Thursday’s top stories

Jun 10, 2021 - World

What to expect from Biden's trip to Europe

Just two pals hanging out in Cornwall. Photo: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing St. via Getty

President Biden arrived in Europe for his first foreign trip bearing what could be a game-changing pledge: 500 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines to be shared with low- and middle-income countries over the next year.

The state of play: The remaining G7 members — Canada, the EU, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and this year’s hosts, the U.K. — are set to pledge at least another 500 million to bring the total to 1 billion by mid-2021, per a draft communique seen by Bloomberg.

Murdoch empire pushes Republicans to back tech antitrust bills

Rupert Murdoch in 2012. Photo: Arthur Edwards/News International via Getty Images

Lobbyists for Rupert Murdoch's media companies are appealing to House Republicans to support antitrust bills meant to restrain Big Tech companies, sources tell Axios.

The big picture: Murdoch's media businesses have aggressively positioned themselves in opposition to the power of tech companies like Facebook and Google.

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The priciest economy in years

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Pockets of the U.S. economy (housing and autos, for instance) are on fire — and consumers are having to pay more than they have in years, fresh inflation data today showed.

Why it matters: “Not everybody’s wages are going up fast enough to keep up with these price increases,” David Wessel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, tells Axios.

"Elden Ring" game written by George R. R. Martin coming in January

Image: Bandai Namco

A gameplay trailer for "Elden Ring," the hugely hyped dark fantasy game made in collaboration with "A Game of Thrones" author George R.R. Martin, closed today's first big showcase of this year's E3 gaming hype season.

Why it matters: It's the latest high-profile game in a long tradition of titles that are announced and vanish for years with no updates.

FBI director says cyber threat is increasing "almost exponentially"

FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on June 10, 2021. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Cyber threats are increasing at a rapid pace, FBI director Christopher Wray warned on Thursday.

Why it matters: Multiple federal agencies and U.S. businesses — including meat producers and oil pipelines — have been breached this year, raising alarm for the nation's cybersecurity.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jun 10, 2021 - Technology

Chinese ride-hail giant Didi files for IPO

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Chinese ride-hail company Didi filed for an initial public offering on Thursday.

Why it matters: Didi is not only known as the Uber of China, but actually beat Uber in the country and bought out its business there.

Jun 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Republican senators claim “tentative” bipartisan infrastructure deal

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) talks about a potential infrastructure deal on Thursday. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Republican senators emerged from a series of closed-door, bipartisan talks Thursday boasting of reaching a "tentative" deal on infrastructure, yet their Democratic counterparts wouldn't go that far.

Why it matters: Members of the s0-called G20 group of 20 senators appear to be the last, best hope for a bipartisan agreement, but the split in where the talks stand highlights the ongoing gulf between the parties on roads, bridges and more.

Lab risks face scrutiny amid COVID origins controversy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The controversy over the origin of the COVID-19 virus is renewing focus on how the risks and benefits of pathogen-altering experiments are weighed and managed.

Why it matters: Better governance of biorisks would limit the threat of a human-made pandemic — and could help identify the origin of future outbreaks more quickly and with a lot less controversy.

The booming, dangerous migration by sea

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Maritime smuggling of people to the U.S. is on the rise toward California and Florida, with two recent capsized boats near San Diego and Key West showing the deadly consequences.

Why it matters: Experts stress that for several years toughened security has not decreased migration, just made adult migrants seek other, more dangerous paths.

Jun 10, 2021 - World

Netanyahu rejects Trump comparisons, pledges peaceful transition of power

Netanyahu (L) with Trump. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party rejected on Thursday the comparisons being made in the U.S. between his efforts to block a transition of power and those of former President Trump after the November 2020 presidential election.

Why it matters: On the verge of being replaced after 12 years in power, Netanyahu has been working to delegitimize the incoming government and accusing its leaders of perpetrating “the fraud of the century." But Likud tweeted on Thursday that Netanyahu wasn't challenging the vote count and was committed to a peaceful transition.

Jun 10, 2021 - Health

Johnson & Johnson says FDA has approved extended vaccine expiration date

Photo: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson announced Thursday that the FDA has authorized an extension of its COVID vaccine's shelf life from three months to 4.5 months.

