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White House fears Cuba crisis after 2020 election wipeout in South Florida

White House efforts to avoid dealing with the Cuba issue have blown up amid protests on the island, congressional backlash and political pressure from the South Florida Cuban community.

Why it matters: Joe Biden's performance in South Florida during the 2020 election explains his wariness — he was crushed by Donald Trump. Democrats are worried they'll hurt themselves in Florida — and more broadly in the midterms — if they mishandle the situation.


  • President Obama made détente with Cuba — including a trip to the nation — a signature foreign policy.
  • President Trump reversed much of that: He added sanctions, put the country back on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism and adopted a hardline approach — in line with critics of Cuba's Communist regime.
  • Biden's statement Monday morning backing the protesters was the first time he's publicly addressed Cuba since becoming president.

Between the lines: Biden’s Cuba policy review is ongoing, giving the administration some cover for the time being.

  • But the review is expected to end soon, sources familiar with the process tell Axios.

Reporters pressed White House press secretary Jen Psaki for more details during her press briefing Monday.

  • Psaki, who said in March that "a Cuba policy shift is not currently among President Biden’s top priorities," was asked whether the events over the weekend change the administration's view.
  • She said Biden has "(made) clear that he doesn't support the approach of the government of Cuba," but was noncommittal when asked specifically where the issue ranks as a priority.
  • The president later told reporters that “the U.S. stands firmly with the people of Cuba as they assert their universal rights. And we call on the government of Cuba to refrain from violence in their attempt to silence the voices of the people of Cuba.”

What they're saying: Republicans and outsiders have seized on the protests to attack the administration.

The bottom line: The challenge for Democrats isn't entirely from Republicans; their own party is split on the issue.

Be smart: Several progressive lawmakers have been slow to issue a formal response to the protests — or haven't issued one at all.

Elite trans athletes decry youth sports bans

TOKYO — While transgender inclusion in elite sports presents some challenging issues, bans on participation in youth sports are simply about hate and cruelty, several top trans athletes told Axios this week.

The big picture: Lawmakers in more than half of the states have considered such bans, and they have been signed into law in at least eight states, though legal challenges remain.

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The case for global warming realism, rather than panic

It’s getting harder and harder to communicate the two essential realities of human-caused climate change: that our failure to slow and eventually stop it is contributing to devastating human suffering all over the world, and that it’s not too late to act.

The big picture: Experts have long told climate communicators —including scientists, journalists and politicians — that disaster porn immobilizes people, leaving them cowering in a corner. You've got to give them a sense of hope, the research shows.

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Simone Biles will compete in her final Olympic event

Simone Biles will compete in the Olympic individual balance beam final, her last event of the Tokyo Games, USA Gymnastics announced Monday.

What's happening: "We are so excited to confirm that you will see two U.S. athletes in the balance beam final tomorrow — Suni Lee AND Simone Biles!! Can’t wait to watch you both!" USA Gymnastics tweeted.

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In photos: Tokyo Olympics day 10 highlights

Day 10 of the Tokyo Olympic Games saw Puerto Rico bag its first-ever track gold medal when Jasmine Camacho-Quinn beat American world record holder Kendra Harrison to win the women’s 100-meter hurdles Monday.

The big picture: There was better news for Team USA in the basketball, where the women's national team beat France 93-82 — meaning the Americans are entering the medal round undefeated as they go for yet another gold, Axios' Ina Fried reports from Tokyo. France still advanced to the quarterfinals as well.

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Belarus sprinter who sought refuge in Tokyo "safe" with Japanese authorities, IOC says

Belarus' Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who's refusing orders to return home, is in the care of Japanese authorities and the UN refugee agency is now involved in her case, an International Olympic Committee official told reporters Monday.

Driving the news: The sprinter said she wouldn't obey orders and board a flight home after being taken to Tokyo's s Haneda airport by team officials Sunday following her criticism of Belarusian coaches, per Reuters. She spent the night in an airport hotel.

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Olympic sprint champ Jacobs says reconnecting with U.S. father "gave me the desire to win"

Italy's surprise 100-meters Olympic gold medalist Lamont Marcell Jacobs opened up Sunday about how reconnecting with his American father over the past year has helped spur him on.

What he's saying: The Texas-born sprinter told reporters after setting a European record of 9.80 seconds to win gold in Sunday's event that getting back in touch with his father "gave me the desire, the speed, that something more that helped me being here and win the Olympics."

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Bipartisan Senate group releases $1 trillion infrastructure bill

A bipartisan group of senators released full legislative text for their $1 trillion "hard" infrastructure bill late Sunday night, setting it up for debate on the floor this week.

Why it matters: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer kept senators in town for a rare legislative weekend in order to formally begin debate on the 2,702-page bill. Now the Senate can begin a potentially days-long amendment process before a final vote this week.

Read the bill.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.

American Raven Saunders protests oppression with "X" sign on Olympic podium

U.S. shot-putter Raven Saunders told AP Sunday she placed her hands above her head in an "X" formation while on the Olympic podium after winning a silver medal to stand up for "oppressed" people.

Why it matters: The International Olympic Committee has banned protests during the Tokyo Games, but Saunders, who is black and openly gay, said she wanted to take a stand.

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