Aug 8, 2020

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

🏖️ Happy Saturday! Today's Smart Brevity™ count: 1,078 words ... 4 minutes.

Situational awareness: Joe Arpaio, who loved being known as "America’s Toughest Sheriff," lost his second comeback bid for the job he held in metro Phoenix for 24 years — this time in a GOP primary, after being voted out in 2016. (Arizona Republic)

1 big thing: What works in online school

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Some educators and startups are treating remote learning as an experiment, and have found some solutions amid its immense frustrations, Erica Pandey writes:

1. Teachers are taking advantage of the deconstructed school day's flexibility.

  • Jori Krulder, a high school teacher in Paradise, Calif., found time to do regular one-on-one conferencing with her students because of the looser schedule in the spring. She plans to continue through the fall.
  • Other teachers are recording lessons for students to watch on their own time, and using their video calls for personalized instruction.

2. The forced switch to remote learning is shaking up teaching and learning for the first time in decades.

  • Some are even thinking beyond letter grades. Many schools did away with grades amid the chaos in the spring. Now the new methods of evaluating students may carry over.

3. Pandemic-era remote learning has also spurred innovation and made way for new types of companies.

  • SitterStream, a Boston-based startup that launched at the beginning of the pandemic, is an Uber for child care. It offers on-demand virtual babysitting and tutoring to kids, both individually and in small pods.
  • Transportant, a Kansas startup, is working with school districts to turn buses into rolling WiFi hotspots for students without internet.

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2. "Unwanted Truths": Trump's war on intelligence
Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times

The N.Y. Times Magazine releases its cover feature for two Sundays from now — by Robert Draper, author of the magisterial new "To Start a War," on the run-up to the Iraq war — about President Trump’s battles with the intelligence services: 

Under Trump, intelligence officials have been placed in the unusual position of being pressured to justify the importance of their work, protect their colleagues from political retribution and demonstrate fealty to a president. Though intelligence officials have been loath to admit it publicly, the cumulative result has been devastating. ...
Trump has reordered their world and their work. As one of them told me: "The problem is that when you’ve been treated the way the intelligence community has, they become afraid of their own shadow. The most dangerous thing now is the churn — the not knowing who’s going to be fired, and what it is you might say that could cost you your job. It’s trying to put out something and not get creamed for it."

Keep reading (subscription).

3. 🔎 Russia, China, Iran said to pick 2020 sides

William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, issued a stunning "Election Threat Update for the American Public":

  • China wants Biden: "China prefers that President Trump — whom Beijing sees as unpredictable — does not win reelection. China has been expanding its influence efforts ahead of November 2020 to shape the policy environment in the United States."
  • Russia wants Trump: "Russia is using a range of measures to primarily denigrate former Vice President Biden and what it sees as an anti-Russia 'establishment.'"
  • Iran against Trump: "Iran seeks to undermine U.S. democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country ... Tehran’s motivation .... is, in part, driven by a perception that President Trump’s reelection would result in a continuation of U.S. pressure on Iran in an effort to foment regime change."

Between the lines: An American official briefed on the intelligence told the N.Y. Times' Julian E. Barnes that Russia "is a tornado, capable of inflicting damage on American democracy now. China is more like climate change, the official said: The threat is real and grave, but more long term."

4. Pic du jour: Oprah's message to Louisville

Photo: Dylan T. Lovan/AP

"O, The Oprah Magazine" is putting up 26 billboards around Louisville demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, killed by police in her own apartment in March — one billboard for each year of her life, per the Courier-Journal.

  • Taylor is on the cover of the magazine's September issue, out Tuesday —the first time Oprah isn't on the cover.
5. Trump vows solo virus aid

Members of President Trump's club in Bedminster, N.J., watched his presser. Most put on masks after reporters started tweeting pics. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump, speaking from a podium at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., announced that he'll issue executive orders suspending payroll taxes and extending enhanced unemployment benefits through the end of 2020, and halting student loan interest and payments indefinitely, Alayna Treene writes.

  • Why it matters: The impending orders come after talks between the White House and Democratic leadership collapsed.

What's next: Trump has a news conference @ 3:30 p.m. in Bedminster.

6. 🤡 That's a clown sanction, bro

Headline of the day, from Reuters: "U.S. sanctions branded 'clowning actions' as Hong Kong vows it won't be intimidated."

7. Warren, Clinton get prime convention slots
Where Joe Biden was supposed to celebrate. Photo: Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via Reuters

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton are both slated to speak on Wednesday of the Democratic convention — Aug. 19, Alexi McCammond and Hans Nichols report.

  • Why it matters: That's the same night Joe Biden's running mate (to be revealed next week) will address the nation.
  • Clinton and Warren are two of the most influential wise-women of Democratic politics, with the potential to turn out millions of establishment and progressive voters in November

Several primary rivals will give testimonials about Biden live or on video.

  • Sens. Warren, Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders have fuller-format speaking slots.

Democrats announced this week that their convention will be entirely virtual.

8. Amid V.P. frenzy, Whitmer met Biden
Screenshot via MSNBC

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer traveled to Delaware last Sunday to meet with Joe Biden as he nears a V.P. decision — their first known in-person session, AP's Dave Eggert reports from Lansing.

  • Flight records show a chartered plane left Lansing's Capital Region International Airport for Delaware Coastal Airport at 5:33 p.m. and returned at 11:16 p.m.
9. 🎓 New York back to school; Princeton reverses opening plan
Courtesy N.Y. Post

New York schools statewide can bring children back to classrooms for the start of the school year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced:

  • "Everywhere in the state, every region is below the threshold that we established," he told reporters, per AP.
  • Save this tape: "If any state can do this, we can do this."

Howard, Johns Hopkins and Princeton will be all-online this fall, per the WashPost. Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber said in a message to the university community:

We continue to hope that we will be able to welcome undergraduate students back to campus in the spring. If we are able to do so, our highest priority will be to bring back seniors in the Class of 2021.
10. Today marks 15 years in "The Situation Room"
Wolf Blitzer on the White House beat in 1993, along with NBC's Brian Williams, CBS' Rita Braver and ABC's Brit Hume. Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images H

Happening now ... Aug. 8, 2005 (Where were you?!) was the show's debut on CNN: "I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in The Situation Room, where news and information from around the world arrive in one place simultaneously!"

  • When the pandemic took off in the U.S. in March, Blitzer started working 7 days a week for 60+ days, until he took a Sunday off. Then he continued 7 days a week until he took a few days off.

Blitzer, who came to prominence as the quotable Washington correspondent for The Jerusalem Post, has been with CNN exactly 30 years, starting at the Pentagon, then moving to Bill Clinton's White House.

Mike Allen

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