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Up First briefing: Hollywood writers deal, NASA asteroid sample, pickleball caucus

Screenwriters on strike protest in front of Paramount Studios on May 2, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
Valerie Macron
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AFP via Getty Images
Screenwriters on strike protest in front of Paramount Studios on May 2, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

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 Writers Guild of America (WGA) and major Hollywood studios have reached a tentative deal. If ratified by WGA members, it will bring their nearly 150-day strike to an end.

  • The halt in Hollywood productions is likely to continue while the actors union, SAG-AFTRA is still on strike, NPR's Mandalit Del Barco, who's been reporting on the strike since May, tells Up First.
  • One screenwriter she spoke with said the writers will support everyone who supported them.
  • The WGA's demands included higher pay and residuals for streaming services, guaranteed staffing levels on television shows, and protections against the use of artificial intelligence to replace them.


Congress has just five days left to avoid a government shutdown. A shutdown would directly affect the economy, with hundreds of thousands of government workers going without pay.

  • NPR's David Gura reports the impact of a shutdown will depend on how long it lasts. If it were to extend beyond a few days or weeks, the U.S. economy would take a bigger hit.
  • Besides the economic challenges, a shutdown would also mean that policymakers wouldn't be able to access new economic data, as the government officials responsible for collecting and reporting it would be unable to work.


NASA scientists are celebrating the safe landing of a canister containing about a cup's worth of asteroid rocks in a Utah desert after a 7-year NASA mission sent to retrieve them.

  • The black pebbles and dirt are remnants of the solar system's early days of planet formation. Scientists took the canister to a clean room nearby and put it under a cloak of nitrogen gas to protect it from the Earth's atmosphere as it's transported to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
  • NASA is planning to reveal its final findings from the treasure at an event in October.

From our hosts

This essay was written by Leila Fadel, host of Morning Edition and Up First. She was previously an NPR national correspondent covering race and identity. Prior to that, she was an international correspondent based in Cairo.

A poem. A warning. A prophecy. That is what Mustafa al-Trabelsi left behind when the floods in Derna swept him away with much of his Libyan city more than two weeks ago.

This screenshot is taken from the Arabic poem by Mustafa al-Trabelsi. It displays the initial three lines of the original poem, which read as follows: "The rain exposes the drenched streets, the cheating contractor, and the failed state."
/ Khaled Mattawa
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Khaled Mattawa
Mustafa al-Trabelsi's poem was translated from Arabic by Libyan writer Khaled Mattawa. This screenshot displays the initial three lines of the original poem, which read as follows: "The rain exposes the drenched streets, the cheating contractor, and the failed state."

He died with thousands of others. But the words he wrote and reposted on Facebook just hours before the floods now capture the sentiment of a nation that is grieving and angry. Libyans say they've lived with years of conflict and corruption that compounded the impact of Storm Daniel. Listen to the poem and the reason why the poet Khaled Mattawa chose to translate it into English — Leila Fadel

Today's listen

The members of Talking Heads — Jerry Harrison, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and David Byrne — today and as they appeared in 1983 with their live band, for the concerts that would become the film <em data-stringify-type="italic">Stop Making Sense</em>.
/ Sire Records/Michael Ochs Archives/Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images/Illustration by Jackie Lay
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Sire Records/Michael Ochs Archives/Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images/Illustration by Jackie Lay
The members of Talking Heads — Jerry Harrison, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and David Byrne — today and as they appeared in 1983 with their live band, for the concerts that would become the film Stop Making Sense.

The messy breakup of the Talking Heads is a major part of the band's legacy, with its four members rarely appearing in public together. Jerry Harrison, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth and David Byrne recently sat down with Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep to discuss the 40th anniversary re-release of Stop Making Sense, the concert film that captured them in their prime in 1983. As they reminisced on those days and all that's happened since, there was a sense of warmth, nostalgia and growth. Listen to their conversation and readan expanded version.

3 things to know before you go

Male giant panda Xiao Qi Ji rolls around in his enclosure during a 'Panda Palooza' event at the Smithsonian National Zoo on September 23, 2023 in Washington, DC.
Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Male giant panda Xiao Qi Ji rolls around in his enclosure during a 'Panda Palooza' event at the Smithsonian National Zoo on September 23, 2023 in Washington, DC.

  1. A government shutdown could play spoilsport to a farewell party for pandas at the National Zoo. The zoo is holding the "Panda Palooza," a goodbye party for the pandas, from Sept. 23 to Oct. 1.
  2. Politicians across the aisle in the Senate are setting their differences aside to come together in an unlikely place: the pickleball court.
  3. Ethiopian runner Tigst Assefa set a new women's world record at the BMW Berlin Marathon on Sunday. She smashed the previous record by more than two minutes.

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi. Rachel Treisman contributed.

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

Anandita Bhalerao