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Up First briefing: Americans freed from Iran; Biden to address U.N.; history of umami

U.S. citizens Siamak Namazi (back), Emad Sharqi (left) and Morad Tahbaz (center) disembark from a Qatari jet on their arrival at the Doha International Airport on Monday.
Karim Jaafar
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AFP via Getty Images
U.S. citizens Siamak Namazi (back), Emad Sharqi (left) and Morad Tahbaz (center) disembark from a Qatari jet on their arrival at the Doha International Airport on Monday.

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

Five Americans detained in Iran for years are expected to arrive in the U.S. to reunite with their families soon. In exchange for their return, the Biden administration freed five Iranians from U.S. custody and gave Iran access to $6 billion in frozen oil revenues.

  • NPR's Peter Kenyon says on Up First that it's hard to predict whether anything can be done to keep Iran from detaining more Americans. At the U.N. General Assembly this week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to discuss an effort by the U.S. and Canada to unite countries in an agreement to act together against any country that takes hostages.  


Also at the U.N. this week is President Biden. He will give his annual address laying out his foreign policy agenda this morning. Biden is expected to ask other nations to continue supporting Ukraine's sovereignty.

  • NPR's Tamara Keith is at the U.N. She says Biden will share his vision for U.S. leadership in the world. But, Keith says "all signs point to instability and uncertainty on the domestic political front." The White House requested an additional $24 billion to support Ukraine. Far-right House Republicans have balked at the request, and the government may run out of money at the end of the month.


Military officials have identified the remains of an F-35 fighter jet that went missing Sunday north of Charleston, S.C. A Marine Corps pilot ejected safely from the plane and was taken to a local medical center in stable condition, according to Joint Base Charleston. The incident is currently under investigation. It's not yet known why the pilot abandoned the craft.

  • WUNC's Jay Price spoke to retired Navy Commander Ward Price who says he's baffled over why the plane was so hard to find. The jet costs about $80 million and is the military's newest stealth fighter. 


In a video posted to Facebook last night, United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain said if "serious progress" isn't made in negotiations with automakers by noon Friday, more union members will be called to join the strike. Roughly 13,000 workers are currently striking at three plants in Missouri, Michigan and Ohio.

  • On Morning Edition, Fain said there's "a long way to go" with negotiations. The union will provide workers who are laid off because of the strikes with $500 a week.

From our hosts

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This essay was written by A Martínez. He came to NPR in 2021 and is one of Morning Edition and Up First's hosts.

Is culturally competent health care as important as medically competent health care? I used to think a doctor's skills were all that mattered. Who cares about anything else? Since they're all "practicing" medicine...

My perspective started to change when my family realized my grandfather was slipping into dementia.

We had to make a choice as we searched for a facility: The more medically competent places looked great but lacked an understanding of what my Spanish-speaking grandfather might need day to day. The more culturally competent facilities lacked enough resources to quell our concerns. So, instead of choosing between those two, we chose to get the best of both and care for him at home. Two family members retired early to care for him full-time, and the rest helped when their schedules allowed. It was a decade of physically and emotionally grueling work, but it was the best possible place for him to live out his life. He got to eat the Ecuadorian food he was used to and got to listen to all the Andean music he loved since childhood.

This was the subject of a recent roundtable I had with Mario Tapia, founder of the Latino Center on Aging, and Maria Aranda, executive director of the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging. Both think the U.S. is not prepared for the growing number of older Latinos who will soon be needing elder care.

Listen to our conversation here.

Weekly dose of wonder

A vegan dish made by adding vegetables, tofu, or pumpkin to miso soup made from soybeans.
Yuuji / Getty Images
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Getty Images
A vegan dish made by adding vegetables, tofu, or pumpkin to miso soup made from soybeans.

Umami is now considered a primary taste – alongside sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Long before she knew its name, NPR's Yuki Noguchi grew up eating foods steeped in it in her Japanese immigrant household. She wanted to learn what makes this complex taste – the only one where smell plays a part. She found years of racist resistance from Western cultures tied to MSG myths. But now we know that umami is everywhere – including in your pepperoni pizza.

Listen to how it might be a healthy alternative for airplane food, or read the story here.

3 things to know before you go

A woman stands in front of an blank canvas hung up at the Kunsten Museum in Aalborg, Denmark, in 2021. Danish artist Jens Haaning sent the museum blank canvasses under the title <em>Take the Money and Run</em>.
Henning Bagger / Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Ima
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Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Ima
A woman stands in front of an blank canvas hung up at the Kunsten Museum in Aalborg, Denmark, in 2021. Danish artist Jens Haaning sent the museum blank canvasses under the title Take the Money and Run.

  1. Danish artist Jens Haaning has been asked to repay a loan worth about $76,400 to the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art after he delivered two blank canvases titled Take the Money and Run.
  2. In 2013, Alie Ward was unhappy in her job, her dad was diagnosed with cancer and her relationship ended. To distract herself, she took photos of bugs and posted them online. Her unsung hero, an entomologist, gave her a museum tour and changed her life.
  3. A black bear sighting at Walt Disney World near Orlando temporarily shut down parts of the Magic Kingdom park yesterday before wildlife authorities captured the animal. 

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

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

Suzanne Nuyen
[Copyright 2024 NPR]