Oct 29, 2018

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

⚡  Bulletin: "An Indonesian aircraft with 189 people on board crashed into the sea and sank [today] soon after taking off from the capital, Jakarta, on a domestic flight to a tin-mining region." (Reuters)

1 big thing: Climate change is redrawing maps

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Climate change is reshaping aspects of our environment that many of us thought were static — from where deserts begin and end, to what we can grow in backyard or community gardens, Axios science editor Andrew Freedman writes.

  • Why it matters: These changes portend bigger shifts to come that may reshape the global food system and lead to insecurity, with major agricultural countries facing more challenges from pests, heat waves, droughts, floods and other threats that could affect crop productivity. 

I had asked Andrew for his take on a fascinating article, "Redrawing the Map: How the World’s Climate Zones Are Shifting," by Nicola Jones in Yale Environment 360, published at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies:

  • Climate change is literally redrawing lines on the map, like "the line of where wheat will grow, or where tornadoes tend to form, where deserts end, where the frozen ground thaws, and even where the boundaries of the tropics lie."
  • The big picture: "Everything about global warming is changing how people grow their food, access their drinking water, and live in places that are increasingly being flooded, dried out, or blasted with heat waves. Seeing these changes literally drawn on a map helps to hammer these impacts home."

Among the findings:

  • "The tropics are expanding by half a degree per decade."
  • '"Since 1902, the Sahara Desert has grown 10 percent."
  • In the U.S., the boundary between the arid Western plains and the wetter, eastern region has shifted about 140 miles east since 1980.
  • Tornado Alley — a hotspot for tornado formation in the U.S. — has shifted 500 miles east since the mid-1980s.
  • Check out the maps.

Be smart, from Andrew: Those who will be hit the hardest by these changes will be located closer to the expanding tropics and semi-arid zones north and south of the equator.

2. Americans crave unity amid violence, anger
An overflow crowd stands outside the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Pittsburgh, and listens via speakers to the community gathering shown in the photo below. (Matt Rourke/AP)

"Amid a wave of election-season violence that left many Americans on edge, the contentious midterm campaign has barreled forward with little pause," AP's Catherine Lucey and Julie Pace write:

  • "Trump and other politicians disavowed the pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats and condemned the massacre of 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue this past week. But the divisiveness that has dominated the nation’s politics kept creeping back."
  • "The attacks are a grim capstone to [the ]midterm campaign."

And AP's Claire Galofaro in Louisville and Margery Beck in Omaha ask if a polarized nation has finally reached its tipping point:

  • "Many wonder whether this latest spasm might be the moment that the nation collectively considers how poisonous the political culture has become and decides to turn the other way."
  • Be smart: Good luck with that.
Matt Rourke/AP
Courtesy N.Y. Post
3. New digital divide: Logging off

"The digital divide was about access to technology, and now that everyone has access, the new digital divide is limiting access to technology," Chris Anderson, former editor of Wired, tells the N.Y. Times' Nellie Bowles for her talker of a piece, "Rich Parents Ban Devices As the Poor Grow Reliant":

  • "[A]s Silicon Valley’s parents increasingly panic over the impact screens have on their children and move toward screen-free lifestyles, worries over a new digital divide are rising."
  • "It could happen that the children of poorer and middle-class parents will be raised by screens, while the children of Silicon Valley’s elite will be going back to wooden toys and the luxury of human interaction."

Worthy of your time.

Bonus: Cover du jour
Mark Ulriksen's "Boo!" / The New Yorker
4. Far-right candidate wins in Brazil
Supporters of Jair Bolsonaro celebrate in front of his house in Rio de Janeiro last night. (Buda Mendes/Getty Images)"

"Jair Bolsonaro swept to power in Brazil’s presidential election [with a 10-point victory], ... marking a hard pivot to the right that promises to open up the resource-rich economy to private investment, strengthen ties to the U.S. and unleash an aggressive crackdown on epidemic crime," Bloomberg reports.

  • "The 63-year-old is a retired army officer and member of the Social Liberal Party (PSL), an anti-establishment group that combines social conservatism and pro-market policies," per BBC.
  • "Bolsonaro is a deeply polarizing figure whose remarks on a range of issues — including abortion, race, migration and homosexuality — earned him the nickname of 'Trump of the Tropics.'"
5. House Dems promise action on LGBTQ rights

"Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi recently said she would introduce the Equality Act as one of her first orders of business if Democrats retake the House," AP's Juliet Linderman reports:

  • "The 1964 Civil Rights Act ... bars discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin."

"The Equality Act, if passed, would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the law and expand those protections beyond the workplace."

