1 big thing: What Sessions is telling allies
2. Estimate du jour
N.Y. Times' David E. Sanger: "American intelligence agencies have shortened their estimate — to one year — of how long it is likely to take North Korea to put the finishing touches on a missile that can reach the continental United States, according to several administration officials briefed on the new assessment."
"Until a few weeks ago, the official estimate was that it would take roughly four years, give or take 12 months."
3. Hot mic
"At the end of a Senate subcommittee hearing [yesterday] morning, someone sitting near Chairman Susan Collins (R-Maine) didn't switch off a microphone," the WashPost's Philip Bump writes.
"Collins was recorded discussing the federal budget and President Trump's lack of familiarity with the details of governing with ... Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.), the ranking Democrat on the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies subcommittee."
Collins: "I swear, [the White House Office of Management and Budget] just went through and whenever there was 'grant,' they just X it out. With no measurement, no thinking about it, no metrics, no nothing. It's just incredibly irresponsible."
"Yes," Reed replies. "I think he's crazy," referring to the president.
Collins: "I'm worried."
Reed: "I mean, I don't say that lightly, and as a kind of a, y'know, a goofy guy. ... Oof!"
Collins' office later told The Post that she's "worried about the elimination of transportation and housing programs in the President's budget request."
At one point, Reed refers to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin as "Munchin."
4. The Senate's health-care circus is just starting
What's next after the Senate voted 51-50, including Vice President Pence's tie-breaker, to begin debate on health care ...
Axios' Sam Baker: "All signs point to a vote-a-rama [in the Senate] Thursday night, perhaps into Friday morning."
- The hot new thing: "Skinny repeal." If neither the Senate plan nor straight repeal is gaining traction, the next option could be a bill that would repeal small parts of the Affordable Care Act — like the individual mandate and a tax or two.
- The goal with getting skinny: To pass something that would trigger a conference committee with the House — an opportunity to write another bill!
- Anything that keeps the process alive would be a good thing, a senior House GOP aide told Axios' Caitlin Owens.
5. How not to fire someone
6. The conversation: "This is not okay"
"This is not okay" is the headline of the WashPost's lead editorial, about Trump's attacks on his attorney general:
In a rule-of-law state, government's awesome powers to police, prosecute and imprison are wielded impartially, with restraint and according to clearly defined rules. These rules apply equally to rich and poor, powerful and weak, ruling party and opposition. In such states, individuals advance on the basis of their talent and initiative, not whom they know. Companies invest where they think the returns will be highest, not to please those in power. The result is that, over time, rule-of-law states prosper. Banana republics do not. ...
What's at stake is much more than the careers of a particular attorney general or special counsel. The United States has been a role model for the world, and a source of pride for Americans, because it has strived to implement the law fairly. When he attacks that process and seeks revenge on his opponents, Mr. Trump betrays bedrock American values. It's crucial that other political leaders say so.
7. If you read only 1 thing
Sperm count falling sharply in Western world — Reuters: "Sperm counts in men from America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand have dropped by more than 50 percent in less than 40 years ... [Researchers] said the rate of decline is not slowing. Both findings ... pointed to a potential decline in male health and fertility. ... 'This study is an urgent wake-up call for researchers and health authorities around the world.'"
- Why it matters: "[R]esearchers said falling sperm counts have ... been linked to various factors such as exposure to certain chemicals and pesticides, smoking, stress and obesity."
8. Stat du jour
Lead of WashPost Sports section, "Study finds CTE in 99% of ex-NFL players' brains," by Rick Maese: "Researchers studying the link between football and chronic traumatic encephalopathy found that 99% of the brains donated by families of former NFL players showed signs of the neurodegenerative disease."
"The study drew the immediate attention of lawmakers on Capitol Hill who have been monitoring the issue. ... The NFL pledged $100 million for concussion-related research last September ... The study marks the largest CTE case series ever published."
- Use better measurement, analytics and search/discovery tools to connect with fans.
- Make it easier to access live games and game highlights.
9. Why studios aren't strapping on headsets
"Why Hollywood Studios Are Slow to Embrace Virtual Reality ... 'The big elephant in the room is: How do you monetize this?'" — The Wrap's Matt Donnelly and Matt Pressberg, with Sharon Taxman:
"So far the audience is tiny. While Greenlight projects 100 million VR devices will be shipped to consumers by 2021, Facebook's Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive shipped less than 1 million units combined in 2016. Both product launches fell behind projections ...
"The vast majority of VR revenue so far comes from sales of equipment — rather than content for that gear that studios and gaming companies might create. That may change, but it will be a gradual one. ...
"VR content doesn't come cheap ... The technology is still young — and sometimes glitchy ... Theater owners are leery ... No star power ... Early experiments are cool, but where's the 'Avatar' of VR?"
Late night best
Stephen Colbert, reeling off all the shows Charlie Rose hosts: "How does he have time to be here?"
Charlie to Stephen, on his plan to return to surfing: "I haven't asked my doctors yet. ... I learned at Virginia Beach ... back when I was ... maybe 18, 19 years old. ... Some people I know are doing it now, and they're adults. And they went to it after having a lifetime of interesting other sports. ...
"There's somebody in Hawaii who will give me a shot to spend a week really seeing how much I can pick up, and see if can bring it back. Or ... I go back to golf."