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Morning news brief

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is the last day of the four-day cease-fire between Israel and Hamas after three rounds of hostage prisoner exchanges that began on Friday.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Another exchange is expected later today, but both sides say they're open to more releases and a longer cease-fire.

MARTIN: NPR's Daniel Estrin is with us now from Tel Aviv with more. Good morning from Washington, D.C., Daniel.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Good morning from Tel Aviv, Michel.

MARTIN: So this process started on Friday. Would you bring us up to date with where we are now, especially for people who haven't followed this closely? Tell us about those released so far.

ESTRIN: In total, 58 hostages have been released in the last three nights. Red Cross convoys drove them out of Gaza. They are mostly women and young children, mostly Israelis. There also have been some guest workers from Thailand released and dual nationals, like a 4-year-old American Israeli whose parents were killed in the Hamas attacks on October 7. The U.S. is estimating that nine other American Israelis are still being held in Gaza. And on the flip side, Israel has released 117 Palestinian women and teens. They were in Israeli jails on a range of offenses. They were released to their families in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

MARTIN: Can you tell us anything about the condition of the hostages while they were in captivity? And I'd also like to hear about the response to the release of Palestinian prisoners.

ESTRIN: Yeah, we have been hearing from family members who have spoken to their relatives about what they endured. Many lost weight. They ate mostly bread and rice, they said, slept on a row of chairs. According to an aunt of one hostage, this hostage escaped from his captives when the building he was held in was hit in an Israeli strike, he hid for a few days. So many different kinds of stories we're hearing, and even that many of the hostages were in the dark about what had happened to their family on October 7. One thought her family had been killed, and when she was released, discovered that her relatives are alive. One of the hostages released is now in serious condition in the hospital, but many do seem to be in good condition. We saw videos of some young kids released running to greet their parents.

But you also asked about the Palestinian prisoners released, and I would say that the Israeli government has forbidden Palestinians to greet released relatives with celebrations. There have been some police crackdowns. There have been some greeted with cheers and praise for Hamas in the West Bank. And Palestinians greeting them, you know, see them as part of the larger resistance against Israel.

MARTIN: And what about conditions in Gaza during these days of this temporary cease-fire? More aid there was part of the deal. Is it getting in and is it making a difference?

ESTRIN: It is getting in. It's making a difference for bakeries, hospitals, sewage plants. They're able to, you know, operate again with fuel and gas. But for individuals in Gaza that's not really trickling down. They are still short, really, on the basics, even flour to make bread.

MARTIN: And, Daniel, before we let you go, what about the possibility of this cease-fire being extended? We're hearing that there are some talks about that.

ESTRIN: It does seem highly likely the cease-fire will be extended for at least another couple of days. There are Israeli reports that Hamas has gathered a few dozen more hostages. But, you know, this really is just a drop in the bucket. There are still believed to be around 170 hostages in Gaza, still many Palestinians in Israeli jail that Hamas wants to negotiate for their release. And of course, Israel says the cease-fire is temporary and that it will renew the military assault on Hamas in Gaza, which has been catastrophic for civilians in Gaza.

MARTIN: That is NPR's Daniel Estrin in Tel Aviv. Daniel, thank you so much.

ESTRIN: You're very welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: Annual climate negotiations begin this week in Dubai. Leaders from around the world will attend.

MARTÍNEZ: But absent from the lineup will be U.S. President Joe Biden. White House aides reportedly say he'll be busy with other issues, such as the Israel-Hamas war we just spoke about.

MARTIN: Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says it's time to get serious about cutting emissions.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANTONIO GUTERRES: It requires cutting out the poison root of the climate crisis, fossil fuels.

MARTIN: Rebecca Hersher from NPR's climate desk is here with us now to tell us more about these upcoming talks and what's at stake. Good morning. Good morning. OK, so the leader of the U.N. is calling out fossil fuels as the poison roots of climate change, but this year's talks are hosted in Dubai of the oil rich United Arab Emirates. You know, not to be mean, but how does that work?

REBECCA HERSHER, BYLINE: Yeah, I mean, it's definitely controversial. The UAE has put an oil executive in charge of the climate meeting. And, you know, that person does have some control over what gets on the agenda, you know, how negotiations play out. So there's been some concern from climate activists, even from some scientists, about whether everyone is on the same page, because the science is really clear. You know, fossil fuel use needs to decrease very, very quickly. On the other hand, though, the whole point of these negotiations is that every country is at the table. And here's how Inger Andersen, the director of the United Nations Environment Programme, explains it.

INGER ANDERSEN: Look, the reality is that many, many economies are coal-, oil- and gas-dependent. Some of these - right now, we have one such state being the host. The challenge will be for us all, how do we step down from that dependency, still remain with vibrant economies? And that's really the issue here.

