Monday’s top stories

Jun 7, 2021 - World

Nigeria's government threatens to prosecute people for tweeting

Buhari. Photo: Audu Marte/AFP via Getty Images

Nigeria’s government is doubling down on its decision to ban Twitter indefinitely, with regulators Monday ordering broadcasters to stop using Twitter even to gather news, and the foreign minister summoning Western ambassadors whose countries criticized the ban.

Why it matters: Twitter has been a powerful tool for younger Nigerians to mobilize, including during the massive #EndSARS protests last year against police brutality. The ban could have economic repercussions for Africa's most populous country, which has a burgeoning tech sector, and it sends an ominous signal about the country’s democracy.

Canadian police: Driver targeted Muslim family in fatal attack

Photo: Melissa Renwick/Toronto Star via Getty Images

A driver ran his pickup truck into a Muslim family on Sunday, killing four and seriously injuring the fifth person in a targeted attack in London, Ontario, Canadian police said Monday.

Why it matters: The attack comes amid growing concerns over Islamophobia across Canada.

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The high cost of beef drama

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The beef industry is having a rough year — and consumers are footing some of the bill from the fallout.

Why it matters: The ransomware attack on meatpacking giant JBS is the latest hit. But other blows, like droughts, could cause sticker shock to stick around for years.

Exclusive: Grindr expands LGBTQ health care access for employees

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Grindr is adding a new benefit for its LGBTQ+ employees through the concierge service Included Health, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: One of the disproportionate health care challenges faced by LGBTQ+ people is finding nondiscriminatory care — which the dating app Grindr is trying to make easier for its employees.

Jun 7, 2021 - Technology

U.S. recovers millions in cryptocurrency paid to Colonial Pipeline hackers

A fuel tank at Colonial Pipeline's Dorsey Junction Station on May 13, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

U.S. investigators have recovered $2.3 million worth of cryptocurrency paid as a ransom to the cybercrime group responsible for the attack that shut down Colonial Pipeline last month, the Justice Department announced Monday.

Driving the news: Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blount told the Wall Street Journal he authorized a $4.4 million ransom payment to the DarkSide cybercrime group on May 7th in an attempt to restore service of the largest refined fuel pipeline in the U.S.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Updated Jun 7, 2021 - Technology

Live updates: Apple details the future of iPhone software at WWDC

Apple CEO Tim Cook, speaking at the online Worldwide Developer Conference 2021. Screenshot: Axios, via YouTube

Apple used its annual Worldwide Developer Conference to detail new features coming to the next versions of the company's software for iPhones, iPads and Macs.

Why it matters: The online-only gathering comes amid growing pressure from developers and regulators for Apple to loosen its tight grip on the App Store and related payment mechanisms.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jun 7, 2021 - Economy & Business

Scoop: VC firms file confidentially for biotech SPAC

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Three investment firms with deep health care investing experience are forming a new SPAC that will seek to buy a diagnostics company and take it public, Axios has learned.

Between the lines: New SPAC formation has slowed, due to a glut of offerings and new SEC scrutiny, but plenty of veteran investors are continuing to jump into the arena.

Jun 7, 2021 - World

Biden to invite Ukraine's Zelensky to White House after Putin summit

President Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a phone call Monday that he looks forward to welcoming him to the White House this summer after returning from his trip to Europe, according to national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

Why it matters: In an hour-long interview with Axios on Friday, Zelensky urged Biden to meet with him face to face before a June 16 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin — offering to join him "at any moment and at any spot on the planet."

Jun 7, 2021 - Health

FDA approves Biogen's Alzheimer's drug despite lack of evidence

Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

The FDA has approved Biogen's Alzheimer's drug, aducanumab, which will be marketed as Aduhelm. Biogen is charging $56,000 per year for the drug.

Why it matters: Aduhelm is the first federally approved Alzheimer's treatment in roughly 18 years, but there is no conclusive evidence the drug slows the decline of memory and brain function.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jun 7, 2021 - Economy & Business

Private equity firms strike $30 billion deal for Medline

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

When news broke last month that groups of buyout firms were bidding around $30 billion to buy medical supplies firm Medline Industries, we speculated that it could kick off a new "Golden Age" of private equity, an era that directly preceded (but didn't cause) the financial crisis.

Driving the news: Medline has picked its patrons, a consortium led by The Blackstone Group, The Carlyle Group and Hellman & Friedman. But the details make this feel more like a growth equity deal on steroids than a mega-LBO of yesteryear.

Earth's carbon dioxide levels hit 4.5 million-year high

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere has reached its annual peak, climbing to 419 parts per million (ppm) in May, according to scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Why it matters: It's the highest CO2 reading since reliable instrument data began 63 years ago, but evidence shows it's also a peak since well before the start of human history.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jun 7, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The global stakes of Biden's infrastructure negotiations

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The infrastructure drama enveloping Capitol Hill could spill onto the global climate stage.

