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Good morning. Big news. The weekly Axios Science newsletter launches later today and it's really good. Sign up here and it'll arrive in your inbox later today and every Thursday going forward. Let's dive in . . .

One big idea: blockchain as a grid shield

Giphy

The Rocky Mountain Institute uses the recent ransomware attacks as a jumping off point for an interesting piece about how blockchain technology can help protect power grids.

The new blog post says the decentralized digital transaction technology is "inherently robust" against cyber threats for several reasons, such as the difficulty of changing data after it's written and decentralized data storage.

Why it matters now: The energy think tank notes that with the huge expansion of energy-using, internet-connected devices expected over the next decade, the grid is about to get way, way more vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Elsewhere, RMI notes that blockchain can help protect wholesale power markets against cyber intrusions aimed at injecting false data and manipulating prices.

On tap today: Interior and EPA in focus

In the hot seat: David Bernhardt, a lobbyist that President Donald Trump has nominated for the number two slot at Interior, will appear before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

A Democratic aide tells Axios to expect skeptical questioning about how or if he can prevent conflicts of interest, given his past work with fossil fuel and mining companies.

  • Also in the crosshairs: Bernhardt's time as a high-level official at Interior during the George W. Bush administration, when the agency was rocked by several scandals, could be a focus of Democratic questions too.

More about DOE’s budget shock

Foreign Affairs has a new piece on the international ramifications if the White House succeeds in deeply cutting Energy Department research, development, and demonstration programs for clean energy tech.

Flashback: Yesterday my colleague Amy Harder had two scoops (here and here) about the White House plans.

The global stakes: The Foreign Affairs piece says these kinds of cuts would hurt the U.S. economically and diplomatically.

  • The U.S. could cede ground in the race to command emerging and future industries, like next-wave batteries and nuclear reactors.
  • The U.S. government currently supports international partnerships on clean energy development, and ending it would would cost the U.S. diplomatic leverage with nations like Japan, China, and India.

Go deeper: The piece made the point that the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center is a bright spot in the difficult relationship with China at a time when cooperation over North Korea is important.

The essay also notes the U.S. accrued goodwill when it spearheaded a 2015 multi-country pledge to double clean energy R&D over five years.

Perspectives on geoengineering

Rebecca Zisser / Axios

My colleague Alison Snyder, who leads our expanding science coverage at Axios, has rounded up important perspectives on geoengineering. Alison asks: What do we need to know before someone pushes start on a large-scale geoengineering attempt? And what Earth-altering experiment should we try first?

Five leading researchers answered those questions and offered their take on the risks, as well as the thorny ethical and legal issues that come with unleashing a technology that could span countries, cultures, and generations. Check out the links below...

On my screen: OPEC, fracking, and climate

Crude oil: The Wall Street Journal notes that for all the obsession with OPEC and U.S. shale, other players are making their presence felt in the markets ahead of the crucial OPEC meeting next week.

  • "Rising output from Canada and Brazil, along with smaller gains in the U.K. and Norway, represents an under-the-radar concern for some oil traders ahead of next week's meeting between members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries," the WSJ reports.

More OPEC: The Financial Times has an informative table-setter about the OPEC meeting as the cartel seeks to avoid another price collapse.

  • "It is indicative of their reduced ambition that few members are prepared to talk of a significant recovery in the market, even as the cartel moves to extend its output cuts for another six to nine months," FT reports.

Fracking: Bloomberg reports that shale oil drillers are "struggling to find enough fracking crews after thousands of workers were dismissed during the crude rout."

More fracking: The Houston Chronicle reports on the changing of the guard at oilfield services giant Halliburton.

Climate: Reuters reports that the European Union has agreed to provide $891 million to help 79 African, Pacific, and Caribbean countries implement the Paris agreement to combat climate change.

From Amy’s notebook: Trump CEO advisor goes solar

Campbell Soup, whose CEO Denise Morrison has advised President Trump on regulatory issues, announced Wednesday it was putting solar panels on its headquarters in New Jersey.

Why it matters: The move shows how businesses of all kinds — not just those owned by Elon Musk, for instance — are increasingly investing in renewables regardless of moves by the Trump administration that are calling to slash Energy Department funding for renewables by nearly 70%.

The news coincided with a Washington visit by Tom Werner, CEO of SunPower Corp., whose technology Campbell is using for its project. Discussing the Campbell move with Axios, Werner noted a Pew Research study from last year that found 75% or more of Republicans back solar power.

Reality check: GOP backing for solar power helped compel Congress to pass legislation extending key tax credits for solar (and wind) energy in 2015, but Energy Department priorities will likely be driven less by polls and more by administrative priorities, which don't include boosting solar power at all, let alone to the scale former President Obama did.

Lobbying notes

Filings that just surfaced in the Lobbying Disclosure Act database show that...