Why it matters: Amid a slowdown in vaccine uptake, a number of state health officials had been sounding the alarm that hundreds of thousands of single-shot J&J doses could expire this month.

Updated Jun 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden and Johnson sign renewed Atlantic Charter outlining modern threats

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (2R) and his wife Carrie Johnson (R) walk with President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden outside Carbis Bay Hotel. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a bilateral meeting ahead of the G-7 summit in Cornwall, England, marking the first time Biden has met in-person with a leader he once called a "physical and emotional clone" of former President Trump.

Driving the news: The two leaders signed a revitalized Atlantic Charter, modeled after the joint statement made by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and former President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941 to set out their goals for the world post-World War II.

Lake Mead falls to lowest level since 1930s amid worsening drought

Lake Mead marina is pictured, south of Las Vegas, Nevada, on August 23, 2020. (Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images)

Amid an intensifying drought, Lake Mead in Nevada, the nation's largest reservoir by volume, reached its lowest level since the 1930s late Wednesday.

Why it matters: The record low is due to a combination of years of punishing drought that's worsening across the Southwest, as well as challenges in managing water resources for a burgeoning population.

Jun 10, 2021 - World

Poll: U.S. image abroad rebounds sharply with Biden in office

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Reproduced from Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

The United States' image around the world has sharply improved since President Biden took office after dipping during the Trump administration, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in 16 countries.

The big picture: The high marks come as Biden embarks on his first overseas trip as president. Though opinions of the U.S. have broadly increased internationally, people in allied countries did not express great confidence in the U.S. as an ally and were also concerned about its domestic politics.

Updated Jun 10, 2021 - Economy & Business

Consumer prices rose 5% from last May, as pace of inflation ticks up

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

Consumer prices rose last month by 5% compared to May of 2020, marking the biggest year-over-year gain since August 2008, according to Consumer Price Index data released this morning. Prices were 0.6% higher in May than they were in April.

Why it matters: April’s CPI reading intensified concerns that inflation is heating up and will be hard to contain. Today’s data could stoke those fears further and contribute to a self-fulfilling cycle of rising prices.

Microsoft touts a gaming strategy that goes far beyond Xbox consoles

Image: Microsoft

Microsoft will offer access to Xbox games across an increasingly broad range of devices, including smart TVs and iPhones, company executives said this week during press briefings about its gaming business.

The big picture: Long a major player in the console market with Xbox, Microsoft is drifting away from a dependency on physical hardware, arguing that its path to success is about streaming.

Jun 10, 2021 - Health

Moderna asks FDA to expand COVID-19 vaccine authorization to adolescents

Photo: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Moderna announced Thursday it has requested an emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its coronavirus vaccine for use in 12- to 17-year-olds.

Why it matters: The emergency use authorization would allow for the use of the vaccine in adolescents before Moderna receives full FDA approval, a key step in speeding up the country's race to herd immunity and reopening schools safely this fall.

Jewish Democrats clash with Ilhan Omar after comments on U.S. and Israel

Rep. Ilhan Omar. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

A group of Jewish Democrats in the House is publicly feuding with Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) after she tweeted about "unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban," in reference to investigations by the International Criminal Court.

Why it matters: The clash threatens to reopen a fault line within the party that could cost Omar her seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, writes Punchbowl News.

The global vaccine supply is finally opening up

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The global vaccine supply is finally opening up for countries that desperately need the ammo in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Driving the news: The Biden administration will buy 500 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to share with countries around the world, with the option to buy an additional 200 million.

Climate advocates are set up for an anxious summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Infrastructure talks between the White House and Congress have entered a phase that's making climate advocates extremely nervous.

Why it matters: Environmental groups and even some Democratic lawmakers are increasingly vocal with their fears that the White House will jettison central components of President Biden's climate plan during the talks, which could cause the U.S. to fall short of its new emissions targets.

U.S. shifts tactics to confront China's tech strength

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Besting China is one of the very few goals that Democrats and Republicans in Washington can agree on — as a new White House executive order and Senate passage of a new $200 billion bill, both targeting China's tech industry, show.

