Sep 20, 2021 - Podcasts

Why France is so angry with the U.S.

From French diplomacy to Haitian deportations at the southern border, international headlines dominated the weekend. Axios World editor Dave Lawler catches us up.

  • Plus, a looming battle with Chicago city workers over vaccine mandates.
  • And, why companies want cool stock symbols.

Guests: Axios' Dave Lawler, Monica Eng, and Courtenay Brown.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Dan Bobkoff, Alexandra Botti, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Sabeena Singhani, Michael Hanf, and Alex Sugiura. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at [email protected]. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

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NIALA BOODHOO: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today! It’s Monday, September 20th. I’m Niala Boodhoo. Here’s how we’re making you smarter today: a looming battle with Chicago city workers over vaccine mandates. Plus, why companies want catchy stock symbols. But first, today’s One Big Thing: why France is so angry with the U.S.

From French diplomacy to Haitian deportations at the Southern border, there were a number of international headlines that happened over the weekend. And so I thought I'd reach out to Axios world editor, Dave Lawler, to catch us up quick on all of this. Hey, Dave.


NIALA: Let's start with France, Dave - On Friday, France pulled their ambassadors from the U.S. and Australia. This was after a fight over a submarine deal. Can you tell us about this?

DAVE: Yes, so back in 2016, France signed what was described as the deal of the century to supply submarines to Australia. This was a $60 billion deal which was quite significant for the French defense industry. Now, all of a sudden you had Australia getting a better offer, basically that they were going to be able to get nuclear submarine technology from the U.S. and the U.K. And they decided to rip up this deal with France in order to do that. And the kicker is that neither the U.S. nor the Australians informed France until they unveiled this. So this was quite a diplomatic incident. You know, the Biden administration has been trying to put out statements about what a great ally France is. They're trying to calm this situation down. The ambassadors are back in Paris for consultations which means this isn't permanent, but there has been some conversation on the European side saying “You really want us to get interested in what's happening in China, in Asia. You want us to start to step up in that area of the world, and then you undercut us like this.” This is something that will be brought up not just this week, but going forward for quite a while.

NIALA: We also saw the U.S. government last week admit to striking civilians by mistake in a drone strike in Afghanistan, which did result in a number of deaths. What is the latest on the fallout from that strike?

DAVE: Right, so you'll recall that the Pentagon said at the time that there had been an imminent threat to the U.S. forces at the airport. As it turns out, they didn't really know who they had hit at the time. They had picked up some intelligence that this car that somebody was driving may have had explosives inside of it. It turned out that was all wrong. This was an aid worker who was killed. There were seven children killed in this strike and they belatedly came out and basically said, “We screwed this up.” So again, this is a signal that this over the horizon strategy that we're talking about, to try to hit targets in Afghanistan from afar after we pull out, is far from a simple endeavor.

NIALA: The last story I wanted to talk to you about Dave, I think many people, myself included, were surprised to learn about thousands of Haitians who have been traveling up through South America and cross at the Southern border and are amassed at this bridge. And now the Biden administration is saying many of these people are going to be put on flights to be sent back to Haiti?

DAVE: Right, so you're going to start to see multiple deportation flights per day, according to the administration. Basically, you had a big influx of migration at this one border point in Texas, and they've decided that they have to start deporting people. Obviously, there was political pressure, you know, certainly from the Texas delegation but also Biden is walking a tight rope on this issue. He wants to be quite clear that he's not an open borders politician, right. But also he doesn't really want to be seen doing this kind of, Trump's style approach of deport everyone you can. And so it's another tight rope for him to walk on immigration.

NIALA: Axios’ world editor, Dave Lawler. Dave, thanks for catching us up on these stories.

DAVE: Thanks Niala.

NIALA: We’ll be back in 15 seconds with where and why COVID spikes are happening in Chicago.


NIALA: Welcome back to Axios Today. I'm Niala Boodhoo. Axios is expanding to launch local newsletters and a bunch of new cities today, including one of my favorite places, Chicago. And I'm excited to introduce you to one of my former Chicago public media colleagues, Monica Eng, who is now one part of the Axios Chicago team. Hey, Monica.

