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2 hours ago - World

Scoop: Biden to waive sanctions on company in charge of Nord Stream 2

Angela Merkel (left) with Vladimir Putin. Photo: Adam Berry/Getty Images

The Biden administration will waive sanctions on the corporate entity and CEO overseeing the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline into Germany, according to two sources briefed on the decision.

Why it matters: The decision indicates the Biden administration is not willing to compromise its relationship with Germany over this pipeline, and underscores the difficulties President Biden faces in matching actions to rhetoric on a tougher approach to Russia.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Several states report zero COVID deaths for the first time in months — CDC says schools should still universally require masks and physical distancing.
  2. Politics: New York to lift mask mandate for vaccinated people — CDC director says politics didn't play a role in abrupt mask policy shift.
  3. Vaccines: Sanofi, GSK COVID vaccine shows strong immune response in phase 2 trials — Vaccine-hesitant Americans cite inaccurate side effects — 600,000 kids between 12 and 15 have received Pfizer dose since FDA authorization.
  4. Business: How retailers are responding to the latest CDC guidance — Delta to require all new employees be vaccinated — Target, CVS and other stores ease mask requirements after CDC guidance.
  5. World: World's largest vaccine maker expects to resume exports by end of 2021 — Biden administration to send 20 million U.S.-authorized vaccine doses abroad.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
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Prosecutor: Fatal police shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. was "justified"

Khalil Ferebee (C), the son of Andrew Brown Jr., and attorneys Bakari Sellers (L) and Harry Daniel (R) at a May 11 news conference in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

A North Carolina prosecutor said Tuesday that the death of Andrew Brown Jr., a Black man fatally shot by sheriff's deputies last month, was "tragic" but "justified," due to the immediate threat officers believed Brown posed.

Why it matters: The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into Brown's death. Police in Elizabeth City shot him five times, including in the back of his head, according to an independent autopsy report released by family attorneys last month.

McCarthy comes out against bipartisan deal on Jan. 6 commission

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will oppose a bipartisan deal announced last week that would form a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, his office announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: McCarthy's opposition to the deal, which was negotiated by the top Republican and Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, underscores the internal divisions that continue to plague the GOP in the wake of Jan. 6.

5 hours ago - World

Beijing's antitrust push poses a problem for Western regulators

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Chinese government's anti-monopoly machinery presents a major challenge to U.S. and European regulators, a new book argues.

Why it matters: China's huge markets are attracting investment from multinational corporations and shaping the behavior of its own globe-trotting companies — giving international heft to the country's idiosyncratic antitrust enforcement and putting it on a collision course with Western-style regulation.

Arab American activists to protest Biden's Michigan visit over Israel support

"Free Palestine" rally in Dearborn on May 15. Photo: Matthew Hatcher/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Arab American activists are planning a series of protests on Tuesday during President Biden's visit to Dearborn, Michigan, which has one of the highest percentage of Arab Americans of any U.S. city, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Why it matters: Arab American activists are outraged over Biden's public support of Israel's military operation in Gaza, which has killed more than 200 Palestinians, including 61 children.

Rep. Val Demings to challenge Marco Rubio for Senate seat

Photo: Shawn Thew - Pool/Getty Images

Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) plans to run for the U.S. Senate to unseat Republican Marco Rubio next year, rather than pursue a run for governor, according to an adviser and another source familiar with her plans.

Why it matters: Demings' candidacy will place a household name — and one who was on President Biden's shortlist for vice president — on the ballot for Democrats. Rubio has won two elections in the battleground state, including one that followed a failed bid for the GOP's nomination for the presidency in 2016.

Crypto hype gives scam artists a new gold rush

Reproduced from FTC; Chart: Axios Visuals

The cryptocurrency hype is real. New numbers show how scammers are benefiting.

Driving the news: Reported losses tied to crypto scams spiked 1,000% in the past year, the Federal Trade Commission said Monday. That includes over $2 million that people have sent to Elon Musk impersonators. (Yes, really.)

8 hours ago - Health

Several states report zero COVID deaths for the first time in months

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Over the weekend, Texas reported reaching the milestone of zero deaths from COVID-19 for the first time since March 2020. Arizona, Minnesota, and Massachusetts also recently reported COVID death-free days for the first time in months.

State of play: Other states also posted positive COVID metrics at the top of the week while COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. fell to their lowest in nearly 14 months, Reuters reported.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
8 hours ago - Economy & Business

No end in sight for rising oil prices

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Oil prices have continued to rise, gaining again on Tuesday after rising to the highest in two years on Monday.

Why it matters: Inflation worries and concerns that prices have run past reasonable valuations have weighed on equities recently, but bullish oil traders continue to be handsomely rewarded this year.

Liz Cheney says she won't vote for McCarthy for speaker if GOP wins House

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Former House Republican conference chair Rep. Liz Cheney told Politico she wouldn’t vote for Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for speaker next year if the GOP won back the House majority.

Why it matters: Cheney has signaled she will continue to be a voice of opposition against Donald Trump and factions of her own party, including those like McCarthy who she believes have enabled the former president and his lies.

Scoop: Discovery CEO David Zaslav signs new contract through 2027

Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

David Zaslav will stay on as Discovery CEO through at least 2027, leading the massive joint venture with WarnerMedia announced on Monday, sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: Zaslav's new contract will be announced next week in conjunction with the name of the new company that he just unveiled with AT&T CEO John Stankey.

Big media to get a lot bigger

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The megamerger of Discovery and AT&T media assets is likely to trigger a chain reaction of other media giants forming ever bigger combinations.

Why it matters: There was a time when most Americans got their news and entertainment from three broadcast networks, a handful of Hollywood studios and their local paper. Today, Americans get content from hundreds of different sources, but they're increasingly being gobbled up by the same owners.

