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Trump's tax returns, Israelis vote on Netanyahu's political future & 'Dancing' the political twist: The Morning Rundown

NBC News takes a week-long look at the climate crisis with reporting from Greenland and Alaska.
Image: A large Iceberg floats away as the sun sets near Kulusuk, Greenland
A large Iceberg floats away as the sun sets near Kulusuk, Greenland on Aug. 15, 2019.Felipe Dana / AP file

Good morning, NBC News readers.

President Donald Trump's tax returns have been subpoenaed, U.S. intelligence points the finger at Iran for the attacks on Saudi oil facilities, and NBC News takes a week-long look at a "Climate in Crisis." Plus, "Dancing with the Stars" takes a political twist.

Here's what we're watching today.

An island imperiled: Climate change threatens Greenland — and its way of life

For many scientists, Greenland is considered “ground zero” for climate change, a place where global warming’s impact is most apparent — and where the effects of rising temperatures, warming oceans and melting ice could have the most dire consequences.

But for the 55,000 people who make their home on this massive, ice-covered island, an autonomous Danish territory, the realities of climate change are complex, bringing both unexpected benefits and acute challenges.

“We're seeing unprecedented melting of the ice sheet right now, and Greenland's ice sheet is at the center of everything,” said Thomas Juul-Pedersen, a scientist and education coordinator at the Greenland Climate Research Centre in Nuuk, the country’s capital.

As part of NBC News' week-long series, "Climate in Crisis," Al Roker traveled to Greenland to study the impact of these melting glaciers. Lester Holt went to Alaska — where he spent part of his childhood — to get a personal perspective on climate change.

In an opinion piece, Roker writes that the notion that we can ignore climate change is "just foolhardy." Rather, it's time to focus on the changes we can make to save the planet.

Attack on Saudi oil facility originated from Iran, U.S. intelligence says

American intelligence indicates that the attack on a major Saudi oil facility originated from Iran, three people familiar with the intelligence told NBC News — an assessment that is likely to escalate tensions between Washington and Tehran.

But, President Donald Trump marked a cautionary tone on Monday, saying he would "like to avoid" a military conflict with Tehran, emphasizing his interest in diplomacy.

The attacks on state oil giant Saudi Aramco's main crude processing facility knocked out 5.7 million barrels of daily oil production, or more than 5 percent of the world's daily crude production, analysts said.

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Manhattan DA subpoenas eight years of Trump's tax returns

Prosecutors in the Manhattan district attorney's office have sent a grand jury subpoena to President Trump’s accounting firm to get his personal and corporate tax returns for the past eight years, a person with direct knowledge of the matter tells NBC News.

The subpoena stems from the office's criminal investigation into the Trump Organization about hush money payments made to two women who have alleged affairs with the president.

Meantime, the president made a pitch for Hispanic voters in New Mexico, a state he lost by 8 points in 2016, on Monday evening.

"Nobody loves the Hispanics more," Trump said at the rally. "We love our Hispanics, get out and vote."

Benjamin Netanyahu fights for his political life as Israel heads to the polls, again

Israel's prime minister has spent the days leading up to the unprecedented do-over election on Tuesday unveiling hard-line campaign pledges in a last-ditch attempt to win over right-wing voters and to draw attention away from his potential indictment in three corruption cases.

But it remains unclear whether Netanyahu pulling out all the stops will be enough to allow him to form the next government.

One way or the other, many say that the election boils down to a referendum on Netanyahu’s time in power. This summer he became the country's longest serving prime minister, surpassing Israel’s founding-father David Ben-Gurion.

“This election is about the same thing that every election in Israel has been about for the last 25 years. Two words: Benjamin Netanyahu,” said Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States.

Meet the future residents of Trump Heights, Israel's tribute to U.S. support.

Image: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin and his wife Sara casts their votes during Israel's parliamentary election at a polling station in Jerusalem
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin and his wife Sara casts their votes at a polling station in Jerusalem on Tuesday.Heidi Levine / Reuters

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THINK about it

The Israeli election is about Benjamin Netanyahu's personality, not his policies, Shmuel Rosner, senior fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute, writes in an opinion piece.

Science + Tech = MACH

Scientists discover the most massive neutron star ever seen.


Move over, kale. The lowly cabbage has become a star.

Quote of the day

"My heart belongs here, in nature. I cannot leave this place.”

Axel Hansen, a resident of Tasiilaq, Greenland.

One 2019 thing

Sean Spicer, Trump's former White House press secretary, made his debut on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" last night.

He did a salsa routine to the Spice Girls "Spice Up Your Life," after his casting was met with fierce backlash on social media.

What did the judges think? His performance scored 12 points out of 30, the episode's second lowest score.

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Thanks, Petra