MONICA ENG: Hey, Niala.

NIALA: Monica, your top story tomorrow is about where COVID numbers are spiking in Chicago, where is that?

MONICA: Well, we looked through the Chicago Department of Public Health Data, and we found that the positivity has been highest for the last few weeks and just two zip codes. They’re in the far Northwest side. And the far Southwest side.

NIALA: Do those zip codes have anything in common?

MONICA: They sure do. They house the greatest concentration of municipal employees of any zip code in the city. And they incidentally showed the greatest support for former President Donald Trump in the last election.

NIALA: And so for people who don't know Chicago, Chicago is a very blue city. This is a tiny sea of red. Can you tell us what the laws are around municipal workers and vaccine mandates in Chicago?

MONICA: Great question. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has mandated that every single city employee, who does not have an exemption for religious or health reasons, has to be fully vaccinated by October 15th.

NIALA: So Monica, if this is one of the places where there are low vaccination rates, but we also know that vaccine mandates are coming, what are you anticipating happening next?

MONICA: Well, we've already seen the firefighters/paramedics union, and the police union officially pushed back against this vaccine mandate. Um, in fact, the head of the Fraternal Order of Police, the police union, has suggested that thousands of people might quote say, “screw you, I'm staying home.” So we're expecting a standoff between the mayor and a lot of the people from these communities where COVID happens to be high right now, come October 15th. And, you know, it's not just Chicago, you've already seen some members of the police union in L.A. file suit against local authorities for their vaccine mandate. And there's also pushback in Oregon and in New York, from the police unions about these vaccine mandates.

NIALA: Monica Eng is one of the Axios Chicago reporters. You can sign up for her newsletter today. Thanks Monica.

MONICA: Thanks Niala.

NIALA: The race is on for publicly traded companies to reserve unique stock symbols, since those ticker symbols can be one way to grab the attention of a new generation of traders. Courtenay Brown is a markets reporter at Axios. Hey Courtenay, I don't think many of us think a lot about these ticker symbols. Why do they matter?

COURTENAY BROWN: They're kind of like a company's Twitter handle, but instead of Twitter, it's for the stock market. There is a growing trend of companies picking four letter symbols, which obviously allows them more room than a three or a two letter symbol to spell out what they want to spell out.

NIALA: How does that reflect appealing to a different generation of traders?

COURTENAY: Well, one of the most interesting things that have happened in the past year is that a bunch of retail traders are taking to platforms like Reddit to talk about what the hottest stocks of the moment are, what stocks they should be trading. If you have a memorable ticker to kind of, uh, appeal to this generation of traders who are talking about stocks on-on social media boards.

NIALA: And how hard is it then to get the ticker symbol you want?

COURTENAY: Just like a Twitter handle, one company can't have the same ticker as another company. So because more companies are going public, a bunch of options are getting taken off the table. Sirius XM bought Pandora, so now P is up for grabs. So it's going to be really interesting to see who snaps up the P ticker symbol.

NIALA: That would be better if they did that with Twitter handles as well. Axios’ markets reporter, Courtenay Brown. Thanks Courtenay.


NIALA: The television show Ted Lasso received a historic 20 Emmy nominations last night - the most ever for a new comedy. I’m not alone in saying Ted Lasso is probably my favorite new show of the pandemic - I love character Coach Lasso’s optimism. Here’s some of his particular brand of joy for you to start your week:

TED LASSO: I believe in communism. Rom communism, that is. What is rom communism? Well, Bummer Catch, It is a worldview that reminds us that romantic comedies with folks like Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, or Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. Point is, fellas: If all those attractive people with their amazing apartments and interesting jobs, usually in some creative field, can go through some lighthearted struggles and still end up happy, then so can we. Gentlemen, believing in rom communism is all about believing that everything's going to work out in the end.

NIALA: At the end of the night, Ted Lasso took home 7 Emmys, including Outstanding Comedy Series. Let's hope your week is also outstanding. I'm Niala Boodhoo. Thanks for listening, stay safe, and we’ll see you back here tomorrow morning.

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