July 20, 2019

The 138th health care worker in the Democratic Republic of Congo was infected during the country's current Ebola outbreak, which was recently declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization.

Helen Branswell of Stat News reports that infections of health care workers are generally common at the start of an outbreak before people realize that the disease is spreading, but the recent "steady stream" of infections is puzzling.

That's because the workers are aware they are at risk of infection and many have been vaccinated, including the worker who was recently infected. In short, Branswell doesn't "think this should be happening."

Branswell went on to write that the disease is "not relenting," citing that there have only been three days in July when the Ebola case increase was in the single digits. In total, since the beginning of the epidemic last August there have been over 2,400 confirmed cases, and over 1,600 confirmed deaths. Tim O'Donnell

4:01 p.m.

Two more Harvey Weinstein accusers took the stand in his rape trial Wednesday, with one witness recalling the disgraced producer telling her, "This is how this industry works."

Dawn Dunning, a once aspiring actress, told jurors in Weinstein's trial Wednesday that he sexually assaulted her in 2004, putting his hand up her skirt without consent, The Wrap reports.

"I just kind of froze for a minute and then stood up," she testified. "He told me not to make a big deal about it, he apologized and said it wouldn't happen again."

Dunning, who says she quit pursuing acting because of Weinstein, went on to testify that he later offered her film roles in exchange for a threesome with his assistant, berating her when she declined.

"He started screaming at me," she testified. "He said, 'You'll never make it in this business. This is how this industry works."

Later, Tamale Wulff, also a once aspiring actress, testified that Weinstein masturbated in front of her at a restaurant and raped her at his New York apartment in 2005, per The Hollywood Reporter.

"He put himself inside me and raped me," Wulff testified. "It was a shock."

Weinstein, who been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 80 women, is facing charges in connection to an alleged 2006 sexual assault and alleged 2013 rape, but Dunning and Wulff both testified as "prior bad acts" witnesses as prosecutors seek to establish a pattern of behavior. Actress Annabella Sciorra, who has accused Weinstein of rape, previously testified as a "prior bad acts" witness, while former production assistant Mimi Haleyi, whose sexual assault allegation is central to the case, also testified earlier this week. Weinstein denies all allegations of non-consensual sex and has pleaded not guilty. Brendan Morrow

3:42 p.m.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) probably doesn't need a lot of reminders about the 2012 election, but he's getting them anyway.

Romney on Wednesday was at the center of some hypothetical scenarios drawn up during the Senate's impeachment trial. First, the House's lead prosecutor Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) posed a scenario in which former President Barack Obama was caught asking former Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev for an investigation into Romney — Obama's 2012 presidential challenger — in exchange for military aid against Ukraine. He was trying to get senators to think about what the Republican response would be in a situation mirroring the exchange between President Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky.

Afterwards, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) pulled a similar trick, submitting a question to Schiff about whether Obama would have had the authority to ask for an investigation into Romney's son if he was being paid by a corrupt Russian company and "Romney had acted to benefit that company." In that instance, Romney and his son are playing the role of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, while the Russian company is a stand in for Ukrainian gas company, Burisma (there's no evidence the elder Biden did anything to benefit Burisma.)

All this, of course, was said right in front of Romney, who despite losing the bid for the presidency, has since worked his way back into politics as a senator. The former Republican nominee, for what it's worth, was reportedly a good sport about the whole thing. Tim O'Donnell

3:26 p.m.

World Athletics announced Wednesday its World Indoor Championships for track and field wouldn't be relocated from Nanjing, China, over coronavirus fears. The championships would instead be rescheduled for a whole year from now, erasing an event that, for some athletes, could be a precursor to or even qualifier for the Olympic games in Tokyo this summer.

World Athletics had spent the past few days debating whether it would cancel the championships given that cases of a coronavirus-induced pneumonia were spreading throughout China. Because the spread of the virus was "still at a concerning level," the group eventually decided to put off the event, which was scheduled for March 13–15 of this year. World Athletics said it did consider relocating the event, but "given that concerns still exist regarding the spread of the virus outside China," opted for a total postponement.

The cancellation marks the biggest athletic event to be uprooted as the coronavirus leads to travel cancellations in and out of mainland China. The Olympic women's soccer regional qualifying tournament that was supposed to be held in Wuhan was first relocated to Nanjing, and then to Australia. Yet with China's team quarantined after their hotel after passing through Wuhan recently, the tournament will likely be delayed. An Olympic woman's basketball qualifier scheduled in China was similarly relocated to Serbia. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:25 p.m.

