Saturday’s top stories
President Biden is considering appointing Matthew Rojansky, head of the Wilson Center's Kennan Institute, as Russia director on the National Security Council, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Why it matters: Rojansky has been praised for his scholarship on Russia and is frequently cited in U.S. media for his expert commentary. But his work has drawn criticism — including in a 2018 open letter from Ukrainian alumni of Kennan that blasted the think tank he runs as an "unwitting tool of Russia’s political interference."
Maryland's Democratic-controlled legislature on Saturday voted to override Republican Gov. Larry Hogan's vetoes of police accountability legislation.
Why it matters: Maryland is the first state to repeal its Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights, the Washington Post notes.
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NASA announced Saturday it rescheduled its Ingenuity Mars helicopter's first experimental flight, originally planned for Sunday.
The latest: "During a high-speed spin test of the rotors on Friday, the command sequence controlling the test ended early due to a 'watchdog' timer expiration," NASA said in a statement. "This occurred as it was trying to transition the flight computer from ‘Pre-Flight’ to ‘Flight’ mode."
During this weekend’s highly anticipated donor retreat hosted by the Republican National Committee in Palm Beach, Ohio Senate candidate Josh Mandel was escorted off the premises while his primary opponent, Jane Timken, was allowed to stay, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation tell Axios.
What we’re hearing: The invitation-only event is taking place at the Four Seasons Resort, and the RNC reserved the entire hotel. While Timken, former Ohio GOP chair, was invited to the event “because she is a major donor” — Mandel was not, so he was asked to leave, according to one of the sources.
John Kerry, President Biden's special climate envoy, is expected to travel to China next week for meetings with officials aimed at boosting collaboration, the Washington Post reported Saturday.
Why it matters: China is the world's largest carbon dioxide emitter and the U.S. is second-largest.
Devin Murphy, Rep. Matt Gaetz's legislative director, has stepped down amid a federal investigation into sex trafficking allegations against the Florida Republican congressman, the New York Times first reported and Axios has confirmed.
The latest: "It's been real," Murphy wrote in an email, obtained by Axios, to Republican legislative directors on Saturday morning, with the subject line: "Well...bye."
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) said in a statement Saturday he will be blind for roughly a month after getting surgery to reattach the retina in left eye.
Why it matters: Crenshaw, who lost his right eye and sustained severe damage to his left eye during his third deployment to Afghanistan in 2012, said he will be "pretty much off the grid for the next few weeks."
A new 20-year-forecast for the world: increasingly fragmented and turbulent.
The big picture: A major report put out this week by the National Intelligence Council reflects a present rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. How the next two decades will unfold depends largely on whether new technologies will ultimately unite us — or continue to divide us.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) doubled down Friday night, saying he's not "going anywhere," and vowing, "I have not yet begun to fight," amid a federal investigation into sex trafficking allegations.
What he's saying: “I’m built for the battle, and I’m not going anywhere,” Gaetz, who denies the allegations, said during a Women for America First event at the Trump National Doral Miami resort.
The medical examiner who performed George Floyd's autopsy testified Friday that law enforcement's restraint and compression of Floyd's neck was "just more than [he] could take," given his heart's condition.
Why it matters: Andrew Baker, the Hennepin County medical examiner, is a key witness "for prosecutors who hope to convince jurors that Derek Chauvin killed Mr. Floyd when he knelt on him for more than nine minutes last May," the New York Times writes.
This week's nuclear talks in Vienna "met expectations" but did not assuage U.S. doubts about Iran's willingness to negotiate in good faith over the 2015 nuclear deal, a senior State Department official told reporters on Friday.
The state of play: Iran refused to meet directly with the U.S. but held three days of talks with the nuclear deal's other signatories, while the U.S. — represented in Vienna by Iran envoy Rob Malley — communicated indirectly through envoys, primarily from the European Union.
The House Ethics Committee announced Friday it has launched an investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who is facing a federal probe into sex trafficking allegations.
Driving the news: The panel said it is aware of allegations that Gaetz "may have engaged in sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe, improper gratuity, or impermissible gift."
Southern border coordinator Roberta Jacobson’s last day in the Biden White House will be at the end of April before she retires, she announced on Friday.
Why it matters: The former ambassador to Mexico has been at the forefront of the administration’s efforts to handle the surge of migrants at the border — which shows no sign of stopping.
Despite being half the size of the legal cannabis market in California, New York is poised to impact the larger industry and culture beyond its state lines and U.S. borders.
Why it matters: Even as cannabis is still simultaneously illegal at a federal level and only somewhat legal in 42 states, New York’s unique global identity and mix of industries will enable changes in perception and business operations, experts say.
President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan includes spending on child care facilities and senior care — and now members of his administration and allies on Capitol Hill are arguing to expand the definition of infrastructure so it encompasses more than roads and bridges.
Axios Re:Cap speaks with Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), who supports Biden’s plans, but calls the decision to split up family policies and jobs “a big mistake.”
Amazon's success at stopping a union organizing drive at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, shows just how far the labor movement's effort to take on Big Tech still has to go.
Driving the news: The official National Labor Relations Board vote count announced Friday showed more than twice as many "no" votes as "yes."
Pfizer and BioNTech asked the Food and Drug Administration Friday to expand the emergency use authorization of its COVID vaccine to cover adolescents ages 12–15.
Why it matters: The authorization would broaden vaccination efforts and speed up the country's race to herd immunity, a goal that will ultimately require teenagers and children to be vaccinated as well.
A tiny British territory on the southern tip of Spain may now be the most protected place on Earth, with all but a sliver of the population vaccinated against COVID-19.
