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Today’s top stories
- Health: The warning signs of a longer pandemic — CDC director: Answer to Michigan COVID-19 surge is "to close things down."
- Vaccines: FDA expects J&J vaccine pause to last "a matter of days" — Moderna says vaccines are over 90% effective 6 months after second shot — Pfizer says it can deliver 10% more vaccine doses to U.S. by end of May.
- Economy: Jobs growth could be curbed by demands for higher wages.
- States: New York to replace today's J&J vaccine appointments with Pfizer.
- World: Facebook to push notifications about vaccine eligibility to 20 countries outside of the U.S. — Brits flock to pubs for first time in months as U.K. lockdown eases.
- Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
A Texas nonprofit that recently hired a Biden transition official got a contract worth as much as $530 million to help manage the influx of migrant children at the southern border, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: The contract is by far the largest ever awarded to Family Endeavors. It's potentially worth more than 12 times the group's most recently reported annual budget — a sign of the demand the new work will place on its operations.
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A leading conservative group is targeting the business community with a seven-figure ad buy on CNBC and local TV defending Georgia's new voting law from its corporate critics, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: By focusing on the C-suite through a network it watches, Heritage Action for America is offering a rejoinder to some companies — even Major League Baseball — after they waded so prominently into politics.
Advocates and lawmakers favoring marijuana reform are trying to capitalize on the social justice movement and COVID-19 economic rebound to legalize and normalize the use of pot.
Why it matters: The supporters are also trying to take advantage of polls showing broad public support — and get ahead of the reality Democrats could lose their control of Congress after the midterm elections next year.
Two border-district Democrats in Congress are pressing the Biden administration to revamp the asylum process, saying the current migrant surge is highlighting significant flaws in the system.
Why it matters: These lawmakers say the administration needs to start making concrete changes by summer. "If it's this bad in 90 days, it's hard to have excuses," Rep. Vicente Gonzalez told Axios.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday invited President Biden to address a joint session of Congress on April 28.
Why it matters: This will be Biden's first speech to both the House and Senate since taking office.
Rusten Sheskey, the police officer who shot Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year, is back on duty and won't face disciplinary action, Kenosha Police Chief Daniel Miskinis said Tuesday.
The big picture: Kenosha was at the center of protests against police brutality after Sheskey, a white law enforcement officer, shot and wounded Blake, a Black man, on Aug. 23, 2020. Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley announced in January that the officers involved in last summer's incident would not face charges.
The Taliban will not attend "any conference that shall make decisions about Afghanistan" until "all foreign forces completely withdraw," a spokesperson for the group tweeted on Tuesday.
Why it matters: That's an explicit rejection of an upcoming peace conference in Istanbul. It also follows President Biden's announcement that the U.S. will withdraw its troops by Sept. 11, but miss a deadline to do so by May 1.
John Kerry, President Biden's special envoy on climate change, is traveling to Shanghai, China and then on to South Korea for meetings on reducing emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases, the State Department said.
Why it matters: Kerry is the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit China since Biden took office, and these talks come less than two weeks in advance of a virtual White House climate summit on April 22-23.
Cryptocurrency will come to Wall Street like never before when Coinbase becomes a publicly-traded company on Wednesday.
Why it matters: The listing could value the company at upwards of $100 billion.
President Biden on Tuesday announced that he plans to nominate Robert Santos, vice president and chief methodologist at the Urban Institute, as director of the U.S. Census Bureau at the Department of Commerce.
Why it matters: If confirmed by the Senate, Santos, who also serves the president of the American Statistical Association, would be the first person of color to permanently lead the agency.
The White House on Tuesday issued its first-ever presidential proclamation marking Black Maternal Health Week as part of an effort to highlight racial gaps in pregnancy and childbirth-related deaths.
Why it matters: The U.S. retains the highest maternal mortality rates in the developed world, largely due to high mortality rates among Black mothers, according to research by Commonwealth Fund. Black women in the U.S. are 2.5 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than white women.
