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Florida's SAT alternative and remembering Paul Reubens: Morning Rundown

Paul Reubens largely stayed out of the spotlight in recent decades, but his influence could be felt, from Conan O’Brien’s late-night talk show, to Tina Fey’s sitcom “30 Rock.”
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Florida universities may start accepting a college admissions test favored by homeschoolers and private Christian universities. The Biden administration goes back on plans for Space Command’s headquarters. And a look at the lasting influence that Pee-wee Herman actor Paul Reubens left on comedy.

Here’s what to know today.

Florida eyes a ‘classical’ alternative the SAT and ACT

When it comes to standardized tests for college admissions, everyone knows about the SAT and ACT. But another test, which defies the Common Core curriculum and has found favor among some conservatives, could become an accepted alternative at public universities in Florida.  

The primary difference in the Classic Learning Test compared to the SAT and ACT lies in its choices for literature. Rooted in a teaching model that emphasizes the humanities, morality and classical literature, the CLT intentionally favors Aristotle, Benjamin Franklin and Jane Austen over 20th century progressive authors. The test has caught on among home-schoolers and Christian schools, with more than 200 predominantly private universities accepting the CLT.

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Florida's consideration of the test follows the dispute between Gov. Ron DeSantis and the College Board, which administers the SAT, over an Advanced Placement African American history course. Amid the dispute, DeSantis has said Florida would look for alternatives to other College Board products.

Reporter Tyler Kingkade dives into the debate surrounding the CLT. Find out more.

Biden announces permanent Space Command headquarters

Alabama lawmakers expressed outrage at the Biden administration’s decision to keep the U.S. Space Command headquarters in Colorado. The move was announced yesterday after months of uncertainty and reverses the Trump administration’s plans to move operations to Huntsville, Alabama.

NBC News first reported in May that the Biden administration had been reconsidering the Huntsville base over Alabama’s strict abortion laws, and the feud pitted Alabama lawmakers against their Colorado counterparts. 

Rep. Mike Rogers was among the lawmakers angered by the announcement, saying the decision showed that “far-left politics, not national security, was the driving force behind this decision.”

U.S. sees a ‘narrow opportunity’ in Niger

The U.S. feels there is a “narrow opportunity” to reverse a recent military takeover in Niger, a senior State Department official said yesterday, as Chad’s leader met with Niger’s democratically elected president Mohamed Bazoum in an attempt to help resolve the crisis. Photographs released from the meeting mark the first time Bazoum was seen since soldiers seized power last week.

But the military junta appeared to tighten its grip on power, arresting 130 members of the president’s party, including four officials in Bazoum’s deposed cabinet, the former ruling party said.

While France, Germany and the European Union have called the recent events a coup, U.S. officials haven’t done so yet. Declaring the events in Niger a coup would require the U.S. to suspend economic and military assistance to the country. Reporters Courtney Kube and Mosheh Gains report the latest from Niger’s capital, Niamey.

‘Euphoria’ actor Angus Cloud dies at 25

Angus Cloud, best known for his breakout role as Fezco in the HBO drama “Euphoria,” has died at the age of 25. Cloud had been experiencing suicidal thoughts since returning from Ireland, where his father was laid to rest a week ago, family sources said. Those who worked with Cloud on “Euphoria” flocked to social media to pay tribute to the actor.

Zoo in China denies speculation that its bears are actually humans in disguise

A zoo in eastern China has denied suggestions that its bears are in fact people dressed in costumes, after a video of one standing like a human went viral on social media.

“Some people think I stand like a human, and it seems that you don’t understand me that much,” Hangzhou Zoo wrote on its official social media account from the perspective of the bear in the video, named Angela. “Previously, some tourists thought that I was too tiny to be a bear. I have to emphasize again: I am a Malayan sun bear! Not a black bear! Not a dog! A sun bear!” 

Today’s Talker 

A Cardi B fan who said she was hit by a microphone…

… has filed a police report for battery, authorities say. In case you missed it, the rapper hurled a microphone into the crowd over the weekend in Las Vegas after a fan threw a large drink on stage during a concert. Cardi B seemed shocked for a moment, videos showed, and then she reacted

Politics in Brief

Funding fight: Virginia and Maryland both want to house the FBI’s new headquarters, but some conservatives don’t want a new headquarters at all.

Hunter Biden probe: A former business partner of Hunter Biden testified that the president’s son used the Biden “brand” to his advantage while working for a Ukrainian energy company. 

Trump lawsuit: Donald Trump has been called to sit for a deposition next month as part of his lawsuit seeking $500 million from his former attorney Michael Cohen. 

2024 election: For $1, New Hampshire voters were invited to drink beer with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — but only a few dozen people showed up. Amid seemingly waning interest in DeSantis’ candidacy, our politics reporters take you inside DeSantis’ awkward comeback effort

Staff Pick: Paul Reubens’ comedy legacy

Paul Reubens largely stayed out of the spotlight in recent decades, but his influence could be felt all over the comedy landscape: the gleeful absurdity of Conan O’Brien’s late-night talk show, the anarchic surrealism of Tim and Eric’s sketch comedy series, the madcap energy of Tina Fey’s sitcom “30 Rock.”

In the wake of Reubens’ death, I wrote a tribute that explores his comic footprint and highlights how admirers like Fey and Judd Apatow helped re-introduce him to audiences. He continues to inspire: Greta Gerwig has cited “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” as an influence on “Barbie.” — Daniel Arkin, national reporter

In Case You Missed It

Lori Vallow Daybell received multiple life sentences in the deaths of her two children and her romantic rival.

The U.S. women’s national team has qualified for the knockout round of the Women’s World Cup after tying Portugal 0-0, but now faces a tough road ahead.

The CEO at a Florida hospital — where some workers alleged unclean conditions, such as roaches on the operating room floor — has left the job

Israel is not heading toward civil war, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview with NBC News, despite deep divisions over new legislation that weakens the Supreme Court.

The flashing “X” sign has been removed from the San Francisco building formerly known as Twitter’s headquarters.

Homicide detectives are investigating a body found in a 55-gallon drum that washed up near Malibu.

Select: Online Shopping, Simplified

Recent college graduates with years of experience living in dorms share the 34 dorm essentials you’ll actually use. Our Select team separated these products into six categories — bed, bath, decor, storage, kitchen and tech — so you can shop based on your needs.

Sign up to The Selection newsletter for exclusive reviews and shopping content from NBC Select.

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