Why it matters: Major new U.S. investments and policies could help spur other nations to take more aggressive and tangible steps to cut emissions. But failure to steer major new initiatives through Congress could hinder the White House diplomatic posture as the U.N. conference looms.

Jun 7, 2021 - Technology

Jeff Bezos is going to space this summer

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Jeff Bezos announced Monday that he and his brother Mark would be among those flying on the first passenger flight of his space company Blue Origin — via a video posted on the billionaire's Instagram account.

The big picture: The passenger flight, the New Shepard, will be launching on July 20, with Bezos and his brother joining the winner of a public auction for one of the seats.

Mike Allen, author of AM
Jun 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Blinken warns Putin ahead of upcoming U.S.-Russia summit

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

Secretary of State Tony Blinken told me during an "Axios on HBO" interview that President Biden is meeting with Vladimir Putin nine days from now "not in spite of" the cyberattacks that disrupted U.S. meat and gas supplies: "It's because of them."

Why it matters: Biden will tell Putin "directly and clearly what he can expect from the United States if aggressive, reckless actions toward us continue," Blinken told me in the grand Benjamin Franklin State Dining Room.

Jun 7, 2021 - World

Global vaccine leader: Rich countries can fix COVID vaccine inequity

A leader of the global vaccination effort tells "Axios on HBO" that leaders of rich countries who "ignore the rest of the world" during pandemics are failing at their jobs.

The big picture: Countries like the U.S. have moved on to vaccinating children while health care workers in many countries still don't have enough doses to be fully vaccinated.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Jun 7, 2021 - Economy & Business

How AMC is different

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

AMC has learned its lesson from the meme winter, and is determined to use the meme summer to its advantage. That's the lesson from last week's wild action in AMC stock, much of which was orchestrated by the company itself.

Why it matters: There's a case to be made that AMC only managed to avoid bankruptcy by getting caught up in the meme-stock craze of January, when its share price first became divorced from fundamentals.

Jun 7, 2021 - Technology
Column / Tech Agenda

Scoop: Conservatives sound alarm against taking Big Tech money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Conservatives in Washington are growing much more leery of groups with financial ties to Big Tech.

Driving the news: The American Principles Project, a conservative advocacy group, will send a letter today warning Republican lawmakers and staffers to be aware of third-party lobbyists who receive funding from Big Tech in an attempt to "influence public policy on the Right" and "coopt the Republican party."

An energy reporter’s quest for a clean, affordable and versatile car

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

After 13 years without owning a car, I finally got one.

Why it matters: Driving is one of the most direct ways we as individuals benefit from our activities raising Earth’s temperature. It’s also one of the clearest ways we can embrace cleaner technologies.

Jun 7, 2021 - Health

Exclusive: People who wore masks were less likely to get sick

Data: Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index polling data since March 2020; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Turns out that wearing a mask and social distancing really weren't a waste of time.

Driving the news: Exclusive polling data from our Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index, which started in March 2020, shows that the respondents who reported never wearing masks were twice as likely to test positive for COVID as those who said they wore masks all the time.

Updated Jun 7, 2021 - Health

More than 300 million COVID vaccine shots administered in U.S.

Charles Muro, 13, celebrates being vaccinated against COVID-19 by nurse Karen Pagliaro at the Hartford Healthcares mass vaccination center at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut, last month. Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

More than 300 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have now been administered in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Sunday.

Why it matters: The latest CDC figures show that 41.9% of the U.S. population has been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus and 51.5% has received at least one dose.

In photos: Simone Biles wins record 7th U.S. women's all-round title

Simone Biles warms up on the beam prior to the senior women's competition of the U.S. Gymnastics Championships at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 6. Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Olympic great Simone Biles won a record seventh senior women's all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships Fort Worth, Texas, Sunday night.

The big picture: Biles, 24, posted a score of 119.650, as she prepares for this month's Olympic trials ahead of the Tokyo Games — where she could become the first woman in over 50 years to win back-to-back Olympic all-around golds, per the Guardian.

Updated Jun 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Kamala Harris arrives in Guatemala for first foreign trip as VP

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris meeting with Foreign Minister of Guatemala Pedro Brolo after her arrival at the La Aurora airport in Guatemala City, Guatemala, on Sunday. Photo: Josue Decavele/Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris arrived in Guatemala Sunday, after a technical issue forced her first plane to return to Joint Base Andrews some 30 minutes into her first international trip since taking office, per White House pool reports.

Why it matters: Harris is touring Guatemala and Mexico as part of the Biden administration's efforts to address the surge of migration into the U.S. from the Southern border.