Thursday’s top stories

Dave Lawler, author of World
Nov 19, 2020 - World

Europe's brutal coronavirus surge begins to ease after restrictions

Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Europe is now recording more coronavirus deaths than during its April peak.

The good news: The rate of new cases across the continent has leveled off, and it's even fallen sharply in several hard-hit countries. After weeks of growing fear, there is cause for optimism.

Listen to “Axios Re:Cap”
Calif talks about the EUA process, the science and who should make the final call.
Nov 19, 2020 - Science

Biden's Day 1 challenges: Trust in science

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The American public's divided trust in science is a foundational crisis that Joe Biden will have to address in order to tackle the other crises awaiting him on Day 1, including a raging pandemic and climate change.

Why it matters: Partisan divides, eroded confidence and an exodus of experts from the federal government could hinder responses to both COVID-19 and climate change.

California issues limited stay-at-home order for most residents

California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Carolyn Cole/ Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced that the majority of the state will be under a limited stay-at-home order starting Saturday due to rising coronavirus cases.

The big picture: The announcement brings a monthlong curfew between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. for residents in 41 counties, covering roughly 94% of the state's population. Newsom said earlier this week he was pulling an "emergency brake," halting further reopening plans, tightening restrictions on indoor businesses and strengthening mask mandates.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Nov 19, 2020 - Economy & Business

Roblox files for its IPO

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Roblox, a Silicon Valley-based social gaming platform for tweens and teens, on Thursday filed for a $1 billion initial public offering.

Why it matters: Roblox was big business before the pandemic, but really skyrocketed once kids were stuck at home due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Reach out to beat the pandemic winter blues

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

This season could bring exceptionally bad winter blues — and even worse mental health conditions.

The big picture: The pandemic already is causing stress, anxiety and growing mental health disorders — and it could get worse with COVID fatigue, seasonal affective disorder and holiday-related depression, experts warn. But there are steps you can take to alleviate the dangers.

Nov 19, 2020 - Podcasts

Black Friday 2020 and the future of retail

We're eight days away from Black Friday, but this year the event might be about more than bargains and doorbuster stampedes. Instead, the date could help determine whether certain retailers will survive past 2020 or hold on to physical stores.

Axios Re:Cap talks with Fortune senior reporter Phil Wahba about which retailers have the most to gain or lose next week and the broader future of retail.

Air gondolas could one day dot the U.S. urban landscape

Rendering of an air gondola system proposed for Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, per the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Air gondolas — ski-lift-type conveyances that have become common sights in Latin American cities like Medellín, Mexico City and La Paz — could one day dot the U.S. urban landscape, some transportation planners say.

Why it matters: These appealing and eco-friendly cable cars — serving commuters and tourists alike — move people quietly and expeditiously and seem tailor-made for the COVID-19 era, since they fit a small number of riders per car.

Nov 19, 2020 - Economy & Business

BuzzFeed to buy HuffPost in all-stock deal

BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti. Photo: Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

BuzzFeed has agreed to buy progressive news website HuffPost from Verizon Media in an all-stock deal, the companies announced Thursday.

Why it matters: HuffPost was once one of the most-trafficked news websites on the internet, but an over-reliance on social media distribution and a lack of strategic vision stripped the site of relevance in recent years.

Nov 19, 2020 - Technology

Facebook removed 265,000 pieces of content on voter interference

Photo Illustration by Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Facebook says it removed more than 265,000 pieces of content from Facebook and Instagram in the U.S. for violating its content policies on voter interference leading up to the election.

Why it matters: The company was much more proactive this election cycle than last in taking down and labeling content attempting to disrupt the election.

Nov 19, 2020 - Technology

Facebook says very few people actually see hate speech on its platform

Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Facebook said it took action on 22.1 million pieces of hate speech content to its platform globally last quarter and about 6.5 million pieces of hate speech content on Instagram. On both platforms, it says about 95% of that hate speech was proactively identified and stopped by artificial intelligence.

Details: In total, the company says that there are 10–11 views of hate speech for every 10,000 views of content uploaded to the site globally — or .1%. It calls this metric — how much problematic content it doesn't catch compared to how much is reported and removed — "prevalence."

Nov 19, 2020 - Health

CDC advises Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The CDC issued new guidance on Thursday advising Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving, warning doing so may increase the chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.

Why it matters: The U.S. has seen over 1 million new coronavirus case in just this past week — and indoor household gatherings nationwide could make the situation even worse.

