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July 21, 2022

Happy Thursday. Smart Brevityโ„ข count: 1,182 words ... 4ยฝ mins. Edited by Noah Bressner.

๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Breaking: Italian Premier Mario Draghi resigned today after his coalition imploded but will remain as a caretaker. It means new political chaos for Italy and Europe at a critical time. Keep reading.

1 big thing: Why every CEO needs to be a communicator

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Sharp, persuasive communications have raced to the C-suite's inner sanctum as a vital ingredient in attracting and retaining investors, customers and employees.

  • Why it matters: CEOs now have to respond not only to their own fires but also societal, global and national crises โ€” all in real time. Just ask leaders at Abbott, Disney and Delta, writes Eleanor Hawkins, author of our new weekly newsletter Axios Communicators, launching today.

As part of a generational change, CEOs are being pressured by younger workers and potential recruits โ€” plus some shareholders and customers โ€” to take stands on issues they'd normally avoid.

  • That includes voting rights, abortion access, guns, climate and LGBTQ rights.

State of play: 73% of chief communication officers told Edelman social issues have changed their communications agenda.

  • 81% of the public โ€” and 60% of job seekers โ€” want executives to speak publicly about big issues, the Edelman Trust Barometer found.

Between the lines: Speaking out pays off.

  • 80% of investors in an FTI Consulting study said the crises and chaos of 2020 and 2021 brought out the best in CEOs.

The bottom line: No one can hide or dodge in a world in which every customer, employee and investor โ€” current and future โ€” is constantly connected.

๐Ÿ’ก Sign up here for Axios Communicators, our new weekly newsletter (debuting later today) to help any comms person at any level master internal and external comms.

2. Push to regulate Big Tech is fizzling

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Expectations for a congressional vote this summer on a major tech antitrust bill have all but fizzled out as the August recess quickly approaches, Axios' Ashley Gold reports.

Why it matters: It's more likely than ever that this Congress will push Big Tech competition rules into the fall โ€” when legislation will face slim chances with lawmakers distracted by midterm elections.

  • If an autumn push fails, competition regulation will have to wait for the new Congress. If the GOP takes back congressional control, it's unlikely to be a top priority.

Flashback: The House began this current antitrust legislative push in 2020, with a sweeping report charging the biggest U.S. tech companies with putting their own products and services ahead of competitors'.

  • House members introduced five separate bills accompanying the report. Little movement has followed.

The lobbying battle has been intense, with Big Tech and its advocacy groups dropping millions on TV and online advertisements.

3. ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผ U.S. sees rising Taiwan risk

The war in Ukraine is influencing the Chinese government's considerations on "how and when" โ€” not whether โ€” to invade Taiwan, CIA Director Bill Burns said yesterday.

  • "I wouldn't underestimate President Xi's determination to assert China's control" over the self-governing island, Burns told NBC's Andrea Mitchell at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.

Burns doesn't expect an imminent invasion, Axios' Rebecca Falconer writes. He said: "The risks of that become higher, it seems to us, the further into this decade that you get."

  • Burns said the lesson China is likely taking from Vladimir Putin's "strategic failure" in Ukraine "is that you've got to amass overwhelming force."

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4. ๐Ÿง  Where it's cheaper to rent than buy

Top metros that favor...
Data: Realtor.com. Chart: Axios Visuals

Rents have soared โ€”ย but renting is still more affordable than buying at the entry-level in three-quarters of the country, Emily Peck writes for Axios Markets from a Realtor.com analysis out today.

  • Why it matters: This is a big shift from January, when renting had the edge in a little over half of the markets Realtor.com analyzed.

What's happening: The difference now is higher mortgage rates, which make the median payment on a "starter" home more costly than on a comparable rental apartment, according to the analysis. Home prices have not yet started to fall, which could've balanced out the equation.

๐Ÿ•ถ๏ธ What we're watching: Rent increases are slowing down.

5. ๐Ÿ”ฎ "Smart" surfaces could chill broiling cities

Illustration: Aรฏda Amer/Axios

Cities could reduce peak temperatures by replacing hot, dark surfaces โ€” streets, rooftops, playgrounds and parking lots โ€” with cooler alternatives, Jennifer A. Kingson writes for Axios What's Next.

  • Cities have been adding "cool roof" policies and "cool pavement" programs โ€” but will only get meaningful results from plans that involve all heat-trapping surfaces, says Greg Kats, founder and CEO of the Smart Surfaces Coalition.
  • The advocacy group is working to coax cities to devise systemic plans to banish dark, impervious surfaces and replace them with green, porous and reflective ones.

The 3-year-old coalition is working with Baltimore to try to make the city a model of what can be done.

  • A comprehensive strategyย will (ideally) blitz the Charm City with reflective roofs and highways, solar panels, trees, porous pavements, and "urban meadows" โ€” areas of median where mown grass is replaced with unmanicured native grasses.

Go deeper: Free online tool for cities ... Share this story.

6. Charted: Uvalde's system failure

376 officers were on the scene in Uvalde โ€” then waited to confront the gunman.

Data: Texas Department of Public Safety. Graphic: Houston Chronicle. Used by permission

Ken Ellis, a Houston Chronicle graphic artist, tweeted: "Not a fun graphic to make, but it tells the story."

7. Ivana Trump laid to rest

Photo: Julia Nikhinson/AP

Pallbearers leave with the gold-toned casket of Ivana Trump after her funeral yesterday at St. Vincent Ferrer Roman Catholic Church in Manhattan, a few blocks from her home near Central Park.

Photo: Julia Nikhinson/AP

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8. L.A. beach returned to rightful heirs

Anthony Bruce, a descendant of the Roaring 20's owners, holds up the beach deed during yesterday's ceremony. Photo: Christina House/L.A. Times via Getty Images

L.A. County made amends for a century-old racial injustice yesterday:

  • The deed to beachfront property โ€” taken from an African American couple that ran a thriving resort there in 1924 โ€” was ceremoniously returned to their heirs, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Dignitaries at a ceremony in Manhattan Beach called the return of government land unjustly acquired from Black citizens unprecedented in the U.S. โ€” and a model for other jurisdictions.

What happened: Bruce's Beach โ€” 7,000 square feet of prime real estate โ€” had been a resort where Black people gathered and enjoyed the beach in the segregated L.A. County of the early 20th century.

  • "While her husband, Charles [Bruce], worked as a dining-car chef on the train running between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, Willa ran a popular lodge, cafe and dance hall โ€” providing Black families a way to enjoy a weekend on the coast," the L.A. Times reported in 2020.

In 1924, Manhattan Beach officials, ostensibly claiming eminent domain to build a park, forced out the Bruces. Over decades, the land was transferred to the state and then the county.

  • Activists and politicians determined the real motivation for eminent domain was racism. A state law was passed last year to approve returning the land to the Bruces' heirs.

The property now belongs to Marcus and Derrick Bruce, great-grandsons of Willa and Charles Bruce, who said they'll share the proceeds with their extended family.

  • Derrick Bruce attended Wednesday's ceremony along with his son, Anthony Bruce, who'll manage the property, which houses a lifeguard training facility. L.A. County will lease the land for $413,000 per year.

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