Thursday's top stories

Dave Lawler, author of World
Jul 30, 2020 - World

Coronavirus bounces back where it had been knocked out

A glum harbor ride in Hong Kong. Photo: Anthony Wallace. AFP via Getty.

This week has seen a number of worrying headlines from countries initially viewed as major pandemic success stories.

Why it matters: After enormous sacrifices made to prevent or contain widespread outbreaks, countries are grappling with the challenge of preserving that success without daily life, and the economy, grinding to a halt once again.

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The middle class was already shrinking before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Federalist Society co-founder calls Trump's tweet about delaying election "fascistic"

President Trump during a roundtable discussion at the American Red Cross National Headquarters on July 30. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Steven Calabresi, co-founder of the Federalist Society, called President Trump's suggestion to delay the November election "fascistic" and grounds for the president’s impeachment, in a New York Times op-ed on Thursday.

Why it matters: The Federalist Society is an extremely influential conservative and libertarian organization that advocates for a text-based and originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. Calabresi said he voted for Trump in 2016 and defended the president during the Mueller investigation and impeachment trials.

Senate adjourns without extending expiring unemployment benefits

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Senate has adjourned until 3pm on Monday, as Congress failed to reach an agreement on extending extra unemployment benefits that are set to expire on Friday.

Why it matters: Tens of millions of Americans are out of work and have been receiving $600 per week on top of their regular unemployment payments. That money has been used both to pay expenses and to prop up the broader economy via consumer spending.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Jul 30, 2020 - Technology

Apple confirms short release delay for this year's iPhones

Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Apple's financial chief said Thursday that this year's new iPhone models will arrive a few weeks later than they have in years past, confirming earlier news reports and supplier comments.

Why it matters: The move means some revenue that typically comes at the end of September won't come until the final quarter of the year, but also reassures investors and customers that the delay won't be longer.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Jul 30, 2020 - Technology

Apple crushes earnings expectations

Tim Cook, kicking off Apple’s September 2018 event. Photo: Apple

Apple on Thursday handily beat expectations for quarterly sales and earnings and announced a 4-for-1 stock split.

Why it matters: The move comes a day after Congressional hearings and as other Big Tech firms also turned in stellar reports.

Obama endorses string of progressive policies during John Lewis eulogy

Barack Obama speaking at the funeral of late Rep. John Lewis on July 30. Photo: Alyssa Pointer/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Obama endorsed a slew of progressive policies related to voting rights during his eulogy for the late Rep. John Lewis on Thursday, including abolishing the Senate filibuster.

Why it matters: Revoking the Senate's long-standing 60-vote threshold used by senators to delay or block legislative action would significantly limit the minority party's power in the chamber.

Jul 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Obama: "John Lewis will be a founding father" of America's better future

Former President Barack Obama on Thursday eulogized the late Rep. John Lewis as "a founding father of that fuller, fairer, better America" that lies in the nation's future.

The state of play: Obama also called out President Trump — though not by name — by repeatedly referencing Trump's actions to discourage mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic. Obama said he's talking about it today because Lewis "devoted his time on this Earth fighting the very attacks on democracy ... we're seeing circulate right now."

Kim Hart, author of Cities
Jul 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Mayors face off with Trump over use of federal law enforcement

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The escalating war of words between President Trump and Democratic big-city mayors — brought it to a head by confrontations in Portland and Seattle — is a preview of what's to come in the months leading up to November.

The big picture: Trump is using Democratic mayors as the foils for his law-and-order reelection message, while they've called his deployment of federal agents in their cities "a step short of martial law" and heightened their criticism of the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Top Republicans reject Trump's suggestion to delay election

McConnell and McCarthy behind Trump. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Top Republicans in Congress shot down President Trump's suggestion on Thursday to delay November's election, which he made on Twitter while claiming, without evidence, that mail-in voting will cause mass voter fraud.

Why it matters:: Congress, not the president, has the sole power to change the date of Election Day.

