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Morning news brief

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is seeking the arrest of leaders of Hamas and leaders of Israel, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Yeah, the ICC prosecutor, Karim Khan, has accused top Hamas leaders of crimes in the October 7 attack.

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KARIM KHAN: Extermination as a crime against humanity, murder as a crime against humanity and as a war crime, the taking of hostages as a war crime.

INSKEEP: The prosecutor adds that Prime Minister Netanyahu and his defense minister are responsible for crimes, including starvation and intentionally causing deaths in Gaza.

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KHAN: Unfortunately, these crimes continue to this day.

INSKEEP: NPR's Daniel Estrin is watching all of this from Tel Aviv. Hi there, Daniel.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: Good morning, Steve.

INSKEEP: Pretty significant move here.

ESTRIN: Very dramatic. It's the first time the ICC prosecutor is targeting a close ally of the United States. It's not a done deal yet. It's up to a three-judge panel to decide whether to actually issue the arrest warrants. But, you know, the judges could likely rule quickly within days or weeks because an expert panel has already reviewed the evidence before the prosecutor put out this decision.

So if arrest warrants are issued, these leaders may have a very hard time traveling. You know, all countries of the European Union are party to the ICC and many others - a very serious move for Israel's Netanyahu. This could brand him a world pariah, just like Vladimir Putin in Russia, who faces an ICC arrest warrant. This could also put pressure on Hamas' political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, who's in Qatar, perhaps less so for the Hamas leaders in Gaza who are in hiding. But big picture, Steve, this could have a snowball effect - not just for leaders. It could bring international sanctions against Israel. It could also affect the genocide case Israel is facing at the International Court of Justice.

INSKEEP: In what way, if at all, can Israelis push back?

ESTRIN: Well, the government in Israel is trying to marshal support around the world. It's calling for countries to come out and pledge not to extradite Israeli leaders if these arrest warrants are issued. And Prime Minister Netanyahu is making the case that this sets a precedent against all democracies.

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PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: What a travesty of justice. What a disgrace. The prosecutor's absurd charges against me and Israel's defense minister are merely an attempt to deny Israel the basic right of self-defense.

ESTRIN: Israel does have some support around the world, like from President Biden. He called this move outrageous. He spoke at the White House for Jewish American Heritage Month yesterday.

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PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Whatever these warrants may imply, there is no equivalence between Israel and Hamas.

ESTRIN: A spokesman for the U.K.'s prime minister also said the ICC move was not helpful for stopping the war in Gaza. Israel at home is trying to show a united front, Steve. The vast majority of parliament in Israel signed a statement calling the ICC move antisemitic. What is interesting is that Israel's opposition leader, Yair Lapid, is calling for a big diplomatic move to thwart this. He's calling for a kind of a peace process, something that the U.S. has been trying to orchestrate between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

INSKEEP: Oh, big deal involving the Saudis, involving the United States, involving Israelis, and this has been talked about for a while. Is it likely to happen, though?

ESTRIN: It didn't look likely because of Netanyahu and his refusal to commit to some kind of political horizon for Palestinians, a independent state one day. But the ICC move could change the chess moves Netanyahu is looking at now. And the argument the Israeli opposition leader is making is that this could be a lifeline for Israel. The ICC, he argues, won't try a leader in a historic peace process.

INSKEEP: NPR's Daniel Estrin, thanks so much.

ESTRIN: You're welcome.

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FADEL: The Democratic-led Senate will vote on border legislation again this week.

INSKEEP: Yeah, they'll vote on the same bipartisan bill that failed to pass earlier this year. Republicans at that time blocked their own bill at the urging of their presidential candidate Donald Trump, who is campaigning on immigration. So now the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, plans another vote as we head into election season.

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CHUCK SCHUMER: The Senate will vote on our bipartisan border bill on Thursday. All those who say we need to act on the border will get a chance this week to show they're serious - serious - about fixing the border.

FADEL: NPR's congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales joins us to discuss. Good morning.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Good morning, Leila.

FADEL: So, Claudia, why revisit the bill now?

GRISALES: It's a reflection of what's become a top issue for the national electorate now and the critical role it will play in this year's election. Senate Democrats want to put Republicans on record. They were once pushing for exactly this kind of legislation but quickly revolted after a bipartisan group put out the final plan in February, and this came after months of negotiations on both sides. And, as we know, this bill would have tightened rules for asylum and given the president authority to shut down the border. At the time of the negotiations for this bill, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that this was the best deal Republicans could get, even if they controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress.

FADEL: Is there any role here for President Biden to weigh in?

GRISALES: The White House said Biden spoke with Republican leaders yesterday to encourage them to join Democrats to pass this legislation and to stop playing politics. That said, the White House said, the White House is not ruling out possible executive actions Biden could pursue at the border.

FADEL: OK, so obviously Democrats are expected to vote for the plan. What about Republicans?

