Jun 20, 2019

Axios AM

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1 big thing: Uber's plan for transportation domination

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

For its next act, Uber wants to use its cloud-based platform to manage everything about how we get around — on roads and sidewalks, underground and aloft, Axios autonomous vehicles expert Joann Muller writes from Detroit.

  • Why it matters: Like Amazon, which started selling books online and now delivers almost everything right to your door, Uber aims to leverage its digital expertise from ride-hailing to become a one-stop shop for transportation.
  • Here's how CEO Dara Khosrowshahi described the grand vision last week in Washington at the Uber Elevate Summit: "We don't just want to be the Amazon of transportation, but also the Google of transportation."

In Uber's view of the future, you'd use the Uber app to punch in your destination — JFK airport, for example — and you'd be offered multiple options for the journey, each with an estimated time of arrival and different price.

  • You could take an inexpensive Uber Pool or Uber X, the app might say — but with current traffic, expect it to take up to two hours.
  • Or you could hail an Uber car to a downtown skyport, then board an air taxi that will zip you over the congested freeway to JFK, saving time but doubling your fare.
  • You'd select the option that suits your schedule or budget, and it would all be stitched together into a one-click transaction.

Starting with scooters and e-bikes, the pieces of that personal mobility vision are beginning to come together.

  • Next month, Uber will launch piloted helicopter service between lower Manhattan and JFK for around $200, about the cost of a premium Uber Black car ride.
  • It's a precursor to Uber Air, the name for its planned flying taxi network that is set to start trials next year in Dallas, Los Angeles, and Melbourne, Australia.
  • In Boston and Denver, Uber has integrated real-time public transit information into its app, with the goal of allowing people to purchase bus or train tickets through Uber.

Business transportation is another growth opportunity, like restaurants that deliver meals using Uber Eats, or health care agencies that hire Uber Health to provide rides for patients.

  • Uber Freight aims to make logistics more efficient by matching shippers with carriers the way it pairs ride-hailing customers with drivers.
2. ⚡ Breaking overnight

Both Iranian and U.S. officials say Iran shot down a U.S. drone, raising fears of "a major military confrontation ... between Tehran and Washington," per Reuters.

  • Iran says the drone was over Iranian airspace, while the U.S. says the incident took place in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.
  • Iranian state media said the action by the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards sent "a clear message to America." (BBC)
3. 🚑 Biden's debate emergency
Herman Talmadge, then Georgia governor, speaks in 1948. Photo: Francis Miller/LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

Joe Biden's praise for segregationist senators showed starkly his vital job in next week's opening debate: Show he's a man of these times, not a man out of time.

  • "He has to focus on where we are going rather than where he has been," a Biden friend said. "He knows this, and he knows he has to do it during the debate in two- and three-minute bites."
  • Why it matters: Nothing worries Biden advisers more than public reminders that he's a throwback to a bygone era younger Democrats want to erase.

During remarks at two fundraisers in Maryland last night, Biden made no apology for saying Tuesday that the Senate "got things done" with "civility" even with segregationists with whom he disagreed, AP reports.

  • Other 2020 Dems harshly condemned Biden's invocation of long-dead segregationist senators James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia to argue that Washington functioned more smoothly back then.

Last night in Chevy Chase, Md., Biden tried to revise and extend those remarks, saying he "detested" what the two Democrats "stood for in terms of segregation."

  • Praising the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, Biden said: "[W]e had to put up with the likes of like Jim Eastland and Hermy Talmadge and all those segregationists."
  • "[W]e were able to beat them on everything they stood for," Biden continued, according to a pool report by Maggie Severns of Politico. "We, in fact, detested what they stood for in terms of segregation and all the rest."

What Biden's thinking: He will keep pounding away on the theme that he alone has the experience and broad appeal to beat Trump.

  • Biden adviser Anita Dunn said on MSNBC: "He didn't praise them, he didn't praise their positions, he certainly didn't endorse their positions. It's a story he's told many times. And the point of the story is that you have to be able to work with people, even if they hold positions repugnant to you, in order to make some progress."

Go deeper.

