Twitter announced Monday that it would no longer accept advertising from "state-controlled news media entities" after finding that more than 900 accounts originating from inside China have been part of a coordinated effort to undermine political protests in Hong Kong.
The big picture: Hong Kong saw its 11th straight week of pro-democracy protests over the weekend as the city pushes back on what it views as encroachment by the Chinese government on its autonomy. The accounts, which Twitter said were part of a "coordinated state-backed operation," sought to delegitimize the protest movement.
Our thought bubble, per Axios' Sara Fischer: Coordinated misinformation campaigns have often been used by governing bodies against their own populations. Twitter found examples of this with Saudi Arabia's government last year, and Facebook found examples in Myanmar as well.
Go deeper: Pence suggests Hong Kong clampdown could prevent China trade deal
Mon, 19 Aug 2019 19:56:42 +0000
124 House Democrats and 1 independent now publicly support launching an impeachment inquiry against President Trump, according to an Axios analysis.
Driving the news: Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) came out in favor of an impeachment inquiry on Monday. He is the highest-ranking Democrat in the House to do so thus far, ranking 4th behind Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.)
Why it matters: A majority of House Democrats now support an impeachment inquiry against Trump. It will become harder for Speaker Nancy Pelosi to resist calls for impeachment, given that she now sits in the minority of her caucus.
The big picture: The total jumped after Trump hurled racist attacks against a group of congresswomen of color who had criticized his immigration policy. A major uptick emerged in the aftermath of Robert Mueller's late May statement, and again after the former special counsel's Capitol Hill testimony in July. The total was at 80 members last month.
By the numbers:
The bottom line: Speaker Nancy Pelosi has long wagered that impeachment would be fruitless without overwhelming public support
Go deeper: House Democrats relish Trump fight over racist tweets
Mon, 19 Aug 2019 17:49:53 +0000
Attorney General Bill Bar has ordered the removal of acting director of the Bureau of Prisons Hugh Hurwitz following the suicide of alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein in the Manhattan Metropolitan Correctional Center.
The big picture: Barr has previously said there were "serious irregularities" at the MCC and that the Justice Department will ensure that those responsible for the oversight are held accountable. Barr has appointed Kathleen Hawk Sawyer as the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons and Thomas Kane as deputy director. Hawk Sawyer previously served as director of the bureau from 1992 to 2003.
Catch up quick: Epstein, one of the highest-profile pretrial inmates in the world, was not under suicide watch at the time of his death, despite guards finding him unconscious in his cell from a possible suicide attempt in July.
Between the lines: While Epstein's death means victims will not have the chance to face him in court, Barr has made clear that he will be pursuing all parties involved in the financier's alleged trafficking of dozens of underage girls.
Go deeper: What we know about Jeffrey Epstein's life and death
Mon, 19 Aug 2019 17:20:18 +0000
New York Police officer Daniel Pantaleo, who was faced with disciplinary charges over the death of Eric Garner 5 years ago, has been fired, Police Commissioner James O’Neill announced Monday.
Why it matters: Pantaleo was the white NYPD officer accused of using an illegal chokehold while attempting to arrest Garner, whose subsequent death and final words, "I can't breathe," became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement. The Justice Department's announcement in July that it was ending its investigation into Pantaleo without issuing federal charges prompted public outcry.
"It is clear that Daniel Pantaleo can no longer effectively serve as a police officer," O'Neill said in a news conference Monday.
Context: Pantaleo, 34, had been collecting his paycheck and pension benefits while serving on desk duty without a gun, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Mon, 19 Aug 2019 17:11:05 +0000
Vice President Mike Pence said Monday that the U.S. would not make a deal to end its trade dispute with China if Beijing fails to "honor its commitments" to Hong Kong, Reuters reports.
The big picture: The remark comes a day after President Trump said it would "be very hard to deal if they do violence [in Hong Kong]. ... I mean if it's another Tiananmen Square, I think it's a very hard thing to do." Trump's economic advisers had previously insisted they were treating the trade dispute as a separate issue from other concerns, like human rights.
From Pence's remarks:
Between the lines: The agreement Pence references specified that Hong Kong would have its own judicial system and a high degree of autonomy from mainland China for at least 50 years after being handed from the U.K. back to China in 1997. The ongoing protests began over fears that autonomy was eroding, and they have led to fears of an impending crackdown by China.
Mon, 19 Aug 2019 16:44:04 +0000
President Trump on Monday tweeted that the Federal Reserve should cut interest rates by "at least 100 basis points, with perhaps some quantitative easing as well," in order to boost the U.S. and world economy.
