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Maine bars Trump from primary ballot; an Israeli strike in Gaza kills at least 20

Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, in Durham, N.H.
Reba Saldanha
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2023, in Durham, N.H.

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 stories

Former President Donald Trump won't be on Maine's primary ballot after the state's secretary of state ruled he isn't qualified based on his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, a Democrat, released a 34-page ruling yesterday evening concluding that Trump's primary election petitionis "invalid." Trump's campaign said it would quickly file an objection to the "atrocious" decision.

Thousands of Palestinians are fleeing Israel's expanding offensive into central and southern Gaza. Here's what you need to know 83 days into the war:

  • The war has already killed over 20,000 Palestinians and driven around 85% of the population of 2.3 million from their homes, according to Gaza's health ministry. 
  • Israel hasvowed to destroy Hamas wherever it is in response to the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack that killed about 1,200 people. Hamas militants continue to hold over 100 hostages in Gaza.
  • NPR's Carrie Kahn says on Up Firstthe war is not slowing down. Yesterday, at least 20 Palestinians were killed in an Israeli airstrike on a residential building in Rafah, according to Palestinian officials. NPR producer Anas Baba reports from Al-Kuwaiti hospital near the strike site that the majority of the injured are children and babies. He describes seeing one pregnant woman begging the doctor to check on her baby inside her belly.
  • Judith Weinstein, an American-Canadian-Israeli woman, who was believed to have been taken hostage by Hamas, was killed during the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, her family said in statements yesterday.
  • Benny Gantz, a former military chief and current member of Israel's war Cabinet, warned yesterday that his country could increase military activity against the Hezbollah militant group, which has been firing into Israel from Lebanon's southern border.
  • NPR's Carrie Kahn, Daniel Estrin, Jason DeRose, Nina Kravinsky and Scott Neuman are reporting from the region.

In recent weeks, a Polish blockade has caused a 20-mile-long queue of trucks. Polish truckers claim Ukrainian truckers have an unfair advantage because they're temporarily exempt from European Union permits. The protest is souring a once neighborly and supportive relationship between the two countries. NPR's Elissa Nadworny reports from the Poland-Ukraine border that drivers have been waiting in line for weeks. She interviewed a man involved in managing the Polish blockade, and he said the protest is a fight for their existence.

Deep dive

A Polestar electric car prepares to park at an EV charging station on July 28, 2023 in Corte Madera, California.
Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
Getty Images
A Polestar electric car prepares to park at an EV charging station on July 28, 2023 in Corte Madera, California.

Good news for those planning on buying an electric vehicle in 2024 — a hefty federal tax credit for EVs will be easier to access next year. The bad news? Fewer vehicles will likely qualify for the full $7,500. Here's what you need to know:

  • Buyers won't have to wait until the following tax year to claim and pocket the credit. You can get it as a rebate as soon as you purchase the vehicle.
  •  Cars must meet battery size and vehicle weight requirements. They must be assembled in North America and fall under a price cap, depending on the size of the car. 
  • Leased vehicles are eligible for a version of the tax credit that is much easier to qualify for. There's also a credit for buying a used EV and a commercial credit for buying an EV if you run a business.

Weekend picks

Check out what NPR is watching, reading and listening to this weekend:

Movies: Adam Driver stars in Ferrari, a movie about a speed-obsessed man and the challenges he and others endure. On Pop Culture Happy Hour, Chris Klimek, host of the Smithsonian Magazine podcast, "There's More To That," discusses how the film compares to director Michael Mann's earlier works.

TV: In the '80s and '90s, kids loved watching Commander Mark on PBS, where he used his pen to teach them how to draw. Now, 40 years later, "The Secret Cities of Mark Kistler" documentaryexplores the artist's journey behind shows like The Secret City, Draw Squad and Imagination Station.

Books: Lisa McManus and Hannah Crowley, executive editors at America's Test Kitchen Reviews, discusstheir book, Kitchen Gear: The Ultimate Owner's Manual, and share essential tools and tips that every chef should have.

Music: Have you ever listened to NPR and wondered who chooses those songs you hear between stories and interviews? Meet All Things Considered directors and check out their 2023 playlist.

3 things to know before you go

A person passes discarded Christmas trees along a sidewalk on January 14, 2014 in New York City.
Spencer Platt / Getty Images
Getty Images
A person passes discarded Christmas trees along a sidewalk on January 14, 2014 in New York City.

1. The Christmas Tree Association says we sell 25 to 30 million live Christmas trees in the U.S. each year. If your tree is still up, here are some tipsfor when it's time to take it down, give it a second life or turn it into spruce beer.

2. Civil rights leader Bishop William Barber, 60, says he was kicked out of a North Carolina movie theater while trying to watch The Color Purple for attempting to use the special chair he brought into the disabled section. Now, civil rights groups are callingon AMC Theaters to improve accessibility for patrons with disabilities in response to this incident.

3. Ever thought about the people who bring you Morning Edition every day even on holidays?Listen to hear some of their favorite stories of 2023.

Treye Green edited this newsletter. contributed to this story

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Majd Al-Waheidi
Majd Al-Waheidi is the digital editor on Morning Edition, where she brings the show's journalism to online audiences. Previously, Al-Waheidi was a reporter for the New York Times in the Gaza Strip, where she reported about a first-of-its-kind Islamic dating site, and documented the human impact of the 2014 Israel-Gaza war in a collaborative visual project nominated for an Emmy Award. She also reported about Wikipedia censorship in Arabic for Rest of World magazine, and investigated the abusive working conditions of TikTok content moderators for Business Insider. Al-Waheidi has worked at the International Center for Religion & Diplomacy, and holds a master's degree in Arab Studies from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. A native of Gaza, she speaks Arabic and some French, and is studying Farsi.