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Up First briefing: Effects of a shutdown; health workers may strike; Maui conspiracies

Government funding runs out at the end of the day on Sept. 30, meaning many federal government services will halt until funding resumes.
Mandel Ngan
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AFP via Getty Images
Government funding runs out at the end of the day on Sept. 30, meaning many federal government services will halt until funding resumes.

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 federal government will run out of money and shut down if Congress can't agree on a deal to fund it by the end of the day tomorrow. In an exclusive NPR interview, White House chief of staff Jeff Zients says President Biden won't meet with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and it's up to House Republicans to avert a shutdown.

  • When asked if he's worried about political repercussions for the president, Zients tells NPR's Asma Khalid that the American people will understand that a deal is a deal — referring to a debt ceiling bill Biden and McCarthy agreed on in May. On Up First, Khalid says they are focused on managing the impacts of a shutdown. 
  • Here's what will close and what will keep running in a government shutdown.


As Hollywood actors and auto workers continue to strike, another industry is on the verge of joining them. Tens of thousands of Kaiser Permanente workers could walk out next Wednesday if an agreement between their union and employer isn't reached before their contracts end tomorrow.

  • Kaiser Permanente is one of the biggest nonprofit health care providers in the nation, NPR's Danielle Kaye says. Workers are asking for better benefits and pay. The union's biggest concern is understaffing. The COVID pandemic caused an exodus of workers, exacerbating a preexisting problem. Despite hiring nearly 10,000 more union roles this year, Kaiser can't keep up with the losses.


Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried is due to go on trial for fraud and conspiracy next week. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison. Now, his parents are facing legal troubles of their own.

  • Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried are accused of being integrally involved in their son's now-defunct crypto exchange, according to NPR's David Gura. Bankman allegedly offered legal advice and helped with hiring. Fried received thousands of dollars from her son for her nonprofit. Gura adds that Bankman and Fried are prominent, beloved academics in the Stanford Law School community and the reaction on campus has been "astonishment."

Deep dive

An aerial image taken on Aug. 10, 2023 shows destroyed homes and buildings burned to the ground in Lahaina in the aftermath of wildfires in western Maui, Hawaii. Rumors and conspiracy theories quickly flourished after the fire, hampering relief efforts.
Patrick T. Fallon / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
An aerial image taken on Aug. 10, 2023 shows destroyed homes and buildings burned to the ground in Lahaina in the aftermath of wildfires in western Maui, Hawaii. Rumors and conspiracy theories quickly flourished after the fire, hampering relief efforts.

Did the federal government use energy beams to start the wildfires on Maui? Or was it wealthy media mogul Oprah making a land grab? The absence of clear, reliable information following the fires allowed conspiracy theories to spread quickly. They sowed discord and got in the way of emergency responses.

  • False narratives like these are gaining an audience more rapidly now on platforms like X, previously known as Twitter.
  • Researchers warn these conspiracies will be a force to contend with as climate-related disasters increase.
  • While foreign actors like Russia and China were involved in spreading propaganda, experts say domestic actors are the bigger worry.
  • Since the 1990s, FEMA has listed rumor monitoring control as part of its emergency disaster response and now has a web page addressing some of these wildfire-related rumors. 

Weekend picks

On Doja Cat's fourth album, <em>Scarlet</em>, she delights in playing the "demon" her haters and fans accuse her of being.
/ Illustration by Jackie Lay
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Illustration by Jackie Lay
On Doja Cat's fourth album, Scarlet, she delights in playing the "demon" her haters and fans accuse her of being.

Check out what NPR is watching, reading and listening to this weekend:

Movies: What happens when your secret lover turns into your direct report after a promotion at work? For Phoebe Dynevor and Alden Ehrenreich's characters in Fair Play, things get awkward fast.

Books: Kerry Washington discusses her new memoir, Thicker Than Water, with Fresh Air. She talks about her life, career, activism and journey of self-discovery after she learned her dad wasn't her biological father.

Music: Doja Cat has never backed away from a fight with her online trolls. She channels this energy in her fourth studio album, Scarlet. NPR's Jason King says it's her most "artistically adventurous" yet.

Theater: The blistering civil rights play Purlie Victorious: A Non-Confederate Romp Through the Cotton Patch returns to Broadway after a 62-year absence. Leslie Odom Jr. stars in the revival.

Quiz: Did you read all of this week's culture recs? One of the answers to the news quiz is in this section!

3 things to know before you go

Actress Hattie McDaniel, left, appears with actress Fay Bainter, right, the night McDaniel won best supporting actress for her role in the 1939 film <em>Gone With the Wind</em> in Los Angeles on Feb. 29, 1940. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has created a replacement of McDaniel's Academy Award plaque that it is gifting to Howard University.
/ AP
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AP
Actress Hattie McDaniel, left, appears with actress Fay Bainter, right, the night McDaniel won best supporting actress for her role in the 1939 film Gone With the Wind in Los Angeles on Feb. 29, 1940. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has created a replacement of McDaniel's Academy Award plaque that it is gifting to Howard University.

  1. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is replacing Hattie McDaniel's Oscar, which has been missing for at least 50 years. McDaniel was the first Black person to be nominated for and win an Oscar for her role in Gone With the Wind
  2. The reign of mammals could come to an end sooner than we expected. Scientists say mammals' end date could be in 250 million years — meaning our time on Earth is halfway over.
  3. NASA scientists believe there may be carbon in the ocean on Europa, a distant moon of Jupiter. The discovery brings them closer to knowing if Europa could support life.

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

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

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