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Up First Briefing: Google on trial; Kim Jong Un in Russia; green comet sighting

Google is headed to trial in Washington D.C., where it will defend itself over the Justice Department's claims that it abused its monopoly power in its search engine business.
Leon Neal
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Getty Images
Google is headed to trial in Washington D.C., where it will defend itself over the Justice Department's claims that it abused its monopoly power in its search engine business.

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

The United States is taking on Google in court today. It's the biggest tech monopoly trial of the 21st century so far. The Justice Department says Google abused its power to dominate the search engine market. If the judge rules in the DOJ's favor, it could change how we experience the internet.

  • The Justice Department believes it's no accident that we use Google as a verb for looking something up on the internet, NPR's Dara Kerr says on Up First today. The company pays billions of dollars for exclusive agreements to be the default search engine on devices. The DOJ says this makes it impossible for new search engines to enter the market. In a statement to NPR, one of Google's top lawyers called the DOJ's case backward-looking.


The death toll from Friday's 6.8 magnitude earthquake in Morocco has risen to nearly 3,000. Some residents of the Atlas Mountains have spent four nights in a row sleeping outdoors due to fear of aftershocks.

  • NPR's Lauren Frayer reports from a remote village called Imi N'Tala. She says some aid convoys arrived with garbage bags full of clothes and baby diapers but then drove on. People have spent the night next to what Frayer says "really feels like a mass grave site." But she describes an "incredible public outpouring" — blood banks and civilians have been driving up the mountain to bring food and supplies.

  • Listen to an 18-year-old woman describe how her family's world has been turned upside down since the earthquake.


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Russia by train this morning. He's expected to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It's his first known trip outside of North Korea in four years. Here's what we know about Kim's slow-moving, bulletproof train.

  • NPR's Anthony Kuhn spoke to Wi Sung-lac, South Korea's former ambassador to Russia. Wi says that up until now, Russia has been cautious about sharing nuclear technology with North Korea. He says the results of today's summit could result in South Korea deepening its engagement with Ukraine.

Today's listen

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is working hard to convince more Americans to embrace electric cars — and she knows this means the country's charging infrastructure needs to improve, fast.
Drew Angerer / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is working hard to convince more Americans to embrace electric cars — and she knows this means the country's charging infrastructure needs to improve, fast.

NPR's Camila Domonoske recently took a four-day electric vehicle road trip with Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. Domonoske, who covers cars and energy, was eager to see how the Biden administration intends to promote the "potentially transformative" switch to EVs and what kind of issues it would encounter along the way.

Listen to Domonoske's conversations with Granholm and read her reporting from the road.

Picture show

Mojave National Preserve technician Ryan Mcrae observes the remnants of the Dome Fire in San Bernardino County, California, Tuesday, August, 8th, 2023 Krystal Ramirez/ NPR
/ Krystal Ramirez for NPR
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Krystal Ramirez for NPR
Mojave National Preserve technician Ryan Mcrae observes the remnants of the Dome Fire in San Bernardino County, California, Tuesday, August, 8th, 2023 Krystal Ramirez/ NPR

After flames destroyed an estimated 1.3 million Joshua trees in Mojave National Preserve in 2020, biologists began replanting seedlings. But many have died, and now another fire has torched more of the iconic succulents. See photos of the charred landscape and the people working to save Joshua trees

3 things to know before you go

Meet the comet Nishimura.
Dan Bartlett / NASA
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NASA
Meet the comet Nishimura.

  1. Find time for stargazing soon. A newly discovered green comet called Nishimura is now visible. After this week, it won't be visible for another 400 years.
  2. Leading snacking conglomerate J.M. Smucker has bought Hostess Brands — maker of such timeless treats as Twinkies, Ho-Hos, Ding Dongs and Zingers — for a sweet $5.6 billion.
  3. Drew Barrymore is bringing back her talk show. It's drawing condemnation from Hollywood actors and writers on strike, who are calling for the show to be picketed.

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi. Rachel Treisman contributed.

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