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Former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. Photo: Isaac Brekken via Getty Images for National Clean Energy Summit

Ernest Moniz, former energy secretary for President Barack Obama, is suspending his involvement advising Saudi Arabia on a proposed city mega-project until more information is made available regarding the disappearance — and possible assassination — of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Why it matters: Moniz’s move shows how geopolitical disputes, and in this case a potentially tragic one, can have spillover effects into wholly unrelated issues like business and energy.

The details: Moniz said he was invited to join an international advisory board for the development of NEOM, whose cost is estimated to be around $500 billion.

  • The project is meant to be a smart city of the future, built from the ground up in Saudi Arabia, Moniz said in a statement.
  • Saudi Arabia, whose state-owned oil company pumps out far more oil than any other company, is seeking to diversify its oil-dependent economy.
  • “In particular, I have been asked to offer guidance on achieving zero net greenhouse gas emissions. Success with this vision will have global implications for a low-carbon future,” Moniz said.
  • In awkward timing, the board was announced Tuesday, according to media reports in Saudi Arabia.
“I share the deep concerns of many about the disappearance and possible assassination of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. … The recent trend in many countries of targeting journalists for doing their jobs is a fundamental threat to freedom of the press, human rights and the rule of law.”
— Ernest Moniz, former Energy Secretary

Go Deeper: Khashoggi disappearance could impact Saudi Arabia's business deals

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Investors increase their exuberance

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

U.S. stocks jumped across the board on Monday and the S&P 500 had its best day since June 5, as the bulls stepped in and bought the dips in stock prices following last week's minor selloff.

Why it matters: While some have worried rising U.S. interest rates would dampen investor exuberance over the expected pickup in economic growth thanks to increasing vaccine numbers and big fiscal spending hopes, Monday showed investors still like risk assets. A lot.

3 hours ago - World

China and Russia vaccinate the world — for now

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

While the U.S. and Europe focus on vaccinating their own populations, China and Russia are sending millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses to countries around the world.

Why it matters: China's double success in controlling its domestic outbreak and producing several viable vaccines has allowed it to focus on providing doses abroad — an effort that could help to save lives across several continents.

Ina Fried, author of Login
3 hours ago - Technology

China will dominate AI unless U.S. invests more, commission warns

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S., which once had a dominant head start in artificial intelligence, now has just a few years' lead on China and risks being overtaken unless government steps in, according to a new report to Congress and the White House.

Why it matters: Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who chaired the committee that issued the report, tells Axios that the U.S. risks dire consequences if it fails to both invest in key technologies and fully integrate AI into the military.