Sunday’s top stories

Apr 4, 2021 - World

Jordan claims businessman who offered to help arrested prince is former Mossad agent

Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein in 2009. Photo: ATTILA KISBENEDEK/AFP via Getty Images

An Israeli businessman with ties to the U.S. government was in touch with former Jordanian Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein when he was put on house arrest on Saturday, and proposed to send a private jet to take his wife and kids to Europe.

The intrigue: The Jordanian government claims the Israeli has connections to the Mossad spy agency, while the businessman stresses he's only a friend of the prince.

Florida takes measures to avoid a "catastrophic flood" at wastewater pond near Tampa

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Crews are working to prevent "a real catastrophic flood situation" and are evacuating people out of harm's way, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said during a press conference Sunday, the AP reports.

Why it matters: DeSantis declared a state of emergency on Saturday due to a leak at a wastewater pond in the Tampa area.

Listen to “Axios Today”
How Biden has downplayed a week of crises.
Apr 4, 2021 - Health

America's 2nd COVID-19 Easter marked by low church attendance

A girl celebrates Easter in Saint Patrick's Cathedral on April 4, 2021 in New York City. Photo: Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

A new Pew Research survey found that only 27% of adults in the U.S. planned on attending an in-person Easter service this year, a 17 point drop from a group that otherwise would have reported 44% church attendance, NBC News reports.

Why it matters: Although the U.S. has ramped up its vaccination rates and many states are preparing for reopening, rituals of normal life—including religious holiday celebrations—continue to be hobbled by the pandemic.

Capitol police "struggling" after second attack, union chief says

Capitol Police officers pay their respects on April 3 at the location where fellow officer, William Evans, was killed in an attack a day earlier. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Capitol Police is "struggling to meet existing mission requirements" in the aftermath of this year's second attack at the complex, union chief Gus Papathanasiou said in a statement this weekend, NBC News reports.

Why it matters: The union says the agency is approaching "a crisis in morale and force numbers" just as calls for heightened security are renewed in the aftermath of the death of Capitol Police Officer William "Billy" Evans on Friday.

Possible loan forgiveness would benefit Latino students

An American flag flies above a building as students at Pasadena City College participate in a graduation ceremony in June 2019. Photo: Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

The Education Department has suspended the collection of certain federal student loans that borrowers defaulted on, while Democratic senators insist that the relief bill has a provision that could facilitate canceling many more student loan debts through a tax break.

Why it matters: Latinos tend to have more problems repaying school debt, and in the current situation face growing stress and anxiety before even accounting for repayments.

Apr 4, 2021 - Health

Pope Francis urges vaccine distribution to poor countries in Easter message

Pope Francis delivers his traditional Easter message in Vatican City, Vatican on April 4. Photo: Vatican Pool/Getty Images

Pope Francis, while giving his Easter Sunday message, urged the international community to overcome delays in vaccine shipments, "especially in the poorest countries."

Why it matters: The global COVAX vaccine initiative, backed by the United Nations as a way to get vaccines to poorer countries, warned of supply delays in late March that would affect millions of doses.

Apr 4, 2021 - World

Jordan accuses former crown prince of conspiring to destabilize the country

Prince Hamza. Photo: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP via Getty

A day after putting former crown prince Hamzah bin Hussein under house arrest, the Jordanian government on Sunday publicly accused him of conspiring to destabilize the country.

Why it matters: Prince Hamzah claims he is a victim of a campaign by the royal palace to crack down on dissent and silence his criticism of the government’s corruption and incompetence. Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi rebutted those claims in a press conference.

Apr 4, 2021 - World

France cuts economic growth forecast as it enters third COVID lockdown

Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images)

France is cutting it's GDP growth forecast to 5% from 6% as the country enters a four-week national lockdown aimed at slowing a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The lockdown, France's third since the start of the pandemic, comes amid a surge in new COVID-19 cases across much of Europe that has seen some countries reimpose restrictions.

Much ado about something: Shakespeare gets more diverse

The Public Theater's audio play and bilingual version of Shakespeare’s “Romeo y Julieta.” PHOTO: Erick Davila-Courtesy The Public Theater

Shakespeare productions, from The Globe in London to community farmworker theaters in rural America, are embracing diverse casting to retell the Bard's dramas and comedies while confronting issues around race.

Why it matters: Shakespeare's plays, with their contradictory messages on race and ethnicity, have sometimes featured Black and Latino roles. But now, classical theater companies are experimenting with more diversity amid a reckoning following the death of George Floyd.

Johnson & Johnson takes control of COVID vaccine output in Baltimore

Employees in Februar work in a lab at Emergent Biosolutions, which has been manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines for AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson in Baltimore, Maryland. Photo: Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson announced late Saturday that it's "assuming full responsibility" for manufacturing its COVID-19 vaccine at a Baltimore plant where 15 million doses were ruined last week.

Of note: AstraZeneca said Saturday night it is in "full cooperation with the U.S. government" moving production from the facility, run by Emergent BioSolutions, which been producing both vaccines.

Apr 4, 2021 - World

In photos: Egypt holds grand procession of ancient mummies in Cairo

Carriages containing 22 ancient Egyptian mummies depart from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo's Tahrir Square during Saturday's parade. Photo: Khaled Desouki/AFP via Getty Images

Egypt held a 5-mile procession of 22 ancient mummies in Cairo, as they were moved from a museum where they'd been for over a century to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization Saturday night.

For the record: Organizers "deliberately" hid from view working-class neighborhoods during the nationally televised event celebrating Egypt's past, locals told the New York Times. Urban planner Ahmed Zaazaa noted to the NYT, "The government says they are making reforms, but the vast majority of people in Cairo who live in working-class neighborhoods are excluded."

Trump calls for boycott of more companies over Georgia voting law

Former President Trump at the White House last July. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former President Trump on Saturday added to a list of organizations he's calling on supporters to boycott for opposing Georgia's voting restrictions.

Driving the news: Trump on Friday urged a boycott of "woke companies" that have taken a stand and Major League Baseball for moving its All-Star Game out of Georgia, adding: "Are you listening Coke, Delta." In his new statement, he said: "Boycott Major League Baseball, Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, JPMorgan Chase, ViacomCBS, Citigroup, Cisco, UPS, and Merck."