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Today’s top stories
Some Republican governors have found themselves at odds with their own party over a record number of bills targeting transgender children.
Why it matters: Social conservatives see a winning issue in bills to restrict trans students' participation in sports and access to health care, but the sudden push has met resistance even from some staunch conservatives.
The Biden administration on Monday announced that it will fully implement the International Entrepreneur Rule (IER), an Obama-era program that lets certain foreign-born entrepreneurs stay in the U.S. for up to five years.
Why it matters: The Department of Homeland Security estimates that once implemented, about 3,000 foreign entrepreneurs would qualify per year for the IER program, resulting in about 100,000 jobs being created over a decade.
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The U.S.' sharply declining rate of population growth threatens to put an expiration date on a country built around a vision of endless reinvention.
The big picture: Fewer people means fewer workers to support an aging population, fewer innovators with new ideas, less economic growth — and more of one thing: political fights over a shrinking pie.
A Chinese lander carrying a rover successfully touched down on Mars for the first time, state media reports.
Why it matters: This is the first time China has landed a spacecraft on another planet, and it launches the nation into an elite club of only a few space agencies to successfully make it to the Martian surface.
The United Nations warned Friday that ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas "has the potential to unleash an uncontainable security and humanitarian crisis," in not only the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel, but "the region as a whole."
The big picture: More than 125 Palestinians, including 31 children have been killed in Gaza since fighting began Monday, per the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Eight people, including two children, have been killed in Israel, Reuters reported, citing Israeli authorities.
- Health: New CDC mask guidance tests risk tolerance — Study: Over 99% of hospitalized COVID-19 patients were not vaccinated — Mental health visits among vulnerable populations dropped significantly during pandemic.
- Politics: Pelosi says masks will still be required on House floor, despite CDC guidance — Pfizer's argument against waiving patent rights.
- Vaccines: Unvaccinated Hispanic Americans are more likely to say they want a shot ASAP — Franklin Graham prods Christians to vaccinate or "it could be too late."
- States: DeSantis says he will pardon people who violate COVID-19 restrictions — Colorado ends most COVID-19 limits, lifts mask order.
- Business: Some retailers will still require masks in stores.
- Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
The United States must encourage an immediate cease-fire in the Middle East and adopt an "evenhanded approach" that recognizes Palestinians and Israelis have a right to "live in peace and security," Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) wrote in a New York Times opinion on Friday.
Driving the news: Violence escalated this week after Israelis intensified efforts to evict Palestinians from their homes in Jerusalem. Hamas fired rockets and Israel massed troops, leaving more than 125 Palestinians and seven people in Israel dead.
Eager to show progress on the pledge to make its platform and business anti-racist, Uber on Friday announced new anti-racism driver and rider campaigns, as well as fresh internal hiring practices, Axios was first to report.
Why it matters: Uber is one of the biggest ride hailing companies in the world. Its decisions impact the millions that use the platform, where drivers and riders alike say they have experienced racism.
Joel Greenberg, a former associate of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), has agreed to cooperate with federal investigators and admitted to a variety of federal charges including sex trafficking a minor, the New York Times reported Friday citing court papers.
Why it matters: Investigators believe Greenberg introduced women to Gaetz for paid sex and are looking into the Florida congressman's alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Greenberg could be a key witness as federal prosecutors decide whether to charge Gaetz.
The White House on Friday said that Republicans' idea to impose user fees for infrastructure spending would "violate" President Biden's promise not to raise taxes on Americans making less than $400,000 annually.
What they're saying: "The president's pledge and his commitment, his line in the sand, his red line, whatever you want to call it, is that he will not raise taxes for people making less than $400,000 a year," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. "User fees that have been proposed out there would violate that."
Columbus, Ohio, on Friday reached a $10 million settlement with the family of Andre Hill, an unarmed Black man who was fatally shot by police as he walked out of a garage while holding a cellphone.
What they're saying: "We understand that because of this former officer's actions, the Hill family will never be whole," City Attorney Zach Klein said in a statement. "No amount of money will ever bring Andre Hill back to his family, but we believe this is an important and necessary step in the right direction."
The iconic spacefaring adventure "Mass Effect" is back today with "Mass Effect: Legendary Edition," a single, remastered version of all three games.
Why it matters: There is no series like "Mass Effect" — even when it comes to BioWare's other choice-driven RPGs like "Dragon Age." "Mass Effect" is a big ol' space adventure first and foremost, but it’s also about loyalty, love, and tough calls.
Gas stations in 12 states and the District of Columbia are still experiencing fuel shortages after Colonial Pipeline resumed service following a ransomware attack that caused the pipeline to shutdown, according to crowdsourced data collected by GasBuddy.
The state of play: Colonial Pipe said in a statement Wednesday it would take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal following its restart.
A newly unearthed video obtained by CNN shows Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), then a private citizen, taunting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) outside of her office in Feb. 2019.
Why it matters: In the since-deleted footage, Greene is accompanied by associates, including a man who later became part of the pro-Trump mob that stormed Capitol Hill on Jan. 6, according to CNN.
The hacker group DarkSide, which was responsible for a ransomware attack that shut down the Colonial Pipeline and led to fuel shortages in multiple states this week, claims to be shutting down, Krebs on Security and several cybersecurity firms report.