Kim Potter, identified as the officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, during a weekend traffic stop near Minneapolis, resigned from her position "effectively immediately," Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott said in a statement Tuesday.
What's new: Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon also submitted his resignation letter on Tuesday, Elliott said at a press conference. Elliot also called on Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz to turn the case over to Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office is currently prosecuting former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.
A constellation of Trump administration stars today will launch the America First Policy Institute, a 35-person nonprofit group with a first-year budget of $20 million and the mission of perpetuating former President Trump's populist policies.
Why it matters: Two top Trump alumni tell me AFPI is by far the largest pro-Trump outside group, besides Trump's own Florida-based machine.
Slain U.S. Capitol Police officer Billy Evans lay in honor in the Capitol on Tuesday, drawing mourners that included his family, his fellow officers, members of Congress and President Biden.
Why it matters: Evans is the second USCP officer this year to lie in honor at the Capitol. Evans died in a vehicular attack on the Capitol on April 2, and his colleague, officer Brian Sicknick, died the day after the Jan. 6 pro-Trump siege of the Capitol.
President Biden is expected to announce plans to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the Washington Post reports.
Why it matters: The decision, expected to be publicly announced Wednesday, means thousands of soldiers will remain in the country beyond the current May 1 deadline, which the Trump administration negotiated with the Taliban last year.
President Biden spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday and proposed that they meet for a summit "in a third country in the coming months," according to the White House.
Why it matters: The call comes amid a Russian build-up on Ukraine's borders, and after Putin reacted furiously to an interview in which Biden agreed that the Russian president was a "killer."
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is preparing to vote on a 280-page bipartisan bill that aims to counter the Chinese Communist Party's global influence.
Why it matters: The bill marks a culmination of years of growing concerns over the rise of an increasingly authoritarian China. It would allocate hundreds of millions of dollars to a raft of new initiatives aimed at helping the U.S. succeed in long-term ideological, military, economic and technological competition.
The U.S. FDA on Tuesday recommended an immediate halt of the use of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine, citing cases of a rare blood clot disorder that six women developed within two weeks of receiving the shot.
The latest: Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said at a briefing that she expects the pause to only last "a matter of days," as health officials investigate the data surrounding the "extremely rare" blood clots.
Iran has informed the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it will begin 60% uranium enrichment, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told reporters as he arrived to Vienna on Tuesday for a second round of nuclear talks.
Why it matters: This will be Iran's most severe violation of the 2015 nuclear deal since the Trump administration withdrew from the agreement in 2018. It's also a serious blow to the ongoing efforts to salvage the deal.
The White House said Tuesday that the FDA's recommendation that the U.S. pause use of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine "will not have a significant impact" on the administration's vaccination plans.
Why it matters: The Biden administration says it has secured enough Moderna and Pfizer doses for 300 million Americans. The U.S. will be able to continue administering 3 million vaccine doses a day even without the Johnson & Johnson shot, according to the White House.
Microsoft is trying to leapfrog competitors like Google and Amazon as they face record antitrust scrutiny.
The big picture: The deals Microsoft has been eyeing are larger than its usual targets and bigger than those of its competitors.
DraftKings has hired Brian Angiolet, former senior vice president and chief business officer at Verizon, as the company’s first-ever chief media officer.
Details: Angiolet will lead a team responsible for evaluating potential media acquisitions and content efforts, sources tell Axios. The team will help vet future deals and content partnerships that the company will use to help drive customer referrals to its sportsbook.
A second night of protests over the police shooting of Daunte Wright unfolded in Brooklyn Center Monday, as a large crowd defied a curfew and pleas from city leaders to go home.
Driving the news: “We are going to get to the bottom of this. We are going to make sure that there’s justice, that this officer is held accountable," Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott told demonstrators in an effort to calm tensions after dark.
Grab, a Singapore-based "super app" maker, on Tuesday announced plans to go public in the U.S. via the largest-ever SPAC deal.
