Thursday’s top stories
After mishandling the worst domestic crisis India has faced in decades, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s approval ratings have plummeted … to 63%.
Breaking it down: While that’s down from 74% before India’s second wave struck, per Morning Consult’s tracker, it still makes him perhaps the most popular leader of any major democracy. But despite his enduring popularity, Modi no longer appears invulnerable.
Israeli ground troops have joined the fight near the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces announced on Thursday night.
Driving the news: While tanks and artillery were deployed for the first time on Thursday, the IDF says no ground troops have crossed into Gaza. Israel has called up 9,000 reservists and massed at least three brigades on the frontier with Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas.
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More than a dozen Republican-led states have announced they are terminating their involvement in federal pandemic-related unemployment programs early.
Driving the news: Many of the states' governors cited worker shortages. But some experts say it's the job climate, including pandemic-era factors, and not unemployment benefits that is determining when and how people return to work.
Over 40% of Latino adults have reported symptoms of depression during the pandemic, in contrast to 25% of white non-Hispanics, the CDC reports.
Why it matters: The emotional distress is especially acute for Latinos who had COVID-19, some of them tell Noticias Telemundo.
COVID-19 is the first major pandemic in the social media era — offering experts a rare opening to study the relationship between online misinformation and human behavior on a large scale.
Why it matters: As misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines runs rampant, researchers are trying to measure how much memes and messages with false information can alter someone's decision to get vaccinated.
In a dramatic shift that comes amid fighting in the Gaza strip and clashes between Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel, right-wing kingmaker Naftali Bennett has announced he will no longer seek an alternative government to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Why it matters: Bennett had been on the verge of a power-sharing deal with centrist opposition leader Yair Lapid that would have made him prime minister for two years until Lapid rotated into the job. Without Bennett, Lapid has no path to a majority, and Israel will almost certainly head for its fifth election since 2019 with Netanyahu still in his post.
The CDC announced in new guidance Thursday that anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, regardless of crowd size.
What they're saying: "If you are fully vaccinated, you are protected, and you can start doing the things that you stopped doing because of the pandemic," CDC director Rochelle Walensky will say at a White House press briefing.
Colonial Pipeline paid hackers linked to the DarkSide cybercrime group nearly $5 million in cryptocurrency after last week's ransomware attack, Bloomberg first reported and the New York Times confirmed.
Why it matters: The breach of the largest refined fuels pipeline in the U.S. triggered new concerns about the vulnerability of the country's increasingly digitized energy systems.
President Biden on Thursday warned gas companies to not price gouge amid major shortages following the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack.
The big picture: Biden added that the FBI does not believe the Russian government is behind the attack, but they do know that those responsible "are living in Russia."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday tore into Republican members of Congress who downplayed the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot during a House hearing on Wednesday, telling reporters: "I don't know [of] a normal day around here when people are threatening to hang the vice president."
Why it matters: House lawmakers are currently in negotiations over forming a bipartisan Jan. 6 commission to examine the attack and the events that led up to it.
The trial for three former Minneapolis police officers charged by state prosecutors with aiding and abetting the murder of George Floyd has been moved to March 7, 2022, Minneapolis NBC affiliate KARE11 reports.
Why it matters: Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill said he wanted to move the date from Aug. 23 to accommodate a new federal case against the officers and Derek Chauvin, who has already been convicted on state charges for Floyd's murder, per AP.
Restoration of the Colonial Pipeline, the huge East Coast gasoline artery, is the beginning of the end of a crisis that prompted a White House logistical and political scramble.
Catch up fast: Late Wednesday afternoon, Colonial began a restart of the 5,500-mile line that shut down nearly a week ago after a ransomware attack.
New body camera footage obtained by CNN shows the moment a DC police officer was brutally attacked by Trump supporters during the Capitol Hill insurrection.
Driving the news: The release of video comes a day after Republican members of Congress sought to downplay the Jan. 6 events, with some lawmakers calling the rioters "peaceful patriots" and comparing them to tourists.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) plans to make her purge the beginning of a new movement, with campaign travel, fundraising and speeches to challenge Donald Trump for ideological dominance of the GOP.
Driving the news: Sources in Cheney's camp tell me her message will be the importance of the truth, the need to move past Trump, and a push to articulate conservative policy and substance to combat Democrats.
