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"Serious environmental harm": Federal judge throws out Trump rule limiting waterways protections

A federal judge on Monday tossed out a Trump administration rule that rolled back protections for streams, marshes and wetlands across the U.S.

Why it matters: Environmental and tribal groups have pushed the court to vacate the rule, which the Biden administration has kept in place while coming up with its own protections policy. The new ruling will expand protections for drinking water supplies for millions of Americans and thousands of wildlife species, per the Washington Post.

What they're saying: U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Márquez wrote in the ruling that Trump officials made serious errors while formulating the policy, which replaced Obama-era standards for dredging or filling waterways.

  • "The concerns identified ... are not mere procedural errors or problems that could be remedied through further explanation," Márquez noted. "Rather, they involve fundamental, substantive flaws."
  • Approximately 76% of water bodies reviewed by the U.S. Corps of Engineers between June 22, 2020 and April 15, 2021 did not qualify for federal protection under the new rule, according to Márquez.
  • Federal agencies reported 333 projects that would've required a permit before draining or filling under the Obama rule but did not under Trump's, per the ruling.
  • Leaving it in place would risk "serious environmental harm," Márquez said.

The other side: Some business and farm groups have argued that states are better positioned to regulate their own waterways.

  • Homebuilders, oil drillers and farmers have also said earlier restrictions caused challenges for their work.

What to watch: The ruling will likely face an appeal, according to WashPost.

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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