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Labor Sec. Marty Walsh under fire for Boston police chief appointment

A dispute about what Labor Secretary Marty Walsh did or didn't know before he left Boston for Washington is now threatening one of President Biden's more popular Cabinet members.

Why it matters: Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) has said Walsh should resign if he was aware of past domestic violence allegations facing the Boston police commissioner he appointed before resigning as mayor. Walsh has denied any knowledge, but sworn filings in court are challenging that claim.

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), whose support could be vital to Walsh keeping his job, recently dodged a question about whether the secretary should resign if he was aware.
  • The White House declined to comment, although Walsh has continued to be a prominent face for the administration at events and through travel.

Details: Shortly after Biden nominated him to be Labor secretary in January, Walsh picked Dennis White to run the city’s police department.

  • The process was rushed and seen by some as a way to fill the job with a favored candidate before handing over the mayor's office.
  • Two days later, the Boston Globe reported about past domestic violence allegations involving White.
  • Walsh placed White on leave and ordered an independent investigation. A 19-page report detailed the allegations, as well as on-again, off-again support for the probe by the Walsh administration.

What they're saying: Walsh has vehemently denied any foreknowledge.

  • His supporters say he was duped by the former police commissioner, William Gross, for whom White served as deputy and who is his close friend.
  • "Neither the allegations nor the internal affairs files were shared with me in 2014, or during any other consideration of Dennis White," Walsh said in a statement this month. "Had I known, I would not have chosen him for police commissioner or any other role."

In a court filing this month, Gross swore under oath that he had informed Walsh of the allegations in 2014.

  • "There is no way anyone is brought onto the command staff without such a briefing to the mayor and approval by the mayor," Gross wrote in an affidavit.
  • Suffolk County District Attorney Rachel Rollins, who is being vetted as a potential U.S. attorney for eastern Massachusetts, told a Boston radio station this week that a sworn statement "has to trump somebody just saying, 'Yeah, that never happened.'”

Be smart: The case is unlikely to fade, because Walsh's replacement — acting Mayor Kim Janey — has moved to fire White.

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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