Up First briefing: Russia grain deal; Kansas City power outages; 2024 fundraising numbers
Russia leaves the deal that allowed Ukrainian ports to export food. Days after a thunderstorm hit the Kansas City area, nearly 12,000 homes are still without power. President Biden leads the field in 2024 fundraising.
Today's top stories
The only bridge linking Russia to Crimea has been damaged — and two people killed — in an apparent explosion that Russian officials are blaming on Ukraine. NPR's Charles Maynes reports from Moscow that the bridge is a key supply line for Russian forces operating in southern Ukraine as well as a "potent symbol of Moscow's hold over Crimea," which Russia illegally annexed in 2014.
- Also today, Russia's government said it is halting participation in a grain deal that enables Ukraine to export food to the rest of the world. President Vladimir Putin had previously threatened to let the U.N.-backed agreement expire, and Maynes says some will surely point to the bridge attack as a provocation to justify that move.
Alabama's Republican-led legislature is holding a special session to approve a new map of congressional voting districts, after the U.S. Supreme Court said the current map, approved after the 2020 census, weakens the power of its Black voters. It only has one majority Black district (out of seven), in a state where more than one in four people are Black.
- NPR's Hansi Lo Wang says the groups who filed the lawsuit are looking to see if there are two majority Black voting districts in this new map, which could open the door to Alabama doubling the number of Democrats representing the state in the U.S. House of Representatives. Plus, he says the Supreme Court's ruling could have ripple effects in other states, including Georgia and Louisiana.
The latest campaign fundraising numbers came out this weekend, offering a fresh snapshot of the state of the 2024 presidential race. President Biden raised $72 million from April through June — almost as much as all the Republican candidates combined, but still short of what former Presidents Obama and Trump had raised by this point in their reelection bids, NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith tellsUp First.
- Keith says these numbers matter because grassroots donations can be an indicator of enthusiasm for a campaign, and "a lot of these campaigns are coming up short in that area."
Early Bird: The latest news from Kansas City
In the aftermath of Friday’s thunderstorms, Evergy says it’s undertaking its largest power restoration project in over two decades — but it may take several more days to bring all the lights back on. At the peak of the storm, Evergy reported 186,000 people without power throughout Kansas and the Kansas City metropolitan area. By this morning, that number was below 12,000.
After struggling for nearly a year to get federal food assistance to qualified low-income families, Missouri has decided not to participate in this summer’s program — forgoing tens of millions of dollars in federal aid. The problems administering the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer program, or P-EBT, played a major role in the decision not to participate this year. Missouri education officials are not confident new money could be dispersed by a Sept. 30 deadline.
- Heard on the podcast: Missouri state Rep. Crystal Quade, a Springfield Democrat who serves as the House minority leader, announced her gubernatorial candidacy for Missouri governor last week. She says her primary issues are childcare and health care access, and defending public education. But can a Democrat win in Missouri any more? Listen to that story on Kansas City Today.
If you have a tween in your life, chances are you've gotten a question (or two, or more) about their first smartphone. Namely: When will they get it, and what will you do to keep them safe? Emily Cherkin, a screen-time consultant who spent more than a decade as a middle school teacher, is one of many experts who advise parents to hold off on devices (tablets included!) and social media for as long as possible. Read or listen here to find out why — and what alternatives she recommends instead.
Humans — and our mines, dams, cities and agriculture — have made such a mark on the planet that some scientists argue we're officially in a new geologic time period: the Anthropocene era, or the age of the humans. Three Canadian artists fascinated by the debate captured 50 photos in 22 countries showing humans' impact on the Earth, from a sprawling garbage dump in Kenya to a Texas petrochemical plant. See some of them here.
3 things to know before you go
- Nearly 8,000 writers, including Viet Thanh Nguyen and Margaret Atwood, have signed a letter asking six artificial intelligence companies to stop using their work without permission or compensation.
- Jane Birkin — the British actress, pop singer and namesake of the Hermès Birkin designer handbag — died on Sunday at the age of 76.
- An Alabama woman went missing on Thursday after telling 911 she was going to help a toddler stranded on the side of the interstate, capturing national attention. Police say she returned home on Saturday.
This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.