Good Wednesday morning.
Situational awareness: "From Maine to Hawaii, thousands of students plan to stage walkouts [today] to protest gun violence, one month after the deadly shooting inside a high school in Parkland, Florida," AP reports. "Organizers say nearly 3,000 walkouts are set in the biggest demonstration yet of the student activism that has emerged following the massacre of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School."
Democrat Conor Lamb's election night party in Canonsburg, Pa. (Drew Angerer / Getty Images)
Breaking: NBC News declares Democrat Conor Lamb the apparent winner in a special U.S. House in western Pennsylvania, the heart of Trump country, a blow to the White House and the Republican Party.
Why it matters: Regardless of the ultimate winner, it was a humiliating and sobering night for the GOP. This a district President Trump won by 20 points. The Democratic energy and Republican depression signal a brutal midterm season and the increasingly likely return of Speaker Pelosi.
Be smart: In race after race, Democrats are consistently topping their performance in previous elections (often by double-digit margins), the surest sign of sustained momentum and a possible November wave.
President Trump's firing-via-tweet of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, following his sudden imposition of tariffs, reflects the president's increasing comfort with solo use of his awesome power over policy, personnel and politics.
Why it matters, from N.Y. Times: "Tillerson’s dismissal, on the heels of Gary D. Cohn’s resignation, pulls the Trump administration further out of the economic and foreign policy mainstream and closer to the nationalist ideas that animated Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign."
N.Y. Times Quote of the Day ... White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, calling Tillerson on Friday to tell him that change was afoot, and to cut short a trip to Africa: “You may get a tweet.”
"Steve Goldstein, top spokesman for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, was fired Tuesday for contradicting the official administration account of Tillerson's own firing." (CNBC)
"Stephen W. Hawking, the Cambridge University physicist and best-selling author who roamed the cosmos from a wheelchair, ... died early [today] at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 76," the N.Y. Times reports.
George Clooney and John Prendergast, co-founders of the Sentry, write for Foreign Affairs, "The Key to Making Peace in Africa: Fighting Corruption Can Help End Conflict":
Illustration: Sarah Grillo / Axios
China, intent on dominating artificial intelligence in a race with the U.S., can come close but is unlikely to catch up, AI experts tell Axios future editor Steve LeVine:
"[E]verywhere I go in San Francisco, I just grab whatever bike I can find and take off. When I’m done, I ditch it," Wall Street Journal personal tech columnist David Pierce writes:
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, says the fact that the internet is controlled by a handful of dominant companies likely means the next 20 years will be much less innovative than the last — and a "regulatory framework" may help address the new concentration of power.
Beer yoga ... "Workouts in breweries have students balancing pints during poses; ‘beer gives you an extra point of focus'" — Wall Street Journal A-Hed:
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