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Morning news brief

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

The death toll in Gaza has topped 20,000, according to the health ministry there. There had been proposals at the U.N. Security Council to call for a cease-fire and to let the U.N. inspect aid trucks to speed up food and fuel destined for Gaza.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

But under the threat of a possible U.S. veto, the council has been deadlocked for three days, and those ideas seem to be losing steam. But there could be a vote on something today.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen has been following all this. Michele, three days, three days of negotiation - what's making it so difficult for the council to get a vote?

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: So the United Arab Emirates, which is on the Security Council, has been working with other Arab states to push for a humanitarian cease-fire, and they want to speed up aid. And the first draft resolution they put out called for the United Nations to inspect the trucks going into Gaza, rather than Israel, which has Gaza under blockade. You know, right now, Israel inspects all the trucks to make sure there are no weapons being smuggled in for Hamas. And the U.S. has been working really hard to get Israel to speed that up. The Biden administration really didn't want a U.N. resolution to further complicate an already complicated situation, but they also didn't want to be in a position of vetoing yet another Security Council resolution, as U.N. officials warn of famine and as health officials in Gaza report that the death toll has topped 20,000.

MARTÍNEZ: What might they be able to pass at the Security Council?

KELEMEN: So last night, the United States ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told reporters that there is a new text, and she seemed to be satisfied with the changes in it. Take a listen.

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LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD: We have worked hard and diligently over the course of the past week with the Emiratis, with others, with Egypt, to come up with a resolution that we can support. And we do have that resolution now. We're ready to vote on it.

KELEMEN: She didn't say how the U.S. would vote, whether it would support it, say yes or abstain. But the goal of all these changes, A, is to make sure that the U.S. is not going to veto the resolution, as it has done with others, and not look as isolated.

MARTÍNEZ: So for that to happen, how much of that draft resolution had to be watered down?

KELEMEN: Well, it doesn't call for a new inspection regime. Instead, it asked the U.N. secretary-general to appoint an aid coordinator for Gaza. It calls for urgent steps to allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access. But it drops the call for an urgent cessation of hostilities. It simply calls for creating the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities. Thomas-Greenfield says that the draft remains, in her words, very strong. She said it gives Arab countries what they think they need to get more aid into Gaza.

MARTÍNEZ: The U.N. and Israel have really been going at each other over Gaza since the Israeli offensive began. So how does all that play into this?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, there's a lot of mistrust, and I think that was behind all these tough negotiations. A hundred and thirty-five U.N. workers have been killed in Gaza, and the U.N. has been warning of mass hunger as Israel continues to press its campaign against Hamas. And Israel often accuses the U.N. of being biased against Israel. That's been a longtime complaint, but particularly in the wake of the attack by Hamas on October 7. Israel says the U.N. just hasn't done enough to condemn Hamas for that.

MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen. Michele, thanks.

KELEMEN: Thank you.

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MARTÍNEZ: Violent rhetoric is raging in some corners of the internet after this week's historic ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court.

FADEL: After judges barred Donald Trump from the state's primary ballot, some supporters of the former president are fuming over the decision, and people online have begun circulating personal information about Colorado Supreme Court justices who ruled against Trump, and some are calling for civil war.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR domestic extremism correspondent Odette Yousef is here to tell us more. You know, I was reading some of this, Odette, and I thought, oh, I've seen all this before. And then I thought to myself, that's not good.

ODETTE YOUSEF, BYLINE: Yeah. I mean, A, on some of these far-right platforms, this kind of talk is everyday stuff. But when there are events that affect Trump adversely, whether it's an indictment or, say, the search of his property at Mar-a-Lago, it spikes. And so this time, you know, we're seeing claims online that this is a Democratic Party conspiracy to interfere in the election. We're seeing calls to arm up or to hurt or even kill perceived political foes. You know, so far, people monitoring these spaces say they're not seeing indications of a credible or imminent threat, but they also caution that this doesn't mean it should be ignored.

MARTÍNEZ: So, yeah, authorities still want to be watchful, then.

YOUSEF: Of course. I mean, you may recall, A, that after the Mar-a-Lago search, for example, online rhetoric heated up, and there was an individual who attacked an FBI field office in Cincinnati. So it is important to understand how the baseline threat level is evolving. You know, one person I spoke to who's been keeping an eye on this online activity is Daniel J. Jones. He's with the nonpartisan nonprofit Advance Democracy. He says he's not just watching the uptick in violent language.

