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Iran's president dies in helicopter crash; Michael Cohen's cross-examination wraps up

In this handout image supplied by the Office of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is pictured at the Qiz Qalasi Dam, constructed on the Aras River on the joint borders between Iran and Azerbaijan. Raisi was seen as a potential successor to Iran's supreme leader.
Handout
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Office of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran via Getty Images
In this handout image supplied by the Office of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is pictured at the Qiz Qalasi Dam, constructed on the Aras River on the joint borders between Iran and Azerbaijan. Raisi was seen as a potential successor to Iran's supreme leader.

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Today's top stories

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi died in a helicopter crash, along with Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian and other officials, Iranian state media reported. No immediate cause for the crash was provided. The helicopter the group was traveling in crashed in foggy conditions in a mountainous area in the northwest of the country near the border with Azerbaijan. Iran's first vice president, Mohammad Mokhber, will serve as acting president.

  • The Iranian cabinet lauded Raisi as a "hardworking president" who "made the ultimate sacrifice" for his country, NPR's Peter Kenyon tells Up First. There were varying reactions from others who knew of Raisi's reputation as a hardline cleric. Critics have long condemned his role in Iran's mass executions of political prisoners in 1988 after the Iran-Iraq war. He's been called the supreme leader's "enforcer." Recently, he supported a violent crackdown on women, leading to massive protests nationwide. These protests have been called the biggest threat to the Islamic Republic during his presidency.


While Iran's government is in transition, Israel's leadership is in turmoil. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing accusations from his own war cabinet that he doesn't have a strategy for replacing Hamas as the ruler of Gaza. Benny Gantz, a member of Israel's three-man war cabinet, said he would quit the government in three weeks if it didn't adopt a new plan for the war.

  • Israeli analysts say they don't expect any major changes after Raisi's death. Iran's proxies, the Houthis and Hezbollah, have been waging a low-grade war with Israel throughout the entire Gaza war, NPR's Daniel Estrin says. "But there is a lot of concern in Israel about instability in Iran now." Meanwhile, in Gaza, more than 800,000 people have been forced to flee Rafah since Israel launched a military operation in the area two weeks ago.


Michael Cohen, the prosecution's star witness in former President Donald Trump's criminal trial, takes the stand today for a fourth day of testimony. It's the last appearance he's expected to make. Once Trump's defense lawyers finish their cross-examination, prosecutors will be able to redirect with another round of questioning. NPR's Trump Trials podcast team breaks down the timeline of events, what Cohen's testimony has shown so far, and why the verdict may come down to sex and privacy.

  • The defense team has not said whether the former president will testify. Other defense attorneys tell NPR's Andrea Bernstein that it would be foolish for Trump to do so. But Bernstein says Trump's behavior at previous trials shows that he believes no one can make his case as well as he can, and he doesn't trust his lawyers.

Picture show

Farida Azizova-Such inside the nursery rocking her son to sleep. "He was 5 weeks when we started coming. It's just my husband and I taking care of him, so I was alone at home. I wanted to find new moms to connect with and a safe space to be able to come and learn about how to take care of a baby, and also my identity shifted when you become a mother."
/ Ali Lapetina for NPR
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Ali Lapetina for NPR
Farida Azizova-Such inside the nursery rocking her son to sleep. "He was 5 weeks when we started coming. It's just my husband and I taking care of him, so I was alone at home. I wanted to find new moms to connect with and a safe space to be able to come and learn about how to take care of a baby, and also my identity shifted when you become a mother."

Motherhood brings joy but also challenges, like mental health struggles and pelvic floor recovery. In the U.S., the postpartum period, known as the "fourth trimester," can be extremely isolating for new mothers. Support services are fragmented and costly. Fourth Tri Sanctuary, a new postpartum care community in Michigan, aims to change this by providing up to 18 weeks of support for mothers and their babies from certified postpartum doulas and health professionals in an environment designed for healing, education and bonding.

Detroit-based photographer Ali Lapetina, a mother of 5-year-old twins, spoke with mothers at the care center about why women need this support. See photos of what the future of postpartum care can look like and read their stories.

Deep dive

Face cream, suntan lotion, toothpaste, hair conditioner in gold tubes, jars on yellow background. Cosmetic products for makeup and skincare. 3D pattern. Shampoo, shower gel.
Iana Kunitsa / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Face cream, suntan lotion, toothpaste, hair conditioner in gold tubes, jars on yellow background. Cosmetic products for makeup and skincare. 3D pattern. Shampoo, shower gel.

America is behind on sunscreen technology. Sunscreens in countries like Japan, South Korea and France often include newer chemical filters. Some of them do a better job at protecting from UVA rays that cause cancer and wrinkles than the ones in the U.S. A 1938 law is behind why Americans can't get their hands on these products.

In the U.S., sunscreens must be tested on animals and classified as over-the-counter drugs. In most of the world, they are considered cosmetics.

Companies can be wary of the FDA process because of the cost of and potential consumer backlash to animal testing.

There's a lot of misinformation surrounding the safety of common sunscreen ingredients.

The SPF, or sun protection factor, on a sunscreen bottle only indicates how well it protects from UVB rays, which cause sunburns. Although U.S. sunscreens labeled "broad spectrum" should, in theory, block cancer-causing UVA light, some studies have shown they fail to meet the EU's higher standards.

3 things to know before you go

/ Creative Ireland/Screenshot by NPR
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Creative Ireland/Screenshot by NPR

  1. Are you looking for something to spark your energy this Monday morning? A youth rap group in Cork, Ireland, dropped an extremely wholesome banger that will have you feeling proud of who you are and what you do.
  2. It's prom season. As high school students nationwide don their finest gowns and suits, NPR readers shared their fond memories of their own prom, from spontaneous nosebleeds to last hurrahs for friends.
  3. An order of nuns affiliated with Benedictine College denounced Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker's comments during his commencement address. "Instead of promoting unity in our church, our nation, and the world, his comments seem to have fostered division," they wrote.

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

Copyright 2024 NPR

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