October 15, 2020

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 574 words, a 2-minute read.

🚨Situational awareness:

  1. C-SPAN has suspended Steve Scully, who was set to anchor the presidential debate tonight before it was canceled, over falsely claiming his Twitter account was hacked. Statement.
  2. The Senate is set to subpoena Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for blocking N.Y. Post articles on Hunter Biden. (Axios Re:Cap)
  3. The FCC’s general counsel says it has the legal authority to interpret Section 230, which largely immunizes online platforms from being liable for what others post.

1 big thing: Europe's monster 2nd wave

Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

After a summer of progress, Europe is once again a global hotspot for COVID-19.

Why it matters: The question is less whether these countries can quickly return to the relative calm of August than whether they can avoid a return to April's brutal reality, writes Axios' Dave Lawler.

  • “We’re probably just seeing the beginning part of the increase in hospitalizations and deaths,” which tend to lag three or four weeks behind a spike in cases, says Stephen Kessler, a researcher at Harvard.

Between the lines: That doesn’t mean the unprecedented spike in cases across Europe will necessarily translate to unprecedented death tolls, Kessler says, both because of increased testing and improved treatments.

  • The outlook is nonetheless grim. Hans Kluge, the WHO’s director for Europe, said today that if the current trajectory holds, death rates will be four or five times higher in January than they were in April.

The big picture: The U.S. is facing its third wave, even as President Trump recycles optimistic language from this spring.

  • Trump on Feb. 26: "Within a couple days is going to be down close to zero."
  • Trump today: The virus will "peter out" soon.

The bottom line: Governments on both continents are highly reluctant to impose the sorts of strict lockdowns that snapped into place last March.

  • "The only thing that we know works and works very effectively is pretty strict lockdown," Kessler says. "That said, I do think that there’s a lot we can do in the middle ground to mitigate the spread of the virus."

2. Pic du jour

Photo: Wendy Tumminello

A motorcyclist dons a "Ridin with Biden 2020" sign on his jacket while zipping through Pennsylvania.

3. Catch up quick

  1. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) will pause her travel after her communications director tested positive for the coronavirus. Go deeper.
  2. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell won't put a potential $1.8 trillion+ stimulus deal on the Senate floor, he said. Go deeper.
  3. NBC News is facing internal backlash for agreeing to air a town hall with President Trump at the same time that former Vice President Joe Biden will appear at an ABC town hall — 8 p.m. ET. Go deeper.
  4. The Biden administration's top priority, after virus control, will be "building a fiscal bridge to the other side of the crisis," said a senior adviser. Go deeper.
  5. Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, in a private call with constituents, excoriated President Trump, "saying he had mishandled the coronavirus response, 'kisses dictators' butts,' 'sells out our allies,' spends 'like a drunken sailor,' mistreats women, and trash-talks evangelicals." (Washington Examiner)

4. 1 tree thing

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Allowing trees to regrow naturally is increasingly being seen as a tool for combatting climate change, Axios' Alison Snyder reports.

  • It can be done at a large and cost-effective scale because it doesn't require preparing the soil, growing, transporting and planting seedlings, or maintaining the sites like tree planting does, says Robin Chazdon, a professor emerita at the University of Connecticut.
  • "Nature does take time to heal, and that time may be the cost," says Yale University's Mark Ashton.