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Honolulu, Hawaii, the morning a false emergency alert about an inbound ballistic missile was sent out. Photo: EUGENE TANNER / AFP / Getty Images

"A false alert sent to cellphones across Hawaii on Saturdaywarning of an incoming ballistic missile is calling attention to an emergency notification system that government officials at all levels say needs major improvements," per the N.Y. Times' Cecilia Kang:

  • "The Federal Communications Commission said it was opening a 'full investigation into what happened' when the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency sent the errant alert as a result of what Gov. David Y. Ige said was human error: a worker who 'pushed the wrong button' during a shift change at the state’s emergency command post."
  • Why it matters: "The episode in Hawaii appeared to be the Wireless Emergency Alerts system’s most serious misfire since it became operational in 2012 to [use alerts pushed to cellphones to] modernize America’s decades-old approach of using television and radio to notify the public about impending weather, safety and other hazards."
  • What's next: "The system has come under growing scrutiny in recent months, with public safety officials complaining that it requires upgrades on several fronts. Critics say they are often sent too widely, sowing fear among people unlikely to be affected by the threat in question."

This is a great read ... Go deeper: "False Alarm Hints at Thin Line Between Mishap and War," by N.Y. Times' Max "The Interpreter" Fisher:

  • "Security experts called it a frightening warning of how a technical error could set off an unintended conflict with North Korea."

Go deeper

Justice Department drops insider trading inquiry against Sen. Richard Burr

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) walking through the Senate Subway in the U.S. Capitol in December 2020. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Department of Justice told Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) on Tuesday that it will not move forward with insider trading charges against him.

Why it matters: The decision, first reported by the New York Times, effectively ends the DOJ's investigation into the senator's stock sell-off that occurred after multiple lawmakers were briefed about the coronavirus' potential economic toll. Burr subsequently stepped down as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Netflix tops 200 million global subscribers

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Netflix said that it added another 8.5 million global subscribers last quarter, bringing its total number of paid subscribers globally to more than 200 million.

The big picture: Positive fourth-quarter results show Netflix's resiliency, despite increased competition and pandemic-related production headwinds.

Janet Yellen plays down debt, tax hike concerns in confirmation hearing

Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen at an event in December. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Janet Yellen, Biden's pick to lead the Treasury Department, pushed back against two key concerns from Republican senators at her confirmation hearing on Tuesday: the country's debt and the incoming administration's plans to eventually raise taxes.

Driving the news: Yellen — who's expected to win confirmation — said spending big now will prevent the U.S. from having to dig out of a deeper hole later. She also said the Biden administration's priority right now is coronavirus relief, not raising taxes.