Science: The recently formed pro-science advocacy and candidate recruitment group 314 Action — which advocates for climate science among other areas — has brought on Cozen O'Connor Public Strategies.

Ethanol wars: The Louisiana Oil Marketers & Convenience Store Association has also tapped Cozen O'Connor.

The pro-ethanol trade group Fuels America has brought on Sextons Creek. William Smith, Jr., who was VP Mike Pence's chief of staff when he was in Congress, will be their lobbyist, the filing shows.

Transmission: The Ingram Group LLC, acting on behalf of transmission developer Clean Line Energy, has hired Douglass E. Bobbitt.

Thanks for reading everyone! Confidential tips and feedback are always welcome at ben@axios.com. See you right back here tomorrow.

Featured

How Netflix knows what you want

Matt Rourke / AP

Four out of five shows watched on Netflix were found by subscribers thanks to recommendations offered them, AP's Frazier Moore reports:

  • "Most every row of program suggestions (even generic-seeming categories like "Comedies" and "Dramas") is tailored for each subscriber."
  • "[A] legion of Netflix 'taggers' screens every program, tagging different elements that compose it."
  • "Viewer habits gathered by Netflix from its 100 million accounts worldwide add more grist to the mill."
  • An example of the secret sauce: "[F]ans of the 2015 film 'The Big Short,' which deals with Wall Street dirty tricks, have been found to respond to the money monkeyshines that animate 'Ozark.'"
Featured

An onstage version of Trump 'screaming at the television'

Rick Scuteri / AP

Instant media reactions to Trump's Phoenix rally, which was followed by protests that police dispersed with tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray.

  • CNN's Don Lemon: "He is clearly trying to ignite a civil war in this country. ... He certainly opened up the race wound from Charlottesville. ... A man backed into a corner, it seems, by circumstances beyond his control — and beyond his understanding."
  • NBC's Kristen Welker: "[T]his whole Charlottesville criticism ... has really been getting under his skin. This was his attempt to sort of revive the argument, to re-litigate it."
  • Fox News' John Roberts: "The president had ... a clear win last night with his speech about the new policy on Afghanistan ... But now he's completely changed the subject again."
  • Jon Favreau of Pod Save America, and co-founder of Crooked Media: "Trump's angry that the media reported exactly what he said so he held a speech to deliver a sanitized, redacted version on live television ... I believe Trump just called out the @crookedmedia! ... Trump's going to shut down a government that's controlled entirely by his own party. Very cool."
  • MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, on the omission of "many sides": "The president has lied to his audience tonight."
  • CNN's Brian Stelter began his late-night Reliable Sources newsletter with the single word: "Poison."
  • CNN's Brian Lowry: "[M]uch of this felt like an aging rock band playing the hits ... But he seemed to ratchet up the rhetoric on his enemies list, which has grown lengthier."
  • N.Y. Times Jeremy Peters, to Brian Williams on MSNBC: "In a lot of ways, what we heard from President Trump tonight was just an extended version of the shouting matches that he's been having behind closed doors at the White House, whether it's screaming at his aides, or screaming at the television. ... I see someone who just doesn't want to lose an argument."
  • WashPost's Bob Costa, to Brian Williams: "Steve Bannon, gone from the White House, but he might as well have been a ghost at this Phoenix event. He hovered over everything."
Featured

Read the original Uber pitch deck

To mark the ninth anniversary of the original Uber idea (then called "UberCabs"), co-founder Garrett Camp posted online the company's first pitch deck. Back then, Uber's business was all about providing private car rides to its members in a more efficient (thanks to smartphones and tech) and affordable way.

  • The deck claimed customers shouldn't have to wait for more than five minutes to get picked up, and predicted early on that passengers would want to share rides.
  • The original service was focused on premium rides, but the original deck mentioned eventually turning to less expensive cars like the Toyota Prius. Uber's first UberX cars, in 2012, were in fact Priuses.
  • Today, countless companies describe themselves as "the Uber of X." Back in 2008, Uber compared its concept to another existing company: NetJets, a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary that sells part ownership or shares of private business jets.
Featured

Phoenix police use tear gas at Trump rally protests

Matt York / AP

Police deployed tear gas, pepper spray, stun grenades and rubber bullets on Tuesday night to break up protest crowds after President Trump's rally in Phoenix, Arizona.

  • "Officers responded with pepper spray to break up the crowd after people tossed rocks and bottles and dispersed gas, Phoenix police spokesman Jonathan Howard said," the AP's Jacques Billeaud and Clarice Silber reported from Phoenix.
  • "But some witnesses said that events unfolded differently," per NYT's Simon Romero, "with protesters throwing a water bottle or two in the direction of the police, before the police fired tear gas into the crowd."
  • "The handling by the police of this peaceful protest was reprehensible," Jordan Lauterbach, a 31-year-old bartender, told the NYT. "I was gassed tonight for exercising my right to express my views. I was disgusted by that."

