunday, May 26, in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. Gaza health officials say 35 people were killed in the strike.
Anas Baba / for NPR
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for NPR
Palestinians grieve relatives who were killed in an Israeli airstrike on an encampment for displaced people on Sunday, May 26, in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

  • 🎧 NPR's Aya Batrawy tells Up First that this attack stands out for several reasons: It's the single deadliest attack on Rafah since Israel launched its offensive against Hamas there three weeks ago, and it struck families in makeshift tents. Sam Rose, the director of planning for the U.N.'s relief agency for Palestinians, tells NPR that civilian casualties are inevitable when attacking a tented camp. "It really does leave us numb and personally leaves me quite sick to the stomach," he said.


​​​​​​As wildfires burn in Canada and Mexico, U.S. fire officials are concerned about the upcoming wildfire season. Upwards of a quarter of the government's wildland firefighting jobs are vacant. Pay is low — especially for rookies — and the risks are high. Forests are overgrown, and rising heat and drought add to the dangers. Many who take the firefighting jobs can't afford to live in the places they're working. 🎧 The labor shortage isn't new, especially since the pandemic, NPR's Kirk Siegler says. The federal government will likely continue using private contractors or borrowing crews from Mexico and Canada — strategies Siegler says are "not ideal."

A Virginia-based IT staffing firm has settled with the Justice Department and the Department of Labor after a job posting that included race and citizenship requirements sparked outrage. The listing from Arthur Grand Technologies sought candidates “Only Born US Citizens [White] who are local within 60 miles from Dallas, TX [Don’t share with candidates].” Arthur Grand will pay a civil penalty of $7,500, along with a total of $31,000, to 31 people who complained about the posting. In a statement to NPR, Arthur Grand's CEO said his company "vehemently denies any guilt or wrongdoing" and said a rogue employee made the job posting.

Deep dive

Zepbound is one of several weight loss medicines that people are using successfully to lose weight. But shortages have people strategizing on how to maintain their weight loss when they can't get the drug.
Shelby Knowles / Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Bloomberg via Getty Images
Zepbound is one of several weight loss medicines that people are using successfully to lose weight. But shortages have people strategizing on how to maintain their weight loss when they can't get the drug.

GLP-1 agonist drugs like Ozempic, Wegovy and Zepbound have helped many, like Jonathan Meyer, lose weight after several cycles of gaining and shedding weight following various restrictive diets. As many stop taking it due to cost, shortages, side effects and life events, they are now confronting the realities of the drugs' limitations.

  • ➡️ Doctors acknowledge that food and lifestyle changes may not be enough to help patients with obesity lose weight. GLP-1 agonist drugs address various hormonal and metabolic drivers of obesity.
  • ➡️ Once a patient stops treatment for these biological factors of obesity, they may return. New analysis shows only 17% of people were able to maintain 80% of their weight loss after they stopped taking the drugs.
  • ➡️ A person’s response to being on the drugs — or to halting them — will depend on the particulars of their biology, genetics, or hormonal makeup.
  • ➡️ So, what should you do if you have to transition off of the drug? Obesity experts recommend creating a personalized plan with your doctor — tapering off the drugs, for example, while stepping up dietary counseling.

Picture show

A group of Okalolies head toward a house belonging to one of their own in Edinburgh of the Seven Seas on Tristan da Cunha, in the South Atlantic Ocean, on Dec. 31, 2023. New Year's Eve, or Old Year's Night as it's known on the island, is a chance for the whole community to come together.
/ Julia Gunther
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Julia Gunther
A group of Okalolies head toward a house belonging to one of their own in Edinburgh of the Seven Seas on Tristan da Cunha, in the South Atlantic Ocean, on Dec. 31, 2023. New Year's Eve, or Old Year's Night as it's known on the island, is a chance for the whole community to come together.

The Okalolies of Tristan da Cunha, a remote inhabited island in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean, come alive on New Year's Eve. The young men don masks and costumes to wreak havoc on their town for a tradition known as Old Year's Night. The identities of the Okalolies and where they will get dressed are a closely guarded secret. After the chaos, residents of the island ring in the new year with dancing and barbecues known as braais.

  • 📸 Photographer Julia Gunther followed the Okalolies for a day. See photos of their preparation and festivities, and read about how the men on the island are keeping their tradition to "frighten the old year out and bring the new year in" alive.

3 things to know before you go

The Banksy Museum in New York City features replicas of 160 original Banksys. This one is called "Good Doctor," and was originally stenciled in New York in 2010.
Isabella Gomez Sarmiento / NPR
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NPR
The Banksy Museum in New York City features replicas of 160 original Banksys. This one is called "Good Doctor," and was originally stenciled in New York in 2010.

  1. A new museum in New York City is trying to recreate the experience of stumbling upon Banksy graffiti in the wild. The catch? These are not real Banksys, and Banksy never agreed to have his work reproduced.
  2. Road planners nationwide are embracing the unconventional diverging diamond interchange intersection more than two decades after it was invented. Though it can feel like you're driving on the wrong side of the road, experts say it can be safer and more efficient than conventional left turn lanes.
  3. All over Rwanda, people wear NBA jerseys of legends like Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. Some children there see the sport as a path to a bigger future. The NBA hopes basketball could one day rival soccer's status in Africa.

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

Copyright 2024 NPR

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