April 23, 2024

Good Tuesday morning. Smart Brevity™ count: 1,394 words ... 5 mins. Thanks to Noah Bressner for orchestrating. Copy edited by Bryan McBournie.

1 big thing: Campuses reach boiling point

Columbia University professors speak in solidarity with their students rights to protest free from arrest at the Columbia University campus in New York on Monday
Columbia professors speak out for students' right to protest free from arrest, at the campus in Manhattan yesterday. Photo: Stefan Jeremiah/AP

On America's college campuses, simmering tensions over the Israel-Hamas war are boiling over into outright confrontation, Axios' Erica Pandey reports.

  • Why it matters: The growing intensity of pro-Palestinian protests has been met with an aggressive crackdown from school administrators and police — leading to a wave of arrests, suspensions and class cancellations.

The spreading protests come as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza grows more dire. Student protesters are calling for administrators to divest from companies with ties to Israel and support a ceasefire.

  • Jewish students on several campuses say criticism of Israel has veered into antisemitism and made them feel unsafe, AP reports.

The unrest is tearing apart faculties and student bodies, drawing in politicians and donors.

  • New England Patriots owner and Columbia alumnus Robert Kraft, who established the Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life at the university, announced he's pulling funding "until corrective action is taken."

State of play: The campus chaos is hitting new levels as Jewish students and faculty members around the country celebrate Passover.

  • Israel's military is moving closer to invading Rafah — the last Hamas stronghold in Gaza, where more than a million Palestinians are sheltering.

🖼️ The big picture: University administrators from coast to coast have spent the last six months struggling to draw the line between free expression and campus safety and inclusivity.

  • Failure to act decisively has cost administrators the support of parents, politicians, illustrious alumni and students on all sides.
CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 22: A sign marking the closure of Harvard Yard to non-Harvard affiliated persons to prevent demonstrations is seen on April 22, 2024 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The closure comes amid a wave of high-profile pro-Palestine demonstrations at universities across the country including Columbia University and Yale
Harvard Yard in Cambridge, Mass., was closed to people without a Harvard ID yesterday to deter demonstrations. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

🔬 Zoom in: Columbia's campus has become the epicenter of U.S. unrest.

  • All classes were virtual yesterday after 100+ pro-Palestinian protesters who had camped out on the green were arrested and suspended. A crowd of Columbia faculty walked out in solidarity with arrested students.
  • Members of Congress flocked to campus to see for themselves.
  • Last evening, Columbia announced classes at its Morningside main campus will be virtual or hybrid for the rest of the semester.

🔭 Zoom out: Encampments of pro-Palestinian protesters have popped up on other campuses — including Michigan, Berkeley, NYU and MIT.

  • At Yale, police arrested around 50 pro-Palestinian protesters yesterday and charged them with trespassing. After the arrests, the protest swelled even further, with a large crowd of students blocking an intersection, per the Yale Daily News.
  • At NYU, multiple people were taken into custody last night, the NYPD said. An NYU statement said that during a demonstration believed to include many people unaffiliated with NYU, "there were intimidating chants and several antisemitic incidents reported."

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Editor's note: This item has been corrected to note that Columbia is offering hybrid classes for the rest of the semester. It's not conducting all classes virtually.

2. 🐘 How Republicans castrated themselves

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photos: Kevin Dietsch and Nathan Howard/Getty Images, and Bill Clark and Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Never before has the party in control of the House of Representatives knowingly and willingly castrated its own power so thoroughly as today's Republicans, Axios' Juliegrace Brufke and Justin Green report.

  • Why it matters: Republicans blew years of potential authority by weak leaders surrendering to keep power. So with a razor-thin GOP majority, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) had to depend on Democrats to muscle through the $60 billion Ukraine bill over the weekend.

Two mistakes haunt House Republicans, both dating back to former Speaker Kevin McCarthy's fight to win the gavel in January 2023:

  1. Letting any member call a vote on removing the speaker. This gives insurgents like Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) extraordinary power to threaten to oust the party leader any time.
  2. Surrendering authority of the Rules Committee, which sets the terms for how legislation will be handled during votes. After allowing non-loyalists onto the committee, leaders can't depend on getting their way.

🔎 Zoom in: The new Rules Committee — with McCarthy-appointed hardliners, including Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Chip Roy (R-Texas) — has become a roadblock. Seven bills were defeated in the past year during the rules process.

  • This is an unprecedented collapse in control: Former Speakers Nancy Pelosi, Paul Ryan and John Boehner never lost a rules vote.

Brendan Buck, a top staffer to Ryan and Boehner, wrote in a New York Times op-ed: "A party unable to bring its agenda to the floor for a vote is no longer a functional majority."

  • Former Speaker Ryan told Axios that Johnson "found his footing, and his voice. ... [H]e did it as a statesman, risking his own personal political fortune for the greater good that he believes in."

