Aug 10, 2020

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

🚗 Good Monday morning. Tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. ET, Axios Navigate author Joann Muller will host a virtual event on the future of autonomous vehicles, including a conversation with Mothers Against Drunk Driving national president Helen Witty.

New this morning: Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is out with a N.Y. Times op-ed (subscription), "Gig Workers Deserve Better," proposing a "third way" — flexible benefits for drivers, without making them employees.

  • "I'm proposing that gig economy companies be required to establish benefits funds which give workers cash that they can use for the benefits they want, like health insurance or paid time off."
1 big thing: Cost of closing gym class

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Gym class will be limited or eliminated for millions of pupils as schools go all-online or open with limited offerings, Axios Sports author Kendall Baker writes.

  • Why it matters: While classroom learning can be done virtually, it's nearly impossible to replicate physical education — which plays a crucial role in kids' physical and mental health — through a screen.
  • And with sports on hold in most states, P.E. is the only physical activity outlet some kids have.

Even schools offering in-person instruction this fall must re-imagine what gym class looks like amid a pandemic, with kids unable to share balls or equipment and with strict social distancing and sanitation guidelines in place.

  • While tech-savvy teachers have been hosting live workouts on apps like Facebook and Instagram, others wouldn't even know where to begin.

Youth sports organizations helped ensure that kids got their daily 60 minutes of exercise this summer by hosting Zoom workouts, offering virtual training and providing parents with tips and ideas.

  • Some organizations will continue in that role once school resumes. But with youth sports participation on the decline — particularly among lower-income families — the majority of students will rely solely on P.E.

Our thought bubble: The social interaction alone is something kids desperately need, particularly when they've been cooped up for months and won't be chatting with friends in hallways or socializing in lunchrooms.

2. 💡 New way to think about the virus: Like fire, never snuffed out

The time from 1 million U.S. coronavirus cases, in April, to 5 million cases, this weekend. Screenshot via CNN

Laurie Garrett, a Pulitzer-winning science journalist who has been one of the most prescient voices on the pandemic, had this fresh frame on MSNBC:

It is best to assume that this is a new permanent feature in the human landscape. And that means that we have to come up with policies and responses that ... see it as a fire that moves around with the winds.
And we spot the first embers and we put it out fast. We have to have policies that ... assume the virus will be constantly trying to revisit our communities. ...
[W]e need to just think: OK, it's just like knowing I live in Florida, and a hurricane will come. Or I live in New York, and we might have a blizzard.
3. College football on the brink
ESPN's "College GameDay" stage at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb., last fall. Photo: Nati Harnik/AP

Athletic directors and industry sources don't sound hopeful about college football this fall, Axios Sports author Kendall Baker reports.

  • "In the next 72 hours, college football is going to come to a complete stop," a source told Sports Illustrated.
  • "I think it's inevitable" the fall season will be scrapped, a Power 5 athletic director told CBS Sports.
  • "It feels like no one wants to [postpone the season], but it's reaching the point where someone is going to have to," a Power 5 administrator told ESPN.
Via Twitter
4. School goes viral, then virtual

On Tuesday, students crowd a hallway at North Paulding High School in Dallas, Ga. Photo: Hannah Watters/Twitter via AP

After going viral because of this photo of a crowded hallway between classes, an Atlanta-area high school reports that six students and three staffers have tested positive for COVID-19.

  • North Paulding High School is going to "Digital Learning" today and tomorrow to disinfect the building "and look for other potentially infected individuals" the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Why it matters: This early experiment shows how hard back-t0-school will be for every Middlesex village and farm.

  • Go deeper: Read the superintendent's 2-page letter.
5. Trump's tax trap for Biden
President Trump during a news conference Saturday after signing executive orders at his New Jersey club. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

President Trump is trying to lure Joe Biden into a Walter Mondale trap — attempting to force the Democratic nominee to embrace middle-class tax increases as part of his election strategy, Axios' Hans Nichols writes.

