Monday’s top stories
More than half a million people in the U.S. have died from the coronavirus as of Monday, according to Johns Hopkins data.
Why it matters: The death toll is larger than the total number of U.S. soldiers killed in action in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined. It comes just one year after the country's first coronavirus death was confirmed.
Hayley Arceneaux, a 29 year-old physician's assistant and childhood cancer survivor, today was named the second crew member for Inspiration4, which is set to be the first-ever all-civilian space flight.
Axios Re:Cap digs into the story behind the flight, Arceneaux's selection and what Inspiration4 means for the future of space tourism, with Axios Space editor Miriam Kramer.
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When NASA's Perseverance rover landed on Mars Thursday, a set of cameras captured the car-sized spacecraft's descent and landing on the Red Planet.
Why it matters: This is the first time this type of high-quality footage has been captured.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got some good news on Monday: The testimony phase of his trial won't begin until after Israel's March 23 elections.
Why it matters: Netanyahu faces charges of bribery, breach of trust and fraud in connection with a series of corruption scandals. If witness testimony and the presentation of evidence began before the election, it could have dominated the news cycle and damaged his hopes of winning a majority.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled a four-step roadmap on Monday to "remove all legal limits on social contacts" in England by no earlier than June 21, assuming certain tests are met.
Why it matters: The U.K. has the worst coronavirus death toll in Europe and saw its economy contract by 9.9% in 2020 — the biggest drop in output in more than 300 years.
Attorney General nominee Merrick Garland sounded the alarm on the threat of domestic terrorism at his confirmation hearing Monday, saying the U.S. is "facing a more dangerous period" than after the Oklahoma City bombing.
The big picture: Garland drew a line between the bombing — for which he supervised the prosecution during a stint at the Justice Department — to a recent "enormous rise in hate crimes." He compared the effort to curb the violence with the "battles of the original Justice Department against the Ku Klux Klan."
Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) announced Monday they will not vote to confirm President Biden's nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden.
Why it matters: The moderate Republicans were viewed as possible saviors to Tanden's nomination, after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) became the first Democratic senator to oppose one of Biden's nominees last week. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has not yet announced how she intends to vote.
Google informed its advertising partners Monday that its platforms will resume accepting all political ads starting Wednesday, after banning them following last month's insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, according to an email obtained by Axios.
Why it matters: Google and rival Facebook have been instituting political ad bans on and off over the past few months to slow the spread of misinformation and curb confusion around sensitive events, like the Capitol attack and the election.
The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an effort by former President Trump's lawyers to block Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance from enforcing a subpoena for eight years of his personal and financial tax returns.
Why it matters: It was the last legal hurdle in the former president's long-running battle to shield his tax returns from prosecutors — and the second time the Supreme Court has dealt Trump a defeat in the case.
Pocket Outdoor Media, the 4-year-old media company that's home to 22 active lifestyle publications and several technology groups, announced a Series B funding round led by Sequoia Heritage to fuel acquisitions.
Driving the news: The company is also announcing the purchase of five outdoor sports media and tech companies and is changing its name to reflect the branding of one of those companies, "Outside."
Investigations of the Texas electricity crisis — a disaster with fatal consequences — are proliferating in the state and the Beltway.
Why it matters: The inquiries could bring regulatory changes to Texas' independent grid aimed at better preparation for extreme weather.
Expectations for U.S. growth in the first quarter, for the year and even for 2022 are roaring higher as economists race to price in the impact of big government spending, vaccinations and higher inflation.
Why it matters: These bullish expectations are unusual — not only are they historically high, even given the large contraction the country suffered in 2020, but also because they seem to completely disregard any fears of the weak U.S. labor market or rising prices to get in the way.
Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sued MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for more than $1.3 billion in damages, alleging that the Trump ally exploited the baseless conspiracy theory that Dominion's voting machines rigged the election for Joe Biden so Lindell could sell more pillows.
The big picture: Lindell is the latest Trump ally to face a multibillion-dollar lawsuit from Dominion or Smartmatic, another voting machine company subjected to a campaign of false claims about the election.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is more likely than not to be confirmed as the next secretary of Health and Human Services, especially now that another of President Biden's nominees is in hot water.
Yes, but: Becerra's confirmation hearings this week are likely to become political brawls over abortion, Medicare for All, California's pandemic response and Becerra's qualifications for the job.
Now that the pandemic has made it clear just how essential it is to be connected to high-speed internet, lawmakers are finally putting billions of dollars into funding government programs to expand access to it.
Why it matters: The big lesson from the pandemic is that broadband service is no longer a nice-to-have amenity — it’s critical for virtual school, remote work and telemedicine. Yet around 14.5 million Americans still lack access to it, according to the FCC. (Many advocates believe that figure undercounts the number of people still not connected.)
