Sep 18, 2020

Axios PM

Happy Friday! Today's PM — edited by Shane Savitsky — is 521 words, a 2-minute read.

🏥 Situational awareness: U.S. health officials "dropped a controversial piece of coronavirus guidance and said anyone who has been in close contact with an infected person should get tested." (AP)

1 big thing: TikTok in limbo

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump took to the White House podium this afternoon, and left a TikTok deal hanging in limbo.

  • "So we have some great options and maybe we can keep a lot of people happy," Trump punted when asked about a potential timeline.

The state of play: Hours earlier, the Commerce Department issued an order blocking new downloads of the app, along with Tencent-owned WeChat, in the U.S. as of Sunday.

  • It would allow TikTok to continue operating through at least Nov. 12 — after Election Day — for those who already have it on their phones.
  • By removing TikTok from U.S. app stores, it would likely prevent any updates or security patches to the app after this weekend.

Between the lines, via Axios' Dan Primack: It's surprising that Commerce got ahead of Trump — were he to accept TikTok's proposed deal with Oracle, then there would be no need for the Commerce rules.

  • It's also worth remembering that TikTok has an existing lawsuit to block the executive order that banned it, based on both process and substance (it has a better chance of winning on the former than on the latter).
  • Without an announcement from Trump, expect TikTok to file for an emergency injunction before courts close in California.

The bottom line: Don't lose sight of how abnormal this all is.

  • A company with hundreds of U.S. employees and around 100 million U.S. users waited for most of the day to see if one man would publicly decide if it can continue operating.

🎧 Go deeper: The "Axios Re:Cap" podcast digs into how TikTok users have responded to the drama with the New York Times' Taylor Lorenz.

2. A very different Rosh Hashanah
Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images

Above, Jewish worshipers practice social distancing inside dividing walls while taking part in a Rosh Hashanah prayer at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Worthy of your time ... The pandemic-era High Holy Days are set to look and feel different across the globe as synagogue services move online and families limit their gatherings, writes the New York Times' Ruth Graham.

  • "I just have this incredible overarching sense of loss. Loss on a personal level, loss on a communal level, loss on a societal level," said Sandy Kahn, president of The Riverdale Minyan, a Bronx synagogue.

🍎🍯 However you're celebrating, Shana Tova to you and yours!

Bonus: Pic du jour

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Above, voters in Leesburg, Virginia, arrive for the state's first day of early voting.

  • "Is there a more 2020 photo than this one?" asks CQ Roll Call's Niels Lesniewski.
3. Catch up quick
  1. Three years after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the White House authorized $11.6 billion in federal aid and FEMA grants to rebuild infrastructure. Go deeper.
  2. House Democrats asked for a review into the DOJ’s Trump-Russia investigation, led by U.S. Attorney John Durham, arguing it could "improperly influence the upcoming presidential election." Catch up quick.
  3. United Airlines asked Congress and the White House to restart talks on coronavirus aid, warning that it may be forced to furlough as many as 16,000 employees. Read the letter.
4. 1 worthy thing: Kareem on Hollywood's "superpower" for Black kids

The cast of "Black Panther" at the film's London premiere in 2018. Photo: Joel C. Ryan/Invision/AP

Basketball legend and author Kareem Abdul-Jabbar writes about "the real superpower of Hollywood's Black genre heroes" in a piece for The Hollywood Reporter:

  • "Why does having Black genre heroes matter? Because our stories provide role models that influence how our children measure themselves and their potential. Diverse action heroes help youngsters define the range of characteristics they see in themselves."
  • "If a Black child never sees a Black mountain climber or world-saving scientist, they tend not to envision that as a possible path."