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July 13, 2018

Scientists have only known about the Candida auris pathogen since 2009, but it's already rocking the medical world.

This deadly yeast is resistant to antibiotics. It's more infectious than Ebola. And it's popping up everywhere.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are a common story, Wired notes in an article detailing C. auris' rise. But this is a yeast — something so common and relatively harmless in humans that there isn't much research on how to treat them. There are hundreds of antibiotics out there to try on new bacteria, but only a handful of antifungal drugs — none of which treated C. auris when it first appeared as an ear infection in 2009.

Doctors only had one option to treat that initial infection: a set of toxic, IV-only antifungals that leave patients with intense fevers and chills, Wired says. And then two more C. auris infections occurred, in two separate countries, and both in patients' bloodstreams. This time, the infection didn't respond to the toxic treatment, and its 1-year-old and 74-year-old victims died.

Researchers quickly realized how devastating a C. auris outbreak could be. The CDC warned of its global rise in June 2016, but that didn't stop at least 340 cases from popping up in the U.S. as of May 30. All the American outbreaks stem from different sources: a South Asian strain in Oklahoma and Connecticut; a South American strain in Massachusetts and Florida. Up to 60 percent of those infected around the world have died, per Wired.

Without an effective treatment, doctors resort to old-school methods of isolating patients and disinfecting hospital rooms with bleach. C. auris' spread was only stopped in extremely hygienic facilities, per the CDC. It recommends washing your hands to avoid this superbug, which you can read more about at Wired. Kathryn Krawczyk

7:53 a.m.

Saturday Night Live's President Trump (Alec Baldwin) held a press conference on the White House lawn to announce his national emergency declaration, revealing the decision was just part of a grand plan to escape the confines of the presidency.

"We need wall," Baldwin's Trump told the media. "You can all see why I gotta fake this national emergency. I have to because I want to."

He then laid out exactly what would happen after he signed the emergency papers. First, he'll immediately be sued and the case will go to the Supreme Court, which will prompt him to call his "buddy," Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and tell him "it's time to repay the Donny." But Kavanaugh would feign ignorance. Next, Trump will plead insanity after Special Counsel Robert Mueller releases his findings before spending "a few months in the puzzle factory" for his crimes. "And my personal hell of playing president will finally be over."

Trump then answered — or refused to answer — a few "softball questions" on tariffs and undocumented immigrants. Watch the full sketch, which the real President Trump made clear on Twitter Sunday morning he did not enjoy, below. Tim O'Donnell

February 16, 2019

Vice President Mike Pence and German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced differing opinions on how to approach the Iran nuclear deal when they both spoke at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

Pence criticized European leaders for remaining in the deal, which the U.S. backed out of last year after leading negotiations in 2015 under the Obama administration. "We have the regime in Iran that's breathing out murderous threats, with the same vile anti-Semitic hatred that animated the Nazis in Europe," Pence said, arguing "the Iranian regime openly advocates another Holocaust and it seeks the means to achieve it."

Merkel, on the other hand, defended the agreement, describing it as an "anchor" that should be used to pressure Iran in other areas. The chancellor expressed concern over Europe's split with the U.S. on the matter, which she said "depresses" her.

Pence also criticized the European response to Venezuela and urged his fellow leaders to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó as president.

Read more about the implications of the Trump administration's stance on the Iran deal here at The Week. Tim O'Donnell

February 16, 2019

Leading House Democrats told Politico for a report published Saturday they are consulting with House General Counsel Douglas Letter on how to compel President Trump or his administration to reveal the content of his one-on-one meetings with Russia President Vladimir Putin.

"I had a meeting with the general counsel to discuss this and determine the best way to find out what took place in those private meetings — whether it's by seeking the interpreter's testimony, the interpreter's notes, or other means," said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who serves as House Intelligence Committee chair.

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, is working with Schiff. "I'm not saying that I'm in favor of interpreters turning over all their notes, but I do think that it shouldn't be up to the president to hide the notes," Engel told Politico.

Of particular interest is Trump's private conference with Putin in Helsinki last summer, where the two presidents met alone with their respective interpreters for 90 minutes. At the press conference following the talks, Trump said he didn't "know any reason why it would be" Russia which sought to meddle in the 2016 election, contradicting the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies.