St. Jude physician assistant and childhood cancer survivor Hayley Arceneaux has been selected as the second crew member for an all-civilian mission to space expected to launch later this year.
Why it matters: The mission is a marker of a new age of commercial spaceflight, one in which private citizens and companies are able to go to space without government backing.
In his first post-presidential appearance, Donald Trump plans to send the message next weekend that he is Republicans' "presumptive 2024 nominee" with a vise grip on the party's base, top Trump allies tell Axios.
What to watch: A longtime adviser called Trump's speech a "show of force," and said the message will be: "I may not have Twitter or the Oval Office, but I'm still in charge." Payback is his chief obsession.
District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine, a Haitian immigrant, is leading one of the most diverse sets of attorneys general in the nation's history on a campaign against hate crimes while they face hateful rhetoric and threats themselves.
Why it matters: The country's electorate is becoming more diverse, yet hate crimes jumped to record levels last year. And the problem may even be worse. Most police departments don't bother reporting hate crimes.
U.S. vaccine trials over the past decade have not included enough seniors and Hispanic and Black adults, and show a failure to report needed demographic details, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open Friday looking at a large sample of trials.
Why it matters: By not capturing a representative sample of Americans, vaccine trials cannot fully demonstrate the safety and effectiveness for all people and miss out on an opportunity to build trust within underrepresented communities — something vitally important in the COVID-19 pandemic, two experts tell Axios.
Fitbit started out trying to make us healthier by making us take a few extra steps. Now such wearables can help detect diseases like COVID-19 and even spot signs of depression, CEO James Park told "Axios on HBO."
Why it matters: Early detection is important for a range of health conditions, but especially so with communicable diseases like the flu or COVID-19.
The Biden administration will temporarily prevent big businesses from applying for loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, restricting applications to businesses with fewer than 20 employees, according to administration officials.
Why it matters: The White House wants to target small businesses and ensure that they are not shut out of the application process, as some were during the first round of the program last spring.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Sunday there must be "stepped up" inspections of Boeing 777 aircraft that contain the same engine model that failed on a United Airlines flight over Denver this weekend.
Why it matters: United, Japan's two main airlines and Korean Air have grounded Boeing 777s with the same Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines as the jet involved in the Denver incident.
The big picture: A Texas Commission on Environmental Quality spokesperson told CNN that some 8.8 million people, or roughly a third of the state's population, still had issues with their water supply Sunday evening. Food banks and volunteers delivered bottled water to thousands of people in the past few days.
National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins tells "Axios on HBO" that the Trump administration deserves credit for the "breathtaking" speed of COVID vaccine development.
The big picture: The fact that it "got done in 11 months from when we first knew about this virus is at least five years faster than it's ever been before before," Collins said.
In a first taste of Republicans' Biden-era villains, the Virginia GOP is rolling out some of Donald Trump's favorites — China and Hillary Clinton — for the state's 2021 election.
Why it matters: Virginia’s off-year elections are an early battleground in defining the Republicans’ post-Trump identity. A spate of attacks against GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin appears to be drawing from the same playbook, hyping familiar Trump-era GOP villains.
Bipartisanship - at least over President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan — appears over, with House Democrats ready to approve the measure this week through a party-line vote.
Between the lines: The GOP, which is already whipping against the bill, plans to cast it as a progressive wishlist and argue Democrats are bulldozing Republicans despite Biden's pledge to work with them.
President Biden is promising COVID-19 vaccines will be available to all Americans by the end of July — and a Quinnipiac poll finds three-quarters of Americans expect him to pull it off. If he fails, the coronavirus could start to haunt the new president just like it did his predecessor.
Why it matters: Biden’s presidency is built on the notion of restoring competence — and confidence — in government. So, he'll need the huge infusion of cash from his virus relief bill — and heroics by drugmakers and distributors — to carry out mass vaccinations.
President Biden will mark the expected confirmation of 500,000 Americans who have died from coronavirus with remarks Monday evening, followed by a moment of silence and a candle-lighting ceremony at sundown, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: The milestone, expected to be crossed Monday, will tally more American deaths than in World War II and the Vietnam War. The new president has worked to ramp up vaccinations and economic stimulus to accelerate recovery from the pandemic.
Close associates of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) tell Axios they're convinced she’ll vote against Neera Tanden to be the director of the Office of Management and Budget, eliminating a possible safety valve to save the nomination.
Why it matters: Tanden's uphill climb is emblematic of the challenges facing some of President Biden's remaining high-profile nominees. Interior Department pick Deb Haaland, Health and Human Services secretary-designate Xavier Becerra and Attorney General designee Merrick Garland risk varying outcomes.
In explaining his disastrous Cancún trip, Sen. Ted Cruz failed to mention his college roommate also was along for the visit.