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Up First briefing: Trump's busy week; extremism in a hit song; 'miracle' Lahaina house

Former President Donald Trump's booking photo was released after he was booked in Atlanta.
Fulton County Sheriff's Office
Former President Donald Trump's booking photo was released after he was booked in Atlanta.

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 President Donald Trump capped a busy week yesterday after turning himself in at the Fulton County Jail on 13 felony charges related to his attempts to overturn Georgia's 2020 election results. Authorities released the mug shot showing a scowling Trump yesterday night, minutes after he left the jail.

  • Trump's booking overshadowed his interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, though tens of millions watched it, according to NPR's Franco Ordoñez. Still, he says on Up First today that it doesn't look like anything can shake his voting base's support. 
  • With the first Republican debate done, here's where the candidates stand now.
  • Trump's booking is just the beginning. His first hearing on federal charges related to Jan. 6 is next Monday, when U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan says she will set a trial date. Here's what we know about her tough record. 
  • Trump also returned to X, formerly known as Twitter, for the first time since his account was suspended to post his mug shot. Within hours, his super PAC was circulating it to stoke support and raise money for his campaign. NPR's Domenico Montanaro analyzes why this matters.
  • "Rich Men North of Richmond," the song that opened the Republican primary debate, has topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart almost overnight. The song, by musician Oliver Anthony, has been hailed by the right as a working man's tune. But extremism experts say it raises red flags.

  • NPR's extremism correspondent Odette Yousef explains that one lyric that says, "I wish politicians would look out for miners / And not just minors on an island somewhere," appears to nod to the baseless QAnon conspiracy that powerful elites are trafficking children. A researcher at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue tells her the song has been seized by far-right influencers, some of whom peddle anti-semitism and transphobia. Yousef explains experts are concerned "mainstreaming this stuff helps to normalize it." NPR reached out repeatedly to Anthony for an interview but received no response.
  • Shortly before the plane presumably carrying Yevgeny Prigozhin crashed in Russia, the Wagner group leader released a video about recruiting "strongmen" for Africa. Prigozhin's probable demise raises questions about Wagner's future in Africa and beyond. Here's what we know — and don't — about the crash so far.

  • The Wagner group is significant in a handful of African countries like the Central African Republic, Mali, and, to a lesser extent, Libya and Sudan, according to NPR's Emmanuel Akinwotu. They've helped secure governments by fighting rebel groups in these countries. In exchange, they've taken control of key mineral resources, and rights groups have also documented the group's abuses and killings. Akinwotu adds that while a government official recently lamented Prigozhin's death, he said their partnership was with Russia, which means "you can infer Russia is going to determine if and how things change there."
  • Marat Gabidullin left the Wagner group after fighting in Syria. He's the first former member to speak publicly about his experience.
  • Makyyla Holland, a 25-year-old Black transgender woman, reached a settlement in her lawsuit against Broome County, New York, yesterday over abuses she says she suffered while in jail — including denial of medication and hormone therapy. Her settlement includes a countywide policy requiring inmates be housed according to their gender identity. Holland hopes to continue advocating for the trans community and those incarcerated.

    From our hosts

    / artvea

    This essay was written by Michel Martin. She's Morning Edition and Up First's newest host. She's previously hosted Weekend All Things Considered, the Consider This Saturday podcast and Tell Me More.

    Paperwork and money. Money and paperwork. Those are the things that help to keep otherwise qualified and potentially qualified people from historically underrepresented groups out of some key professions.

    That's according to a deceptively powerful interview I did this week with Fabiola Plaza, a fourth year med student at Hofstra, who explained why Latinos as a group (along with African Americans) remain vastly underrepresented in medical professions that require advanced degrees.

    I say deceptively powerful because she's already got that calm doctor voice down—but just hearing her describe how much time the paperwork takes and how complicated it all is–-not to mention how expensive it is just to apply—makes a very powerful argument that entry to these elite ranks has very little to do with intelligence and ability, and a whole lot to do with access and advantages.

    Simple, you say? Just throw some more scholarship money at it? Not so simple. I was a first generation college student myself, and I remember how painful it all was to navigate—the forms, the unfamiliar bureaucratic lingo, the documents you had no idea how to get, or parents who didn't understand why you needed them.

    Honestly? I try not to think about it. Once we've been through it, we just want to forget. And to those who've never encountered it, it remains invisible.

    Weekend picks

    Quarterback Trilian Harris is one of the players swindled in a phony high school football program the state of Ohio later called a "scam."
    / HBO
    Quarterback Trilian Harris is one of the players swindled in a phony high school football program the state of Ohio later called a "scam."

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

    Movies: Blue Beetle, the latest DC superhero film, has a three-pronged cure for superhero fatigue. NPR's Glen Weldon writes that its "grounded cultural touchstones" make it a story that's "highly specific and distinctly universal."

    TV: HBO has two new true-crime documentaries for those who love a good scam: BS High and Telemarketers both explore how scams exploit systemic weaknesses in society.

    Books: Former park ranger Andrea Lankford's Trail of the Lost is a gripping, nonfiction narrative of three hikers who vanished on the Pacific Crest Trail.

    Music: Rhiannon Giddens's newest album, You're the One, is 14 years in the making. It's full of soul, country, blues, and fun, while tackling serious historical events.

    Games: The developers of Elden Ring have revived its giant robot series with Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon, which delivers stunning omnidirectional mech combat.

    Quiz: I've been out all week with COVID and did horribly on this week's NPR news quiz. I hope you paid better attention than me!

    3 things to know before you go

    The fire that devastated historic Lahaina in western Maui left a red-roofed house relatively unscathed. Its owner says he wants to open the house to the neighborhood to help the rebuilding process.
    Patrick T. Fallon / AFP via Getty Images
    AFP via Getty Images
    The fire that devastated historic Lahaina in western Maui left a red-roofed house relatively unscathed. Its owner says he wants to open the house to the neighborhood to help the rebuilding process.

  • People in Lahaina, Hawaii, are calling one house a "miracle house." It survived the recent wildfires, which destroyed almost every other building in the area. The owner says these factors helped: a commercial-grade metal roof, stone surroundings, palm trees around the house that absorb heat and a lot of "divine intervention."
  • In Tokyo, there is a restaurant where customers are happy to get the wrong order; its servers live with dementia. The founder wants to raise awareness and celebrate the uniqueness of living with this condition.
  • FIFA is investigating Spanish soccer federation president Luis Rubiales after he kissed player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the celebrations of their women's World Cup victory.
  • This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

    Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

    Corrected: August 24, 2023 at 11:00 PM CDT
    Today's newsletter said Yevgeny Prigozhin was on board a plane that crashed in Russia. In fact, he was on the passenger list, so only presumed to be on the plane.
    Suzanne Nuyen
    [Copyright 2024 NPR]