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Trump admin alums to launch 'Center for Election Integrity'

The America First Policy Institute, led by Trump administration alumni, on Thursday will announce a Center for Election Integrity, a nonprofit group it says will push policies in state legislatures to "help make it easy to vote, but hard to cheat."

Driving the news: CEI will hold a morning announcement event at Atlanta Metropolitan Cathedral, a nod to Georgia's swing-state status as a hotbed of election controversy.


What they're saying: Hogan Gidley, a former White House spokesman and the center's director, said CEI "will work tirelessly to protect the voters and safeguard the integrity of future elections because one illegal vote is one too many.”

  • The group aims to support voter ID requirements and to "require ballots to be returned by election day...ensure voter rolls are consistently cleaned and kept up to date...and litigate cases of voter fraud."
  • CEI chairman Ken Blackwell, a former Ohio secretary of state, said in a statement: "We must help make sure that people have confidence in our system and that we give citizens a fair vote count."

Reality check: Although election security is a hot issue with Republicans, even Bill Barr, who was attorney general under President Trump, said he saw no evidence of widespread election fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

  • And more than half of Americans are "more concerned about laws restricting voting access than making sure that no one who is ineligible votes," according to recent polling.
  • Meanwhile, hundreds of bills aimed at restricting voter access at the polls have been proposed across the country.

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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