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TikTok reveals failed negotiations with U.S. government; do carbon offsets work?

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Today's top stories

The social media application logo, TikTok is displayed on the screen of an iPhone on an American flag background.
AFP via Getty Images
The social media application logo, TikTok is displayed on the screen of an iPhone on an American flag background.

TikTok has made its first major filing to challenge a law President Biden signed in April that would ban the app nationwide unless it is sold to a non-Chinese buyer. Lawmakers are concerned the Chinese government could use the app to spy on U.S. citizens or spread propaganda. TikTok says the ban would violate the First Amendment. Internal documents reveal behind-the-scenes negotiations with the U.S. government, including a roughly 100-page national security agreement that would have given U.S. officials the ability to suspend the app if it became a threat.

  • 🎧 These documents are a "big deal" because they show how far the company was willing to go to appease Washington's fears, NPR's Bobby Allyn tells Up First. Officials in Biden's administration told Allyn that anything short of Tiktok's separation from its Chinese-owned parent company, ByteDance, was a "nonstarter." Allyn says the Supreme Court could ultimately decide on the case. If the ban is upheld, it would "further splinter the internet."

If you've been making summer vacation plans lately, you may have noticed an option to pay a small fee for a carbon offset when purchasing plane tickets or car rentals. Corporations essentially promise that they'll use your money to reduce or remove climate-heating pollution elsewhere. But are these offsets doing what they claim?

  • 🎧 NPR's Julia Simon says there are two big ways carbon offsets can be false promises. First, many of them overestimate their impact. Some are collecting money to protect forests that don't need protection, for example. Second, the majority of offsets promise to remove or store carbon dioxide emissions for 40 years or fewer. But some CO2 can stay in the atmosphere for hundreds or even thousands of years.

Utah state lawmakers have used a new state sovereignty act to override the Biden administration's new Title IX expansion, which goes into effect in August. The new rules aimed to protect pregnant, transgender and LGBTQ+ students. Some of these rules would have gone against laws passed by the Utah Legislature, including one the governor signed that prohibits transgender students from using the bathroom or locker room that aligns with their gender identity. Republican Rep. Neil Walter claims the Title IX expansion “constitutes an overreach” of federal authority. Biden's Title IX expansions have been blocked in at least 10 states, but Utah is the first to invoke sovereignty to do so. (Via KUER)

Picture show

The main exhibit at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. Friday June 14, 2024.
Jared Soares for NPR /
The main exhibit at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. Friday June 14, 2024.

Did you know D.C. hosts the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, including 82 copies of Shakespeare's First Folio, printed 400 years ago? These copies were previously only accessible to scholars. Today, they'll be available for public viewing for the first time when the Folger Shakespeare Library reopens following an $80.5 million renovation.

  • 📷 NPR got an exclusive look behind the scenes at how the Folger Shakespeare Library is connecting with new audiences. See a sneak peek at the new main exhibition hall and see how the space has transformed.

Weekend picks

 Sharks in the Seine — <em>mon dieu!</em>
Netflix / Sofie Gheysens
Sofie Gheysens
Sharks in the Seine — mon dieu!

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

🍿 Movies: Under Paris is currently one of Netflix’s hottest films. It blends suspense and full-on creature horror. Pop Culture Happy Hour's Linda Holmes says the massive hit is "very silly," though not as silly as Sharknado. If you’re looking for a popcorn movie with loads of cartoonish gore, you could do far worse.

 📺 TV: Twenty-time Grand Slam Championship winner Roger Federer announced his retirement in 2022 at 41. How did Federer envision his life after putting down the racket? In the documentary Federer: Twelve Final Days, the athlete talks through his emotions in real time as he gets ready to play professionally for the last time. On Morning Edition, co-director Asif Kapadia calls the documentary “a love story.”

📚 Books: Summer is here! If you’re wondering what to pack for your vacation or cozy reading time, NPR staff have shared their top nonfiction and fiction books of 2024 so far. Find everything from biography and memoir to health, science, history, sports, and more.

🎵 Music: NPR music editor Sheldon Pearce says that Kendrick Lamar's blowout Juneteenth concert at the Forum in Los Angeles "planted flags for the future of LA rap while uniting in hate for a certain Toronto titan." Missed the concert? You can stream it on Amazon.

🎮 Games: Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree is finally here. The sequel to the 2022 gaming hit offers a fresh world to explore, new secrets to uncover, and tough new bosses to defeat.

❓Quiz: How up-to-date are you on celebrity mug shots and Olympic fashion? Test your knowledge on this week's news quiz.

3 things to know before you go

 Lorrie Paul and her father Duane Harlow Roberts
Lorrie Paul /
Lorrie Paul and her father Duane Harlow Roberts.

  1. Lorrie Paul broke down one winter's day in 1996. Her father was not recovering well from open heart surgery, and her mother needed a lot of support. As she sobbed near a window at the hospital, a stranger's hand on her shoulder brought her comfort. She still thinks about this unseen, unsung hero three decades later.
  2. As they head into their golden years, Gen-Xers are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than the Baby Boomers, a new National Cancer Institute study finds.
  3. Virginia “Ginger” Hislop was on the cusp of finishing her master's degree at Stanford University when World War II broke out, and her priorities changed. Eighty-three years later, the 105,-year-old received her degree to a standing ovation. (via KQED)

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

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