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A truck carrying parts of U.S. missile launchers and other equipment. Photo provided by U.S. forces in Korea via Getty Images

"Citing North Korea's ... threat, the Trump administration is moving to vastly expand the problem-plagued homeland missile defense system despite warnings that the planned upgrades may not succeed," the L.A. Times reports in its lead story:

Why it matters: "[G]overnment reports and interviews with technical experts suggest the planned upgrades ... are unlikely to protect the United States from a limited-scale ballistic missile attack ... One concern is the administration's rush to expand the system."

  • "Immediate plans call for building two $1-billion radar installations and adding 20 rocket interceptors to the 44 already deployed in underground silos at Ft. Greely in Alaska and at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California."
  • "The expected cost is about $10.2 billion over five years, on top of more than $40 billion already spent for the system."

P.S. "The Marine Corps commandant told about 300 Marines in Norway [Thursday] that they should be prepared for a 'bigass fight' to come," the WashPost reports, citing Military.com:

  • Gen. Robert Neller told the Marines: "I hope I'm wrong, but there's a war coming."
  • "[H]is spokesman later said [the comments] were not in reference to any specific adversary but rather intended to inspire the troops."

Go deeper

3 hours ago - World

U.S. and NATO answer Putin in writing while bracing for Ukraine invasion

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Photo: Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty

The U.S. and NATO provided Russia with written proposals on Wednesday to advance a "diplomatic path forward," even as they warned that Russia could invade Ukraine within days.

Why it matters: This is a delicate diplomatic balancing act. The U.S. and NATO want to show they're serious about diplomacy but unwilling to compromise on "core principles" — all without providing Vladimir Putin with an additional pretext for escalation.

The political leanings of the Supreme Court justices

Data: Martin-Quinn scores; Chart: Axios Visuals

The Supreme Court will continue to have a solid conservative majority even with Justice Stephen Breyer's retirement.

How to read the chart: An analysis by political scientists Andrew Martin and Kevin Quinn, known as the Martin-Quinn Score, places judges on an ideological spectrum. A lower score indicates a more liberal justice, whereas a higher score indicates a more conservative justice.

The front-runners for Biden's Supreme Court pick

Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson (left) and Justice Leondra Kruger (right) Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images and Lonnie Tague, US Department of Justice

Two highly accomplished Black female judges — Ketanji Brown Jackson, a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals; and Leondra Kruger, a justice on the California Supreme Court — are seen as the early front-runners to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

The big picture: Jackson is a powerful federal judge with a record that progressives feel they can trust. Kruger was a highly regarded litigator and has carved out a reputation for working well with conservative judges.