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Morning news brief

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

There was a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in Taiwan today. It's the biggest quake to hit the island in 25 years.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

At least seven people are reported dead. Hundreds are injured, and some people are thought to be trapped in rubble. Japan and the Philippines briefly faced tsunami warnings as a result of this earthquake, although those warnings are now lifted.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR's Emily Feng was in her home in Taipei today when the quake hit. Emily, what did it feel like?

EMILY FENG, BYLINE: Well, earthquakes are really common here. So when my building first started shaking, I didn't really think anything of it. But then what followed was about 10 minutes of the most intense shaking I'd have experienced yet since moving to this island. The earthquake hit at about 8 a.m. local time, so I just laid out my coffee and my morning snacks. And when things were shaking, I was actually in an online call, but I just kept going because, again, I thought it was a normal quake. But then everything on my table shattered - the glasses, the coffee - and my building kept swaying for about the next three hours because of numerous aftershocks. In fact, there was just a small one as I was talking to you a few minutes ago. Here's a clip of a Taipei TV studio that was live pretty close to where my home is when the earthquake happened.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED NEWS ANCHOR: (Non-English language spoken).

FENG: And you can hear the anchor trying to keep on going...

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah.

FENG: ...But you can also hear the lights and the cameras hanging above her clanging wildly because the building was shaking. And I really got to hand it to her - she tells everyone to stay calm.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah, Emily, and I live in LA, so I live in an earthquake area, too. And for people that don't know - when an earthquake happens, you just keep doing what you're doing until the earthquake tells you otherwise because that's kind of the way it works in these areas. So what's the situation near the epicenter?

FENG: Right now, roads and train lines there are still shut off. The epicenter was just off Taiwan's east coast, which is on several major fault lines. Right now, you can only reach the city by boat. Some 87,000 people there are without power 'cause a few power plants shut down for safety. And the closest city is Hualien. It has about 320,000 people in that county. It is one of the less densely populated areas in Taiwan. But still, there are videos of some off-kilter houses, some collapsed buildings and bridges that were swaying during the earthquake. Mostly, though, it's been a lot of landslides that have blocked roads to the city.

MARTÍNEZ: You mentioned aftershocks. How many more do you expect?

FENG: Hard to say - precedent says the aftershocks could continue for the next day or so. There have been dozens, and some of these aftershocks have been actually quite strong. One of them the U.S. Geological Survey registered at 6.5 magnitude, which is a pretty large quake in and of itself, and so people are still on alert. But here in Taipei, people have gone back to life as normal, and kids even went back to school.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah. Now, as big as this earthquake was, I mean, it seems like the damage is limited right now. I mean, that sounds pretty remarkable.

FENG: That is the astonishing thing. I mean, let me give you an idea of how kind of amazing this is. By comparison, the last time there was an earthquake this big in Taiwan, it was in 1999, and more than 2,000 people died. The epicenter was in central Taiwan, but still, this time, compared to that time, damages and deaths were minimal. There are still some people trapped in collapsed houses. But so far, most of the people who died were a result of people who had gone hiking and had been hit by rocks. We're still waiting for updates, but right now we're looking at a relatively low figure for deaths and damages, and it's just a testament to how Taiwan has proofed itself against earthquakes in the last 25 years.

MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR's Emily Feng. Thanks a lot. Stay safe and stay alert, Emily.

FENG: Thank you, A.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTÍNEZ: Wisconsin could be called the most recent example of how underwhelmed some Democrats and Republicans are with their party's presumptive presidential nominees.

INSKEEP: At least based on the evidence from yesterday's primary. Wisconsin is a swing state - a once-reliable blue state that went for Donald Trump in 2016, then back to Joe Biden in 2020. Biden and Trump both won their primaries this time, and both faced protest votes, too.

MARTÍNEZ: Maayan Silver with member station WUWM joins us now from Milwaukee. Maayan, so what did we learn last night?

MAAYAN SILVER, BYLINE: Well, weather-wise, it felt like winter in Wisconsin yesterday. And as for the election, borrowing from Shakespeare, it also seemed like the winter of voters' discontent.

MARTÍNEZ: (Laughter).

SILVER: So really, Biden and Trump both won handily in Wisconsin, but they were dealing with these protest votes. And for Biden, that meant the uninstructed vote. That's Wisconsin's version of uncommitted. And in the GOP primary, one surprise for Trump was that Nikki Haley, who dropped out of the race after Super Tuesday, got more than 12% of the vote.

MARTÍNEZ: OK, we'll get to Nikki Haley in just a second. Tell us more about this protest vote against Biden like we've seen in other states.

SILVER: Yeah, it's a movement that spread across the country, urging people to choose uncommitted - or in Wisconsin's case, it's uninstructed - on their primary ballots. They're protesting President Biden's handling of the war in Gaza.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. So how well did they do?

SILVER: Organizers wanted to get at least 20,000 people to do this in Wisconsin. That's actually the margin that Biden won Wisconsin by in 2020. The movement exceeded its own expectations, with more than 40,000 voters choosing that option. Here's Heba Mohammad - she's a spokesperson for Listen to Wisconsin - at a watch party last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HEBA MOHAMMAD: We have blown his last margin of victory out of the water. He needs to be paying attention and calling for an immediate, permanent cease-fire as soon as possible.