GRISALES: Well, they're still expected to vote against it, and that includes one of the original Republican authors of the border bipartisan bill. Oklahoma's James Lankford slammed the plan on the floor recently, saying this vote is part of a partisan messaging war.

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JAMES LANKFORD: Listen, if we're gonna solve the border issues, it's not gonna be by doing competing messaging bills. If we're going to solve this, let's sit down like adults, and let's figure out how we're going to actually resolve this together.

GRISALES: He went on to say that this vote is simply a way to try to, quote, "poke Republicans in the eye." He argued the American people will see right through this as a politically driven effort and ask more importantly why Congress is not fixing the issue.

FADEL: And what's happening with border legislation in the Republican-led House?

GRISALES: There is not much happening when we look at the bipartisan angle there. Both parties are simply working on their own plans. House Speaker Mike Johnson is focused on partisan border bills that only have support from his own Republican Party. Meanwhile, House Democrats were looking to build a bipartisan border task force and focus on a series of initiatives, but that plan appears to be on ice. So it's a reminder of the many challenges to getting anything substantive done on this issue from Congress and how it's largely focused on messaging to win key battleground districts now, especially worried about immigration.

FADEL: NPR's congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales. Thank you, Claudia.

GRISALES: Thank you much.

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INSKEEP: Scarlett Johansson, the star of many films, says the maker of ChatGPT copied her voice, and she is not happy.

FADEL: Last week, OpenAI released a personal assistant featuring a woman's voice that sounded a whole lot like Johansson. Here's what the assistant sounded like in the company's product demonstration.

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AI-GENERATED VOICE: Once upon a time in a world not too different from ours, there was a robot named Byte.

INSKEEP: A world not too different from ours. NPR technology correspondent Bobby Allyn broke the story about Johansson speaking out. He's on the line. Hey there, Bobby.

BOBBY ALLYN, BYLINE: Hey, Steve.

INSKEEP: What happened here?

ALLYN: So it all goes back actually to a sci-fi film from 2013. It's called "Her," and the movie portrays Joaquin Phoenix, who falls in love with the super intelligent AI on his computer.

INSKEEP: Right.

ALLYN: Now, the AI is voiced by Scarlett Johansson. OpenAI's CEO, Sam Altman, has said that this movie is his favorite because it - he says it was incredibly prophetic for how it portrayed conversational AI models, kind of like the one that he developed at OpenAI that you might know of called ChatGPT.

INSKEEP: Sure.

ALLYN: So when the new ChatGPT came out and the voice sounded a lot like Johansson, many thought it was a nod to the film. Altman even posted one word on X the same day of the announcement, her, the name of the movie. So I was wondering, OK, well, what does Johansson's people think about this? So I reached out to her camp.

INSKEEP: OK, so what did she say?

ALLYN: Well, her statement to me was a bit of a bombshell. She said Altman not once but twice reached out to her about licensing her voice for ChatGPT. She said Altman said her voice would make those uneasy with AI maybe a little bit more comfortable with it because she does have quite a warm and comforting voice. She declined the offer. So when she heard the voice in the ChatGPT demo, she wrote she was, quote, "shocked, angered and in disbelief." She said it was so eerily similar to the way she sounds that her own family was contacting her wondering if it was her. So she had her lawyers send OpenAI and Altman letters demanding to know what went into this distinctive AI voice, and in response, OpenAI has taken the voice down completely.

INSKEEP: OK, well, given that they asked and she said no, given that they made this apparent reference to Scarlett Johansson's voice in the movie as they made the demonstration, how'd they explain themselves?

ALLYN: Well, Altman released a statement saying the AI voice in question - they named it Sky, for some reason - was never intended to resemble Scarlett Johansson. Altman said they found another actress to base it off of, who, of course, does sound like Scarlett Johansson, but he did not mention that. And before Altman reached out to Scarlett Johansson, CEO Altman says he found this other actress whose name he is not providing, saying he wants to protect this actress' privacy. But he did, Steve, have one message for Scarlett Johansson, which was, we are sorry we didn't communicate better.

INSKEEP: Didn't communicate better - OK, but doesn't this point to the very thing that worries people about artificial intelligence, or one of the things anyway?

ALLYN: Yeah, Scarlett Johansson is a high-profile actress, of course, but many other creatives are pushing back against AI companies for sweeping up their creative work without permission and payment. And courts have yet to decide, you know, what the balance should be between preserving original creative work and an AI company's right to use that work as fodder. But Scarlett Johansson herself called out the rise of deepfakes and other deceptive uses of AI and called out stealing an actor's likeness as being an issue, which is obviously her issue here. Those things are unresolved and, she says, should be regulated. And she also called out U.S. lawmakers and said they should pass regulations that make sure individual rights are protected in the AI era.

INSKEEP: We're listening to the original work of NPR's Bobby Allyn. Thanks so much.

ALLYN: Thanks, Steve. 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.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.