May 4, 2019

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

🏇 Good Saturday morning. Today is the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby, at Churchill Downs in Louisville. Post time: 6:50 p.m. ET.

  • The race lasts two minutes; NBC's coverage runs nearly five hours. Content ratio, pregame/postgame to race: 293 minutes to 2. (WashPost)

Breaking: "North Korea fired a type of short-range weapon, ... the latest military provocation from Pyongyang amid stalled nuclear talks with Washington." (WSJ)

  • "A missile test would be the North’s first since 2017." (NYT)

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1 big thing: Earth faces mass extinctions
An inflatable planet Earth bounces around a climate-change rally in Sydney, Australia, in March. (Don Arnold/Getty Images)

Up to a million of Earth's estimated eight million species face extinction, many of them within decades, according to a UN report on biodiversity due out Monday.

  • The 1,800-page report by 400 scientists says the pace of species loss "is already tens to hundreds of times higher than it has been, on average, over the last 10 million years," according to a draft obtained by Agence France-Presse.

And it's not just climate change, according to the report:

  • Humans "are undermining Earth's capacity to produce fresh water, clean air and productive soil."
  • "The direct causes of Nature's degradation — in order of importance — are shrinking habitat and land-use change, hunting for food or illicit trade in body parts, climate change, pollution, and predatory or disease-carrying alien species such as rats, mosquitoes and snakes."

Be smart, from Axios Science Editor Andrew Freedman: This report will likely be dismissed by many as fear mongering or alarmism. And there is a lot of progress and activism now on climate, marine conservation and other issues to suggest that the future foretold here may not come to pass.

  • But if scientists from a variety of disciplines have a shared bias, it has tended to make major assessment reports too conservative rather than too dire, especially when it comes to climate change. 

You can't really separate climate change from biodiversity loss, since one is driving the other — along with deforestation, overfishing, population growth and pollution, Freedman writes.

  • But the biodiversity crisis and dawning of the Sixth Great Extinction (this one driven largely by us), have until now garnered less global attention and focus from world leaders. This report is meant to change that. 
  • This panel is meant to be the biodiversity version of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
2. Trump's post-Mueller phase
Trump talks to reporters about yesterday's call with Putin. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Trump is trying to move into a new, post-Mueller phase in his relationship with Vladimir Putin, according to Axios' Jonathan Swan.

  • Trump apparently feels liberated, after the conclusion of the Mueller report, to return to his default of trying to do business with the Russian president.
  • The tell: Trump said yesterday that he discussed trying to do trade deals, during a call with Putin that lasted more than an hour.

Why it matters: At Trump's core — and no matter the spin from the White House — he is transactional and has never absorbed or accepted the intelligence community’s findings about Russia’s attack on America’s election system. 

The context ... The president seemed to return to Helsinki-era Trump while discussing the call:

  • Trump undercut his own intelligence community and national security team by suggesting the Russian president had benign intentions in Venezuela, and tweeting that he and Putin talked about the "Russian Hoax."
  • Trump admitted he didn't confront Putin about the widespread Russian effort to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, detailed by Mueller.

How it's playing ... "HEAR NO EVIL. AGAIN," said the CNN headline.

3. Jobless rate hits 50-year low
Courtesy N.Y. Post

"As the economy continues to grow past what many predicted was possible, some analysts and officials are wondering if the current state of the economy is too good to be true — and that experts must be missing warning signs," the WashPost's Heather Long writes.

  • "Employers added 263,000 new jobs last month, a record 103 straight months of job growth, and the official unemployment rate fell to 3.6 percent, the lowest since 1969."
  • "Equally noteworthy is what economists aren’t seeing: the high levels of inflation that have accompanied previous expansions."

Last exchange at yesterday's Oval Office avail, where President Trump discussed the Putin call:

  • Reporter: "Are you going to run on the economy?"
  • Trump: "Yeah. Yeah. I'll be running on the economy. Sure."
Bonus: Pic du jour
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office via AP

A chartered 737 carrying 143 people from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Jacksonville, Fla., slid off the runway into a river, with no deaths. (Florida Times-Union)

4. 🚗 Possible Uber strike

Uber and Lyft drivers in NYC and some other big cities will strike by logging off from 7 to 9 a.m. on Wednesday, ahead of Uber going public, per CNN:

  • Drivers "want livable incomes, job security, and regulated fares."

Participating cities include Washington, Philly, Chicago, S.F., L.A. and San Diego, a taxi union told Reuters:

  • "Uber ... expects to price its IPO on Thursday and begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange the following day."

P.S. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi won't invite predecessor Travis Kalanick to join him on the NYSE balcony during next Friday's bell-ringing ceremony, sources tell Axios' Dan Primack.

  • Kalanick co-founded Uber and led most of its growth before being forced out in 2017. He asked during a recent board meeting to join the bell-ringing.
5. How Trump alumni make money
The shelter for migrant kids in Homestead, Fla. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Former White House chief of staff John Kelly joined the board of the conglomerate that operates the nation's largest facility for migrant children, AP reports.

  • The teen detention camp — in Homestead, Fla. — is undergoing a massive expansion, with hundreds of beds added in the past few weeks.
  • About 2,500 children, ages 13-17, are detained there after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border without a parent or guardian.

Why it matters: Some members of Congress have described "prison-like" conditions in the Caliburn International facility.

  • CBS said that before joining the administration, Kelly was on the board of advisors of DC Capital Partners, an investment firm that now owns Caliburn.
6. 1 historic thing
Miss USA Cheslie Kryst (Jason Bean/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP)

For the first time, three black women are the reigning Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss America, AP's Mark Kennedy points out.

  • North Carolina lawyer Cheslie Kryst, crowned Miss USA on Thursday, completed the historic triple with Miss America Nia Franklin of New York and Miss Teen USA Kaliegh Garris of Connecticut.

The context: In 1970, Cheryl Browne became the first black woman to participate in the Miss America pageant.

  • Since then, more than a dozen black women have been named either Miss America or Miss USA, including actress Vanessa Williams, the first-ever black Miss America in 1983.
Mike Allen

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