3. 🔋 Tesla's war footing

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Elon Musk will address Tesla investors and analysts this evening, following a disastrous start to the year for the world's most valuable car company.

  • Why it matters: The perfect storm includes slumping sales, plummeting stock price, thousands of job cuts, internal leaks and product recalls, Axios' Nathan Bomey and Zachary Basu report.

🧮 By the numbers: Tesla's stock is down 40% in 2024. The S&P 500 is up 5%.

  • Tesla is asking shareholders to reinstate Musk's $56 billion compensation plan, which a Delaware court recently invalidated.

👀 Investors on today's call will want to know:

  • Is demand continuing to fall?
  • Is Musk committed to delivering a next-generation affordable car?
  • Is his roadmap to self-driving cars realistic?
  • Can the company sustain profitability after announcing more price cuts?

🥊 Reality check: Tesla has been in dire straits before, nearing bankruptcy multiple times during what Musk dubbed "production and logistics hell" from 2017 to 2019.

4. ⚖️ Trump tempts fate on gag order

Photo illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

NEW YORK — Facing a hearing this morning over whether he violated the gag order in his criminal case, former President Trump tempted fate yesterday by assailing a key witness — his former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, Axios' Erin Doherty and Sophia Cai report.

  • "When are they going to look at all the lies that Cohen did in the last trial?" Trump said outside the courtroom.

Why it matters: Trump has repeatedly tested the court order, which bars him from commenting on witnesses, prosecutors, court staff and jurors.

Former president Donald Trump, center, awaits the start of proceedings at Manhattan criminal court, Monday, April 22, 2024, in New York. Opening statements in Donald Trump's historic hush money trial are set to begin. Trump is accused of falsifying internal business records as part of an alleged scheme to bury stories he thought might hurt his presidential campaign in 2016
Former President Trump awaits the start of yesterday's session in Manhattan criminal court. Photo: Yuki Iwamura/Pool via AP

Judge Juan Merchan today will put Trump's trial on hold for a couple of hours to hear prosecutors' request to hold the ex-president in contempt for violating the order.

  • For weeks, Trump has dared Merchan to do just that, saying the gag is hurting his campaign and his ability to defend himself.

Prosecutors have accused Trump of violating the gag order seven times.

  • Merchan could fine Trump for each violation.

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5. 🌐 U.S. is just 10% of global EV market

Electric car sales
Reproduced from International Energy Agency. Chart: Axios Visuals

The International Energy Agency, in an outlook out this morning, sees full EVs and plug-in hybrids together accounting for one in five light-duty vehicles — cars, SUVs and pickups — sold globally this year, Axios' Ben Geman writes.

  • 60% of those sales will be in China, 25% in Europe and 10% in the U.S.

🔮 By 2030, almost 1 in 3 cars on the roads in China is set to be electric — and almost 1 in 5 in both the U.S. and Europe.

6. 🌡️ Sizzling summer

Map of U.S. temperature outlook, June to August
Map: NOAA/Climate Prediction Center

A hotter than usual summer is likely to occur in the U.S. and many other parts of the globe, Axios' Andrew Freedman writes from new forecasts and scientific research.

  • Michelle L'Heureux, who leads the forecasting unit that predicts El Niño and La Niña at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center in Maryland, told Axios that other climate trends, such as human-caused climate change, may outrank the see-saw from El Niño to La Niña as the dominant driver of U.S. summer temperature anomalies.

7. 🚢 Baltimore ship called "clearly unseaworthy"

The wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge is seen beyond the stern of the container ship Dali three weeks after the catastrophic collapse
The wreckage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge is seen yesterday beyond the stern of the container ship Dali. Photo: Jerry Jackson/The Baltimore Sun via Getty Images

The city of Baltimore said the cargo ship that struck the Francis Scott Key Bridge was "clearly unseaworthy" when it left the Baltimore port last month, Axios' Sareen Habeshian writes from court documents filed yesterday.

  • Baltimore's mayor and city council accused both the owner of the container ship Dali, Grace Ocean Private, and its operator, Synergy Marine Group, of being "grossly and potentially criminally negligent."

Keep reading.

8. 🧐 1 for the road: "Empty nest" coaches

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Parents whose kids have moved out are hiring empty nest coaches — life coaches who specialize in the transition surrounding a child's departure, Mimi Montgomery writes for Axios D.C.

  • Why it matters: Parents are much more involved in their children's lives today than they were a few generations ago during the "latchkey kid" era, coaches tell Axios. So when kiddos peace out, it can hit parents extra hard.

Coaches help newly lonely parents confront and process their emotions.

  • One client did a tap-dance recital at age 60. Others have launched their own businesses, or gone back to school to get a doctorate.

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