Monday’s top stories

Updated Sep 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Rochester police chief fired following Daniel Prude's death

A make shift memorial at the site where Daniel Prude was arrested in Rochester, New York. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said Monday she's fired Police Chief La'Ron Singletary and suspended two others following protests over the police killing of Daniel Prude, a Black man says after being hooded and held down by local police.

Why it matters: The firing of Singletary comes almost a week after he announced his retirement. Activists have called for Singletary's resignation after details of Prude's March death surfaced recently, the Democrat and Chronicle notes. Warren accused Singletary of failing to properly brief her on the killing.

Axios Hard Truths
Read our new series of deep dives that explain how race and inequality hold us back.
Dave Lawler, author of World
Sep 14, 2020 - World

America's role in the world undecided heading into election

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto, and Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In 50 days, America will either double down on the disruptive force of America First or elect a man vowing to put the international order back together again.

Why it matters: America still has the world's biggest economy, most powerful military and deepest network of alliances. But it is unclear what it intends to do with them.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Sep 14, 2020 - Podcasts

Teachers union would support teacher vaccination requirement

Randi Weingarten.Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, tells the Axios Re:Cap podcast that her union would support requiring in-school teachers to take a COVID-19 vaccine, once one has been approved and is readily available.

  • AFT represents 1.7 million members in over 3,000 local affiliates.

Her statement: "We would support that... Just like we have vaccines we require kids to take to be in school in normal times."

Go deeper: Listen to the full conversation on Axios Re:Cap.

Newsom to Trump at wildfire event: "Climate change is real"

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) pointedly told President Trump on Monday afternoon that climate change is "exacerbating" the wildfires currently ravaging the West Coast.

Why it matters: Trump has repeatedly insisted that the fires were "about forest management," while dismissing climate change. Newsom acknowledged to Trump that "we have not done justice on our forest management," but emphasized that climate change was making everything much worse. A number of politicians have criticized Trump and his administration for not properly addressing climate change.

Sep 14, 2020 - World

U.S. bans some imports of cotton, other products from Xinjiang made with forced labor

A tractor sowing cotton seeds on April 5 in Xinjiang. Photo: VCG via Getty Images

U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a series of orders on Monday barring some imports of cotton, apparel, hair products, computer parts and other goods from China's Xinjiang region due to the government's "illicit, inhumane, and exploitative practices of forced labor."

Why it matters: The Trump administration is taking an increasingly aggressive approach to human rights abuses in Xinjiang, where the Chinese government is engaged in a sweeping campaign of demographic and cultural genocide against Uighur Muslims and other ethnic minorities.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Sep 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden calls Trump a "climate arsonist," warns of wildfire threat to suburbs

Joe Biden on Monday called President Trump a "climate arsonist" and warned that another four years of Trump's policies would expose suburbs to more deadly wildfires.

Why it matters: Biden's speech addressing the record-setting wildfires in the West sought to cast Trump — who rejects consensus climate science — as a threat to the safety and livelihoods of people nationwide, rather than just an environmental issue.

Top HHS spokesperson accuses government scientists of "sedition" against Trump

Michael Caputo in Washington, D.C. in May 2018. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Health and Human Services spokesperson Michael Caputo baselessly accused career scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday of gathering a "resistance unit" for "sedition" against President Trump, the New York Times reports.

Driving the news: House Democrats are launching an investigation into allegations that Trump's political appointees — including Caputo, a former member of the Trump campaign with no scientific background — pressured CDC officials "to block the publication of accurate scientific reports" on the coronavirus.

Sep 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Democrats to probe Trump appointees who allegedly interfered with CDC reports

HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

House Democrats are launching an investigation into how Trump's political appointees pressured officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "to block the publication of accurate scientific reports" on COVID-19, according to a letter first obtained by Politico.

Details: Citing previous reporting that Trump aides "openly complained" that the CDC's reports would undermine the president's positive message, Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and the other Democratic members of the subcommittee on the coronavirus wrote to HHS Secretary Alex Azar and CDC director Robert Redfield to request "transcribed interviews and documents."

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 14, 2020 - Science

Scientists find possible sign of life on Venus

Venus as seen from orbit. Photo: JAXA /ISAS/Akatsuki Project Team

Traces of a gas in Venus' clouds could indicate some form of life may exist there, according to a study published today.

Why it matters: Scientists have been musing about the possibility that life exists in Venus' temperate clouds for decades. If confirmed as a sign of life, the finding would open up a new era of science.