Why it matters: Trump's attempted politicization of the Fed is not new, but he's never called for a rate cut as drastic and specific as this one. Major quantitative easing and a full percentage point cut in interest rates (from 2.25% to 1.25%) are tools that the Fed normally uses to stimulate the economy in a recession. The inversion of the yield curve, a warning sign that has preceded every recession for the past 70 years, caused a major sell-off in the stock market last week and has White House officials scrambling to do damage control.
Go deeper: Allies worry Trump is "running out of tools" to boost the economy
Mon, 19 Aug 2019 15:56:40 +0000
A top executive of a U.S.-based multinational is pushing back hotly against a White House official's assertion that companies are preparing to pull production out of China as part of President Trump's squeeze there.
The state of play: On ABC's "This Week," White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said that during an Oval Office meeting with a group of executives, "We heard from these business leaders: ... 'Just give us some time to December 15th. And, by the way, we are taking all of our sourcing production facilities out of China, and we will continue to do that.'"
Yes, but ... A source at a major U.S.-based company with a supply chain in China tells Axios:
A former administration official explains: "You can’t site and build factories, train workers, etc., on a dime. And the investments required are enormous, so companies usually wait for certainty in conditions before taking such big steps."
Go deeper: Allies worry Trump is "running out of tools" to boost the economy
Mon, 19 Aug 2019 10:24:09 +0000
The Business Roundtable today made a small, symbolic but significant move: 181 of the nation’s top CEOs agreed that driving shareholder value is no longer their sole business objective.
Why this matters: They expanded their mission beyond mere wealth creation to include everything from taking care of employees to helping their communities.
The big picture ... Truth is, even the most press-shy, introverted CEOs need to be de facto politicians, thanks to several unambiguous social trends:
Watch for: Mischievous shareholders could use this BRT document, which was first reported by Fortune's Alan Murray, to accuse CEOs of worrying about things beyond increasing the value of their shares, a fiduciary responsibility.
Interesting historical note: A half decade ago, Steven Pearlstein, who won a Pulitzer for his WashPost columns on the economy, partly blamed the BRT’s focus on shareholder value alone for the corruption of capitalism.
Tuck away … The BRT members that didn't sign the new document: Alcoa, Blackstone, GE, Kaiser Permanente, NextEra, Parker Hannifin and State Farm.
Read the BRT's full text and see the CEOs that signed on:
Go deeper: The issues haunting CEOs during the Trump era
Mon, 19 Aug 2019 10:07:30 +0000
Swelling employee protests and consumer boycotts have CEOs at large corporations spooked over how and when to respond to hot-button issues during the Trump administration.
Why it matters: With trust in government at a record low, people are looking to powerful businesses to shape the conversation around topics of national importance — and chief executives are torn over how to proceed without offending customers or shareholders.
By the numbers: Guns, abortion, immigration and nationalism are among the most controversial issues for companies to take a stand on, according to a Morning Consult poll, "Corporate Social Responsibility in the Trump Era."
Brands with the best reputations among consumers are ones that stand for issues, regardless of whether those issues are considered liberal or progressive, according to an Axios/Harris 100 poll in March.
Certain industries and companies have chosen to rally around different issues, with varying outcomes.
Be smart: When it comes to taking a stand on issues, younger, liberal Americans are more likely to want corporations to get involved, according to the poll.
Yes, but: Companies are still falling short of expectations. According to a recent global survey by Edelman, there's still a big gap between what employees want their employer to take a stand on and what the company is actually doing.
The bottom line: Big businesses have historically avoided wading into political drama. But as issues become more politicized during the Trump Administration, most corporate leaders are finding it impossible not to get involved.
Mon, 19 Aug 2019 09:45:15 +0000
Taking care of the aging population is a crisis in the making, and no one — not families, not government programs and not the health care workforce — is prepared for it.
The big picture: Providing health care to aging Baby Boomers will strain Medicare’s finances, but the problem is even bigger than that.
Long-term care — the kind of services typically performed in a nursing home or by a home health aide — largely falls through the cracks of both public and private health insurance, saddling seniors and their families with financial and emotional burdens they often didn’t anticipate or plan for.
By the numbers: Estimates differ on the specifics, but they generally agree that somewhere between half and two-thirds of seniors will need at least some long-term care.
How it works: Medicare doesn’t cover most long-term care services. The market for private long-term care insurance is tiny and fraught with failure.
Medicaid is already the biggest line item in most states’ budgets — so as the need for long-term care grows, it will cost seniors, families, states and the federal government all at the same time.
