Up-and-coming Democrats; Labour wins U.K. election : NPR

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Britain’s Labour Party won a landslide election victory, giving its leader, Keir Starmer, one of the largest parliamentary majorities in British history. This victory marks the return of a center-left government after 14 years of Conservative government. Outgoing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak delivered brief remarks, telling voters, “There is much to learn and reflect on, and I take responsibility for the loss.”

Labour Leader Keir Starmer celebrates winning the 2024 general election with a speech at Tate Modern in London on Friday.

Ricky Vigil/Getty Images Europe


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Ricky Vigil/Getty Images Europe

  • 🎧 NPR’s Lauren Frayer reports on Up First that Starmer now faces a big challenge: a state hobbled by years of austerity measures. Voters tell her over and over that they feel Britain is in decline, and the Conservative Party is to blame. She adds that despite this, Britain’s big turn to the center-left is a notable exception. Elsewhere in Europe, such as in France, the far-right is ascending.
  • 🎧 Who is Keir Starmer? The human rights lawyer and prosecutor called for the monarchy to be abolished when he was a young man. Years later, he knelt before the monarch to get a knighthood. Read more about Britain’s new prime minister (and the man rumored to be the inspiration behind the brooding heartthrob in the Bridget Jones movies).
  • ➡️ NPR’s international correspondents will continue to follow global elections all year. Stay updated on the results here.

American taxpayers are throwing tons of money at the Colorado River. The funds aim to help the 40 million people who rely on the river to squeeze out every last drop as climate change shrinks its flow to critical levels. Drinking water, food production and hydroelectric power are all at risk.

  • 🎧 Alex Hager at NPR network station KUNC in Colorado says the money has “staved off catastrophe” so far, but it hasn’t solved the crisis. He says city and state leaders are “under a ton of pressure to get this right.” “You’re seeing them try to walk this really fine line of confronting water shortages head-on while still trying to grow the economy,” he explains. Cynthia Campbell, who’s with the Phoenix water department, tells Hager that at some point in time, the scope of the problem must be recognized. “You just can’t conserve your way out of it,” she says.

Florida is one of the states most vulnerable to climate change in the U.S. Residents face hurricanes, sea level rise and heat waves. It’s also solidly Republican, with a Republican governor, two Republican senators and Republican majorities in the state legislature. This fall, the state is expected to vote for Donald Trump, who has questioned the existence of manmade climate change.

  • 🎧 Weekend Edition host Ayesha Roscoe noted this contradiction during a very wet trip to Florida this week. She says some elected officials claim to be doing a lot. Monroe County Mayor Holly Raschein tells Rascoe that she has an approximate $5 billion wish list for projects like raising the roads to protect against rising sea levels and cleaning out canals. These efforts focus on resilience — protecting the state from climate change effects. But Rasco points out that Florida Republicans have not done much to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the root cause of climate change.

The fallout from last week’s U.S. presidential debate continues to stir political turmoil. President Biden insists he’s staying in the race despite calls from some Democrats to reconsider following concerns about his weak debate performance. This debate poses a critical question for the party and the public: If not Biden, then who? Here’s a list of potential candidates being discussed for this year or possibly 2028.

Behind the story

Vehicles drive toward downtown Minneapolis on Interstate 35 in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday, May 26, 2024.

Vehicles drive toward downtown Minneapolis on Interstate 35 in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday, May 26, 2024.

Jenn Ackerman for NPR


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Jenn Ackerman for NPR

This essay was written by Dara KerrNPR business desk reporter.

Uber and Lyft drivers have rallied for minimum wage in cities and states nationwide for years. But something strange caught my attention in Minnesota last year. First, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz vetoed a minimum wage bill that had passed the state legislature in 2023. Then, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey did the same with a minimum wage ordinance that passed the City Council.

It seemed like something was up. Both Walz and Frey are labor-friendly Democrats who say they support fair pay for ride-hail drivers.

So, I filed public records requests asking for emails between Uber and Lyft and the governor’s and mayor’s offices. Those documents revealed the companies’ lobbying playbook.

Uber and Lyft barraged the politicians with emails. The companies collected “veto request” letters from community groups, sent statistics on skyrocketing ride fares (without citing data), and suggested language for the lawmakers to use in announcements. Uber and Lyft threatened to leave the city or state if a minimum wage went into effect.

At one point, a lobbyist said the proposed minimum wage would have a “catastrophic impact” and create “transportation deserts.” Spokespeople for Uber and Lyft told NPR that the bills would have left the companies unable to sustain their businesses in Minnesota.

How did it work out? Here’s what happened after a lot of twists and turns for the drivers, politicians and Uber and Lyft’s lobbyists.

Weekend picks

Crystal Wilkinson's praisesong biscuits

Crystal Wilkinson’s praisesong biscuits

Felix Cruz


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Felix Cruz

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

🍿 Movies: Netflix’s A Family Affair stars Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron in a fun romcom where a boss tries to woo his assistant’s mom. Pop Culture Happy Hour’s Linda Holmes says it works well as a romcom because of its star power, solid writing and directing.

📺 TV: Watchers, we’re in for a long, hot summer. If you are stuck inside and need a new show to watch, our critics have you covered. They’ve scoured broadcast and streaming options to recommend the best shows for June, July and August.

📚 Books: It’s Been A Minute host Brittany Luse says the biscuits in Praisesong for the Kitchen Ghosts: Stories and Recipes from Five Generations of Black Country Cooks are the best she’s ever tasted. Author and former Kentucky Poet Laureate Crystal Wilkinson joins Luse to talk about Appalachian food culture, turning oral recipes into written ones, and the emotional connections between food, family and memory.

🎵 Music: Public radio stations are always looking for new artists to slot in between your favorite established musicians on the air. Ten NPR member stations share a favorite emerging act that’s made it into their 2024 rotations.

❓Quiz: What else celebrated its birthday on the Fourth? If you know the answer, congrats: you must follow NPR’s coverage closely! Hint: There’s also a non-political debate bonus.

3 things to know before you go

The parent company of Saks Fifth Avenue has agreed to buy rival luxury department store Neiman Marcus.

The parent company of Saks Fifth Avenue has agreed to buy rival luxury department store Neiman Marcus.

Lynne Sladky/AP


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Lynne Sladky/AP

  1. Saks Fifth Avenue’s parent company is buying Neiman Marcus for $2.65 billion in a merger that would create a dominant upscale department store in the U.S.
  2. You may not know Leslie Bricusse, but you likely hum his songs: “Pure Imagination,” “What Kind of Fool Am I?,” “Talk to the Animals,” “Can You Read My Mind” and “Goldfinger.” Remarkably, 60 years after his heyday, the composer-lyricist is having a moment. Take a sneak peek into his notes and creative process.
  3. This election year, America seems restless, divided and lost. People are both hopeful and anxious. Reporter John Burnett set out his bike with an audio recorder to find out how people across the Gulf South are really feeling in their own words.

This newsletter was edited by Suzanne Nuyen.

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