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Morning news brief

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Twenty-one people were hurt and one woman was killed when a celebration turned to tragedy in Kansas City.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The Chiefs came home for a victory rally to celebrate their Super Bowl win. But just as the players were leaving the stage and the celebration was winding down, gunshots were heard, and people started running. Police say at least three people believed to be connected to the shooting were arrested.

MARTÍNEZ: Frank Morris of member station KCUR is covering the story, joins us now from Kansas City. Frank, Chiefs fans had a lot to be happy about the last couple of years, and yesterday was supposed to be a very happy day, and it was really awful to see so many people running for their lives. What more do we know about what happened?

FRANK MORRIS, BYLINE: Well, we learned that the person killed was Lisa Lopez-Galvan. She was a popular radio disc jockey and dedicated Kansas City Chiefs fan. She died in surgery. She had two children. Lots of children turned out for the parade, and at least eight of them were shot. Stephanie Meyer, senior vice president at Children's Mercy Hospital, where the children were treated, said the kids brought in there were terrified.

STEPHANIE MEYER: Fear. The one word I would use to describe what we saw and how they felt when they came to us was fear.

MORRIS: Meyer says all eight shooting victims treated at Children's Mercy are doing well and expected to recover. The patients are also expecting visits from members of the Kansas City Chiefs.

MARTÍNEZ: All right, so that's at least a little bit of good news. What do we know about the people that police have in custody? And do we have any idea why they - what happened?

MORRIS: No. That's what everybody wants to know. Police haven't released a motive or the names of the suspects. Police arrested three people. At least one of them was carrying a weapon. There was a huge police presence at the event, and some of the crowd reportedly helped bring down one of the suspects. But Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says it wasn't enough to stop people with guns from destroying what had been a joyous event.

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QUINTON LUCAS: We had over 800 officers there staffed, situated all around Union Station. We had security in any number of places, eyes on top of buildings and beyond, and there still is a risk to people. Parades, rallies, schools, movies - it seems like almost nothing is safe.

MARTÍNEZ: This was supposed to be a really happy day. Their - you know, the team wins a Super Bowl, and we know the players were there just as all of this was going down. What was the scene leading up to the shooting?

MORRIS: Well, the weather was beautiful. I mean, it was sunny, cool, clear, bright blue sky. The whole event was packed with families. There were kids all over playing football on the side streets, dancing, smiling from their parents' shoulders. And the schools canceled classes. They declared it a red snow day so kids could enjoy the parade. Lots of them were there wearing the red number 15 jersey of Kansas City star quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Many others chose the number 87, worn by Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. Throughout the season, especially the run-up to the Super Bowl, that relationship between Kelce and his girlfriend, Taylor Swift, brought new fans into the game. I spoke with people before the shooting, and 12-year-old Sloan Peete said that Swift made her a Chiefs fan.

SLOAN PEETE: I watched it with my family at first, but now I watch, like, all the games, just to see her.

MORRIS: And Sloan's mom, Kim Peete, was like a lot of parents, was just basking in the joy of the moment.

SLOAN: It's good. It's good for the city. I mean, it's such good memories for these kids. They're very lucky to have all these celebrations.

MORRIS: All that joy turned to fear and anger when shots rang out yesterday afternoon. At first people thought it was fireworks wrapping up the event, but panic spread through the crowd. People stumbled to get away, some leaving chairs, backpacks and baby strollers behind. This morning, authorities continue to investigate the crime, and everyone else is coping with the bewildering anguish that comes after a mass shooting.

MARTÍNEZ: That's Frank Morris, reporter with member station KCUR. Frank, thank you.

MORRIS: Thank you, A.

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MARTÍNEZ: Russia is developing a space-based nuclear capability that could be used to target satellites. That's according to a source familiar with the matter.

MARTIN: National security adviser Jake Sullivan is on Capitol Hill today to brief top lawmakers, although Sullivan would not confirm the topic of that meeting.

MARTÍNEZ: Now, there aren't a lot of details about what exactly Russia is up to, but when the words nukes and space and satellites come up, we turn to our science and security correspondent, Geoff Brumfiel. He's here with us this morning. Geoff, new kinds of nuclear weapons in space - that sounds bad. How bad is it?

GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: Yeah. Don't panic, A.

MARTÍNEZ: All right.

BRUMFIEL: Russia already has more than a thousand nuclear weapons here on Earth pointed at us. They could reduce the U.S. to an ash heap in a matter of minutes. That's been the case for decades, and we could do the same to them. But nonetheless, you know, nuclear weapons in space to target satellites would also be pretty bad, and that's why they're actually banned under an international treaty.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. So what rule would Russia be breaking if they put a nuke around the Earth?

BRUMFIEL: Well, the big one is the Outer Space Treaty. It says that states shall not, quote, "place in orbit around the Earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction." So, I mean, you couldn't be more clear about that. This is a treaty that all the major nuclear powers have signed - China, even India and Pakistan. And the U.S. has accused Russia of violating other nuclear treaties recently, but this would go really far. This would run a lot of risks. So, you know, a nuclear weapon, a thermonuclear bomb, in orbit would be a big deal.

