May 2, 2021

Axios AM


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  • Smart Brevity™ count: 926 words ... 3½ minutes.
1 big thing: Our crazy, booked-up summer

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Vaccines are flowing, the weather is changing and summer seems like the ideal time to finally get out of the house post-pandemic. The problem is, everyone else has the same idea, Axios' Erica Pandey reports.

  • Campsites, Airbnbs, flights and rental cars are rapidly booking up for the summer as a cooped-up nation all vacations at once.
  • Around 72% of Americans are planning summer trips this year, compared with 37% in 2020, the U.S. Travel Association reports.

With so many international travel restrictions still in place, domestic trips will be the norm.

  • That means more camping trips and visits to coastal U.S. towns.
  • Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky told CNBC the company will need "millions more hosts" to meet surging demand. The platform currently has four million hosts.

America's three rental car giants — Hertz, Avis and Enterprise — all have shortages, The Wall Street Journal reports. The companies saw demand plummet during the pandemic and sold off chunks of their fleets.

  • Now, as demand roars back, consumers are dealing with sky-high rental car prices and long waits. In Hawaii, tourists are renting U-Hauls instead of cars to get around, per Insider.

One of the biggest winners: camping.

2. New data: Americans all-in on stocks
Graphic: Reuters

Stockholdings by U.S. individual investors increased to 41% of their total financial assets in April — the highest level on record, The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription) from JPMorgan Chase and Fed data going back to 1952, including 401(k) retirement accounts:

  • "Financial advisers and money managers said their clients have grown more comfortable holding stocks as they witnessed the powerful rally over the past year, with some even questioning why they need bonds in their portfolios with yields still so low."
3. Romney booed at home
Sen. Mitt Romney yesterday. Photo: Rick Bowmer/AP

Sen. Mitt Romney, the very face of the GOP establishment, was showered with boos as he tried to speak at a Utah Republican convention yesterday — shunned for his votes to convict Donald Trump at both impeachment trials.

  • "So, yeah, I understand that I have a few folks that don't like me terribly much — and I'm sorry about that," Romney said. "But I express my mind as I believe is right."

Delegates to the state GOP convention, in West Valley City, narrowly rejected a motion to censure Romney, 798 to 711, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

4. America's first night splashdown in 50 years
Photo: NASA TV via AP

A 3 a.m. splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico brought an International Space Station crew of four astronauts back to Earth, Axios Space author Miriam Kramer writes.

  • The return marks the end of SpaceX's first fully operational crewed mission to the space station.
Photo: Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP

Last U.S. night splashdown: Apollo 8, NASA’s first moonshot with astronauts, returned predawn near Hawaii in 1968.

5. COVID's new global peak
Data: Local governments, Johns Hopkins, WHO. (Figures as of April 29.) Map: Lazaro Gamio, Bill Marsh and Alexandria Symonds/The New York Times

Driven by India and South America, the worldwide number of new COVID cases "has shot upward since the beginning of March, more than doubling in two months," the N.Y. Times reports.

  • "For the past two weeks, new global cases have exceeded their previous high point in early January."

Uncontrolled outbreak in India: "India now accounts for more than 40 percent of the world’s new cases," The Times reports.

  • "The country’s death rate has followed the same dramatic curve, with more than 3,000 people now dying every day. Analysts say even those grim numbers may be undercounted."
6. Scientists search for psychedelics to treat depression

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Efforts to use psychedelic drugs to help treat psychiatric disorders are fueling a search for compounds that don't produce hallucinations, managing editor Alison Snyder writes in Axios Science.

  • Why it matters: There's a tremendous need for new tools to help people with mental and substance use disorders, which are a leading cause of disability globally.

Studies have found that using psilocybin — a compound found in psychedelic mushrooms — in tandem with psychotherapy can help some people with treatment-resistant depression, anxiety around life-threatening illness and addiction.

  • Current treatments induce hallucinations, and may not be an option for people with heart disease or a family history of schizophrenia.

The big debate: Whether patients need to go on a mind-altering trip to reap the benefits of a psychedelic treatment.

7. Exclusive: Twitter launches campaign to boost local news

Local newspaper ads Twitter is running in 25 papers

Twitter tomorrow will launch a major advertising and social media campaign urging people to follow local journalists and support their work, Axios Media Trends expert Sara Fischer writes.

  • Why it matters: While Twitter is a platform designed to give everyone a voice, journalists from national outlets have an outsized presence.

Local news companies have suffered devastating financial blows during the pandemic, resulting in thousands of lost jobs and newsroom cutbacks.

  • At the same time, the crisis has been a daily reminder of how critical local journalism is to keep communities informed and safe.

The campaign will launch with 28 full-page, color ads in local newspapers across the Gannett/USA Today network, including the Detroit Free Press, Columbus Dispatch, Oklahoma City Oklahoman, Indianapolis Star and Cincinnati Enquirer — plus McClatchy's Miami Herald and Kansas City Star.

  • The ads will direct readers to Twitter Lists of local journalists created by each newspaper and Twitter.
  • Twitter will encourage prominent national reporters and everyday news consumers to tweet the hashtag #FollowLocalJournalists.

Keep reading.

8. 1 cab thing: Robotaxis hit road in Beijing

Robotaxis in Beijing today. Photo: Andy Wong/AP

Tech giant Baidu rolled out paid driverless taxi service in Beijing today, making it the first company to commercialize autonomous driving in China, AP reports.

  • Why it matters: Unlike previous Baidu demonstrations, this was the first time no safety driver was behind the wheel. A safety officer sat in the front passenger seat to deal with emergencies.

Up to 10 Apollo robotaxis operate in 1 square mile, picking up and dropping off passengers at eight stops in Shougang Park.

  • Each ride costs 30 yuan ($4.60).

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