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NSA watchdog to investigate Tucker Carlson's allegations he was spied on

The National Security Agency's inspector general announced Tuesday that it is investigating allegations that the NSA "improperly targeted the communications of a member of the U.S. news media."

Why it matters: Fox News host Tucker Carlson claimed in June that a whistleblower had informed him NSA was monitoring his electronic communications "in an attempt to take this show off the air." The agency issued a statement at the time saying Carlson "has never been an intelligence target."


What they're saying: "The OIG is examining NSA's compliance with applicable legal authorities and agency policies and procedures regarding collection, analysis, reporting, and dissemination activities, including unmasking procedures, and whether any such actions were based upon improper considerations," NSA Inspector General Robert Storch said in a statement.

Between the lines: Carlson was speaking with U.S.-based Kremlin intermediaries about setting up an interview with Vladimir Putin shortly before he accused the National Security Agency of spying on him, Axios' Jonathan Swan reported last month.

  • Sources told Axios that U.S. government officials learned about Carlson's efforts to secure the Putin interview.
  • Carlson learned that the government was aware of his outreach — and that's the basis of his extraordinary accusation.
  • Axios has not confirmed whether any communications from Carlson have been intercepted, and if so, why.

Editor's note: This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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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