Nov 25, 2019

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

🦃 Good Monday morning.

  • 🚗 Breaking: Uber has lost its license to operate in London, one of its biggest markets, but can continue to operate during an appeal process. (WSJ)
1 big thing: Minimum wage surprise

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Eighteen states rang in 2019 with minimum wage increases — some that will ultimately rise as high as $15 an hour. So far, opponents' dire predictions of job losses haven't come true, Axios' Stef Kight and Dion Rabouin report.

  • Why it matters: The data paints a clear picture. Higher minimum wage requirements haven't reduced hiring in low-wage industries or overall.

The state of play: Opponents have long argued that raising the minimum wage will cause workers to lose their jobs and prompt fast food chains (and other stores) to raise prices. But job losses and price hikes haven't been pronounced in the aftermath of a recent wave of city and state wage-boost laws.

  • "The minimum wage increase is not showing the detrimental effects people once would’ve predicted," Diane Swonk, chief economist at international accounting firm Grant Thornton, tells Axios.

The doom-and-gloom that opponents have predicted, "are part of the political policy debate," Jeffrey Clemens, an economics professor at UC San Diego, tells Axios.

Where it stands: As of July, "14 states plus the District of Columbia — home to 35% of Americans — have minimum wages above $10 per hour, as do numerous localities scattered across other states," according to the N.Y. Fed.

  • Laws in New York, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey will eventually increase minimum wages to $15 per hour.

Between the lines: There could still be negative long-term effects, such as businesses choosing to locate in states with lower minimum wage requirements, according to the N.Y. Fed's study.

2. China Cables: Human repression, at scale
This satellite image shows one of a number of internment camps in China's Xinjiang region. Photo: Planet Labs via AP

Classified directives, leaked via a chain of exiled Uighurs, lay out the Chinese government's strategy for locking up more than 1 million ethnic minorities even before they commit a crime, to rewire their thoughts and language, AP reports.

  • Why it matters: The documents give the most significant description yet of high-tech mass detention in the 21st century.
  • They spell out a vast system that targets, surveils and grades entire ethnicities to forcibly assimilate and subdue them — especially Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim Turkic minority of more than 10 million people with their own language and culture.

The six directives, published by news organizations around the world in conjunction with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, follows a different cache that was revealed by the N.Y. Times 10 days ago.

  • The papers show how Beijing is pioneering a new form of social control using data and artificial intelligence.

Go deeper: Download the original documents + English translations.

3. Pro-democracy landslide in Hong Kong

Supporters of pro-democracy candidate Angus Wong celebrate after he won in district council elections in Hong Kong. Photo: Vincent Yu/AP

"Pro-democracy candidates buoyed by months of street protests in Hong Kong won a stunning victory in local elections ... [R]ecord numbers voted in a vivid expression of the city's ... anger with the Chinese government," the N.Y. Times reports.

  • Why it matters: "It was a pointed rebuke of Beijing and its allies in Hong Kong."
  • "[T]he turnout — seven in 10 eligible voters — suggested that the public continues to back the democracy movement, even as the protests grow increasingly violent."

"With three million voters casting ballots, pro-democracy candidates captured 389 of 452 elected seats, up from only 124 and far more than they have ever won."

  • "The government’s allies held just 58 seats, a remarkable collapse from 300."
4. Pic du jour: D'oh!
Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP

The Redskins' Dwayne Haskins went MIA on the final play of his first win as an NFL quarterback — and the 2-9 Skins' first home win in more than a year.

  • Instead, he was posing for a selfie.

"The rookie quarterback was excited over the 19-16 win over the Detroit Lions, ... and he apparently didn’t realize that he was needed for one final kneeldown," the WashPost reports.

  • "I was so hype I think I broke a water bottle," Haskins said. "I look up and we were in victory [formation] and said, 'Oh, I thought the game was over with already.' But I’ll get it next time."
5. Trump gets his way on SEAL

Screenshot via Fox News

Defense Secretary Mark Esper fired Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, ending a stunning clash between President Trump and top military leadership over the fate of a SEAL accused of war crimes in Iraq, AP's Bob Burns writes.

