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Biden hits back at Pence over RNC speech: The violence is in "Trump’s America"

Joe Biden issued a statement Thursday rebuking Vice President Mike Pence for claiming in his RNC speech that "you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America," referencing Black Lives Matter protests and unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

The big picture: Trump and Pence are running on a "law and order" message amid nationwide unrest, and Republicans have relentlessly attacked Biden for what they claim has been a failure to denounce violent protests. Biden said unequivocally in his Thursday statement: "There is no place for violence, looting, or burning. None. Zero."


Flashback: "Last week, Joe Biden didn’t say one word about the violence and chaos engulfing cities across this country. Let me be clear: the violence must stop – whether in Minneapolis, Portland, or Kenosha," Pence said on Wednesday.

  • "The hard truth is you won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America. Under President Trump, we will stand with those who stand on the Thin Blue Line, and we’re not going to defund the police – not now, not ever."

The other side: "Did Mike Pence forget Donald Trump is president? Is Donald Trump even aware he’s president? These are not images from some imagined 'Joe Biden’s America' in the future. These are images from Donald Trump’s America today," Biden said.

  • "The violence we’re witnessing is happening under Donald Trump. Not me. It’s getting worse, and we know why."
  • "Donald Trump refuses to even acknowledge there is a racial justice problem in America. To solve this problem, first we have to honestly admit the problem. But he won’t do it. Instead of looking to calm the waters, he adds fuel to every fire."

What's happening: Protesters set buildings on fire in Kenosha this week and a 17-year-old was charged with first-degree intentional homicide after two people were shot during the city's unrest.

Read Biden's full statement.

Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that restrictions imposed on New York places of worship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment, per Bloomberg.

Why it matters: The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds one of the first significant actions by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.

Editor's note: This a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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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