Evan Vucci / AP

On Thursday — after "fire and fury" was followed by a double-down, then by signs of a pullback — a top Republican who calls pretty honest balls and strikes on this White House emailed me:

  • "The President's policy path on North Korea is clear and unambiguous: disarm or die. His rhetoric may not appeal to the haute foreign policy arbiters. But it resonates with the South, the Japanese and, most importantly, the Chinese."
  • By last night, after "locked and loaded," the same person said: "Tone seems to be moving from tough to shrill. ... He muddled his own message."

An AP analysis for Sunday papers, by Jonathan Lemire, captures the zeitgeist: "Faced with ... his gravest international crisis yet, ... Trump responded precisely as his some of supporters hoped and his critics long feared — with plain-spoken bluster, spontaneity and norm-breaking risk."

Here's the mood and the moves as we begin the weekend:

  • The five-column lead headline of today's WashPost is, "World holds its breath on N. Korea."
  • This morning, Chinese President Xi Jinping is the one pleading for cool-headedness.
  • "Recent satellite photos suggest North Korea could be preparing for fresh submarine-based ballistic missile tests," AFP reports. "Joseph Bermudez, a specialist in North Korean defense and intelligence affairs, posted photographs on the authoritative 38 North blog of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University which he said could show preparations for a test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile."
  • The WashPost's Gene Robinson noted on "Morning Joe": "You don't know if this is going to be OK. ... The potential for miscalculation is huge."

Be smart: Nothing has worked with North Korea, giving Trump cover to try a new approach. But faith is fading among top Republicans, on the Hill and elsewhere, that there's wisdom behind the words.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 18,187,396 — Total deaths: 691,352 — Total recoveries — 10,841,436Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 4,711,323 — Total deaths: 155,379 — Total recoveries: 1,513,446 — Total tests: 57,543,852Map.
  3. Politics: White House will require staff to undergo randomized coronavirus testing — Pelosi says Birx "enabled" Trump on misinformation.
  4. Sports: 13 members of St. Louis Cardinals test positive, prompting MLB to cancel Tigers series — Former FDA chief says MLB outbreaks should be warning sign for schools.
  5. 1 🎥 thing: "Tenet" may be the first major film to get a global pandemic release.

In photos: Thousands evacuated as Southern California fire grows

A plane makes a retardant drop on a ridge at the Apple Fire north of Banning in Riverside County, which "doubled in size" Saturday, per KTLA. Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A massive wildfire that prompted mandatory evacuations in Southern California over the weekend burned 26,450 acres and was 5% contained by Monday afternoon, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

The big picture: As California remains an epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., some 15 separate fires are raging across the state. About 7,800 people were under evacuation orders from the Apple Fire, about 75 miles east of Los Angeles, as hundreds of firefighters battled the blaze. CalFire said Monday that a malfunction involving a "diesel-fueled vehicle emitting burning carbon from the exhaust system" started the Apple Fire.

Twitter faces FTC fine of up to $250 million over alleged privacy violations

Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket

The Federal Trade Commission has accused Twitter of using phone numbers and emails from its users to make targeted ads between 2013 and 2019, Twitter said in an SEC filing published Monday.

Why it matters: Twitter estimates that the FTC's draft complaint, which was sent a few days after its Q2 earnings report, could cost the company between $150 million and $250 million. The complaint is unrelated to the recent Twitter hack involving a bitcoin scam.