The intrigue: A lot of long-term care has recently shifted away from nursing homes and toward home care or community-based options like assisted-living facilities.
That leads to yet another problem — high turnover among nurses and caregivers, which isn’t great for patients.
The bottom line: I asked Richard Johnson, who leads the Urban Institute’s program on retirement, why there isn’t a bigger political constituency to change this system.
Go deeper: The unofficial health care system
Mon, 19 Aug 2019 09:00:28 +0000
Democratic presidential hopefuls are calling for aggressive action to reduce heat-trapping emissions, while nations are facing pressure to ramp up commitments ahead of a major United Nations summit next month.
The big picture: Despite that fervor, progress on climate change remains elusive. We have cultivated a deep dependence on fossil fuels that have been driving Earth’s temperature up for more than a century, creating a problem whose mostly negative impacts are unfolding over more centuries.
This column and next week's edition will try to distill what makes this such a uniquely difficult problem.
This week: A global problem + time and cost dissonance
This just might be the world's greatest collective action problem, which is when rational, self-interested decisions of individuals make the circumstances of the group worse, and vice versa.
Republicans often argue the U.S. shouldn't reduce its emissions since China and India aren't reducing theirs. That's how the collective action problem works, and it could prevent even modest efforts addressing the problem.
By contrast, most other policies are not nearly as directly dependent upon global cooperation. Take, for example, gay rights. Same-sex marriage is legal in roughly 30 countries, yet same-sex sexual activity is considered a criminal act in 70 nations.
The bottom line: Action (or inaction) on climate change is by definition unable to occur in national silos.
Enacting policies today to cut greenhouse gas emissions won't have a discernible impact on global warming for decades, if not centuries. That's because we have already locked in significant warming due to our historical emissions. This makes it a tough sell, but especially in our 2- to 6-year election cycles.
Unlike other policies, climate change is cumulative. The longer we wait to address it, the bigger the problem it becomes and the harder it gets to solve, fueling a feedback loop that makes solutions ever more difficult.
By contrast, passing legislation on most other public policy issues aren't cumulative and would result in almost immediate, direct impact on millions of people.
The bottom line: Big climate policy would have to offer concrete benefits outside of its impact on emissions — think jobs or energy security — to overcome this time disconnect.
Climate change presents two separate costs.
The costs hit different parts of America and the world disproportionately, setting the stage for conflict, not cooperation (further complicating the first point).
By contrast, you invest money in your 401(K) with a reasonable level of confidence you’ll get it when you retire. Imagine getting taxed before you put that money into your fund and then not living long enough to reap the payoffs of your fund. That’s happening with climate change, on a global scale.
The bottom line: We are the first generation of humans to start paying the price for a warmer world, and we are also the first to face costs as we try to address it. We’re paying now and later.
What's next: Next week's column will tackle our stubborn — yet effective — energy system.
Mon, 19 Aug 2019 09:00:09 +0000
President Trump said Sunday Apple CEO Tim Cook made a "very compelling argument" during a meeting with him on how paying tariffs would make it difficult for the tech giant to compete with the likes of Samsung.
The big picture: Trump announced last week he would delay for 3 months tariffs on some Chinese imports, including certain tech goods, footwear and clothing. The 10% tariffs that were due to go into effect Sept. 1 would have affected iPhones and iPads.
NEW: Pres. Trump said he met with Apple CEO Tim Cook in Bedminster, adding that Cook "made a very compelling argument" that tariffs are making it hard for Apple to compete with companies like Samsung. "I'm thinking about it." https://t.co/TVq7yKJSle pic.twitter.com/LktWUkkJdt— ABC News (@ABC) August 18, 2019
Between the lines: The threat of a crashing stock market and higher Christmas shopping prices seemed to spook the Trump administration, despite the president's false insistence that China pays the cost of tariffs directly into the U.S. Treasury.
Go deeper: The forever trade war
Mon, 19 Aug 2019 05:04:49 +0000
President Trump joined his top White House economic advisers in downplaying concerns that the U.S. is heading for a recession, telling reporters on Sunday: "I don't see a recession."
Why it matters: The stock market saw a huge sell-off last week after the yield curve inversion, a warning sign that's predated every recession for the past 50 years.
President Trump: "I don't think we're having a recession. We're doing tremendously well. Our consumers are rich. I gave a tremendous tax cut and they're loaded up with money." pic.twitter.com/An41BZcWtT— The Hill (@thehill) August 19, 2019
The big picture: White House trade adviser Peter Navarro and the Trump administration's economic adviser Larry Kudlow took to the Sunday morning talk shows in an effort to calm recession concerns.