MARTÍNEZ: But, OK, so what else then could this nuclear anti-satellite weapon be?

BRUMFIEL: Yeah. It's notable the U.S. called it a nuclear, quote, "capability," not a nuclear bomb. And, you know, satellites have become really important in warfare. Ukraine, for example, has been using Starlink to help it fight Russia. Russia, the U.S. and China have all been experimenting with ways to shoot down satellites in recent years, mainly with missiles from the Earth. And one of the options here might be not a nuclear weapon, but a nuclear power reactor. A reactor would generate electricity, and that electricity could be used for some sort of elaborate satellite-jamming or satellite-zapping device. It'd have to be a real James-Bond-type deal. The Russians have been looking at nuclear reactors for space recently, and actually some of the Americans - the Air Force has a program called the Joint Emergent Technology Supplying On-Orbit Nuclear Power. The short one for this is JETSON. That's the acronym. Those of us of a certain age will know what that means.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah.

BRUMFIEL: But basically, there's no talk of using the U.S. reactors for anti-satellite weaponry. A lot of that is for space exploration. At least that's what the public says. Anyway, a nuclear reactor in space is a big deal, but it's also not an immediate threat because there's probably still a lot of R&D to be done.

MARTÍNEZ: Jetsons were a cartoon way back in the day, in case anyone's wondering. So what more do we expect to learn about this?

BRUMFIEL: Right. So Jake Sullivan is planning to brief the House leaders today, including the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Republican Mike Turner. Yesterday, Turner called for President Biden to declassify information about a national security threat, assuming that's the nuclear threat. But it remains to be seen if Biden will do it.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. NPR's science and security correspondent Geoff Brumfiel, thanks a lot.

BRUMFIEL: Thank you.

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MARTÍNEZ: The number of migrants trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border went down by 50% in January.

MARTIN: That's compared to the record number of undocumented people who crossed the border in December.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR's Jasmine Garsd covers immigration, joins us now to unpack what's driving this. Fifty percent - sounds like a pretty significant drop. Why did that happen?

JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: It is a pretty steep dip. I mean, for context, in December, authorities encountered over 249,000 migrants crossing the border unauthorized. That's the highest monthly total ever recorded, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Now, in January, they encountered over 124,000. So why? Well, we know the border crossings are very cyclical, and January is a slow month because of weather. But think about what's been going on in the U.S. in the last few months, these really heated arguments about increasing border enforcement. So I spoke to Isaac Abramson (ph) from the Washington Office on Latin America about how that sparked rumors that the U.S. was closing down its border.

ADAM ISACSON: Migrants were widely believing that something was going to happen at the end of December, and you had to get in before the end of the year. It's a combination of word of mouth and also some messaging from smugglers saying, go now, go now. Be my customer now.

GARSD: So basically, it led to a let's-get-ahead-of-this-and-run in December and then a drop in January.

MARTÍNEZ: Was there any change in U.S. enforcement on the border that could have led to it?

GARSD: Well, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has said border enforcement agents didn't have the funding to secure the border in the month of December. So that's why you saw such high numbers. Congress has failed to provide additional funding for major changes in border enforcement. So what we're seeing again is seasonal dips, rumors of a border shutdown and some more enforcement in Mexico. Also, the Biden administration restarted deportation flights back to Venezuela and other countries, which has sent a message.

MARTÍNEZ: Now, you mentioned Congress failing to approve that additional funding for border security. Do you think that will affect the flow of migrants trying to get to the U.S.?

GARSD: Sources I spoke to told me, despite this slip, they expect border crossings to keep going up and the immigration system to continue being overwhelmed. Just yesterday, The Washington Post reported that as a result of that inaction by Congress, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has drafted plans to release thousands of immigrants and slash its capacity to hold detainees. Abramson says it's an outdated and ill-funded system.

ISACSON: In general, they're working with infrastructure that was built for, you know, single Mexican adults, mostly male adults, who were economic migrants. That was the typical migrant until 2014.

GARSD: Nowadays at the border, it's families. It's kids. It's people from all over the world. Immigration has changed so much in the last couple of decades. The system hasn't.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. That's Jasmine Garsd. Thank you very much for letting us know about all this.

GARSD: Thank you.

MARTÍNEZ: One more story we're following - Israeli forces have stormed the main hospital in southern Gaza today. The Al Nasser medical facility in Khan Younis has been under siege and targeted by Israeli fire for days. The military has been telling thousands of displaced and injured people sheltering there to evacuate. Southern Gaza has been the main target of Israel's offensive against Hamas in recent weeks. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised a full-scale invasion of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians have taken refuge. For more on this, visit us at npr.org. 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.

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.
A Martínez
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.