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Today’s top stories
Natural disasters in Central America, economic devastation, gang wars, political oppression, and a new administration are all driving the sharp rise in U.S.-Mexico border crossings — a budding crisis for President Biden.
Why it matters: Migration flows are complex and quickly politicized. Biden's policies are likely sending signals that are encouraging the surge — but that's only a small reason it's happening.
Addressing homelessness has taken on new urgency in cities across the country over the past year, as officials grapple with a growing unhoused population and the need to preserve public safety during the coronavirus pandemic.
Why it matters: It’s led to tension when cities move in to clear encampments — often for health and safety reasons — causing some to rethink the role of law enforcement when interacting with people experiencing homelessness.
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President Biden will sign an executive order today, on the 56th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday," meant to promote voting rights, according to an administration official.
Why it matters: The executive order comes as Democrats face an uphill battle to pass a sweeping election bill meant, in part, to combat a growing number of proposals introduced by Republicans at the state level that would restrict voter access.
Pope Francis was on Sunday visiting areas of northern Iraq once held by Islamic State militants.
Why it matters: This is the first-ever papal trip to Iraq. The purpose of Francis' four-day visit is largely intended to reassure the country's Christian minority, who were violently persecuted by ISIS, which controlled the region from 2014-2017.
The office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was on Saturday facing fresh accusations of misconduct against his staff, including further allegations of inappropriate behavior against two more women. His office denies the claims.
Driving the news: The Washington Post reported Cuomo allegedly embraced an aide when he led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and that two male staffers who worked for him in the governor's office accused him of routinely berating them "with explicit language."
Dozens of protesters were rallying outside the Minnesota governor's mansion in St Paul Saturday, urging justice for George Floyd ahead of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death.
The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start this Monday, with jury selection procedures.
- Vaccines: The barriers to vaccine passports — U.S. ahead of pace on vaccine.
- Health: Why we need to know COVID's origins— CDC: Easing mask mandates led to higher COVID cases and deaths — A worrying decline in COVID testing.
- Economy: U.S. economy added 379,000 jobs in February.
- Politics: Senate passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.
- World: Coronavirus variants driving another surge across Europe.
- States: California theme parks, sports stadiums can begin reopening April 1 — West Virginia lifts COVID capacity limits on restaurants, many businesses — Oregon governor orders all public schools to reopen by mid-April.
President Biden said Saturday that the Senate passage of his $1.9 trillion COVID relief package means the $1,400 direct payments for most Americans can begin going out later this month.
Driving the news: The Senate voted 50-49 Saturday to approve the sweeping legislation. The House is expected to pass the Senate's version of the bill next week before it heads to Biden's desk for his signature.
The pandemic has thrust a relatively unknown ailment, anosmia — or smell loss — into the international spotlight.
Why it matters: Researchers hope smell testing becomes as standard as the annual flu shot, helping to detect early signs of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Geopolitical tensions are foiling efforts to get to the bottom of how COVID-19 originated.
Why it matters: Insights into how COVID-19 began can help us prevent future pandemics — especially if it involved any kind of leak or accident at a virology lab.
Mexican Americans make up the nation's largest Latino group, yet they remain politically outshined by more recently arrived Cuban Americans.
Why it matters: The disparities in political power between Mexican Americans and Cuban Americans reflect the racial, historical, geographical and economic differences within Latino cultures in the U.S.
Race and identity play into the media platforms people use to advocate their politics, data show.
Why it matters: People of color and Democrats are more likely to take to social platforms like Twitter to advocate for a cause, and to say that seeing something on social media changed their views. Republicans are increasingly turning to partisan outlets on TV, print and audio.
Vaccine passports could become available soon to help people resume their lives — but they face numerous scientific, social and political barriers to being accepted.
The big picture: Reliable and accessible proof of vaccine-induced protection from the novel coronavirus could speed international travel and economic reopening, but obstacles to its wide-scale adoption are so great it may never fully arrive.