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Biden picks Damian Williams to lead powerful Manhattan U.S. attorney's office

President Biden nominated Damian Williams to be the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, among a slate of names he picked to some of the nation's most powerful law enforcement posts Tuesday.

Why it matters: Williams would be the first Black person to land one of the most coveted positions in prosecution. The powerful Manhattan-based office has had purviewover some of the nation's most high-profile cases, like several inquiries into associates of former President Trump.

  • Williams, a former clerk on the Supreme Court for Justice John Paul Stevens, currently leads a securities fraud unit in the SDNY office.

Of note: Biden also nominated Jessica Aber to be the attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, where she currently serves as a federal prosecutor, and lawyer Breon Peace to the same position in the Eastern District of New York.

  • Both offices tend to handle sensitive and politically-charged cases.

Other U.S. attorney appointments named Tuesday include Carla Freedman to the Northern District of New York, William Ihlenfeld II to the Northern District of West Virginia, Christopher Kavanaugh to the Western District of Virginia, Darcie McElwee to the District of Maine and William Thompson to the Southern District of West Virginia.

Between the lines: The White House wrote in a statement that confirming the nominations would be key to the Biden administration's "effort to take on the uptick in gun crime that has been taking place for the last 18 months[.]"

What they're saying: "These individuals were chosen for their devotion to enforcing the law, their professionalism, their experience and credentials in this field, their dedication to pursuing equal justice for all, and their commitment to the independence of the Department of Justice," the White House wrote in a statement.

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

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Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

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"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

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What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

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