April 22, 2024

๐ŸŒ It's Earth Day, with the theme "Planet vs. Plastics." Smart Brevityโ„ข count: 1,396 words ... 5 mins. Thanks to Noah Bressner for orchestrating. Copy edited by Bryan McBournie.

๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Breaking: The head of Israeli military intelligence resigned today, becoming the first senior official to quit over Hamas' terrorist attack of Oct. 7. Get the latest.

1 big thing: College protest crackdown

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Colleges are cracking down on pro-Palestinian protests that administrators say are getting increasingly disruptive, Axios' April Rubin writes.

  • Why it matters: It's a stark pivot from just a few years ago, when colleges bolstered diversity, equity and inclusion programs and course offerings in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests.

๐Ÿ”Ž Zoom in: Tensions at Columbia bubbled over after university president Minouche Shafik last week called in the NYPD to disband a pro-Palestinian encampment at the center of campus.

  • The University of Michigan said it will draft a new policy on punishable disruptive behavior following a pro-Palestinian protest at its convocation.
  • The University of Southern California canceled its valedictorian's commencement speech, citing safety concerns that the student called a "campaign of racist hatred."
  • Stanford banned overnight camping in February to end an encampment populated by dueling pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli tents, citing student safety, extreme weather and rodents.
Today's NY Post cover
Today's N.Y. Post cover

๐ŸŽ“ In response to pro-Palestinian protests at Columbia over the weekend, President Biden said as part of a Passover statement yesterday: "Even in recent days, we've seen harassment and calls for violence against Jews."

  • "This blatant Antisemitism is reprehensible and dangerous โ€” and it has absolutely no place on college campuses, or anywhere in our country."

๐Ÿข The new toughness extends to the workplace. Today's Wall Street Journal front page: "Bosses are losing patience with staff eager to be the conscience of their companies."

  • "The moves are a correction to the last several years, when corporate leaders often brooked dissent and encouraged staff to voice their personal convictions." (Gift link)

Go deeper: Pro-Palestinian demonstrations at Columbia are drawing backlash from members of Congress and the White House.

2. ๐Ÿ—บ๏ธ Trump's shadow diplomacy

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Ateve Parsons via Getty Images

Former President Trump's meetings with foreign heads of state have begun ruffling feathers in the diplomatic community โ€” and the Biden administration, Axios' Sophia Cai writes.

  • One recent meeting โ€” between Trump and Javier Milei, Argentina's right-wing president โ€” seems to have particularly irritated Biden's team.

Why it matters: Trump turned Milei's hug into what amounted to a viral campaign ad, and he has hosted other foreign leaders at Mar-a-Lago and Trump Tower.

The reaction showed the complex politics as Trump, the presumed GOP nominee, eagerly tries to show international leaders he's back.

  • Biden administration officials privately questioned whether some of Trump's meetings were appropriate.
  • President Biden has jumped at the chance to accuse Trump of aligning with strongmen and dictators.

Trump recently hosted Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a Putin ally, at Mar-a-Lago.

  • Between his court appearances in Manhattan last week, Trump had dinner with Polish President Andrzej Duda at Trump Tower.
  • Trump spoke recently with Saudi Arabia's Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the N.Y. Times reported.

Trump senior adviser Jason Miller said Ukraine President Volodymr Zelensky invited Trump to visit โ€” but Trump said "it would not be appropriate for him to go to Ukraine right now because there's only one commander-in-chief. But foreign leaders stopping by to say 'hi' is another thing entirely. That's about respect."

3. โš–๏ธ Today: Trump opening arguments

Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios
Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

For the first time in history, prosecutors โ€” beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET today in Manhattan โ€” will present a criminal case against a former American president to a jury.

  • After opening arguments, David Pecker โ€” the former National Enquirer publisher who bought stories about Donald Trump in order to bury them ("catch and kill") โ€” is expected to be the first prosecution witness.
  • The trial could keep Trump occupied four days a week for the next five weeks or more.

๐Ÿ—ž๏ธ Liz Cheney, former vice chair of the House Jan. 6 committee, writes in a New York Times op-ed today that the Supreme Court should rule swiftly on Trump's immunity claim so the Jan. 6 case can be tried before the election:

"I know how Mr. Trump's delay tactics work. ... If Mr. Trump's tactics prevent his Jan. 6 trial from proceeding in the ordinary course, he will also have succeeded in concealing critical evidence from the American people."

Gift link.

