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February 12, 2019

President Trump started comparing crowd sizes even before he took the stage at the El Paso County Coliseum on Monday night. "We have a line that is very long already," Trump said at the White House earlier Tuesday. "And I understand our competition's got a line, too, but it's a tiny, little line." The "competition" would be an anti-wall march organized by more than 40 local civic and human rights groups, headlined by El Paso native and potential 2020 candidate Beto O'Rourke.

About 30 minutes into his rally, Trump said he had been challenged by "a young man who's got very little going for himself except he's got a great first name. ... So we have, let's say, 35,000 people tonight, he has 200 people, 300 people — not too good," Trump claimed. "That may be the end of his presidential bid." He said later that 10,000 people were inside the stadium. Donald Trump Jr. also tried to mock Beto's crowd size.

Trump's audience inside the coliseum was 6,500, at capacity, El Paso Fire Department public information officer Enrique Aguilar told the El Paso Times. "It might be 10,000 with the people outside," watching on monitors. The rally O'Rourke spoke at, following a mile-long march, drew at least 7,000 people, The Texas Tribune reports. Bloomberg's Jennifer Epstein says that's an undercount:

The substantive disagreement between O'Rourke and Trump was about the efficacy and wisdom of border walls, and a vision for America. "Walls work," Trump said. "Walls save lives." He claimed, incorrectly, that El Paso became safer after border fencing was erected in 2009, saying "they're full of crap when they claim it hasn't made a big difference." O'Rourke called El Paso "one of the safest cities in America," and it's "safe not because of walls but in spite of walls." You can watch Beto's speech below. Peter Weber

2:07 p.m.

President Trump isn't just skipping this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner; he's making sure the entire administration does the same.

No one from the Trump administration will be going to the yearly gathering of journalists on Saturday, as Trump has personally ordered an administration-wide boycott, Politico reports.

The president had previously said he would not personally be going to the 2019 White House Correspondents' Dinner, which he also skipped in 2017 and 2018. But even in those years, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders still went, CNN notes. The White House last year criticized comedian Michelle Wolf for her jokes about Sanders, though, including when she said she "burns facts, and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye."

This year, the White House Correspondents' Dinner isn't having a comedian at all, and Trump once suggested this might inspire him to turn out. But he later announced he wouldn't do so and would hold a rally instead, calling the dinner "so boring" and "so negative."

White House Correspondents' Association President Oliver Knox responded to reports of Trump's boycott by saying that "we’re looking forward to an enjoyable evening of celebrating the First Amendment and great journalists past, present, and future." Brendan Morrow

1:29 p.m.

The time has finally come.

After months of speculation and patented slips-of-the-tongue, former Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to officially announce his presidential candidacy on Thursday, sources familiar with situation told CNN.

The announcement received one last mini-delay for old time's sake, as several outlets initially reported that Biden would launch his bid on Wednesday. But it looks like Thursday is the real deal — his PAC is also teasing the situation.

Biden will reportedly break the news with a video, Fox News reports, and then follow that up with a live appearance in Pittsburgh on Monday.

One source close to Biden's inner circle told Fox News the video's theme is going to be "the battle for the soul of America," and will reportedly heavily feature President Trump.

Despite not having yet announced, Biden is leading or near the top of many early polls, but he's already faced some controversies stemming from former Nevada State Assemblywoman Lucy Flores (D) saying that Biden made her feel uncomfortable by touching her shoulders and kissing the her on the back of the head in 2014. Tim O'Donnell

1:02 p.m.

The two brothers who say Jussie Smollet hired them to orchestrate a fake hate crime are now suing the actor's lawyers for defamation.

Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against the Empire star's legal team, per the Chicago Tribune. The complaint says that even after the charges against Smollet were dropped in March, his lawyers insisted publicly that the brothers led the attack, making these allegations "knowing they were untrue to distract from Mr. Smollet's farce and to promote themselves."

The brothers again allege in the suit that the attack was "a hoax entirely conceived and directed by Mr. Smollett," who "wanted his employer and the public to notice and appreciate him as a successful black, openly gay actor." It also claims the brothers have lost work as a result of the allegations from Smollet and his lawyers. Chicago police had previously accused Smollet of hiring the Osundairos to help him orchestrate the alleged hoax, while Smollet's lawyers said he only paid them to help him train for a music video.

Smollett had initially been indicted on 16 felony counts, but all charges against him were dropped in March. One of the prosecutors involved said he still didn't doubt that Smollett is guilty, though. Having maintained his innocence throughout, Smollett said after being cleared that he was "truthful and consistent on every single level since day one." Brendan Morrow

12:47 p.m.

