Tuesday’s top stories

Sep 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate leaving without finalizing reconciliation bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer addresses reporters on Tuesday. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate leaders are planning to hold final votes for the week on Tuesday night so members can fly home early for Yom Kippur, three aides familiar with the talks tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senate Democrats, who returned on Monday from their monthlong recess, are planning to leave town one day before Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) "soft" deadline for the House and Senate committees to finish drafting their portions of the $3.5 trillion infrastructure reconciliation plan.

Gen. Mark Milley acted to limit Trump's military capabilities

Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In the wake of the Capitol riot Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, took covert steps to prevent President Trump from potentially ordering a military strike or launching nuclear weapons, a CNN preview of Bob Woodward and Robert Costa's new book "Peril," reveals.

Driving the news: According to Woodward and Costa, Milley believed the president had gone into "serious mental decline" following the election and was worried he might "go rogue."

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About a quarter of Americans describe themselves as evangelical Protestants.
Updated Sep 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Top Democrat threatens to subpoena Biden officials as Blinken testifies on Afghanistan

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken testified Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, facing a second day of interrogation from Republican lawmakers highly critical of the Biden administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Driving the news: The committee's chair, the hawkish New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez, pulled no punches in his opening statement, threatening to subpoena Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other Biden officials who decline to voluntarily appear before the committee.

Democrats unveil voting rights compromise bill

Photo: Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Democrats on Tuesday introduced a pared-down voting bill — with support from both progressive and centrist wings of the party — aimed at expanding voter access and countering nationwide Republican-led efforts to alter election laws.

Why it matters: The Freedom to Vote Act is the product of negotiations overseen by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and was built from a framework put forward by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), whose vote is crucial to Democratic efforts to advance legislation in the chamber.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Updated Sep 14, 2021 - Technology

Apple debuts iPhone 13, updates iPad and Apple Watch

Screenshot: Axios via Apple.com

Apple on Tuesday debuted the iPhone 13 alongside modest improvements to the iPad and Apple Watch, which now features a larger display.

Why it matters: Apple has enjoyed robust sales throughout the pandemic, but needs to convince another wave of customers to upgrade.

First look: Senate GOP's campaign arm raises $8 million in August

Sen. Rick Scott (second from left) and other Senate Republican leaders. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate Republicans' campaign arm raised $8 million last month, a new record for the group during the August of an off-year, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The National Republican Senatorial Committee saw a spike in donations following criticism of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and amid the rising cases in COVID-19. It's also reporting a record number of new donors, and saw the biggest digital fundraising month so far this cycle.

Ex-officers accused of violating George Floyd's rights plead not guilty

Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Derek Chauvin and three other former Minneapolis police officers accused of violating George Floyd's civil rights pleaded not guilty to federal charges on Tuesday, AP reports.

Driving the news: Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J.A. Kueng and Tou Thao were indicted by a federal jury for allegedly violating Floyd's rights when they handcuffed and pinned him face-down on the ground. Floyd's death ignited nationwide protests and calls for police reform.

Latino ingenuity: From the color TV to oral birth control

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

From color TV to medical breakthroughs that led to the birth control pill, Latin America and the Caribbean have had game-changing influences on the world.

Why it matters: Hispanic Heritage Month begins Wednesday and over the next four weeks, the Axios Latino newsletter is highlighting Latinos' contributions to the world, from ancient agricultural practices to more recent innovations in medicine, science and education.

DOJ limits use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants

Attorney General Merrick Garland speaking at a press conference. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Department of Justice announced Tuesday that would scale back federal law enforcement agencies' use of chokeholds and "no-knock" search warrants.

Why it matters: The federal policy overhaul comes as the Justice Department pursues investigations of misconduct in police departments across the country.

Pandemic-era stimulus lifted millions out of poverty, new government data shows

A woman carries a box of food as others wait in line at a food bank in Van Nuys, Calif., in April 2020. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

In one of the worst years ever for the economy and labor market, America's poverty rate dropped, per one measure that takes into account pandemic-era aid, the government said Tuesday.

Why it matters: It underscores the colossal impact stimulus checks, expanded unemployment payments and other benefits had on households in 2020 — even as millions lost jobs. Without them (and other safety nets, like Social Security), the poverty rate jumped for the first time in five years by one percentage point to 11.4%.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Sep 14, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The fraught sprint to the UN climate summit

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The scramble is intensifying to lay the groundwork for achieving tangible results at a key United Nations climate summit just seven weeks away.

Driving the news: UN Secretary-General António Guterres and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will convene a heads-of-state-level gathering Monday on the sidelines of the General Assembly.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Sep 14, 2021 - Technology

Facebook allows prominent users to break rules

Signage in front of the Facebook Inc. headquarters in Menlo Park, California, U.S., on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Facebook has long said that it applies the same rules to all posts, but internal documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal paint a picture of a company that allowed millions of politicians, celebrities and other high-profile users to break those rules without consequence.

Why it matters: It's hard to limit misinformation on a platform when you give a free pass to those with the most reach.

A scary, but normal market phenomenon

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The S&P 500 is just below its record high. But most stocks in the index are actually down significantly, which has some concerned.

Why it matters: This implies that the gains driving the market index to record highs are not evenly distributed. But, it’s also not an unusual dynamic in the S&P’s recent history.

Sep 14, 2021 - World

Putin isolating after members of inner circle contract coronavirus

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking in Moscow on Sept. 13. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin will isolate himself for an undisclosed amount of time after people in his inner circle tested positive for the coronavirus, the Kremlin said Tuesday.

Why it matters: Putin has tested negative for the virus and received his second dose of the Russian coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, in April, according to ABC News.

