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Samantha Power at the 2019 Texas Tribune Festival in Austin, Texas. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday nominated Samantha Power, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Why it matters: Biden's decision to bring Power, another veteran of the Obama years, into the administration is a reflection of his intent to revitalize foreign assistance as an instrument of soft power and to achieve humanitarian goals, Axios' Hans Nichols reports.

The big picture: Biden also named Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall as homeland security adviser and deputy national security adviser on Wednesday.

  • Sherwood served as the White House defense policy coordinator under the Obama administration, and the deputy assistant defense secretary for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia in the Clinton administration.

Go deeper: More background on Power

Go deeper

Jan 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Sullivan speaks with Israel's national security adviser for the first time

Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat U.S. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/Getty Images. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Photo: Chandan Khanna/Getty Images

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan spoke on the phone Saturday with his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben Shabbat, Israeli officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: This is the first contact between the Biden White House and Israeli prime minister's office. During the transition, the Biden team refrained from speaking to foreign governments.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 min ago - Economy & Business

Merger Monday has been overrun by SPACs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Five companies this morning announced plans to go public via reverse mergers with SPACs, at an aggregate market value of more than $15 billion. And there might be even more by the time you read this.

The bottom line: SPAC merger activity hasn't peaked. If anything, it's just getting started.

Moderna says vaccine appears to protect against new COVID-19 variants

Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine is effective against new variants of the virus that first appeared in the U.K. and in South Africa, the company announced on Monday.

Yes, but: The vaccine was as effective against the strain from U.K., but saw a six-fold reduction in antibodies against the South Africa variant. Even still, the neutralizing antibodies generated by the vaccine "remain above levels that are expected to be protective," according to the company.