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June 25, 2020 – U.S. coronavirus cases accelerate, Google enters the news business and aviation tariffs decimate the wine industry.

Today’s newsletter 1,319 words, a 9-minute read. Let’s get to it:

Coronavirus Cases Are Accelerating Across U.S.

Those eager for Covid-19’s first wave to come to an end will have to wait longer. Across the country, states are reporting increased seven-day averages of new cases. And the acceleration isn’t solely tied to more testing, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Why It Matters

I think I speak for all of us when I say we want this to end as soon as possible. But the realization here we’re not even close to the finish line yet. What happened in New York and New Jersey, early pandemic hot spots, show public health efforts can slow the spread. But to see numbers rising across 33 different states is alarming, and those hoping to reopen have to seriously reconsider now.

This month, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown hit the pause button on the relaxation of restrictions as cases rose. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards postponed the next phase of reopening for at least an additional 28 days. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut now require visitors from high-risk states to quarantine for two weeks before entering.

Public health officials say Covid-19 will likely continue to spread in uneven waves across the U.S., and why this is accelerating is hard to pin down. We’re still coming off the heels of massive protests around the country in response to the killing of George Floyd. Although, some health officials have linked recent rises to people congregating Memorial Day weekend of in tightly packed indoor bars.

While some may construe this uptick as a second wave, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s top infectious disease expert, has stressed that we’re still in the middle of the first one. The trajectory of cases likely depends on how each state approaches its public health infrastructure, and that can dictate how quickly they can get things under control.

Numbers to Consider

  • 2.3 Million – The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the U.S.
  • 120,000 – The total number of deaths in the U.S. from Covid-19.
  • 30,000 – Daily cases surpassed this number for the first time since early May last week, and on June 23, more than 34,000 new cases were reported. 

Full Story: (WALL STREET JOURNAL)

Google Strikes Deals to Pay Some Publishers for News

It sounds inherently strange, but “according to Google” might just be a phrase we have to get used to. The tech giant is throwing itself into the news business, announcing its reached agreements with selected publishers around the world to license news content. Google did not announce any deals with publishers in the U.S., where larger outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, “have pressed Google to compensate them for news content.”

Why It Matters

For years, media and tech companies have been engaged in a never-ending match of tug of war. News executives have criticized the major tech players, such as Google and Facebook, for aggregating and distributing content without shouldering any of the financial burdens of newsgathering.

The landscape is now starting to shift, kind of. Facebook struck a multi-million dollar deal last year with publishers to include some content in its news tab. Apple currently offers the Apple News+ service, which provides access to hundreds of magazines. Google has moved on this space at a slower rate, but this deal and other potential ones in the pipeline signals its intention to catch up.

The timing is interesting as Google had come under increased scrutiny from regulators. Both Australia and France had been pressuring the tech giant to provide value back to publishers included in its search results. In April, Australian government officials told Google it would have to start paying news outlets. And in the U.S., Google is likely facing antitrust litigation because of its dominant search and advertising business.

But overall, is this a good thing? The answer is gray. Putting money back in the pockets of publishers, especially local ones, is a step in the right direction for the media industry. However, assigning more control over the flow of information to companies like Google or Facebook is dangerous.

Numbers to Consider

  • $1,432.70 – Google’s share price as of Thursday morning.

Full Story: (WALL STREET JOURNAL)

Battered U.S. Wine Importers Brace for Higher Tariffs

The U.S. Representative’s office is considering raising tariffs on wine, cheeses, olives and other products from the European from 25 percent to 100 percent. The move is seemingly retribution for lack of progress in resolving an aviation industry dispute between Boeing and Airbus.

How It Happened

Following an exhausting 16-year squabble, the World Trade Organization ruled last year that the EU had given improper subsidies to Airbus. The WTO’s ruling gave the U.S. latitude to impose as much as $7.5 billion in tariffs but didn’t specify which products it had to on. So, the U.S. decided to hit Europeans on “culturally significant exports.”

Why It Matters

Putting aside the Airbus-Boeing trade war and hope the U.S. at some point reaches a trade deal with the EU, U.S. wine importer and retailers are getting decimated. Mitigating tariffs is a challenge for them as a plethora of rules and regulations leaves them few options on how to respond.

Still, the wine industry has mounted a vigorous opposition. In January, more than 26,000 individuals and companies wrote the USTR, overwhelmingly opposed to the tariffs. It resulted in an emergency review, but Wednesday, the USTR filed again to increase to 100 percent.

Covid-19 has had a damaging effect on the restaurant industry – they’ve lost $27 billion in monthly sales according to reports from the Commerce Department. And with alcohol being a considerable part, the futures of many of these restaurants’ hinges on wine.

Numbers to Consider

  • 50 Percent – The decline of the restaurant industry from February to April.
  • $524 Million – The amount American businesses have paid in U.S. imposed tariffs as a direct result of the Airbus-Boeing dispute, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
  • 10 Percent – The estimated plunge for global alcohol consumption in 2020.

Full Story: (WALL STREET JOURNAL) Dive Deeper: (REUTERS)

Worth Your Time

The Next Big Thing: Apple has made big news of late, with antitrust troubles and a new processing chip. But the WWDC also revealed another notable announcement – the era of OS X has finally reached its end. Next on the way, MacOS 11.0. (STRATECHERY)

DIY Web Apps: Citing the need for customers to fulfill their own application needs, Amazon launched a new fully managed “low-code/no-code” development tool that makes it easy for anybody to build their own applications. Here’s a look at why Amazon did so. (TECH CRUNCH)

Data Dump: After years of criticism on how much data it compiles, Google says it will start automatically deleting records after 18 months. While the company has long argued the information it gathers makes personalization easier, Google’s shift is meant to address the “power of defaults” or predetermined choices made for the users that people sometimes never tinker with. (NEW YORK TIMES)

Standing Up: A growing contingent of advertisers is boycotting Facebook over the tech company’s moderation practices. Magnolia Pictures, one of the boycotters, said it “seeking meaningful change at Facebook and the end to their amplification of hate speech.” (NEW YORK TIMES)

An Astronomical Fall: Days after revealing the $2 billion missing from its balance sheet “probably didn’t exist,” German fintech firm Wirecard AG has filed for insolvency proceedings. Once a premiere company on Europe’s tech scene, the latest development emphasizes how startling Wirecard’s fall from grace is. The company’s value has dropped nearly 90 percent since news of the fraud broke. (WALL STREET JOURNAL)

A Couple Cents Content

Watch Justin Oh sit down with trucking industry expert Jeffrey Whitcomb and talk Nikola, alternative fuels and more (YOUTUBE)

And if you don’t have time to watch, read the first set of highlights from the conversation in Q&A form (POST)

Check out Austin Hankwitz’ thoughts on Hyliion, a competitor of Nikola (POST)

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See you tomorrow!

— Justin Birnbaum

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