Sep 23, 2021

Axios AM

Happy Thursday. Smart Brevity™ count: 1,172 words ... 4½ minutes. Edited by Justin Green.

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1 big thing: 60-year murder spike

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Upcoming FBI data is expected to show 2020 had the highest single-year spike in U.S. murders in at least 60 years.

  • Experts attribute the surge to job losses, fears and other jolts to society at the start of COVID, Axios' Russ Contreras reports.

The homicide rate would remain far lower than it was through much of the 1980s and 1990s — about one-third below the rate in the early 1990s, The New York Times reports (subscription).

Expand chart
Data: FBI and The New York Times (2020 estimate). Chart: Axios Visuals

The Times reports that early FBI data shows a 29% spike in murders last year.

  • That would be the biggest single-year increase since national record-keeping began, in 1960.
  • Previously, the largest one-year increase was a 12.7% rise in 1968.

Many major U.S. cities, from Atlanta to Albuquerque, reported surges in violent crime in 2020, including jumps in homicides and gun crimes.

  • Homicides in Milwaukee doubled from 2019 to 2020, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.
  • The number of homicides in Houston in 2020 was the highest in 15 years, city records show.
  • California had 5.8 homicides per 100,000 residents in 2020 — the highest rate since 2008, according to preliminary data from the state's Department of Public Health.

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2. N.Y. Times compares Biden to Trump
U.S. Customs and Border Protection mounted officers attempt to contain migrants as they cross the Rio Grande on Sunday. Photo: Felix Marquez/AP

Citing moves on Afghanistan and the border, two N.Y. Times items compare President Biden to the predecessor he defeated:

A news story — "Biden Pushes Deterrent Border Policy After Promising 'Humane' Approach" (subscription) — notes this week's images of the border roundup "could have come straight from former President Donald J. Trump’s immigration playbook":

  • "[T]he deportations are a stark example of how Mr. Biden ... is deploying some of the most aggressive approaches to immigration put in place by Mr. Trump over the past four years."

Frank Bruni column, "The UnTrump Presidency Slams Into Trumpness":

  • "[H]e pulled out of Afghanistan without the degree of consultation, coordination and competence that allies expected, at least of any American president not named Trump."
  • "And Biden’s return of hundreds of desperate Haitian migrants to Haiti ... also seems Trumpy to many observers."

Bruni's bottom line: "Biden is a far cry from Trump. Hallelujah. But that doesn’t mean that he’s untouched by Trump."

3. Our weekly map: Signs of COVID hope
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Data: The N.Y. Times. Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The U.S. is moving in the right direction again, Axios' Sam Baker reports.

  • New COVID cases are continuing to decline, and some experts are cautiously optimistic that the virus will continue to wane even into the fall and winter.

The U.S. is now averaging 134,000 new cases per day — a 10% drop over the past two weeks.

  • The pace of new infections, relative to each state’s population, is getting worse in 27 states and improving in 23.
  • Tennessee has seen the biggest drop in new cases over the past two weeks. Montana has seen the biggest spike.

Vaccinations for kids should help. Children ages 5-11 could become eligible for vaccinations in the next several weeks.

4. Mapped: Latino growth hubs
Data: Brookings Institution. Map: Thomas Oide/Axios

The Hispanic and Latino population in the U.S. grew 23% over the past decade — with some areas seeing a boom three or more times that rate, Stef Kight reports from census data in Axios Sneak Peek.

The seven metro areas with Latino or Hispanic populations greater than 2 million, Brookings’ Bill Frey found:

  • L.A.
  • New York
  • Miami
  • Chicago
  • Houston
  • Dallas
  • Riverside, Calif.

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5. Airbnb doubles Afghan housing
Amanda Roshan-Rawaan packs donations for Afghan refugees Sunday at Unitarian Universalist Church in Bloomington, Ind. Photo: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and co-founder Joe Gebbia told me during a visit to Washington yesterday that they're offering temporary housing to 40,000 Afghan refugees worldwide, doubling a previous commitment.

  • The housing typically lasts several weeks, and Airbnb and provide subsidies to hosts.
  • Resettlement agencies tell Airbnb the highest-demand areas include Dallas, Northern Virginia, Sacramento, Seattle, Silver Spring, Md.

In an interview for our "Axios Today" podcast, Chesky told me: "We've always wanted to figure out how we can use our platform as a force for good, beyond our core business."

  • "Over the last 10 years, we've housed nearly 100,000 people displaced by disasters. A few years ago, we started housing refugees."

Gebbia said part of giving back is "simply asking the question when things like this happen in the world: How can we help?"

6. Tech nightmare: Green cards wasted

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Thousands of green cards are about to go to waste, leaving Google, Microsoft and other tech companies fuming, Axios' Margaret Harding McGill writes.

  • Why it matters: Google and Microsoft say they have thousands of employees and their families awaiting green cards.

What's happening: An administration official warned this summer that because of pandemic delays, a 100,000-application backlog wouldn't be filled by the Sept. 30 fiscal year end. Extra green cards that haven't been granted in one year don't carry over to the next.

  • Google and Microsoft are among companies that have been urging federal officials to find a way to save the roughly 80,000 remaining employment-based green cards set to expire Sept. 30.
  • Google says only 13% of its candidate applications filed since last October have been approved.

Apple CEO Tim Cook last week wrote to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to press the issue on behalf of the Business Roundtable. (Read the letter.)

  • Cook, who chairs the Business Roundtable's immigration committee, said officials should eliminate unnecessary document requests and conduct communications by phone or email to speed up processing.

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7. Biden's beyond-the-Beltway case
Graphic: The White House

In a week of headwinds for President Biden's biggest plans, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield armed House Democrats with new data for making his "Scranton vs. Park Ave." case back home.

  • Bedingfield spoke to the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC), where co-chair Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan said: "[G]overning is message."

See the deck.

8. You can now compete with rental-car giants

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

With rental cars in short supply, enterprising car owners have amassed their own small fleets of automobiles, renting them out to travelers at a premium, Axios transportation correspondent Joann Muller writes.

  • If you need a car in Boston for a weekend in mid-October, you can rent a Ford Fiesta hatchback from Budget for about $500 — or pay the same for a Maserati Quattroporte from, a car-sharing site.

Turo and other car-sharing services, including Getaround and Avail, make it easy for anyone with spare vehicles to make some cash.

  • The services are offering bonuses of up to $2,000 per vehicle for car owners to add to their fleets.

Case in point: Lazaro Vento lists 22 vehicles for rent in Miami through Turo, including a Ferrari, a Tesla and multiple BMWs, Audis and Jeeps.

  • In a particularly good month recently, he pocketed a $30,000 profit.
  • Seven years ago, he was broke, living on a friend's couch. Today, he manages close to 100 Airbnb properties, along with his fleet of Turo cars, sometimes packaging them together.

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