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Morning news brief

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Israelis woke up today to their three largest newspapers carrying a black front page.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The black pages were ads that protesters took out, calling it a dark day for democracy in Israel. Defying more than six months of street protests, the government passed a law limiting a check on its own power. Until now, the Supreme Court in Israel has had the right to reject some government actions it did not consider reasonable. So what happens now that the Knesset stripped that power away?

FADEL: NPR's Daniel Estrin is in Jerusalem and joins me now. Good morning, Daniel.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Hi, Leila. Good morning.

FADEL: So what do things look like today in Israel?

ESTRIN: Doctors are on strike today, protesting the law. Hospitals are operating on limited schedule. And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was on TV last night saying he was extending a hand to the opposition. And at the very same time, police trucks were spraying water on protesters who were blocking major roads for hours. There were some injuries. And also on live TV, we saw in parliament a right-wing minister brush off a plea for compromise on the law while Netanyahu sat next to that minister and was just stone-faced - didn't say anything. And commentators today are calling that a symbol that Netanyahu, they say, isn't the one in the driver's seat here. It's his far-right cabinet ministers driving this new law. And one of them said, quote, "this is just the beginning."

FADEL: This is just the beginning - OK. So for Israel's government, let's take a broad look at this - how might the government use this law to advance its wider goals?

ESTRIN: Well, with this law, as Steve said, the Supreme Court can no longer use the clause of reasonability to block the hiring and firing of officials. And legal experts are concerned that the Israeli government could use this to replace professional watchdog officials throughout the civil service with yes men - yes people - for the ultranationalist government, and that could help them rubber stamp discriminatory policies against Palestinians, just for an example. One Palestinian lawyer told me about a case where the Supreme Court, in the past, blocked Israel from building its West Bank separation barrier right through the middle of a Palestinian village. And the court said that was unreasonable, and now the court won't be able to do that.

Now, experts say that there are still other legal principles the court can take in Israel to protect Palestinian rights, but advocates say this law is - you know, it's a bigger picture here. It's a first step in a wider move to change democratic institutions - to further target Palestinian rights and other things that an ultranationalist government doesn't like. For instance, the justice minister recently raised the case of Arab citizens moving into a Jewish-majority town as something that should be prevented.

FADEL: Wow. What will you be looking at in the coming days and weeks?

ESTRIN: Well, groups are already petitioning the Supreme Court, challenging this law. The question is, will the Supreme Court intervene? It never has intervened with the kind of law that was passed yesterday. It's equivalent to a constitutional amendment in Israel. And also, defense experts are worried about the readiness of Israel's military. Thousands of volunteer reservists are saying they will not serve now, in protest. And there are many enemies on Israel's border, including Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who said this crisis in Israel puts Israel on the path of collapse. So Israel is worried about its security right at this moment.

FADEL: NPR's Daniel Estrin in Jerusalem. I'm sure we'll be hearing from you much more in the coming days. Thank you, Daniel.

ESTRIN: You're welcome.

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FADEL: North America, Europe and Asia have all been hit by sweltering temperatures this month.

INSKEEP: Triple digits in some cases and life-threatening heat waves, which all raise the same question as they always do - is this climate change?

FADEL: NPR's Nathan Rott is covering a new study out today that aims to address that question. Hi, Nate.

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: Hey, good morning, Leila.

FADEL: OK, so what does the study say?

ROTT: Well, it says that the recent heat waves in America and southern Europe, which have broken records, as you said, and put tens of millions of people under heat advisories and warnings would be, quote, "virtually impossible," end quote, without human-caused climate change, and that recent heat waves in China were made 50 times more likely because of it.

FADEL: OK, so a definitive yes. This is climate change.

ROTT: Yeah, a resounding yes. I mean, this research was conducted by a team of international scientists working in a collaborative group called World Weather Attribution. We should say this study has not been peer-reviewed yet because it's what scientists call a rapid attribution study, which is kind of a growing field in climate science. It aims to show the role climate change is playing in an extreme weather event as it's happening or soon after - while it's still on the public mind and being talked about on news programs. And the researchers found that climate change has not only made these kinds of extreme heat waves more common, but it's also making them hotter. They added El Nino, a natural weather phenomenon, is likely contributing to some of the heat, but the main driver, they say, is fossil fuels. Here's Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College London who was involved with the research, when she was speaking at a press event yesterday.

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FRIEDERIKE OTTO: It's a very boring study. Yes. From a scientific point of view, there is nothing new because we have known this for a long time and we see exactly what we expected to see.

FADEL: Wow. She sounds annoyed, frustrated.

