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Local governments go to war over schools

The next big coronavirus battleground will be over who has the final say on whether schools can stay open.

Why it matters: This involves the safety of young children and their parents, not to mention older educators and staff, and comes at the same time as many of the parents are out of work.


In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan has overruled wealthy Montgomery County's decision to force private schools to join public schools in going virtual-only until October.

  • “Private and parochial schools deserve the same opportunity and flexibility to make reopening decisions based on public health guidelines,” he said in a statement yesterday.
  • “The blanket closure mandate imposed by Montgomery County was overly broad and inconsistent with the powers intended to be delegated to the county health officer.”

The big picture: Different levels of government have been at odds since March over business closures, mandatory quarantines, mask mandates and more.

  • There will be outbreaks at schools that meet for classes, as has happened in other countries, and the coming weeks will be crucial as officials determine their comfort level for keeping classrooms open despite fresh infections.
  • This is particularly hard when city, county and state officials are fighting.

Between the lines: This is also playing out during a wave of evictions, destabilizing homes at the worst possible time.

The bottom line: The coronavirus has hit America unequally on many fronts, and schools will be no different.

  • But for many of the millions of American parents staring at a fall of full-time parenting, teaching and work, the prospect of all this — plus no ability to plan long-term — could be the most daunting challenge of their lives.

Go deeper: What a day at school looks like in a pandemic

An Iranian hacking group sanctioned by U.S. was itself the victim of a cyber attack

An Iranian cyber operations front organization that’s a target of new U.S. sanctions was itself the victim of an attack that looted its own hacking tools and dumped them on the internet two years ago.

Driving the news: Last week, amid increasing tensions between Washington and Tehran, the Treasury Department announced major new Iran-related sanctions targeting cyber operators working for Iranian intelligence. The sanctions targeted 45 individuals affiliated with Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), Tehran’s main civilian intelligence agency.

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Fauci clashes with Rand Paul at COVID hearing: "You're not listening"

Top health expert Anthony Fauci rebuked Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) at a hearing on Wednesday over his suggestion that New York's COVID-19 infection rate is low because the population there has reached herd immunity.

The big picture: Paul, a libertarian who has criticized government lockdown measures as "authoritarian," has clashed with Fauci in previous hearings. Paul accused Fauci of being a "big fan" of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his lockdown restrictions, while Fauci said the Kentucky senator has repeatedly "misconstrued" his comments.

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FDA chief vows agency will not accept political pressure on coronavirus vaccine

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn promised that "science will guide our decision" for a coronavirus vaccine at a Senate hearing on Wednesday.

Why it matters: More Americans are expressing doubt about a first-generation vaccine, despite President Trump's efforts to push an unrealistic timeline that conflicts with medical experts in his administration.

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CEO confidence rises for the first time in over 2 years, but still remains at decade low

Data: Business Roundtable; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

A closely-watched CEO economic confidence index rose for the first time after declining for nine straight quarters, according to a survey of 150 chief executives of the biggest U.S. companies by trade group Business Roundtable.

Why it matters: The index, which still remains at a decade low, reflects corporate America's expectations for sales, hiring and spending — which plummeted amid uncertainty when the pandemic hit.

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Career official says White House political appointees "commandeered" Bolton book review

A former career official at the National Security Council claims her pre-publication review of former national security adviser John Bolton's explosive book on President Trump was "commandeered by political appointees for a seemingly political purpose," according to a letter from her lawyers filed in court on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The White House fought against the publication of Bolton's book for most of the year on the grounds that it contained harmful and "significant amounts of classified information."

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House Democrats unveil sweeping reforms package to curtail presidential abuses

House Democrats on Wednesday unveiled sweeping legislation aimed at preventing presidential abuse and corruption, strengthening transparency and accountability, and protecting elections from foreign interference.

Why it matters: While the bill has practically no chance of becoming law while Trump is in office and Republicans hold the Senate, it's a pre-election message from Democrats on how they plan to govern should Trump lose in November. It also gives Democratic members an anti-corruption platform to run on in the weeks before the election.

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TikTok's content-moderation time bomb

When the dust finally clears from the fight over TikTok, whoever winds up running the burgeoning short-video-sharing service is likely to face a world of trouble trying to manage speech on it.

Why it matters: Facebook’s story already shows us how much can go wrong when online platforms beloved by passionate young users turn into public squares.

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Making sense of China's very vague new plan to reach "carbon neutrality"

Major climate news arrived on Tuesday when Chinese President Xi Jinping said China would aim for "carbon neutrality" by 2060 and a CO2 emissions peak before 2030.

Why it matters: China is by far the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter. So its success or failure at reining in planet-warming gases affects everyone's future.

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