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Up First briefing: Hurricane Lee grows; Danny Masterson sentenced; Maui needs tourism

The core of Hurricane Lee is forecast to pass north of the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico over the next several days.
National Hurricane Center
The core of Hurricane Lee is forecast to pass north of the Leeward Islands, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico over the next several days.

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

Hurricane Lee, now a Category 5 storm, is expected to rapidly intensify as it churns towards the Caribbean. Its center will likely pass north of the Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico, and it could pose potentially dangerous beach conditions on the U.S. East Coast as early as Sunday.

  • NPR's Michael Copley tells Up First that the extreme weather seen across the world this summer is a consequence of climate change and an El Niño weather pattern, which is amplifying that warming. He says we can expect this pattern to continue as long as people keep emitting greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.  


A judge sentenced "That '70s Show'' actor Danny Masterson to 30 years to life in prison for raping two women when he was at the height of his career two decades ago. Masterson was first accused of sexual assault in 2017, and in 2020 was charged with raping three women at his California home between 2001 and 2003.

  • A jury found Masterson guilty on two counts at his second trial in May (the first ended in a mistrial), but could not come to a unanimous decision on the third count, which allegedly involved his then-girlfriend. The accusers testified that Masterson drugged them at his house before raping them. They had all met through the Church of Scientology.


Ukraine is trying to do something no nation has ever attempted: operate a nuclear power industry in the middle of a war. The Zaporizhzhia plant has already been caught in the crossfire, and experts say at least nine other Soviet-era reactors are vulnerable as Russia launches more missile and drone attacks.

  • NPR's Brian Mann, who recently visited a plant in western Ukraine, reports that Ukrainian officials have no choice but to keep them up and running: These atomic reactors provide about half of Ukraine's electricity. 
  • The head of Ukraine's national nuclear power utility told Mann that he worries a "Fukushima-like disaster" could happen at Zaporizhzhia, which is still occupied by Russian soldiers. 


Unemployment is on the rise in Maui in the wake of the wildfires that destroyed many peoples' homes — and livelihoods. NPR's Adrian Florido reports that the economic crisis is due in part to the drastic drop in tourism, with restaurants and hotels basically empty and workers everywhere getting laid off. The week before the fire 130 in Maui people filed unemployment claims, compared to 4,500 the week after.

  • Business leaders and workers are trying to get the message out that they want tourists to visit Maui, contrary to what many said in the fires' immediate aftermath. Officials also want to train residents to help with cleanup and construction efforts rather than hiring outsiders. 

From our hosts

Cabo Verde the plaza
/ Michel Martin
/
Michel Martin
Cabo Verde the plaza

Michel Martin is Morning Edition's newest host. This week, she traveled to the Chad-Sudan border.

A dusty plaza with a handful of vendors selling trinkets. A bay with gentle waves lapping the shore. A centuries old historic church with a large baptismal font. Mundane images with a hidden, rich history. This was Cidade Velha, Cabo Verde.

Cabo Verde is an island country in the central Atlantic where we stopped for refueling and crew rest on our way to the refugee settlement in Chad. We were traveling with the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and since we had a long layover, she suggested we go to this site because it was the first human settlement in Cabo Verde, and thus, the birthplace of the transatlantic slave trade. For three centuries, beginning in 1462, this lovely place was the center of human trade.

The gorgeous bay? Where the captives disembarked. The plaza? Where they were bought and sold. The beautiful church with blue and white Portuguese tiles? Where the enslaved were baptized because, our guide told us, the baptized people brought a higher price on the market.

Often on a reporting trip, what haunts you is not the thing you expect to see, it's the thing you had no idea you would see. I knew the trip to the Chad-Sudan border would be intense, but had no idea a scenic overlook held the origin story to a centuries long tragedy.

Weekend picks

Attention, fans of dark academia: These new YA books may be for you.
Meghan Collins Sullivan / NPR
/
NPR
Attention, fans of dark academia: These new YA books may be for you.

Check out what NPR is watching, reading and listening to this weekend:

Movies: NPR critic Eric Deggans calls Little Richard: I Am Everything a "masterpiece." The new CNN documentary focuses on the star's roots in — and struggle with — his connection to queer culture.

TV: I hadn't heard of Face to Face until now, but NPR critic John Powers' description of the third and final season has me hooked: What if Succession's Logan Roy solved a murder?

Books: It's still hot and muggy in D.C., where NPR's headquarters are. But these five YA books will transport you straight into autumn with their academia vibes.

Music: Lauren Mayberry of the band Chvrches is going solo (don't worry, it's not the end of the band). She chats with All Things Considered about the next step in her career.

Games: Starfield is a video game decades in the making. It's one of the biggest stories ever told — and whether players like it will have big consequences for the industry.

Quiz: This week's NPR news quiz begs the question: Where hasn't someone escaped from prison? Plus, test your knowledge of the Stone Aged, aged Stones, the aged and the (likely) stoned.

3 things to know before you go

Reza Baluchi was taken in by the U.S. Coast Guard last week while trying to cross the Atlantic in a "hydro pod" made of buoys. Authorities in Flagler County, Fla., responded to Baluchi and his vessel in 2021 and posted photos of his vessel on Facebook.
/ Flagler County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office on Facebook
/
Flagler County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office on Facebook
Reza Baluchi was taken in by the U.S. Coast Guard last week while trying to cross the Atlantic in a "hydro pod" made of buoys. Authorities in Flagler County, Fla., responded to Baluchi and his vessel in 2021 and posted photos of his vessel on Facebook.

  1. The U.S. Coast Guard arrested a man trying to run a giant hamster wheel across the Atlantic Ocean — for the fourth time
  2. A rare baby giraffe born without spots in Limestone, Tenn., now has a fitting name: Kipekee. It means "unique" in Swahili. 
  3. Archeologists in Norway have discovered an approximately 4,000-year-old arrow shaft from the Stone Age. It predates earlier finds in the area by more than 2,000 years.

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi. Suzanne Nuyen contributed.

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

Rachel Treisman
Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.