  • Why it matters: With his Saturday evening executive action to unilaterally rewrite the tax code, Trump again is demonstrating the lengths to which he’ll go to change the conversation — and try to make the election a choice between him and Biden, and not a referendum on him.

In Biden's response, he didn’t take the bait. Instead, he used the White House effort to suspend payroll taxes as a way to double down on his appeal to seniors and cast himself as the defender of Social Security.

  • Look for Trump to try and force Biden to take a more explicit position on the payroll tax suspension for those making less than $100,000.

Share this story.

6. What Biden would mean for Musk

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photos: Getty Images

Joe Biden wants to go big on climate change and big on unions. Elon Musk leads on the former but lags on the latter, Axios' Amy Harder writes in her weekly "Harder Line" column.

Catch up fast: Biden’s climate plan calls for renewable energy to largely replace oil, natural gas and coal and for a huge buildout of electric vehicles. He is also pushing clean-energy industries to embrace unions, which they largely have not.

  • Tesla falls somewhere between automaker and tech company. But Musk is a classic Silicon Valley CEO, most of whom eschew unions.

Keep reading.

7. New overnight: Hong Kong media tycoon arrested
Photo: AP

Hong Kong arrested media tycoon Jimmy Lai, 71, today and searched the headquarters of his Apple Daily and Next Digital group, carting away boxes of what they said was evidence, AP's Zen Soo reports.

  • Why it matters: This is the first time Hong Kong's new national security law has been used against news media.

Next Digital operates Apple Daily, a feisty pro-democracy tabloid that often condemns China's Communist Party government.

  • Next Digital said Lai was charged with collusion with foreign powers.

Below: Police inside Apple Daily headquarters in Hong Kong.

Photo: Apple Daily via AP
8. Remembering Bank of America's Jim Mahoney

Photo: Barry Chin/The Boston Globe

Jim Mahoney, 67, a Bank of America executive who was a friend for more than a dozen years, has sadly lost his long fight after a bike accident in Boston last year.

  • Jim was always a big supporter and encourager of what Jim VandeHei, Roy Schwartz and I were up to at Politico and now Axios. He was always curious, and loved trading gossip in hotel bars. And I do mean trade: Jim stayed wired into the Democratic political world where he made a mark in his youth.

The Boston Globe's Larry Edelman has the story of a worthy life:

Mahoney, an experienced cyclist, suffered a head injury after falling from his bike while riding with a friend ...
Mahoney ... spent the past 25 years at Bank of America and its predecessor, FleetBoston Financial, most recently as executive vice president and global corporate strategy and public policy executive. ... [H]e worked closely with vice chairman Anne Finucane and chief executive Brian Moynihan.
Mahoney served four years as chief spokesman for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston ... Prior to the Boston Fed he worked in politics, volunteering for the unsuccessful 1980 presidential campaign of Jerry Brown ...
Mahoney later worked as an aide and spokesman for US Representative Joseph P. Kennedy II of Massachusetts.
9. Time capsule
Via Twitter

The Sacramento Bee's front page yesterday marked California's sad milestone of 10,000 coronavirus-related deaths, reached Friday.

10. 🦈 Amid pandemic, even Shark Week gets serious

French artist Sam Dougados marked Shark Week last year by raking a 50-meter fish in the sand of Côte des Basques beach in Biarritz. Photo: Iroz Gaizka/AFP via Getty Images

Ocean spots cleared of fishing boats by quarantines saw increased and even unusual marine life behavior — and Discovery Channel’s Shark Week jumped through hoops to capitalize on the window, AP's Lynn Elber writes.

  • The 32nd annual slate of all things shark, airing this week with a record two-dozen shows, includes a pair taped earlier this year during the lull.

Tonight, 8 ET: In "Abandoned Waters," researchers were able to closely observe great whites near Australia’s Neptune Islands minus the usual fishing and tourism traffic.

Mike Allen

📱 Thanks for reading Axios AM. Please invite your friends to sign up here.