Why it matters: The deal is more than twice the size of the previous record-holder, United Wholesale Mortgages.
In the run-up to the White House's virtual climate summit on April 22-23, environmental groups and now major corporations are presenting a united front in calling for at least a 50% cut in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, when compared to 2005 levels.
Why it matters: The 2030 targets are needed since the world is on course to sail above the warming targets set in place by the Paris Climate Agreement, resulting in potentially catastrophic climate impacts. These include the loss of much of the world's coral reefs and melting of some of the planet's largest ice sheets.
Democrats are exploring adding a huge array of health policies to upcoming spending legislation, ranging from further enhancing Affordable Care Act subsidies to allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices.
Why it matters: The next few months may give Democrats the opportunity to walk the walk after campaigning extensively on health care for years, and to plug some of the glaring holes in the system that were exposed by the pandemic.
Professional political trolling is still a thriving underground industry around the world, despite crackdowns from the biggest tech firms.
Why it matters: Coordinated online disinformation efforts offer governments and political actors a fast, cheap way to get under rivals' skin. They also offer a paycheck to people who are eager for work, typically in developing countries.
The advertising industry, plagued last year by pandemic-driven budget cuts, is poised to return stronger than ever in 2021 and beyond, according to several new forecasts.
Be smart: The quick turnaround means that the ad market is recovering faster than it did following the 2008 recession.
As humanity stretches into orbit and beyond, experts are still grappling with how rights afforded to workers on Earth apply to those living in space.
Why it matters: In order to create businesses and perhaps societies in space — where the biological necessities for sustaining human life, like air and water, aren't readily available — there will need to be fundamental rights agreements to guarantee laborers aren't exploited.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) announced Monday he's launched a civil rights investigation into the Windsor Police Department and its officers involved in the traffic stop of U.S. Army Lt. Caron Nazario.
Details: Herring told CNN footage that emerged last Friday showing the two officers pepper-spraying and drawing guns on Nazario, who is Black and Latino, in December was "appalling," "dangerous" and "unacceptable."
There were tense scenes in the Twin Cities suburb of Brooklyn Center Monday, after demonstrators defied a 7pm curfew to protest for a second night the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright.
The big picture: It followed a night of protests and unrest over the killing of Wright, 20, during a traffic stop Sunday. After peaceful protests and a daytime vigil, police again deployed tear gas during clashes with protesters Monday night, according to local reporters. Most protesters had left by about midnight, per the New York Times.
Japan's government on Tuesday announced plans to release more than 1 million metric tons of contaminated water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean following a treatment process.
Why it matters: While the Biden administration has said Japan appears to have met globally accepted nuclear safety standards, officials in South Korea, China and Taiwan, local residents, those in the fishing industry and green groups oppose the plans, due to begin in about two years, per the Guardian.
Axios traveled to McAllen and El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, to see how the communities are responding to an increase of migrants from Central America.
Of note: South and West Texas are among the poorest regions in the nation and rarely are they covered beyond soundbites and press conferences. Axios reporters Stef Kight and Russell Contreras walked the streets of McAllen, El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez to record images that struck them.
The officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, outside Minneapolis Sunday appeared to have inadvertently pulled out her gun instead of a Taser, police said.
What's new: Officials on Monday night identified the officer involved in the shooting as Kim Potter, who has been with the Brooklyn Center Police Department for 26 years.
Top Biden officials have meetings planned with more than a dozen congressional committees this week as they try to pass a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure package on an accelerated timeline, senior White House sources tell Axios.
Why it matters: Democrats are anxious to pass their massive tax-and-spend package before the August recess. If negotiations stretch beyond the summer break, the chances increase they drag into 2022, and it's hard to get members to take tough votes during election years.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other migrant advocacy groups are fed up with President Biden for continuing some of the controversial immigration practices used by President Trump.
Why it matters: With the president approaching his 100th day in office, the situation at the southern border has become his administration's biggest problem and threatens the Democrats' chances in the pivotal 2022 midterms.