Mon, 19 Aug 2019 03:39:32 +0000
Former Trump campaign deputy manager David Bossie, who Axios recently exposed as milking donors by flaunting President Trump’s name, is trying to repair and revive his controversial fundraising operation.
The bottom line: Bossie suspended fundraising after Axios revealed that very little of the money he was raising was going to political campaigns. Trump was livid, forcing the Bossie retreat. Now, Bossie tells us he is making several changes — presumably to get back into Trump’s good graces and back into the fundraising business.
The impact: Bossie directed his political group, the Presidential Coalition, to cease all fundraising on May 7, 2 days after Axios published the findings of its investigation, done in collaboration with the Campaign Legal Center (CLC).
The fallout: Bossie told Axios that the group is "currently redesigning our fundraising programs, because of my longstanding relationship with the president and because of my desire to only help the president and the administration."
By the numbers: The Presidential Coalition's average daily contributions plunged from over $20,000 per day in early May to under $2,000 per day by the end of June, according to a new Axios/CLC analysis of the organization's latest IRS filing from the first half of 2019.
The state of play: Despite the backlash it faced, the Presidential Coalition is still spending just a small percentage of its money on direct political activity, though the percentage is higher than that of 2017 and 2018:
Worth noting: Bossie, a Fox News contributor, was totally absent on the network for nearly 3 months after our story ran. However, he did appear on the network again on July 31 to defend Trump after his tweets attacking Baltimore Rep. Elijah Cummings. A Fox News spokesperson told Axios that Bossie is still a contributor.
The Trump campaign told Axios that it stands by its May statement.
Sun, 18 Aug 2019 21:56:17 +0000
President Trump has suggested to national security officials that the U.S. should station Navy ships along the Venezuelan coastline to prevent goods from coming in and out of the country, according to 5 current and former officials who have either directly heard the president discuss the idea or have been briefed on Trump's private comments.
Driving the news: Trump has been raising the idea of a naval blockade periodically for at least a year and a half, and as recently as several weeks ago, these officials said. They added that to their knowledge the Pentagon hasn't taken this extreme idea seriously, in part because senior officials believe it's impractical, has no legal basis and would suck resources from a Navy that is already stretched to counter China and Iran.
In private, Trump has expressed himself more vividly, these current and former officials say.
Hawkish GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, has a different perspective about the value of a show of military force. "I've been saying for months that when the Venezuelan military sees an American military presence gathering force, this thing ends pretty quickly," he told me.
Behind the scenes: In recent months, an alleged drug lord in President Nicolás Maduro's inner circle has reached out to the White House through intermediaries, according to administration officials and other sources briefed on the outreach.
The big picture: Thus far, Trump has sought to strangle dictator Maduro with escalating sanctions. Senior administration officials say they are focused on diplomacy and economic pressure and have little interest in military options, though they won't rule them out.
Trump has had good reason to be frustrated, current and former officials said. For the first year and a bit of his presidency, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and chief of staff John Kelly collaborated to ignore or stymie what they judged to be dangerous requests from Trump. This included, in Mattis' case, a request for military options to topple Maduro, according to sources with direct knowledge of Trump's unfulfilled asks.
The bottom line: Trump has no interest in committing U.S. ground troops to Venezuela, according to senior administration officials, but he has told them to keep piling pressure on Maduro and to look for creative ways to help Guaidó force Maduro out of power.
Sun, 18 Aug 2019 21:55:20 +0000
If new gun legislation doesn't pass in September, it won't get done before the 2020 election, sources involved in the talks between the White House and Capitol Hill tell Axios.
The bottom line: "It's September or bust," said a source involved in the discussions. "We'll either have everything ready for when Congress returns, drop it on the floor, vote on it and move on — or we blow it."
The state of play: The president genuinely wants to expand background checks, according to White House and Hill officials. He's directed the Domestic Policy Council and Office of Legislative Affairs to provide him with options for a reform package, these sources said.
Behind the scenes: Rudy Giuliani says that he and Trump have discussed the need for "a bigger debate" over how much a psychiatrist is able to share from sessions with their patients.
Worth noting: It's unclear how serious these discussions were, and whether Trump agrees with Giuliani. Two senior White House officials say they haven't heard anything about bringing psychiatrists into the larger gun debate.
The big picture: The White House has been in listening mode over the past 2 weeks, including setting up staff sessions with aides to Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and others. The president and Ivanka Trump have also called around for advice on how to proceed.
Yes, but: Democrats familiar with the conversations and sources close to the president are deeply skeptical that any efforts will succeed.
