Mar 22, 2021

Axios AM

🕶️ Good Monday morning! Smart Brevity™ count: 975 words ... < 4 minutes.

🏆 You're invited: Tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. ET, Kendall Baker and Niala Boodhoo will moderate an Axios Virtual Event on systemic racism in sports, featuring ABC/ESPN analyst Jalen Rose and L.A. Chargers running back Justin Jackson. Sign up here.

1 big thing: Inside crowded border tent

Migrants in the Donna, Texas, overflow facility this weekend. Photo provided to Axios by Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas)

Exclusive photos from inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection temporary overflow facility in Donna, Texas, reveal the crowded, makeshift conditions at the border as children's shelters and family detention centers fill up, Axios' Stef Kight reports.

  • Why it matters: Because the Biden administration has restricted media coverage at housing facilities, images like these offer a rare window into conditions.

Each of eight "pods" in the tent-like (officially "soft-sided") facility has a 260-person occupancy, said Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who provided the photos to Axios to raise awareness about the conditions. As of yesterday, he said, one pod held more than 400 unaccompanied male minors.

  • Cuellar, who recently visited a border shelter for children, did not take the photos himself. He said the photos were taken over the weekend.

Cuellar decried the "terrible conditions for the children," and said they need to be moved more rapidly into HHS care.

Migrants in the Donna, Texas, overflow facility this weekend. Photo provided to Axios by Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas)

⚡ Jonathan Swan scooped last night that an internal Homeland Security document shows that 823 unaccompanied migrant children have been held in U.S. Border Patrol custody for over 10 days — more than a fourfold increase over the past week.

2. Biden's next challenge: Vaccine diplomacy
Data: Duke Global Health Innovation Center. Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

The U.S. accounts for 27% of the world's COVID vaccine production, but 0% of the global supply beyond its own borders. Critics and allies alike say it’s time for that to change, Axios World editor Dave Lawler reports.

  • Why it matters: China has gotten a head start on vaccine diplomacy, sending millions of doses all over the globe, including to Latin America. Experts say it’s in America's interest to compete in the race to vaccinate the world. The calls to start doing so are getting louder.

The Biden administration took a step last week, offering around 4 million total doses of the forthcoming (see next item) Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to Mexico and Canada.

  • "We’re going to have excess supply," said Zeke Emanuel, Penn's vice provost for global initiatives, who was a member of Biden’s coronavirus task force during the transition. "It would be unethical — and it would be a diplomatic and strategic mistake — to say we need to build up a buffer of 100 million doses while China and Russia are selling to people and saying, you know, 'You guys count.'"

Keep reading.

3. 💉 Breaking overnight: Fourth vaccine on way
Expand chart
Total vaccines administered (not people vaccinated). Data: Our World in Data. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford was 79% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID — and 100% effective against severe disease and hospitalization — in Phase III U.S. trial results announced by the company this morning.

  • Why it matters: The long-awaited U.S. data, which showed no serious side effects among the more than 20,000 participants who received at least one dose, will bolster global confidence in the vaccine.

Go deeper.

4. New this morning: Economists want climate action
Data: NABE. Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

In a semiannual economic-policy survey by the National Association for Business Economics, more than two-thirds of the 205 respondents said U.S. policy should do more to mitigate climate change.

5. Big Tech taps libertarian lifeline

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Tech companies bracing for harsher D.C. scrutiny are hiring some of their last friends in town — libertarians, Axios' Margaret Harding McGill reports.

  • Why it matters: Progressive liberals and populist conservatives are ramping up attacks on tech. So the companies are scrambling to gain traction on Capitol Hill with the dwindling ranks of Republicans who still believe in laissez-faire — even for Big Tech.

Keep reading.

6. Biden-Harris road show, Week 2
At the CDC in Atlanta with Vice President Harris on Friday, President Biden shows his daily schedule, with updates on troops and COVID deaths. Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters

Here's the roadmap for Week 2 of the White House "Help Is Here" stimulus tour:

  • Today: "Help to Put Food on the Table" ... Vice President Harris visits a vaccination center in Jacksonville. Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff tours a food bank in Des Moines with Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack.
  • Tomorrow (11th anniversary of ACA): "Help to Lower Health Costs"... President Biden flies to Columbus ... Emhoff in Nebraska ... HHS Secretary Becerra in Carson City.
  • Wednesday (Equal Pay Day): "Help for Women and Families" ... POTUS event at White House ... Emhoff in Missouri.
  • Thursday: "Help for American Communities" ... POTUS' first press conference.
  • Friday: "Help to Reduce Child Poverty."
7. Lingo: "Stimmies" drive stock market

File photo: Matt Rourke/AP

Stimulus checks are driving a huge surge in investing by small traders, the N.Y. Times reports (subscription):

  • Deutsche Bank estimates "that as much as $170 billion from the latest round of stimulus payments could flow into the stock market."
8. Senate's historic handover
Lt. Gen. Karen Gibson. Photo: ODNI

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's new leadership team for the Senate Sergeant at Arms — the Senate's chief law enforcement officer — starts today. This marks the first time, since the SAA office was created in 1789, that the leadership team has been all women:

  • Lt. Gen Karen Gibson (ret.), Sergeant at Arms: Her 33-year active-duty career culminated as Deputy Director of National Intelligence for National Security Partnerships.
  • Kelly Fado, Deputy Sergeant at Arms, has spent over 25 years in the Senate, including as operations director for former Democratic Leader Tom Daschle. 
  • Jennifer Hemingway, chief of staff, became Acting Sergeant at Arms on Jan. 7.

Go deeper: Full bios.

9. 🇮🇱 🇵🇸 Endless cycle v. rare chance

With Israel voting tomorrow — and Palestinians voting May 22 in their first election since 2006 — Mkhaimar Abusada, a political-science professor at Al Azhar University in Gaza, tells the N.Y. Times (subscription):

The Israelis are sick and tired of going to elections four times in two years — but we haven’t had elections in 15 years.
10. 🏀 1 smile to go: Sister Jean works her magic
Photo: Justin Casterline/Getty Images

Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt — team chaplain for Loyola Chicago, who turned 101 in August — got both her vaccine shots so she could travel to Indianapolis for the team's March Madness tipoff.

  • Well worth the trip: The Ramblers head to the Sweet 16 after a 71-58 upset of No. 1-seeded Illinois.

Before watching the game from a suite — decked out in her trademark maroon and gold — she delivered this pregame prayer, AP reports:

As we play the Fighting Illini, we ask for special help to overcome this team and get a great win. We hope to score early and make our opponents nervous.

And so they did.

Courtesy N.Y. Post

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