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Up First briefing: Trump's immunity claims; loose parts on Boeing Max 9 planes

Lawyers for former President Donald Trump are arguing that he enjoys immunity from prosecution.
Brandon Bell
Getty Images
Lawyers for former President Donald Trump are arguing that he enjoys immunity from prosecution.

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

A federal appeals court in Washington is set to hear arguments today about whether former President Donald Trump is immune from prosecution on charges that he plotted to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

  • "This is going to be a landmark case, whichever way the court rules," NPR's Carrie Johnson says on Up First. Trump is the first former president charged with a federal crime. If this case goes to the full appeals court or the Supreme Court, the March 4 trial could be delayed, which would complicate important political events for the 2024 election. 

Alaska Airlines and United Airlines said they found loose parts on multiple grounded Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft after preliminary inspections. It raised more concerns about a component of the planes called a door plug that blew off mid-flight last week on a Max 9 operated by Alaska Airlines.

  • Both airlines have canceled hundreds of flights, and inspections could take up to eight hours per plane, NPR's Joel Rose tells All Things Considered. The planes could come back into service soon, but Rose says the damage to Boeing's reputation will "take much longer to repair." 

Millions of college students saw delays when trying to fill out this year's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which arrived three months late. Now, they face another problem: a mistake on the forms could lower the amount of aid students receive.

  • The form was supposed to adjust a family's income for inflation — but it didn't, reports NPR's Cory Turner. This means families will appear to have more income than they do, which means they get less aid. With the FAFSA process already months behind, Turner says the Education Department is now "stuck between two ugly options": move things along and deny students their full aid or exacerbate delays and confusion to save families money.

Deep dive

Taiwan is preparing for a momentous election.
I-HWA CHENG / AFP via Getty Images
AFP via Getty Images
Taiwan is preparing for a momentous election.

Taiwanese voters head to the polls this weekend for a presidential election analysts say will be "crucial" for the future of the Asian island. Here's what is at stake — and what the results could mean for the U.S.:

  • Only 13 countries recognize Taiwan's sovereignty. Its young democracy emerged some 30 years ago after decades of military rule.
  • China has long considered Taiwan to be a part of its nation, though the Communist Party has never ruled it. Taiwan's official name is the Republic of China.
  • The current ruling political party wants a stronger Taiwanese identity through partnerships with other nations. The opposition argues a more diplomatic relationship with China would keep the peace.
  • In recent years, the growing U.S.-China rivalry has led many in Washington to show more support for Taiwan.

Today's listen

Tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian activists take part in a National March to call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza on December 9, 2023, in London, United Kingdom.
/ Mark Kerrison/Getty Images
Mark Kerrison/Getty Images
Tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian activists take part in a National March to call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza on December 9, 2023, in London, United Kingdom.

People worldwide are using watermelon images and emojis to show solidarity for Palestinians in the Israel-Hamas war. The fruit's colors match the Palestinian flag, and some activists use it to work around online censorship. Though the exact history of the fruit's symbolism is unknown, renowned Palestinian artist Sliman Mansour believes its connection to the Palestinian flag came from an Israeli soldier who was trying to censor his gallery in the 1980s. Listen to Mansour recount the story on Morning Edition and read more about how artists have drawn inspiration from him.

3 things to do before you go

Veronica and Roger.
/ Roger Lynn
Roger Lynn
Veronica and Roger.

  1. When Roger Lynn's wife Veronica was hospitalized with breast cancer in 2010, the grim surroundings of their room made it harder to process. Veronica's unsung hero — a nurse named Jennifer — helped the couple move into a sunlit room with a panoramic view of Puget Sound. 
  2. Stanley cup fever (the water bottle, not the hockey trophy) was on display last week as customers lined up at Target overnight to get their hands on a limited edition "Stanley + Starbucks" collaboration.
  3. The Michigan Wolverines won the NCAA championship last night in a run-away 34-13 victory over the Washington Huskies. (via Houston Public Media)

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.