Sep 15, 2019

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

🥞 Good Sunday morning. Do you get Axios PM, my weekday catch-up? Sign up here.

  • 🗞️ What we really read: The most-read story on NYTimes.com last week was ... "Antonio Brown Accused of Rape in a Lawsuit": The Patriots receiver is accused — by a woman who was his trainer — of three incidents of sexual assault, in 2017 and 2018.

Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,198 words ... ~ 4.5 minutes.

1 big thing: Oil price spikes expected after attacks on Saudis
This satellite image shows thick black smoke rising from Saudi Aramco's Abqaiq oil processing facility. Photo: Planet Labs Inc. via AP

Oil prices are expected to surge when markets reopen tonight after yesterday's attacks on Saudi oil infrastructure, including the world’s biggest petroleum processing facility, Axios' Ben Geman writes.

  • Why it matters: The strikes, which took out 5% of the world oil supply, are stark evidence of security risks facing OPEC's largest producer and the world's largest crude oil exporter.
  • Higher oil prices will likely push U.S. gasoline prices up somewhat. But pump prices are fairly modest right now. Per AAA, the nationwide average is roughly $2.57 per gallon.

Saudi officials say the strikes have cut production by 5.7 million barrels per day — about 50% of the kingdom's total output and 5% of global supplies.

  • Where it stands: The Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources, reports that "most of the oil output could be restored within days, but it will take weeks to return to full capacity."
  • Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have claimed credit for the attacks, while U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo directly blamed Iran.

The intrigue: The attacks could mean new headwinds for the Saudis' revived plans for the initial public offering of a slice of state oil giant Aramco.

  • The Atlantic Council's Randolph Bell told Axios in an email that if the disrupted output is not brought back online quickly, it would "raise questions about Aramco’s resiliency to geopolitical threats."
2. Biden: Nation must grapple with white supremacy
In 1963, a crowd looks on as FBI bomb experts comb wreckage from the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala. Photo: Bettmann Archive via Getty Images

Joe Biden will warn about the return of the "domestic terrorism of white supremacy," with a speech this morning at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

  • Four black girls were killed there 56 years ago today, in a bombing tied to the Ku Klux Klan.

Sneak peek at Biden's remarks:

The domestic terrorism of white supremacy has been the antagonist of our highest ideals from before our founding — lynch mobs, arsonists, bomb makers and lone gunmen. And as we all now realize, this violence does not live in the past.
The same poisonous ideology that lit the fuse at 16th Street pulled the trigger in Mother Emanuel [in Charleston], unleashed the anti-Semitic massacre in Pittsburgh and Poway [Calif.], and saw a white supremacist gun down innocent Latino immigrants in an El Paso parking lot with military-grade weapons ...
We have not relegated racism and white supremacy to the pages of history.  ...
As Dr. King eulogized those girls, perhaps not even he could have imagined the day, nearly 50 years later, when this nation’s first black president would award them the Congressional Gold Medal. .... [C]hange comes — sometimes slowly, sometimes all at once.

Share this story.

3. America, 2019
Photo: Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images

Above, a man exercises his right to open-carry a firearm as gun owners and Second Amendment advocates gather at the Ohio Statehouse yesterday to protest gun control legislation.

  • The group opposes a "red flag law" pushed by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) after last month's Dayton mass shooting.

The big picture: 17 states and D.C. have passed these laws, which allow the court-ordered removal of guns from people who are considered to be dangerous. (AP)

Worthy of your time ... From Gallup in the past week:

  • 48% in U.S. fear being victim of a mass shooting: Women, younger adults and Democrats continue to be most worried ... More than 10% have avoided large crowds or bought weapon because of worry."
  • "Americans assign the most blame for mass shootings to the mental health system, but increased numbers blame extremist viewpoints on the internet and inflammatory political rhetoric."
  • "Americans' Views of NRA Become Less Positive" (48% favorable; 49% unfavorable): "Opinions had been more positive than negative since 1999."
4. 🎸 What to watch tonight: Ken Burns' "Country Music"
Courtesy PBS

"Country Music" — an epic film about a true American art form, from the great Ken Burns — begins tonight at 8 ET on PBS and streaming:

  • The film features 3,200 photographs and interviews with more than 100 people, including 40 members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.
  • 20 of those interviewed have since passed on.
  • "Country Music," split into eight episodes totaling 16½ hours, features more than two hours of original archival footage, including never-aired photos and footage of Jimmie Rodgers, Johnny Cash and others.

In an interview with "PBS NewsHour," Burns talked about the film's emphasis on women:

[W]omen are central to this story in a way they aren't in jazz or other forms, which are fraternities. ... When you get through Patsy [Cline] to Loretta [Lynn], we're in the mid-'60s. Nobody in rock 'n' roll is singing, "Don't come home a drinking with loving on your mind."
Think about what we're talking about, spousal abuse, spousal rape, a woman's right to her own body, even in marriage, women's rights in general. Now, this is the same year that the National Organization for Women is founded [1966] ...
For me, all of these things, race or creativity or commerce or women, are all trumped by how powerful this music is. ... I mean, when Hank Williams says, "I'm so lonesome, I could cry," there's nobody that doesn't know what he's talking about. "The silence of a falling star lights up a purple sky, and as I wonder where you are, I'm so lonesome, I could cry."

See the trailer.

  • Share your #FavoriteCountrySong: A social campaign kicked off with videos from famous artists sharing theirs.
  • After tonight, the film continues at 8 ET each night through Wednesday, then the same four nights next week.
Johnny Cash at home in California in 1960. Photo: Sony Music Archives via PBS
5. Reagan's boyhood home could close
President Reagan, First Lady Nancy Reagan and his brother, Neil, visit the Reagans' boyhood home in 1984. Photo: Ronald Reagan Library/Getty Images

Ronald Reagan’s boyhood home in Dixon, Ill., "is at risk of closing as a tourist destination, saddled with debt and unused property purchased for a grand vision of expansion that never came to fruition," the Chicago Tribune's Madeline Buckley reports.

  • The house runs at an annual loss of more than $80,000.

"We cannot keep bleeding money," said Patrick Gorman, executive director of the Ronald Reagan Boyhood Home nonprofit organization.

  • "Annually, the museum usually sees 5,000 to 6,000 visitors ... In 1994, ... the home attracted about 20,000 visitors each year."
6. 🇬🇧 1 loo thing
"America," seen at Blenheim Palace on Thursday. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

A solid gold toilet, part of an art exhibit called "America," was stolen yesterday from Blenheim Palace, the estate west of London where Winston Churchill was born, AP reports.

  • The toilet, valued at $1.25 million, was the work of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan.
  • Because it was connected to the palace's plumbing system, the toilet's removal caused "significant damage and flooding" to the building, a UNESCO World Heritage site filled with valuable art and furniture.

It had been installed only two days, after being shown to appreciative audiences at the Guggenheim in New York.

  • The artist intended the golden toilet to be a satire about excessive wealth.

😱 Doh! Edward Spencer-Churchill, an aristocrat related to both the palace and the prime minister, told The Sunday Times of London last month:

  • "It’s not going to be the easiest thing to nick ... So no, I don’t plan to be guarding it."
Mike Allen