Jul 1, 2019

Axios AM

Mike Allen

Breaking ... Mayor Pete Buttigieg released his Q2 fundraising this morning, a whopping $24.8 million, with the news that 400,000 people have now donated to his campaign.

  • Why it matters: Sen. Bernie Sanders — with a prebuilt list of donors from 2016 — topped the field of 20-something Democrats with $18.2 million in Q1.

🌡️ Welcome to July! Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,192 words ... < 5 minutes.

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1 big thing: U.S. economy sets record amid worries
Expand chart
Data: National Bureau of Economic Research. Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

Today marks the longest period the U.S. economy has gone without a recession, edging past the economic cycle that ended when the dot-com bubble burst, Axios markets reporter Courtenay Brown writes.

  • Why it matters: This milestone comes at one of the more pessimistic moments in the last decade.
  • Economists are warning that a significant slowdown in growth, and maybe a recession, is coming.
  • The reasons include trade tensions and slumping growth in other economies across the globe.

Signs of over-exuberance have ended the past three economic cycles, says Michael Pearce, an economist at Capital Economics.

  • "The interesting thing about this expansion is that it's been very slow and we've really not seen a big buildup of excesses," Pearce said.
  • Inflation has been notably muted in the face of a near 50-year low unemployment rate, and strong job creation.
  • And low interest rates that helped prop up the economy in the past decade may be even lower in coming months.

The bottom line: As people worry that a recession is around the corner simply because there hasn’t been a recession in a while, that could weigh on consumer and business confidence — and become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

2. Hong Kong protests reignite
Police stand guard behind the cracked glass wall of the Hong Kong Legislative Council. Photo: Vincent Yu/AP

Bulletin: "Protesters smashed a makeshift battering ram through glass walls at Hong Kong’s government headquarters, goading police inside the building, as a massive demonstration kicked off on the anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese sovereignty," writes the Wall Street Journal (subscription).

  • "The confrontation — and the ascendancy of young activists — are signs of a deepening crisis over the city’s future, spawned [last month] by [the] push, since put on hold, to pass legislation allowing suspects to be extradited to China."
3. Early Alaska melt alarms islanders
This map runs from the northwest corner of Washington state in the far bottom right, to Russia on the left; Canadian coast is top right. (Map provided to Axios by Rick Thoman)

"Exceptionally warm ocean temperatures have melted sea ice off Alaska’s coasts far earlier than normal this year, alarming ... residents ... about the impacts to seals, seabirds and fish they hunt," the Anchorage Daily News reports.

  • The early melting has been "crazy,” said Janet Mitchell of Kivalina, an island village of 400 Alaska Native people.
  • "[H]unters from her family traveled more than 50 miles by boat to find bearded seals on the ice. The ice ... should have been just outside the village."
  • The hunters ran out of gas.

Rick Thoman, a climatologist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, tweeted that the northern Bering and southern Chukchi seas are "baking."

  • Sea surface temperatures last week were as high as nine degrees above the 1981-2010 average, reaching into the 60s. (AP)
4. Pic du jour
Photo: Kamala Harris campaign via AP

This January 1970 photo, provided by the Kamala Harris campaign, shows the senator (left) with her sister, Maya, and mother, Shyamala, outside their apartment in Berkeley, Calif.

  • Fall debate drama ... The largest presidential field in modern Democratic politics could shrink quickly: More than half of the contenders are in real danger of failing to meet tougher requirements for fall debates. (AP)
5. Beto at the border
Photo: Christian Chavez/AP

Above: Beto O’Rourke crossed the Rio Grande from his native El Paso to a migrant shelter in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, to meet people turned away by the U.S.

  • Below: O'Rourke shakes hands with a Central American migrant child during a visit at the "House of the Migrant" shelter.
Photo: Herika Martinez/AFP/Getty Images
6. Hunter Biden opens up
Hunter Biden appears with his dad in 2016. Photo: Kris Connor/WireImage via Getty Images

Adam Entous in The New Yorker, "Father and Son: Will Hunter Biden’s business dealings and history of addiction jeopardize Joe Biden’s campaign?"

  • Hunter, 49, speaks about his struggles with addiction and his attempts at sobriety, including Alcoholics Anonymous meetings; a twelve-step yoga retreat at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur; and addiction-treatment programs in Washington, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Antigua, Tijuana and elsewhere.

Entous writes:

Hunter Biden ... is described as a supportive son and sibling. In speeches, Biden rarely talks about Hunter. But news outlets on the right and mainstream media organizations, including the [New York] Times, have homed in on him, reprising old controversies over Hunter’s work for a bank, for a lobbying firm, and for a hedge fund, and scrutinizing his business dealings in China and Ukraine. ...
Hunter told me that, on a recent evening, he had seen reports on Twitter that Trump was calling for him to be investigated by the Justice Department. Then Hunter noticed a helicopter overhead. "I said, 'I hope they’re taking pictures of us right now. I hope it’s a live feed to the President so he can see just how much I care about the tweets. ... I told Melissa [his wife since May], 'I don’t care. F--- you, Mr. President. Here I am, living my life.'"

Keep reading.

7. Facebook's Civil Rights Audit (Updated)

Facebook issued a civil rights report yesterday, touting its recent progress and pledging to remain vigilant on efforts to manipulate either the 2020 election or Census, writes Axios' chief technology correspondent Ina Fried and Rebecca Falconer.

  • Why it matters: Facebook embarked on the audit to address allegations that it censors conservative voices and discriminates against minority groups. Facebook hopes the audit and formal advising partnership will show it takes these issues seriously.
8. NYC pride parade is one of largest in history
Courtesy N.Y. Post

Exuberant crowds rocking rainbow colors filled New York streets for one of the largest pride parades in the history of the gay-rights movement — a dazzling celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the infamous police raid on Stonewall Inn. (AP)

  • Why it matters, from N.Y. Times' James Barron: "For many who marched or jammed the sidelines, it was hard to understand just how much prejudice was once directed at gay men, lesbians and transgender people. In 1969, laws in 49 states made gay sex between consenting adults a crime. In New York, it was illegal for two men to dance together until 1971."
Photo: Craig Ruttle/AP

Above: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (lower front center) was among the marchers.

  • Below: The parade passes the Stonewall Inn.
Photo: Craig Ruttle/AP
9. The Nets' big night

The Brooklyn Nets blew up Twitter last night, landing Kevin Durant from the Golden State Warriors and Kyrie Irving from the Boston Celtics in the opening moves of the NBA's free agency period.

  • Why it matters, via the N.Y. Times: "[I]t was the splashiest combination of moves they could have made after spending years digging out from the depths of ill-advised personnel moves and searching for a slice of the spotlight in a city long dominated by the Knicks."

Sign up for Kendall Baker's daily sports newsletter, Axios Sports.

10. 1 llama thing
Tami Lash of Michigan won a ribbon at a big llama show in Iowa this weekend. Photo: Jennifer A. Kingson/Axios

280 llamas, plus a few alpacas, convened in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, this weekend for one of the biggest llama shows of the year. Picture the Westminster Dog Show, only with camelids, Axios' managing editor Jennifer Kingson writes.

  • Llama owners regularly travel long distances to participate in shows like this one, sponsored by the International Lama Registry. (They spell it with one "l.")
  • The llamas are shampooed and groomed, then compete in obstacle courses.
  • They are also judged by the quality of their fleece and their conformation to breed standards.

A llama auction was held, with one female fetching $11,000.

  • Males went for far less.
Mike Allen

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