Videos and tweets below:

Featured

The shift in Medicare spending

Medicare is the largest purchaser of health care services in the country, and over the past decade, there's been a gradual change in how those taxpayer dollars are spent, according to data from the independent Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.

Since 2006, Medicare is shifting money from physician practices and inpatient hospitals (where a person needs an overnight stay), and toward private health insurers and other companies that run the Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug programs. Spending also has increased in outpatient settings.

Data: Medicare Payment Advisory Commission; Chart: Chris Canipe / Axios

Why it matters: The Affordable Care Act contributed to some of this shift by cutting Medicare payments to hospitals. But what's happening in Medicare is representative of the health care system at large: the shift to defined benefits and narrow networks of hospitals and doctors, and avoiding hospitalizations whenever possible.

Where more Medicare funds are flowing:

  • Medicare Advantage: Roughly 20 million seniors and disabled people are now enrolled in the politically popular program, which represents 27% of all Medicare dollars. Seniors give those plans high marks, and it's a profitable business for insurers. But there are concerns that Medicare Advantage isn't saving money and that insurers are gaming the program.
  • Part D: The growth of drug prices has blown away the growth of pretty much every other economic good, and Medicare is barred from negotiating discounts with manufacturers. That inevitably has resulted in more money going into the Part D program (14% of all Medicare spending), and the benefits managers that run it.
  • Outpatient hospital departments and clinics: Technology has made it possible for Medicare enrollees to get some procedures and go home the same day, and it's cheaper than treating someone in the hospital. But hospitals also have been buying physician offices and controversially converting them into hospital outpatient departments, resulting in higher fees for the same services.
Featured

Trump details his agenda during Phoenix rally

Alex Brandon / AP

President Trump opened his Phoenix rally tonight with a nod to the upcoming GOP agenda: "We are fully and totally committed to fighting for our agenda and we will not stop until the job is done." He spent the majority of his speech blaming the media for race relations in the U.S., particularly after Charlottesville, but here are some agenda items Trump talked about:

Border wall: "If we have to close down our government, we're building that wall," Trump said in a message to "obstructionist Democrats."

Pardoning Sheriff Joe Arpaio: "Do the people in this room like Sheriff Joe? So was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job? You know what, I'll make a prediction: I think he's going to be just fine. OK? But I won't do it tonight, because I don't want to cause any controversy. But Sheriff Joe should feel good."

NAFTA: "And you know that one of the worst deals that anybody in history has ever entered into. We have begun formal renegotiation with Mexico and Canada on NAFTA. And I must be honest, and I've been talking about NAFTA for a long time and I'm sorry it's taken six months, but we have to give notice, and after the notice is given then you have to wait a long time, anyway. Personally, I don't think we can make a deal because we have been so badly taken advantage of. They have made such bad deals, both of the countries, but in particular Mexico, that I don't think we can make a deal. So I think we'll end up probably terminating NAFTA at some point. Probably. But I told you from the first day that we'll either renegotiate NAFTA or we will terminate NAFTA. I personally don't think we can make a deal without termination, but we'll see. You're in good hands."

Tax reform: Trump promised to pass the "first major tax reform in over 30 years." And he said if Congressional Democrats don't support him in this legislation, they'll be "stopping you from getting a massive tax cut."

Filibuster: "So I have a message for Congress tonight. Your job is to represent American families, American people, American workers. You need to represent them on the border, on taxes, on health care — one vote. And on every other issue that affects their lives. And for our friends in the Senate, oh boy."

  • To McConnell: "The Senate, remember this, look, the Senate, we have to get rid of what's called the filibuster rule. We have to. And if we don't the Republicans will never get anything passed; you're wasting your time. We have to get rid of the filibuster rule right now. We need 60 votes and we have 52 Republicans, that means that 8 Democrats are controlling all of this legislation. We have over 200 bills. And we have to speak to Mitch and we have to speak to everybody."
Featured

Brazil antitrust agency challenges AT&T-Time Warner deal

AP

Brazil's antitrust authority said the merger of AT&T and Time Warner should not be allowed to go through unless the companies agree to changes, such divesting certain assets, to prevent the combined company from hurting competition.

Why it matters: Brazil is one of the remaining countries (along with the U.S.) that needs to sign off on the $85 billion deal, which has gotten regulatory authority from 16 countries. While it's hard to know how the recommendation will impact the U.S. review, it will likely be noticed by the Department of Justice since critics of the deal have drawn parallels in the U.S. market.

"I think this will harden any existing concerns DOJ has about the deal," said Gene Kimmelman, former DOJ official who is now CEO of Public Knowledge, an opponent of the merger.

