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WikiLeaks founder to plead guilty; What to expect at Biden-Trump debate

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

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange agreed to plead guilty to a single felony count of illegally obtaining and disclosing national security material in exchange for his release from a British prison. He is expected to return home to Australia following the court proceeding later this week, according to newly filed court papers. Under the terms of the agreement, Assange faces a sentence of 62 months, the equivalent of the time he has already served in Britain, while fighting extradition to the United States.

A supporter of Julian Assange protests in front of Westminster Magistrates Court in London, while calling for his release from Belmarsh Prison, on April 14.
Peter Nicholls / Getty Images
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Getty Images
A supporter of Julian Assange protests in front of Westminster Magistrates Court in London, while calling for his release from Belmarsh Prison, on April 14.

  • 🎧 Many press freedom advocates have argued that criminally charging Assange represents a threat to free speech and could create precedent for charging journalists with national security crimes, NPR’s Carrie Johnson who covered the case closely for years reports on Up First. Johnson adds that this plea deal would resolve the charges, but whether it's the final chapter of this “bizarre saga” remains to be seen.


Immigration and the border are two issues that are sure to come up when President Biden and former President Donald Trump debate later this week.

  • 🎧 NPR’s Jasmine Garsd, reporting from the border, says expedited removals have more than doubled recently and that migrant crossings are down over the past few months. She tells Morning Edition that, while some of President Biden’s actions may have had an impact, their effect may be temporary.


🎤 Ahead of their November rematch, Biden and Trump will participate in the first presidential debate of the 2024 general election, hosted by CNN in Atlanta. Here’s what you need to know about how to watch and what to expect.

  • 🎧 NPR’s Steve Inskeep asks, “How’s it all going to work, and what, if anything, can we learn?” He invited former presidential speechwriters who worked for George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton to the studio. Listen to their conversation here.


The Upper Midwest is grappling with catastrophic flooding after days of heavy rain. Parts of Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa are hardest hit. For some neighborhoods in the region, this is the second major flooding in five years.

  • 🎧 NPR’s Rebecca Hersher tells Up First that scientists have noticed 25-45% more water falling during heavy rains in the past 60 years.“So not a little bit more, a lot more rain,” Hersher explains. Updating flood protection in places like the Upper Midwest will require a lot of money. Some funding has already started to be distributed through the bipartisan Infrastructure Law that Congress passed a couple of years ago.


​​​​​​It would have been history. Last night, in hockey's Stanley Cup Final, the Edmonton Oilers hoped to become only the second team ever to win the trophy after going down 3-0 in the series. But the Florida Panthers held off the comeback to bring home their team's first ever Stanley Cup after a close game seven.

  • 🎧 NPR’s sports correspondent Becky Sullivan reports that the game lived up to the hype. Each team scored a goal in the first seven minutes. Florida scored the game winner in the second period and their aggressive defending got them the win. Sullivan says that the Panthers were “beyond stoked,” having lost in the Stanley Cup Final last year, but this year, they’re bringing it home.

Picture show

Lee Choo-sum (left) and Lee Geum-soon look for free fish or seafood from boats in Abai Village on Sept. 8, 2023. Both women left North Korea when the war broke out and have lived in the village for the past 70 years.
Hannah Yoon /
Abai Village residents Lee Choo-sum, left, and Lee Geum-soon, look out for free fish or seafood from fishing boats in Abai Village in Sokcho, South Korea on Friday, September 8, 2023. Both women left North Korea when the war broke out and have lived in Abai Village for the past 70 years, never going back home due to the closed border.

Many people don't know that the Korean War never officially ended. A South Korean village grapples with this reality every day. Due to ongoing tensions between North and South Korea, thousands of aging North Koreans have been permanently separated from their homeland. One such individual is Kim Yong Jae, who has lived in Abai Village since 1951, when she was 10 years old. Fleeing the north during the war with her mother and grandmother, Kim considers Abai Village her home. Despite many friends and her children moving to larger cities, she finds comfort in her village.

  • 📷 On the 74th anniversary of the Korean War's start, the residents of Abai Village in Sokcho reflect on their community's significance. See photos of the residents and read about the war's legacy and the village transformation.

Deep dive

An illustration of the human microbiome. The bacteria in our gut may influence our mental health, research finds.
MEHAU KULYK/Getty Images / Science Photo Library RF
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Science Photo Library RF
An illustration of the human microbiome. The bacteria in our gut may influence our mental health, research finds.

Think that stress is all in your head? Try a little further down. Your gut microbes may influence how you handle stress. This ecosystem of tiny organisms inside us has been an area for studying various psychiatric conditions and neurological diseases. A study published this month in Nature Mental Health finds people who are resilient in the face of stressful events have a different mix of bacteria in the gut than those who get more frazzled. Here’s what the researchers have to say:

  • Resilience is linked to anti-inflammatory microbes. A neuroscientist who led the new study her team separated 116 adults without a mental health diagnosis into two groups based on how they scored on a scale of psychological resilience. Two major patterns emerged in people who were more resilient to stress: The activity in their microbiome was linked to reduced inflammation and to improved gut barrier integrity.
  • Microbes that “talk” to our nervous system. Recent observational studies have strengthened the evidence linking gut microbiome and mental health in humans.
  • Probiotic treatments for stress? Not yet. The research is a jumping off point for future human studies that some researchers believe could ultimately lead to treatments. It may also point the way to biomarkers in the microbiome that help guide decisions around treatment and mental health.

3 things to know before you go

The Chang'e 6 capsule landed in the Chinese province of Inner Mongolia on Tuesday.
CCTV screenshot by NPR /
The Chang'e 6 capsule touched down on the steppe of Inner Mongolia early on Tuesday.

  1. China has just returned the first-ever samples from the far side of the moon. Scientists say the rocks inside the little space capsule could open a new window into how our nearest neighbor formed.
  2. Tamayo Perry, Hawaii surfer and lifeguard, who was also an occasional actor in Hollywood movies, died in an apparent shark attack in Hawaii on Sunday. Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi described Perry as a “legendary waterman” who grew up on the island.
  3. If you’re always forgetting things, you’ll want to listen and write these tips down. Life Kit talked to experts (and a trivia buff), who shared tips for enhancing your memory.

This newsletter was edited by Obed Manuel.

Copyright 2024 NPR

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Majd Al-Waheidi
Majd Al-Waheidi is the digital editor on Morning Edition, where she brings the show's journalism to online audiences. Previously, Al-Waheidi was a reporter for the New York Times in the Gaza Strip, where she reported about a first-of-its-kind Islamic dating site, and documented the human impact of the 2014 Israel-Gaza war in a collaborative visual project nominated for an Emmy Award. She also reported about Wikipedia censorship in Arabic for Rest of World magazine, and investigated the abusive working conditions of TikTok content moderators for Business Insider. Al-Waheidi has worked at the International Center for Religion & Diplomacy, and holds a master's degree in Arab Studies from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. A native of Gaza, she speaks Arabic and some French, and is studying Farsi.
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