Tuesday’s top stories
Home Depot has been a proxy for the white-hot housing market.
What's going on: The company rode the coattails of the pandemic building boom — and just gave us a hint that it hasn't slowed down.
The Department of Education told states on Monday that they must resume standardized testing of students this spring after it was suspended a year ago because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Why it matters: The decision to resume testing means schools will have to find a way to tests to tens of millions of students, many of whom are still learning remotely, according to Chalkbeat.
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Seven police officers suspended last year after putting a mesh hood on Daniel Prude until he lost consciousness will not face criminal charges following a grand jury vote, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday.
The big picture: Police Chief La'Ron Singletary was fired following Prude's death in Rochester, New York, which sparked dozens of nightly protests last September in the wake of a national reckoning in response to the deaths of Black men and women during police encounters.
Four members of Texas' power grid operator resigned from their posts Tuesday after a winter storm led millions of homes to lose power across the state last week, according to a public filing.
Why it matters: Their resignations come days after Texas' public utility commission launched a probe to discover the "factors that combined with the devastating winter weather to disrupt the flow of power," throughout the state.
Saturday's scene of a burning jet landing safely back at the airport harkens back to the day when Boeing was an engineer-driven company known as the gold standard for aviation safety.
Why it matters: That reputation took a major blow after two crashes involving the 737 MAX. Boeing has since spent billions, and the FAA has sought to overcome its own reputational hit, reengineering and re-certifying the MAX in pursuit of the same long-term safety record as its earlier airliners.
The Senate on Tuesday voted 92-7 to confirm former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as secretary of the Department of Agriculture.
The big picture: Vilsack, a longtime supporter of President Biden, is returning to the department he led for eight years under the Obama administration. He served as governor of Iowa from 1999 to 2007.
The Senate voted 78-20 on Tuesday to confirm Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
The big picture: Thomas-Greenfield has promised to restore the U.S. role as a defender of human rights and will look to repair multilateral relationships that fractured under former President Trump. She will play a key role in the administration's China strategy — her "highest priority," she has said.
The now-former officials responsible for Capitol security on Jan. 6 testified Tuesday that they did not receive an FBI threat report warning that extremists were planning to travel to Washington to commit violence and "war."
Why it matters: The testimony by former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, former House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving, and former Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael Stenger came during the first in a series of congressional oversight hearings that will examine the security and law enforcement failures that led to the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Last week, nine high-profile Hong Kong democracy activists went on trial on charges related to the 2019 mass protest movement there.
Why it matters: The trial is another step in Beijing's heavy-handed destruction of Hong Kong's liberal political traditions.
Moderna and Pfizer plan to significantly boost vaccine shipments to the U.S. government by this spring, according to written testimony from company executives released Tuesday ahead of a House committee hearing on vaccines.
Where it stands: Pfizer expects to increase its weekly vaccine delivery from 4-5 million doses at the start of February to more than 13 million doses by mid-March, said John Young, Pfizer's chief business officer.
Former Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) announced Tuesday that he will not enter the race for U.S. Senate in Georgia in 2022.
Why it matters: The 2022 election will play a key role in determining which party controls the Senate after Republicans — including Perdue — lost two Georgia seats to Democrats during last month's dual runoffs.
Tech stocks suffered some big losses on Monday, as the specter of higher U.S. borrowing costs continued to weigh on their share prices, while bullish vaccine expectations helped make the Dow the only major U.S. index to end in the green.
What happened: The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield rose to 1.37%, a fresh one-year high, showing investors remain bullish on the economy and a recovery in inflation.
President Biden's pick for Interior secretary faces a balancing act as she defends limits on oil-and-gas development while responding to concerns that the initiatives — and her own policy views — threaten producing states.
Driving the news: Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) appears this morning before the Senate energy committee vetting her nomination and faces critical questioning from GOP members.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken asked his Israeli counterpart in their phone call on Monday for Israel to facilitate the transfer of COVID-19 vaccines to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, Israeli officials told me.
