Jun 29, 2020

Axios AM

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1 big thing: Cash going out of style

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

We've suddenly cut back on using cash for fear it may spread the virus, and some worried shopkeepers have stopped accepting it, Axios managing editor Jennifer Kingson reports.

  • Why it matters: The virus has changed our buying and payment habits forever. Online shopping is through the roof, and consumers are rushing to get "contactless" credit and debit cards, which are tapped at a merchant terminal rather than inserted or swiped.

The coronavirus has made us scared to touch anything, and there's a perception that money is dirty and payment terminals carry germs.

  • ATM use is down 32%, according to Visa, and 63% of consumers say they're using less cash.

The next big thing: contactless cards. They're pervasive in Europe and elsewhere, and are just starting to hit the U.S. in a big way.

  • People who use Apple Pay and Samsung Pay on their phones have gotten used to paying with a wave.
  • Burger King ran a recent commercial in which it touted its contactless payment option.

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2. U.S. coronavirus hotspots failed to build up public health tools
Data: Nephron and JHU. Table: Axios Visuals

Most of the states facing large coronavirus outbreaks today didn't build up their public health systems enough ahead of time, Axios' Caitlin Owens writes.

  • Why it matters: Arizona, Florida and Texas had months to learn from the mistakes of New York and other early hotspots, yet find themselves now in similar situations.
  • Keep reading.

😷 The latest ... California Gov. Gavin Newsom rolled back reopenings of bars in seven counties, including Los Angeles. (L.A. Times)

  • The world hit two grim global coronavirus milestones — 10 million confirmed cases and 500,000 deaths. Go deeper.
3. Millions more homes face flood risk
Adapted from First Street Foundation. Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Nearly 70% more properties in the U.S. are at substantial risk of flooding compared to government estimates, a new peer-reviewed analysis shows, Axios "Harder Line" columnist Amy Harder and visual journalist Naema Ahmed report.

What's happening: The areas with the largest newly revealed risk include large swaths of the Midwest, and inland Western states that face risk from rain or river flooding. (Check out the chart on page 9 of this First Street Foundation report.)

  • Still, the risk is larger for coastal states and grows more quickly in those regions through 2050, as you can see in the graphic above.

You can search now for your home on FloodFactor.com, a website run by First Street, a nonprofit research and technology firm.

4. Pic du jour: Pride @ 50
Photo: Bebeto Matthews/AP

Rainbow lights illuminate the West Village near The Stonewall Inn, birthplace of the gay rights movement, for the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march.

5. WaPo: Russian bounty led to U.S. deaths
President Trump returns to the White House yesterday after golfing at his Trump National Golf Club in Virginia. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Russian bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan "are believed to have resulted in the deaths of several U.S. service members," the WashPost reports.

  • President Trump denies being briefed on the special-forces intelligence about the bounties, which the Post says was the subject of a high-level White House meeting in late March.
  • Trump tweeted late last night: "Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP. Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax."

The Trump administration is set to brief select members of Congress on the matter today, per AP.

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who golfed with Trump yesterday, tweeted a day earlier that it was "imperative Congress get to the bottom" of the reports.
  • Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican in the House, called for the White House to share more information with Congress: "Who did know and when?"
6. Bob Woodward's secret
Bob Woodward talks with Dana Perino on "The Daily Briefing" at Fox News Channel in New York on Sept. 11, 2018. Photo by Dominik Bindl/Getty Images

N.Y. Times media columnist Ben Smith reports that Bob Woodward, during the furor over Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation in 2018, planned to unmask Kavanaugh as a former source.

  • Here's how Ben, who has shown an A+ nose for buzz since taking over the "Media Equation" column in March, spins the Woodward-worthy tale:
Woodward, the Post legend who protected the identity of his Watergate source, Deep Throat, for 30 years, was going to ... disclose that Judge Kavanaugh had been an anonymous source in his 1999 book "Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate."
[T]he judge had publicly denied — in a huffy letter in 1999 to The Post — an account about Kenneth Starr’s investigation of President Bill Clinton that he had himself, confidentially, provided to Mr. Woodward for his book. (Mr. Kavanaugh served as a lawyer on Mr. Starr’s team.) ...
The article was nearly ready when the executive editor, Martin Baron, stepped in. ... Mr. Baron and other editors persuaded Mr. Woodward that it would be bad for The Post and "bad for Bob" to disclose a source ... The piece never ran.

Keep reading (subscription).

7. Worrisome hot spot: China-India border
Satellite images: Maxar Technologies via AP

These satellite images show construction on both the Indian and Chinese sides of a contested border high in the Himalayas, a week after a deadly clash in the area left 20 Indian soldiers dead, AP reports.

  • Why it matters: A June 15 clash in the disputed area (the Line of Actual Control), was the deadliest in 45 years between the world's most populous nations.

The images appear to show that the Indians built a wall on their side, and the Chinese expanded an outpost camp at the end of a long road connected to Chinese military bases farther from the poorly defined border.

8. Cover du jour
Courtesy The New Yorker

Kadir Nelson's cover for the forthcoming issue of The New Yorker is called "Distant Summer."

9. Why Obama's book remains a work in progress
President Obama meets young black people during a virtual discussion on June 3 about reimagining policing. Screen capture: Obama Foundation via Reuters

Michelle Obama's "Becoming" just hit the N.Y. Times Best Sellers list for the 81st week in a row, activating her husband's competitive streak.

In a N.Y. Times front-pager, "Obama Is Drawn Back to a Political Battlefield He Wanted to Quit," Glenn Thrush and Elaina Plott report (subscription):

In late 2016, Mr. Obama’s agent, Bob Barnett, began negotiating a package deal for Mr. Obama’s memoir and Michelle Obama’s autobiography. Random House eventually won the bidding war with a record-shattering $65 million offer. ...
[One] associate, who ran into the former president at an event last year, remarked at how fit he looked. Mr. Obama replied, "Let’s just say my golf game is going a lot better than my book."
It was not especially easy for the former president to look on as his wife’s book, "Becoming," was published in 2018 and quickly became an international blockbuster.
"She had a ghostwriter," Mr. Obama told a friend who asked about his wife’s speedy work. "I am writing every word myself, and that’s why it’s taking longer."
The book’s timing remains among the touchiest of topics. Mr. Obama, a deliberate writer prone to procrastination ... insisted that there be no set deadline.
10. 🏈 Tom Brady's replacement
Cam Newton on Sept. 12, 2019. Photo: Mike McCarn/AP

The New England Patriots signed free-agent quarterback Cam Newton, bringing in the 2015 NFL Most Valuable Player to help the team move on from three-time MVP Tom Brady, AP's Jimmy Golen reports.

  • The one-year deal is worth up to $7.5 million with incentives.

Newton wrote in all caps on Instagram: "I'm as excited as I don’t what right now!! All praise to God!! Dropping content tomorrow!! I hope you’re ready!! #Let'sgoPats."

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