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June 02, 2022

Hello Thursday. Smart Brevity™ count: 1,498 words ... 5½ mins. Edited by Noah Bressner.

🇸🇦 Situational awareness: As gas prices soar, President Biden is tentatively planning a Middle East trip this summer and is leaning toward visiting Saudi Arabia. That could put him in the same room with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whom he once condemned.Reuters

1 big thing: Abortion "sanctuary cities"

Two layers of security fences have been added to the Supreme Court since the leak last month of a draft abortion opinion. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Some local officials in liberal enclaves within red states say they won't help enforce bans on abortion if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, Axios' Oriana Gonzalez reports.

Why it matters: That's an echo of the "sanctuary cities" that don't aid in federal immigration enforcement.

Zoom in: Texas has one of the nation's most restrictive abortion laws. José "Chito" Vela, a member of the Austin City Council, has proposed a resolution to decriminalize abortion locally.

  • Vela's office said several other Texas cities — including Dallas, San Antonio and Houston — have expressed interest in similar measures.

In Louisiana, Orleans Parish district attorney Jason Rogers says he "will not shift priority from tackling shootings, rapes and carjackings to investigating the choices women make with regard to their own bodies."

The other side: At least 49 cities have passed ordinances to ban abortion even though it's, for now, protected by federal law, according to Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn, an anti-abortion group focused on helping localities outlaw abortion.

  • 44 of those cities are in Texas.

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2. Tulsa gunman kills 4 in medical building

People meet at a reunion location after the Tulsa shooting. Photo: Michael Noble Jr./Reuters

A gunman opened fire inside a Tulsa, Okla., medical building with a handgun and rifle, killing at least four people before apparently taking his own life, law enforcement officials said.

  • Tulsa Police Capt. Richard Meulenberg said the attack wasn't random: "He deliberately made a choice to come here and his actions were deliberate." (N.Y. Times)

Context: It was just eight days after the Uvalde elementary school massacre in adjacent Texas, which killed 19 children and two teachers — and 18 days after an attack at a Buffalo supermarket in May that killed 10.

  • The Tulsa attack was the 233rd mass shooting in the U.S. this year, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive — which characterizes a mass shooting as four or more people shot or killed, not including the shooter.

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3. 🗳️ Scoop: Dems won't wait for recount

Screenshots: DSCC

In Pennsylvania, Senate Democrats' campaign arm isn't waiting for the recount in the tight Republican primary between Dave McCormick and Mehmet Oz, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.

  • The DSCC today launches a general-election ad campaign that attacks both, just in case — portraying each as a wealthy carpetbagger out of touch with Keystone State workers.

The Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, is recovering from a stroke.

4. Axios interview: What Sheryl Sandberg learned

Sheryl Sandberg speaks at the Step Up Together Digital Summit in September. Photo: Getty Images

After more than two decades as a ruler of Silicon Valley, Sheryl Sandberg told me it's getting harder to predict where tech is headed. The trends, she said, will hit "deeper and more quickly than we think."

  • Why it matters: Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg built a behemoth of a business out of Facebook. Her planned departure this fall as Meta COO, announced yesterday, comes amid a global reckoning around how technology is used.

When I asked Sandberg what she had learned, she struck a humbler note than we're used to hearing from tech executives:

  • "Every technology can be used for bad as well as good," she said in a phone interview, minutes after posting her departure plans on Facebook. "So you have to build systems early on to protect against harm. Everything we learned from the family of apps [Facebook and Instagram], we're building into the metaverse from the beginning."

She said she sees an "incredibly bright" future for Meta, where she'll remain on the board.

  • "I believe as deeply in Mark as ever," she said.

Sandberg — who went to Silicon Valley after serving as Treasury Department chief of staff for President Clinton — told me: "I'm 14 years into a job I thought I'd be in for five years."

  • In her Facebook post announcing her departure, she said she'll focus "more on my foundation and philanthropic work, which is more important to me than ever given how critical this moment is for women."

What we're hearing: Friends expect Sandberg, 52, to focus for now on philanthropy, perhaps running some mission-driven organization. Then they can imagine her serving in government or running for office.

Zuckerberg noted in his own Facebook post: "When Sheryl joined me in 2008, I was only 23 years old and I barely knew anything about running a company ... Sheryl ... taught me how to run a company."

