Aug 22, 2019

Axios AM

⚡Breaking: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee last night ended his presidential bid, and today will announce that he'll seek a third term.

  • FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver: "Inslee, who could never improve on ~1% in the polls despite an intense focus on climate change, is a datapoint against the proposition that Democrats' votes are deeply motivated by policy concerns."

🕶️ Happy Thursday! Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,142 words ... 4 minutes.

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1 big thing: The #MeToo election isn't happening

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

If you've been watching the Democratic debates — with a record number of women running — it's easy to forget that #MeToo ever happened, Axios' Alexi McCammond writes.

  • This is the first presidential election since the rise of the movement, which Democrats embraced. Yet the issues barely registered in the first two debates.
  • None of the top-tier candidates have made women's issues a defining theme. They've saved that for their plans for a wealth tax, Medicare for All and climate change — and, of course, President Trump.
  • The only presidential candidate making these issues a staple is Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who's struggling to clear 1% in the polls.

The backdrop: The 2018 midterms were a sign of the political power women harnessed after #MeToo.

  • But in the 2020 race, debate moderators for the most part haven't been asking about these issues, from sexual harassment policies to paid family leave.

Gillibrand hosted a reproductive rights town hall in Missouri — shortly before a state law, banning most abortions after eight weeks of pregnancy, takes effect next week.

  • But the coverage was mostly by St. Louis media. Everyone else was focused on Sen. Elizabeth Warren's Minnesota rally because of the crowd size.
  • And Gillibrand is struggling to qualify for the next debate in September.
2. Depending on strangers for tips
Nicole Grimes, a waitress at the Broad Street Diner in South Philadelphia, cleans a table during her night shift. Photo: Sasha Arutyunova for TIME

TIME's cover story reports that the decade-long economic boom "left millions of workers behind, particularly the 4.4 million workers who rely on tips to earn a living ... two-thirds of them women."

  • "Even as wages have crept up ... in other sectors of the economy, the minimum wage for waitresses and other tipped workers hasn’t budged since 1991."

Why it matters: "Waitresses are emblematic of the type of job expected to grow most in the American economy in the next ­decade — low-wage service work with no guaranteed hours or income."

3. One day in Trump

The N.Y. Times' Michelle Goldberg tweeted this shot from the paper's homepage:

4. Trail pic du jour: What the candidate sees
Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Sen. Elizabeth Warren hosts a town hall in L.A. yesterday.

5. Milestone: Deficit to exceed $1 trillion next year
Air Force One reflects on the rain-soaked tarmac following President Trump's return to Joint Base Andrews yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

What's new: "The annual U.S. deficit will come close to hitting $1 trillion in 2019, an unusually high number during a period of economic growth." (WashPost)

  • In the next fiscal year, it will pass $1 trillion. (AP)
  • Why it matters: "President Trump’s spending and tax cut policies [are forcing] the United States to borrow increasing sums of money." (N.Y Times)

Key stat: "[G]overnment debt as a share of the economy is expected to rise from 79% this year to 95% in 2029 ... the highest level since just after World War II, when debt exceeded the size of the economy." (Wall Street Journal)

6. Russia's 2020 opening
Illustration: AĂŻda Amer/Axios

The U.S. — despite mountains of evidence about Russia's interference in the last election, and the likelihood of a repeat in 2020 — is no better prepared to defend itself now than it was three years ago, Axios Future editor Steve LeVine writes.

  • When it comes to its rivals and enemies, Moscow's objective often is to create chaos, incapacitating the other power's threat to Russia's aims.
  • To get there, the weapon of choice is usually the exploitation of existing divisions in the other society.

That's where the U.S. made itself a sitting duck in 2016.

  • And Americans are once again playing into Russia's hands: Politically, socially and culturally, we suspect each other's motives and plain sanity.

What's happening: President Trump and Republican leaders at the federal and state levels have stifled efforts to combat a redux of the Russian campaign.

  • With defenses down, Trump appears especially prepared to stoke raw political, societal and social emotions.
  • "If Putin is going to throw the match of chaos, he needs kindling," says Richard Fontaine, CEO at the Center for a New American Security.
7. The champion from Compton
Photo: Mickalene Thomas for The New York Times

Ahead of the U.S. Open next week, N.Y. Times Magazine writer at large Elizabeth Weil profiles Venus Williams, 39, older sister of Serena, 37:

A totally reasonable question is: Why does Venus keep competing? Not counting Serena, Venus is more than four years older than any other woman ranked in the Top 100. She last won a Grand Slam tournament 11 years ago. The oldest woman ever to win a Grand Slam tournament was Serena, in 2017, at age 35.
Venus also lives with Sjogren’s syndrome, the energy-sapping autoimmune disorder that was diagnosed in 2011. The illness causes fatigue and joint pain and requires Venus to stick (mostly) to a raw, vegan diet. 
Yet Venus was never just a player. Her job was never simply to swing a racket and win sets, though that was required. Her job was to change the game.

Keep reading.

8. Virginia marks 400 years since American slavery began
Terry Brown, superintendent of Fort Monroe National Monument in Hampton, Va. Photo: Steve Helber/AP

400 years after American slavery and democratic self-rule were born almost simultaneously in what became the commonwealth of Virginia, a "Healing Day" on Sunday will mark the arrival of enslaved Africans, AP's Ben Finley reports.

  • In August 1619, English colonists traded men and women from what’s now Angola for food and supplies, then took the Africans to properties along the James River.
  • More than 500,000 enslaved Africans had already crossed the Atlantic to European colonies, but the Africans in Virginia are widely considered the first in English-controlled North America.

Though little noted at the time, the arrival of the enslaved Africans in England’s first successful colony was a pivotal moment in American history.

  • Go deeper: Explore the N.Y. Times' fascinating 1619 Project.
9. Bubble battle
Courtesy Bloomberg Businessweek

LaCroix, the early darling of flavored, fizzy water, is losing ground to big soda, Bloomberg Businessweek's Lauren Etter and Craig Giammona report:

  • "Around 2013 the brand began rising ... as consumers collectively shunned sugary sodas."
  • "Over the next five years, LaCroix’s sales jumped almost eightfold, accelerated by a social media machine that excited young people with its Instagrammable rainbow of cans and zero-additive innocence."
  • "They were really the first large brand to go after millennials that way and target their health and wellness concerns," says Alexander Esposito, a research analyst at Euromonitor International.

Now LaCroix, while still the leader, has lost sales from a year ago as competition moved in:

  • "[A] legion of startups has rolled out 'craft' sparkling water brands that promote artisanal ingredients, antioxidant boosts, and cannabidiol infusions."
10. ⌚ 1 cheat thing

Smartwatches and other technology are making cheating in high school and college easier, USA Today's Dalvin Brown reports:

  • "[S]martphones can be disguised as calculators, information can be spread invisibly via the airwaves and tiny earbuds allow students to listen to content transmitted from a smartphone in their backpack across the room."
  • "[O]ne of the latest, widespread forms of cheating in the classroom involves students using auto-summarize features in programs like Word to pass off computer-generated essays as original work."

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