Jun 18, 2018

Axios AM

🇫🇷 Bonjour from Cannes in the South of France, where I'm attending the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

1 big thing: Pressure grows on Trump to change border policy for kids
A cage in McAllen, Texas, yesterday (U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP)

Confronted by daily images of families being traumatized at the border, Republican lawmakers plan to increase pressure on President Trump to roll back a "zero tolerance" immigration policy resulting in parents being separated from children, GOP sources tell Jonathan Swan and me.

  • Be smart: We know that Trump is responsive to traumatic images (including kids being gassed in Syria), and he's acutely attuned to how issues play in the media. So some well-wired Republicans think he may eventually find a way to change the policy announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
  • Trump is expected to be personally confronted on the issue when he is the guest for a special meeting of House Republicans tomorrow evening.
  • Multiple sources in close touch with the White House believe this issue is providing images that fuel the left's worst views of the administration.
  • But sources say Trump views the issue as leverage, and will try to get funding for a border wall or other concessions for a rollback of the policy.

Two potentially game-changing voices joined the debate yesterday:

  • Former First Lady Laura Bush said in a Washington Post op-ed: "[T]his zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart."
  • First Lady Melania Trump, who rarely weighs in on policy, told CNN through her spokeswoman: "Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform ... She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart."

The backdrop: In April, the Justice Department notified "all U.S. Attorney’s Offices along the Southwest Border of a new 'zero-tolerance policy' for ... both attempted illegal entry and illegal entry into the United States by an alien."

  • 1,995 minors were separated from 1,940 adults from April 19 through May 31, according to Department of Homeland Security figures.
  • "Stories have spread of children being torn from their parents' arms, and parents not being able to find where their kids have gone," AP reports.

The outlook: Republicans tell us that with midterms approaching and the border kids becoming a transcendent story, administration efforts to blame Democrats and parse the policy could become unsustainable.

P.S. N.Y. Times Quotation of the Day ... Natalie Garcia, who watched immigration agents arrest her father, Jose Luis Garcia, as he mowed his lawn (Garcia, a legal resident since 1988, was convicted of a misdemeanor in 2001):

  • “They are kidnapping people from their home, starting with my father, who has the legal status.”
2. What it's like: Hundreds of children in Border Patrol facility
A cage in McAllen, Texas, yesterday (U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector via AP)

"Inside an old warehouse in South Texas, hundreds of children wait in a series of cages created by metal fencing. One cage had 20 children inside. Scattered about are bottles of water, bags of chips and large foil sheets intended to serve as blankets," AP's Nomaan Merchant reports from McAllen, Texas:

  • "One teenager told an advocate who visited that she was helping care for a young child she didn't know because the child's aunt was somewhere else in the facility."
  • "She said she had to show others in her cell how to change the girl's diaper."
  • "There are no toys or books. ... [O]ne boy nearby wasn't playing with the rest. According to [the advocate], he was ... clutching a piece of paper that was a photocopy of his mother's ID card."
  • "The U.S. Border Patrol [yesterday] allowed reporters to briefly visit the facility where it holds families arrested at the southern U.S. border."
  • "More than 1,100 people were inside the large, dark facility that's divided into separate wings for unaccompanied children, adults on their own, and mothers and fathers with children."
  • "The cages in each wing open out into common areas to use portable restrooms. The overhead lighting in the warehouse stays on around the clock."

"The Border Patrol said close to 200 people inside the facility were minors unaccompanied by a parent. Another 500 were 'family units,' parents and children":

  • "A group of congressional lawmakers visited the same facility [yesterday] and were set to visit a longer-term shelter holding around 1,500 children — many of whom were separated from their parents."
  • "Agents running the holding facility — generally known as 'Ursula' for the name of the street it's on — said everyone detained is given adequate food, access to showers and laundered clothes, and medical care."
3. Global trend: Frustrated youth propel populist tide

Youth revolt ... "Struggling to find jobs, and often living at home, younger generations are propelling antiestablishment parties to new heights of power" — Wall Street Journal's Eric Sylvers (subscription):

  • There's "a feeling across much of the Western world that the younger generation will struggle to surpass their parents in wealth and security."
  • "Western Europe’s largest antiestablishment government came to power earlier this month, driven largely by young Italian voters. Struggling with a persistent lack of job prospects over the past decade, they voted in droves for ... the 5 Star Movement and the League, an anti-immigration party."
  • "About half of Italians age 25 to 34 live with their parents."
  • Why it matters: "The same pattern appears across southern Europe, and the forces behind the divide show few signs of slowing."
Bonus: Pic du jour
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump's motorcade in Falls Church, Va., en route his golf club in Sterling, Va.

4. 🇲🇽 Article of the day

The New Yorker's Jon Lee Anderson ... "A Reporter At Large: A New Revolution in Mexico — Sick of corruption and of Trump, voters embrace the maverick leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador":

  • "Mexico is in crisis — beset from inside by corruption and drug violence, and from outside by the antagonism of the Trump Administration."
  • "There are new Presidential elections on July 1st, and LĂłpez Obrador is running on a promise to remake Mexico in the spirit of its founding revolutionaries. If the polls can be believed, he is almost certain to win."
  • "[T]he message that excites his supporters and worries his opponents: a promise to transform the country without disrupting it."

Worthy of your time.

