Up First briefing: New Apple AI features; history of plastic use Apple announced several new AI features and a partnership with ChatGPT-maker OpenAI at its Worldwide Developers Conference. How the plastic industry ingrained the material into our lives — and what activists are trying to do about it.

Apple debuts AI features; how plastics became ingrained in our lives

Lebanon-Israel Border Escalation, Southern Baptist Convention, Siri's AI Upgrade

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Today's top stories

The U.N. Security Council voted yesterday to endorse President Biden's cease-fire plan to end the war in Gaza. The council voted 14-0, with Russia abstaining, to support the three-phase plan in which Hamas releases some hostages and Israel releases Palestinian prisoners. Whether Israel and Hamas agree to proceed with the plan remains uncertain. Meanwhile, Israelis are eyeing the possibility of a wider war at its northern border as fighting between the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah and Israel continues.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield (center) votes during a U.N. Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East at U.N. headquarters on Monday. The Security Council adopted a U.S.-drafted resolution supporting a cease-fire plan in Gaza.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield (center) votes during a U.N. Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East at U.N. headquarters on Monday. The Security Council adopted a U.S.-drafted resolution supporting a cease-fire plan in Gaza. Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images
  • 🎧 NPR's Kat Lonsdorf met with people near the border in Kiryat Shmona, which she calls a "ghost town." One man spoke with her amid explosions, telling her he was used to it by now. Lonsdorf says everyone she spoke with said a war with Hezbollah would be the only way to alleviate tensions. Many remembered the 2006 war against Hezbollah and the calm that came afterward.

Apple announced several new AI features and a partnership with ChatGPT-maker OpenAI at its Worldwide Developers Conference yesterday. The collaboration is the first of its kind for Apple which has been seen as slower to adopt AI technology than other companies. OpenAI will be integrated into Apple's digital assistant, Siri, who will be able to scrape the internet and create content to help users with recipe ideas, bedtime stories and more.

  • 🎧 "Apple definitely has been feeling the pressure" to join companies like Microsoft and Google in adopting AI, NPR's Dara Kerr says. But it's risky because ChatGPT has been accused of plagiarism, copyright infringement and providing biased or incorrect answers. With millions of people owning iPhones and other Apple projects, the company will be bringing these AI tools to a "huge new group of people."

A committee of Food and Drug Administration advisers have unanimously recommended that the agency approve the new Alzheimer's drug, donanemab, despite risks of brain bleeding and swelling. Committee member Dean Follmann said the evidence that the drug works is "very strong," and though it doesn't stop the disease, it slows the progression enough to be "meaningful to patients." Colette Johnston, the patient representative on the committee, acknowledged the health risks of the drug but said, "When you get a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, you don’t have anything but risk.”

Deep Dive

In this file photo, a trash can overflows as people sit outside of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on Dec. 27, 2018, in Washington, during a partial government shutdown. The D.C. government cleaned up overflowing trash in the area, controlled by the Dept. of Interior as National Park land. Jacquelyn Martin/AP hide caption

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Jacquelyn Martin/AP
In this file photo, a trash can overflows as people sit outside of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on Dec. 27, 2018, in Washington, during a partial government shutdown. The D.C. government cleaned up overflowing trash in the area, controlled by the Dept. of Interior as National Park land.

In this file photo, a trash can overflows as people sit outside of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on Dec. 27, 2018, in Washington, during a partial government shutdown. The D.C. government cleaned up overflowing trash in the area, controlled by the Dept. of Interior as National Park land.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Over the past seven decades, plastic has become embedded in nearly every part of human life. Many scientists say companies make too much plastic now for society to manage sustainably. The U.N. says the problem is further fueled by a "worrying shift" toward single-use plastics, which are designed to be used once and disposed of. Here's how the plastic industry ingrained the material into our lives — and what activists are trying to do about it.

  • ➡️ Synthetic plastic was patented in the early 1900s and marketed as a sturdy, reusable material.
  • ➡️ In 1956, at an annual conference, trade magazine editor Lloyd Stouffer urged executives to stop emphasizing plastic's durability and focus instead on making a lot of inexpensive, expendable material.
  • ➡️ It was hard at first to convince people to throw away plastic items. Adults in the 1950s lived through the Great Depression and World War II, and they were trained to save.
  • ➡️ When people became concerned about the amount of plastic litter and waste seen in public, the industry pushed recycling as an environmental solution. But multiple investigations have shown that plastic industry representatives have long known that recycling would probably never be effective on a large scale.
  • ➡️ Activists say lawsuits, like the one New York State Attorney General Letitia James filed against PepsiCo for endangering the public with plastic pollution, are one way to hold companies accountable.

Picture show

Art inputs by Nitya Kansal. Ashima Yadava hide caption

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Ashima Yadava
Art inputs by Nitya Kansal.

Art inputs by Nitya Kansal.

Ashima Yadava

Like many others, photographer Ashima Yadava sought connection during the pandemic in 2020. On a whim, she contacted her neighbors, asking if she could photograph them from a safe distance. They responded enthusiastically, and she began taking their portraits from across the street as they posed in their front yards. As she worked on her project, it developed into a collaborative book idea, aiming to remind people of humanity's resilience and the connections we can find if we open our worlds to one another.

3 things to know before you go

A father plays with his son at a park in Amritsar, India, on Father's Day in June 2016. Narinder Nanu/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Narinder Nanu/AFP via Getty Images
A father plays with his son at a park in Amritsar, India, on Father's Day in June 2016.

A father plays with his son at a park in Amritsar, India, on Father's Day in June 2016.

Narinder Nanu/AFP via Getty Images
  1. Who is the most influential father figure in your life? NPR wants to know. Share your story ahead of Father's Day, and you could be featured in this Sunday's Up First newsletter.
  2. A new study in Nature Ecology & Evolution suggests that wild elephants may address each other using distinctive, rumbling sounds similar to individual names.
  3. A Spanish court sentenced three men to eight months in prison for using racist taunts against Brazilian soccer star Vinícius Júnior during a game his Real Madrid team played in May of 2023.

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.