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Up First briefing: Remembering Rosalynn Carter; Sam Altman heads to Microsoft

Former first lady Rosalynn Carter looks at a birthday cake with her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, during his 90th birthday celebration held at Georgia Southwestern University, Oct. 4, 2014, in Americus, Ga.
Branden Camp
/
AP
Former first lady Rosalynn Carter looks at a birthday cake with her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, during his 90th birthday celebration held at Georgia Southwestern University, Oct. 4, 2014, in Americus, Ga.

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

Former first lady Rosalynn Carter died yesterday at her home in Plains, Georgia. She was 96. Carter, who was sometimes called the Steel Magnolia, is remembered for a lifetime spent as a mental health advocate and humanitarian. Former president Jimmy Carter is 99 years old and has been in hospice care since February.

  • In a 1984 interview with NPR, Carter said, "I don't think I'm smarter than Jimmy Carter, but I love the political life." After their stint in the White House, she continued her work fighting mental health stigma through the Carter Center. Memorial services are scheduled to take place next week, WABE's Rahul Bali says.


Israel and Hamas are inching toward a deal to release some of the roughly 240 hostages taken from Israel in the Oct. 7 attacks. Yesterday, aid workers successfully evacuated some 30 remaining premature babies from Gaza's Al-Shifa Hospital, which is currently controlled by Israel. U.N. representatives described Al-Shifa, Gaza's largest hospital, as a "death zone."

  • NPR's Lauren Frayer is in Tel Aviv. She spoke with former Mossad agent David Meidan, who negotiated Israel's hostage transfer in 2011. Meidan said this round of negotiations is much harder. On Up First, Frayer reports another hostage negotiator told her they are "literally passing notes on paper" through Gaza's tunnels to Egyptian intelligence officials, then out to Qatar and the U.S., then to Israel.
  • Witness accounts, satellite data and expert assessments gathered by NPR show Israeli airstrikes and artillery fire occur daily in the areas of southern Gaza that Israel said are "safer" for civilians. 


Check out npr.org/mideastupdates for more coverage, differing views and analysis of this conflict.

Voters in Argentina overwhelmingly elected ultra-conservative economist Javier Milei as the country's next president. The far-right populist beat Argentina's economy minister Sergio Massa in a runoff election. Milei's style has drawn comparisons to former U.S. president Donald Trump.

  • Milei's win as an outsider isn't surprising, NPR's Carrie Kahn says. She reports inflation is heading toward 200%, people are struggling to make ends meet, and the left and right political establishments haven't been able to fix things.


OpenAI co-founder and the influential creator of ChatGPT Sam Altman will lead a new artificial intelligence team at Microsoft. The announcement comes after Altman was abruptly ousted from OpenAI by its board of directors over an apparent rift over balancing AI safety with the push to release new tools.

Today's listen

Cover art for Billy Porter's <em>Black Mona Lisa</em>
/ Republic Records
/
Republic Records
Cover art for Billy Porter's Black Mona Lisa

Billy Porter is the first openly gay Black man to win an Emmy. He also has a Grammy and several Tonys under his belt. But when he first came to prominence in 1992, Porter says he was told his queerness was a liability. Now, the artist is singing on his own terms for his newest album, Black Mona Lisa.

Listen to the songs and hear about Porter's path to freedom and read the article here.

Picture show

Rescued from her studio in Kibbutz Be'eri near Israel's border with Gaza, artist Ziva Jelin's damaged painting <em>Curving Road </em>is currently on special display in the Israeli Art gallery of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
/ Zohar Shemesh/The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
/
Zohar Shemesh/The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Rescued from her studio in Kibbutz Be'eri near Israel's border with Gaza, artist Ziva Jelin's damaged painting Curving Road is currently on special display in the Israeli Art gallery of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Artist Ziva Jelin was living in Kibbutz Be'eri when Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7. When her family was rescued and evacuated to a hotel at the Dead Sea, her artwork wasn't a priority. Now, her work takes on new meaning at a special display in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

3 things to know before you go

Visitors explore the Roman Necropolis at The Vatican.
Gregorio Borgia / AP
/
AP
Visitors explore the Roman Necropolis at The Vatican.

  • The Vatican Necropolis, a more than 10,000-square-foot Roman burial site beneath St. Peter's Basilica, is now more broadly accessible to Vatican visitors. The site is part of an exhibition called Life and Death in the Rome of the Caesars.
  • As we near the end of the year, what song has hit you particularly hard in 2023? Send a voice memo to NPR, and you could be on an episode of All Songs Considered
  • Avid gardeners may have a whole new list of plants they can grow where they live, thanks to warming temperatures. The USDA updated its plant hardiness map, and it shows half the country has shifted.

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

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

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