Full D.C. appeals court to rehear Michael Flynn case

Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images

The full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed Thursday to rehear whether it should accept the Justice Department's request to dismiss the case against President Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The big picture: After oral arguments on Aug. 11, the court's 11 judges will decide the ultimate fate of Flynn's case after its initial 2-1 ruling last month ordered a district court judge to drop it. Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in 2017 about his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the Trump transition, but a DOJ review this year alleged prosecutorial misconduct by FBI agents who had interviewed him.

Herman Cain dies from coronavirus

Photo: Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

Former Republican presidential candidate and ex-CEO of Godfather's Pizza Herman Cain, 74, has died almost a month after being hospitalized for coronavirus.

The big picture: Cain, the co-chair of Black Voices for Trump, was in a high-risk group due to his history with cancer. Cain's positive coronavirus test came less than two weeks after he attended President Trump's controversial June 20 campaign rally in Tulsa, where he tweeted a picture of himself without a mask.

Updated Jul 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump floats delaying November election

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump suggested delaying November's election in a Thursday tweet, again claiming without evidence that mail-in voting will lead to widespread voter fraud.

The state of play: While this is the first time that Trump has actively floated changing Election Day, he does not have the power to do so. That lies exclusively with Congress, per a Washington Post breakdown of the issue.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Jul 30, 2020 - Science

NASA's Perseverance rover launches on a trip to Mars

The Atlas V rocket launching Perseverance to Mars Thursday. Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA's Perseverance rover launched on a journey to Mars Thursday to hunt for signs of past alien life on the Red Planet.

Why it matters: The rover is the third spacecraft lofted to Mars this month, with the first two sent by the United Arab Emirates and China.

Coronavirus pandemic pushes U.S. economy to worst-ever contraction

Data: Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy shrank at an annualized 32.9% rate in the second quarter — the worst-ever contraction on records that date back to 1947, the government said on Thursday.

Why it matters: Widespread lockdowns to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic ravaged the economy in a way that's never been seen in modern times, and hope for a swift recovery has been dashed as cases have surged nationwide.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Jul 30, 2020 - Economy & Business

The coronavirus pandemic has already caused lasting economic damage

Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Axios Visuals

Fed Chair Jerome Powell mentioned "lasting damage to the economy" as a worry three separate times during his prepared remarks on Wednesday, and called it a reason to continue providing support through fiscal and monetary policy.

The state of play: But experts say the damage already has been done, even as we're still in the midst of figuring out just how much. The labor market is changing and many who have lost their jobs are unlikely to get them back.

John Lewis urges young people "to let freedom ring" in posthumous op-ed

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis told young people to "let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide" while fighting to enact change in a posthumous New York Times op-ed written shortly before his death.

Why it matters: The piece, timed to be published on the day of his funeral, hits many of the themes Lewis espoused during his life — and says that the current generation "filled [him] with hope about the next chapter of the great American story" as protests against systemic racism took hold around the country in his last weeks.

Jul 30, 2020 - Sports

The NBA is back

Table: Axios Visuals

The NBA returns tonight with a Western Conference doubleheader — Jazz vs. Pelicans and Clippers vs. Lakers — kicking off a 10-week race to the finish, all within the friendly confines of what's become an exceptionally well-run Disney World bubble.

The state of play: 22 teams made the trip to Orlando, and for the next two weeks they'll each play eight "seeding games" to determine the playoff field.

The 2020 Axios Harris Poll 100 reputation rankings

This survey is the result of a partnership between Axios and Harris Poll to gauge the reputation of the most visible brands in America, based on 20 years of Harris Poll research. From the Clorox Company to Juul Labs, here's how this year's class stacks up.

Methodology: The Harris Poll conducted four rounds of nominations totaling 8,392 respondents to determine the companies included in the ranking: Nov. 4-6, 2019; Nov. 12-14, 2019; Dec. 5-9, 2019; and June 11-15, 2020.

