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Up First briefing: Barbenheimer; Missouri abortion amendment; Trump indictments

<em>Barbie </em>and <em>Oppenheimer </em>will duke it out on the big screen when both films premiere this Friday, July 21.
Courtesy of Mattel Inc., Universal Pictures
Barbie and Oppenheimer will duke it out on the big screen when both films premiere this Friday, July 21.

Get ready for a "Barbie"/"Oppenheimer" double feature. A big legal victory for supporters of an abortion rights amendment in Missouri. GOP candidates face difficult positions addressing Trump's legal woes.

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

Despite two criminal indictments, former President Donald Trump remains popular with Republican voters. Now, he could face a third indictment related to his actions during the Jan. 6 insurrection and his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a Farmers for Trump campaign event in Council Bluffs, Iowa on July 7.
Scott Olson / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a Farmers for Trump campaign event in Council Bluffs, Iowa on July 7.


  • NPR's Franco Ordoñez says an indictment is usually an opportunity to gain political ground. However, Trump's Republican rivals don't want to alienate the base GOP vote, who "pretty much dismiss any allegation" against him. But Ordoñez says on Up First that strategists tell him being careful is not a good way to win an election.

  • Here's where all the criminal cases, investigations and civil cases involving Trump stand.


Leaders from seven top tech companies, including Google, Microsoft and OpenAI, will join President Biden at the White House today to announce voluntary commitments they've made on sharing, testing and developing new AI technology.

  • "At this point, it's hard to say how effective these commitments will be," says NPR's Deepa Shivaram. The White House hasn't released many details about the announcement, and polls show public trust in big tech to "do the right thing" is low. Shivaram spoke to Biden's chief of staff Jeff Zients, who says implementation and execution will be key to earning back trust.


For years, the Pentagon has denied that U.S. troops harmed civilians during a 2019 raid on ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria. It claimed that two Syrian men who were killed and one wounded were combatants. NPR has analyzed internal documents and found flaws in that claim.

  • The Pentagon's central claim was that Barakat Ahmad Barakat and his friends ignored warning shots. But NPR's Daniel Estrin says when the Pentagon's account was compared with aerial images, NPR determined the shots provided barely any warning — about two or three seconds.


Consumers might find some relief with travel, gas and egg prices down, but homebuyers have no such luck. The median home price rose to $413,800 — the second highest ever, and rent has also risen 26% since February 2020. The high prices are driven by high interest rates and a low housing inventory.


Early Bird: The latest news from Kansas City

  • Heard on the podcast: The city of Mission has terminated its multi-million dollar deal to bring a new, $270 million mixed-use development to the long-vacant Mission Gateway site. The reason: Its owner failed to pay property taxes. Listen to that story on Kansas City Today.

The Early Bird is KCUR's daily news email, bringing you all things Kansas City every weekday at 6 a.m. Sign up here, and check out our daily news podcast Kansas City Today.


Life advice

An air conditioner undergoes repair earlier this month in Austin, Texas. Record-breaking temperatures continue across large swaths of the U.S.
Brandon Bell / Getty Images
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Getty Images
An air conditioner undergoes repair earlier this month in Austin, Texas. Record-breaking temperatures continue across large swaths of the U.S.

Few things feel better than entering an air-conditioned room after spending time in the oppressive heat. But engineers say AC systems are only designed to keep indoor temperatures 20 degrees cooler than outside, which means they can struggle during heat waves. Here's how you can maximize your AC's efficiency.

  • Don't mess with the thermostat. Set it at a comfortable temperature and leave it alone.

  • Turn off anything that produces heat during the day.

  • Run your ceiling fan for a nice breeze.

  • Cool your house at night and shade the windows in the morning. 

Weekend picks

Check out what NPR is watching, reading and listening to this weekend:

Movies: Are you team Barbie or team Oppenheimer? Pop Culture Happy Hour host Aisha Harris writes that while Barbie could be corporate propaganda, sometimes it can be "fun as hell."

TV: Does Justified: City Primeval work as a reboot? NPR's Eric Deggans looks at the show's good and bad and compares it to other big reboots.

Books: Award-winning author and illustrator Jon Klassen loves a scary story. That's why his latest work, The Skull, is darker than his past children's books (don't worry — he promises it's not too scary).

Music: If you're among the thousands with Barbenheimer tickets, here's the perfect playlist for your double-feature pregame.

Games: It's been a huge year for video games. NPR's resident gaming nerds compiled an extensive list of the best ones so far. Check it out — there's something for everyone here.

Theater: Here Lies Love opened this week. The $22 million musical, scored by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, literally turns the Broadway Theatre into a disco

Quiz: Can you beat my weekly news quiz score? I got a 9/10 - my highest yet!

3 things to know before you go

Country music singer Jason Aldean, pictured here performing at the Academy of Country Music Awards in Frisco, Texas in May, is facing a mixed bag of backlash and praise for a new music video that openly alludes to vigilante justice
Suzanne Cordeiro / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
Country music singer Jason Aldean, pictured here performing at the Academy of Country Music Awards in Frisco, Texas in May, is facing a mixed bag of backlash and praise for a new music video that openly alludes to vigilante justice


  • Country Music Television says it will no longer play Jason Aldean's "Try That In a Small Town" music video after critics said it glorified gun violence and promoted racist beliefs. 

  • Wout van Aert, one of the Tour de France's most exciting cyclists, has left the race days before it ends to be with his pregnant wife.


This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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