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We celebrate Black History Month!

Up First briefing: Senate returns; Ken Paxton trial; Turkey archeological finds

Lawmakers have a narrow window to approve a stopgap funding measure and avoid a possible government shutdown beginning in October. Leaders of the House and Senate say a temporary spending bill is needed to work on yearlong bills.
Anna Moneymaker
/
Getty Images
Lawmakers have a narrow window to approve a stopgap funding measure and avoid a possible government shutdown beginning in October. Leaders of the House and Senate say a temporary spending bill is needed to work on yearlong bills.

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

The Senate returns to Capitol Hill today after a monthlong recess. The House will be back next week. They'll be racing the clock to craft a bill to avoid a government shutdown when federal agencies run out of money on Sept. 30. Attention will be on Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's appearance on the floor after he froze again at a press conference last week.

  • On Up First, NPR's Deirdre Walsh says the House and Senate are "on a collision course" because the two are working off of different numbers. The Senate is working off of spending limits set in a debt ceiling deal between President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy set in May. But conservatives in the House didn't like the deal and forced McCarthy to craft bills at lower limits. 


The Texas Senate's impeachment trial of suspended Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton begins today. Paxton is accused of using his office to shield Austin real estate agent and campaign donor Nate Paul from an FBI investigation. (via KUT)

  • Paxton's 20 counts include obstruction of justice, conspiracy, abuse of office and bribery. Paxton's former employees who reported him to the FBI will testify. The Texas Newsroom's Sergio Martínez-Beltrán says they're "very credible witnesses" because they're career-long public servants and all conservative Republicans. Paxton's defense team wants 19 of the 20 charges dismissed, arguing that he can't be impeached for actions made prior to his most recent election.
  • Follow updates from the trial with Texas Tribune's live blog


In Canada, jury selection will begin in a trial that will test the country's anti-terrorism laws. Nathaniel Veltman is charged with murder and terrorism after he rammed his pickup truck into the Afzaal family, who were taking a walk, two years ago. A father, mother, daughter and grandmother were killed, and a then 9-year-old boy was left orphaned. Prosecutors say he targeted them because they were Muslim.

  • This will be the first time a jury in Canada is considering terrorism charges, according to journalist Ginella Massa. Partially unsealed documents reveal Veltman may have accessed the dark web to view white supremacist and hate-related content. 


Burning Man festival organizers lifted the driving ban and began allowing attendees to leave yesterday. Attendees were told to shelter in place and conserve food and water over the weekend after storms flooded the area and turned Nevada's Black Rock Desert playa into a mud bath. Officials said one person died during the event but did not say whether it was a weather-related death.

Picture show

Ruins of housing believed to have been used by soldiers stationed at the garrison.
/ Alice Martins for NPR
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Alice Martins for NPR
Ruins of housing believed to have been used by soldiers stationed at the garrison.

Recent archeological sites in Turkey are yielding information that experts say could change modern understanding of this part of the world and its history. The country was part of ancient Mesopotamia and has many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. See pictures of the sites and read about the massive underground structures archeologists found with ground-penetrating radar scans.

From our hosts

Italian rapper Ghali poses in front of the NPR logo at NPR West headquarters.
/ Melissa Kuypers at NPR
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Melissa Kuypers at NPR
Italian rapper Ghali poses in front of the NPR logo at NPR West headquarters.

This essay was written by Leila Fadel, Morning Edition and Up First host. She was previously an NPR national correspondent covering race and identity. Prior to that, she was an international correspondent based in Cairo.

I read about Ghali in writer Alia Malek's profile in The New York Times Magazine. Here was an Italian rap star using his platform to highlight the thousands of people who drown at sea trying to make it to Europe.

In just the first half of this year nearly 2,000 people lost their lives on that journey. Ghali says that the story of risking everything for the possibility of a better life is a story he knows well. He was born in Milan to Tunisian immigrant parents. He's lost friends in the sea, friends who saw no future and tried to make it somewhere where they could dream. But he also knows the struggle that lives on the other side of migration. Listen here to Ghali discussing his music and how he uses his powerful voice.

3 things to know before you go

Ernest Hemingway, novelist, is seen at his country home in San Francisco de Paula near Havana, Cuba on Aug. 21, 1950.
/ Associated Press
/
Associated Press
Ernest Hemingway, novelist, is seen at his country home in San Francisco de Paula near Havana, Cuba on Aug. 21, 1950.

  1. In 1954, Ernest Hemingway and his wife survived two plane crashes in two days. A letter he wrote to his lawyer detailing his injuries just sold at auction for $237,055.
  2. Steve Harwell, former lead singer of Smash Mouth, has died at 56. He founded the band in 1994 and shot to fame with songs like "All Star" and "Walking on the Sun."
  3. A statue of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, displayed at the Cleveland Art Museum for four decades, is being seized as authorities in New York investigate whether it was stolen from Turkey. 

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

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