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Ramadan begins without a cease-fire; 'Oppenheimer' sweeps the Oscars

People walk next to the Dome of Rock Mosque at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City on Sunday.
Mahmoud Illean
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AP
People walk next to the Dome of Rock Mosque at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City on Sunday.

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

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins today for many countries, without the Israel-Hamas cease-fire that U.S. officials and Arab mediators have been working on for weeks. NPR's Aya Batrawy tells Up First that the main sticking point is the shape of the cease-fire itself: The U.S. backs a six-week humanitarian pause, while Hamas wants an end to the war. Israel agrees with the U.S., but also insists on a military operation into the southern Gaza city of Rafah, now home to more than one million displaced Palestinians lacking basic necessities. Batrawy says "the usual traditions of Ramadan are impossible in these conditions."


Check out npr.org/mideastupdates for more coverage and analysis of the conflict.

Haiti extended a state of emergency in its capital, Port-au-Prince, as armed gangs have continued their attacks on government buildings after releasing thousands of prison inmates earlier this month. They struck when de facto Prime Minister Ariel Henry was out of the country, and he is now blocked from entering both Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic.

  • NPR's Eyder Peralta reports from the Dominican Republic that while Henry is "still hanging on," the unrest has created a power vacuum that gang leaders are jockeying to fill. Gang violence has harmed civilians, displaced hundreds of thousands of Haitians and left many more hungry.
  • Leaders of Caribbean countries have called an emergency meeting in Jamaica today to discuss the situation, and invited the United Nations, U.S., France, Canada and Brazil.   


Pop Culture Happy Hour host Linda Holmes joins the newsletter with takeaways from last night's Academy Awards:

Oppenheimer won big on Sunday night, taking home seven awards including best picture. But the academy also liked the look — literally — of Poor Things, which won the design categories of makeup/hairstyling, costumes and production design. Emma Stone won her second Oscar and Cillian Murphy won his first, Da'Vine Joy Randolph stood up for publicists and Robert Downey, Jr. completed a long, long comeback story. John Cena presented an award naked (sort of), and Ryan Gosling brought the house down with his amazing Kenergy. All in all, it was a satisfying Oscar night, even if there weren't many big surprises. As it turns out, you can like Oppenheimer and you can like Barbie, and you can like some other movies too — even as an Oscar voter.

Stay pop culture savvy with NPR's guide to TV, movies and more by subscribing to the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter.

Deep dive

So-called point-of-sale donations have sharply increased in recent years, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars a year. But the requests to "round up" your bill for charity have really taken off.
/ Josie Norton for NPR
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Josie Norton for NPR
So-called point-of-sale donations have sharply increased in recent years, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars a year. But the requests to "round up" your bill for charity have really taken off.

"Round-up" campaigns have become ubiquitous at grocery chains, gas stations and stores in recent years, and raked in millions of dollars annually for everything from scholarships to cancer research. Donations at check-out nearly doubled between 2012 and 2022, when charities raised $749 million nationwide through so-called point-of-sale fundraising campaigns. Marketing and management experts have several theories why — and it's not just because of consumer generosity.

  • Psychology at work: Researchers say consumers have less perceived pain when they are asked to round up, compared to a solicitation for a specific dollar amount. Plus, humans tend to prefer round numbers.
  • A moral test: It's also a way to signal that you care, and avoid potential feelings of guilt. Research shows that customers might also change their behavior in public and private settings, aka in front of a cashier versus at the self-checkout.
  • Potential downsides: Customers could feel manipulated by the retailers doing the asking, or become overwhelmed with the sheer number of asks. And even if they do donate, these quick transactions don't necessarily create meaningful connections with charities. 

Today's listen

Mexican bullfighter Hilda Tenorio performs during a bullfight event at the Monumental Plaza de Toros Mexico in Mexico City on February 9.
Alfredo Estrella / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
Mexican bullfighter Hilda Tenorio performs during a bullfight event at the Monumental Plaza de Toros Mexico in Mexico City on February 9.

Matadors are back in Mexico City, after Mexico's Supreme Court overturned a 2022 ban on bullfighting in the capital. The tradition faces declining popularity, animal rights protests and outright bans in several countries. But it's also in some ways entering the modern era, as a growing number of female bullfighters enter the arena and demand to be treated equally. Hilda Tenorio is one of them. Read the story and give it a listen.

3 things to know before you go

A door plug area of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft awaiting inspection is pictured with paneling removed at the airline's facilities at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Jan. 10 in SeaTac, Wash.
Lindsey Wasson / AP
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AP
A door plug area of an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft awaiting inspection is pictured with paneling removed at the airline's facilities at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Jan. 10 in SeaTac, Wash.

  1. Boeing, which is under multiple federal investigations, says it can't find documents about the door plug that blew off an Alaska Airlines jet in January because there likely are none.
  2. A Chicago man is suing several online platforms and dozens of women, alleging he was defamed and doxed after people called him "clingy" in a local Facebook group called "Are We Dating the Same Guy?"
  3. Scarlett Johansson made a surprise appearance on Saturday Night Live to parody Republican Sen. Katie Britt's State of the Union response, declaring she was "auditioning for the part of Scary Mom." 

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.
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