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Today’s top stories
Chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg thought Mark Zuckerberg was "nuts" when he raised the possibility in January 2020 that 50,000 Facebook employees might have to work from home. By March 6, they were.
Why it matters: In an interview Monday with Axios Re:Cap, Sandberg explained how Facebook moved quickly to respond to the pandemic with grants for small businesses and work-from-home stipends for its employees, and how the company has been watching the unfolding crisis for women in the workforce.
- Vaccines: CDC says fully vaccinated people can gather inside without masks — The barriers to vaccine passports.
- Health: Mississippi Gov. defends lifting mask mandate — Cities' struggle to balance homelessness and public safety.
- Work: Sandberg thought Zuckerberg was "nuts" on remote work in January 2020
- Politics: Biden admin to allocate $250 million to help address COVID response inequities.
- Education: Senate COVID relief bill paves way for student debt forgiveness — New York City high schools to reopen on March 22.
- World: U.K. schools to reopen with mass testing.
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Venezuelans living in the United States will be eligible to receive temporary protected status for 18 months, the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday.
Why it matters: Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have fled to the U.S. amid economic, political and social turmoil back home. Former President Trump, on his last full day in office, granted some protections to Venezuelans through the U.S. Deferred Enforced Departure program, but advocates and lawmakers said the move didn't go far enough.
Decades of the slow economic progress women made catching up to men evaporated in just one year.
Why it matters: As quickly as those gains were erased, it could take much, much longer for them to return — a warning Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen issued today.
The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal for a lawsuit brought against Cleveland police officers that challenges the scope of qualified immunity, the legal doctrine which has been used to shield officers from lawsuits alleging excessive force, Reuters reports.
Why it matters: The doctrine has been the subject of scrutiny from civil rights advocates. Eliminating qualified immunity was one of the key demands of demonstrators during nationwide protests in 2020 following the killing of George Floyd.
A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.
Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.
People who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can take fewer precautions in certain situations, including socializing indoors without masks when in the company of low-risk or other vaccinated individuals, according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Monday.
Why it matters: Per the report, there's early evidence that suggests vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infection and are potentially less likely to transmit the virus to other people. At the time of its publication, the CDC said the guidance would apply to about 10% of Americans.
Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse tells "Axios on HBO" that if his company loses a lawsuit brought by the SEC, it would put the U.S. cryptocurrency industry at a competitive disadvantage.
Why it matters: Garlinghouse's comments may seem self-serving, but his call for clearer crypto rules is consistent with longstanding entreaties from other industry players.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), widely seen as a member of the Republican establishment in Congress, will not run for re-election in 2022, he announced on Twitter Monday.
Why it matters: The 71-year-old senator is the No. 4 ranking Republican in the Senate, and the fifth GOP senator to announce he will not run for re-election in 2022 as the party faces questions about its post-Trump future.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday that New York City's 488 public high schools will reopen for some in-person classes on March 22, after months of distance learning.
Why it matters: It's a key pandemic milestone for the biggest public school system in the country, which is made up largely of low-income and minority students, according to the New York Times.
The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer group of data analysts, researchers, and journalists brought together by The Atlantic, published its final daily update on Monday — the first anniversary of its founding.
Why it matters: The project quickly became a vital resource for news media, academic researchers, and everyday Americans to track COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the absence of reliable and public data from the federal government.
The imminent enactment of Democrats' $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package creates space for lawmakers and the White House to craft infrastructure plans with big climate and energy-related provisions.
Why it matters: President Biden, during the campaign, vowed to make low-carbon energy, climate-resilient infrastructure and transportation projects a big focus of an economic recovery package. And the Texas power crisis could give fresh momentum to investments in grid modernization.
The biggest event for markets this week will be Thursday's meeting of the European Central Bank's governing council and the press conference following it from ECB president Christine Lagarde.
Why it matters: With interest rates jumping around the globe, investors are looking to central bank heads to see if they will follow the lead of Fed chair Jerome Powell, who says rising rates are nothing to worry about, or Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda, who has drawn a line in the sand on rates.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), America's ultimate swing voter, told me on "Axios on HBO" that he'll insist Republicans have more of a voice on President Biden's next big package than they did on the COVID stimulus.
The big picture: Manchin said he'll push for tax hikes to pay for Biden's upcoming infrastructure and climate proposal, and will use his Energy Committee chairmanship to force the GOP to confront climate reality.
The tough task of selecting a jury for former MPD officer Derek Chauvin's trial for the killing of George Floyd is set to begin Monday.
The state of play: "This case may be the most highly publicized criminal trial in a long time. ... That means that it's harder to find people who really have an open mind," Richard Frase, University of Minnesota Law School professor of criminal law, told Axios.
The verdict from Americans trying to get the COVID vaccine is in: the sign-up websites are awful.
Why it matters: Appointment systems are a vital part of getting Americans vaccinated, but a series of missed opportunities, at every level, left local governments scrambling. And the frustrating, confusing process now carries the risk that some people will simply give up.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial for the murder of George Floyd stands out because it's so rare for officers to face any charges for deadly force — even for actions caught on video. But advocates hope times are changing.
Why it matters: Nearly a year after a video of Floyd's choking death went viral, advocates have pushed through proposals in states and cities to make it easier to hold police officers accountable for excessive force. The plans still face resistance from police unions.
Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who was shown kneeling on George Floyd's neck last year in a video that shook the nation, goes on trial this week.
Why it matters: Eight years after the launch of the Black Lives Matter movement, it's still rare for police officers to face legal consequences or jail time over the deaths of Black people. Chauvin's trial will test how that precedent holds up.
President Biden will sign executive orders Monday establishing a Gender Policy Council and directing the Department of Education to review the federal law Title IX, according to administration officials.
Why it matters: The Biden administration is signaling its priorities to advance gender equity and equality as women, particularly women of color, have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a letter outlining a plan to accelerate peace talks with the Taliban that the U.S. is "considering" a full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, Afghan outlet TOLOnews first reported Sunday.
Why it matters: In the letter to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, also obtained by Western news outlets, Blinken expresses concern that the Taliban "could make rapid territorial gain" after an American military withdrawal, even with the continuation of U.S. financial aid, as he urges Ghani to embrace his proposal.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle delivered a devastating indictment of the U.K. royal family in their conversation with Oprah Winfrey: Both said unnamed relatives had expressed concern about what the skin tone of their baby would be. And they accused "the firm" of character assassination and "perpetuating falsehoods."
Why it matters: An institution that thrives on myth now faces harsh reality. The explosive two-hour interview gave an unprecedented, unsparing window into the monarchy: Harry said his father and brother "are trapped," and Markle revealed that the misery of being a working royal drove her to thoughts of suicide.
Thousands of protesters marched through Minneapolis' streets Sunday, urging justice for George Floyd on the eve of the start of former police officer Derek Chauvin's trial over the 46-year-old's death, per AFP.
The big picture: Chauvin faces charges for second-degree murder and manslaughter over Floyd's death last May, which ignited massive nationwide and global protests against racism and for police reform. His trial is due to start Monday, with jury selection procedures.