Sep 13, 2020

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Breaking ... COMPTON, Calif. (AP) — Authorities are searching for a gunman who shot and wounded two L.A. County sheriff's deputies who were sitting in their squad car — an apparent ambush.

  • President Trump tweeted from Vegas, where he spent the night: "If they die, fast trial death penalty for the killer. Only way to stop this!"

👋 Hello, Sunday! Shouting out to all those on the Best Coast who've lost entire towns and neighborhoods amid the economic, medical and mental stress of a pandemic.

  • Today's Smart Brevitycount: 1,500 words ... 5½ minutes.
1 big thing: Colleges that are reopening right

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A number of colleges have managed to quell or even prevent outbreaks, either because they’re effectively testing and tracing, or because they’ve got smaller student bodies and more rural locations, Erica Pandey reports.

  • While many bigger universities in cities decided to start with remote learning, smaller campuses in smaller towns — Colby College in Waterville, Maine and Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vt. — welcomed back students with negative test results, betting that isolation can keep infections at bay.

Wesleyan University in Connecticut stands out because it is committed to giving students opportunities to safely hang out with one another (in masks).

  • Many other campuses are desperately attempting to stop socialization.
  • Wesleyan said its student activities department "is setting up an outdoor programming venue on Foss Hill in order to provide a safe venue to come together in larger groups over the coming months."

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2. "This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone"
Via L.A. Times

"California is being pushed to extremes," the L.A. Times reports in today's lead story. "And the record heat, fires and pollution all have one thing in common: They were made worse by climate change."

  • "Their convergence is perhaps the strongest signal yet that the calamity climate scientists have warned of for years isn’t far off in the future; it is here today and can no longer be ignored."
  • Climate scientist Zeke Hausfather said: "People who have lived in California for 30, 40 years are saying this is unprecedented, it has never been this hot, it has never been this smoky."

Why it matters ... California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), on Friday: "California, folks, is America — fast forward." (hat tip: ABC's "This Week")

Photo: Nick Otto for The Washington Post, via Getty Images

This photo of downtown San Francisco was taken at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday, with the city blanketed in an eerie haze from wildfires.

The WashPost pulls back the camera and declares, "The California Dream has become the California Compromise":

  • The San Francisco cityscape "resembles the surface of a distant planet, populated by a masked alien culture. The air, choked with blown ash, is difficult to breathe."
  • "There is the Golden Gate Bridge, looming in the distance through a drift-smoke haze, and the Salesforce Tower, which against the blood-orange sky appears as a colossal spaceship in a doomsday film."

What's next, per The Post: "California has become a warming, burning, epidemic-challenged and expensive state, with many who live in sophisticated cities, idyllic oceanfront towns and windblown mountain communities thinking hard about the viability of a place they have called home forever."

  • "For the first time in a decade, more people left California last year for other states than arrived."
Via CNN
3. "Hurricane skepticism" among Trump voters

Florida signs before Hurricane Irma in 2017. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A new study finds that conservative media led to "hurricane skepticism" among Trump voters before Hurricane Irma hit Florida in 2017, discouraging evacuations, Bryan Walsh writes in his Axios Future newsletter. (Sign up here.)

  • Why it matters: How we view the world politically is increasingly how we view the threat of natural catastrophes.

In a study published Friday in the journal Science Advances, researchers from UCLA examined evacuation patterns for the hurricane.

  • They used GPS phone location data from each affected voting precinct, which allowed them to compare the behaviors of likely Clinton and Trump voters living as closely as 500 ft. apart.
  • They found Florida residents who voted for Trump were between 10% and 11% less likely than residents who voted for Clinton to obey evacuation orders.
  • That partisan gap wasn't present during Hurricane Harvey in August 2017 or Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

The latest: Authorities in Oregon say some people resisted evacuations from the wildfires in part because of baseless rumors that left-wing activists are setting the fires so they can loot abandoned houses.

  • The posts are being shared by social media accounts associated with QAnon.

