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2020 is supercharging an intersectional civil rights movement

The coronavirus and Black Lives Matter protests have supercharged a diverse, intersectional civil rights movement.

The big picture: 2020 is provoking a cultural awakening — a unique moment in American history that Black Americans, immigrants, Latinos, women, people with disabilities and advocates for LGBTQ rights are all hoping to seize.

"We are definitely trying to leverage what's going on to get our asks out there, and advocate for the needs and the rights of people," Claire Stanley, advocacy outreach specialist for the American Council of the Blind, told Axios.

Driving the news: The converging crises of 2020 are raising the public's awareness of issues that any number of underrepresented communities have been focused on for years, and highlighting the connections among them.

  • The coronavirus has laid bare the gross inequities of the health care system at the same time as massive protests over systemic racism in policing and criminal justice.
  • The virus has also highlighted the need for more accessible absentee voting — something people with disabilities — in particular, people who are blind or visibly impaired — have long fought for.
  • And immigration advocates hope the debate over America's militarized police forces will carry over into greater concern for the militarization of immigration enforcement.

Between the lines: Media reflect the leading edge of this movement.

  • People with disabilities have been lobbying for better representation in Hollywood — both to create more characters who have disabilities and to hire more actors with with disabilities, as the New York Times reported.
  • The Los Angeles Times Guild’s Latino employees have created a Latino Caucus to advocate for better representation at the paper and to push for more coverage of their community. In a letter to the company's owner and top editors, the group says that the Los Angeles Times "has covered the Latino community in dehumanizing ways, painting us as criminals or victims or simply ignoring us."
  • The latest public service announcement campaign from the nonprofit Ad Council addresses racism and harassment against the Asian and Pacific Islander community in light of COVID-19.

What they're saying: "The more you can show the success of people of color, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community, the more rapidly people will embrace employing, partnering with, working with people who are different," said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of the non-profit RespectAbility which is deeply involved in representation fights in Hollywood.

  • "People make assumptions about what people with disabilities can and can’t do. It’s sometimes difficult to get beyond that," Rita Martin, deputy director of the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation, told Axios.

The bottom line: In what has been a disastrous year in many ways, "I would like to look at one silver lining," said Sergio Gonzalez, deputy director at the Immigration Hub.

  • "It has awakened consciousness again around race and civil rights in a way that didn't exist before. I think that when we've seen major progress, around issues of social justice and civil rights. It's been when movements have been able to work together and across space.... I hope and believe that that's what we're seeing right now."

Trump agency head who often skips mask tests positive for coronavirus

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of top administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

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COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.

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Beware a Thanksgiving mirage

Don't be surprised if COVID metrics plunge over the next few days, only to spike next week.

Why it matters: The COVID Tracking Project warns of a "double-weekend pattern" on Thanksgiving — where the usual weekend backlog of data is tacked on to a holiday.

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Trump pardons Michael Flynn

President Trump on Wednesday pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts.

Why it matters: It is the first of multiple pardons expected in the coming weeks, as Axios scooped last night.

This is a breaking story and will be updated with more details.

The emerging cybersecurity headaches awaiting Biden

The incoming administration will face a slew of cybersecurity-related challenges, as Joe Biden takes office under a very different environment than existed when he was last in the White House as vice president.

The big picture: President-elect Biden's top cybersecurity and national security advisers will have to wrestle with the ascendancy of new adversaries and cyberpowers, as well as figure out whether to continue the more aggressive stance the Trump administration has taken in cyberspace.

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Past friction between Biden and Erdoğan foreshadows future tensions

Ankara — The incoming Biden administration's foreign policy priorities and worldview will collide with those of the Turkish government on several issues.

Why it matters: The U.S. needs its NATO ally Turkey for its efforts to contain Russia, counter Iran and deal with other crises in the Middle East. But relations between Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are expected to be strained.

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Tesla's wild rise and European plan

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Tesla's market capitalization blew past $500 billion for the first time Tuesday.

Why it matters: It's just a number, but kind of a wild one. Consider, via CNN: "Tesla is now worth more than the combined market value of most of the world's major automakers: Toyota, Volkswagen, GM, Ford, Fiat Chrysler and its merger partner PSA Group."

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China's Xi Jinping congratulates Biden on election win

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message to President-elect Biden on Wednesday to congratulate him on his election victory, according to the Xinhua state news agency.

Why it matters: China's foreign ministry offered Biden a belated, and tentative, congratulations on Nov. 13, but Xi had not personally acknowledged Biden's win. The leaders of Brazil, Mexico and Russia are among the very few leaders still declining to congratulate Biden.

This story is breaking news. Please check back for updates.



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