Up First briefing: Zelenskyy at NATO; SAG-AFTRA deadline; KC Streetcar repairs
Biden will meet with Zelenskyy today at NATO. The contract between Hollywood studios and the actors' union is set to expire. Kansas City's streetcar is out of commission for several weeks.
Today's top stories
President Biden will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy today as the NATO summit wraps up in Lithuania. NATO leaders agreed yesterday that Ukraine could join the alliance eventually but gave no timeline, angering Zelenskyy. On twitter, he said NATO's reluctance to set a timetable was "absurd."
- NPR's Eleanor Beardsley is in Lithuania. On Up First today says Ukraine's membership is "clearly not going to happen" while the war with Russia rages. But Ukraine wants a timeline now and says without it, Russian President Vladimir Putin can keep up the war and use it as a kind of veto against its membership.
Some promising news for your budget: The government's monthly consumer price index report for June is expected to reveal an annual inflation rate of about 3%— the lowest it's been since spring 2021.
- Forecasters say consumers may see a break in travel costs, according to NPR's Scott Horsley. Airline capacity has caught up to the summer demand, and jet fuel prices are down. Still, Horseley says don't expect an end to interest rate hikes: The Fed is expected to raise them at least one more time.
Hollywood is on edge as the contract between film and TV actors in the SAG-AFTRA union and studios will expire tonight after negotiators issued an extension two weeks ago. If they can't come to an agreement, the actors could join their colleagues from the Writers Guild of America on strike for the first time since 1960.
- Though both sides have a media blackout, NPR's Mandalit del Barco says two key issues in negotiations are AI and residuals. Actors want to get paid more residuals for streaming platforms and control over where their likenesses are used. If actors go on strike, they won't be able to promote their work — including for the Emmys and at next week's Comic-Con.
The farm bill — typically renewed every five years — expires this year. As Congress works towards a new measure, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the nation's biggest food assistance program, is under scrutiny. Nutrition assistance makes up 80% of the bill's spending, and more than 40 million Americans are currently on SNAP. Here's how lawmakers want to expand or limit access.
Early Bird: The latest news from Kansas City
- Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed into law last week a bill that extends Medicaid benefits for new moms from 60 days to a full year postpartum. Dr. Ebony Carter, a high-risk obstetrician, says the bill helps the most vulnerable, low-income mothers who often have underlying health issues.
- But some say Missouri isn't doing enough. A state-commissioned review board found that mental health conditions were the leading cause of pregnancy-related deaths from 2017 to 2019 — and that 100% of deaths related to maternal mental health issues were preventable.
The Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Kansas attorney general’s office boasted about a new joint effort that seized 25,000 counterfeit oxycodone pills — suspected of containing fentanyl — in Wichita. The seizure was part of what the agencies are calling the Joint Fentanyl Impact Team, an enforcement effort focused on “identifying and disrupting fentanyl trafficking and distribution networks." But drug policy experts say efforts like these don’t work.
- Heard on the podcast: On the Fourth of July, the Kansas City streetcar experienced a track failure on the Main Street bridge above I-670 because of the midsummer heat. Now the streetcar will be shut down for weeks as crews work on repairs. Learn more from KCUR's Up To Date.
From our hosts
This essay was written by Steve Inskeep. He joined NPR in 1996 and started hosting Morning Edition in 2004. He also hosts Up First.
On Morning Edition, our colleague Diaa Hadid detailed the Taliban's latest move in Afghanistan: revoking women's beauty salon licenses. Some three thousand businesses are affected in Kabul alone."
A ban on salons can sound frivolous," Diaa says, "but it's one of the few female-dominated industries," and "it was also one of the few places where Afghan women could still congregate outside their homes."
Diaa asked one owner, Samia Faqiri, about the steady progression of restrictions on women and girls, who've been barred from many workplaces and schools. "Death is better than this," Faqiri said. "God should just kill us all. We are alive, but we aren't living."
When Morning Edition and Up First produced a special series from Afghanistan in 2022, we found a consistent theme. Wherever we traveled, in both rural and urban areas, we found people trying to practice democracy. They tried to speak out, to deliver the news, to demand government services and to get girls into school.
The Taliban itself allowed some debate. Some Taliban leaders seemed to favor more openness and even some freedom for women.
But each debate is referred up the chain to a single supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhunzada, whose answer is usually the same: No.
That underwhelming sandwich you ate for lunch yesterday could go viral — in China. Young professionals are playfully embracing #whitepeoplefood, or #白人饭 on Chinese social media. The no-frills, no-fuss lunches are bewildering for many people who are used to complex Chinese dishes that include dozens of ingredients. Check out the funny photos of their Western-style lunches.
3 things to know before you go
- A Michigan jury has ruled that a handwritten note by Aretha Franklin found under a couch cushion in her home is a valid will. The verdict comes after a long legal battle within Franklin's family to determine what the late musician wanted for her estate.
- Vincent Yuen started picking up trash with his daughters during the pandemic. He's since launched Refuse Refuse, a grassroots volunteer effort that's collected more than 23,000 bags of garbage in the San Francisco area. (via KALW)
- Bank of America has been ordered to pay more than $100 million to customers and another $150 million in penalties for charging insufficient fund fees, withholding reward bonuses and opening accounts without customer consent.
This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.
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