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How does avian flu affect your breakfast; NATO solemnly celebrates 75th anniversary

Cows lay down a freestall barn after getting milked on the Ted and Megan McAllister dairy farm.
Charlie Neibergall
Cows lay down a freestall barn after getting milked on the Ted and Megan McAllister dairy farm.

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Today's top stories

Even scientists who have tracked the avian influenza for years are confused by its recent spread in dairy cattle populations. "There's a heap of unknowns right now," says Richard Webby, a virologist at St Jude Children's Research Hospital. What we do know is that the first cases of this H5N1 bird flu strain emerged among migratory birds in late 2021, and is now showing up among dairy cows and at a major egg producer in Mississippi. One person who had close contact with cows presumed to be infected with the virus has caught the virus.

  • Federal officials and scientists stress the risk to the public remains low, despite reports that the strain is affecting new wild bird species and persisting longer than previous ones. There are no documented cases of human to human transmission, and it's generally rare for people to catch any type of bird flu. "The good news is this is not a serious problem," Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller told NPR."It's not going to bankrupt anybody. Cows basically have the flu for a week, and they get over it." The USDA has also said that the dairy supply remains safe and no recall is needed because only milk from healthy cows can be processed for human consumption. Read everything else you need to know about H5N1 here.

Polling in Israel shows two things: 1) Israelis overwhelmingly support the Israeli government's war on Hamas and 2) Israelis overwhelmingly disapprove of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Benny Gantz, who is a part of the prime minister's war cabinet, is the leader of the opposition party in Israel. He's called for the government to agree on a date for elections. Polls show that Gantz would win against Netanyahu in an election.

  • Gantz was brought in as a kind of moderating influence in the country's war cabinet, NPR's Jennifer Ludden explains on Up First. The retired general and former chief of the military general staff was able to instill public trust in Netanyahu's cabinet. Even before these recent calls for a new election, the prime minister has said that elections would paralyze the country for months and stall negotiations for the release of more than a 100 hostages still in Gaza. Ludden adds that a lot of Israelis hold Netanyahu personally responsible for failing to anticipate the Hamas attack which Israel says killed 1,200 people. Israel's military response has now killed more than 32,000 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry. 
  • Orthodox Jews in full time religious study are exempt from military service, which is infuriating for many Israelis, according to Ludden. But ultra religious parties are a key part of Netanyahu's government coalition, and he has yet to challenge this exemption. 

NATO is celebrating its 75th anniversary today. The alliance has nearly tripled in size since it was founded after WWII. One of the newest members, Sweden, is attending its first meeting today as a full member.

  • Russia's war on Ukraine has thrust NATO back into relevance, NPR's Teri Schultz explains on Up First. Just look at the two countries that have recently joined NATO —  Finland and Sweden. They might have remained neutral or militarily non-aligned if Russia hadn't launched a full scale invasion on Ukraine two years ago. Ukraine isn't at today's meeting. NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg has proposed a new five-year plan in which NATO would assume coordination of international weapons deliveries from the U.S. They hope to have this deal hammered out by July, but Ukraine will still not be getting what it really wants — to be the 33rd member of the alliance.

Deep dive

Police recovery crews work near the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge after it was struck by the container ship Dali in Baltimore, Maryland
JIM WATSON / AFP via Getty Images
AFP via Getty Images
Police recovery crews work near the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge after it was struck by the container ship Dali in Baltimore, Maryland

First responders mitigated a lot of the damage that could have been caused by the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore on March 26. NPR's Investigations Team analyzed more than 1,000 radio messages exchanged between the state and city police agencies and the fire department on the day of the collapse.

  • At 1:27 a.m., when a pilot onboard the container ship Dali issued a call saying the ship had lost power near the bridge, first responders jumped on the radio channels. The same minute, officers had been alerted to prevent cars from crossing.
  • The first responder then thought to alert the construction workers but seconds later the ship hit the bridge. Another first responder then called for backup to save the crew — at 1:29 a.m. — but by then the bridge was gone. 
  • That's when the rescue operation began, and first responders tried to confirm how many construction workers were missing. The workers who fell in the water were from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. The messages on the radio show there was a communication difficulty  with other crew members who were trying to help with rescue efforts. "Probably the language barrier," said one of the first responders.
  • Just after 2 a.m., someone spotted something in the water. Fifteen minutes later there were reports of someone receiving medical attention. By early morning, rescuers had pulled two people out of the river alive. 

Life advice

Tipping screens can be intimidating.
Reina Takahashi / NPR
Tipping screens can be intimidating.

Do you ever find yourself staring at a screen that says "select your tip" and have no clue what to do? Well you're not the only one. Tipping is confusing these days, especially when businesses that never asked for tips start asking for them. Tipping expectations have also grown over the last few years, according to a Pew Research survey. It's easier for companies to ask for tips, thanks to electronic payment software like Square. Here are some things to keep in mind the next time you're perplexed by a tip screen:

  •  Location matters. Depending on your state's minimum wage, your server might be expecting a tip. Finding out the local minimum can help you decide how much to leave/tip. 
  • When in doubt, just ask. Sometimes, it's not clear how much of your tip is going to your barista or waitress. You can always ask them if they are getting all of your tip. 
  •  Dealing with unexpected tip requests. Watch out for "screen pressure" — that's when businesses load up their payment systems with high default minimum payment options. 

Before you go

A young boy looks out from the window of a car as members of a Palestinian family leave Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip with personal belongings.
MOHAMMED ABED / AFP via Getty Images
AFP via Getty Images
A young boy looks out from the window of a car as members of a Palestinian family leave Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip with personal belongings.

  1. Dr. Thaer Ahmad, a Palestinian American doctor, walked out of a meeting with President Biden on Tuesday. The meeting with a small group of Muslims was held after the administration canceled a scaled down Ramadan event.
  2. Virginia may become the 12th state in the U.S. to ban marriage for minors. Hear why advocates are hoping more states raise the marrying age to 18. 
  3. Russian goalie Ivan Fedotov played his first game in the NHL nine years after being recruited by the Philadelphia Flyers. Fedotov was detained and forced to enlist in the military when he tried to leave Russia in 2015. 

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi. Suzanne Nuyen and Anandita Bhalerao contributed.

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

Corrected: April 6, 2024 at 11:00 PM CDT
An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of NPR's Teri Schultz.
Mansee Khurana
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
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