ROTT: Yeah. I mean, if you talk to climate scientists, Leila, like I know you do sometimes, you will hear that a lot...

FADEL: Yeah.

ROTT: ...Because this isn't new, right? I got pretty much the exact same reaction from other climate scientists and researchers I talked to yesterday who were not involved in this study but had reviewed its findings. Here's Bernadette Woods Placky, the chief meteorologist at Climate Central, a nonprofit climate science group.

BERNADETTE WOODS PLACKY: Overall, it is not surprising that there's a climate connection with the extreme heat that we're seeing around the world right now. We know what adding more greenhouse gases to our atmosphere does, and we continue to add more of them through the burning of fossil fuels. So the more heat that we put into our atmosphere, it will translate into bigger heat events.

ROTT: Which is a really important thing to keep in mind, Leila, because a lot of the heat records that we're seeing broken right now in Europe, Asia, America - they are probably going to be broken again in the years to come.

FADEL: I mean, that's a scary thought 'cause it's already so hot.

ROTT: Yeah.

FADEL: What should people do?

ROTT: Well, the obvious big-picture solution is to stop warming the planet, right?

FADEL: Right.

ROTT: The international community has pledged to limit global warming increases to about 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit compared to what they were in pre-industrial times. A lot of climate scientists think that goal is already out of reach. The planet has already warmed nearly 2 degrees. But the science is overwhelmingly clear that the fewer fossil fuel emissions we put in the atmosphere means a more hospitable planet for humans and animals alike. The other thing that we can do is to look out for each other during a heat wave. Public health officials have been urging people to check in on their neighbors, especially elderly or immunocompromised people, as these hot temperatures continue.

FADEL: Nathan Rott is part of NPR's climate desk. Thanks for your reporting.

ROTT: Yeah. Thank you, Leila.

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FADEL: President Biden will sign a declaration today making three sites a national monument for Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley.

INSKEEP: For decades, people have wanted to commemorate the lynching of the 14-year-old in 1955.

FADEL: With us now to talk about these monuments and what they're hoping to convey is Maya Miller. She's with the Gulf States Newsroom, and she's with us now. Good morning.

MAYA MILLER, BYLINE: Good morning. Hi.

FADEL: So you toured a couple of these monuments. Tell me about them.

MILLER: So the first site that I visited was called Graball Landing. That's where Emmett Till was pulled out of the Tallahatchie River. What struck me there was the sign explaining what happened. It's bulletproof, and that's because at least three previous signs had been shot up.

FADEL: Wow.

MILLER: And it was just really quiet considering the violence of that place. Emmett Till - he was killed because he allegedly whistled at a white woman. He was only 14 when men kidnapped him from his family's home in Money, Miss. And they took him to a barn, where they tortured and shot him and then threw him in that river.

The other memorial site is the courthouse in Sumner, where the trial of two men took place. They were found not guilty of murder by an all-white, all-male jury. And that courthouse has been reconstructed to what it looked like in 1955.

FADEL: Now, his death was such an important, pivotal moment for the civil rights movement. And the third site for this monument designation is in Chicago, and it's the church where his funeral was. If you could just remind us of the impact of that day because of the decision of his mother.

MILLER: Yeah. So that's the Mamie Till-Mobley part of the memorial park. It's where his mother, Mamie, insisted on an open-casket funeral, and she invited the press and everyone to come and see the violence that had happened to her son.

FADEL: Yeah.

MILLER: And his body was on view. Thousands of people came, and a photo was taken and published in Jet magazine. And it really publicized the brutality of the Jim Crow South. This church is already a Chicago landmark, so adding it into the monument designation just sort of made sense.

FADEL: And so individuals and organizations have pushed for a national monument to Emmett Till for decades now. What are they hoping to accomplish with this designation?

MILLER: So having this designation means that the sites are federally protected, so there are more resources towards teaching what really happened. And there's this belief among those who've been really pushing on the designation that racial reconciliation begins with telling the truth. And I asked Alan Spears, who's been at this for a while - he's with the National Park Conservation Association - what a national park means for Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley's legacy.

ALAN SPEARS: We say their names to make sure that we honor their lives and that we remember them. And as long as their names are spoken, they will never be forgotten.

MILLER: And by never forgetting, they hope that this monument will provide what he calls narrative justice since Till couldn't get justice while he was alive. And the hopes are that more people will engage with this story of Emmett Till, who would have been 82 years old today. It's his birthday.

FADEL: If he'd been allowed to live. Maya Miller is a Mississippi-based reporter with the Gulf States Newsroom. Thanks for your reporting.

MILLER: Thank you, Leila. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.

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