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In photos: San Francisco Bay Area enveloped in smoke as wildfires rage across California

San Francisco's skies were thick with smoke from ongoing wildfires on Wednesday, largely blocking the sun from view amid hazardous air quality across the Bay Area.

The big picture: Roughly 14,000 firefighters are battling 28 major wildfires across California. There have been eight fatalities from wildfires this year and over 2.5 million acres have burned across the state, per Cal Fire.


  • Much of the Bay Area did not have dawn or daylight on Wednesday, Axios' Scott Rosenberg reports from San Francisco.
  • Large pockets of air quality across California, as well as western Oregon, have been deemed "hazardous" by the federal government. Air quality across much of Washington state is currently "unhealthy."
Cars drive along Ygnacio Valley Road in Concord, Calif. Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small/AFP via Getty Images
Jim McVeigh, a custodian, cleans the entrance of Children's Fairyland in Oakland. Photo: Yalonda M. James/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
Pier 14 in San Francisco. Photo: Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
Bejhan Razi observes repairs on lamp post clock in downtown Mill Valley, Calif. Photo: Scott Strazzante/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
Golfers on preview day for the Safeway Open in Napa, Calif. Photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
San Francisco City Hall. Photo: Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
The San Francisco skyline. Photo: Philip Pacheco/Getty Images

Donald Trump's political team disavows "Patriot Party" groups

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Why it matters: Trump briefly floated the possibility of creating a new political party to compete with the GOP — with him at the helm. But others have formed their own "Patriot Party" entities during the past week, and Trump's team wants to make clear it has nothing to do with them.

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Driving the news: The investigation comes in the wake of a New York Times report that alleged that Jeffrey Clark, the head of DOJ's civil division, had plotted with President Trump to oust acting Attorney General Jeffery Rosen in a scheme to overturn the election results in Georgia.

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Biden signs order overturning Trump's transgender military ban

President Biden signed an executive order on Monday overturning the Trump administration's ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.

Why it matters: The ban, which allowed the military to bar openly transgender recruits and discharge people for not living as their sex assigned at birth, affected up to 15,000 service members, according to tallies from the National Center for Transgender Equality and Transgender American Veterans Association.

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Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) announced Monday he will not run for a third term in the U.S. Senate in 2022, citing "partisan gridlock."

Why it matters: It's a surprise retirement from a prominent Senate Republican who easily won re-election in 2016 and was expected to do so again in 2022.

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Moderna says vaccine appears to protect against new COVID-19 variants

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Yes, but: The vaccine was as effective against the strain from U.K., but saw a six-fold reduction in antibodies against the South Africa variant. Even still, the neutralizing antibodies generated by the vaccine "remain above levels that are expected to be protective," according to the company.

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Xi Jinping warns against "new cold war" in Davos speech

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Why it matters: Xi didn't refer directly to U.S.-China tensions, but the subtext was clear. These were his first remarks to an international audience since the inauguration of President Biden, whose administration has already concurred with Donald Trump's determination that China is committing "genocide" against Uyghur Muslims, and issued a warning about China's aggression toward Taiwan.

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The will-he-or-won't-he speculation surrounding a possible gubernatorial run by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is destined to continue at least a bit longer.

What he's saying: Lindell told Axios that his focus is currently on proving his (baseless) claims of election fraud. He won't make a decision until that fight is resolved.

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