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Muslims are marking the start of the holy month of Ramadan today and there is as yet no cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.


The U.S., with Arab mediators, has been trying for weeks to pause the war during this holy month of daily fasting, introspection and worship. Here's what President Biden told MSNBC over the weekend.


PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I want to see a cease-fire and I'm starting with a major, major exchange of prisoners for a six-week period. We're going into Ramadan and there should be nothing happening. And we should build off of that cease-fire.

INSKEEP: Should be nothing happening, he says. NPR international correspondent arbitrarily is in Dubai following what is happening. Welcome.

AYA BATRAWY, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: Why isn't a deal in place?

BATRAWY: Look, the main issue is over what kind of cease-fire this is. The U.S. backs, like you heard Biden, a six-week humanitarian truce, one in which 40 to 50 Israeli hostages are released and much more aid flows into Gaza. The U.S. hopes it can then extend that truce with more talks. But Hamas wants an end to the war, or at the very least U.S. guarantees that any truce will be extended, and it is using hostages as leverage. Israel agrees with this U.S. plan for a six-week pause in fighting, but Israel's military and political leadership insist on a military operation in southern Gaza to dismantle Hamas battalions in Rafah. And that is where more than a million Palestinians have been displaced. Most of them are living in tents, and they have nowhere left to go.

INSKEEP: You know, I was watching a good part of this interview on MSNBC with Jonathan Capehart. It's a revealing exchange. The United States has said, don't invade Rafah, don't invade this crowded city. Capehart says, is that a red line, meaning you'll really react if you do that? Biden says, yeah, it's a red line, meaning don't do it, but then added there are no red lines when it comes to U.S. support for Israel's defense, which sounds like he's not really going to respond if they cross the line. So how does Israel respond to that?

BATRAWY: Well, it's Israel prime minister, you know, Benjamin Netanyahu that's responding here. So basically, right after Biden's remarks, he spoke to Politico. And he says Israel will go to Rafah because his red line, he says, is October 7, making sure that this Hamas attack that killed 1,200 people in Israel never happens again. And he repeated his opposition to Biden's support for a two-state solution, saying his positions have the backing of the majority of Israelis who he says, quote, "don't want to see a Palestinian state." He argues a Palestinian state would be a security threat for Israel.

INSKEEP: So is there any indication that Netanyahu has bent his positions at all at the request of President Biden?

BATRAWY: I mean, we can look at what he hasn't done. He hasn't gotten in the way of Biden's efforts to have the U.S., for example, drop food from planes to people starving in northern Gaza. And Israel says it's working closely on a sea route that the U.S. and others want to use to send aid that way into northern Gaza. But he hasn't done what aid groups say would be the most direct way to get food in, which is open crossings in the north.

INSKEEP: What are you hearing about conditions in Gaza now?

BATRAWY: People are absolutely exhausted. You know, everyone that our producer Anas Baba there speaks to wants reprieve. You know, Gaza's health ministry says more than 30,000 people have been killed in the past five months, most by Israeli airstrikes. People also need clean running water, electricity and food. And the usual traditions of Ramadan are impossible in these conditions. Have a listen to what Suleiman Nassar (ph) says. He's a 62-year-old man who fled his home in Gaza.

SULEIMAN NASSAR: (Non-English language spoken).

BATRAWY: So he says, it's not right that people are living in tents and can't visit with family or perform nightly prayers in mosques because of bombings. He also said it's not fair that some Hamas leaders are living comfortably in exile while the people of Gaza are eating excrement. Though, he did use a different word to say that.

INSKEEP: NPR's Aya Batrawy. Thank you so much.

BATRAWY: Thanks, as always, Steve.

INSKEEP: For more coverage and analysis and differing views, go to


INSKEEP: Armed gangs control much of Haiti's capital as part of a revolt.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah, many groups in the country have been working to remove the country's prime minister, and they conveniently struck when he was out of the country. He's still not able to return.

INSKEEP: Ariel Henry is so unpopular, he wasn't even allowed into the neighboring Dominican Republic, the other country on that island. And it's in the neighboring Dominican Republic that we find NPR's Eyder Peralta. Good morning.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Hey. Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: How'd the prime minister get into such a jam?

PERALTA: So look, this standoff begins about two weeks ago. Prime Minister Ariel Henry announces that he intends to delay elections until next year. And that's when these gangs, who used to fight each other, started working together to overthrow the government. They started attacking government targets, police stations, the port, the airport. And they've been trading heavy fire with police, so much so that the prime minister can't even fly into his own country.

And last week, as you mentioned, he tried to fly here to Santo Domingo. But the president of the Dominican Republic, Luis Abinader, has made it clear that Ariel Henry is persona non grata here. And that's because, he says, Henry is so hated that he would pose a security threat here in the Dominican Republic, where there's a lot of Haitians.

INSKEEP: Wow. So if he can't even get into the neighboring country and can't get home, who replaces him as Haiti's leader?

PERALTA: I mean, that's the question. He is still hanging on. But the jockeying for his spot has already begun. There is one gang leader in particular, Jimmy Cherizier - who is known as Barbecue - and he is clearly gunning for the top job in the country. Last week, he said if Henry doesn't resign, there will be civil war. But at the same time, he's really trying to exploit the division between classes in Haiti. The last thing the elite in Haiti want is these gangs to take over. But Barbecue says, look, I'm protecting the interests of the poor. I'm making sure that the leader they don't like, who they think is illegitimate, will never return to Haiti.

