💽 Good Tuesday morning.
Situational awareness: Milwaukee will host the Democratic National Convention, July 13-16, 2020. Republicans will gather in Charlotte, Aug. 24-27, 2020.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
Johnson & Johnson was the "kingpin" that fueled America's opioid crisis, serving as a top supplier, seller and lobbyist, according to the Oklahoma official leading the legal fight against the companies that helped create the crisis, Axios health care business reporter Bob Herman writes.
The first big trial of the opioid epidemic is set to begin in May in Oklahoma. It will set the stage for similar litigation in other states, as well as the consolidated nationwide lawsuit that has been compared to the tobacco litigation of the 1990s.
The intrigue: Johnson & Johnson may be better known for selling Band-Aids and baby powder, but the company has an extensive history with prescription painkillers.
That's not all: Oklahoma is alleging J&J targeted vulnerable populations, including children and older adults, for painkiller prescriptions. The state also says J&J funded groups that aggressively advocated for easy access to opioids.
J&J urged the Oklahoma court to deny the attorney general's request, saying the state is seeking "sensationalistic headlines and to poison potential jurors."
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
The prospect of corporate breakups isn't Silicon's biggest worry, Axios' Scott Rosenberg and Ina Fried report:
Why it matters: If executives are busy answering lawmaker inquiries and defending regulator lawsuits, they're less likely to be protecting their businesses from upstart challengers.
The bottom line: No tech giant has ever been split up by courts, regulators or legislators.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced last night that the U.S. is pulling the remaining staff from its embassy in Venezuela, citing the deteriorating situation in the South American nation, AP reports:
The mood in Caracas, the capital, was desperate.
Acts of kindness: People whose food would rot in refrigerators without power donated it to a restaurant, which cooked it for charities and hospitals.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee of Boston, the British computer scientist credited with inventing the World Wide Web, writes 30 years after his proposal on March 12, 1989, for "linked information systems" that include hypertext:
"And while the web has created opportunity, given marginalized groups a voice, and made our daily lives easier, it has also created opportunity for scammers, given a voice to those who spread hatred, and made all kinds of crime easier."
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Sallie Krawcheck was one of the most senior women in the male-dominated world of Wall Street.
Did you know that for a long time after the financial crisis, diversity went backwards on Wall Street? And it's actually not unusual for industries that go through a period of crisis [to] circle the wagons.
And what I saw was, "We'd love to promote this woman or this person of color, but we can't take the risk." And so everybody reverts to their comfort, and uses that excuse, the fact that we're in the midst of this battle.
Why it matters: We're in the midst of a long economic expansion, low unemployment and a record run for stocks. But there are plenty of economic storm clouds on the horizon. So if Krawcheck is correct, corporate America's push for greater employee diversity may have peaked.
Has President Trump done anything that has been good for America?
Do you see yourself in this new generation of women lawmakers?
Do you believe Trump fit to be president?
She portrays Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner as two children forged by their domineering fathers — one overinvolved with his son, one disengaged from his daughter — who have climbed to positions of power by disregarding protocol and skirting the rules when they can. And Ms. Ward tries to unravel the narrative that the two serve as stabilizing voices inside an otherwise chaotic White House, depicting them instead as Mr. Trump’s chief enablers. ...
Ms. Trump and Mr. Kushner wanted to control who could travel on trips funded by the State Department, Ms. Ward wrote, citing a source at the department. Ms. Trump also often requested to travel on Air Force planes when it was not appropriate. When Rex W. Tillerson, the former secretary of state, would deny the requests, the couple would invite along a cabinet secretary, often Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, to get access to a plane.
Response from Peter Mirijanian, spokesperson for Abbe Lowell, attorney for Jared Kushner:
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 37, who would beat JFK as the youngest American to be elected president, tells Dan Primack's Pro Rata podcast that we're largely behind China on artificial intelligence:
🥊 P.S. Sizing up the candidates' South by Southwest appearances, BBC North America reporter Anthony Zurcher writes:
Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum tells me she hopes the Democratic National Committee will reconsider, saying tough debate questions aren't "an attack — it's a challenge."
The top anchors said they were disappointed by the DNC's rejection of Fox News as a host for one of the 12 party-sanctioned 2020 debates.
The DNC's debate announcement says candidates aren't barred from "forums" in which one candidate appears on stage at a time.
Executives at Fox News say they're open to sponsoring a televised town hall — albeit one without the imprimatur of the Democratic Party.
Minimalist phones, in small sizes with limited functions, have gained a following with smartphone addicts trying to break their habit, per a Wall Street Journal A-hed by Sarah Krouse (subscription):
The new crop of minimalist phones, priced around $300 to $350, help wean you off premium models that keep them constantly connected.