Mar 12, 2018

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Situational awareness: "As thousands of people attend the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas, police warn residents that three package blasts may be connected." [CNN]

1 big thing: U.K. gives Russia a deadline to explain nerve attack

British Prime Minister Theresa May threw down a gauntlet against Russia today, telling the House of Commons:

"The [British] government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the [nerve agent] act against [Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal] and Yulia Skripal [his daughter]."

May said that Russia has until Wednesday to provide a credible explanation, or "we will conclude that this action amounts to an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom."

From the White House: Sarah Sanders condemned the poisoning, but declined to accuse Russia. [Video]

Be smart... Axios' Steve LeVine, author of Putin's Labyrinth, which focuses on the murders of Putin's enemies, says May will be in a political box if a Russian role is found:

[The 2006 murder of Alexander] Litvinenko caused a huge international incident and a lasting diplomatic breach. If [the Skripals] die, this will be murder, again, in a major Western country. The Brits could cut off relations, recall their ambassador, and so on — to which Putin would protest, "show us the facts. The West again is hysterical" — but May will be forced to take demonstrably stern action. Against the backdrop of Crimea, one might see her seek an EU-wide response, though given the changing politics on the continent, that could be hard to achieve.

Go deeper: Axios' Shane Savitsky has more details.

2. What you missed

Trump poses with Houston Astros outfielder Josh Reddick while celebrating the team's World Series victory in the East Room of the White House. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

  1. Goldman Sachs president and co-COO Harvey Schwartz will retire effective April 20. He was seen as one of two likely successors to CEO Lloyd Blankfein.
  2. Tomorrow: Democrat Conor Lamb currently has a 6-point edge over Republican Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District special election, according to a new poll.
  3. Arnold Schwarzenegger says he will sue oil companies “for knowingly killing people all over the world," comparing them to the tobacco industry. More.
  4. 👀: Lyft told reporters today that in 2017 Q4 it saw 168% in GAAP revenue growth year-over-year, and that it brought "over $1 billion" in GAAP revenue for the whole year. It also sent a chart comparing itself to Uber. More.
  5. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters today that the U.S. has "not heard anything directly back from North Korea" since Trump's abrupt decision to accept an invitation to meet Kim Jong-un.
Bonus chart
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Data: SurveyMonkey polls conducted February 12-March 5, 2018Poll Methodology; Note: "No answer" responses excluded; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Go deeper...

3. First look: Variety on the techlash

Variety takes on smartphone addiction in children with this forthcoming cover, previewed first in Axios PM.

Forthcoming cover from Variety
"If you look at the role that screen media is playing in our society — contributing perhaps to fearfulness and isolation — there are ways to say perhaps it’s a bigger crisis than opioids"
— Dr. David Hill, who chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Communications and Media

The full article posts tomorrow on Variety.

Mike Allen