Friday's top stories

Mike Allen, author of AM
Jul 31, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden campaign vows virus focus

Joe Biden puts on a mask after a campaign event in Wilmington, Del., on Tuesday. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Joe Biden's campaign contends that President Trump's talk of delaying November's election is an effort to distract, and vows to be what a Biden aide called "laser-focused" on Trump's pandemic response.

Why it matters: After aides convinced the president that the issue was hurting him badly in the polls, Trump has tried for the past two weeks to show renewed focus on the coronavirus, including the restoration of his briefings.

Listen to “Axios Re:Cap”
Most immigration detention centers are run by private companies, where profit motives can outpace oversight.

James Murdoch exits News Corp. board

James Murdoch. Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

Former 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch filed a letter of resignation from the board of News Corp. on Friday in light of disagreements over editorial content published by the company-owned news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal and New York Post.

What he's saying: “My resignation is due to disagreements over certain editorial content published by the Company's news outlets and certain other strategic decisions," Murdoch's letter reads.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jul 31, 2020 - Economy & Business

The pandemic's IPO boom might not last long

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The IPO market has boomed during the pandemic era, both for real companies and shell companies, reflecting the broader decoupling of the equity economy and real economy.

Reality check: Things could soon change. And fast.

Jul 31, 2020 - Podcasts

Ohio Secretary of State: Election results could take weeks

We obviously don’t know who will win this year’s presidential election, but we do know that the 2020 voting process will be more complicated than in any past election of our lifetimes in terms of safety, security, and logistics.

Axios Re:Cap digs in with Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, who tells us he's confident in the process but that it could take weeks to know results from his state.

Jul 31, 2020 - Technology

Google cracks down on deceptive ads ahead of election

Photo: NurPhoto / Contributor

Google is updating its ads policies to prohibit domestic advertisers that use spammy tactics to conceal their identities and to ban international advertisers that use ads to promote illegally hacked or obtained political material — like stolen campaign emails.

Why it matters: Google alludes to the crackdowns in its existing ads policy, but the company is stating them more explicitly in an effort to rein in political and election misinformation ahead of the election.

White House, Democrats at coronavirus stimulus stalemate

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at separate press conferences. Photos: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images; Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — speaking simultaneously at podiums on opposite ends of Pennsylvania Avenue Friday morning — painted a bleak picture of their stalled coronavirus stimulus talks, making clear that they are still a long way from striking a deal.

The bottom line: Everyone who matters in these talks is sending out dismal signals. Many important benefits, including enhanced unemployment insurance for millions of Americans, expire today — and those in charge of bringing relief admit they're nowhere close to finding common ground.

Jul 31, 2020 - World

U.S. sanctions China's paramilitary in Xinjiang

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The Trump administration has announced it will sanction the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), a paramilitary organization operating in Xinjiang, where Chinese authorities, aided by the XPCC, are perpetrating a cultural and demographic genocide against ethnic minorities.

Why it matters: XPCC controls vast swaths of the economy in Xinjiang. Depending on how rigorously the sanctions are enforced, they could hobble the region's economy and blunt China's plans for further economic development of the region.

Jul 31, 2020 - Health

Florida breaks daily coronavirus deaths record for 4th straight day

Photo: Johnny Louis/Getty Images

Florida on Friday reported 257 new coronavirus deaths in 24 hours, breaking the state's daily deaths record for the fourth straight day.

By the numbers: That brings the state's coronavirus death toll to 6,966. While Florida's daily reported infections have moved below 10,000 from their peak, it has reported a total of more than 470,000 cases, the second-highest in the U.S. behind California.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Jul 31, 2020 - Technology

Big Tech's take grows as economy tanks

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

While the rest of the U.S. economy was falling off a cliff, Big Tech saw its business soar.

The big picture: Thursday morning, government economists reported a 30% drop in GDP for the second quarter — the largest decline, by far, since the numbers have been reported.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jul 31, 2020 - Energy & Environment

The stage is set for a battle on sustainable investing

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's hardly the biggest regulatory fight of the Trump era, but there's an important battle raging over plans to restrict sustainable investing that also distills the energy and climate politics of the moment.

Driving the news: The Labor Department is planning to limit private retirement plan managers' leeway to invest based on ESG — environmental, social and governance — factors.

Jul 31, 2020 - World

Boris Johnson pauses England's coronavirus reopening

Photo: Charlotte Graham/WPA Pool/Getty Images

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday postponed easing some portions of England's coronavirus lockdown due to rising cases, the BBC reports.

Why it matters: The decision, which comes after a move to reimpose far more stringent lockdown measures across some cities in northern England, highlights the difficult balance countries across the world face between reopening their economies and keeping their caseloads in check.

The next stimulus takes center stage — just as it runs dry

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big Tech was buoyed by the exact thing that prevented the dreadful GDP report from being even worse in the second quarter: the pandemic stimulus measures.

Why it matters: The stimulus is in the spotlight as its key expanded unemployment benefits provision is set to lapse despite coronavirus cases surging across the country, reimposed lockdown measures and more businesses shuttering.

Jul 31, 2020 - Sports

The NHL is back

Table: Axios Visuals

The NHL's race to the Stanley Cup begins Saturday, with 24 teams split between two bubbles — one centered around the Toronto Maple Leafs' Scotiabank Arena, the other around the Edmonton Oilers' Rogers Place.

The state of play: Once they reach the conference finals, the two remaining East teams will travel to Edmonton, where their families will be able to join them.

Jul 31, 2020 - Economy & Business

Australia orders tech to pay media firms for access to content

Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios

A new draft code of conduct released on Thursday by officials in Australia would require tech giants like Google and Facebook to start paying news companies to distribute their content.

Why it matters: If Australia adopts the plan and it becomes a model for others around the world, such measures could offer a significant boost to the news industry, especially local news, as it faces financial decline.

Jul 31, 2020 - Economy & Business

Airlines pivot to cargo during pandemic

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Passenger airlines devastated by the decline in air travel during the pandemic are making up some of their lost revenue by strapping cargo into passenger seats and overhead bins of planes that would otherwise be grounded.

The big picture: It could be several years before passenger air traffic returns to normal, but the global demand for medical supplies, along with disruptions in manufacturing supply chains and increased e-commerce, means airlines have a chance, at least temporarily, to offset some of those losses by transporting more freight.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Updated Jul 31, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus testing still can't keep up with demand

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Testing is once again becoming a critical weakness in the America's response to the coronavirus pandemic, and experts say we may need to revive tighter standards about who can get a test.

Why it matters: Although testing has gotten a lot better over the course of the pandemic, the pandemic has gotten worse, and that means the U.S. needs to prioritize its resources — which might mean that frequent testing solely to help open businesses or schools just isn't feasible.