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Up First briefing: Top Hamas leader killed in Lebanon; Harvard president resigns

Smoke rises from a destroyed apartment following a large explosion in a southern suburb of Beirut on Tuesday. The TV station of Lebanon's Hezbollah group says top Hamas official Saleh Arouri was killed Tuesday in an explosion in a southern Beirut suburb.
Hussein Malla
Smoke rises from a destroyed apartment following a large explosion in a southern suburb of Beirut on Tuesday. The TV station of Lebanon's Hezbollah group says top Hamas official Saleh Arouri was killed Tuesday in an explosion in a southern Beirut suburb.

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 news

A senior Hamas leader has been killed in an explosion in Lebanon's capital, Beirut. Saleh al-Arouri was a founder of Hamas's military wing and a deputy chief of its political bureau. Hamas blames Israel for the blast. Israel has not claimed responsibility.

  • "It's one thing to target Hamas leaders in Gaza," NPR's Jane Arraf says on Up First. "But it's another to launch attacks in the capital of another country." An adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview that whoever was responsible for the attack was not targeting Lebanon or the Iran-backed militia active there, Hezbollah. Arraf points to concern that Hezbollah could respond to the blast and Iran could get involved in the conflict.

Check out for more coverage and analysis of the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Harvard University's first Black president — Claudine Gay — has resigned, six months after she took the job. Gay has faced allegations of plagiarism in her past academic work and scrutiny over her congressional testimony about antisemitism on campus. At the Dec. 5 hearing, Gay, along with the University of Pennsylvania and MIT presidents, struggled to answer whether "calling for the genocide of Jews" would violate their school's code of conduct.

  • Reactions have been split, reports NPR's Tovia Smith. Rep. ​​Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who questioned Gay at the December hearing, said in a statement that she would continue to investigate the "woke agenda" and "political bias" at Harvard. A faculty member told Smith the congressional committee is using the fight against antisemitism as a pretext to fight diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

Jury selection has begun for the civil corruption trial against the National Rifle Association's longtime leader, Wayne LaPierre. New York's Attorney General Letitia James says her team found evidence LaPierre and other NRA leaders used more than $64 million from donors for personal expenses.

  • Internal feuds and accusations of corruption began to unravel the NRA in 2019, NPR's Brian Mann says. Still, the Republican Party and its core voters have adopted many of the group's beliefs about gun regulations. "The NRA is a shadow of itself.  But the NRA's ideas are still incredibly influential," Mann says.

Today's listen

Rick Bowmer / AP

Brooky Parks loved her job at the teen section of her local public library in Colorado – until the district fired her. She had launched a book club focused on LGBTQ-themed books, and two community members had complained about the word "woke" in its name. Parks decried the action against her as censorship. She filed a discrimination complaint and a lawsuit – and won.

Listen to her story and which is shoring up hope for librarians in other states like Texas and Wyoming.

Life Kit's resolution planner

the_burtons / Getty Images
Getty Images

This month, the Up First newsletter is highlighting some of the most popular New Year's resolutions. Find a resolution and stick to it for the entire year with Life Kit's planner.

The beginning of the year is a great time to get your finances in order. Here's how you can cut costs, pay down debt and save more money in 2024:

  • Cut back on big, fixed expenses like rent, car insurance and phone bills.
  • Plan for how much you want to spend on variable, necessary expenses like food and gas every month.
  • Pay off debt, if you have extra money. The avalanche method pays off debts with the highest interest rate first. The snowball method pays off the smallest debts first.

Transform your finances this year with advice on how to choose a bank, stop stress-spending and more.

3 things to know before you go

Teresa Hernandez with Lucca.
/ Teresa Hernandez
Teresa Hernandez
Teresa Hernandez with Lucca.

  1. Teresa Hernandez was 33 weeks pregnant when she found out her baby's heart rate was dropping, and she needed a C-section. On her way to the operating room, her nurse and unsung hero helped ease her anxiety and made her feel like her mom was by her side
  2. Police in Australia have arrested world champion cyclist Melissa Hoskins's husband in connection with her death. She was hit by a car outside her home over the weekend.
  3. Mexican actress Ana Ofelia Murguía, best known in the U.S. for her role as Mama Coco in the Disney/Pixar film Coco, has died at 90.

This newsletter was edited by Olivia Hampton. Anandita Bhaleraocontributed.

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