Dec 24, 2019

Axios AM

🌲🎄 Happy Christmas Eve!

  • Today's Smart Brevity™ count: 1,146 words ... 4½ minutes.
1 big thing: Smart cities spark privacy worries

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Momentum for smart cities — fed by big promises from industry and big hopes by government — is being slowed by a wave of public skepticism, Axios' Kim Hart and Aïda Amer report.

  • Alphabet-owned Sidewalk Labs, which has proposed a futuristic smart-city development for Toronto's waterfront, this month pledged not to sell personal data from the project or use it for advertising.

Growth of smart cities has been slower than predicted, but look at all the data-intensive technologies that have been deployed around the world:

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Map: Aïda Amer/Axios

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2. ⚖️ House may pursue new articles
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer meets the press in New York City yesterday. Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee used a court filing to renew its effort to enforce a subpoena for former White House counsel Don McGahn, to determine "whether to recommend additional articles of impeachment," Zachary Basu reports.

  • The response: The Justice Department argued in its own court filing that the House's impeachment vote means there is no longer urgency to resolve the McGahn case, and that the courts shouldn't intervene in a political fight ahead of the Senate trial.

Senate leaders, at a holiday standoff over the trial, bargained publicly while much of the nation was shopping and traveling:

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told “Fox and Friends" yesterday: "We haven't ruled out witnesses. ... We've said let's handle this case just like we did with President Clinton. Fair is fair."
  • Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer told AP yesterday: "Let’s put it like this: If there are no documents and no witnesses, it will be very hard to come to an agreement."

The bottom line: The minority has a lot more power in the Senate than in the House.

3. Rising "Rocket Man" worry
Image: Planet Labs Inc., Middlebury Institute of International Studies via AP

This satellite image shows the construction of a new structure this month at a factory, near Pyongyang, where North Korea manufactures military trucks used as mobile launchers for long-range missiles.

  • Why it matters, from AP: North Korea has warned that what “Christmas gift” it gives the U.S. depends on what action Washington takes.
4. Pic du jour: Holocaust survivors share memories
Menorah at Survivors Night in Paris. Photo: Kamil Zihnioglu/AP

Holocaust survivors sang at Jerusalem's Western Wall, danced in Paris and lit candles to celebrate Hanukkah, recalling Nazi horrors that Jewish community leaders fear are fading from the world's collective memory, AP reports.

  • Why it matters: Older leaders worry that today's youth in many countries don't recognize names of Nazi death camps, fall prey to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, or don't realize that 6 million Jews were killed in Hitler's World War II extermination campaign.

An estimated 400,000 Holocaust survivors are alive, about half of them in Israel.

  • As many as 40% live in poverty, said Ruediger Mahlo of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which organized the events.
5. Boeing tries for reset
Screengrab via CNBC (Nov. 5 interview)

Boeing Chairman David Calhoun, who'll take over as CEO from the ousted Dennis Muilenburg on Jan. 13, talked with FAA administrator Steve Dickson within hours of yesterday's shakeup, CNBC's Phil LeBeau reports.

Two quotes from the conversation, per LeBeau:

  • "We welcome rigorous oversight."
  • "Boeing wants to be regulated."

Why it matters: This is an effort to reset a sour relationship. LeBeau said Calhoun wants to send "a very clear signal that Boeing wants to get this fixed, and do it right."

6. Trump nostalgia: lightbulbs, toilets
President Trump speaks at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in West Palm Beach on Saturday. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

"President Trump is promising voters a world free of the everyday inconveniences associated with combating climate change — rolling back lightbulb regulations, ordering a study on low-flow toilets and turning bans on plastic straws into a campaign rallying cry," the WashPost's Toluse Olorunnipa and Juliet Eilperin write.

  • Trump on toilets (Dec. 6, Roosevelt Room): "People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once. They end up using more water. So, EPA is looking at that very strongly, at my suggestion."
  • Trump on wind (Sunday, West Palm Beach): "I never understood wind. You know, I know windmills very much. I’ve studied it better than anybody I know. ... They’re noisy. They kill the birds. You want to see a bird graveyard? You just go. Take a look. A bird graveyard. Go under a windmill someday. "
7. GOP govs defy Trump on refugees
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Cartogram: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Republican governors in several red states say they'll continue to accept refugees — despite President Trump's executive order allowing state and local governments to block resettlements, Rashaan Ayesh and Stef Kight report.

  • Why it matters: While Republicans widely support Trump’s restrictive immigration policies, local and state officials have been unwilling to push out those who have been forced from their homes and gone thorough stringent vetting processes required to become a U.S. refugee.

What’s happening: Republican governors of Tennessee, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Nebraska last week wrote letters to the State Department or publicly announced they would continue accepting refugee resettlements.

  • They join almost two dozen other states that plan to continue taking in refugees, according to Axios' compilation of news reports, press releases and public statements.

What to watch: Texas will likely become a battleground as Trump’s executive order divides Gov. Greg Abbott, a conservative, and liberal city mayors.

  • Go deeper: WashPost (subscription), "Trump gave states the power to ban refugees. Conservative Utah wants more of them."
8. 🇬🇧 Queen's word of the year
The queen records her Christmas Day message at Windsor Castle, England. Photo: Steve Parsons/Pool via AP

You're the Queen of England. You're 93. Your country is split politically — and perhaps physically, if the Scots walk. Your prime minister is "Boris." A rift between your grandsons has been covered all year. Your new granddaughter-in-law [Corrected] bucks tradition. Your son Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein — don't get me started.

  • So what will Queen Elizabeth II call this year, in her Christmas Day address to Britain and the Commonwealth nations? "Bumpy"!
  • From excerpts released by Buckingham Palace: "The path, of course, is not always smooth, and may at times this year have felt quite bumpy, but small steps can make a world of difference."
9. Kaepernick sells out Day 1
Photo: Nike

A $110 sneaker Nike made in partnership with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick sold out on the first day of North American release, CNBC reports.

  • Why it matters: "Earlier this year, Nike nixed the release of its 'Betsy Ross' American flag shoe, after Kaepernick ... criticized the shoe."

The sole of the right shoe has the date "08 14 16" — the first time Kaepernick didn't stand during the national anthem, per CNN.

10. 1 fun thing: Toy stores get interactive
Children ride scooters on an elevated loop at Camp, a new chain of toy stores, in New York. Photo: Mark Lennihan/AP

A new generation of toy stores hopes to capitalize on the demise of Toys R Us by emphasizing playtime — "experiential retail," AP's Anne D'Innocenzio writes.

  • Toy stores long offered activities and interactive elements, like the floor piano at FAO Schwarz that Tom Hanks danced on in "Big."
  • When FAO Schwarz opened a store in New York in 2018, three years after shuttering its 5th Avenue flagship, added a toy grocery store where kids can shop for artificial produce, complete with small carts, and a Barbie doll fashion parlor that charges $75 for a styling session.

🥛🍪Thanks for starting the holiday with us — best to you and yours for the hours ahead. I'll be in Oregon for Christmas. Justin and I will be back with PM, and I'll have a Christmas morning dispatch from the Ericsons' bonus room ...

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