Sandberg made women's empowerment her signature issue with her bestseller, "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead."

  • Sandberg said her daughters should have the same opportunities as her sons: "No one should tell them they can't do it all."

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5. How Sandberg changed the digital business

Data: Zenith, Google, Facebook; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Sheryl Sandberg grew Meta's revenue from $272 million in 2008 (back when it was Facebook) to nearly $118 billion in 2021. That's over 43,000% higher, Axios Media Trends author Sara Fischer reports.

  • Sandberg joined Facebook in 2008 after a seven-year tenure building Google's nascent search advertising business. The ad industry was only beginning to understand the power and potential of bringing small businesses and data into online marketing.
  • The big brands and big media that dominated the pre-digital ad world tried to replicate their cozy business in the early days of digital. Publishers were too comfortable to innovate.

Sandberg changed that status quo:

  • In her 14 years at Meta, Sandberg oversaw hundreds of initiatives that would eventually create the modern advertising ecosystem — a world built on small businesses being able to target nearly any customer globally via user data.
  • Sandberg's intense focus on scale and measurable outcomes for advertisers led to Meta's massive commercial success and became the envy of Silicon Valley.

Few rivals would ever catch up. Sandberg's experience from Washington Harvard Business School and Google helped her identify a problem that most Silicon Valley innovators were too preoccupied to notice existed: education for advertising clients.

  • Sandberg spent years building programs and teams to teach advertisers of all sizes, from massive corporations to tiny mom-and-pop shops, about how to use its platform efficiently.

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6. Depp wins trial that took over TikTok

Amber Heard (center) and her lawyers react as the verdict is read yesterday in Fairfax County Circuit Courthouse. Photo: Court TV via AP

A seven-person jury in Fairfax County, Va., determined that Amber Heard defamed Johnny Depp in the Depp v. Heard case, which attracted immense attention on social media.

  • The trial will be remembered as the first major courtroom event to go viral in the TikTok era. Memes and clips, most favoring Depp, propelled interest in the celebrity trial, Axios' Herb Scribner and Sara Fischer report.
  • At times, the trial drew so much online engagement that interest surpassed the leaked Supreme Court decision and war in Ukraine.

The jury awarded Depp $15 million — $10 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages. The judge later lowered the punitive damages to $350,000, the maximum under Virginia law — bringing the total awarded to Depp around $10.4 million, NBC News reported.

Johnny Depp gestures to spectators in court after closing arguments last week. Photo: Steve Helber/AP

Catch up fast: Depp sued Heard for defamation over an op-ed she wrote in The Washington Post in 2018, claiming she was a victim of domestic violence. Heard countersued Depp for defamation over his allegations that her claims are false.

On YouTube alone, millions of people tuned in to live feeds of the verdict announcement, including 3.2 million viewers on Dan Abrams' Law & Crime network YouTube channel.

  • Other YouTube channels saw massive numbers, including 598,000 live viewers on the "Inside Edition" channel ... 450,000 on Fox News' channel ... 289,000 on the NBC "Today" channel ... 223,000 on NBC News' channel ... 141,000 on "Entertainment Tonight" ... 68,000 on CBS News ... and 88,000 on ABC News.

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7. Covering America: Jesse Ventura starts a Substack

Jesse Ventura in 2013. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Former pro wrestler and Minnesota Gov. Jesse "The Body" Ventura, age 70, is now a newsletter scribe, Axios Twin Cities' Torey Van Oot reports.

  • Ventura has launched a Substack, "Die First Then Quit," promising "brand new original articles, exclusive podcasts, and video commentary" on current events, philosophy and his life.

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8. 👑 Queen Elizabeth marks 70 yrs. on throne

Household Division foot guards march during the Trooping the Colour parade in London today to celebrate the 70-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II, age 96.
Photo: Karwai Tang/WireImage via Getty Images

On the first of four days of Platinum Jubilee celebrations, Household Division foot guards march during the Trooping the Colour parade in London today to celebrate the 70-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II, age 96.

  • The event — a first in British history, since she's the longest serving monarch — could be the last major public event of her reign.
Photo: Karwai Tang/WireImage via Getty Images

The three children of Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge — Prince George (a likely future king), Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte — in a carriage procession today.

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