Israeli airstrike kills dozens in Rafah; raw milk under scrutiny

Israeli airstrike kills dozens in Rafah; raw milk under scrutiny

Up First May 27

14:19

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Today’s top stories

An Israeli airstrike in Rafah killed 35 people and injured dozens of others, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. The Israeli government had designated the area as a safe and humanitarian zone for Palestinians sheltering from war. Israel says it was targeting a Hamas installation and killed two senior Hamas officials. The strike hit tents and caused a fire in an encampment.

Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike where displaced people were staying in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Monday, May 27, 2024.

Jehad Alshrafi/AP/AP


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Jehad Alshrafi/AP/AP

  • ???? NPR’s Hadeel Al-Shalchi tells Up First that before this month, Rafah had been a “last refuge” for Palestinians. NPR producer in Gaza, Anas Baba, describes “total destruction” on the scene. Emergency doctor James Smith tells NPR the strike was the worst he’s seen in the weeks he’s been working in Rafah. More than 1 million Palestinians were sheltering in Rafah. The U.N. says more than 800,000 have fled since Israel expanded its military operation there.

Today, Americans observe Memorial Day and honor members of the military who died while serving their country. Half a century ago, the families of Vietnam War troops missing in action went to great lengths to convince the federal government to find the remains of their loved ones and return them. Now, technological advances have almost entirely changed whose remains are being brought home — and who they’re being brought home to.

  • ???? Jay Price of NPR network station WUNC says the extraordinary lengths the U.S. government goes through to repatriate these remains are unlike any other nation. The Defense Department aims to make 200 identifications a year. As the number of remains from the Vietnam War dwindles, many cases now come from WWII and the Korean War. Finding next of kin for these military members can be difficult, but anthropologist Sarah Wagner of George Washington University says it’s important work. “Ultimately, this is about belonging,” she says. “It is about… the necessity of belonging and the need to take care of its military — past, present, and future.”

As bird flu continues to infect herds of dairy cows, raw milk farmers are getting fresh scrutiny. The highly pathogenic strain of flu that’s deadly to birds has spread to at least 58 herds in nine states and at least two people. USDA tests found samples of the virus in unpasteurized milk. This milk is sold and easily accessible in many parts of the country despite federal authorities advising people not to drink it. Earlier this month, NPR reporters purchased raw milk in Texas and submitted it for testing. But when the USDA-approved lab authorized to test the milk for the H5N1 bird flu virus called the farms to seek their permission to examine the milk, the farms said no.

Deep Dive

In the face of human-caused climate change, paperbacks and e-readers come with different pros and cons when it comes to assessing which is the most sustainable reading format.

JGI/Daniel Grill/Getty Images


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JGI/Daniel Grill/Getty Images

Digital reading is on the rise — especially audiobooks, according to the Association of American Publishers. An e-reader or an audiobook can be more convenient than carrying around a paperback. But which is more environmentally friendly? It depends on how voracious of a reader you are. ???? Print book publishing is the world’s third-largest industrial greenhouse gas emitter. In the U.S., 32 million trees are cut down each year to make books.

  • ???? Some publishers are switching to on-demand printing and using more eco-friendly fonts to become more sustainable.
  • ???? Though digital devices require no paper, their cases are made with fossil fuel-derived plastics and the minerals in their batteries require resource-heavy mining.
  • ???? You have to read the equivalent of about 36 small paperback books before you break even on the carbon footprint of an e-reader.

Today’s listen

Carol Leone, chair of piano studies at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts, performs there in 2016 on a Steinway grand piano rebuilt with a smaller keyboard by DS Standard.

Courtesy Hannah Reimann.


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Courtesy Hannah Reimann.

For people with smaller hands, playing difficult piano pieces like Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto can be literally unreachable. In fact, Josef Hofmann — a friend of the Russian composer to whom the concerto was dedicated — refused to perform the piece publicly because of his smaller handspan. He demanded that the Steinway piano company make him a narrower piano. Today, most piano companies still refuse to manufacture stretto (narrow) keyboards. Pianist Hannah Reimann wants to change this. Her International Stretto Piano Festival runs through June 4.

  • ???? Listen to some of the music she plays on the stretto piano — which sounds the same as music played on a regular piano! And hear Reimann explain how stretto pianos can help reduce injuries, help kids learn the instrument faster and level the playing field between men and women in piano competitions.

3 things to know before you go

Bark Air officially launched this week, completing its first flight from New York to Los Angeles on Thursday. It also flies to London, and aims to add more routes in the coming months.

Joe Gall/BARK


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Joe Gall/BARK

  1. Dogs will soon be able to get first-class airplane treatment. BARK Air describes itself as “the world’s first air travel experience designed specifically for dogs first, and their human companions second.”
  2. Who has time to watch a 4-hour YouTube video? Millions of people (including me), it turns out. Pop Culture Happy Hour’s Glen Weldon ponders why YouTuber Jenny Nicholson’s review/eulogy for the shuttered Disney Star Wars hotel was so successful and how well-made work draws an audience, even if it’s a time commitment.
  3. The Birmingham-Southern College Panthers have advanced to the Division III College World Series. Their achievement is bittersweet, as the school announced in March it would close due to financial difficulties.

This newsletter was edited by Treye Green.