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Scoop: Lloyd Austin to visit Israel next week

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is expected to travel to Israel next week, Israeli officials told me.

Why it matters: This will be the first cabinet-level visit to the Middle East from the Biden administration, which has been shifting attention away from the region and toward China and Russia.


Driving the news: Austin is expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz. The agenda will include Iran and other regional issues like Syria and Lebanon, Israeli officials say.

  • Israeli officials also intend to raise U.S.-Israel security understandings, reached in the final weeks of the Trump administration, on maintaining Israel's qualitative military edge in the region. Israel wants to ensure the Biden administration is committed to those understandings.
  • The Pentagon declined to comment for this story.

Worth noting: In recent weeks, there has been an escalation of tensions between Israel and Iran in the Red Sea and the Gulf.

  • According to several reports, Israel sabotaged dozens of Iranian ships and tankers last week which had transferred oil to Syria or missile parts to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
  • The Iranians retaliated by attacking two ships owned by Israeli businessmen in the Gulf, signaling to Israel that its ships are vulnerable too.
  • On Tuesday, an Iranian ship operated by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was attacked in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen.  

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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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