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For the first time ever, an entity other than a global superpower has launched humans into orbit. The SpaceX Inspiration4 mission blasted off from Cape Canaveral, carrying four civilians on board for a three-day trip around Earth. The crew: Jared Isaacman, the billionaire who is financing the adventure; Hayley Arceneaux, a 29-year-old physician assistant at St. Jude who becomes the youngest American in space; Dr. Sian Proctor, a college professor who becomes the first Black female to pilot a spacecraft; and Chris Sembroski, a data engineer who won his ticket in a raffle. The quartet is going farther from Earth than anyone since the Apollo missions: WATCH THE LAUNCH 


A pair of top FDA scientists are expressing skepticism over the need for Covid vaccine boosters for the general population, arguing in a medical journal that current vaccines have not seen their effectiveness diminish enough to warrant another shot. Making matters more complicated, both Pfizer and Moderna say their own data supports the case for a third dose because of waning efficacy after about six months. A separate study out of Israel bolsters that argument, showing that Israelis who got three doses of Pfizer were much more protected against severe cases than those who got just the two. The White House is still planning to roll out a booster campaign for the general population starting next week, pending approval from the CDC and FDA. AXIOS


The Biden administration is standing by Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs, amid a report that Milley circumvented the military chain of command during the waning days of the Trump presidency by telling his counterpart in China that he would give them a heads-up if Trump ordered a nuclear strike on the country. That explosive detail comes by way of a yet-to-be-released Bob Woodward book. Milley has confirmed he spoke to a top Chinese general in October -- before the election -- and January -- just after the Capitol riot -- but said those conversations were well within the duties of his office. NPR


Top Olympic gymnasts, including Simone Biles and McKayla Maroney, testified in front of the Senate about the sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of Team USA’s former doctor, Larry Nassar. In emotional testimony, Biles blamed the FBI for turning a "blind eye” to the first reports of Nassar’s abuse in 2015. Aly Raisman told senators that it took the bureau 14 months to contact her after she made her initial report, during which Nassar continued to sexually assault patients. FBI Director Christopher Wray apologized to the gymnasts for the bureau’s failure to stop “this monster.” ESPN


Democratic lawmakers are calling on Facebook to abandon its plans for an “Instagram for Kids,” following the WSJ report that the social-media giant is aware that the current version of Instagram is leading to increased suicide risk in teenage girls. The demand comes on the heels of another Journal expose citing internal documents that show a 2018 tweak to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm meant to improve users’ well-being backfired and ended up making people more prone to outrage -- and that Mark Zuckerberg has resisted proposals to fix it. WSJ


You can be rid of at least one of the passwords bouncing around in your brain. Microsoft is rolling out password-free authentication for all users after testing the feature for corporate accounts. That means all one billion Microsoft account holders can turn off their password and replace it with a different form of authentication, so long as they have the Microsoft Authenticator app installed on their phone. Google and Apple are also working on ways to replace the dreaded password. THE VERGE


Amazon says it will hire 125,000 new permanent positions at its fulfillment centers, with an average starting pay of $18 an hour when signing bonuses are factored in. The hiring spree comes in addition to another 40,000 corporate positions Amazon said it’s looking to fill earlier this month, and brings the company’s pandemic-era hiring to nearly half-a-million people. CHEDDAR


CBS is going back to the drawing board on an upcoming show called The Activist after widespread criticism that the concept was dystopian and dehumanizing. The original idea had six activists competing to draw social-media attention to various causes in front of a panel of celebrity judges, including Usher, Priyanka Chopra and Julianne Hough. After the concept got widely panned in the press and social media, CBS says it will remake the show from a reality series into a docuseries. THR


…the first full-length trailer for Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake, coming in December: WATCH

...Timothee Chalamet and Larry David, grabbing an al fresco lunch in NYC: SEE PICS


For the first time since 2004, Rolling Stone has remade its famous list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. The magazine polled 250 musicians, producers and industry insiders and tabulated their answers to create the new comprehensive list. Coming in at #1: Aretha Franklin’s Respect. FULL LIST
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