5. Rebel developers trying to cure smartphone addiction — with an app

"A small but growing number of behavioral scientists and former Silicon Valley developers have begun trying to counterprogram those news alerts, friend requests and updates crowding our waking hours," the WashPost's William Wan reports:

  • "[T]he rebel developers are ... creating apps that try to put users back in control."
  • "They call their movement 'digital wellness,' and in recent weeks, they scored two huge victories when Google and Apple announced plans to incorporate some aspects of digital-wellness apps — like allowing users to track their screen time — into upcoming Android and iPhone operating systems."

Be smart: "In the modern economy of tablets and apps, our attention has become the most valuable commodity. Tech companies have armies of behavioral researchers whose sole job is to apply principles like Skinner’s variable rewards to grab and hold our focus as often and long as possible."

6. Juicy controversy: How burgers increase greenhouse gases

California startups are increasingly targeting green-conscious carnivores with plant burgers so beef-like they bleed and sizzle, Amy Harder writes in her "Harder Line" energy column:

  • "I grew up on a cattle ranch in Washington state, and today I’m among several landowners supporting our third- and fourth-generation family-run cattle operation."
  • "[A]fter years of reporting on energy and climate issues, I understand my family’s business has an environmental impact that exceeds a lot of others."
  • "Beef, responsible for roughly 6% of greenhouse gas emissions, is the single biggest food factor when it comes to climate change."

A hot trend today is beef-like burgers from plant material. One kind, called the Impossible Burger, is targeting carnivore eaters.

  • It has its share of controversies, though, including how its main plant-derived ingredient is genetically modified and that its nutritional content is comparable to real beef, canceling out any health benefits.

On the real beef side, Elm Innovations, a nonprofit founded in 2016, is working with researchers at University of California, Davis, to feed cattle a supplement of particular kind of seaweed.

  • Why it matters: The beef industry itself and companies that sell it, like McDonald’s, are increasingly realizing the importance of addressing the issue.
  • Earlier this year McDonald’s announced its first-ever target cutting its greenhouse gas emissions, with beef as its largest challenge. “The biggest focus for us is how do we feed those animals using less land,” said Robert Gibbs, an executive vice president with the fast food chain.

See Amy's burger taste test on this Axios video.

7. More lawmakers see pot as alternative to opioids

Medical marijuana's potential as an alternative to dangerous, addictive prescription painkillers is earning is a closer look in Washington, Axios' Caitlin Owens reports:

  • Most states allow medical uses of marijuana, but Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a hardline stance on marijuana prosecution. That conflict has heightened Congress' attention to the issue, and lawmakers are increasingly on the states' side.
  • Where it stands: The tension between state laws permitting medical marijuana and federal law classifying it as an illegal narcotic came to a head when Sessions released a memo directing U.S. attorneys to enforce federal law.

House and Senate committees have both passed measures designed to stop federal officials from standing in the way of states implementing their own laws — which has become routine.

  • Sens. Cory Gardner [R-Colo.] and Elizabeth Warren [D-Mass.] recently introduced a bill that would essentially make federal law respect states' marijuana laws."
8. Bite du jour

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — dividing his time between D.C. and Italy, where Callista Gingrich is U.S. ambassador to the Holy See — on why he thinks Republicans still have a 60% chance of keeping the House:

  • "What people have to watch carefully for is Trump may be in the process of building a performance model rather than a behavior model. People shrug off the behavior."
  • "Washington has a model that says presidents are surrounded by really, really smart staffs ... who come in and give really thorough briefings. And then after months of preparation, they agree to go to a meeting only if it's already fixed."
  • "Trump says at the first opportunity, 'Yeah, let's meet in Singapore.' I mean, that violates every rule of the establishment — and, by the way, undermines the self-importance of most of the intelligentsia who hate him, because they don't get to be the diplomats who arrange the meeting and set the agenda."

Happening tonight: Newt Gingrich will host a signing for his book, "Trump's America: The Truth about Our Nation's Great Comeback" (published June 5) at the Barnes & Noble in Ashburn, Va. (20427 Exchange St.), at 7 p.m.

9. What your kids want to see

“Incredibles 2,” Pixar’s spirited sequel about a family of superheroes, had the biggest domestic debut ever for an animated movie with an $180 million opening weekend, Entertainment Weekly reports:

  • "The previous record holder was Pixar’s 'Finding Dory,' which bowed to $135.1 million in 2016."
  • "'Incredibles 2' also marks the eighth-best domestic opening all time for any film (animated or otherwise, not adjusted for inflation), and the third-best opening of 2018, behind Marvel Studios’ 'Avengers: Infinity War' ($257.7 million) and 'Black Panther' ($202 million)."
  • "As the parent company of both Pixar and Marvel, Disney is thus continuing its recent box office dominance."
10. 1 tuck thing

"As stigma lifts, more men opt for plastic surgery — from 'torso tucks' to Botox" — USA Today's David Pan:

  • "'C-level' patients — CEOs, chief financial officers, chief information officers — often want [to compete with younger execs by getting] procedures such as neck or eye lifts."
  • "The number of plastic surgery procedures performed on men rose 29 percent between 2000 and 2017. ... Still, men lag far behind women ... The number of procedures for women rose 127 percent over the same span. Women accounted for 92 percent of all plastic-surgery procedures last year."
  • "But when it comes to a market growth opportunity, plastic surgeons are counting on men. ... [Y]oung men tend to aim for improving their bodies through breast reductions, liposuction and tummy tucks."
  • "The most popular procedures for men last year were mostly those that could apply to either sex: nose jobs, eyelid surgery, liposuction and breast reduction were the top four ... But next comes one more specific to men: hair transplants."

Thanks for reading. Breaking updates and insight all day on Axios.com.