Privacy advocate will be new Big Tech threat at FTC

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Ty B Photos

The Biden administration sent another warning to Big Tech on Monday in nominating longtime privacy advocate Alvaro Bedoya to the Federal Trade Commission.

Why it matters: Bedoya's expertise on data collection and surveillance, combined with Biden's pick to lead the FTC, tech antitrust legal scholar Lina Khan, signals aggressive action from both the consumer protection and antitrust arms of the agency.

"Big Lie" hits California recall election

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The "Big Lie," a falsehood peddled by Donald Trump that the 2020 election was "stolen," is now being peddled by conservative figures amid other down-ballot elections, most notably, the California recall election.

Why it matters: Now that the precedent has been set, some conservatives will likely use unfounded allegations of election fraud as a basis for undermining all potential election outcomes they don't agree with.

Exclusive: New outlet backed by Bill Gates will tackle climate change

Amy Harder interviews Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm for the launch edition of Cipher. Photo: courtesy of Cipher

An energy coalition launched by Bill Gates is backing a new publication called "Cipher" dedicated to the coverage of the climate crisis, its new editor tells Axios.

Why it matters: The outlet promises to have complete editorial independence from its backer, Breakthrough Energy, a six-year-old climate advocacy network founded by Bill Gates.

Column / Harder Line

Poor countries push for lenience in banning fossil-fuel financing

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The growing urgency of tackling global warming is colliding with the world’s deeply uneven use of the heat-trapping energy resources that are causing it.

The big picture: The long-simmering debate over the role rich and poor countries should fill in tackling climate change is reaching a boiling point.

Sep 14, 2021 - Economy & Business

Fake meat companies are hungry for meat-lovers

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Plant-based meat firms aren't just going after vegans and vegetarians anymore. They're betting that closely mimicking the taste of meat will let them chip away at the meat-eating market too.

Why it matters: Diets that include meat — especially beef — have a steep climate impact. If plant-based protein gains popularity, more and more people could reduce or even halt their meat consumption.

SoftBank to launch $3B fund for Latin American tech companies

Photo illustration of the SoftBank Group logo on a smartphone. Photo Illustration: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

SoftBank announced Tuesday it will create a $3 billion private investment fund focusing on technology companies in Latin America.

Why it matters: The launch of the SoftBank Latin America Fund II comes after the Japanese investment giant started a $5 billion fund in the region two years ago that became one of Latin America's most active venture capital players.

Axios-Ipsos poll: 60% of voters back Biden vaccine mandates

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Data: Axios/Ipsos Poll; Note: Margin of error +/-3.2%; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

A majority of Americans — including suburban voters — support vaccine mandates for federal workers as well as private companies, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: The findings, on the heels of President Biden's mandates announcement last week, suggest that while his move was divisive, it may be politically safer than his opponents hope.

Sep 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

More Americans know basic civics, due to hyper-political media diets

Data: Annenberg Public Policy Center; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

New data finds that Americans have a much better understanding of the three branches of government than ever before, likely due to the massive increase of politics in our media diets.

Why it matters: “This knowledge appears to have been purchased at a real cost," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. "It was a contentious year in which the branches of government were stress-tested.”

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 14, 2021 - Science

Wrestling with the risks of private missions to space

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The all-civilian Inspiration4 crew, launching to orbit this week, will force the space industry to contend with just how much risk ordinary people are willing to take on in order to build humanity's future in space.

Why it matters: The private space industry's goal of building an economy in space hinges on sending more people to orbit in the near future. But spaceflight is still an incredibly risky endeavor and it will likely remain that way for the foreseeable future.

Updated Sep 14, 2021 - Science

Hurricane Nicholas makes landfall in Texas

Weather conditions are seen in Galveston, Texas, ahead of Hurricane Nicholas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Hurricane Nicholas made landfall near Sargent Beach, Texas, Tuesday morning — threatening to bring up to 18 inches of rainfall and flooding to parts of the state and Louisiana, per the National Hurricane Center.

What's happening: Heavy rains, high winds and "dangerous" storm surges were ongoing, said the NHC, confirming just before 2am that the Category 1 hurricane had hit the state. Nearly 200,000 customers had lost power in Texas by 3:30am, per the utility tracking site poweroutage.us.

Updated Sep 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden says California voters "will get Trump" if Newsom is ousted

President Biden and California Gov. Gavin Newsom during a campaign event at Long Beach City College on Monday. Photo: Brendan Smialowski /AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden said while campaigning for Gov. Gavin Newsom in California that if the Democrat is ousted in Tuesday's recall election, voters will end up with a "clone of Donald Trump" as governor.

Between the lines: Although Biden never mentioned him by name, conservative talk radio host Larry Elder has emerged as Newsom's biggest threat. Elder in 2019 described Trump's 2016 election win as "God-sent," and state Democrats have sought to imply that a vote for him is a vote for Trumpism.

Scoop: The Modi shot campaign

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The Biden administration is quietly pressuring India to restart vaccine exports with plans to offer a higher-profile role for Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an upcoming COVID-19 global summit in New York if he agrees to release vaccines soon, sources with direct knowledge of the high-level discussions told Axios.

Why it matters: India is the world's biggest vaccine maker. In March, Modi halted exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine — one of the cheapest on the market — because the virus was ravaging his own population.

Sep 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Sinema's secret spreadsheets

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) is negotiating the size and scope of President Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget plan armed with her own spreadsheets about the costs and tax hikes needed for each program, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: While Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is getting attention for balking at a $3.5 trillion top-line price tag, Sinema's accountant-like focus on the bottom line will be equally important to winning the votes of them and other key Democrats.