And we've also heard a name from the past, Guy Philippe, a former coup leader who served time at an American prison. And he says he wants to be president. And one of the core - one of his core promises is that he would offer amnesty to gang leaders. But let's not forget that these gangs have sowed chaos across Haiti. They've attacked the civilian population ruthlessly. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians have been displaced by that violence, and nearly half the country is going hungry.

INSKEEP: Let's state the obvious, that the United States is influential in Haiti, tends to stick its hand in. What actions is the U.S. - are the U.S. taking - are Americans taking right here?

PERALTA: Well over the weekend there was an evacuation, we were told, from the American embassy. We were told by U.S. Southern Command that they flew aircraft to the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince to evacuate some staff, and also to bring in some more military personnel to beef up security at the embassy. The U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince said it asked for more security because of, quote, heightened gang violence.


PERALTA: So U.S. Marines were sent there to essentially beef up security.

INSKEEP: Do people see a path toward calm?

PERALTA: I mean, the answer you'll get from the U.S. and from the prime minister is that a Kenyan-led international peacekeeping force can do that. But that mission was approved last year by the U.N. and it has faced hurdle after hurdle. And it's unclear when that might actually happen. CARICOM, the bloc of Caribbean countries, is holding an emergency meeting today. They have been trying to solve this, but they've gotten nowhere. Now they're inviting the U.S., France, Canada, the U.N. and Brazil to the talks to try and bring this to some order.

INSKEEP: NPR's Eyder Peralta. Thanks so much.

PERALTA: Thank you, Steve.


INSKEEP: And now the envelope, please.


MARTÍNEZ: "Oppenheimer" blew up the Oscars. The three-hour movie about the man who created the atomic bomb picked up seven Academy Awards.

INSKEEP: NPR's Mandalit del Barco was in the audience last night. Hi there, Mandalit.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: Hello. Good morning.

INSKEEP: So not a huge surprise that "Oppenheimer" would do so well.

DEL BARCO: No, no. Actually, "Oppenheimer" was the favorite coming into the Oscars. Director Christopher Nolan got his first Oscar and his movie won Best Picture. He's been an evangelist for Imax and the big screen theatrical experience. And this is what he said during his speech.


CHRISTOPHER NOLAN: Movies are just a little bit over a hundred years old. I mean, imagine being there a hundred years into painting or theater. We don't know where this incredible journey is going from here, but to know that you think that I'm a meaningful part of it means the world to me.

DEL BARCO: "Oppenheimer" also got awards for best cinematographer, best original score, best supporting actor, Robert Downey Jr., and best actor, Cillian Murphy, who played the title role.


CILLIAN MURPHY: We made a film about the man who created the atomic bomb, and for better or for worse, we're all living in Oppenheimer's world. So I would really like to dedicate this to the peacemakers everywhere.

INSKEEP: Mandalit, weren't there some other mentions of war and peace?

DEL BARCO: There were. You know, the documentary "20 Days In Mariupol" became the first film from Ukraine to win an Oscar. Its director, Mstyslav Chernov, said he wished he never had to make the film and he held up his Oscar.


MSTYSLAV CHERNOV: I wish to be able to exchange this to Russia never attacking Ukraine, never occupying our cities.


DEL BARCO: And director Jonathan Glazer, whose movie about Auschwitz and the Holocaust, "Zone Of Interest," won Best International Feature. And he was onstage with his producer.


JONATHAN GLAZER: Right now we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people.

DEL BARCO: You know, Steve, the Oscars ceremony actually started a few minutes late because there was a protest over Gaza in the street. The streets were blocked off and I and all the rest of the audience had to walk down Sunset Boulevard in their gowns and tuxes, you know, glamorous Hollywood.

INSKEEP: Once you finally made it in there, did anything surprise you about the awards?

DEL BARCO: Well, you know, the movie "Poor Things," it swept the technical categories last night. And its star, Emma Stone, beat out rival Lilly Gladstone from "Killers Of The Flower Moon." And Martin Scorsese's movie didn't get a single award. There were no envelope mix-ups or nominees slapping hosts like in past ceremonies. But, you know, in one bit, actor John Cena paid homage to a famous Oscars moment from 1974, when a streaker ran across the stage naked.

INSKEEP: (Laughter) Well, you know, you do what you can to salute the past in a certain way. But let's talk about the present, Mandalit, because there's one movie we haven't mentioned. I have a couple of colleagues here - I don't want to name them, but one of them might be Michel Martin. And when they pass each other in the morning, they say, good morning, Barbie; good morning, Barbie. So how did "Barbie" do?

DEL BARCO: Well, Barbie - or maybe you're Ken - director Greta Gerwig, she didn't get the award for her screenplay. And producer Margot Robbie, who played Barbie, didn't get to pick up the Best Picture Oscar. Ryan Gosling didn't win for Best Supporting Actor, and his song "I'm Just Ken" lost out to Billie Eilish's "Barbie" song.


DEL BARCO: But he did give a showstopping performance.


RYAN GOSLING: (Singing) I'm just Ken and I'm enough. And I'm great at doing stuff.

DEL BARCO: You know, everyone in the audience was singing and dancing along, and you could feel the onstage Kenergy (ph) all the way up to the rafters where I was sitting.

INSKEEP: Mandalit, thanks so much.

DEL BARCO: Thank you.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Mandalit del Barco.


GOSLING: (Singing) Put that manly hand in mine. So, hey, world, check me out. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.