  • Why it matters: The controversy exposed fissures in Trump's relationship with the highest ranks of the U.S. military, and raised questions about the appropriate role of a commander-in-chief in matters of military justice.

Esper said he had lost confidence in Spencer, alleging that the Navy secretary proposed a deal with the White House behind his back to resolve the SEAL's case.

  • Trump has championed Navy Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, who was acquitted of murder in the stabbing death of an Islamic State militant captive. But he was convicted of posing with the corpse while in Iraq in 2017.

The bottom line: Esper directed that Gallagher will be allowed to retire Nov. 30 as a SEAL at his current rank — giving Trump and the SEAL what they want.

6. What Mike Bloomberg is thinking
In 2004, Mayor Bloomberg shows off the open-office "bullpen," then revolutionary, that he brought to City Hall. Photo: Ramin Talaie/Corbis via Getty Images

Ignoring early states and refusing donations, Michael Bloomberg is trying an unorthodox route to the Democratic nomination that's based on skipping the usual slog and running a national campaign against President Trump from Day 1.

  • Polling shows a daunting road.
  • But Bloomberg insiders tell me the 77-year-old billionaire calculates that he has room to grow rapidly, since his backstory as a businessman, philanthropist and successful New York mayor isn't well known.

One of the tabs on Bloomberg's website, which went live yesterday, is "Getting Stuff Done."

  • The plan is to show him as the antipathy of Trump: programmatic, disciplined, focused.
  • But voters want an emotional connection, one of Bloomberg's challenges.

First look ... Bloomberg today will announce a hot surrogate: journalist and author Tim O’Brien is becoming a senior adviser to the campaign, leaving his role as executive editor of Bloomberg Opinion.

  • The former N.Y. Times reporter and editor got to depose Trump after the mogul sued him in 2006 over O'Brien's biography, "TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald." The case was tossed in 2011.
  • From the forthcoming release: "O’Brien will advise the Bloomberg campaign on strategy, policy, and messaging, and serve as a surrogate."
7. Bloomberg News won't investigate Dems

Bloomberg News editor-in-chief John Micklethwait said in a note to editorial staff that the company will extend its policy of not investigating its owner, Michael Bloomberg, to all Democrats running for president in 2020, writes Axios' Sara Fischer.

  • Why it matters: The company has struggled to determine how it would cover the race and Bloomberg as a candidate, given that its company policies prohibit the newsroom from covering Bloomberg's wealth or personal life, or stories about the company itself.
8. Axios series: "20 years of Putin"

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

For a special report on "20 years of Putin," Axios World editor Dave Lawler spoke with Mikhail Khodorkovsky — the oligarch whose imprisonment in 2003 revealed Putin's ruthlessness to the world — as well as three former U.S. ambassadors to Moscow, leading experts and former chiefs of the Pentagon and CIA.

  • Behind the scenes: Michael McFaul, who served as U.S. ambassador to Russia under Barack Obama, crossed paths with Putin in St. Petersburg in the 1990s. "My strongest memory was that he made no memory," McFaul says.

Part one lands in inboxes today for subscribers of the Axios World newsletter. 

9. Ken Burns' latest: "College Behind Bars"
Courtesy Skiff Mountain Films

PBS' new documentary series "College Behind Bars" takes viewers "inside the Bard Prison Initiative, which offers a rare opportunity for select inmates in New York’s state prison system to enroll" in Bard College's curriculum, writes WashPost's Hank Stuever.

  • Of the 300 participants, "recidivism ... is down to 4 percent, compared with a 50 percent rate overall."

The four-parter, which airs tonight and tomorrow, is executive-produced by Ken Burns and is the solo directorial debut of his longtime partner, Lynn Novick.

10. 1 🎵 thing
Taylor Swift with her bling. Photo John Shearer/Getty Images

Taylor Swift, who was honored as Artist of the Decade at the American Music Awards last night, "kept the digs subtle and far between" regarding her recent dispute with her former record label over the right to perform her past hits, writes Variety.

  • She also took home five awards during the show, bringing her career total to 28 and breaking Michael Jackson's all-time record in the process, per Entertainment Weekly.
Mike Allen

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