Why it matters: In a message from a cybercrime forum, the group said it had lost access to the infrastructure needed to carry out its extortion operations and that a cryptocurrency account it uses to pay its affiliates had been drained.
House negotiators have reached an agreement on the parameters of a 9/11-style commission to investigate the "facts and circumstances" surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the House Homeland Security Committee announced Friday.
Why it matters: The formation of a bipartisan Jan. 6 commission had been delayed for months, after some Republicans insisted that the scope of the investigation be expanded to include violence by far-left protesters last summer.
House Republicans voted 134-46 in a secret ballot Friday to appoint Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) as the chair of the GOP conference, replacing Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.).
Why it matters: Stefanik's appointment underscores how important loyalty to former President Trump remains to the Republican Party.
April retail sales in the U.S. were unchanged from March, which saw a surge revised up to 10.7%, according to the latest Commerce Department report published Friday.
Why it matters: The U.S. has been entering a period of growing optimism in the wake of the vaccine rollout, falling new COVID-19 cases and deaths, and a slowly recovering labor market. Retail sales were up 51% year-over-year compared to April 2020.
A new policy roadmap provides Congress and the White House with ways to support the growth of methods to pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere using everything from existing forests to direct air capture machines.
Driving the news: Recent climate studies, such as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 1.5-degree report, have pointed to the clear need for society to pursue strategies for driving carbon emissions into negative territory by the latter half of the century.
The CDC announced Thursday that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors.
Why it matters: The U.S. is entering a new stage in the pandemic where the public — vaccinated or not — will need to assess its own risk tolerance in shared spaces.
Wells Fargo is no longer viewed as the least ethical big company in America. That's the big lesson from the most recent Axios Harris reputation poll.
Why it matters: After hitting extreme Axios Harris lows in 2017, Wells Fargo embarked upon a massive public rehabilitation campaign in 2018. It seems to have worked.
Tel Aviv — With U.S. envoy Hady Amr set to arrive in Israel on Friday for de-escalation talks with Israeli, Palestinian and UN officials, Israeli officials are concerned the U.S. intervention will lead to increased pressure to stop their military operation.
Driving the news: Fighting continued overnight, with the Israeli military massing forces along the frontier with the Gaza Strip and briefing reporters about ground forces entering the fight. Anticipating a ground invasion, Hamas sent its elite forces to their defensive tunnels. The Israeli forces instead began to bomb those tunnels and did not cross into Gaza, Israeli officials say.
Three-quarters of people between 18-29 say vaccination should be required to return to campus or work, according to new Generation Lab/Axios polling, and 37% would refuse to come back unless those conditions are in place.
Why it matters: Young workers have put pressure on CEOs to take action on social and political issues and have plenty of capital to exert it on reopening policy.
President Biden's promise to cut the price of Americans' internet bills has provoked a fierce lobbying campaign by cable and telecom companies to prove that the cost of broadband has already dropped.
Why it matters: Internet providers are desperate to fend off any move to regulate the prices they charge, while the government is increasingly viewing connectivity as an essential service.
Most police agencies in recent federally court-ordered reform agreements saw violent crime rates skyrocket immediately, according to an Axios examination of departments under consent decrees since 2012.
Why it matters: The increases in violent crime rates — in one case by 61% — suggest that there can be unintended consequences, at least in the short term, to the policing changes many Americans have demanded in the year since George Floyd's death.
At least 109 Palestinians and seven people in Israel have been killed since recent fighting between Israel's military and Hamas began Monday.
The big picture: Israel began massing troops on its border with Gaza on Thursday, launching attacks from the air and ground as Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel.
The Dallas-Fort Worth area is being targeted for the largest collective earmark request in the country, according to a detailed breakdown of overall requests released by the House Appropriations Committee.
Why it matters: House appropriators are trying to balance bipartisan momentum for infrastructure investment with "pork-barrel" spending's checkered political history. The data dump is an effort to provide transparency for what are now termed "community project funding" requests.
Some Senate Democrats are open to paying for a compromise infrastructure package by imposing user fees, including increasing the gas tax and raising money from electric car drivers through a vehicle-miles-traveled charge.
Why it matters: By inching toward the Republican position on pay-fors, some Democrats are bucking President Biden's push to offset his proposed $2.3 trillion plan by focusing only on raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
A leading progressive legal advocacy group is spinning off from the sprawling dark money network that seeded it, the group tells Axios.
Why it matters: Demand Justice's decision to separate from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a "fiscal sponsor" for scores of largely left-wing organizations, will provide the public with its first detailed look behind the curtain of the influential progressive nonprofit.
Thousands of migrant children have been released by the Biden administration to caretakers in the U.S. as part of the government's program for unaccompanied minors — but there's little-to-no visibility about what's happened to them.
Flashback: During the Trump administration, there was outrage when a top official told Congress his agency was unable to verify the locations of about 1,500 kids released to sponsors. Today, the agency in charge won't answer questions about its efforts to keep track of these vulnerable children.
About 150 million vaccine doses were administered globally over the past week, the highest weekly total yet and a jump from 130 million last week.
Breaking it down: In the U.S., daily vaccinations peaked in mid-April and fell sharply as demand waned, though they've ticked up over the past few days (46% of the population has at least one dose).