Morning news brief
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
After six weeks of war, Hamas and Israel have agreed to a four-day pause in the fighting. The initial stage of the deal will have Hamas release 50 people taken hostage during the group's bloody attack on southern Israel October 7, and Israel has agreed to release 150 Palestinian prisoners and detainees held in Israeli jails. The agreement comes after weeks of complex negotiations mediated by Qatar, Egypt and the United States. But we still don't know what's happened to many of the hostages, and the war is not over.
NPR's Daniel Estrin is with us now from Tel Aviv to tell us more. Good morning, Daniel.
DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Good morning, Michel.
MARTIN: So tell us about the outlines of the deal.
ESTRIN: Israel and Hamas have both published their versions of this deal, which has been on the table and been negotiated now for weeks. The first stage of the deal is that there will be four days of a pause in fighting. And during that time, there will be four different hostage exchanges. So about 50 Israelis will be released in total during those days, about 10 at a time. At the same time, 150 Palestinian prisoners and detainees will be released from Israeli jails. And those prisoner releases will be spread out among the four stages. And we're talking about women and minors from both sides.
Now, during those four days that the war is paused, Hamas says that Israel has promised to halt its flyovers and drones over northern Gaza, where there have been the most intense fighting. And that will take place for just several hours a day. And we understand that that is to allow Hamas to try to locate all of the hostages. Not all of the hostages being held in Gaza are being held by Hamas. Some are being held by other militant factions or even by private Palestinian citizens. And during those four days of a pause in fighting, Israel has also committed to allowing in more humanitarian supplies to Gaza.
Now, part two of the deal is Israel offering an incentive to Hamas. It's saying if Hamas releases an additional 50 Israeli hostages, then Israel will agree to release another 150 Palestinians. For every 10 Israelis released, according to this offer, there will be another 24 hours pause in the hostilities. But this entire deal expires in 10 days, according to Israel, and after which the war will resume.
MARTIN: Do we have a sense of when this pause is actually going to start?
ESTRIN: It's not going to start until probably Thursday morning at the earliest. And that is until - you know, the Israeli law requires this period of time for objections, a 24-hour period where Israelis in public - in the public can review the list of Palestinian prisoners and detainees who are slated for release. That list has already been published. And that 24-hour period allows Israelis to petition against their release. They can go to the Supreme Court. We've already heard some groups representing Israeli victims of Palestinian attacks saying that they will oppose. But historically, the Supreme Court doesn't block these kinds of deals, and there is major support in the Israeli public for this release. So bottom line, until this kicks in as early as tomorrow morning, the war continues.
MARTIN: How are Israelis and Palestinians taking in this news? I might imagine there might be different views.
ESTRIN: Really mixed emotions, Michel. I spoke to an Israeli comedy writer, Hen Avigdori, whose wife and daughter are in Gaza. Here's what he said.
HEN AVIGDORI: I am calm. I am calm because I know that there is hope. But I'm also calm because I know that the hope can be shattered at any moment.
ESTRIN: I also spoke to a Palestinian father of a detainee, Yousef Afghani (ph). His daughter, Aisha (ph), is in Israeli jail. He said this.
YOUSEF AFGHANI: (Non-English language spoken).
ESTRIN: He said he was very happy for his daughter's release but that he is against what Hamas did, capturing Israeli civilians, to lead to this moment.
MARTIN: That is NPR's Daniel Estrin in Tel Aviv. Daniel, thank you.
ESTRIN: You're very welcome.
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MARTIN: A standoff at OpenAI, the world's leading artificial intelligence company, has come to a close for now. After several days of chaos, the company's ousted CEO has made a return. NPR's tech correspondent Dara Kerr is here to tell us more about it. Good morning.
DARA KERR, BYLINE: Hello.
MARTIN: All right. Very unusual. OpenAI CEO - he was fired, and now he's coming back.
KERR: Yes. Yes. This is no ordinary situation. Over the last five days, we've seen corporate tussling of the highest order. There's been surprise firings, mass employee protests and definitely a fair share of backroom negotiating. Sam Altman is the CEO and co-founder of OpenAI, which is the company that makes the popular chatbot ChatGPT. He's basically the de facto spokesperson for artificial intelligence.
And last Friday, to the surprise of almost everyone, he was fired from the company by its board of directors. And now he's back. Late last night, OpenAI posted on X, which is formerly known as Twitter, that the company had reached an agreement for Altman to return as CEO with a new board of directors. Minutes later, Altman himself wrote on X that he, quote, "loves OpenAI" (ph) and is looking forward to returning.
MARTIN: Do we know anything about how this agreement all came about?