Israeli-Palestinian fight spills over into social media

Credit: Data: Zignal Labs; Chart: Axios Visuals

As outrage about the conflict in Gaza and misinformation about clashes between Palestinians and Israelis snowball online, social media companies face yet another test of their capacity to manage their platforms.

Why it matters: Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians haven't been this high since the last round of combat in Gaza in 2014, and social media has become a much larger part of our everyday lives and media diets since then.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
11 hours ago - Science

Astronomy's future waits on NASA's next big telescope

Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios. Photo: QAI Publishing/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The high-profile, high-price tag James Webb Space Telescope is finally moving closer to launch.

Why it matters: The Webb has been in development by NASA for far longer than expected, and while other missions have moved ahead in that time, getting the powerful telescope to space is a top priority.

The slow moves to improve police training

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Police departments around the country have been ramping up training programs in the year since George Floyd's death — but no one should expect them to have enough impact in one year to prevent more tragic deaths of people of color, according to training experts and practitioners.

Why it matters: If the training does have a meaningful impact in steering officers away from deadly confrontations, it could take years to see results, experts say — and there's little solid evidence that it works.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
11 hours ago - Health

Eyebrows raise over another senior CDC departure

Shoshana Gordon/Axios

As some public health experts continue to criticize the rollout of the CDC's new mask guidance, a top CDC official announced her retirement yesterday — the second in a month.

Why it matters: Although the agency has taken a decidedly more pro-science approach to the pandemic under the Biden administration than it did under Trump's, the trio of negative headlines suggest lingering turmoil.

Updated 13 hours ago - World

In photos: Scenes from Israel-Hamas aerial bombardments

Explosions light-up the sky above buildings in Gaza City as Israeli forces shell the Palestinian enclave early on May 18.

Israel and Hamas continued aerial bombardments into Tuesday morning as over a week of fighting showed no sign of ending despite international calls for a ceasefire, per Reuters.

Why it matters: The worst violence in the region since 2014 has resulted in the deaths of 212 people in Gaza, ruled by Hamas, and 10 in Israel. 61 Palestinian children and two Israeli children are among those killed since the aerial exchanges began on May 10, Reuters notes.

GOP-led Arizona board calls for end to election audit

Ballots are counted at the Maricopa County Election Department after the presidential election in Phoenix, Arizona, on Nov. 5. Photo: Olivier Touron/AFP via Getty Images

The Republican-dominated Maricopa County Board of Supervisors said in a letter Monday that the Arizona state Senate's GOP-led audit of its 2020 presidential election results should be called off.

Why it matters: The letter underscores divisions in the GOP between loyalists of former President Trump and those denouncing baseless election claims, which saw Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) ousted last Wednesday as the third-highest ranking House Republican after speaking out on the matter.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
15 hours ago - Energy & Environment

IEA analysis charts "narrow" pathway to Paris climate goal

Photovoltaic solar panels at the power plant in La Colle des Mees, Alpes de Haute Provence, southeastern France. Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP via Getty Images

The pathway for transforming global energy systems to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 is "narrow but still achievable" and demands unprecedented acceleration away from fossil fuels, an International Energy Agency report published Tuesday concludes.

Why it matters: It provides detailed analysis and estimates of what's needed for a good shot at limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels — the Paris Agreement benchmark for avoiding some of the most damaging effects of climate change.

16 hours ago - World

In photos: Deadly Cyclone Tauktae leaves trail of destruction across India

A police officer helps a public transport driver cross a flooded street due to heavy rain caused by Tropical Cyclone Tauktae in Mumbai, India, on May 17. Photo: Ashish Vaishnav/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Tropical Cyclone Tauktae killed at least 16 people in India after making landfall in Gujarat Monday, packing 100mph winds, as the country continued to face surging infection rates and deaths from COVID-19, per Reuters.

The big picture: Tauktae unleashed heavy rains and winds as it moved across Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra. Over 200,000 people were evacuated from Gujarat, and ports, airports and vaccination centers shut across the state and Mumbai, Reuters reports. Tauktae weakened from a Category 3 storm to a "severe cyclonic storm" Tuesday.

19 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Yellen wants business to help foot infrastructure bill

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is heading into the belly of the beast Tuesday and asking the business community to support President Biden's $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan during a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Why it matters: By trying to persuade a skeptical and targeted audience, Yellen is signaling the president’s commitment to raising corporate taxes to pay for his plan. Republican senators, critical to a potential bipartisan deal, oppose any corporate tax increase.

19 hours ago - World

Schumer's Israel vise

Sen. Chuck Schumer addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in March 2014. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's longtime support for Israel puts him on a collision course with the progressive wing of his party as the conflict between Israel and Hamas worsens.

Why it matters: This is the toughest political position the New York Democrat has been in since becoming majority leader. The fighting in the Middle East is dividing his party — and creating a clear rift among its different wings.

DOJ signals scrutiny of popular fundraising gimmick

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

A little-noticed line in a recent criminal filing suggests federal prosecutors consider a popular political fundraising tactic to be legally questionable.

Why it matters: Fundraisers often boast of "5x" or other contribution matches to coax small-dollar donations. The Justice Department indicated in a court filing Monday this could amount to "material misrepresentations" if, as critics often contend, there's no evidence the match ever occurs.

19 hours ago - Politics & Policy

By the numbers: Calling congressional attendance

Expand chart
Data: Quorum via Congress.gov; Table: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The top five freshman members of Congress who've missed the most votes this year are all House Republicans, according to data collected by Quorum.

By the numbers: Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) led the pack, missing 16.2% of votes. Cawthorn ranks sixth overall among all members — both House and Senate — in terms of missed votes.