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Nikki Haley’s abortion messaging and X sues Media Matters: Morning Rundown

OpenAI employees threaten to leave after CEO Sam Altman’s ouster. Dexter Wade, the Mississippi man first buried in a pauper’s field, gets his own funeral. And Nikki Haley’s message on abortion seems to be resonating with GOP voters.

Here’s what to know today.

Inside Israel’s secret air war

Day and night, according to Palestinians, a sound echoes above Khan Younis, the largest city in southern Gaza. The noise isn’t the detonation of a bomb dropped by an Israeli jet. It’s the low hum of Israeli drones circling overhead. As civilians flee northern Gaza, the focus of international attention — and the fears of many Palestinians — is how Israel may wage war in southern Gaza. The focus, in particular, is on airstrikes. 

Israeli officials, including two active-duty drone pilots who spoke to NBC News, said they follow exacting procedures to minimize civilian casualties. An Israel Defense Forces military attorney must sign off on every strike after a review of intelligence. And pilots must conduct real-time analyses of potential civilian deaths. 

Critics of Israel’s tactics argue the sheer volume of airstrikes it has conducted in such densely populated areas is worrying, and some say it could violate international law. In the first week of the conflict the IDF dropped 6,000 bombs in Gaza. In 2019, the U.S. dropped 7,400 bombs in Afghanistan over the course of an entire year. 

IDF officials granted our journalists access to a military drone base south of Tel Aviv as NBC looks inside Israel’s secret air war on Gaza and the West Bank. 

This is Morning Rundown, a weekday newsletter to start your morning. Sign up here to get it in your inbox.

More on the Israel-Hamas war:

  • Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said this morning that the group is “close to reaching a truce agreement” with Israel. News reports quoting Hamas and Israeli officials outlined a possible deal that would include a cease-fire, and at least 50 Israeli and international hostages freed along with Palestinian women and children detained in Israel released in exchange. Follow live updates here.

OpenAI’s future seems to be in limbo

OpenAI, the company behind the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT, is facing an employee exodus as the fallout from the board’s ouster of CEO Sam Altman continues. As of yesterday, more than 740 of OpenAI’s 770 employees have signed a letter saying they would resign and possibly join Microsoft. The letter was shown to OpenAI’s board, a spokesperson for the company said.

For now, the company has a new interim CEO: Emmett Shear, a co-founder of the streaming platform Twitch, which he left in March. In the months since, Shear’s social media presence has taken a freewheeling approach. He’s criticized Microsoft, weighed in on gender politics and even engaged in discussion about OpenAI’s firing of Altman before his own appointment. Critics are wondering if the company did its due diligence.

Dexter Wade finally gets the funeral he was denied

Bettersten Wade wiped tears from her face as she stood before a ruby red casket at a Jackson, Mississippi, yesterday afternoon. “Dexter,” she said, choking up, “you made it home.”

Bettersten Wade wasn’t only addressing the civil rights leaders and loved ones who attended her son’s funeral. She was also addressing a national audience, as the ceremony was livestreamed. 

Bettersten spent months looking for Dexter Wade after he went missing in March. In late August, officers revealed Dexter had been struck by a Jackson police cruiser less than an hour after he’d left home, then buried in a pauper’s field after authorities had failed to reach his next of kin. The case sparked public outrage when NBC News’ Jon Schuppe reported about it last month. Since then, he’s followed Bettersten Wade’s efforts to bury her son.

Elon Musk escalates fight against his critics

Elon Musk-led X is suing Media Matters for America and one of its staff members over an investigative report the progressive watchdog organization published saying Nazi content ran on the X app alongside advertisements from major corporations. The lawsuit accuses Media Matters of manufacturing the images featured in an article published last week with the intention of harming X’s advertising sales. In response to the suit, Media Matters President Angelo Carusone said the suit was “frivolous.”

The lawsuit is a major escalation of a fight involving Musk, his critics and X’s shaky relationship with advertisers. The fight first intensified last week when Musk published comments on X embracing a conspiracy theory that many consider antisemitic, leading many companies to pull their ads from X.

Politics in Brief

Abortion: In Republicans’ search for a messenger on abortion, many voters are getting behind presidential candidate Nikki Haley, whose views distinctly contrast Trump.  

NBC News poll: American voters across party lines support more funding to bolster security at the southern border, while support for foreign countries at war exposes stark partisan divides, according to a new poll.

2024 debates: The dates and locations of the presidential debates for next year’s general election have been announced, starting in Texas on Sept. 16. 

Voting rights: A ruling by judges in a federal appeals court threatens to gut the Voting Rights Act, and the case is likely to be challenged in the Supreme Court

Biden’s birthday: President Joe Biden celebrated his 81st birthday carrying out an annual White House tradition. He also confused Taylor Swift with Britney Spears.

Staff Pick: Haunted by unknowns

One of the six suspects in a drug-induced robbery scheme that largely targeted NYC gay bars was sentenced to nine years in state prison yesterday. Authorities said the yearslong crime ring included 16 victims and led to two of their deaths.

I’ve been covering this story since the spring of 2022, and my latest reporting took me to the Rikers Island jail complex, where I was the first journalist to interview Eddie Ashley just ahead of his sentencing. My conversations with Ashley, the victims who survived the crime ring and the families of the men who died — along with documents obtained from prosecutors — provide fresh insight into how the crime scheme unfolded and emphasize how many questions still remain. — Matt Lavietes, NBC OUT reporter

News. Culture. The stories we’re talking about across our communities. Sign up for our newsletter from NBC OUT.

In Case You Missed It

A gunman opened fire at a southwestern Ohio Walmart last night, wounding four people and then apparently killing himself, police said.

Starting next week, U.S. households will be able to order four free Covid tests. Here’s how to get them.

A body found at a New York City beach may be the remains of an Irish filmmaker who disappeared earlier this month.

A Navy surveillance plane overshot a runway approaching a Marine Corps base in Hawaii and ended up in the bay.

Select: Online Shopping, Simplified

Finding a gift for the college student in your life can be tough if they already have everything they need for their dorm or apartment. Our Select team rounded up a list of gift ideas across interests like fitness, cooking, tech and travel for the hardworking student in your life. 

Sign up to The Selection newsletter for exclusive reviews and shopping content from NBC Select.

Thanks for reading today’s Morning Rundown. Today’s newsletter was curated for you by Elizabeth Robinson and Annie Hill. If you’re a fan, please send a link to your family and friends. They can sign-up here.

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