Aug 24, 2019

Axios AM

🏖️ Happy Saturday! Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,189 words ... ~ 4 minutes.

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1 big thing: Disruption rules the world

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump has generally been outnumbered at summits like this weekend's Group of 7 — the disrupter-in-chief in a room of more sober-minded leaders.

  • But now as global leaders gather in France, disruption is the rule, Axios World Editor Dave Lawler writes.

French President Emmanuel Macron is hosting the summit this weekend in the seaside town of Biarritz, but all eyes will be on Trump and Boris Johnson, the U.K.’s new prime minister.

  • Johnson’s on a whistle-stop tour to sound out largely unreceptive EU leaders on the possibility of striking a new Brexit deal.

Other G7 leaders have their own problems:

  • Italy is in the midst of a political crisis that makes it uncertain who will be filling its chair when world leaders gather again.
  • Angela Merkel will be attending her 14th G7 summit as Germany’s chancellor, and one of her last — she’s said she’ll step aside by 2021.
  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, another forceful voice for multilateralism, might beat her out the door. He’s struggling to get out from under an ethics scandal ahead of elections in October.
  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan is another G7 regular. But a fast-escalating feud with South Korea, and maintaining warm relations with Trump, loom larger for him than speaking out in defense of multilateral order.
  • Macron cuts a more formidable figure on the world stage than at home: His approval rating languishes at 27% and the far right is clawing at the door.
2. Trump alarms allies, aides, business
Expand chart
Data: FactSet. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

President Trump tanked markets yesterday (Dow down 623 points, or 2.4%) with tweets that included: "Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China." And:

Why it matters, from WashPost: "Trump’s stunning directive for U.S. companies to sever ties to China represents a new threat for U.S. multinational corporations which have spent years cultivating the growing Chinese consumer market."

Trump, now in France for the G7 summit, doubles down:

Reality check, from N.Y. Times' Peter Baker: That law is "meant to enable a president to isolate criminal regimes," but is "not intended to be used to cut off economic ties with a major trading partner because of a disagreement over tariffs."

  • "The president’s tweet could further unsettle American companies."
3. Google curbs politics @work

"Google issued new guidelines limiting employee discussion of politics and other topics not related to work, in a major shift for a company that has long prided itself on open debate," The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription).

  • "Google said it would appoint employees to moderate the company’s famously raucous internal message board ... acknowledging that the discussions have spiraled out of control."
  • Google said in a public memo: "While sharing information and ideas with colleagues helps build community, disrupting the workday to have a raging debate over politics or the latest news story does not."

Why it matters, per the WSJ: "The tech titan helped pioneer the Silicon Valley idea of the workplace as a college-like campus."

  • But rebellions were rising over issues like pursuit of government contracts.
4. Pic of the week
Photo: Allison Joyce/Getty Images

A young Rohingya is seen this week during a rainstorm at the Nayapara refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

  • Tomorrow marks the second anniversary of the Rohingya refugee crisis, after Myanmar's military crackdown on the ethnic Muslim minority forced 745,000 to flee to Bangladesh to escape violence and torture.
  • The UN has called it a "textbook example" of ethnic cleansing.
5. Tomorrow: "Day of Healing" as slavery turns 400
Andre Bradshaw (left) and Eric Jackson at an unmarked grave at the Tucker Family Cemetery in Hampton, Va. They're part of a larger family that traces its roots to the first enslaved Africans to arrive in what is now Virginia in 1619. Photo: Ben Finley/AP

The National Park Service tomorrow will mark the 400th anniversary of the landing of the first enslaved Africans in the English colonies — at Point Comfort in what is now Hampton, Va. — with a nationwide bell-ringing at 3 p.m. ET:

  • Bells will ring "simultaneously for four minutes—one minute for each century ... #RingToRemember or #400Years."

🎵 If you haven't dived into the N.Y. Times' 1619 Project, reframing "1619 as our true founding," start with critic-at-large Wesley Morris, "Why Is Everyone Always Stealing Black Music? Because it’s the sound of complete artistic freedom":

[W]hen we’re talking about black music, we’re talking about horns, drums, keyboards and guitars doing the unthinkable together. We’re also talking about what the borrowers and collaborators don’t want to or can’t lift — centuries of weight, of atrocity we’ve never sufficiently worked through, the blackness you know is beyond theft because it’s too real, too rich, too heavy to steal. ...
Four hundred years ago, more than 20 kidnapped Africans arrived in Virginia. They were put to work and put through hell.
Twenty became millions, and some of those people found — somehow — deliverance in the power of music. Lil Nas X has descended from those millions ... And [Billy Ray] Cyrus is down for the ride. Musically, they both know: This land is their land.

Worthy of your time (subscription).

6. 😱 graphic of the week
7. 75 years ago this weekend: The liberation of Paris
Photo: Peter J. Carroll/AP

Seventy-five years ago, they helped free Europe from the Nazis. This weekend, U.S. veterans are back in Paris.

  • Now in their 90s, these men aren't afraid to cry about what they saw in World War II. And they want everyone to remember what happened back then, so that it doesn't happen again. (AP)

Above ... On Aug. 29, 1944, U.S. soldiers of Pennsylvania's 28th Infantry march along the Champs-Élysées, with the Arc de Triomphe in the background.

  • Below ... On Aug. 28, 1944, high-ranked German officers, captured by French patriot forces, are marched through the streets of Paris with hands in the air.
Photo: AP
The New York Times

📚 Go deeper with a slim new book, out last month ... "The Liberation of Paris: How Eisenhower, de Gaulle, and von Choltitz Saved the City of Light," by historian Jean Edward Smith (Simon & Schuster):

  • "When 1944 began, most Parisians realized that Germany was losing the war, and that set off a tide of reaction."
8. As seen from space
Planet Labs Inc. via AP

This satellite image shows smoke billowing from forest fires in Nova Bandeirantes in Mato Grosso, Brazil.

"Stung by a global outcry over deforestation and wildfires in the Amazon rainforest, Brazil has launched a diplomatic offensive to persuade the international community of its environmental credentials," Reuters reports.

  • Reality check: "[D]eforestation has been rising steadily again since 2012, due partially to the struggling Brazilian economy and budget cuts that resulted in less environmental enforcement."
9. Remembering David Koch
Photo: Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

"David Koch, the industrialist and libertarian who used his fortune to transform American politics while also donating more than $1 billion to philanthropic causes," died at 79, per Bloomberg.

  • "He’d been diagnosed with prostate cancer 27 years ago and initially doctors said he had just a few years to live."

David and his brother Charles, 83, pumped millions into conservative causes and candidates, with an operation "rivaled only by the Republican Party in its influence on the conservative agenda in the U.S," Bloomberg writes.

10. Lingo: "hickster"
Photo: Oakhurst Diner via Facebook

"Two Eggs With a Side of Avocado Toast and Instagram Fodder" ... Tomorrow's N.Y. Times Sunday Styles quotes Eater's Robert Sietsema on "hicksters": "hipsters who move upstate" or visit the Hudson Valley from NYC on weekends.

So now there's a wave of hipsterfied diners with "with fancier menus, ambitious chefs and trend-seeking customers," The Times' Steve Kurutz writes:

Sample menu item: deconstructed chicken potpie.

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