The future is looking bright for solar physicists.

On Wednesday, scientists released the highest resolution images and videos ever taken of the sun's surface. The images, produced by the National Science Foundation's Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope on the summit of Haleakala, Maui, in Hawaii, will help scientists learn more about activity on the sun — a.k.a. space weather — per a press release from the National Solar Observatory.

Space weather can affect life on Earth by interfering with satellites and power grids. When Hurricane Irma made landfall in 2017, radio communications used by first responders were down for eight hours due to unrelated space weather coinciding with the storm, says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"This telescope will improve our understanding of what drives space weather and ultimately help forecasters better predict solar storms," said National Science Foundation Director France Córdova. With this information, governments can better prepare for space weather — potentially 48 hours in advance, rather than the current 48 minute standard, per the press release.

(NSO/NSF/AURA)

The circular structures in the images and videos are each roughly the size of Texas, and the movement is the hot plasma that covers the sun rising then falling as it cools off.

David Boboltz, program director in NSF's division of astronomical sciences, said in the press release the telescope "will collect more information about our sun during the first five years of its lifetime than all the solar data gathered since Galileo first pointed a telescope at the sun in 1612." Taylor Watson

2:57 p.m.

Well, that's one way to spin it.

President Trump's lawyer Alan Dershowitz argued Wednesday during the Senate impeachment trial that Trump's alleged Ukraine quid pro quo wasn't impeachable because he was actually just acting in the "public interest." Dershowitz's reasoning didn't have to do with rooting out corruption or anything of that sort, however. Instead, he was making the case that because every president believes it's in the public interest to win an election, any action geared toward securing victory is immune from impeachment.

You may have some questions — like, say, by that logic shouldn't Watergate have been acceptable? — and you're not alone.

Dershowitz's comments reportedly left some Democratic lawmakers flabbergasted, as well. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) apparently turned to Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and silently express his incredulity, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Jeff Merkely (D-Ore.) were left visibly frustrated, and a slow grin crept its way on to the face of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

2:51 p.m.

Senators from both sides brought some real "my question is more of a comment" energy to President Trump's impeachment trial.

After the conclusion of opening arguments, the impeachment trial Wednesday entered its next phase, with senators submitting questions for the House managers and Trump's defense. But most of their early questions weren't exactly hard-hitting.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) asked Democrats, for instance, "Is there any way for the Senate to render a fully informed verdict in this case without hearing the testimony of Bolton, Mulvaney, and the other key eyewitnesses or without seeing the relevant documentary evidence?" Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), given the perfect opportunity to make his case, responded that no, there's not.

Later, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) asked Trump's defense, in part, "Have the House managers met their evidentiary burden to support a vote of removal?" You'll never guess the response from Trump's defense: no, they haven't.

A few more useful inquiries made their way into the mix here and there, but they came in between questions that barely even qualified as questions at all, like when Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) asked, "Would the House managers care to correct the record on any falsehoods or mischaracterizations in the White House's opening arguments?"

"Many of the questions are thinly veiled efforts to tee up talking points," The Washington Post's Aaron Blake observed, while CBS News' Kathryn Watson tweeted, "Senators who ask rhetorical questions get milk dumped on their head." Brendan Morrow

2:06 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) isn't letting his USMCA fight die.

On Wednesday, President Trump signed the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement, a renegotiation of the NAFTA trade deal he's been working on for years. It proved a rare example of a Trump administration law that even Democrats agreed with — save for Sanders, who made it clear Wednesday that he's still not a fan of the deal.

Sanders, who's among the most popular choices for the Democratic presidential nomination right now, said that if he's elected, he'll "immediately begin renegotiating this disastrous deal." His main issues with it include that the deal doesn't "combat climate change, stop the outsourcing of American jobs, and end the destructive race to the bottom," he said in a statement.

Sanders later added a few more words to the matter, tweeting that he "proudly oppose[s] Trump's NAFTA 2.0" because "our trade agreements must stop outsourcing and address the climate crisis threatening our planet." That puts him at odds with pretty much everyone else running for president, with even his main progressive rival Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) voting in favor of the USMCA when it was in the Senate earlier this month. Kathryn Krawczyk

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