MARTIN: So, Rebecca, you cover this all the time, but for those of us who don't keep up with it as closely as you do, how is the world doing on phasing out fossil fuels?

HERSHER: Not good, not good. Right now, global emissions of planet-warming pollution, you know, mostly from fossil fuels, are going up slightly when they need to be falling in order to avoid catastrophic climate change. You know, the planet is currently on track for at least 2.5 C of warming by 2100. That's compared to temperatures in the late 1800s. And 2.5 degrees of warming is way beyond the limit set by the Paris climate agreement. It would lead to massive sea level rise and mass extinction of plants and animals, really bad stuff. But humanity is on a better trajectory now than when the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. So at that point, the planet was on track for more than 4 degrees Celsius of warming. So it's not enough, but we are making some progress.

MARTIN: So what are the big sticking points that are expected to come up at the upcoming negotiations?

HERSHER: Money and money. Less wealthy nations need trillions of dollars to transition to renewable energy like wind and solar. So far, most of that money is not available, which is making it harder to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from low- and middle-income countries. The other big money topic is about getting wealthy nations, including the U.S., to follow through on a promise from last year's talks, and that was to set up a special fund for the damage caused by climate change in poorer countries. So far, that fund is empty, so that will be a really big topic of discussion.

MARTIN: That's Rebecca Hersher from NPR's climate desk. Thanks so much.

HERSHER: Thanks.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: Former first lady Rosalynn Carter will be laid to rest Wednesday in Georgia. She died last week at the age of 96.

MARTÍNEZ: Carter was a top adviser throughout her husband Jimmy's political career from a Georgia state senator, to governor, and then president. And she was one of the country's most visible advocates for mental health care. There will be a private and public memorial over the next three days to honor her life and legacy.

MARTIN: Georgia Public Broadcasting's Stephen Fowler is with us now to tell us more about all this. Good morning, Stephen.

STEPHEN FOWLER, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: So could you just start by telling us about some of the locations where Rosalynn Carter will be recognized this week? I understand that they represent important places and causes in her life. So I don't know, let's start with the wreath-laying at her alma mater.

FOWLER: Well, Carter attended Georgia Southwestern State University and remained active with the school throughout her life. You can literally see her impact on campus. There's the Rosalynn Carter Health and Human Sciences Complex, the Rosalynn Carter Institute for caregivers, and even a statue of the former first lady made from Georgia granite. From there, she'll lie in repose this evening at the Carter Center in Atlanta, which she co-founded with her husband, Jimmy, in 1982 to focus on issues like world peace, democracy and global health care.

MARTIN: You know, it's been more than 40 years since the Carters left the White House, but I think even people who don't remember their tenure there will remember all the things that they did in public and the public arena into their later years. How is that reflected in the memorials this week?

FOWLER: Rosalynn Carter's signature issue was mental health, pushing for better care outcomes and seeking to remove stigma from mental illness and treatment. You know, as a testament to that, the family announced earlier this year Rosalynn was diagnosed with dementia before she entered hospice care earlier this month. And that's also reflected in the work of the Carter Center in Atlanta and the tribute service at Emory University in Atlanta Tuesday. The former first lady partnered with countless experts there, tackling not just mental health but things like women's rights. Now, President Biden and Vice President Harris will both attend that service. And the family says every living first lady have been invited to her funeral.

MARTIN: And the funeral will be held Wednesday in Plains, Ga. Would you tell us a little bit more about her ties to the town?

FOWLER: Well, Plains is where Rosalynn grew up, where she raised a family, and where she and Jimmy returned after his stinging presidential defeat. Services will be at Maranatha Baptist Church. It's where she taught Sunday school and volunteered with the church and its food ministry for decades. The service there is for friends and family only, but there's expected to be a crush of people lining the town to pay their respects. Wednesday, she'll be buried on the grounds of the family's house. It's the same one they've lived in since 1961.

MARTIN: And before we let you go, Stephen, in the days since her death, how has she been remembered?

FOWLER: Well, aside from people flocking to Plains and paying respects at the Carter Center, there's been an outpouring of love and support for a powerful figure. Now, politically, Rosalynn Carter was known as an equal to Jimmy, especially in the White House. I mean, she earned the nickname Steel Magnolia and kept a separate campaign schedule throughout his runs for office. You know, personally, there's been a lot to discuss about the Carters' love for each other - I mean, they were married for 77 years, Michel - and how they modeled a type of relationship that many people strive to have. In a time when political figures and their spouses can be polarizing, this last week has shown that someone like Rosalynn Carter can exist beyond today's bitter partisanship.

MARTIN: That's Stephen Fowler with Georgia Public Broadcasting in Atlanta. Stephen, thank you.

FOWLER: Thank you. 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.

A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.