Last month, The Washington Post reported Trump has "gone to extraordinary lengths" to hide details of his conversations with Putin, including from his own administration. In one case, Trump reportedly took his interpreter's notes from a call with Putin and told the interpreter not to discuss the talk with other officials. Bonnie Kristian

February 16, 2019

President Trump on Friday declared a national emergency to redirect about $6.7 billion from programs in the Departments of Treasury and Defense to border wall construction. Less than 24 hours later, the declaration already faces its first legal challenge.

A lawsuit has been brought by Public Citizen, a progressive advocacy group, on behalf of Texan landowners whose property would be used for the wall. The suit argues Trump "exceeded his constitutional authority and authority under the National Emergencies Act" and asks that he be banned from "using the declaration and funds appropriated for other purposes to build a border wall."

The Justice Department reportedly warned the president in advance of his Friday announcement that the declaration would be held up in court. Trump himself acknowledged as much, musing in a sing-song voice that after his declaration, the White House "will then be sued, and they will sue us in the 9th Circuit [Court] ... and then we'll end up in the Supreme Court, and hopefully we'll get a fair shake, and we'll win at the Supreme Court, just like the ban [on travel from majority-Muslim nations]."

Whether Trump's forecast is correct remains to be seen. Conservative radio pundit Hugh Hewitt on Friday predicted the emergency declaration would move through the courts fairly quickly, and that Trump would win on appeal, perhaps before reaching the Supreme Court.

Few echoed that expectation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) promised Congress would use "every remedy available," including the courts, to fight Trump's action, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) likewise pledged a court challenge to this presidential "vanity project."

George Conway, a conservative lawyer and the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, tweeted that Trump knows he will lose in court and that the emergency declaration is unconstitutional. And Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) warned the declaration will "likely get tied up in litigation, and most concerning is that it would create a new precedent." Bonnie Kristian

February 16, 2019

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear a case challenging the Trump administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. census.

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman blocked the addition with a ruling in January, calling it unlawful "for a multitude of independent reasons." At the administration's request, the Supreme Court will consider the issue in April without requiring the case to go through the normal appeals process. A ruling is expected by the end of June. The matter is time-sensitive because census forms must be printed soon.

Citizenship status has not been part of the census questionnaire for more than half a century, and its inclusion has been challenged by 18 states. Several civil rights organizations and 15 cities are also pushing back against the addition.

Opponents consider the citizenship question to be a ruse by the Trump administration to intimidate immigrant communities and "diminish the electoral representation of Democratic-leaning communities in Congress," Reuters notes. The administration has dismissed that idea, arguing the data the question gathers will help protect Americans' voting rights by better informing House district allocations. Tim O'Donnell

February 16, 2019

Nigeria's election commission postponed the country's presidential election early Saturday morning, announcing the delay only hours before polls were set to open. The vote has been rescheduled for next Saturday, Feb. 23.

Both Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and the leading opposition candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, urged the public to remain calm about the delay, though Abubakar also accused Buhari of orchestrating the postponement to disenfranchise opposition voters.

Election officials attributed the wait to difficulty transporting ballots to all polling locations in time for voting to begin. "This was a difficult decision to take but necessary for successful delivery of the elections and the consolidation of our democracy," said the election commission's chair, Mahmood Yakubu, who will explain the postponement further in an afternoon press conference. Bonnie Kristian

February 16, 2019

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team in a court filing Friday recommended between 19 and 25 years in prison for Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chair, who was convicted last year of eight counts of financial fraud, including tax evasion.

"Manafort did not commit these crimes out of necessity or hardship," the sentencing memo said. "He was well-educated, professionally successful, and financially well off. He nonetheless cheated the United States Treasury and the public out of more than $6 million in taxes at a time when he had substantial resources."

If the court accepts Mueller's recommendation, Manafort, 69, could spend the rest of his life in prison. This is the lengthiest proposed prison sentence on the table in Mueller's investigation to date, and Friday's memo argues it "reflect[s] the seriousness of these crimes" and serves as a deterrent for both Manafort and anyone else considering "engaging in such conduct." Bonnie Kristian

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