Stephen and Ayesha Curry are joining the advisory council for Goldman Sachs' One Million Black Women initiative, Axios is first to report.
Why it matters: The initiative has committed to invest more than $10 billion in Black women over the next 10 years. It comes as banks and large companies are increasingly putting money behind rhetoric about advancing racial equity.
America's affections have shifted away from the companies that helped us manage pandemic life and toward the vaccine manufacturers that are helping to end it.
Driving the news: Moderna and Pfizer shot up the ranks this year in the Axios/Harris 100, our annual survey of corporate reputations. Moderna is Americans' third-favorite company this year, and Pfizer came in at seventh — up from No. 61 a year ago.
Americans have fallen further out of love with Big Tech, the latest Axios/Harris 100 brand reputation poll shows.
Why it matters: Even though Americans were hyper-connected to their devices throughout the pandemic, their relationship with many of the world's biggest tech firms has continued on a downward trend, suggesting that people see their products as necessary evils.
Happiness. Weed. Robots. Water. Whatever the theme, there's probably an ETF promoting a basket of stocks related to it.
Why it matters: Thematic ETFs are an investment mania side effect. There's newfound retail investor interest in narrow exposure to hot corners of the stock market. More are launching to meet the moment.
Americans are leaning into companies that have strong political positions, in the wake of one of the country's most divisive election years.
Driving the news: New rankings from the Axios/Harris 100 poll — an annual survey to gauge the reputation of the most visible brands in the country — show that brands with clear partisan identifications are becoming more popular.
America’s battle against the coronavirus is going great.
The big picture: For the first time in a long time, nobody needs to cherry-pick some misleading data to make it seem like things are going well, and the good news doesn’t need an endless list of caveats, either. It’s just really good news. We’re winning. Be happy.
Former White House counsel Don McGahn agreed Wednesday to speak with the House Judiciary Committee about former President Trump's alleged attempts to obstruct the Russia investigation — with certain conditions, per a court filing.
Why it matters: The agreement ends a two-year standoff after McGahn, a key player in former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, repeatedly refused to agree to a subpoena for testimony — resulting in the matter being taken to court.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a "preventable disaster" that exposed weak links "at every point" of the preparedness process, according to a World Health Organization-commissioned report published Wednesday.
Why it matters: The report by the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response criticized governments worldwide for being unprepared for the pandemic despite the prevalence of past "global health threats," such as Ebola, Zika, and SARS outbreaks.
Apple has severed ties with recent hire Antonio García Martínez, a former Facebook employee and author of the book "Chaos Monkeys," Axios has learned, following an uproar from employees upset over García Martínez' past writings demeaning women and others.
Why it matters: Employees had circulated a petition Wednesday calling for Apple to explain its hiring of García Martínez. While petitions aren't uncommon at Google and some other companies, it is rare for Apple employees to organize publicly on any issue, let alone an individual hiring.
The Federal Election Commission has voted not to investigate allegations that Trump campaign representatives — including Donald Trump Jr. — solicited illegal foreign assistance in 2016, Axios has learned.
The big picture: The commission deadlocked in a 3-3 vote on whether to probe potential campaign finance violations surrounding an infamous meeting with two Russian nationals at Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign.
Top White House officials — including counselor Steve Ricchetti and National Security Council chief of staff Yohannes Abraham — briefed President Biden about the Colonial Pipeline hack at Camp David last weekend, sources familiar with the response tell Axios.
Why it matters: The high-level response, which also included daily calls from national security adviser Jake Sullivan, underscores the administration's heightened concern about fallout from the hack — both from national security and political perspectives.
The gas may be flowing again, but the White House is more worried than it's letting on about the potential fallout of the Colonial Pipeline hack that caused fuel shortages and triggered price increases, Axios has learned.
Behind the scenes: Senior Biden officials are acutely sensitive to the images of lines outside gas stations before Memorial Day — the typical launch to the summer driving season. Republicans also are jumping on the bandwagon, suggesting Joe Biden is a modern-day Jimmy Carter.
President Biden told reporters Wednesday it's his "expectation and hope" that there will soon be an end to fighting between Israel and Hamas, which has killed scores of Palestinians and several Israelis.
What they're saying: Biden, after speaking with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said that he hoped the conflict would be "closing down sooner than later," despite Israel's government announcing plans to scale up its military offensive.