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NASA gets a new administrator; North Korea says it will go forward with talks on denuclearization even if US troops stay in the South.
“I care about space”
- NASA has a new administrator — one whose nomination to lead the agency was controversial, even among Republicans. [Vox / Brian Resnick]
- The Senate narrowly confirmed Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine on Thursday by a 50-49 vote. His confirmation after a vacancy of three months ends the longest period of time that NASA has operated without a permanent leader. [NYT / Kenneth Chang]
- Bridenstine, a former Navy pilot who once ran the Air and Space Museum in Tulsa, was nominated by President Donald Trump last fall. But his confirmation stalled over objections from members in both parties about Bridenstine’s lack of experience and what it could mean for the agency to put a politician in charge for the first time. [WSJ / Natalie Andrews and Andy Pasztor]
- Bridenstine has refused to acknowledge that human activity is the primary cause of climate change, a particularly concerning issue for NASA because it provides some of the most comprehensive data on climate change in the world. [Huffington Post / Chris D’Angelo]
- Democrats also criticized him for his past statements on LGBTQ rights. He once described legislation protecting the right of transgender people to use the bathroom matching their gender identity as “lawless federal bullying.” [Politico / Jacqueline Klimas]
- The Senate vote faced unanimous opposition from Democrats, including Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who brought her newborn daughter with her to cast her opposing vote, becoming the first senator to bring a child onto the chamber’s floor while the Senate was in session. [The Hill / Timothy Cama]
- On Wednesday, the Senate had voted to allow the babies of its members into the chamber. The vote came at Duckworth’s urging after she became the first sitting senator to give birth. (Senate rules stipulate that members must be present in order to vote.) [Chicago Tribune via AP / Laurie Kellman]
North Korea makes a major concession on nuclear weapons
- South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Thursday that North Korea appears to have conceded on a major point ahead of planned talks with the US: Kim Jong Un will no longer demand that US troops leave South Korea in exchange for giving up North Korea’s nuclear program. [NYT / Choe Sang-Hun]
- North Korea is demanding only security guarantees and an end to the United States’ “hostile policy,” Moon said. [Associated Press / Foster Klug]
- Korean experts caution that this touted shift might be essentially meaningless because “hostile policy” could mean anything — and in the past, North Korea has claimed it comprises the presence of US troops on the Korean Peninsula. [WSJ / Jonathan Cheng]
- Meanwhile, Trump said he would scrap the event altogether, or even walk out of the session while it was underway, if it looked like it wasn’t heading toward success, saying to reporters, “If I think that it’s a meeting that is not going to be fruitful, we’re not going to go. ... If the meeting when I’m there is not fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting.” [Axios / Jonathan Swan]
- There aren’t many people in the world who can unilaterally rename a country. The King of Swaziland is one of them. And yes, he just did. [BBC]
- The United Kingdon is getting serious about ocean pollution. On Monday, Prime Minister Theresa May announced a likely ban on all plastic straws, stirrers, and cotton swabs. [NPR / Laurel Wamsley]
- What’s one bitcoin actually worth? Somewhere between $20 and $800,000, depending on which economist you ask. [Bloomberg / Lionel Laurent]
- The future is here. And it’s arrived in the form of robots capable of assembling your Ikea furniture for you. [Science Mag / Matt Warren]
“It may not be so dangerous for someone to be without clothes on the bridge, but drivers can get too much of a surprise and completely forget that they are driving.” [Norway’s former traffic minister implores teens to stop running naked across bridges and having sex on roundabouts in a statement titled “No to sex on roundabouts” / Reuters]
Watch this: How Parkland student David Hogg beats his critics
Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg has some strategies for dealing with smears and conspiracy theories. [YouTube / Carlos Maza and Coleman Lowndes]
Matt Lauer, Mario Batali, and Garrison Keillor are all eyeing a return. #MeToo is at risk.
New poll shows Democrat leading in every Arizona Senate matchup
North Korea just promised a huge concession on its nuclear weapons. It’s done that before.
Britain’s emissions haven’t been this low since 1890. So why not go for zero?