4. ๐ŸŒ‰ Surprise! Bridges are getting safer

U.S. bridges in <span style="background: #14A0FF; color: white; padding:5px">good/fair</span> or <span style="background: #FFA514; color: white; padding:5px">poor</span> condition
Data: USDOT National Bridge Inventory. Chart: Will Chase/Axios

America's bridge infrastructure โ€”ย long seen as dysfunctional โ€”ย has been steadily improving for the past 20 years, Axios' Will Chase writes.

  • Why it matters: The share of bridges rated poor by the federal government fell from 15% in 2000 to 6.8% in 2023.

๐Ÿงฎ By the numbers: Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan collectively house 40% of neglected bridges.

  • One factor is the bridges' age. Pennsylvania, which tops the list of neglected bridges, has 2,000 bridges built 100+ years ago.
  • Texas, with a single neglected bridge, has just 311 century-old bridges.

Explore the data.

5. ๐Ÿฆพ Exclusive: AI computer on your ears

Iyo CEO Jason Rugalo, wearing the company's prototype wearable computer. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

VANCOUVER, Canada โ€” Iyo CEO Jason Rugolo, who debuted a new wearable computer at last week's TED conference, aims to follow Humane's AI Pin and yet avoid that company's missteps, Axios' Ina Fried writes.

  • Why it matters: The AI era is inspiring lots of hardware experiments.

Rugalo demonstrated the Iyo One, a wearable computer featuring two large earbuds, custom-fit for the wearer. It can augment sounds from the real world, while responding quickly to voice queries.

  • The Iyo One computer packs a lot of hardware โ€” including 10 microphones โ€” into metallic discs the size of a half-dollar.

The company was spun out of Google parent Alphabet's X moonshot, where Rugolo began developing the product six years ago. Iyo has raised $21 million in funding, including from Alphabet.

  • Iyo is taking deposits now and aims to ship the product this winter, with the WiFi version expected to cost $599 and the cellular-equipped version estimated at $699.

See the Iyo One ... Keep reading.

6. ๐Ÿ—ณ๏ธ Doug Sosnik: Trump's map edge

Swing states that are expected to decide the 2024 presidential election
Data: Cook Political Report. Map: Axios Visuals

Just over six months from Nov. 5, longtime Democratic adviser Doug Sosnik tells me that while either candidate can win, President Biden has the narrower, tougher path to 270 electoral college votes, for three reasons:

  1. The electoral college favors Republicans: The last two Republican presidents were first elected despite losing the popular vote.
  2. Biden can no longer count on carrying Michigan, which voted overwhelmingly Democratic in the past three election cycles.
  3. Biden's 2020 victories in the Sunbelt battleground states โ€” Arizona, Nevada and Georgia โ€” were due to his overwhelming support from young and non-white voters. Polling shows Biden has suffered a significant erosion with these voters during his presidency.

๐Ÿšจ Sosnik maps (literally) various road-to-270 scenarios for Biden and former President Trump in an interactive N.Y. Times op-ed, and warns Dems about Minnesota:

"Recent polling shows Mr. Biden with a narrow lead in Minnesota, a state that usually votes for Democrats for president. While it is mathematically possible for Mr. Biden to win without carrying Minnesota, it is unlikely he will be elected if he cannot carry this traditionally Democratic state."

The bottom line: "My analysis of voter history and polling," Sosnik writes, "shows a map that currently favors Mr. Trump, even though [new abortion restrictions] in Arizona improve Mr. Biden's chances."

  • Go deeper: Mike Pence slams Trump on abortion ... in the N.Y. Times!

7. ๐Ÿช– 1,000-troop withdrawal

A direction and distance marker at Air Base 201 in Niger.
Air Base 201 in Niger. Photo: Carley Petesch/AP

The U.S. military will withdraw 1,000+ troops from Niger, in West Africa, after the country's army seized power in a coup.

  • Why it matters: The troops are part of U.S. counterterrorism efforts against ISIS and an al-Qaeda affiliate in the region, Reuters reports.

The junta is shifting its allegiance toward the Kremlin.

8. ๐Ÿซ“ Passover starts tonight

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Passover โ€” the Jewish holiday symbolizing freedom โ€”ย starts at sundown tonight, Axios' Kelly Tyko writes.

  • Why it matters: The holiday will be a particularly emotional one because of the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

The holiday, also called Pesach in Hebrew, is observed for about a week in the U.S.

  • It commemorates the Biblical story of the Jewish people's escape from slavery in ancient Egypt.

Antisemitic incidents in the U.S. more than doubled last year from 2022 (which also broke records), according to the Anti-Defamation League.

  • In Israel, some families are torn on how โ€” or whether โ€” to celebrate.
  • Last week, the FBI said it's on alert for potential threats to American Jews.

Go deeper: How the Maxwell House Haggadah became the most popular Passover prayer book.

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