SILVER: So these organizers say they'll keep pressuring Biden and local officials to end the war between Hamas and Israel.

MARTÍNEZ: What are Democratic leaders in the state saying about that?

SILVER: Well, I spoke to Ben Wikler after the results came in. He's the chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. And here's what he had to say.

BEN WIKLER: I think that the message from so many of these voters is that they want to be able to vote for Joe Biden this November. They just don't want this heartbreaking tragedy to continue.

SILVER: Wikler did tell me that he thinks it's a good sign that people actually got out and actually voted. He says it means they haven't checked out or given up on the process. He also says it'll actually be important to remind people of everything that's at stake in November, including abortion rights. That's something that's really been mobilizing Democrats in Wisconsin.

MARTÍNEZ: Now, earlier, you mentioned Nikki Haley. That's a name, Maayan, that we haven't heard much about since she dropped out of the race about a month ago. She's still getting votes.

SILVER: Yes. She dropped out too late to be removed from Wisconsin's ballot, and it suggests there's clearly a bloc of Republican voters who are not yet ready to get out there and support Trump. Bill McCoshen is a Wisconsin GOP strategist.

BILL MCCOSHEN: If I were giving any advice to the Trump campaign, it would be to stay disciplined and stay focused. Only talk about issues that really move voters, and don't get distracted by the 2020 election and things like that.

SILVER: But Trump is really hard to corral on that point. He was in Green Bay for a rally yesterday and continued to repeat his ongoing lie, saying that he won Wisconsin in 2020. McCoshen says, instead, Republicans should focus on issues like immigration and the economy.

MARTÍNEZ: That is Maayan Silver with member station WUWM in Milwaukee. Thanks a lot.

SILVER: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTÍNEZ: A Texas immigration law is back in court today for a crucial test.

INSKEEP: The law known as SB4 passed the Republican-dominated legislature in Texas, and it asserts a state role in enforcing federal immigration rules. It empowers police in Texas to arrest people they suspect are living in the United States illegally. It allows local judges to order people deported to Mexico, whether they're from Mexico or not. The law is on hold awaiting today's federal appeals court hearing, which is in New Orleans.

MARTÍNEZ: Julian Aguilar from the Texas Newsroom is here with a preview. So what can we expect today?

JULIAN AGUILAR, BYLINE: So today's arguments will focus on whether the Texas law conflicts with the federal government's authority to enforce immigration policy. Senate Bill 4 - it was supposed to go into effect in early March. It was placed on hold after the Biden administration and a coalition of immigrant and civil rights groups sued to stop its implementation. So of course Texas appealed that decision. Then the case ping-ponged up to the U.S. Supreme Court and back down to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and that's where oral arguments are going to take place today.

MARTÍNEZ: OK. Then these lawsuits from the Biden administration and advocacy groups - I mean, they allege what exactly - I mean, that Texas is - what? - giving itself too much authority over immigration enforcement?

AGUILAR: Yeah. Yes...

MARTÍNEZ: OK.

AGUILAR: ...That's a key component - that immigration policies have historically been crafted and enforced by the federal government and not individual states. The lawsuits also argue that the law will lead to racial profiling of people of color, mainly because the law can be enforced statewide and not just on the state's southern border.

So it's important to keep in mind that the three appeals court judges hearing arguments today on the merits of the case - they're the same judges who previously ruled 2-1 to keep the law on hold as the case plays out.

MARTÍNEZ: And why is Texas arguing that the law should stand?

AGUILAR: So Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, and other supporters of the bill point to the record number of unauthorized crossings on the southern border. And they say Texas is justified to take matters into its own hands if the federal government won't do its job.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. So since this is the same panel of judges that's already decided once to block the law, at least temporarily, I mean, might that hint at what their ruling in this case might be?

AGUILAR: Sure. So it's rarely a good idea to speculate about how judges are going to rule - you know, especially given the dizzying set of offense that got us here. But it's fair to say we at least have a glimpse of what the judges were thinking when they decided to keep the law on hold. So Judge Priscilla Richman wrote that the Supreme Court has held for more than 150 years that immigration enforcement - that's including the admission and removal of people - was the federal government's duty. Richman also acknowledged the possibility this law could sour relations with foreign governments, most notably Mexico, which has already come out forcefully against this bill.

MARTÍNEZ: How is this whole debate playing out in Texas?

AGUILAR: So immigrant rights groups have held know-your-rights events to alert the public at large about risks of the legislation, and they worry about how SB4 can affect mixed-status families. That's where, you know, at least one person is undocumented. They also say it's unclear what probable cause is - how will police decide whom to question? And meanwhile, local police and county sheriffs, even those that support more enforcement, say they don't have a lot of guidance on how to enforce the law, should it go into effect.

MARTÍNEZ: When do you think this will be resolved?

AGUILAR: So legal experts say we can expect a final decision from the Fifth Circuit probably a little sooner than we normally would. And, of course, Texas has the option to ask the full court to let the law go into effect while it waits on that decision. But an ultimate decision will likely come from the U.S. Supreme Court, which means this fight could drag on for quite some time.

MARTÍNEZ: All right. That's Julian Aguilar of the Texas Newsroom. Thanks a lot.

AGUILAR: Thanks for having me on. 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.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
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.