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Top N.Y. vaccine aide accused of seeking county officials' support for Cuomo

Larry Schwartz, who oversees New York's COVID-19 vaccine rollout, allegedly called county officials seeking support for Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) amid mounting sexual misconduct accusations, per multiple reports Sunday. Schwartz and Cuomo's office deny the claims.

Driving the news: The Washington Post and New York Times report an unnamed Democratic county executive who claims Schwartz contacted them filed a notice of an impending ethics complaint with the N.Y. attorney general's office Friday.


  • The executive told WashPost, "At best, it was inappropriate. At worst, it was clearly over the ethical line."
  • Democratic Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone told the New York Post: "Last Friday, I had a conversation with Larry Schwartz who reached out to discuss whether I was supportive of the governor."
  • Bellone added that he explained to Schwartz, a longtime adviser to Cuomo, that the allegations made against the governor were serious and that he supports an independent investigation.

What they're saying: Beth Garvey, acting counsel to the governor, said in an emailed statement: "Larry answered our call to volunteer in March and has since then worked night and day to ‎help New York through" the pandemic.

  • "Any suggestion that he acted in any way unethically or in any way other than in the best interest of the New Yorkers that he selflessly served is patently false," she added.
  • Schwartz said in a statement to news outlets, "All decisions regarding vaccines are done based on public health considerations, not politics.
"At no time has politics ever entered into the discussion or decision-making regarding vaccines. I have never discussed vaccines in a political context and anyone who thinks that is seriously mistaken."
Schwartz
  • Representatives for Bellone and the N.Y. attorney general's office did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Czech Republic expels 18 Russian diplomats over 2014 depot explosion

Czech police on Saturday connected two Russian men suspected of carrying out a poisoning attack in Salisbury, England, with a deadly ammunition depot explosion southeast of the capital, Prague, per Reuters.

Driving the news: Czech officials announced Saturday they're expelling 18 Russian diplomats they accuse of being involved in the blast in Vrbetice, AP notes. Czech police said later they're searching for two men carrying several passports — including two named Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

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Indianapolis mass shooting suspect legally bought 2 guns, police say

The suspected gunman in this week's mass shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis legally purchased two assault rifles believed to have been used in the attack, police said late Saturday.

Of note: The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's statement that Brandon Scott Hole, 19, bought the rifles last July and September comes a day after the FBI said in a statement to news outlets that a "shotgun was seized" from the suspect in March 2020 after his mother raised concerns about his mental health.

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U.S. and China agree to cooperate on climate action, but details remain to be negotiated

Despite an increasingly tense relationship, the U.S. and China agreed Saturday to work together to tackle global climate change, including by "raising ambition" for emissions cuts during the 2020s — a key goal of the Biden administration.

Why it matters: The joint communique released Saturday evening commits the world's two largest emitters of greenhouse gases to work together to keep the most ambitious temperature target contained in the Paris Climate Agreement viable by potentially taking additional emissions cuts prior to 2030.

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"We couldn't do two things at once": Biden defends not immediately raising refugee cap

President Biden on Saturday sought to explain why he didn't immediately lift the Trump administration's historically low refugee cap.

Driving the news: Several Democrats accused Biden Friday of not fulfilling his pledge to raise the limit after it was announced he'd keep the cap. The White House said later it would be raised by May 15. Biden told reporters Saturday, "We're going to increase the number."

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Children of color in rural areas battle deep health care disparities

Living in the nation's poorest, most rural communities can be a death sentence for African American and Native American children.

Why it matters: Lack of health care and healthy food make Black and indigenous childrenin the nation’s most disadvantaged counties five times as likely to die as children in other areas of the country,the advocacy group Save the Children found after analyzing federal data.

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How telehealth can narrow racial disparities

Data: CDC; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Racial disparities have been a constant problem in maternal health care, from rising death rates to the threat of severe COVID-19 among pregnant women. But now experts are hopeful that telehealth can help narrow those disparities.

Why it matters: It's not a complete solution to the racial barriers women of color face. But some experts are optimistic that telehealth — long-distance health care through videoconferences and other technology — can help reduce those barriers by offering flexibility in appointments and better access to diverse providers.

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Capitol Hill's far right pushes Anglo-Saxon values, European architecture

Multiple far-right House Republicans have begun planning and promoting an America First Caucus aimed at pushing "uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions," Punchbowl News first reported.

The big picture: "The document was being circulated as the GOP is struggling to determine a clear direction as it prepares to try winning back control of the House and Senate in the 2022 elections," AP writes.

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Super Typhoon Surigae rapidly intensifies to a Cat. 5 near Philippines

Super Typhoon Surigae surged in intensity from a Category 1 storm on Friday to a beastly Category 5 monster on Saturday, with maximum sustained winds estimated at 180 mph with higher gusts.

Why it matters: This storm — known as Typhoon Bising in the Philippines — is just the latest of many tropical cyclones to undergo a process known as rapid intensification, a feat that studies show is becoming more common due to climate change.

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