TikTok's fresh swirl of uncertainty

There's now a deal on the table to let TikTok continue operating in the U.S. with the backing of a major American tech firm, potentially staving off President Trump's plan to ban the popular Chinese-owned video app by mid-month.

Yes, but: Software giant Oracle's proposed deal isn't the straightforward acquisition that Microsoft had jockeyed for until falling out of the running this weekend, and the whole affair is still rife with unknowns.

Sep 14, 2020 - World

Labs in France and Sweden confirm Navalny was poisoned with Novichok

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks with journalists in 2019. Photo: MAXIM ZMEYEV/AFP via Getty Images

Specialist labs in France and Sweden have confirmed that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was poisoned with a nerve agent from the Novichok group, the German government announced Monday.

Why it matters: The chemical is typically associated with Russian security services and was used in the attempted assassination in 2018 of Sergei Skripal, a Russian former double agent who had relocated to the U.K. The Kremlin has denied wrongdoing.

Sep 14, 2020 - Health

Bob Woodward says it wasn't Trump's idea to restrict travel from China

President Trump's decision to restrict travel from China in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus in January was not his idea, journalist Bob Woodward told NBC's "Today."

Why it matters: Trump has frequently cited the restrictions as his go-to defense of the administration's coronavirus response, claiming that it saved "potentially millions of lives." But the assertion that the policy was singularly his idea — and that "almost everybody," including public health experts, was opposed to it — is "very different" from what actually happened, Woodward said.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Sep 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Why new coronavirus stimulus talks are at a "dead end"

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Senate Republicans last week tried and failed to pass a slimmed down stimulus bill that would have included new money for small businesses, schools and $300 in additional weekly unemployment benefits.

Driving the news: Negotiations are now at "a dead-end street,” Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts said following the bill's failure, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said plainly, "Congress is not going to pass another COVID relief bill before the election." In fact, we're about two weeks away from a potential government shutdown.

Sep 14, 2020 - World

5 former U.K. prime ministers speak out against Johnson's plan to break Brexit treaty

Boris Johnson. Photo: Stefan Rousseau- WPA Pool/Getty Images

David Cameron on Monday became the fifth former prime minister of the United Kingdom to raise concerns or condemn the government's plan to break international law in order to amend the Brexit deal Boris Johnson agreed to with the European Union last year.

The state of play: Johnson is facing a possible intra-party rebellion over a new bill that would override provisions in the Brexit divorce deal related to Northern Ireland, a country in the U.K. that shares a border with EU member state Ireland.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Sep 14, 2020 - Health

CDC: Kids can spread coronavirus to their households

Students at Weaverville Elementary School in Weaverville, California on Aug. 17, 2020. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Children can and do transmit the coronavirus to members of their household, a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms.

Why it matters: As the coronavirus spreads through schools across the country, the people who live with exposed children — some of whom may be older or have preexisting conditions — are also at risk of catching the virus.

Six months that changed everything

Sunday marked six months since President Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus. If those six months feel like a blur to you, you’re not alone.

The big picture: The sheer scale of what the U.S. has been through since March — a death toll equivalent to 65 Sept. 11 attacks, millions out of work, everyday life upended, with roiling protests and a presidential election to top it all off — can not only be hard to process, but hard to even keep track of.

Amy Harder, author of Generate
Sep 14, 2020 - Energy & Environment
Column / Harder Line

Why Biden and the Democrats went big on climate change

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Getty Images photo: Win McNamee

Joe Biden is pushing by far the most aggressive plan to address climate change in U.S. presidential history. His path reflects the convergence of science, energy and activism trends.

Why it matters: The culmination shows the new permanence the problem has gained on the campaign trail despite President Trump’s dismissal of it. Although this election is more about other issues, its outcome will significantly shape future efforts on this front.

Updated Sep 14, 2020 - Health

Trump to Woodward: "Nothing more could have been done" on coronavirus

Journalist Bob Woodward opened up to CBS' News' "60 Minutes" in an interview airing Sunday on the moment in August when President Trump told him, "nothing more could have been done" on the coronavirus.

Driving the news: Trump made the remarks, recorded by Woodward and broadcast by CBS, during one of their final interviews, as the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 was surging. "Does he remember what he told me, back in February, about it's more deadly than the flu?" Woodward said, in reference to an earlier interview with Trump on the virus' dangers.