November 22, 2023

๐Ÿš™ ๐Ÿฅฃ Good Wednesday morning. Happy getaway day, and happy feast prep!

  • Smart Brevityโ„ข count: 1,688 words ... 6ยฝ mins. Edited by Dave Lawler.

โœ๏ธ Last night's Axios Finish Line invited you to share your Gratitude List โ€” three people you're grateful for, and why. Include your name and hometown, and look out for our gratitude list in Axios AM: [email protected].

1 big thing: Sam returns

Via X

OpenAI, the parent of ChatGPT, said at 1 a.m. ET that it had reached a deal in principle for Sam Altman to return as CEO, with a new board chaired by former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor.

  • The new board will also include former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and current board member Adam D'Angelo, co-founder of Quora.

Why it matters: It's an epic reversal of fortune from Friday's announcement that OpenAI's nonprofit board had voted to remove Altman, plunging the tech world into its most chaotic 100 hours in decades, Axios' Ina Fried reports.

๐Ÿ”Ž The agreement includes a plan for an independent investigation into the events that led up to Altman's original ouster, according to a source familiar with the matter.

  • Independent directors Tasha McCauley and Helen Toner will leave the board, as will Ilya Sutskever, OpenAI's chief scientist.
  • Greg Brockman, OpenAI's board chair and president until Friday, tweeted: "Returning to OpenAI & getting back to coding tonight."
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๐Ÿ’จ Catch me up: Two days after Altman was fired, he announced he and Brockman were joining Microsoft, a major investor in OpenAI.

  • The next morning, an open letter signed by hundreds of Open AI's 750+ employees demanded that the company's board resign or they would quit. By the end of the day, the letter had picked up signatures from nearly every employee โ€” including Sutskever, who'd originally supported Altman's firing.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella tweeted early this morning: "We are encouraged by the changes to the OpenAI board. We believe this is a first essential step on a path to more stable, well-informed, and effective governance."

  • "Sam, Greg, and I have talked and agreed they have a key role to play along with the OAI leadership team in ensuring OAI continues to thrive and build on its mission."
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๐Ÿ’ฌ Our thought bubble: The open letter appears to be the turning point. It's hard to imagine how the existing board could prevail if the entire workforce โ€” including some of AI's brightest minds โ€” walked out the door.

  • Sources tell Axios the board expected Altman to launch a campaign to return but didn't foresee the degree to which employees would line up behind him.

๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธ The big picture: OpenAI was founded as a nonprofit with the mission of creating advanced AI in a way that benefits humanity. But beyond the boardroom drama lay a broader debate over whether OpenAI and the rest of the industry were moving too quickly to deploy and commercialize its AI tools after the overnight success of ChatGPT a year ago.

  • Altman's restoration won't end that debate. But it puts OpenAI firmly back on the course he has steered since 2019.

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2. โšก Hostage deal: Israel, Hamas set four-day pause

Portraits of Israeli hostages, posted in Tel Aviv yesterday. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

The Israeli government and Hamas announced separately that they have agreed to a Qatar-mediated deal:

  • The militant group will free dozens of Israeli hostages in exchange for a four-day pause in fighting in Gaza and the release of dozens of Palestinians held in prisons in Israel, Axios' Barak Ravid reports.

Why it matters: The deal, once implemented, will be the biggest diplomatic breakthrough and the first major pause in fighting since the war began 46 days ago.

๐Ÿ”ฌ Zoom in: In the first phase of the two-phase deal, Hamas is expected to free at least 50 Israeli women and children held in Gaza, while Israel is expected to release about 150 Palestinian prisoners, mostly women and children, over the four-day pause.

  • Israel will allow around 300 aid trucks per day to enter Gaza from Egypt. More fuel will also be allowed in during the pause in fighting, according to an Israeli official.
  • In the second phase, Hamas could release dozens more women, children and elderly people. The Israeli government said it would extend the pause for every additional 10 hostages released.

๐Ÿ”ญ Zoom out: More than 240 people, including several Americans, were abducted during the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack.

Hamas called it "a four-day humanitarian truce that was reached through Qatari and Egyptian efforts."

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "President Biden helped and I thank him for that."
  • Biden said he is "extraordinarily gratified that some of theseย brave souls, who have endured weeks of captivity and an unspeakable ordeal, will be reunited with their families once this deal is fully implemented."

๐Ÿ”ฎ What's next: Over the next 24 hours, the names of the Palestinian prisoners set to be released will be made public so Israeli citizens can appeal to court against their release, according to an Israeli official who briefed reporters.

  • Israel won't release Palestinian prisoners who have been convicted of killing Israelis, the official said.

Scoop: Blinken planning to travel to Israel next week for talks on war ... Share this story.