Sun, 18 Aug 2019 21:54:42 +0000
The world's top 5 warmest years on record have occurred since 2014 — and it's almost certain that 2019 will be added to this list as well.
Why it matters: Such trends are indicative of long-term global warming due to human activities such as burning fossil fuels for energy and transportation, cutting down forests for agriculture and other purposes. Only 1 of the top 20 warmest years on record since instrument data began in 1880 took place before the year 2000. With greenhouse gas concentrations in the air at their highest level in 3 million years, the odds favor more record-shattering years in the future.
Many countries have been setting new milestones for monthly record warmth, as is the world at large. Here are some of 2019's noteworthy temperature records:
Monthly temperature records are based on estimates from a number of different organizations, including NOAA and NASA.
Aside from global trends, some individual continents and countries are setting records of their own. Here are a few national records that have been broken this year, some of which still need to be verified in order to officially enter the record books:
Sun, 18 Aug 2019 18:50:17 +0000
An overwhelming majority of Americans favor Congress expanding background checks for firearm sales, passing "red flag" laws and instituting a voluntary buyback program, according to a WSJ/NBC poll conducted between Aug. 10–14.
The big picture: Overall, the U.S. remains divided over the government's role in gun control, despite widespread support for those specific measures. 50% of Americans say they're more concerned that the government won't go far enough to regulate access to firearms, while 45% are more concerned gun control laws will be too restrictive. Only 46% of the 834 registered voters surveyed have a gun in their household.
Highlights: The poll was conducted after the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton.
Methodology: The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted Aug. 10–14 of 1,000 adults — more than half reached by cellphone — and it has an overall margin of error of ±3.1 percentage points. The margin of error for the 834 registered voters interviewed is ±3.4 percentage points.
Sun, 18 Aug 2019 18:31:34 +0000
Hong Kong pro-democracy protest organizers on Sunday called for the police chief and the security secretary to resign over their conduct toward activists, as the city experiences an 11th straight weekend of demonstrations, CNN reports.
What's new: Organizers say 1.7 million people took part in Sunday's peaceful mass protest in Hong Kong, though police are still surveying their own crowd estimates. Thousands still occupied the roads into the night outside the government headquarters in the Admiralty district.
The Hong Kong government released a statement saying they "regret" the turn of events at Victoria Park on Sunday, but accused organizers of targeting the police in their slogans.
LIVE: Tens of thousands of protesters rally in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park https://t.co/PBp3bKTa1U— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) August 18, 2019
The big picture: Thousands of protestors with umbrellas still occupied the park several hours after the demonstrations started. Roads became heavily congested after people spilled onto the streets.
With hundreds of thousands of people protesting in Hong Kong this weekend, Chinese state media released this video from near the HKG border. The mainland wants Hong Kongers to know what they’re capable of — if they decide to intervene. pic.twitter.com/L9itQgL7Cf— Will Ripley (@willripleyCNN) August 18, 2019
Earlier this week, pro-democracy protesters accused Hong Kong police of brutality. Police have repeatedly fired tear gas and rubber bullets, while some officers admitted to disguising themselves as anti-government protestors during rallies.
The bottom line: The unrelenting protests have become a flashpoint not only for the domestic stability of the Chinese government, but also for the U.S.-China trade war — which now threatens to spin the global economy into a recession.
Editor's note: This article has been updated with more details on the latest protest.
Sun, 18 Aug 2019 15:08:08 +0000
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that tariffs on Chinese goods are not hurting consumers in the United States, despite reports to the contrary from researchers at Harvard, the University of Chicago, the International Monetary Fund, the Federal Reserve of Boston and more.
Why it matters: The Trump administration announced last week that the impending 10% tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports would be delayed from Sept. 1 to Dec. 15 for certain products. Trump and other aides explained that the delay is intended to help consumers who might be affected by tariffs during the holiday season — suggesting that the administration does, in fact, agree with experts that the trade war is harming Americans.
Reality check: July's core consumer price index rose 0.3% from the previous month and 2.2% from a year earlier, meaning there has in fact been inflation, Bloomberg reports. Navarro also disputed that the yield curve had inverted earlier in the week, saying that it had merely flattened. This is not true.
The big picture: Navarro and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow took to the Sunday morning talk shows in an effort to ward off public fears of an upcoming recession. The stock market saw a huge sell-off last week after the yield curve inversion, a warning sign that's predated every recession for the past 50 years.
Go deeper: Toymakers say Trump's China tariff delay "saved the holiday season"
Sun, 18 Aug 2019 13:46:54 +0000
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