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The scene outside CNN's offices in New York. Photo: Islam Dogru/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Suspicious packages that reportedly contained functioning explosive devices were sent to the home of President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, the office of President Barack Obama, CNN, philanthropist George Soros, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and Rep. Maxine Waters over the last 48 hours.

The big picture: The events — branded an "act of terror" by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio — come at a time of ever-increasing polarization in the United States, when political discourse is often hijacked by the most extreme voices on both the left and the right. From the congressional baseball shooting to Charlottesville, political violence has increasingly been on the rise in America.

The targets
  • Packages containing explosive devices were addressed to the home of Bill and Hillary Clinton in suburban New York and Barack Obama's office in Washington, D.C. In both cases, the packages were intercepted Wednesday by Secret Service screening procedures before reaching the former presidents' homes.
  • CNN's offices in New York also received a package containing a potentially explosive device, causing an evacuation and forcing the network to shift its broadcast to its Washington bureau. CNN's package, per NBC News, was addressed to former CIA Director John Brennan, a noted Trump critic, who works as an analyst for NBC — not CNN.
  • Billionaire philanthropist George Soros received a package containing an explosive device in his suburban New York mailbox that was likely hand-delivered on Monday, per the N.Y. Times. Soros is a frequent target of right-wing conspiracy theories due to his financing of liberal causes.
  • The FBI said that the Sunrise, Fla. office of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, also received a suspicious package, per the AP. However, that package was addressed to former Attorney General Eric Holder, but was undeliverable and sent to its return address, Schultz' office, CNN reports.
  • The U.S. Capitol Police are investigating another suspicious package intercepted at a Maryland mail facility for congressional offices addressed to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), reports ABC News.

Watch video of the moment CNN's New York bureau was forced off-air:

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
The packages
  • The apparent explosive devices came "in manila packages that included stamps and signatures on them" and a return address belonging to Schultz, according to NBC News.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
What they're saying
  • Hillary Clinton: "We are fine thanks to the men and women of the Secret Service who intercepted the package addressed to us long before it made it’s way to our home. Every day we are grateful for their service and commitment…never more than today. ... But it is a troubling time isn’t it? And it’s a time of deep divisions and we have to do everything we can to bring our country together."
  • Former President Bill Clinton: "Thank you to the @SecretService and all law enforcement agencies who responded to this week's incidents. They work tirelessly to keep our country and communities safe. I am forever grateful for their efforts."
  • Vice President Mike Pence: "We condemn the attempted attacks against fmr Pres Obama, the Clintons, @CNN & others. These cowardly actions are despicable & have no place in this Country. Grateful for swift response of @SecretService, @FBI & local law enforcement. Those responsible will be brought to justice."
  • President Trump, speaking before an opioids event at the White House: "We have to unify, we have to come together and send one clear, strong, unmistakable message — acts or threats of political violence, of any kind, have no place in the United States of America."
  • White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders: "We condemn the attempted violent attacks recently made against President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and other public figures. These terrorizing acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. The United States Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies are investigating and will take all appropriate actions to protect anyone threatened by these cowards."
  • CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker responded in a statement posted to Twitter: "There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media. The President, and especially the White House Press Secretary, should understand their words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that."

Editor's note: This story originally included New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as a recipient of a suspicious package, per the AP's reporting. An NYPD spokesman has since confirmed that Cuomo did not receive a package containing an explosive device.

Go deeper

Tracking the pandemic's unequal impact

Expand chart
Data: Morning Consult/Axios; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The pandemic was bound to hit the most economically vulnerable among us the hardest. New polling data from Morning Consult, out this morning, shows the degree to which those difficulties were more concentrated among people of color.

Catch up quick: The Morning Consult/Axios Inequality Index has tracked the economic experience of adults in three wage groups since May 2020. We began publishing the findings in May of this year, and six months in, we’re slicing the data a little differently — and looking at inequality between ethnicities.

1 hour ago - Health

WHO says Omicron poses "very high" risk

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaking in Geneva in October. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization said Monday in a new risk assessment that it believes the COVID-19 Omicron variant poses a "very high" risk to the globe because it may be more transmissible than other strains of the virus.

Why it matters: Though the WHO acknowledged there are still many uncertainties associated with the variant, the agency said it believes the likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron around the world is "high."

Battle for the soul of a new web

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A well-funded and intensely motivated chunk of tech's hive mind is finding common cause in a vast new project: rebuilding the web on a foundation of cryptocurrency and blockchain tech. They call it "Web3."

The big picture: Developers, investors and early adopters imagine a future in which the technologies that enable Bitcoin and Ethereum will break up the concentrated power today's tech giants wield and usher in a golden age of individual empowerment and entrepreneurial freedom.