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Putin all but certain to win Russia's election; Chicago to begin evicting migrants

A member of a local election commission prepares a polling station with a sign that reads "Election of the President of Russia March 15-17 2024" for early voting in the village of Sennaya Guba, Republic of Karelia, on March 10.
Natalia Kolesnikova
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AFP via Getty Images
A member of a local election commission prepares a polling station with a sign that reads "Election of the President of Russia March 15-17 2024" for early voting in the village of Sennaya Guba, Republic of Karelia, on March 10.

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

Russians headed to the polls today for a three-day presidential election that's all but certain to hand President Vladimir Putin a fifth term and extend his rule by six more years. His three competitors almost uniformly support his agenda. His political opponents are either in jail or in exile abroad. Here's what to know about this weekend's vote.

  • NPR's Charles Maynes reports from Moscow, where he says a steady trickle of voters have arrived at the polls. He tells Up First that a few things make this election distinct: It's the first time voting will take place over three days, online voting is now available in about a third of the country, and the military is securing voting for people in areas of Ukraine that Russia claims to have annexed. Kremlin critics and election experts warn these moves could open the doors for vote rigging. 


The U.S. Senate voted yesterday to confirm the nomination of Dennis Hankins as ambassador to Haiti. It's the first time the U.S. will have an ambassador there in more than two years. Hankins' confirmation comes as Haiti has been effectively cut off from the outside world. Humanitarian aid is dwindling and armed gangs control most of the capital.

  • NPR's Eyder Peralta was able to cross the border into Haiti. On his way to Cap-Haitien, he says he ran into a large group of people trying to escape into the Dominican Republic. One man tells him that what's happening is not just criminal gangs revolting, but an awakening, as Haitians are fed up with living in poverty and neglect. 


Chicago will begin evicting migrants from shelters tomorrow when a 60-day limit policy at shelters goes into effect. More than 37,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Chicago in the last two years.

  • Officials there say sheltering migrants has worn Chicago's budget thin, NPR's Jasmine Garsd reports. But Alderman Andre Vasquez, Chair of the city's Committee on Immigrant and Refugee Rights, tells her he predicts these evictions will increase homelessness and ER visits, costing the city more down the line. 
  • This isn't the first time Chicago has experienced an influx of migration. Take a look at three significant periods of migration throughout the city's history, and how they shaped its population. (via WBEZ)


Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the top-ranked Jewish elected official in U.S. history, yesterday delivered a speech on the Senate floor calling for new elections in Israel. The country has been at war with Hamas for five months. Schumer said he sees Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an obstacle to peace and if Netanyahu were to remain in power, it would jeopardize global support for Israel. He added: "Israel cannot survive if it becomes a pariah."

Deep dive

Devotees of TikTok gather at the Capitol in Washington, as the House passed a bill that would lead to a nationwide ban of the popular video app if its China-based owner doesn't sell.
J. Scott Applewhite / AP
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AP
Devotees of TikTok gather at the Capitol in Washington, as the House passed a bill that would lead to a nationwide ban of the popular video app if its China-based owner doesn't sell.

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill this week that would ban TikTok in the U.S. unless its Beijing-based owner, ByteDance, finds a buyer for the app. The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate. Lawmakers say the app poses a national security risk. But is that the case? Here's everything you need to know:

  • To date, lawmakers have not offered any evidence of the Chinese Communist Party using TikTok to spy on Americans or push pro-China propaganda.
  • Critics of the ban say it would be ineffective because China can easily obtain information about Americans through data aggregators and data brokers.
  • Still, ByteDance admitted in 2022 that former employees — not government officials — have used the app to surveil Americans.
  • TikTok says Americans' data is transferred to servers owned by an Austin-based company and monitored by U.S. third-party auditors. But under Chinese law, companies still have to turn over personal user data if government officials seek it. 

Weekend picks

Katy O'Brian and Kristen Stewart in <em>Love Lies Bleeding</em>.
/ A24
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A24
Katy O'Brian and Kristen Stewart in Love Lies Bleeding.

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

Movies: Love Lies Bleeding stars Kristen Stewart as a brooding gym manager who falls in love with a hitchhiking bodybuilder. It's the queer erotic thriller fans have been waiting for, with a killer electronic soundtrack.

TV: The Girls on the Bus is based on executive producer Amy Chozick's experience covering Hilary Clinton's 2016 campaign for The New York Times. Chozick speaks with NPR's Eric Deggans about transitioning from journalism to TV and the "fatigue in writing about real life."

Books: The short stories in Gina Chung's Green Frog span genres, from literary fiction to Korean folklore and sci-fi. Critic Gabino Iglesias says they're wildly entertaining, wonderfully diverse and full of emotional intelligence.

Music: On this week's edition of 8 Tracks, NPR music producer Lars Gotrich wants you to imagine how each of these new releases could be featured in a movie soundtrack.

Quiz: My colleague Rachel Treisman filled in this week while I was sick. Reading her newsletters during my time off earned me a respectable 10/11 on this week's quiz. How will you do?

3 things to know before you go

In this image provided by Jeremy Crabtree, large chunks of hail are shown Wednesday night, in Shawnee, Kan. Volatile weather honed in on parts of Kansas and Missouri, with some storms dumping massive chunks of hail.
/ Jeremy Crabtree via AP
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Jeremy Crabtree via AP
In this image provided by Jeremy Crabtree, large chunks of hail are shown Wednesday night, in Shawnee, Kan. Volatile weather honed in on parts of Kansas and Missouri, with some storms dumping massive chunks of hail.

  1. Baseball-sized hail in parts of Kansas and Missouri brought traffic to a standstill and prompted the National Weather Service in Kansas City to warn residents to "Get away from windows and shelter inside now!!!"
  2. The number of books challenged in schools and public libraries rose 65% from last year, according to the American Library Association. It's the highest number the organization has ever recorded. 
  3. A blood test can detect colorectal cancer early, a new study finds. The test is less invasive than the dreaded colonoscopy, though one is still needed if the test comes back positive. 

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Suzanne Nuyen