Sep 16, 2020

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good Wednesday morning.

  • Bulletin: "House Democrats issued a sharply worded report revealing new details of how the combination of Boeing Co. design errors, lax government oversight and lack of transparency by the plane maker and regulators set the stage for two fatal 737 MAX crashes." (WSJ)

Breaking ... PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) — Hurricane Sally made landfall near Gulf Shores, Ala., as a Category 2 storm, bringing torrential rain over a coastal storm surge that forecasters said would cause dangerous flooding from the Florida Panhandle to Mississippi.

1 big thing: $1B+ riot damage is most expensive in insurance history
Reproduced from Insurance Information Institute. Table: Axios Visuals

Vandalism and looting following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police did more damage than any other modern U.S. demonstrations, according to insurance estimates obtained by Axios managing editor Jennifer Kingson.

  • Why it matters: The protests that took place in 140 U.S. cities this spring were mostly peaceful. But the arson and other damage will result in at least $1 billion to $2 billion of paid insurance claims — eclipsing the record set in L.A. in 1992 after the acquittal of the police officers who brutalized Rodney King.

How it works: A company called Property Claim Services (PCS), which has tracked insurance claims related to civil disorder since 1950, reports that this year's unrest (May 26 to June 8) will cost the industry far more than any prior one.

  • The number could be as much as $2 billion and possibly more, according to the Insurance Information Institute ("Triple-I"), which compiles information from PCS as well as other firms that report such statistics.

The protests related to Floyd's death are also different because they are so widespread. "It's not just happening in one city or state — it's all over the country," Loretta L. Worters of Triple-I tells Axios.

  • "And this is still happening, so the losses could be significantly more."

The context: These losses are small compared with those from natural disasters.

  • Hurricane Isaias (landfall Aug. 4) will cost insurers $3 billion to $5 billion.
  • "In California alone, wildfires have already burned 2.2 million acres in 2020 — more than any year on record. And the 2020 wildfire season still has a way to go," says Worters.

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2. In coming decades, climate will displace millions in U.S.
Photo: Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

What's new: "This summer has seen more fires, more heat, more storms — all of it making life increasingly untenable in larger areas of the nation," Abrahm Lustgarten, a senior environmental reporter at ProPublica, writes in the cover story of next weekend's N.Y. Times Magazine.

  • "Already, droughts regularly threaten food crops across the West, while destructive floods inundate towns and fields from the Dakotas to Maryland, collapsing dams in Michigan and raising the shorelines of the Great Lakes."

What's coming ... Lustgarten "mapped out the danger zones that will close in on Americans over the next 30 years":

Across the United States, some 162 million people — nearly one in two — will most likely experience a decline in the quality of their environment, namely more heat and less water.
[B]y 2070, if carbon emissions rise at extreme levels, at least four million Americans could find themselves living at the fringe, in places decidedly outside the ideal niche for human life.

Read the article (subscription), the second in a series on global climate migration. Read Part 1 (the world view).

3. A first since the Great Depression

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nearly 30 million Americans are spending their 20s in the same place they spent their grade school years: at home with their parents, Erica Pandey writes in her weekly Axios @Work newsletter. (Sign up here.)

  • For the first time since the Great Depression, the majority (52%) of 18- to 29-year-olds have moved back home.
  • "Before 2020, the highest measured value was in the 1940 census at the end of the Great Depression, when 48% of young adults lived with their parents," according to Pew Research Center.

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4. Pic du jour: Abraham Accords
Photo: Alex Brandon/AP

Celebrating on the Blue Room Balcony, after a signing ceremony on the South Lawn (from left): Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Trump, Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

  • The four countries signed the Abraham Accord (image here) at a White House ceremony Trump said will mark the "dawn of a new Middle East.
  • Palestinians view the pacts as a betrayal by fellow Arabs. (AP)

Go deeper with coverage for Axios by Barak Ravid.

