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Up First briefing: GOP debate, Trump to surrender, Russia plane crash mystery

Republican presidential candidates stand on stage and listen to a prayer before a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by FOX News Channel Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023, in Milwaukee.
Morry Gash
/
AP
Republican presidential candidates stand on stage and listen to a prayer before a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by FOX News Channel Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023, in Milwaukee.

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

Eight Republican presidential candidates faced off in the first debate of the 2024 race yesterdayin Milwaukee.

  • One of the major splits was on the issue of abortion. On Up First this morning, NPR's Sarah McCammon says some candidates, including former Vice President Mike Pence supported a federal ban. Former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley – the only woman in the race – called for more caution.
  • Candidates also had intense exchanges on the issue of Ukraine. Haley and Pence strongly supported continued funding to Ukraine. Vivek Ramaswamy said the U.S. needs to stop spending money on Ukraine and focus on other things.
  • Read the five main takeaways and delve into more analysis from the debate.


Former President Donald Trump is expected to voluntarily surrender at Georgia's Fulton County jail today. He faces 13 felony counts in Georgia related to efforts to overturn the state's 2020 presidential election result. A number of his 18 co-defendants, including lawyer Rudy Giuliani, have already surrendered.

  • Although Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis has said she wants to begin trial well before the 2024 election, lawyer Jeffrey Brickman tells WABE's Sam Gringlas "that is wishful thinking."
  • Trump's bond condition limits his use of social media, which means we won't be hearing from him on X. One thing that is likely to gain social media attention: Trump's mugshot, expected to be released later today.


Mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who led a rebellion against the Russian military this year, was aboard a plane that crashed north of Moscow on Wednesday, killing all 10 people on board, according to Russia's civil aviation agency.

  • The flight path shows "the business jet heading from Moscow to St. Petersburg and then a little over 30 minutes into the flight, the plane suddenly starts to fall from the sky," reports NPR's Charles Maynes on Up First. But there's no consensus on Prigozhin's actual death. Prigozhin founded the Wagner military group that has been critical in supporting Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Putin had denounced its recent mutiny as a "stab in the back," which had led to speculation about Prigozhin's fate.
  • Listen to how his criminal past helped himbuild what some believe to be the world's most dangerous mercenary group, or read more about how the uprising affected Putin's position on it.

Picture show

Five-year-old cousins Layla and Mila Cabanilla Okano are among the many children staying with members of their extended family at one property on Maui in the wake of the wildfires.
Deanne Fitzmaurice / NPR
/
NPR
Five-year-old cousins Layla and Mila Cabanilla Okano are among the many children staying with members of their extended family at one property on Maui in the wake of the wildfires.

Lahaina residents who lost their homes to the wildfire are relying on the kindness of friends and family to help tide them over. One woman's stepfather welcomed her and her husband's entire extended family to his property – as many as 87 people. "This is life in Hawaii," says her husband, Travis Cabanilla Okano. "We grew up sleeping in our cousin's house. We grew up sleeping with 20 of us in one little room... Letting our kids and us be together like that brings a lot of comfort for me." See photos of the Maui house where Okano and his family are coming together as they plan their next steps.

Enlighten me

Enlighten Me is a special series with Rachel Martin about the human condition.

Vanessa Zoltan says the theology that she was raised in was the Holocaust.
/ Vanessa Zoltan
/
Vanessa Zoltan
Vanessa Zoltan says the theology that she was raised in was the Holocaust.

All four of author Vanessa Zoltan's grandparents survived the Holocaust. Because of their horrors they had experienced, she grew up seeing her family observe Jewish customs without really believing in the existence of God. It impacted her own approach to spirituality:. "I think that the absence of God can be really beautiful. It means it's our responsibility to take care of each other on this earth," she says. Listen to Zoltan and Martin discuss how her spiritual outlook guides her practice as a chaplain, or read the interview here.

3 things to know before you go

Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute studied female octopuses that nest together off Central California at a depth of about 3,200 meters.
/ MBARI
/
MBARI
Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute studied female octopuses that nest together off Central California at a depth of about 3,200 meters.

  1. Octopuses are generally antisocial animals. But researchers foundthat over 6,000 of them have come together off the coast of California to huddle around an extinct underwater volcano
  2. India became the first country to land a spacecraft near the moon's south poleyesterday. Speaking of space, here's what the chefs at NASA are cooking to get astronauts ready for flight.
  3. Child influencers whose parents feature them in online content often grow up to realize their privacy was violated. A new Illinois law wants to give them their due.

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

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

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