Jared Kushner has a predictable first response to the Mueller report.

In a Tuesday appearance at the TIME 100 summit, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser discussed last week's Mueller report release, characterizing it all as just "a big distraction for the whole country." But instead of touching on the report's details on Trump's possible obstruction of justice, Kushner focused on the far less controversial Russian election interference.

While American intelligence officials largely concluded that the interference happened, and that it was a big deal, Kushner decided to brush it all off as "a couple of Facebook ads" that Russia purchased for about $160,000. The Mueller probe itself "had a much harsher impact on our democracy" than the ads, Kushner added, but failed to acknowledge that Russia's Facebook ad buy was only a tiny chunk of its entire interference operations.

NBC News' Ben Collins was quick to correct Kushner's characterization, tweeting that Russia's "troll farm spent $1.25 million per month illegally boosting" Trump, and that "most of their influence was organic — not an ad at all." That troll farm received 187 million interactions on Instagram from 2015 through 2018, and another 77 million interactions on Facebook and 73 million on Twitter, a Senate Intelligence Committee report previously found — all without major help from ad buys. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:11 p.m.

If you're sitting down while reading this, maybe you'll want to take a break.

New research has shown that Americans spend more time sitting than we ever have before, The Wall Street Journal reports. And, as we've been warned before, computers are a main culprit behind our sedentary lifestyles.

A study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday, found that compared to 2007, data from 2016 reflects an increase in sitting time of about an hour per day for most Americans. The average adolescent now spends 8.2 hours sitting, while the average adult sits for 6.4 hours a day.

The numbers from 2016 point to screen time as a big reason for sitting: 65 percent of people watched TV at least 2 hours per day, and computer use saw a huge uptick as well. 56 percent of children, 57 percent of adolescents, and 50 percent of adults use computers for at least an hour a day outside of school or work.

Excessive sedentary behavior has been linked to a higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, or even early death — which makes this study's findings troubling. And while these numbers may seem high, the truth may be even worse. Since the study was based on self-reported surveys, some scientists believe that people are under-reporting their sedentary time. "Most people aren't very aware of how much time they spend sitting," said Keith Diaz, a professor at Columbia University Medical Center. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Shivani Ishwar

12:09 p.m.

After Captain Marvel, the trend of digitally de-aging actors several decades continues with Ang Lee's latest film.

In the upcoming science-fiction film Gemini Man, the first trailer for which was released on Tuesday, Will Smith stars as an assassin who is targeted by a younger clone of himself. The 50-year-old actor plays both the older assassin at his current age, as well as the 23-year-old clone.

Smith was digitally de-aged almost 30 years for the movie, and he has said that the "physical challenges of making this film have been the most demanding of my career," per Entertainment Weekly. This young version of Smith will be front-and-center throughout, with the film's VFX supervisor having said he's in "400-plus scenes in over half the movie," per IndieWire.

This trailer comes shortly after Marvel used digital effects to make Samuel L. Jackson look about 25 years younger as Nick Fury in Captain Marvel, with the studio previously utilized de-aging in films like Captain America: Civil War, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Ant-Man and the Wasp. David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button also made use of de-aging in 2008.

Gemini Man, which hits theaters in October, won't even be the only film of the fall to make use of de-aging technology. Martin Scorsese's The Irishman will be de-aging its cast, which includes Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, for flashback scenes that evidently comprise about half the movie. All this digital work adds up, with The Irishman's budget having reportedly skyrocketed past $140 million.

Check out the first footage of the de-aged Smith in the trailer below. Brendan Morrow

12:01 p.m.

The sixth mass extinction is coming.

A draft report from the United Nations obtained by Agence France-Presse says that up to 1 million species of living organisms face extinction as a result of human influence.

The report, which is set to be revealed on May 6, adds that the loss of biodiversity, while closely linked, poses "no less of a threat" than climate change. Deforestation has led to the loss of greenhouse gas-absorbing trees, polluted waters are killing protein-rich fish and limiting clean drinking water, and pollinating insects are dying rapidly.

The pace of species loss is reportedly already "tens to hundreds of times higher than it has been, than it has been, over the last 10 million years." Wild mammal biomass is down 82 percent, per AFP. The causes of species loss are shrinking habitats, hunting, climate change, pollution, and invasive species, all of which can be traced to human actions.

"We need to recognize that climate change and loss of nature are equally important, not just for the environment, but as development and economic issues as well," Robert Watson, chair of the U.N.-mandated body that compiled the report told AFP. He added that only "transformative change" can stop the damage. Read more at Agence France-Presse. Tim O'Donnell

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