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German doctors say tests suggest Putin critic Navalny was poisoned

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was probably poisoned but is not currently in danger of dying, according to doctors at the Berlin hospital where he remains in an induced coma, per the AP.

Why it matters: Navalny is the best-known critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and several other prominent government critics have been poisoned in recent years.


  • The Berlin hospital said only that doctors found "cholinesterase inhibitors" in his system — a wide categorization that could encompass substances ranging from household insecticides to VX nerve gas.

The backdrop: Navalny became seriously ill shortly after boarding a flight last Thursday to Moscow from Siberia, where he met with opposition politicians.

  • An aide traveling with him alleged that poison was added to tea he ordered at the airport. The plane made an emergency landing in Omsk, Siberia.
  • Police quickly assembled at the hospital — though authorities said they were not investigating a possible crime — and doctors said they found no signs of poison in his system.
  • After authorities initially refused to allow him to travel abroad for treatment, Navalny was flown to Germany.

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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