Oct 18, 2019

Axios PM

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 396 words, a 2 minute read.

Situational awareness: Johnson & Johnson has recalled a batch of baby powder as a precaution after government testing found trace amounts of asbestos in one bottle bought online, the AP reports.

1 big thing: Living history

Jessica Meir (left) and Christina Koch. Photo: NASA

For seven hours and 17 minutes today, best friends and American astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch were by themselves in the vacuum of space.

  • The walk had been pushed back from March because NASA lacked spacesuits that would fit them, the N.Y. Times notes.

Why it matters: While American women have been flying in space since Sally Ride made her first trip to orbit in 1983, today marked the first all-female spacewalk in history, writes Axios Space editor Miriam Kramer.

  • "There has been a long line of female scientists, explorers, engineers, and astronauts, and we have followed in their footsteps to get us where we are today," Meier told President Trump in a nationally televised phone call.
  • "We hope that we can provide an inspiration to everybody ... that has a dream and has a big dream and that is willing to work hard to make that dream come true."

The bottom line: The days of spacewalks in general seem numbered.

  • Using robots instead of astronauts for routine spacewalks would make spaceflight safer and more efficient, experts say, freeing up humans to only take walks in space during an emergency or for delicate experiments in microgravity.

But until then, remember we are living history.

Photo: NASA
Bonus: Pic du jour
Protesters unload tires from a car which they'll burn to block a highway in Beirut, Lebanon. Photo: Sam Tarling/Getty Images

A proposal to tax WhatsApp calls has spurred the largest protests seen in years in Lebanon.

Go deeper.

2. What you missed
  1. Right on cue: We told you this AM that the Trump campaign will try to move the goalposts by saying the quiet parts loud. Today they're embracing "get over it." Go deeper.
  2. The chief technical pilot for Boeing's 737 MAX said in a 2016 text message exchange that he experienced an "egregious" issue with the plane's automated MCAS system, and that the system was "running rampant in the [simulator]," reports the N.Y. Times.
  3. Hillary Clinton says Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is Russia's "favorite" 2020 candidate and that the country could be "grooming" her to become a third-party candidate. Go deeper.
  4. John Kasich says Trump should be impeached. Kasich ran for president in 2016 as a Republican. Video.
  5. The Supreme Court will decide whether the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — the brainchild of Sen. Elizabeth Warren — is unconstitutional. Go deeper.
3. 1 fun thing

Photo: Zoo Berlin/AP

A Berlin zoo says two panda cubs born in August have opened their eyes to the world for the first time this week, the AP reports.

  • The first giant pandas born in Germany are both developing well thanks to care from their mother, Meng Meng.