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Up First briefing: FTX fraud trial begins; how tech shapes our bodies

Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried arrives for a bail hearing at Manhattan Federal Court in New York City on Aug. 11. Bankman-Fried is set to start his blockbuster trial on Tuesday. It's expected to last about six weeks.
Michael M. Santiago
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Getty Images
Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried arrives for a bail hearing at Manhattan Federal Court in New York City on Aug. 11. Bankman-Fried is set to start his blockbuster trial on Tuesday. It's expected to last about six weeks.

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 news

Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange FTX, is due in court today in his fraud trial. He's pleaded not guilty to seven criminal counts and could spend the rest of his life in prison if found guilty. Here's everything you need to know about the trial.

  • Central to the case is FTX's relationship with Alameda Research, a crypto-focused hedge fund also founded by Bankman-Fried. On Up First, NPR's David Gura says prosecutors allege he used money from FTX investors to plug a "giant hole" in Alameda's finances. Defense attorneys are expected to claim that Bankman-Fried didn't intend to defraud anyone and was in over his head. 


Ukrainian troops are making limited progress in retaking Russian-occupied land as winter approaches. U.S. support is also wavering as the war drags on. The stopgap spending bill Congress passed over the weekend to keep the federal government open did not include further aid for Ukraine. Here's a look at key developments in the war in the past week.

  • Though Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is still advocating for more aid, NPR's Joanna Kakissis says the Ukrainian government is alsolooking for long-term alternatives to foreign aid. The country's new defense minister, Rustem Umerov, wants to partner with allies to produce weapons his country needs and export them after the war.


Pope Francis has suggested there could be ways to bless same-sex unions if the blessings aren't confused with sacramental marriage. He was responding to a letter from five conservative cardinals who challenged him to clarify his position on church teaching on homosexuality. His statement comes ahead of a three-week meeting, or synod, that begins tomorrow at the Vatican. LGBTQ+ Catholics will be a big topic, and it will be the first time women are allowed to vote on the future of the church.

  • Morning Edition host Leila Fadel speaks to Kate McElwee, executive director of the Women's Ordination Conference, who says Catholic women worldwide are longing for equality and the church must confront their calls for greater participation. Though Francis defended the longstanding teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman, she says his call for "pastoral charity" is a step toward equality for LGBTQ+ Catholics. 


The U.N. Security Council approved a resolution written by the U.S. and Ecuador yesterday that would send a multinational armed force led by Kenya to help combat gang violence in Haiti. Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry made the plea for international help nearly a year ago.

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  • Ever since Haiti's President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in 2021, the country has been "spiraling out of control," according to NPR's Eyder Peralta. Though Kenyan forces have been sent on other peacekeeping missions, Peralta reports they've been accused of human rights abuses back home. He spoke to U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield about them. She said the resolution included "strong language" on human rights.

Climate solutions week

This natural pond helps reserve precipitation in the ecological corridor of Qian'an, a city in China's Hebei province. Like many other Chinese cities, Qian'an used to fall victim to urban flooding during rainy seasons. But things have changed since 2015, when the city was included in a national pilot program for "sponge city" construction.
Mu Yu / Xinhua via Getty Images
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Xinhua via Getty Images
This natural pond helps reserve precipitation in the ecological corridor of Qian'an, a city in China's Hebei province. Like many other Chinese cities, Qian'an used to fall victim to urban flooding during rainy seasons. But things have changed since 2015, when the city was included in a national pilot program for "sponge city" construction.

NPR is dedicating this entire week to stories and conversations about the search for climate solutions.

Nearly all of China's medium and large cities are susceptible to floods. Climate change-driven extreme weather has made the problem worse. That's why Yu Kongjian wants to build more "sponge cities." Also known as green infrastructure, low-impact development or sensitive urban design, these places are purposely designed to absorb water back into the Earth.

Check out all of NPR's Climate Solutions Week stories, including how villagers in one region of Northern India are learning to recharge the dried, groundwater-fed springs they depend on.

Body electric

/ Daniel Hertzberg
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Daniel Hertzberg

Body Electric is a 6-part investigation and interactive project with TED Radio Hour host Manoush Zomorodi exploring the relationship between our technology and our bodies...and how we can improve it.

Since the beginning of human history, our bodies have morphed to adapt to the type of work we do and the tools we use. Our species started as hunter-gatherers. Now, nearly 85% of people in the U.S. have sedentary jobs, and the average U.S. adult spends 11 hours a day using some form of technology. Hours of sitting and screen time can increase the risks of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and more — and working out once a day isn't enough to offset the harms. So what can we do about it?

  • On the first episode of Body Electric, author Vybarr Cregan-Reid explains how different economic eras have shaped the human body. Plus, learn about a challenge that could help break our sedentary habits.


As part of this special series, NPR is partnering with Columbia University researchers. They've found the least amount of movement needed to offset the harms of our sedentary habits. But can their recommendations work in the real world? We want your help to find out. Here's how to join us.

3 things to know before you go

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for ABA
Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images for ABA
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Getty Images for ABA
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for ABA

  1. Hey Barbie! Or should I say, Stevie? Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks joins Tina Turner, Gloria Estefan, David Bowie and Elvis Presley as one of Mattel's newest Barbies based on famous musicians.
  2. The U.S. Postal Service has unveiled a new stamp featuring a portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Here's the story behind the photograph that inspired the stamp. 
  3. This year's Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to two scientists for their research that made mRNA COVID-19 vaccines possible

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

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

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