Specifics: "The new company would also have the capacity and incentives to take various forms of discrimination against its competitors in both markets, which could weaken the competitive environment." the Brazilian antitrust authority, known as CADE, said in a statement Tuesday, according to a translation by the FT.

  • CADE also said the proposed deal would allow Time Warner to gain access to sensitive information from all its competitors through Sky (one of Brazil's biggest operators, of which AT&T owns a 93% stake, according to Bloomberg).
  • And AT&T would have access to conditions negotiated by its rivals through Time Warner (one of Brazil's largest pay-TV programmers), "significantly harming businesses and consumers in the pay-TV segment."

In the U.S. A coalition of public interest and consumer groups made a similar argument in a letter to the DOJ last month:

"As both a major programmer and a major distributor, it would be able to use information from both sides of the negotiating table to give itself better deals than its rivals can obtain—it would necessarily know, for instance, what its programming rivals are charging for their content, and what its distribution rivals are paying."

AT&T disagrees: AT&T says the deal benefits consumers and will help provide competition to the likes of Google and Amazon. "AT&T and Time Warner will work with Cade to clarify any issues they may have to promptly reach a final resolution on the matter," the company said in a statement to Bloomberg.

What's next: In Brazil, a decision is expected in November, although that deadline could slip up to 90 days. In the U.S., authorities are reportedly pretty far along in the review and are discussing conditions with the companies, according to WSJ, indicating that the deal is on the path to approval. AT&T still expects the deal to close by the end of the year.

Featured

Trump blames media for racial tensions in U.S.

Alex Brandon / AP

President Trump gave his first campaign-style rally since the violent protest (and subsequent fallout) of Charlottesville. He spent the majority of his speech blaming the media for race relations and the growing divide among Americans:

"Not only does the media give a platform to hate groups, but the media turns a blind eye to the gang violence on our streets, the failures of our public school, the destruction of our wealth at the hands of our terrible terrible trade deals made by our politicians that should've never been politicians, and the hostility to our local police that work so hard and do an incredible job."

Why it matters: After last week refining his first comments on Charlottesville (where he blamed "many sides" for the violence), Trump returned to earlier form tonight, turning to go-to talking points like railing against the "fake" and "dishonest" media, instead of taking a more conciliatory approach as the nation's president. As Axios' Mike Allen has regularly written, "This is not normal."

Trump continued: "Truly dishonest people in the media and the fake media, they make up sources ... they don't report the facts, just like they don't want to report that I spoke out against hatred and violence and strongly condemned the neo-Nazis, the white supremacists and the KKK."

On his Charlottesville comments: Trump blamed the "fake" media for mischaracterizing what he said about Charlottesville, but he misquoted himself and left out the most controversial part of his remarks, in which he said people "on many sides" were to blame.

  • Trump said during the rally: "'We're closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia.' This is me speaking. 'We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence.' That's me speaking on Saturday. Right after the event."
Trump was clearly playing to his staunchest supporters tonight at a campaign-style rally and they interrupted him with chants of "drain the swamp" and "CNN sucks."




Featured

Top Arizona Republicans won't attend Trump's rally

J. Scott Applewhite and Ross D. Franklin / AP

Top Arizona Republicans won't be attending Trump's first rally since Charlottesville tonight, VICE News reports. The expected absences: Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (though he greeted Trump upon his arrival), Arizona's state Republican party Chair Jonathan Lines, Sen. Jeff Flake, who's been one of Trump's most vocal critics recently, and Sen. John McCain.

Why it matters:

  • Arizona swung for Trump in the presidential election, so presumably Republicans would be there for him.
  • But this comes at a time when Republicans aren't willing to back Trump in the fallout after Charlottesville.
  • Brian Stelter reports Shep Smith couldn't get a single Republican to defend Trump on Fox News, MSNBC's Chuck Todd tried all 52 Republican senators, and none would come on the show, and CNN's Kate Bolduan said only one out of 55 Republicans said yes.
Featured

Breitbart emails leaked, editor vows to do Bannon's "dirty work"

Breitbart EIC Alex Marlow, via YouTube / Real Time with Bill Maher

Breitbart Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow, as well as other top editors at Breitbart, told an email prankster acting as Steve Bannon that they "would do Bannon's 'dirty work' against White House aides," according to CNN.

Why it matters: This is the third high-profile prank in the past two months.

  • Energy Secretary Rick Perry thought he was speaking with the Ukraine prime minister, discussing "geopolitically sensitive topics [like] cyberattacks, potential pipelines for Russian gas and the Paris climate accord," per Politico.
  • Then-White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci got into an email altercation with who he believed to be Reince Priebus after he was fired.
  • Alex Marlow told the prankster over email he could have Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump "out by the end of the year." The same prankster contacted Breitbart senior editor Joel Pollak, in which Pollak gave him his phone number to talk further about Jared and Ivanka.