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Florida school board votes to keep mask mandate despite governor's pay cut threat

The Broward County School Board has become the latest in Florida to defy a mask mandate ban by voting to keep the requirement for students and staff.

Why it matters: Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has threatened to withhold the pay of superintendents and school board members who defy the ban, as Florida experiences a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

  • The Florida Department of Education has already sent a letter to the Broward County School Board following the 8-1 vote in favor of the mandate.

The big picture: Several school districts in Florida are pushing back on the DeSantis' executive orders barring schools from issuing mask mandates.

  • It's a similar situation in Texas, where cases are also surging.
  • Two school districts in Dallas and Bexar counties were granted by a judge on Tuesday the "temporary power to issue mask mandates" despite Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's order barring the health measure, per the Texas Tribune.

What they're saying: Broward County School Board chair Rosalind Osgood said during a meeting on the matter Tuesday that they "can't ignore this pandemic," per CNN.

  • "It's deadly, and it's getting worse instead of better and the more we don't use masks, the more we position the mutation of this virus to grow," Osgood added.

The other side: Florida Department of Education commissioner Richard Corcoran wrote in his letter that he was launching an investigation into the matter and demanded the board provide a written response by 5 p.m. this Friday.

  • "This letter is sent to express my grave concern regarding your district's significant neglect in response to the recently adopted Emergency Rule," he wrote.
  • He said the department's emergency order banning mask mandates made clear that such policies imposed by a district or school "'must allow for a parent or legal guardian of the student to opt-out the student from wearing a face covering or mask.'"

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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