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Up First briefing: Zelenskyy at NATO; SAG-AFTRA deadline; #whitepeoplefood

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky looks on prior to a bilateral meeting with the German chancellor and delegation on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Vilnius on July 12, 2023.
Odd Anderson
/
AFP via Getty Images
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky looks on prior to a bilateral meeting with the German chancellor and delegation on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Vilnius on July 12, 2023.

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

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.

    From our hosts

    A mural in Afghanistan shows a woman with her arms raised in protest, standing in front of a group of more women protesting. The word "brave" is written above them in Farsi/Pashto.
    Claire Harbage / NPR
    /
    NPR
    A mural in Afghanistan shows a woman with her arms raised in protest, standing in front of a group of more women protesting. The word "brave" is written above them in Farsi/Pashto.

    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.

    Picture show

    The "White People Food" trend has especially caught on among younger, burned-out office workers on a "996" schedule-- working from 9 in the morning to 9 at night, six days a week, and eager for lunches that are easy to prepare.
    / Little Red Book/screengrab by NPR
    /
    Little Red Book/screengrab by NPR
    The "White People Food" trend has especially caught on among younger, burned-out office workers on a "996" schedule-- working from 9 in the morning to 9 at night, six days a week, and eager for lunches that are easy to prepare.

    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

    Aretha Franklin sings in the studio during her early career at Columbia Records.
    Frank Driggs Collection / Getty Images
    /
    Getty Images
    Aretha Franklin sings in the studio during her early career at Columbia Records.

  • 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.

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