  • "It would outlaw gender discrimination in places like restaurants and retail shops, in seeking housing, using health care and social services, applying for a loan or participating in the jury selection process."
  • "Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said the legislation will be given a low bill number, meaning it would be among the first pieces of legislation to be introduced. Hammill described such a designation as 'a place of honor.'"

Be smart: "The House bill has 198 co-sponsors ... But no Senate Republicans have signed on, and social conservatives oppose the legislation. And even if the bill cleared Congress, it would still have to be signed by President Trump."

6. Don Jr. calling

A literal voice of the GOP in the eight days 'til midterms will be Donald Trump Jr., the president's oldest son.

  • Don Jr. has recorded robocalls for 26 House, Senate and gubernatorial candidates in competitive races across the country.
  • He also recorded several get-out-the-vote robocalls for the RNC. 
  • Don Jr. will have headlined more than 60 GOP events between May and Election Day, and has had 11 op-eds published in local papers in battleground states.

Andy Surabian, Republican strategist and political adviser to Don Jr.: "Don Jr. is doing everything in his power to help Republicans hold our majority in the House and expand it in the Senate. He's all in."

7. Oil-rich Norway tries to go big on climate

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Axios' Amy Harder writes from Mongstad, Norway, in her "Harder Line" column that the Nordic nation offers a window into how an economy fueled by oil and natural gas can attempt aggressive action on climate change.

  • Why it matters: It sounds contradictory, but given that our world has remained 81% dependent upon fossil fuels for the past 30 years, cutting greenhouse gas emissions while using these fuels is probably going to be unavoidable.
  • In two separate upcoming decisions, Norway will show the extent to which it’s committed to its climate ambitions and diversifying its wealth, which is largely derived from oil.

Be smart: If Norway — rich from its fossil fuels and genuinely ambitious about addressing climate change — doesn’t follow through, who would?

8. First look: Flagging fake news

"NewsGuard Technologies, which uses trained journalists to produce red or green credibility ratings and 'Nutrition Label' reviews for thousands of news and information websites, today [will announce] that its misinformation SWAT team has discovered and issued red ratings to two networks of hoax websites that are designed to look like local media outlets in the United States — but in fact appear to be based in Macedonia and Australia."

  • NewsGuard general manager Matt Skibinski: "By ramping up our SWAT team so that we can rate the trustworthiness of a suddenly trending site this fast, we ... limit the damage the site can do with new stories in the future."
  • Download the browser extension here.
9. Axios dispatch from abroad
Voting in the Georgian presidential election in Tblisi yesterday. (Mikhail Japaridze/TASS via Getty Images)

Axios World editor David Lawler is in the Republic of Georgia, where he spent the past four days with a German Marshall Fund delegation, observing yesterday's presidential election and meeting with the leading candidates, the current president, and leaders in civil society, the clergy and business.

Tbilisi and Rustavi, Georgia — The strength of Georgia's democracy and of its all-powerful ruling party will be put to the test in the coming days after a deadlocked presidential election on Sunday necessitated what is sure to be a bitter runoff.

  • Why it matters: In Georgia, Moscow is the enemy, the West provides the path forward and strengthening democracy is the way to get there. But leading figures in the former Soviet republic's politics and society are fearful that this consensus is beginning to break down.
  • In four days here, I heard the phrase "existential crisis" more than once.
  • As always, one chief fear is Russia. Another is that the fragile system will begin to implode through some combination of corruption, hopelessness and political score-settling.

Unlike in much of the former Soviet Union, there is real suspense to Georgian democracy. I found myself on an elevator with Grigol Vashadze, who came in second in presidential balloting, after a meeting in which he exuded all the anger and exhaustion of a man who believed he was being robbed of an election.

  • I mumbled a question about the polls, and whether they'd match the official results. He grabbed me by the arm as I went to leave: "You're in Georgia! Anything can happen."
10. 1 ⚾ thing
The Boston Globe

"The Boston Red Sox are World Series champions for the fourth time in 15 seasons," The Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy writes:

  • "Led by David Price’s seven-plus stellar innings and home runs by Steve Pearce (two), Mookie Betts, and J.D. Martinez, the Sox defeated the Dodgers, 5-1, in Dodger Stadium (a.k.a. 'Fenway West')."

"New England has another masterpiece for its professional sports High Renaissance."

  • "In the 21st century, we are at 11 championships and counting. Presumably, the Patriots will be going for No. 12 in February, and the Celtics for No. 13 in June. Boylston Street is our Canyon of Heroes."

Two stats from AP:

  • Boston went 7-1 on the road in the postseason and 10-0 overall when scoring first.
  • Boston is the first team with the highest payroll to win the title since the 2009 Yankees.
Mike Allen