Dec 19, 2017

EPA cuts ties with Republican media-tracking firm

Headquarters of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2013. Photo: Matt McClain / The Washington Post via Getty Images.

The Environmental Protection Agency has terminated a $120,000 contract with Definers Public Affairs, a Republican media-tracking and opposition-research firm, according to a Washington Post report. "How we consume the news has changed...and we hope to find a vendor that can provide us with real-time news clips at a rate that is cheaper than our previous vendor," said EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox.

Why it matters: The contract between the EPA and Definers was first reported on by Mother Jones; the New York Times later reported that the VP of Definers had filed "at least 40 Freedom of Information Act requests to the EPA," and that many regarded "employees known to be questioning management" since EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's confirmation. President of the firm, Joe Pounder, said in a statement to the Post that the Definers wouldn't offer its services to government agencies.

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Scoop: New White House personnel chief tells Cabinet liaisons to target Never Trumpers

McEntee, shown with White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, walks on the South Lawn of the White House Jan. 9. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Johnny McEntee called in White House liaisons from cabinet agencies for an introductory meeting Thursday, in which he asked them to identify political appointees across the U.S. government who are believed to be anti-Trump, three sources familiar with the meeting tell Axios.

Behind the scenes: McEntee, a 29-year-old former body man to Trump who was fired in 2018 by then-Chief of Staff John Kelly but recently rehired — and promoted to head the presidential personnel office — foreshadowed sweeping personnel changes across government.

How art can help us understand AI

Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

Activists and journalists have been telling us for years that we are handing too much of our human autonomy over to machines and algorithms. Now artists have a showcase in the heart of Silicon Valley to highlight concerns around facial recognition, algorithmic bias and automation.

Why it matters: Art and technology have been partners for millennia, as Steve Jobs liked to remind us. But the opening of "Uncanny Valley: Being Human in the Age of AI" tomorrow at the de Young Museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park puts art in the role of technology's questioner, challenger — and sometimes prosecutor.

The Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury fight is the rematch of the century

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The weekend's biggest sporting event is Wilder-Fury II, which despite its name is not an action movie sequel starring Jean-Claude Van Damme but, rather, a boxing match starring arguably the two best heavyweights in the world.

The backdrop: In their first meeting in December 2018, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury put on a memorable show at Staples Center, with Fury surviving a brutal right hand in the 12th round to earn a split-decision draw.

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