4. Democrats' nightmare scenario
Courtesy TIME

Some top Democrats are already predicting that President Trump will lose the popular vote again in 2020, but might very well win the election by a single electoral vote, Axios' Alexi McCammond reports.

Here’s the scenario: 

  • Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman predicts Democrats flip Michigan and Pennsylvania, increase their stronghold in California, and narrow the loss in Texas — helping Dems win the popular vote by nearly 5 million votes. 
  • But Trump narrowly holds onto Arizona, Florida, North Carolina and Wisconsin — which Democrats are gunning for — and keeps the White House. 

Jim Messina, President Obama's 2012 campaign manager, predicted the race will come down to two or three states:

  • "We could be sitting on Election Day not knowing who will win."

What they're saying: Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) pushed back on Wasserman's assertion that Dems are likely to lose Wisconsin again, arguing that's why the DNC is hosting the 2020 convention in Milwaukee.

  • But don't forget Dems' 2016 national convention was in Philadelphia — and they lost Pennsylvania.

By the numbers: In 2016, Trump lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. He won the electoral vote by 74.

5. "Making amends"
Ta-Nehisi Coates (left) and Danny Glover testify. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

One of the most striking comments in yesterday's congressional hearing on reparations, the first in more than a decade, came from Ta-Nehisi Coates, who wrote an influential 2014 essay making the case for reparations, AP's Errin Haines Whack reports:

  • "It's impossible to imagine America without the inheritance of slavery," Coates told a House Judiciary subcommittee. "Victims of that plunder are very much alive today."

The hearing coincided with Juneteenth, a cultural holiday commemorating the emancipation of enslaved black people in the U.S.

  • More than a hundred people were lined up to try and get a seat.
  • The audience cheered and booed testimony, and comments from members.

Actor and activist Danny Glover, longtime advocate of reparations, urged passage of House Resolution 40, creating a commission to study reparations.

6. 👽 Congress requesting UFO briefings

"Three more U.S. senators received a classified Pentagon briefing [yesterday] about a series of reported encounters by the Navy with unidentified aircraft, ... part of a growing number of requests from members of key oversight committees," Politico reports.

  • An intelligence official said: "More requests for briefings are coming in."
7. Mistaken identity
The Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox observed a moment of silence for Ortiz on Monday at Target Field in Minneapolis. Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Prosecutors say retired Red Sox star David Ortiz wasn't the intended target of an attempted contract killing at a Dominican Republic nightclub, "but was mistaken for a man who was sitting at the same table," the Boston Globe reports.

  • More than a dozen people had plotted to kill Sixto David Fernández, a friend of Ortiz’s who was at the Dial Bar and Lounge, officials said.
8. Memo to Dems: "Lean in"

In a private memo presented yesterday to the Senate Democratic caucus, pollster Geoff Garin of Hart Research argues that Democrats should lean into the fight over the Title X "gag rule" on birth control.

  • Garin argues: "[T]here is a clear benefit to shining as much of a spotlight as possible on Republican policies that impose more restrictions ... on women."

Read the two-page memo.

9. First look: Big $ campaign hits Medicare for All
Screenshot via One Nation

One Nation, headed by longtime GOP operative Steven Law, today will announce a multimillion-dollar ad campaign against Medicare for All, with a target audience that includes seniors and union families.

  • "The first commercial, entitled 'Signs,' features patient horror-stories from Canada’s single-payer system and will begin airing this week on television, radio and digital platforms," according to a forthcoming release.
  • YouTube.
10. 1 Ellen thing
Courtesy Bloomberg Businessweek

Ellen DeGeneres, who publicly came out 22 years ago, is a sign of how much mainstream businesses have embraced LGBTQ culture and consumers, Bloomberg Businessweek reports:

  • "Her daytime talk show, 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show,' brings in more advertising revenue than Dr. Phil’s and Kelly Ripa's combined."
  • DeGeneres has "earned at least $500 million on endorsement and TV deals."
  • She last year formed a partnership with Walmart "to create a clothing and accessories line that's awash in American flags and rainbows and is sold in 2,300 Walmart stores."

"I’m still gay, by the way," DeGeneres said in her Netflix stand-up special last year. "It’s really working out for me now."