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Biden to make his case at SOTU; Alabama IVF law will protect patients and providers

President Biden had a big moment during his 2023 State of the Union address where he sparred with Republicans. He's been talking about it ever since.
Patrick Semansky
President Biden had a big moment during his 2023 State of the Union address where he sparred with Republicans. He's been talking about it ever since.

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

President Biden delivers his State of the Union address tonight, when he will lay out his priorities for the year — and the next four, if he is reelected. The address could be his chance to win over skeptical voters and put questions over his age and stamina to rest.

"This is truly Biden's first speech of what is going to be a difficult 2024 general election fight," NPR's Tamara Keith tells Up First. Sarada Peri, a speechwriter for former President Barack Obama, tells Keith that even if Biden's speech is policy-heavy, his performance is almost more important. Last year, Biden had a raucous back-and-forth moment with Republicans about social security. Keith says if Biden gets another chance to go off-script and improvise, it might go a long way to soothe Democratic voters concerned about his age.

  • White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients tells Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep that Biden's speech will highlight his potential second-term agenda and include a call for restoring Roe v. Wade
  • Sen. Katie Britt will deliver the GOP response to Biden's address. Here's what to know about the first-term senator from Alabama. 
  • Join Steve Inskeep and correspondents Asma Khalid, Mara Liasson and Claudia Grisales tonight for special coverage of the State of the Union, streamed live from NPR's studios

In vitro fertilization providers in Alabama could resume services as soon as today after Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law a bill protecting IVF clinics and the families they serve from criminal and legal prosecution. Many clinics halted treatment last month after the state Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are "children" with a constitutional right to life.

  • "What passed last night is basically a stopgap measure," NPR's Debbie Elliott reports. The law does not address whether frozen embryos should get the same protections as in-utero fetuses under Alabama's abortion ban. While the law's sponsors want to address that question, Elliott says the path there is "quite murky." Republican State Sen. Tim Melson, who is also a physician, admits, "There's just too much difference of opinion on when actual life begins."  

Today marks five months since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7. Israel's deadly military response has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Strip's Health Ministry. Researchers predict that thousands more will die, even if ongoing cease-fire talks are successful. Communication blackouts and infrastructure destruction have cut many Palestinians off from the outside world.

  • In Israel, NPR's Daniel Estrin reports that more than 94,000 Israelis are still displaced from their homes along the borders with Gaza and Lebanon. More than 130 hostages are still being held in Gaza — many of whom are still believed to be alive. "There's a consensus there that the war should continue until Hamas has no capability to threaten Israel," Estrin says. Reporting from Tel Aviv, he adds that many Israelis are angry the world sees Israel as the aggressor and feel it's unfair the world expects them to show restraint. "On Oct. 7, something cracked or maybe broke in the Israeli psyche," survivor Avidor Schwartzman tells Estrin.

Deep Dive

/ Illustration by Jackie Lay/NPR
Illustration by Jackie Lay/NPR

X, formerly known as Twitter, has long had a bot problem. With its content moderation gutted and paid users given priority, the site's landscape has changed. Tweet replies are often flooded with spam accounts of naked women urging you to click their ░L░I░N░K░I░N░B░I░O░. Here's how the porn bots took over and what it says about social media's wider decay:

  • Elon Musk acquired Twitter at a time when advertisers faced an economic slump. His unconventional leadership accelerated their departure.
  • The internet sucks now. For years, users and tech journalists have documented the real-time decay of websites, social media platforms and search engines.
  • The more time people spend on social media, the more money companies make. But maximizing engagement time leads algorithms to amplify controversial and enraging content to keep users online.  
  • That business model isn't sustainable. A viable successor to Twitter hasn't arrived that's worthy of mass migration.

Life advice

/ Credit: Abby Ouellette/NPR
Credit: Abby Ouellette/NPR

Have you ever woken up from a nap feeling completely discombobulated and more tired than ever? Sleep medicine physician Seema Khosla calls this sleep inertia. It's a sign you've overshot your napping mark, and it could sabotage your nighttime sleep. As an avid napper myself (who wakes up bright and early to get this newsletter to you each morning), I've been guilty of bad nap habits. These tips can help you take better ones:

  • Consistency is key. Pick a time and place, and stick to it.
  • Nap earlier in the day, so you'll be sleepy again at night. Aim to nap at least six hours before bedtime.
  • Keep it brief. Keep naps under an hour so you remain in the lighter phases of sleep. Any longer, and it becomes like an additional sleep period.

3 things to know before you go

Could woolly mammoths walk again among humans? Scientists are working to resurrect the extinct species.
/ Mark Garlick/Getty Images/Science Photo Library
Mark Garlick/Getty Images/Science Photo Library
Could woolly mammoths walk again among humans? Scientists are working to resurrect the extinct species.

  1. A biotech company says it has reached a significant milestone in resurrecting the woolly mammoth: the creation of a long-sought kind of stem cell for its closest living relative. 
  2. The FDA has issued an advisory and recommended voluntary recalls of six brands of cinnamon for possible lead content. 
  3. A jury has found Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the armorer for the film Rust, guilty of involuntary manslaughter for the 2021 death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

This newsletter was edited by Olivia Hampton.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.