Yes, but: Where the Trump administration took an impulsive and haphazard approach to banning Chinese companies and products, President Biden is approaching the China rivalry in a more systematic and process-oriented way.

The war for attention

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Never have humans talked, tweeted or texted more words — and found it more difficult to be heard.

Why it matters: In this era of nonstop noise, every person must be a skillful communicator. Yet most struggle at it.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Jun 10, 2021 - Economy & Business

Half of the pandemic's unemployment money may have been stolen

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Criminals may have stolen as much as half of the unemployment benefits the U.S. has been pumping out over the past year, some experts say.

Why it matters: Unemployment fraud during the pandemic could easily reach $400 billion, according to some estimates, and the bulk of the money likely ended in the hands of foreign crime syndicates — making this not just theft, but a matter of national security.

Jun 10, 2021 - World

Biden admin to ship millions of COVID vaccines around the world from August

President Biden arriving at Cornwall Airport Newquay in Cornwall, England, on Thurday. Photo: Phil Noble/WPA Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration will ship the first batch of 500 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to 92 countries and the African Union from August, the White House announced Thursday morning.

Details: "200 million doses will be delivered by the end of this year and the remaining 300 million will be delivered in the first half of 2022," the White House said in a statement.

Jun 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Reports: Texas bar association investigating state AG Ken Paxton

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton at the Conservative Political Action Conference held in Orlando, Florida, in February. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is under investigation for possible professional misconduct by the state's bar association for his attempts to have President Biden's election win overturned, AP first reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: Paxton is one of the most high-profile lawyers to face potential professional repercussions for using their role to try and help former President Trump in his efforts to have the election results changed, AP notes.

Updated Jun 10, 2021 - World

Aung San Suu Kyi formally charged with corruption by Myanmar military

An anti-coup protester holds up a placard featuring the detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon, Myanmar, in March. Photo: Hkun Lat/Getty Images

Myanmar's deposed elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other detained officials have been formally charged by the military junta, state media reported Thursday morning local time.

Details: "The Anti-Corruption Commission has inspected corruption cases against ex-state counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. She was found guilty of committing corruption using her rank," the military said, per Bloomberg, which notes she could face up to 15 years in prison for the offense.

Biden's European optimism collides with reality

President Biden departs for the United Kingdom. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

As President Biden departed Washington, he told reporters he was going to use his first foreign trip to make "clear to Putin and to China that Europe and the United States are tight and the G7 is gonna move."

Why it matters: The problem is his statements regarding the allies' shared objectives are not supported by the statements and actions of the allies themselves.

By the numbers: The state dictating national policy

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Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

Senators representing West Virginia — one of the smallest, whitest and most pro-Trump states in the country — have been holding a Democratic-controlled Senate, House and White House from knocking out big agenda items.

What's happening: Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) failed to reach an infrastructure deal with President Biden. And Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has consistently refused to support several of his party’s initiatives, such as voting rights legislation.

Jun 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

The risk in Democrats' generous unemployment benefits

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The staff shortfalls Americans are finding as they head to restaurants and summer vacation spots illustrate the risk for Democrats over whether the government's extra $300 per week in enhanced unemployment benefits is to blame.

Why it matters: Twenty-five states — all run by Republican governors — are eliminating some or all of the UI benefits. Some are even offering back-to-work bonuses to further encourage a return to work. Expect the results to become midterm fodder next year.

Jun 10, 2021 - Economy & Business

White House confident on economy ahead of CPI report

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) highlights price hikes last month. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Ahead of Thursday's inflation data, the White House is confident the economic recovery will continue, with sources highlighting recent analysis — including from Goldman Sachs — that inflation will remain transitory.

Why it matters: The monthly release of the Consumer Price Index will add fresh fodder to the debate about whether inflation will be short-term or part of a long-term, and dangerous, cycle. Republican critics are already seizing on the topic.

JBS says it paid $11 million ransom after cyberattack

Photo: Chet Strange/Getty Images

JBS USA on Thursday announced it had paid hackers "the equivalent of $11 million in ransom" to resolve a cyberattack that forced the meat company to shut down.

State of play: The payment was made in bitcoin, per the Wall Street Journal. The company said it made the decision to pay the ransom after consulting with "internal IT professionals and third-party cybersecurity experts."