Sep 15, 2017

Mnuchin claims request for government jet was for national security

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin answering questions on what prompted Mnuchin to inquire about using a government plane for his European honeymoon in August. Photo: John Locher / AP

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told Politico's Ben White that the story claiming he had requested a government jet for his honeymoon was "misreported." He argued use of such a plane would simply be for "national security" purposes:

"Let me be clear. I'm very sensitive to the use of government funds... This had nothing to do with convenience. This was purely about national security... and ultimately we withdrew the request."

Mnuchin also denied that his recent trip to Louisville and Fort Knox, via a government plane, had anything to do with watching the eclipse:

"You know, people in Kentucky took this stuff very serious. Being a New Yorker... I was like, the eclipse? Really? I don't have any interest in watching the eclipse.'"

Go deeper

Inside hackers' pivot to medical espionage

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A wave of cyber-spying around COVID-19 medical research is once more demonstrating the perils of treating cybersecurity as a separate, walled-off realm.

Driving the news: U.S. officials recently announced an uptick in Chinese-government affiliated hackers targeting medical research and other facilities in the United States for data on a potential COVID-19 cure or effective treatments to combat the virus. Additionally, “more than a dozen countries have redeployed military and intelligence hackers to glean whatever they can about other nations’ virus responses,” reports the New York Times.

The downsides of remote work

Data: Reproduced from Prudential/Morning Consult "Pulse of the American Worker Survey"; Chart: Axios Visuals

The coronavirus pandemic has forced a large-scale experiment in working from home. It has gone well enough that many companies are expanding their remote work expectations for the foreseeable future, and remote employees want to continue to work that way.

Yes, but: The downsides of remote work — less casual interaction with colleagues, an over-reliance on Zoom, lack of in-person collaboration and longer hours — could over time diminish the short-term gains.

Hong Kong's economic future hangs in the balance

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As Beijing forces a sweeping national security law on Hong Kong, the once semi-autonomous city's status as one of Asia's largest financial hubs is at risk.

Why it matters: Political freedoms and strong rule of law helped make Hong Kong a thriving center for international banking and finance. But China's leaders may be betting that top firms in Hong Kong will trade some political freedoms for the economic prosperity Beijing can offer.