DANIEL J JONES: I think it's equally concerning that we're not seeing pushback against this language. We're not seeing pushback against dehumanizing language from the presumptive Republican nominee. We're not seeing pushback from language from political leaders on the right. We're seeing the mainstreaming of this extremism and this encouragement of violence in right-wing media.

YOUSEF: And I - you know, I hear this across the board when I speak to extremism researchers, you know? What they are concerned about is violence from the right. And they say that if high-profile figures would just clearly disavow that violence that some are calling for, it could really help bring the temperature down.

MARTÍNEZ: But when it comes to this ruling in Colorado, I mean, many are expecting that the ruling from that court may not be the final word on this, so any acknowledgement of that?

YOUSEF: Yes. In fact, I spoke with Katherine Keneally of another organization, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, and she said she noticed this.

KATHERINE KENEALLY: We did also see a large number of people post statements that they weren't concerned because they believe that the U.S. Supreme Court is going to shoot it down anyways. So a common refrain that I started seeing was the use of nothingburger.

YOUSEF: So there's no predicting, of course, A, you know, where this trajectory will go. But people like Keneally and Jones are saying it's critical to stay aware because we are in an environment where the baseline threat is alarmingly high right now, and there are fears that, you know, a lone actor or small group could take some kind of action. And I also want to add that even absent violence, you know, this is still very concerning to people who care about democracy - right? - because, you know, even when threats of violence against judges, voters, really anyone participating in civic life become normal, that can have a chilling effect.

MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR's Odette Yousef. Thanks a lot.

YOUSEF: Thank you.

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MARTÍNEZ: Leaders in Michigan say they need federal help to deal with the migrant crisis in Chicago.

FADEL: Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday said his state flew 120 migrants from the southern border to Chicago. It's an escalation of the Republican's push against Biden administration immigration policies. Texas has already delivered at least 600 buses filled with new arrivals to Chicago and other cities, and some migrants say the conditions they're facing now are worse than back home.

MARTÍNEZ: Michael Puente is with us now. He's a reporter with member station WBEZ in Chicago. Michael, do Chicago and Cook County have the capacity, the ability to care for these new arrivals?

MICHAEL PUENTE, BYLINE: Well, yes and no. I mean, right now, the city is sheltering nearly 14,000 new arrivals at 27 temporary shelters. Living conditions are not great in those shelters, but it may be better than being outdoors in tents during the winter months in Chicago. The city is no longer housing migrants in local police stations, but that could change if the numbers continue to climb. Earlier this week at one shelter, 5-year-old Jean Carlos Martinez Rivero died. The exact cause of death has yet to be determined, but health officials say it does not appear that he died of an infectious disease. But migrant advocates are calling for the city to do better and for the state and federal governments to do more.

MARTÍNEZ: What the conditions - what were they like where he was housed?

PUENTE: Cramped - more than 2,000 people, about half of them children, are in that shelter where the young boy died at the sort of converted warehouse. They have cots right next to each other, a leaky roof, unsanitary conditions, no milk for children. You know, reporters cannot go inside, but I've received several photos and videos from at least two women who are living there. They describe it as terrible, like a prison. It's so bad that the women told me they regret coming to the United States. Here's what one woman named Carmen (ph) had to say to me. And by the way, we're not using her full name because she fears retaliation from shelter officials.

CARMEN: (Speaking Spanish).

PUENTE: She's saying that she's experiencing more hunger and need, that her family doesn't have medical care and her kids are effectively in prison because they can't play or move freely. She says right now, she's very sorry she left her country.

MARTÍNEZ: Now, there are other shelters, so are conditions any better in those places?

PUENTE: Well, it all depends where they're at. Some are in converted hotels. None of these places are for long-term stays. In fact, the city is now limiting how long migrants can stay, some places only 60 days. So it's hard to get information out of these places, but we rely on migrants coming forward to talk to us reporters. But many of them feel scared to do so.

MARTÍNEZ: Any word on what's going to be done now?

PUENTE: Well, Mayor Johnson says the buses can come to Chicago, but they are limited in what time they can drop off migrants. And that's what's causing this recent rift between Chicago and Texas. Some of the buses have been arriving after midnight, violating a city ordinance. The city has impounded one bus. That's what angered Governor Abbott, who is now sending migrants by airplane.

MARTÍNEZ: That's Michael Puente with member station WBEZ in Chicago. Michael, thanks.

PUENTE: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
A Martínez
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.

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