This year’s company ratings phase was conducted June 24-July 6, 2020 among 34,026 U.S. adults who are very or somewhat familiar with the company. Each company received an average of approximately 305 ratings per company.

Jul 30, 2020 - Technology

House throws kitchen sink at tech CEOs

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

House lawmakers aired an enormous array of grievances with the CEOs of Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple Wednesday, throwing everything in their arsenal at four of the most powerful men in the world for six hours.

Quick take: The antitrust hearing didn't nail a case that these companies are harmful monopolies. But the representatives succeeded in wringing some surprising admissions from the executives about how they wield their market power, providing ammunition for regulators now conducting investigations — and possibly a spur for Congress to strengthen antitrust law for the digital era.

FBI director Wray warns of China election interference

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

FBI Director Christopher Wray and other intelligence community officials warned about China’s increased capability to interfere in U.S. elections in separate classified hearings with the Senate Intelligence Committee this week, two sources familiar with the hearings tell Axios.

What we're hearing: Wray and other officials cited concerns that China is developing the ability to interfere with local election systems and target members of Congress to influence China policy, the sources said.

Jul 30, 2020 - Economy & Business

Axios Harris Poll 100: Corporate trust soars during the pandemic

Data: Harris Poll COVID19 Tracker Wave 20; Chart: Axios Visuals

The public's view of almost every industry has improved since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new Axios/Harris poll. Industries with a prominent role in life under quarantine have seen especially big jumps.

Why it matters: Businesses in America were already undergoing a transformation from being solely focused on profits to being focused on values as well. The coronavirus pandemic has expedited that shift, and consumers are responding favorably to it.

College reopening plans already challenged by the coronavirus

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Many colleges’ plans to bring students back to campus this fall are almost certain to crash and burn.

Why it matters: Many families may not be willing to pay full tuition for a semester they know will only involve online classes. But there’s no reason to doubt that bringing college kids back to campus will result in thousands of coronavirus cases, infecting both students and staff.

Arizona and Texas are getting better; California and Florida aren't

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

Coronavirus infections in the U.S. are beginning to decline, after a summer of sharp increases, and some of the hardest-hit states are improving significantly.

Yes, but: We're at the stage of this most recent outbreak in which deaths begin to spike. They're closing in on 150,000 and still rising.

Jul 30, 2020 - Health

U.S. reports highest number of single-day coronavirus deaths since May

A funeral assistant prepares for a funeral in Miami, Florida. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Almost 66,000 new COVID-19 cases and more than 1,400 deaths from the virus were reported in the U.S. on Wednesday, per the COVID Tracking Project.

Why it matters: The toll marks the highest number of deaths from COVID-19 in a single day since May 15, according to the tracking project's data. The U.S. coronavirus death toll surpassed 150,000 earlier Wednesday. "The rise in deaths is largely driven by the southern states, which reported 962 deaths today," it noted.

Jul 30, 2020 - Health

Ruth Bader Ginsburg recovering after non-surgical procedure

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Photo: Shannon Finney/Getty Images

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is resting in a New York City hospital Wednesday evening following a minimally invasive, non-surgical procedure to replace a bile duct stent, the Supreme Court announced in a release.

Why it matters: Ginsburg has had health complications in recent years, including reoccurring liver cancer. This is her second hospital trip this month. The first hospitalization followed a possible infection.

Jul 30, 2020 - Podcasts

Big Tech hearing chair on which companies should be broken up

Chief executives of Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google testified in front of a House Judiciary subcommittee on Wednesday, ostensibly about antitrust issues. It was the highest-profile showdown to date in the increasingly fraught relationship between Washington, D.C., and Silicon Valley, which could culminate in efforts to break up one, or more, of the companies.

Axios Re:Cap speaks with Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), chair of the subcommittee on antitrust, about what he learned, why he wanted the quartet to testify together, and which companies he thinks should be broken up.