Up First briefing: College protests over Gaza war; SCOTUS Starbucks union case Tensions are high as campus protests over the war in Gaza stretch across the U.S. The Supreme Court will hear a case about pro-union Starbucks employees.

Gaza solidarity protests sweep U.S. colleges; SCOTUS tackles Starbucks union case

Gaza solidarity protests sweep U.S. colleges; SCOTUS tackles Starbucks union case

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Today's top stories

Protests over the war in Gaza on college campuses have stretched across the nation, and tensions are high at many schools. Students at Columbia, Yale and New York University have been arrested in recent days. Columbia announced yesterday that all classes would meet remotely to attempt to "deescalate the rancor." Students at UC Berkeley and the University of Michigan set up Gaza solidarity encampments yesterday.

Students occupy the campus Columbia University on Friday, calling for the school to divest from companies with ties to Israel. Alex Kent/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Alex Kent/AFP via Getty Images

Students occupy the campus Columbia University on Friday, calling for the school to divest from companies with ties to Israel.

Alex Kent/AFP via Getty Images
  • NPR's Jasmine Garsd spoke with Columbia students. "The message has been very clear," she tells Up First. Students are asking for their schools to "disclose and end investments in weapons technology and in Israel." A pro-Israel protester told her she felt attacked and wanted the school administration ousted. But Garsd also spoke to Jewish students who were part of the encampment. "What's clear from spending time at these protests is that there isn't one unified, monolithic Jewish voice," she says. 

British lawmakers approved today a plan to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's government will pay Rwanda to process and resettle asylum seekers that the U.K. doesn't want. Supporters of the policy are calling it a creative solution to fix a broken system. Critics say it's a violation of human rights.

  • Sunak sees this policy as a "powerful deterrent" to stop people from risking their lives to enter the U.K. illegally, NPR's Lauren Frayer says. He wants to get deportation flights off the ground as soon as possible to coincide with his party's reelection campaign this fall. Frayer says legal challenges might mean only a few people get deported to Rwanda. Critics wonder if this is worth hundreds of millions in taxpayer money and damage to the U.K.'s human rights reputation. 

Starbucks heads to the Supreme Court today. The case isn't about coffee but about how much power the government should have to protect workers during a labor investigation. In February 2022, seven Starbucks employees in Tennessee were fired days after they announced their intent to unionize. Starbucks said the workers broke multiple company rules, including when they let a TV crew into a closed store. The justices will hear arguments about whether a lower court erred when it ordered Starbucks to reinstate the employees while the investigation takes place.

  • Labor laws over recent decades have made it more difficult for unions to organize and to bring labor complaints, NPR's Alina Selyukh reports. But companies are now arguing that labor officials under the Biden administration have gotten more aggressive. If the Supreme Court rules in Starbucks' favor, it could tip the power dynamic between federal labor watchdogs and companies resisting unionization. 

Today's listen

Artists UMI (left) and Louis VI (right) teamed up with the Museum for the United Nations - UN Live to re-release songs with nature sounds for Earth Day. Ryusei Sabi, Orson Esquivel. hide caption

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Ryusei Sabi, Orson Esquivel.

Artists UMI (left) and Louis VI (right) teamed up with the Museum for the United Nations - UN Live to re-release songs with nature sounds for Earth Day.

Ryusei Sabi, Orson Esquivel.

The United Nations has released a mixtape. Artists like Ellie Goulding, Brian Eno and David Bowie's estate have teamed up with The Museum of the United Nations - UN Live, an arm of the U.N. that aims to reach young people through pop culture. The project features songs remixed with sounds of nature. Streaming royalties will go toward conservation organizations.

How to thrive as you age

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Beautiful illustration for medicine package. Drugs and leaves.
Venca-Stastny/Getty Images

How to Thrive as You Age is a special series from NPR's Allison Aubrey about the secrets and science of longevity.

A drug taken by millions of people to treat diabetes may have more benefits. Scientists who study the biology of aging have designed a clinical study of metformin to test whether its anti-inflammatory effects can help promote a longer, healthier lifespan.

  • Metformin was first used to treat diabetes in France in the 1950s. The FDA approved it to treat Type 2 diabetes in the 1990s. 
  • Since then, researchers have found several surprising results, including a lower risk of several types of cancer, improved cardiovascular outcomes and a lower risk of mild cognitive decline.
  • But the evidence is observational and doesn't prove cause and effect. Scientists want to know if these benefits in people with diabetes will also be seen in healthy adults.
  • The FDA doesn't currently recognize age as a disease to treat. Researchers hope this clinical trial will encourage a paradigm shift from treating each age-related medical condition separately to treating these conditions together by targeting aging. 

3 things to know before you go

A new version of the popular board game Catan, which hits shelves this summer, introduces energy production and pollution into the gameplay. Catan GmbH hide caption

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Catan GmbH

A new version of the popular board game Catan, which hits shelves this summer, introduces energy production and pollution into the gameplay.

Catan GmbH
  1. The newest edition of the beloved board game Catan introduces a 21st-century twist: pollution.
  2. NASA says the Voyager 1 space probe is sending meaningful information again. For months, NASA had been troubleshooting a glitch that made the probe send incoherent messages.
  3. In a major homelessness case, the Supreme Court yesterday appeared to side with an Oregon city's crackdown on sleeping in public. 

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.