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Florida's biggest school districts vote to defy DeSantis on masks

After record-shattering daily COVID-19 counts, school boards in Florida's Hillsborough and Miami-Dade Counties held emergency meetings Wednesday and voted to again require face coverings on campuses.

Why it matters: The districts are the nation's fourth- and seventh-largest — representing more than 600,000 students.


State of play: Hillsborough reported Wednesday that there were 1,840 confirmed cases among students and staff, and that 10,000 students and staff were quarantined.

A big change: Students had been allowed to opt out of wearing a mask at school if they filled out a simple form. The measure approved Wednesday now requires that a certified health care provider document the medical or psychological need to be unmasked.

  • The policy goes into effect immediately and lasts for 30 days.

Yes, but: Lots of questions about the political and financial repercussions for defying DeSantis remain.

  • His administration had threatened to dock the salaries of superintendents and school board members who don't allow parents to opt out, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

What they're saying: The board listened to nearly two hours of public comments that exposed the intense political nature of the issue, and a depressing level of misinformation.

  • One man apologized to the parents who have lost children to COVID and then audaciously told them that masks would not have prevented their children’s deaths.
  • Others, who called themselves "patriots" several times, mocked masks as "face diapers" and said they refused to live in fear.

The other side: "It would be incredible to see the same number of people who talked about oppression today speak up for our Black and Latino students," said board member Karen Perez, pointing out that those are the most at risk populations.

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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