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Louisiana dodges massive storm surge, but winds leave 600,000 without power

A rare relief in the 2020 grind: The worst-case scenario hasn't yet come to pass with Hurricane Laura.

The state of play: The storm surge in Louisiana was 9 to 10 feet vs. the possibility of 20, and wind damage is easier to repair than massive flooding.

  • The death toll currently stands at four, and Interstate 10 is closed because a casino riverboat is jammed under one of its bridges.

The big picture: This was still a monster Category 4 hurricane at landfall.

  • “It looks like 1,000 tornadoes went through here. It’s just destruction everywhere,” Brett Geymann told the AP.
  • 600,000 people are without power, and 100,000 are potentially without access to clean water.

There's a “chlorine gas chemical fire” near Lake Charles, Louisiana, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports.

  • Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a shelter in place order as a result of the fire, telling residents to close windows and doors and turn off their A/C units.

What they're saying: "Just about the entire state saw Tropical Storm-force winds," Edwards said Thursday. "That's how big and powerful this storm was."

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told reporters on that his state saw the most significant damage in Orange County.
  • "You saw more rooftops ripped off, you saw more shingles missing, you saw more trees down, you saw big pieces of steel framing wrapped around some trees. You saw some roads that were still inundated with water, impassable at this particular time," Abbott said.

What's next: FEMA said on Wednesday that it planned to move 500,000 meals and 800,000 liters of water into Louisiana, and would keep 250,000 meals and 400,000 liters of water at its Fort Worth distribution center for either state.

  • Flood-level rainfall and tropical-storm force winds are expected for Arkansas, after Laura passed near the Louisiana-Arkansas border around 1 p.m. on Thursday.

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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