Nov 19, 2020 - World

Goods from West Bank settlements to be labeled "Made in Israel," Pompeo says

A red blend named for Pompeo at the winery he visited today in a West Bank settlement. Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty

After visiting a winery in the Jewish settlement of Psagot in the West Bank, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a new policy on Thursday of allowing products from the settlements to be labeled as “made in Israel."

Why it matters: The policy announced by Pompeo is more radical than the Israeli government's policy regarding the settlements. It signals U.S. recognition of de facto Israeli annexation of much of the West Bank and seems to be a violation of the spirit of the “Abraham Accords” and the recent UAE-Israel peace treaty, under which Israel agreed to suspend its annexation plans.

Split speed of economic recovery

Reproduced from the Leuthold Group; Note: Subdivides the total U.S. unemployment rate between four sectors with the lowest average hourly earnings and the remaining nine sectors; Chart: Axios Visuals

Job recovery is arriving much faster for workers in America’s highest earning industries.

Why it matters: The bottom earning industries are nowhere near recovered — right as the economy faces another test from the pandemic.

Trade commission's tech cases: Hits and misfires

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

With the Federal Trade Commission expected to unveil long-awaited antitrust action against Facebook in the near future, the agency's mixed record on regulating tech has experts viewing the case as a "put up or shut up" moment.

The big picture: Most of the tech cases the FTC has tackled involve consumer protection rather than restraining monopolistic behavior. Past antitrust investigations of tech mergers or companies, like a review of Google that ended in 2013, led critics to paint the FTC as toothless.

Trump challenges cement Biden triumph

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump's frantic post-election challenges are having the opposite effect of what he intended: He's documenting his demise through a series of court fights and recounts showing Joe Biden's victory to be all the more obvious and unassailable.

Why it matters: The president’s push to overturn the election results is dispelling the cloud of corruption he alleged by forcing states to create a verified — and legally binding — accounting of his election loss.

Mike Allen, author of AM
Nov 19, 2020 - Politics & Policy

CEOs abandon Trump

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Tom Donohue — CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and longtime confidant of Republican presidents — tells Axios that Joe Biden is president-elect and President Trump "should not delay the transition a moment longer."

What he's saying: "President-elect Biden and the team around him have a wealth of executive branch experience that should allow them to hit the ground running," Donohue said in a statement.

Biden's Day 1 challenges: Cities getting desperate

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Dire budget problems in cities from coast to coast mean that furloughs and layoffs of essential workers could ring in the new year. So President-elect Joe Biden will face instant, high-stakes calls for relief. 

Why it matters: Suffering municipalities say there's no way they can tackle COVID-19 and all their other problems without direct and immediate aid.

The pandemic is as bad as it's ever been

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

No state in America could clear the threshold right now to safely allow indoor gatherings.

The big picture: This is bad as the pandemic has ever been — the most cases, the most explosive growth and the greatest strain on hospitals. If businesses were closed right now, it would not be safe to reopen them. And holiday travel will be risky no matter where you’re coming from or where you’re going.

Nov 19, 2020 - Health

Oxford University coronavirus vaccine trials show strong immune response

CSL chief scientific officer Andrew Nash with a small vial to go into the bioreactor to create 30 ml doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Nov. 8 in Melbourne, Australia. Photo: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

A COVID-19 vaccine from Oxford University and AstraZeneca is safe and produces strong immune responses in older people, per preliminary findings of a phase two trial published Thursday in The Lancet.

Why it matters: Coronavirus cases are soaring in the U.S. and across the world. The findings from the study of 560 healthy adults, including 240 people aged over 70, follow Pfizer's announcement Wednesday that its vaccine is 95% effective and Moderna's data released Monday showing its version has a 94.5% vaccination success rate.

Updated Nov 19, 2020 - World

Australia finds evidence of war crimes by elite troops in Afghanistan

Chief of the Australian Defense Force General Angus Campbell delivers the findings from the Inspector-General of the Australian Defense Force Afghanistan Inquiry, in Canberra Thursday morning local time. Photo: Mick Tasikas/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Allegations that elite Australian Defense Force troops unlawfully killed 39 civilians or prisoners in Afghanistan are "credible," said ADF chief Gen. Angus Campbell, announcing findings of a long-awaited report Thursday.

Driving the news: The findings came after a four-year inquiry into alleged war crimes and misconduct by Australia's elite special forces. The report finds most of the people killed in 23 incidents were prisoners and that those who died were "non-combatants or no longer combatants."