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Up First briefing: Fed weighs cutting interest rates; 50 years of Groundlings comedy

The Groundlings opened a new facility in  West Hollywood, California, in 2016.
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The Groundlings opened a new facility in West Hollywood, California, in 2016.

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

The Federal Reserve has spent much of the last two years raising interest rates to fight inflation — and so far it's worked. So when will it be time to start cutting interest rates? We could get some clues when Fed officials wrap up a two-day meeting this afternoon. NPR's Scott Horsley tells Up First that while the Fed is likely to hold rates steady, "The big question is what kind of smoke signals do we get about possible rate cuts in the future?"

  • Horsley describes the situation as a balancing act: The Fed doesn't want to cut rates too soon and risk rekindling inflation, or wait too long and potentially slow the economy. Fed watchers will be looking to see how much Fed Chairman Jerome Powell emphasizes the recent drop in inflation versus economic growth
  • If inflation continues its downward trend, it's possible that the Fed could cut rates at its next meeting in March. The January jobs report, due Friday, is one piece of data that could inform that decision, according to Horsley. 

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell speaks during a news conference in November.
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Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell speaks during a news conference in November.

The House Committee on Homeland Security voted along party lines to approve articles of impeachment for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over his handling of the border. If the GOP-led House approves the articles, the Senate would hold a trial on whether to convict and remove Mayorkas from office. A conviction is considered unlikely because it would require the support of two-thirds of senators.

  • The southern border has become a key issue both in Washington and the 2024 presidential race. It's driving bipartisan negotiations in Congress over a proposed border bill, and Biden and Trump are offering dueling promises for how they would address it.


The best chance for a truce between Israel and Hamas may be Qatar, the small but wealthy nation that has been serving as an intermediary between the two. It's been painstakingly passing proposals along as the Palestinian death toll rises and Israeli hostages remain in captivity — and each side maintains a different idea of what a cease-fire should entail. Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, who is meeting with U.S. officials in D.C., spoke with Morning Edition's Leila Fadel about how negotiations are going.

  • Al Thani says the aim is to reach an agreement to free hostages and stop fighting as soon as possible, but the timeline is unclear: "Sometimes the negotiations can surprise us and it can finish in days, but some other times also, we get stuck in the details." Listen to the interview here


Check out npr.org/mideastupdates for more coverage and analysis of the conflict.

From our hosts

This essay was written by A Martínez, one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First.

So, as I was doing the interviews at the Groundlings theater, these were the thoughts that were running through my mind: I spent my junior high years at a place called Hollywood Professional School. To this day, I don't know how my parents managed to enroll me because it was a school whose students mostly worked in showbiz, which was not me. Nevertheless, it was there that I got my first taste of performing because of a mandatory drama class.

The older kids, who were professional performers, would talk about how cool it would be to one day be part of the Groundlings improv comedy troupe. They would talk about them like they were wizards of the comedy world. Their theater wasn't far away from school, so I'd ride by on my bike to take a look. As I got older, I'd always think that I should go catch a show but just never got around to doing it.

As a lifelong resident of Los Angeles, my failure to do so became my shame. Finally, I recently was able to walk inside the Groundlings theater — and speak to members of the main company as the troupe celebrates 50 years in existence. I sat in the seats, watched a rehearsal, and laughed a lot, all the while mad that I hadn't been here decades earlier.

The lesson: If there is something in your town that you've always wanted to experience but keep putting it off, don't. You might regret it.

Life Kit's resolution planner

The end of January is a great time to check in on your New Year's resolutions — and make a plan for sticking with them.
/ Photo Illustration by Becky Harlan/NPR
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Photo Illustration by Becky Harlan/NPR
The end of January is a great time to check in on your New Year's resolutions — and make a plan for sticking with them.

It's the last day of January, which is about the time of year when the resolve to keep your New Year's resolution begins to wane. Using a smart goal strategy can help you stay the course for the entire year. Here's how:

  • Be specific about the actions you want to take.
  • Have a plan to measure your progress.
  • Keep it achievable. Break a big goal into smaller milestones.
  • Know why your goal is relevant to your values.
  • Make it timely by setting a deadline for yourself.


Stick to your New Year's resolutions with advice for writing to-do lists, starting new habits, staying focused and more with Life Kit's resolutions planner.

3 things to know before you go

Fans are hoping Taylor Swift will make it to Las Vegas from Tokyo in time to watch the Kansas City Chiefs (including her boyfriend Travis Kelce) play in the Super Bowl next month.
Patrick Smith / Getty Images
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Fans are hoping Taylor Swift will make it to Las Vegas from Tokyo in time to watch the Kansas City Chiefs (including her boyfriend Travis Kelce) play in the Super Bowl next month.

  1. Travis Kelce will be in Las Vegas when the Kansas City Chiefs play in the Super Bowl. Will Taylor Swift? The math says yes, even though she has a show in Tokyo the night before. 
  2. A new study finds that goats can tell the difference between happy and angry voices. Its authors say they aim to improve the animals' public image — and treatment.
  3. Less than three months ahead of an election, South Korean politics has been rattled by a scandal involving the first lady, a Dior handbag and a camera hidden in a wristwatch. 

This newsletter was edited by Majd Al-Waheidi. Suzanne Nuyen contributed.

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

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.