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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

An emergency funding request of $4 billion dollars sent to Congress last week shows a new interest from the Trump administration in dealing with the North Korean nuclear threat; it wants to stop nuclear weapons from flying before they even really get started, the NYT reports. This would interfere with control systems in the North or shoot them down just after liftoff.

Why it matters: Other methods of intercepting North Korean missiles only work about half the time — and that's only in test situations.

The challenge: Even if we develop this kind of defense, the risk is that the phase is so short (about a minute or so), that the U.S. probably wouldn't be able to reach the missile in time, and if we falsely detect a nuclear launch — but it's actually just a test — we risk provoking North Korean retaliation.

Go deeper: How the U.S. is prepared to handle the North.

Go deeper

Acting Capitol Police chief: Officers were unsure of lethal force rules on Jan. 6

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman wrote in prepared remarks for a House hearing on Thursday that officers in her department were "unsure of when to use lethal force" during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Why it matters: Capitol Police did deploy lethal force on Jan. 6 — shooting and killing 35-year-old Ashli Babbit — but have faced questions over why officers appeared to be less forceful against pro-Trump rioters than participants in previous demonstrations, including those over Black Lives Matter and now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

United CEO is confident people will feel safe traveling again by 2022

Axios' Joann Muller and United CEO Scott Kirby. Photo: Axios

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby believes that people will feel safe traveling again by this time next year, depending on the pace of vaccinations and the government's ongoing response to the pandemic, he said at an Axios virtual event.

Why it matters: Misery for global aviation is likely to continue and hold back a broader economic recovery if nothing changes, especially with new restrictions on international border crossings. U.S. airlines carried about 60% fewer passengers in 2020 compared with 2019.

The risks and rewards of charging state-backed hackers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Last week’s stunning indictment of three North Korean hackers laid bare both the advantages and drawbacks of the U.S. government’s evolving strategy of using high-profile prosecutions to publicize hostile nation-state cyber activities.

Why it matters: Criminal charges can help the U.S. establish clear norms in a murky and rapidly changing environment, but they may not deter future bad behavior and could even invite retaliation against U.S. intelligence officials.