Mar 15, 2019

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

🇰🇵 Bulletin: "North Korea is considering suspending talks with the U.S. and may rethink a ban on missile and nuclear tests unless Washington makes concessions, news reports ... quoted a senior diplomat as saying." (Reuters)

1 big thing: 49 killed in terrorist attack on New Zealand mosques
A floral tribute near the Linwood Masjid Mosque, where at least 10 were killed. (Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

New Zealand police said a man in his late 20s had been charged with murder after 49 people were killed and 48 others injured in shooting attacks at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, Axios' Dave Lawler and Rebecca Falconer write.

  • "An account believed to belong to one of the attackers featured a link to an 87-page manifesto filled with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim ideas." (CNN)
  • "Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described one alleged gunman, who had Australian citizenship, as an 'extremist, right-wing' terrorist." (BBC)

"One gunman live-streamed footage of his rampage to Facebook, filmed with a head-mounted camera," BBC reports.

  • "Police called on the public not to share the 'extremely distressing' footage."
  • "Facebook said it had removed the gunman's Facebook and Instagram accounts and was working to remove any copies of the footage."
2. The real tech regulators

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Media exposés and boycotts from big advertisers are doing what government regulators haven't: They're forcing the country's biggest tech companies to change their products, policies and strategies, Axios' Sara Fischer reports.

  • Why it matters: Despite an onslaught of hearings and statements from Washington, virtually no regulation has actually passed to significantly address privacy practices.
  • The early 2020 conversation includes a call to "break up" big tech — led by Elizabeth Warren's proposal targeting Google, Facebook and Amazon. But the proclamations have yet to be backed up by any concrete action.

The data points: Nearly every major tech company (YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon, etc.) has changed its policies over the past two weeks to address anti-vaccination content that has littered those platforms.

  • Facebook's privacy pivot announcement last week follows a barrage of bad headlines over the way Facebook treats user data.
  • And YouTube, one of Facebook's biggest video rivals, announced a massive change two weeks ago to disable comments on all videos of children under the age of 18. The move came after a damning media story was published by Wired about ways YouTube comments are used by child exploitation rings.

What's next: The biggest platforms, with power bigger than some governments, will continue to get increasing scrutiny from the press.

3. 2020 vision: The race takes shape
Beto O'Rourke speaks to reporters after a meet-and-greet at the Beancounter Coffeehouse & Drinkery in Burlington, Iowa. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

Yesterday's entry by former congressman Beto O'Rourke of Texas was one of the final puzzle pieces of a 2020 race that will be shaped by race and gender, political ideology and generational change, AP's Julie Pace writes.

  • The sprawling Democratic field ranges from 37 to 77, and includes liberals and moderates; senators, governors and mayors; and an unprecedented number of women and minorities.
  • Joe Biden is the only major contender still on the sidelines.

P.S. Back home, Beto's early political career was fueled by donations from the pro-Republican business establishment, the WashPost Michael Scherer reports:

  • "Several of El Paso’s richest business moguls donated to and raised money for O’Rourke’ s city council campaigns, drawn to his support for a plan to redevelop El Paso’s poorer neighborhoods."
4. Pic du jour
Brynn Anderson/AP

The Houston Astros' Collin McHugh casts a shadow as he throws in the bullpen before a spring game yesterday in West Palm Beach, Fla.

5. The death of ethics?

The college admissions scandal popped at a time when Americans are barraged with accounts of corruption, greed and amoral behavior, AP's David Crary notes.

  • "Whether it's gaming the system to secure entry to an elite college, or circumventing laws and ethical norms to evade taxes, swindle customers or pocket illicit gains, unethical behavior has always been among America's national pastimes."
  • "Yet a strong case can be made that this moment is distinctive, with its constant stream of high-profile scandals entangling bankers, drug companies, sports organizations, government officials and others."
6. Tesla unveils all-electric SUV
Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the company's latest electric car, a small SUV dubbed Model Y, at a jam-packed event last night broadcast from Tesla's studio in Hawthorne, Calif., Axios' Joann Muller writes.

  • By the time Model Y goes on sale in fall 2020, it'll face competition. Ford trolled Tesla just before the event with a "hold your horses" tweet — a clear reference to its Mustang-inspired electric performance SUV coming in 2020.
  • Model Y, which will seat up to seven, includes a panoramic glass roof.

With the battery under the floor and a low center of gravity, "it will look like an SUV but drive like a sports car," Musk said.

  • 0-to-60 mph time: 3.5 seconds.
  • The long-range, 300-mile version goes on sale in fall 2020, for about $47,000.
  • The standard version, with a smaller battery, follows in 2021 at $39,000.
Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images
7. Trump's big trade opening

Rob Porter, former White House staff secretary, writes in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that with a China deal, President Trump "can inaugurate a new era of U.S.-led trade liberalization."

  • "Having disrupted the global economic status quo, Mr. Trump is now well-positioned to make good on his overarching commitment to help 'restore integrity to the trading system.'"

Our thought bubble: What Porter is right about ... Trump’s trade decisions over next few months — with respect to China, the EU, Japan, auto tariffs, and the WTO — will define his legacy on one of his signature issues.

8. A country in chaos
Courtesy The Economist

"When historians come to write the tale of Britain’s attempts to leave the European Union, this week may be seen as the moment the country finally grasped the mess it was in," The Economist writes:

  • "Even by the chaotic standards of the three years since the referendum, the country is lost."
  • "[A]ny deal that Parliament approves must be put to the public for a final say."
9. A 235-year wait

Former Ambassador Nikki Haley tonight will be the first female speaker in the 235-year history of the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, at the annual member's dinner in New York.

  • The group is inviting women for the first time.

Jonathan Swan got a sneak peek at Haley's remarks:

You’re Irish, and you’re proud. You should be. You have your roots in helping the Irish in America. ... You’ve maintained your identity while serving the broader community. ...
The past couple years have taken me to places where religious, ethnic, and political differences define who gets fed and who doesn’t. Who gets raped and who doesn’t. Who lives and who dies.
I wish everyone squabbling on Twitter could see what I have seen. ... Because I have seen true evil. It puts things in perspective.
When you’ve had a refugee woman tell you about watching soldiers throw her baby into a fire.
When you’ve seen parents digging through trash cans in Venezuela in order to feed their children.
10. 1 fun thing: New in New York
Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

New York Edge, an outdoor observation deck at 30 Hudson Yards that's expected to open in 2020, will be the highest outdoor deck in the Western Hemisphere.

  • "After hopping on an elevator for 60 seconds, visitors will arrive at the 7,500-square-foot outdoor viewing area, which extends 65 feet from the 100th floor ... and includes a glass floor," per CNN.

🏙️ Michael Kimmelman, N.Y. Times architecture critic, writes on today's front page that the $25 billion Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s Far West Side amounts to a supersized suburban-style office park, with a mall and quasi-gated condos.

  • Zing: "Over all, Hudson Yards epitomizes a skin-deep view of architecture as luxury branding. Each building exists to act like a logo for itself. The assortment suggests so many crowded perfume bottles vying for attention in a department store window display."
Mike Allen