Why it matters: Gibraltar offers the rest of Europe a glimpse of what life might soon be like, if supply shortfalls and vaccine hesitancy can be overcome.
A man behind a pro-Trump scam PAC has been hit with federal wire fraud charges alleging he bilked hundreds of thousands of dollars from donors with false promises that the money would help support the former president's re-election efforts.
Why it matters: The charge handed down this week against James Kyle Bell shows how brazen some efforts to monetize grassroots political enthusiasm can be.
A veteran forensic pathologist testified Friday that the position of George Floyd's body appeared to show he could not get enough oxygen before he died, and that "there's no evidence to suggest that he would have died that night except for the interactions with law enforcement."
Why it matters: Her testimony confirms autopsies that show Floyd died from "asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain," after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck for over nine minutes.
President Biden will sign an executive order Friday that creates a bipartisan commission to study a number of Supreme Court reforms, including expanding the number of seats on the court, the White House said.
Why it matters: The six-month commission, promised by Biden throughout the 2020 election, will provide an analysis of the principal arguments surrounding the divisive subject. Progressives are pushing for more seats after former President Trump appointed three justices to the court.
In a major win for Amazon, a majority of workers involved in an organizing effort at its distribution center in Bessemer, Alabama, has voted not to unionize.
Why it matters: The vast majority of large tech companies have been composed of non-union workers, and tech companies, including Amazon, have fought hard to keep it that way. The "no" vote in Alabama could chill or delay other unionization efforts in the industry.
The Biden administration unveiled its first budget proposal to Congress on Friday, offering a glimpse into President Biden's policy agenda for the 2022 fiscal year.
The big picture: The $1.52 trillion budget proposal outlines top-line figures for Biden's major priorities, though it will ultimately be up to Congress to begin the lengthy appropriations process and allocate funding to federal agencies.
Allocations of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine will plummet by 80% next week, according to data released by the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention.
Why it matters: J&J's single-dose shot is viewed as key to U.S. efforts to vaccinate enough Americans to reach herd immunity as soon as possible. A spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that J&J is still aiming to meet its goal of delivering 100 million doses by June.
The United Kingdom's Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has died at 99, Buckingham Palace announced Friday.
The big picture: The Duke of Edinburgh, who spent 28 days in the hospital earlier this year, was married to the queen for more than 70 years.
America's CEOs need policies on the coming verdict in the Minneapolis police trial; the human rights dimensions of next year's World Cup in Qatar and Winter Olympics in Beijing; and voting-access bills — all different — moving through statehouses around the country.
Why it matters: As part of a generational change that has left many corporations on the defensive, CEOs are being pressured by younger workers and potential recruits — plus shareholders and customers — to take stands on issues they had always avoided. This includes the divisive issues of race, guns, climate change and LGBTQ rights.
We're about to be hit with a flood of coverage about the close of President Biden's first 100 days, coming up at the end of April. But we should be paying a lot more attention to the 100-year trends that are unfolding in this age of volatility and polarization.
The big picture: Doug Sosnik — senior adviser to the Brunswick Group, and political director for President Bill Clinton — tells me the digital disruption is a hinge moment in American history that's unlike any since the transition from the Agrarian Age to the Industrial Age in the late 1800s.
There are growing signs that parts of the country may be close to meeting demand for the coronavirus vaccine — well before the U.S. has reached herd immunity.
Why it matters: For the last few months, the primary focus of the U.S. has been getting shots to everyone who wants them, as quickly as possible. Soon, that focus will abruptly shift to convincing holdouts to get vaccinated.
Threats to Taiwan, the self-governing island only slightly bigger than Maryland, are sending shivers through the global tech industry.
Why it matters: Taiwan is home to 92% of the world's leading-edge chip manufacturing operations and a vital center for producing other tech components, including laptops and PC motherboards.
America’s financial titans are coming to a consensus: We are on the early edge of the biggest economic boom since World War II, with the promise of years of growth after the privation of the pandemic.
Why it matters: They might be wrong, but all point to the same data — this expansion will be kickstarted by trillions in spending from presidents Trump and Biden, the Fed's easy money, and piles of cash that consumers and companies accumulated during the COVID shutdown.
A successful global effort to slash carbon emissions demands huge investments to finance the unprecedented transformation of energy systems and related infrastructure — and it's a capital shift that's already well underway.
Why it matters: Private investment is already ramping up, and President Biden wants to spend hundreds of billions of dollars. Independent experts say the spending that will be needed to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 — a goal now embraced by the U.S. and many other countries — would be on the scale of the Industrial Revolution.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) late Thursday called for Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) to resign amid a federal investigation into sex trafficking allegations.
Why it matters: Kinzinger is the first congressional Republican to publicly demand Gaetz step down. Gaetz has denied allegations of being sexually involved with a 17-year-old, telling Axios in an interview last month that the investigation is "rooted in an extortion effort against my family for $25 million."
You've got your COVID vaccine, and the CDC says it's OK to travel this summer, even internationally. But you're likely to find that your overseas options are limited by border restrictions in many countries.
Why it matters: If you don't do your homework before traveling, you could wind up stranded in a foreign airport or quarantined in your hotel room for two weeks.
Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Thursday declared racism "a serious public health threat."
Driving the news: Walensky highlighted the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus pandemic on communities of color, pointing to case and death counts, as well as economic and social effects.
Comments from a Korean pro gamer based in Dallas have stirred discussion in the esports world about discrimination against Asian and Asian American players.
Driving the news: “Being Asian here is terrifying,” said Lee “Fearless” Eui-Seok, a player for the Dallas Fuel “Overwatch” team, during a livestream on Monday that was later translated by another team’s manager and has since gone viral.