5. Exclusive: First full at-home COVID-19 test

Gauss/Cellex rapid at-home COVID test. Photo: Gauss

Gauss, a computer vision startup, and Cellex, a biotech company that works on diagnostics, are announcing the first rapid COVID-19 test that can be fully performed by people at home without involving a laboratory, Axios Future author Bryan Walsh writes.

How it works: A user will take a nasal swab to both nostrils, and then place the swab in a small vial filled with a buffer solution.

  • Four droplets from the tube are placed on a rapid test cassette, and test lines will show up of varying intensity, based on whether and how much virus is in the sample.
  • Users then take a picture of the rapid test, and Gauss' app will use AI to deliver back the results — all within 15 minutes.

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6. Biden allies urge help for gig workers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Activists are urging Joe Biden to produce a recovery plan for the gig economy, including ride-share drivers, saying there's a moral and political imperative to help Americans reliant on on-demand jobs, Axios' Alexi McCammond writes.

  • María Teresa Kumar, CEO of Voto Latino, said the Biden campaign is missing a bet: "It’s not just young voters — it’s millions of African American and Latino voters that if you mention they’re part of this economy, it’d go a long way."
  • A poll from UnidosUS found 41% of Latinos participate in the gig economy.

Gig workers lack constants like guaranteed wages, health care, vacation time, child care, family leave, financial assistance or mental health services.

  • Biden has rolled out a broader "Build Back Better" recovery agenda, but hasn't dedicated speeches or policy rollouts specifically to the gig economy.

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7. Here's how much teens hate online learning

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Most American teens think online school is worse than going in person, but less than a fifth of them think that it makes sense to be in person full-time while COVID is still circulating, Ina Fried writes from a new survey shared first with Axios.

  • The poll, by Common Sense Media and SurveyMonkey, finds 59% of teens feel online school is worse than traditional learning.
  • 19% call it "much worse."

Keep reading.

8. How Rochester cops tried to suppress video
Document excerpt via The New York Times

A 323-page internal review shows how Rochester cops tried to frame the narrative about Daniel Prude, "playing up Mr. Prude’s potential for danger and glossing over the tactics of the officers who pinned him, naked and hooded, to the ground before he stopped breathing," the N.Y. Times reports (subscription).

  • "In a police report on the confrontation, marking a box for 'victim type,' an officer on the scene listed Mr. Prude ... simply as an 'individual.' But another officer circled the word in red and scribbled" the note you see above.
9. Apple's big subscription bet

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at yesterday's event at Apple Park in Cupertino, Calif., with the colors of the original Apple logo featured "inside the ring." Photo: Apple via Reuters

Apple debuted new iPads and Apple Watch models yesterday, featuring new colors and modest hardware advances, but its really significant long-term move was the expansion of its services business, Axios' Ina Fried writes from S.F.

  • Why it matters: With the slowing down of the smartphone market, Apple has turned to services to become its key growth engine.

Apple made two big services announcements:

  1. Apple Fitness+, which lets you work out with videos from trainers, costs $9.95 a month (or $79.95 a year), with three months included with the purchase of a new Apple Watch.
  2. Apple One is a set of new bundles. The basic service, at $14.95 per month, includes Apple Music, Apple Arcade, Apple TV+ and extra iCloud storage.

Get Ina Fried's daily tech newsletter, Login.

Apple Fitness+. Photo: Apple
10. NFL brings us back to TV

The Rams' Sofi Stadium in Inglewood debuted Sunday night. Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The NFL's opening weekend brought cooped-up fans back to TV, led by the battle of the greats — new Tampa Bay Buc Tom Brady vs. the Saints' Drew Brees.

  • That game was seen by just under 26 million people on Sunday afternoon on Fox, which had its best viewership for an opening football weekend since 2016, AP's David Bauder writes from Nielsen data.

Ratings for NBC and CBS games, and ESPN's "Monday Night Football," were all down.

  • Still, more viewers tuned in than any time in months.

Last week's top six prime-time shows were all NFL, followed by "60 Minutes" at No. 7.

Mike Allen

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