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Final words in Trump's hush money trial; South Africans vote in a crucial election

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Today's top stories

The jurors in former President Donald Trump's hush money trial are set to begin deliberations today. Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to a settlement with adult film actor Stormy Daniels to keep allegations of an alleged affair out of the press ahead of the 2016 election. He has pleaded not guilty. Jurors listened to more than eight hours of closing arguments yesterday. The defense spent time casting doubt on former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's testimony and reiterated that every presidential campaign is "a conspiracy to promote a candidacy." Prosecutors pushed back, emphasizing testimony from all their witnesses — not just Cohen. Here's a breakdown of what each side said in their closing statements.

Former President Donald Trump leaves Manhattan Criminal Court at the end of the day's proceedings during his criminal trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments in New York City on Tuesday.
Charly Triballeau / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump leaves Manhattan Criminal Court at the end of the day's proceedings during his criminal trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments in New York City on Tuesday.

  • 🎧 On NPR's Trump's Trials, host Scott Detrow and legal expert Harry Litman explain the three possible outcomes jurors could reach: guilty, not guilty or a hung jury.


Pope Francis has apologized for using a slur to refer to gay men during a private meeting with Italian bishops last week. The church leaders were discussing whether the church should admit gay men to Catholic seminaries in preparation for the priesthood. Italian media reported Francis opposed the idea and used a highly offensive Italian slang term referring to gay men and gay culture. The director of the Vatican's press office said in a statement yesterday that Francis "never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms."

  • 🎧 NPR's Jason DeRose tells Up First that many LGBTQ+ Catholic groups are saying the church is sending mixed messages. They say while the tone around LGBTQ+ issues has changed, the teachings have not. Last year, the pope allowed priests to bless people in same-sex relationships. Earlier this year, the Vatican issued a document called "Infinite Dignity," referring to "sex change" and "gender theory" as grave threats. The church continues to teach that homosexuality is disordered and same-sex sexual activity is a sin.


South Africans head to the polls today in what could be a major turning point for the country. The ruling African National Congress, Africa's oldest liberation party, faces fierce competition and could lose its majority for the first time since Nelson Mandela led it to power 30 years ago.

  • 🎧 "The ANC has gone from being a revered liberation movement to a political party with dwindling support" since the end of apartheid, NPR's Emmanuel Akinwotu reports from a polling station. He says time and time again, people have told him the country needs a new direction, and there's not enough opportunity, especially for young people. South Africa has one of the world's highest rates of unemployment, and the ANC has faced multiple corruption scandals.

Today's listen

Evangelicals from Brazil wade, pray and get baptized in the Jordan river in Israel.
/ Maya Levin for NPR
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Maya Levin for NPR
Evangelicals from Brazil wade, pray and get baptized in the Jordan river in Israel.

Conservative Christians — especially evangelicals  — have been staunch supporters of Israel for decades. Their support stems from the belief by some denominations that the end times prophecy will take place in Israel, which is the rightful land for Jews, according to their interpretation of the Bible. As Israel faces criticism in the U.S. and abroad for its actions in Gaza, many Christians say they're feeling the call to support the country by donating, volunteering and visiting.

The science of siblings

Photographer Tommy Trenchard (above) and his sister share the ability to pick up almost anything with their toes. Nothing is too remote a possibility for their dexterous foot digits, including a remote control.
/ Aurélie Marrier d'Unienville
/
Aurélie Marrier d'Unienville
Photographer Tommy Trenchard (above) and his sister share the ability to pick up almost anything with their toes. Nothing is too remote a possibility for their dexterous foot digits, including a remote control.

Do you and a sibling have weirdly dexterous feet? Do the two of you share uncannily identical hobbies, preferences and routines? There may be a scientific reason why. Nancy L. Segal, a psychologist at California State University, has studied dozens of pairs of identical twins over the course of her career. She says her research sends a clear message that many traits we think we acquired by random chance may not be so random. NPR asked readers to share weird quarks they have in common with their siblings. Here's what they had to say.

3 things to know before you go

  1. A lost painting by the iconic Italian master Caravaggio that was mistakenly attributed to another artist has gone on display at the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid. It will be there until October. The museum described the painting as “one of the greatest discoveries in the history of art."
  2. Bette Nash, the world’s longest-serving flight attendant, has died at 88 after spending nearly seven decades working in the skies. American Airlines called her “a legend at American and throughout the industry, inspiring generations of flight attendants.”
  3. Some fans will finally get to hear a few songs on Wu-Tang Clan's elusive seventh album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. Visitors to the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania, Australia, can book 30-minute slots for free private listening events.

Majd Al-Waheidi edited this newsletter.

Copyright 2024 NPR

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