3. ๐Ÿ•ถ๏ธ Zoomers to overtake Boomers at work

U.S. full-time workforce, by generation
Data: Glassdoor. Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios

Gen Z is expected to overtake Baby Boomers in the workforce by next year, Axios' Emily Peck writes from a Glassdoor analysis of census data.

  • Why it matters: "Boomers were the largest generation in the full-time workforce from the late 1970s until late 2011," Glassdoor writes. "Gen X had a brief period of generational workforce dominance from 2012 to 2018, when Millennials overtook them. Millennials and Gen X still outnumber Gen Z."

๐ŸฅŠ Reality check: Gen Z will have to wait a while before it asserts control. Millennials will dominate the workforce until sometime in the early 2040s, according to Glassdoor's estimates.

4. โ›ฝ Charted: Turkey Week gas prices

Average U.S. gas prices each Monday before Thanksgiving
Data: U.S. Energy Information Administration. Chart: Axios Visuals

5. ๐Ÿฆ  Viruses rise as we gather

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Virus activity is picking up again as millions of Americans crisscross the country for Thanksgiving, taking fewer precautions to protect themselves against illness as concerns about COVID fade away.

  • Why it matters: Indoor holiday gatherings are expected to fuel a spike in cases of COVID-19, RSV and the flu. With vaccinations against all three respiratory viruses lagging, health experts worry hospitals could be slammed again this winter, Axios' Tina Reed reports.

Keep reading ... Get Axios Vitals.

6. ๐Ÿ“š Scoop: Tim Alberta book rips open Falwell feuds

Left: Liberty University campus in Lynchburg, Va., Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images. Cover: Harper

A forthcoming book about evangelicals by Tim Alberta โ€” the acupuncturist-like reporter whose magazine profile doomed CNN's Chris Licht โ€” includes detailed on-the-record allegations of drift and grift at Liberty University, founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell.

Alberta's book, "The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory," is out Dec. 5.

  • Jerry Falwell Jr. โ€” the founder's son, who once was Liberty's president and now has sued the university โ€” tells Alberta the current regime is "choosing piety over competence": "It's exactly what my dad didn't want to see happen."

๐Ÿ’ฌ Alberta, a minister's son, tells me: "The true history of Liberty, as I document in the book โ€” through the eyes of Falwell family lieutenants who span the ideological spectrum โ€” has everything to do with electing Republicans and winning culture wars and almost nothing to do with spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Jerry Jr. repeatedly attacks his younger brother, Liberty Chancellor Jonathan Falwell, who's also the senior pastor at their dad's Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg.

  • While talking to Alberta, Jerry Jr. mimicked his brother, "changing the inflection of his voice to ... uptight, performed, preacherlike."

"I should have fired everybody in the top leadership the day I walked in โ€” from vice presidents on down โ€” and hired everyone new," Jerry Jr. tells Alberta.

  • "You see, my dad didn't have the money back then to hire people who were honest and competent. So, he typically had to choose, one or the other. And those are the people who were still around when the school became prosperous."

The other side: Neither Liberty University's communications team nor Chancellor Falwell responded to my detailed emails inquiring about Alberta's reporting.

7. ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ How JFK's death changed Dallas

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photos: Bettmann/Corbis via Getty Images

On Nov. 22, 1963, shots rang out in Dealey Plaza just as President John F. Kennedy's open limousine passed through.

  • Dallas would never be the same, Axios Dallas' Michael Mooney writes.

Flashback: Dallas in 1963 was a city "on the verge of a nervous breakdown," Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright, who was in algebra class at Woodrow Wilson High School when the president was killed, recently told the Dallas Morning News.

  • Dallas was segregated and controlled by a powerful group of right-wing business and religious leaders.
  • After the assassination, news coverage blamed the political climate in Dallas for the president's murder. Companies refused to do business in North Texas.

The big picture: Dallas was known nationally as the "city of hate."

  • The Dallas Citizens Council, the collection of oligarchs who ran Dallas at the time, quickly developed a plan to rehabilitate the city's image.
  • The plan involved getting J. Erik Jonsson, the co-founder and chairman of Texas Instruments, elected as mayor.
  • It was Jonsson who developed the plan to make Dallas a major air travel hub, which in turnย led to an influx of corporate business and helped drive massive population growth.

Despite all that, a brief moment in 1963 will continue to define and shape Dallas' legacy, for better and worse.

Read the full story ... Get Axios Dallas ... 30 Axios Local cities.

8. ๐Ÿ—ž๏ธ 60 years ago today

Photo: AP Corporate Archives

This is AP teletype copy from Nov. 22, 1963, reporting the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas.

  • An earlier bulletin, dictated to the Dallas bureau by AP photographer James "Ike" Altgens:
"President Kennedy was shot today just as his motorcade left downtown Dallas. Mrs. Kennedy jumped up and grabbed Mr. Kennedy. She cried, 'Oh, no!' The motorcade sped on."

Go deeper: How AP covered the shots ... Living witnesses.

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