May 1, 2021

Axios AM

👒 Happy May Day and Derby Day! Smart Brevity™ count: 990 words ... < 4 minutes.

🎮 On Monday, we're launching a weekday newsletter, Axios Gaming, which will explore the multibillion-dollar video-gaming universe, from the hottest games to the most interesting studios and players. Get it here

1 big thing ... Scoop: GOP leaders threaten Cheney ouster
Rep. Liz Cheney speaks to President Biden before his Wednesday speech to a joint session of Congress. Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Top Republicans are turning on House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney, the party’s highest-ranking woman in Congress — with one key conservative suggesting she could be ousted from leadership within a month, Axios' Jonathan Swan, Glen Johnson and Alayna Treene report.

  • Why it matters: The comments by House Republican Whip Steve Scalise and Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, chair of the Republican Study Committee, carry weight because of their close relationship with House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Banks, leader of the largest conservative caucus in the House, told Axios that criticisms by Cheney are "an unwelcome distraction," and he questioned whether she would retain her leadership role in a month.

  • Banks indicated he thought Cheney wasn’t focused enough on winning back the majority, and said the dissatisfaction with her leadership ran throughout the House GOP rank and file.
  • Banks' comments were echoed more diplomatically by Scalise of Louisiana, the No. 2 Republican in the House, who told Axios: "This idea that you just disregard President Trump is not where we are, and, frankly, he has a lot to offer still."

A Cheney spokesperson declined to comment.

  • Cheney, the No. 3 House GOP leader, says she's committed to regaining Republican control of the House and Senate in 2022.

Cheney told reporters this week at a House Republican retreat in Orlando that anyone challenging the 2020 election results should be disqualified from a presidential campaign in 2024 — and she wouldn't rule out a run.

  • McCarthy responded: "If you're sitting here at a retreat that's focused on policy ... and you're talking about something else, you're not being productive."

Asked whether Cheney will retain her leadership position in a month, Banks said: "I don't know."

  • “That’s up to her," he added. "I think a lot of us would like to see her join the team."

Share this story.

2. Forecast calls for violent summer

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Homicides are trending up nationwide, signaling what's likely to be a violent summer, Bryan Walsh writes in Axios Future.

  • Why it matters: We're still a long way from the murderous days of the 1990s. But rising gun violence is destroying lives and complicating efforts to help cities recover from COVID.

From Washington to Louisville, New York to Oakland, and Kansas City to Atlanta, murder rates are trending up in U.S. cities large and small.

  • A sample of 37 cities with data available for the first three months of 2021, collected by the crime analyst Jeff Asher, indicates murders are up 18% over the same period in 2020. (N.Y. Times)

Between the lines: Criminologists haven't settled on a single explanation for why violent crime dropped drastically from the 1990s. They're even less certain why it's risen so dramatically over the past 16 months.

  • Effects of the pandemic almost certainly play a major role, with in-person schools closed and unemployment skyrocketing.
  • But property crimes like robberies mostly continued falling. Historically there's no clear link between periods of economic disruption and murder rates.
  • 2020 saw a historic increase in firearms purchases — especially among first-time buyers.

What's next: Homicide rates historically soar during the summer.

3. Rise of centenarians

Photo illustration: Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari for The New York Times

The UN estimates that there were about 95,000 humans who were 100+ in 1990, and more than 450,000 in 2015. By 2100, there will be 25 million, Ferris Jabr writes in the Health Issue of the N.Y. Times Magazine:

Biologists think life span is largely determined by a species’ anatomy and lifestyle. ... We most likely inherited fairly long life spans from our last common ancestor with chimpanzees, which may have been a large, intelligent, social ape that lived in trees away from ground predators. But we never out-evolved the eventual senescence that is part of being a complex animal with all manner of metabolically costly adaptations and embellishments.

Here's what we have to look forward to:

As the years pass, our chromosomes contract and fracture, genes turn on and off haphazardly, mitochondria break down, proteins unravel or clump together, reserves of regenerative stem cells dwindle, bodily cells stop dividing, bones thin, muscles shrivel, neurons wither, organs become sluggish and dysfunctional, the immune system weakens and self-repair mechanisms fail. There is no programmed death clock ticking away inside us — no precise expiration date hard-wired into our species — but, eventually, the human body just can’t keep going.

Keep reading (subscription).

  • Go deeper (subscription): "How Humanity Gave Itself an Extra Life ... Between 1920 and 2020, the average human life span doubled. ... Science mattered — but so did activism."
4. Pictures of America: National Cathedral adds Elie Wiesel carving
Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The bust of the late Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel was unveiled yesterday after it was carved on the Human Rights Porch of the Washington National Cathedral.

  • The Cathedral called the addition of Wiesel "a permanent reminder that each of us are called to vigilance and steadfastness on behalf of others."

Go deeper.

5. Ethnic-studies programs grow in K-12 schools

Fourth-graders study English at the Star School, a charter school in Leupp, Ariz., that wants to revitalize Navajo language and culture. Photo: Douglas Curran/AFP via Getty Images

More K-12 schools are incorporating ethnic studies, which expands U.S. history beyond European contributions to include Native Americans, Latino and Black experiences, Axios' Oriana Gonzalez writes.

  • Why it matters: Racial justice protests over the last year have pushed some states and school boards to rethink how history is taught.

Keep reading.

6. Mapping Afghanistan shows Taliban gains
Source: Long War Journal. Graphic: AP

Mapping the long war in Afghanistan is increasingly challenging ahead of the withdrawal of U.S. forces, AP's Jon Gambrell writes:

  • A March report by the Congressional Research Service, an arm of Congress, warned: "By many measures, the Taliban are in a stronger military position now than at any point since 2001."
7. Remembering Eli Broad who reshaped L.A.

"Eli Broad made his billions building homes, and then he used that wealth — and the considerable collection of world-class modern art he assembled with his wife — to shape the city around him," the L.A. Times' Elaine Woo writes.

  • Active and still looking ahead until late in life, Broad died at 87 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. A cause of death wasn't given.
8. 1 span thing
Photo: Violeta Santos Moura/Reuters

The world's longest pedestrian suspension bridge opens to the public Monday in Arouca, Portugal.

  • Held up by steel cables and two massive towers on each side, the 1,693-foot-long, 570-foot-high bridge wobbles a little with every step, Reuters reports.
Photo: Violeta Santos Moura/Reuters

📬 Please invite your friends, family, colleagues to sign up here for Axios AM and Axios PM.