May 22, 2019

Axios PM

Mike Allen

Happy Wednesday. Today's PM is 495 words.

1 big thing: America's rat renaissance

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

One not-fun consequence of booming cities is the scourge of rats, well fed by trash, warmed by climate change, and bringing new health threats and general grossness with them.

The big picture: “Everywhere I go, rat populations are up,” scientist Robert Corrigan tells the NYT.

  • He estimates that rat numbers may be up 15–25% in some municipalities, including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, D.C.

By the (horrifying) numbers, courtesy of National Geographic:

  • "[A] litter of nine pups 10 weeks into the year would grow to 270 pups by the 30th week and wrap up with a whopping 11,907 rats by year’s end."
  • "Rats usually reach sexual maturity by 12 weeks, and litters can vary from two to 14 pups."
  • "Reproductive rates are highly dependent on environment. The more shelter, food, and trash, the higher the rat count."

What's next: Cities are trying lots of things to fix their rat problems, and they're mostly failing.

  • Poisoning and suffocation (via dry ice) has mostly failed. Survivors can rapidly repopulate an area.
  • D.C. has even tried sterilizing the little devils.
  • On the other coast: "Rat-infested piles of rotting garbage left uncollected by the city of Los Angeles, even after promises to clean it up, are fueling concerns about a new epidemic after last year's record number of flea-borne typhus cases." (NBC 4 LA)

The bottom line: "Until cities radically change how they deal with their trash, Corrigan says, 'the rats are winning this war.'"

Bonus: Pic du jour
Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The USS Tornado sails past the Statue of Liberty during the Fleet Week Parade of Ships in New York Harbor.

2. What you missed
  1. Trump told reporters he will not negotiate with Democrats in Congress on an infrastructure package or other bipartisan policy proposals until they call off their investigations. Video.
  2. The Federal Reserve plans to remain "patient" in determining future moves in interest rates, even if "global economic and financial conditions continued to improve." Go deeper.
  3. Federal prosecutors in New York have indicted lawyer Michael Avenatti with more financial crimes, including misappropriating money intended for Stormy Daniels. Go deeper.
  4. New York's state legislature will permit tax officials to turn over Trump's state returns to any one of three congressional committees. [NYT]
  5. Scott Gottlieb, who recently stepped down as the head of the FDA, has rejoined venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates as a full-time investing partner. Details.
  6. Georgia's abortion ban has sparked a slow-moving protest of filmmakers in a state known for its heavy hand in the film industry. Details.
3. 1 Game thing

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, HBO programming president Casey Bloys says there are only prequels coming for Game of Thrones, so don't expect to hear more from Arya Stark.

He also weighs in on the end of the series that wrapped Sunday:

  • "The only thing, in terms of how this season was received, I think [Hollywood Reporter's TV critic] had the right take — which is, this is a huge, sprawling, massively popular show and it ended in exactly the right way and probably the only way it could — which is some of the fans being unhappy and some of the fans being thrilled."
  • "You can't end such a giant show pleasing everybody, and I don't think that's what Dan and David were trying to do."

Dive in.

Mike Allen