Driving the news: On Tuesday, the Israeli prime minister’s office announced that Israel has decided to send a "symbolic amount" of vaccines to the Palestinian Authority and to several countries that have asked for assistance.
2U, a major provider of remote college and professional training, is partnering with a company that works on education reimbursement to expand online schooling opportunities for U.S. workers, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: American workers need help affordably reskilling for the age of automation, but existing higher education opportunities often leave them unprepared and laden with debt. The new partnership aims to take advantage of remote education to meet workers where they are, with what they need.
Wall Street's populist uprising, the Capitol siege and a strong U.S. anti-vaccination movement show the power of memes in spreading misinformation and influencing communities online.
Why it matters: For years, there's been growing concern that deepfakes (doctored pictures and videos) would become truth's greatest threat. Instead, memes have proven to be a more effective tool in spreading misinformation because they're easier to produce and harder to moderate using artificial intelligence.
Space travel experts are advocating for people with disabilities to be eligible to fly to orbit and beyond.
Why it matters: Long-held beliefs about who is best suited for space travel have limited the industry and those it inspires. Widening the scope of who is considered fit for spaceflight could help invite more people to be invested in the future of humanity in space.
One month into his administration, President Biden has won the confidence of a majority of Americans in his ability to get Americans vaccinated and reopen the schools, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.
The catch: That confidence will only last if Americans see a clear improvement in their lives and a path back to normal, or something close to it, in the coming months.
The White House is defending against criticism of its proposed budget to reopen schools found in its larger $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill, stressing the need for “aggressive action” in points shared exclusively with Axios.
Why it matters: Republicans have been hammering the White House for insisting the proposed funding is necessary to reopen schools, arguing much of the money from the original CARES Act has yet to be spent.
The number of coronavirus cases in nursing homes and assisted living facilities has drastically declined over the last two months, almost certainly an effect of vaccinations.
Why it matters: Nursing homes have been devastated by the virus, which is why residents were among the first Americans to be vaccinated.
Facebook on Monday said it had struck a deal with Australian lawmakers to pay local publishers for their news content, after the government finally agreed to change some of the terms within its new media code.
Why it matters: The agreement ends Facebook's temporary ban on sharing news links on its platform in the country. Data showed that the link-sharing ban caused news traffic to plummet in the region.
Russia's adversaries in central and Eastern Europe are worried President Biden isn't willing to fight hard to stop the Russia-Germany gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 — one of Vladimir Putin's core priorities.
Why it matters: The fight is the first significant test of whether Biden's tough rhetoric against the Russian leader will be matched by action. Russian opponents fear Biden doesn't want to antagonize Angela Merkel and won't inflict serious costs on the Germans.
House Democratic leaders are quietly mounting a campaign for Shalanda Young, a longtime congressional aide, to replace Neera Tanden as nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.
Why it matters: The nascent campaign for Young, who would be OMB's first Black female leader, reflects a stark reality taking hold in the Democratic Party: Tanden's prospects are rapidly fading.
President Biden urged Americans to "remember those we lost and remember those we left behind" in a candle-lighting ceremony Monday — noting the "grim milestone" of the U.S. surpassing 500,000 COVID-19 deaths.
Details: "As a nation, we can't accept such a cruel fate. We have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow," the president said, calling on the U.S. to fight the coronavirus together.
There are just 10 weeks left of America's war in Afghanistan — at least on paper.
Why it matters: Donald Trump pledged a full troop withdrawal by May 1 as part of a deal struck one year ago with the Taliban. President Biden must now decide whether he can bear the risks of honoring it.
Police in Aurora, Colorado, had no legal basis to stop, frisk or use a chokehold on Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old unarmed Black man who died in custody in 2019, according to a report by independent investigators released Monday.
Driving the news: The City Council in the Denver suburb ordered the independent review in June amid nationwide protests over the police killing George Floyd and other Black people.