KERR: Yes. Yeah. Right now, not much is known about what was going on behind closed doors, but there was a very public face to this battle. Employees of OpenAI wrote a letter to the board of directors on Sunday night. In the letter, they threatened to quit en masse if Altman wasn't reinstated as the CEO. They also demanded that the board of directors be dissolved. And at first, the letter was signed by about 500 employees, or roughly two-thirds of the company. But eventually, that number grew to nearly all employees - about 97% of the people who work at OpenAI. At one point, hundreds of them even flooded X, repeatedly posting the line, OpenAI is nothing without its people. And it became clear that the company couldn't afford to lose all of that talent.
Additionally, one of the board members who's also a co-founder of OpenAI and previously supported firing Altman, he started to backpedal. His name is Ilya Sutskever, and he also signed that letter. He said he regretted his participation in the board's actions and would do everything he could to reunite the company. And as for now, he'll remain an employee at OpenAI, but he will no longer serve on the board.
MARTIN: OK, so all these board shenanigans and so forth - do you have a sense of how this will affect OpenAI's work and, really, more importantly, how it will affect the public and the future of this, you know, technology and how it affects all of us?
KERR: Yeah. So there is another major player here. It's Microsoft. Microsoft owns a 49% stake in OpenAI and has invested billions of dollars in the startup. After Altman was fired last week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced the company was hiring Altman to lead its AI team. Microsoft also said it would hire all those employees who are planning to quit in protest. So now Altman is obviously not joining Microsoft, but the partnership between the two companies appears to be stronger than ever. And this really gets to the crux of this Silicon Valley battle. It's about this burgeoning new technology and who gets to control how it's created.
MARTIN: That is NPR tech correspondent Dara Kerr. Dara, thank you.
KERR: Thank you so much.
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MARTIN: To Wisconsin now, where new districts could be on the way for its state Legislature. Statewide elections in Wisconsin are typically very close, but Republicans hold big majorities in the Statehouse. Democrats say that's because of advantages that GOP lawmakers have built into the political maps there. Those maps were the subject of oral arguments at the Wisconsin Supreme Court yesterday.
Wisconsin Public Radio's Rich Kremer is here to fill us in. Good morning.
RICH KREMER, BYLINE: Good morning.
MARTIN: All right. So Democrats criticized the state's maps for being gerrymandered, basically, to give the GOP an unfair advantage. But my understanding is that that was not actually the focus of the hearing.
KREMER: That is correct. In deciding to take this case up quickly, a majority of justices on the state Supreme Court left that question aside for now. Instead, they focused on two others - one, whether the voting districts for the state Senate and state Assembly violate Wisconsin's constitution on an issue called contiguity. That's basically whether all parts of the district need to be within one boundary.
And then the other issue was whether the court violated due process standards last year, when the conservative majority picked maps drawn by Republican lawmakers, even though they were vetoed by our Democratic governor. Now liberals on the court have a 4-3 advantage.
MARTIN: Is there something that stood out to you from these arguments?
KREMER: Yeah. The attorneys and justices spent a lot of time talking about the definition of the word contiguity - what it means, what it meant to the framers. But also, there was some sniping between justices on the bench. Conservatives say that this - if this is about the shape of districts, why wasn't the lawsuit filed sooner? They accused lawyers and even some on the court for kind of being in cahoots on that. And that question led to one notable moment, this from conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley.
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REBECCA BRADLEY: Everybody knows that the reason we're here is because there was a change in the membership of the court. You would not have brought this action - right? - if the newest justice had lost her election.
KREMER: That newest justice is Janet Protasiewicz. She won a really high-profile election in April to tip the balance of the court for the first time in 15 years.
MARTIN: Did she have a role in the testimony yesterday, that justice?
KREMER: She did. It was limited. Justice Protasiewicz was pretty quiet overall, but just her being there has been a bit of a political lightning rod in the state. Conservatives have called on her to recuse herself from this case because she called the current Republican maps in Wisconsin rigged while she was campaigning. She's refused to step aside, but some Republicans have threatened to impeach her as a result.
MARTIN: All right. And before we let you go, would you say a bit more about why these maps matter?
KREMER: Sure. Big picture - well, some of the liberal justices on the court during these oral arguments have already been talking about how they might draw new maps for next year's elections. That could lead to a big political shift in the state. Wisconsin is known as a purple state, but Republicans have a near supermajority in both houses of the Legislature. So breaking that legislative stronghold could lead to some major policy changes, including a repeal on a ban on most abortions in Wisconsin.
MARTIN: That is Wisconsin Public Radio's Rich Kremer. Rich, thanks so much for sharing this reporting with us.
KREMER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.
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