Up First Briefing: Yellen in China; Threads launches; synagogue rubble unearthed Janet Yellen visits China to try to ease tensions. Facebook's parent company launches Threads to compete with Twitter. Parts of a synagogue destroyed by Nazis are found in a Munich river.

Up First Briefing: Yellen in China; Meta launches Threads; synagogue rubble unearthed

Up First Briefing: Yellen in China; Meta launches Threads; synagogue rubble unearthed

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Today's top stories

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is in Beijing today to meet with senior government officials on the heels of a trip from Secretary of State Antony Blinken last month. Her visit comes amid rising tensions around trade restrictions, national security concerns, Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testifies before the House Financial Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on June 13, 2023. Yellen is traveling to China amid tensions over a number of issues including Taiwan. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images hide caption

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Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testifies before the House Financial Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on June 13, 2023. Yellen is traveling to China amid tensions over a number of issues including Taiwan.

Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
  • NPR's Emily Feng has been reporting on China since 2019. On Up First, she says Yellen will be dealing with the same trade war issues from that period, on top of national security issues related to American export controls. She adds U.S. officials are "really downplaying expectations" for the visit and say it's "just to maintain contact so the two sides understand each other."

Facebook's parent company Meta launched Threads late yesterday. The text-based version of its app Instagram could be an alternative to Elon Musk's Twitter. More than 10 million people have joined in the first seven hours since the app was launched.

  • "It really shows just how much frustration there is with the current state of Twitter," says NPR's Bobby Allyn. He adds that one advantage Threads has over other Twitter rivals is its data. Users can "instantly port over" their Instagram data and keep their network. But that could also prevent younger people from joining because they don't want everyone they know to find them — a phenomenon known as the "terrible uncle problem." 

There's a real demand for electric vehicles in the United States. But a lack of public charging stations remains the biggest barrier to electric vehicle ownership.

  • NPR's Camila Domonoske says the chargers that are available aren't fast or reliable enough. She took a road trip in an EV with Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm last week and had to interrupt an interview when they got too hot waiting for their car to charge. Domonoske reports getting people to adopt EVs will be a big part of the push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

There's a growing bipartisan push in local and state governments for tougher laws against drug dealers selling fentanyl, methamphetamines and xylazine. But a growing body of research suggests a tougher approach could harm people with addictions and worsen the overdose crisis.

  • On Morning Edition, Brian Mann reports that the study published in the American Journal of Public Health found big drug dealer round-ups led to spikes in overdose deaths because people with addiction search for new dealers and end up buy more dangerous drugs.

Today's listen

Two mothers faced vastly different outcomes when they got pregnant. Nitashia Johnson and Danielle Villasana for NPR hide caption

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Nitashia Johnson and Danielle Villasana for NPR

Two mothers faced vastly different outcomes when they got pregnant.

Nitashia Johnson and Danielle Villasana for NPR

Texas' abortion laws do not have an exception for when a fetus is diagnosed with a fatal condition. Pregnant mothers have two options: get an abortion out-of-state or carry the pregnancy to term. Lauren Miller left to abort one of the fetuses in her twin pregnancy to protect herself and the healthy twin. Samantha Casiano gave birth to Halo, who later died of anencephaly. The two mothers share their complicated pregnancy stories.

Picture show

Artist Mina M. Jafari uses a female head and arms to represent a masjid, or mosque, in this piece. Mina M. Jafari hide caption

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Mina M. Jafari

Artist Mina M. Jafari uses a female head and arms to represent a masjid, or mosque, in this piece.

Mina M. Jafari

Mahsa Amini died in Iran last September after she was detained by the "morality police" for allegedly not covering her hair adequately. It sparked local and global protest movements with the slogan, "Woman, Life, Freedom." In the U.S., Iranian artists have taken their work to the streets to keep Amini's story in the public eye and reflect on their hopes for a better country. See some of their art and the stories behind their works.

3 things to know before you go

This image from Mordechai Bernstein's "In the Labyrinth of Times" exhibit shows the Munich synagogue on the eve of its destruction in June 1938. Jewish Museum Munich hide caption

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Jewish Museum Munich

This image from Mordechai Bernstein's "In the Labyrinth of Times" exhibit shows the Munich synagogue on the eve of its destruction in June 1938.

Jewish Museum Munich
  1. Construction crews unearthed 150 tons of rubble from a Munich synagogue in river dam last week — 85 years after Nazis destroyed it.
  2. Emma Tetewsky was rescued one week after she was reported missing after hikers found her in her car, which was stuck in the mud.
  3. California's iconic Joshua trees are struggling to adapt to climate change. New legislation aims to create a conservation fund to protect them.

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.