Jun 26, 2020

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Happy Friday! Today's Smart Brevity™ count: 1,130 words, 4½ minutes.

  • 🎧 Our podcast team worked all night to bring you "Axios Today," hosted by Niala Boodhoo. Just 10 minutes! Hear it here.
1 big thing: Corporations grapple with slavery reparations

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Getty Images

The debate over reparations for slavery has moved from politics to the boardroom, Axios markets reporter Courtenay Brown writes.

  • At least two big British companies — insurer Lloyd's of London and brewer Greene King — promised to make amends for their role in slavery. But activists want them and other companies to do more.

Why it matters: We usually hear about reparations as a political issue — a "societal obligation" of the federal government, as Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times Magazine wrote this week (subscription).

  • Corporations, too, are being called out for how their involvement in slavery — and their modern-day policies and practices — perpetuate racism.

What's new: Protests over systemic racism have pushed more of the world’s oldest institutions to reckon with how they profited from slavery.

  • Lloyd's of London, the world's largest insurance marketplace, apologized for insuring slaving ships in a release earlier this month. The 334-year old company was sued in 2004 by descendants of Black American slaves, but this is the first time Lloyd's listed remedies.
  • Among them: reviewing policies to "ensure they are explicitly non-racist," and providing "financial support" to charities that support Black and minority ethnic groups.

There's pressure on banks, regardless of whether they were directly involved with slavery, for their role in other racist practices like redlining.

  • In music: Jeff Tweedy, lead singer of the rock bank Wilco, called on royalty companies to make amends for the stolen "wealth that rightfully belonged to Black artists."

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2. Beer barometer
Expand chart
Data: BeerBoard. Map: Naema Ahmed, Sarah Grillo/Axios

Microbrews are providing macro clues about the state of the U.S. economy — and how confident Americans actually feel about reopening amid the pandemic, Axios political reporter Hans Nichols reports.

  • More watering holes are opening up, with 85% of locations open and pouring beer last weekend. And if the bars are open, it's a good sign that those communities have opened up, too.
  • But the mug is half full: In open establishments, only 49% taps are open, compared to 96% last June.

Data provided by BeerBoard, a tech company which helps optimize beer flows in about 1,300 locations including bars and restaurants in 45 states, shows stark regional differences over where draft beer is flowing.

  • Draft beer flows leveled or declined in some Southern states that are experiencing rising COVID-19 cases. In states where COVID-19 was in retreat, the trend was the opposite.
  • In Arkansas, 77% of taps were pouring in locations that were open last weekend; in New Jersey, that figure was 18%.
  • Georgia, which saw a resurgence of cases, was flat at 56% — while 54% of New York's taps were open, up from 36% two weeks before.
Data: BeerBoard. Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Why it matters: Economists, investors and policymakers are thirsty for any kind of data, as they try to determine how skunked the economy actually is.

  • Reality check: The BeerBoard data is just a sample. It includes high-volume restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings and Hooters, but isn't an inventory of every pint poured in America.

Open Table reservations, which give a picture of higher-end restaurants, confirm some of those regional differences, as well as the depths of despair for the industry.

  • Reservations last Saturday were down 36% in Alabama and 42% in Texas, compared with this time a year ago.
  • In D.C., they've plunged 90%.

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3. Crisis in college sports

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As universities scramble to survive the financial fallout of the coronavirus, sports teams are being cut, abruptly ending thousands of student-athletes’ careers, Axios Sports Editor Kendall "Give Me Games" Baker writes.

  • Why it matters: With concern about the fall football season growing by the day, the fear is that the cuts have only just begun.
  • Football is the only sport that generates a profit at most schools. If the season is cut short or canceled, every sport will feel it.

By the numbers: 43 Division I teams have been eliminated in the last 12 weeks, and more than 130 programs have been cut across all NCAA levels. By comparison, just 57 programs were cut in the last three years, combined.

  • Men's and women's tennis have been hit the hardest, as have Olympic sports like volleyball. That could impact future podiums: 88% of American summer Olympians in Rio had played their sport in college.

The state of play: While schools claim these are money-saving decisions, many point to the reluctance to touch where the real fat sits — the football budget — as proof that the NCAA model has been corrupted.

  • No Power 5 schools (the biggest conferences) have eliminated a sports team yet. But that will change if the football season is impacted and they lose out on lucrative TV deals, which comprise roughly a third of their revenue.
  • As you move down the divisions, the reliance on government and institutional funding only increases. So the situation is bound to get worse as the economy suffers, campuses remain closed and enrollment plummets.

Sign up for Kendall Baker's daily newsletter, Axios Sports.

4. A new target
Photos: J. Scott Applewhite/AP, Steven Senne/AP

Protesters are demanding the removal of twin Emancipation memorials — one in D.C. (left) and the other in Boston (right) — that depict a freed slave kneeling at Abraham Lincoln's feet, AP reports.

  • The Emancipation Memorial, also known as the Emancipation Group and the Freedman's Memorial, was erected in Washington's Lincoln Park in 1876.
  • Three years later, a copy was installed in Boston, home to the statue's white creator, Thomas Ball.
5. "How the virus won"
Graphic: The New York Times. Used by permission.

A New York Times team "analyzed travel patterns, hidden infections and genetic data to show how the epidemic spun out of control."

  • Why it matters: "At every crucial moment, American officials were weeks or months behind the reality of the outbreak. Those delays likely cost tens of thousands of lives."

Explore the fascinating graphics.

6. Virus may have infected 24 million in U.S.
Visitors to Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio pass through a thermal screening area as they enter the park. Photo: Eric Gay

The U.S. could have 10 times more coronavirus cases than the current 2.4 million number, the CDC said yesterday, based on antibody testing data.

7. ☤ Stat du jour: ACA rising

The number of people who lost jobs, then signed up for Affordable Care Act plans on the federal website, is up 46% this year over last — an increase of 154,000 people, Axios health care business reporter Bob Herman writes from federal data.

  • The rush of people going to HealthCare.gov was tied to "job losses due to COVID-19," the government said.
8. Views on homosexuality around the world
Data: Pew Research Global Attitudes and Trends. Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Acceptance of homosexuality is growing in most of the world, but not everywhere, David Lawler writes in his Axios World newsletter.

  • Pew Research data from 34 countries shows that 54% of South Africans say homosexuality should be accepted in society, up from 32% in 2013.
  • Similarly large increases were found in India (15% to 37%), Turkey (9% to 25%) and the U.S. (60% to 72%).

The gap: Vast majorities in Western European countries like France (86%) say homosexuality should be accepted, while some countries in the Middle East and Africa — Tunisia (9%), Kenya (14%) — are far less accepting. Israel (47%) is an exception.

  • In France, Germany, the U.K. and Sweden, even supporters of far-right parties overwhelmingly believe it should be accepted.

Share this graphic. ... Sign up for Dave Lawler's newsletter, Axios World.

9. 🍕 Sad singing mouse

"The parent company of Chuck E. Cheese, the once popular children-themed restaurant chain, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, ... saddled by a huge pile of debt and dismal sales because of lockdowns across the country." Reuters

10. 🎸 Sign of the times

The country band Dixie Chicks debuted a protest song — "March March," with footage from Black Lives Matter protests — under a new name: The Chicks.

  • "We want to meet this moment," the group said. (L.A. Times)

The country act Lady Antebellum this month became Lady A.

Mike Allen

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