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4. 📈 Why tech could resume its climb
Courtesy Barron's

"The Tech Bubble Could Get Even Bigger," Barron's deputy editor Ben Levisohn reports (subscription):

[T]he forces that drove stocks such as Apple and Amazon.com to astonishing heights remain firmly in place. They include the companies' continued growth, the Federal Reserve's determination to do whatever it takes to keep the economy afloat, retail investors’ newfound interest in trading, and maybe even a bit of fiscal largess.
Stocks will remain volatile, but the tech bubble will continue to inflate.
5. Faces of power
Graphic: The New York Times. Used by permission

I told you yesterday about the N.Y. Times' ambitious "Faces of Power" project. Here are the findings about government and public life:

  • "24 people lead the Trump administration. 3 are Asian, Black or Hispanic."
  • "9 justices sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. 2 are Black or Hispanic."
  • "100 people write laws in the Senate. 9 are Asian, Black or Hispanic."
  • "431 people currently write laws in the House. 112 are Asian, Black, Hispanic or Native American, or otherwise identify as a person of color."
  • "50 people are state governors. 3 are Asian, Hispanic or Native American."
  • "8 men are military chiefs. 1 is Black."

"25 people command the largest police forces. 14 are Black or Hispanic."

  • "29 prosecutors charge people with crimes in those jurisdictions. 12 are Asian, Black or Hispanic."
  • Explore the lists (subscription).

Flashback to 2016, when The Times found 44 minorities among 503 of the most powerful people in American culture, government, education and business (9%, compared to 20% in the new version, with 180 people of color among 922 leaders):

Via Twitter
6. Why Mike Bloomberg is putting $100 million on Biden in Florida
Joe Biden speaks to CJ Brown in Detroit on Wednesday. Photo: Leah Millis/Reuters

If Joe Biden were to win Florida decisively, President Trump would have little chance of putting together a winning map. And Florida reports results early (when it's not tied!).

  • That could stave off the "Red Mirage" scenario that Mayor Bloomberg's data agency, Hawkfish, unveiled on "Axios on HBO — an uncertain outcome tears the nation apart, with Trump ahead but Biden the ultimate winner.

So Bloomberg, who just six months ago was being cheered at his own rally in West Palm Beach, plans to spend at least $100 million for Biden in Florida, "a massive late-stage infusion," the WashPost's Michael Scherer scoops.

  • "Bloomberg made the decision to focus his final election spending on Florida last week, after news reports that Trump had considered spending as much as $100 million of his own money in the final weeks of the campaign."

🎬Watch free: The full "Axios on HBO" segment on the "Red Mirage."

7. 🗞️ The real media bias: "love of a good story"
Illustration: Pablo Delcan for The Washington Post Magazine

Leonard Downie Jr., who gave me huge breaks by hiring me twice when he was executive editor of The Washington Post (once for Metro and once for National), will be out Sept. 22 with "All About the Story: News, Power, Politics, and The Washington Post."

  • An excerpt from Len's memoir is the cover of today's WashPost Magazine, and is an illuminating window for today's readers into the way trustworthy journalists think about emotional elections:
In late October 2000, two weeks before the presidential election, I had written an editor's column reminding readers of the strict separation at The Post between news coverage, which I directed, and editorials, opinion columns and candidate endorsements, supervised separately by the editor of the editorial page. I explained that the editorial page’s endorsement of Al Gore for president did not affect our coverage of the campaign, and that the camps of both presidential candidates had complained at times about coverage they did not like.
"If we have a bias," I wrote, "it is our love of a good story. And there can be no better story in this town than a hard-fought election that appears to be going down to the wire. We have been trying to make sure that our fascination with the race does not interfere with our responsibility to give voters as much information as possible about the candidates themselves, the issues, what is on voters’ minds and how the campaign is being conducted.
"This mission is more deeply felt by our staff than readers may realize," I added. "If we do our job well, the voters can best determine where the story goes from here."

Worthy of your time (subscription).

8. 🏈 Black Lives Matter, COVID transform college game day
University of Louisville's Tabarius Peterson carried a Black Lives Matters flag onto the field in Photo: Pat McDonogh/The Courier-Journal via Reuters

With few or no fans in stands, college football's first big weekend was mostly stripped of the pageantry at the heart of the game. But the day was memorable for shows of support for the fight for racial justice, AP's Eric Olson reports:

  • Louisville players ran on the field before their game against Western Kentucky (photo above) carrying American and Black Lives Matter flags, the latter featuring the school's old English "L" in the middle. The Cardinals' helmets also featured decals for BLM and DR 2 to honor recruit Dexter Rentz Jr., who was shot and killed by gunfire in Orlando on April 26.
  • Duke players wore the Black Lives Matter logo on the back of their helmets, and the "D" logos on the sides of those helmets, traditionally white, were black. NBC reported the color change was made in support of the BLM movement, and that Duke intends to wear that design throughout the season.
Cardboard Tar Heels in Kenan Memorial Stadium for UNC's game against Syracuse yesterday in Chapel Hill. Photo: Robert Willett/The News & Observer via AP
Mike Allen

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