July 16, 2014
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Wednesday was not a good day for government agencies that deal with infectious agents.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was in the hot seat during a hearing held by a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee. Frieden was grilled about unsafe practices at the CDC, which resulted in employees being exposed to anthrax spores and other dangerous samples.

Last month, the anthrax was sent from one lab to another without being killed off, and could have infected people along the way. It was a "tipping point," Friedan said, showing the CDC that it needs to take a hard look at safety procedures. A memo by the subcommittee stated that employees did not know how to decontaminate the laboratory, physical exams were delayed, and the amount and location of the anthrax bacteria weren't recorded. A molecular biologist, Richard H. Ebright, testified that it is a conflict of interest for the CDC to fund and conduct research while overseeing its safety practices. He suggested that an independent agency regulate the research instead.

Officials also announced that the vials of freeze-dried smallpox found in a Food and Drug Administration lab on July 1 were part of a larger collection that included 327 vials of dengue, influenza, Q fever, and other infectious agents. While a few of the vials were destroyed, most were sent to the National Bioforensic Analysis Center, and officials said they were not sure if any of the materials ever posed a threat.

Tech Check
1:32 p.m. ET
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Take out "Apple" in "Apple Pay," add in "Samsung," and you have the new mobile-payment system announced by the Korean firm on Sunday, The Guardian reports.

Samsung is teaming up with MasterCard to offer Samsung users a way to pay with their mobile phone for in-store transactions. And while Samsung says that incorporating a broadening-compatibility feature called LoopPay will benefit users in the long run, for now it means that only Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphones will support the service.

Samsung has previously collaborated with PayPal and Google Wallet on similar mobile payment initiatives, but The Guardian notes that Apple Pay revitalized interest in the technology, spurring competitors to revamp their own offerings.

12:53 p.m. ET
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry downplayed on Sunday tension caused by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming speech to Congress, The Washington Post reports.

"The prime minister is welcome in the United States at any time,” Kerry said on ABC's This Week. "We have an unparalleled close security relationship with Israel, and we will continue to. We don't want to see this turned into some great political football."

House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to address Congress without consulting the Obama administration, a perceived slight, especially considering Netanyahu plans to talk about his concerns over the current U.S. role in Iranian nuclear talks. Kerry did admit that the situation was "odd, if not unique,” but added that "the administration is not seeking to politicize this.”

Playing politics
12:08 p.m. ET

Former Texas governor Rick Perry took to CNN on Sunday, raising questions in an interview with Dana Bash about Hillary Clinton's ethical judgment. Reports last week showed that the Clinton Foundation accepted donations from seven foreign governments — at least one of which reportedly violated an ethics agreement between the Obama administration and Clinton while she was secretary of state, The Washington Post notes.

"Are you going to trust an individual who has taken that much money from a foreign source?" Perry asked. "Where's your loyalty? I'm really concerned, not just going forward, but what has been received at the Clinton Foundation over the course of years and how that affects this individual's judgement."

Watch Perry's full response in the video, below. —Sarah Eberspacher

11:45 a.m. ET
Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

Texas nurse Nina Pham survived her encounter with the Ebola virus, but the 26 year old told The Dallas Morning News in an exclusive interview that she still suffers nightmares, body aches, and insomnia following her fight against the disease.

Pham contracted Ebola while caring for patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. Now, she is suing the hospital's parent company, Texas Health Resources, for what she says was inadequate training and protection for hospital workers. Pham is asking for unspecified damages for turning her into "a symbol of corporate neglect," she said.

"I wanted to believe that they would have my back and take care of me, but they just haven't risen to the occasion," Pham said.

Read the full interview over at The Dallas Morning News.

survey says
11:20 a.m. ET
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A poll conducted by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal found that 48 percent of American voters believe congressional Republicans should not have invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress, without first consulting President Barack Obama. Thirty percent said the invitation was fine, and 22 percent had no opinion.

The issue was overwhelmingly a partisan one; 66 percent of Democrats disagreed with the decision, while just 28 percent of Republicans were against the upcoming address.

Netanyahu will address Congress on Tuesday, calling himself an "emissary" of the Jewish people. The Israeli prime minister is expected to voice his disagreement with a potential deal on Iran's nuclear program. While both Israel and the U.S. oppose Iran's building of a nuclear bomb, Israel wants the country to shutter all nuclear activity, while President Barack Obama has seemed more willing to allow Iran to continue some parts of its program, with implemented safeguards.

tv controversy
11:00 a.m. ET

Dakota Johnson can be seen right now in Fifty Shades of Grey, but her most controversial moment of the weekend may have come in a pre-recorded sketch for Saturday Night Live.

In it, the host of this weekend's episode says goodbye to her dad, played by Taran Killam, in what appears to be a typical father-daughter moment before leaving for college. The reveal is that Johnson is not headed off to university for four years, but rather to join ISIS.

The reaction on social media found the skit to be in poor taste — decide for yourself and check it out, below. —Sarah Eberspacher

9:51 a.m. ET
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Samuel Sam-Sumana, vice president of Sierra Leone, announced on Saturday that he would "lead by example," and spend 21 days in voluntary quarantine, following the death of his bodyguard from Ebola last week, BBC News reports.

While the number of reported cases in Sierra Leone had been on the decline, a recent uptick was cause for concern, according to government officials. More than 23,500 Ebola cases have been reported in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea since the outbreak began in December 2013; nearly 10,000 people have died from the disease.

Foreign affairs
9:18 a.m. ET

Carrying signs declaring "I am not afraid," and portraits of murdered Russian politician Boris Nemtsov, thousands marched through Moscow on Sunday, Reuters reports.

(AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

The demonstrators walked in honor of Nemtsov, who was shot four times on Friday while walking across a bridge near the Kremlin. The harsh critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin had served as deputy prime minister under Russia's first post-Soviet President, Boris Yeltsin, in the 1990s. He became a popular figure in opposition politics after Yeltsin's successor, Putin, came to power.

(AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

"If we can stop the campaign of hate that's being directed at the opposition, then we have a chance to change Russia," Gennady Gudkov, an opposition leader, told Reuters before the march. "If not, then we face the prospect of mass civil conflict."

(AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Putin has condemned Nemtsov’s murder as a "provocation," and Kremlin investigators say they are pursuing several leads. In interviews before his death, Nemtsov said he feared Putin might want him dead because of his involvement with the opposition.

That was fast
8:44 a.m. ET
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Ronda Rousey needed just 14 seconds on Saturday night to defend her UFC bantamweight title against Cat Zingano, ESPN reports.

It was Rousey's (11-0) fifth UFC title defense; her last three have lasted just 66 seconds, 16 seconds, and now 14 seconds — the latter being the fastest finish of her career thus far and a UFC record for fastest ever in a title fight.

Rousey submitted Zingano with a straight armlock after Zingano rushed Rousey on the opening bell; Zingano quickly tapped out of the hold.

Foreign affairs
8:16 a.m. ET
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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro condemned what he says are moves by the United States to unseat him at a rally on Saturday, Reuters reports.

"We have captured some U.S. citizens in undercover activities, espionage, trying to win over people in towns along the Venezuelan coast," Maduro said. "In Tachira, we captured a pilot of a U.S. plane (who is) of Latin origin (carrying) all kinds of documentation."

A U.S. embassy spokesman in Caracas declined to comment on Maduro's statements, saying that there had not been any official, diplomatic communication on the charges with the Venezuelan government. But an Obama administration official dismissed the accusations, calling them "baseless and false."

Maduro also said he would institute visa fees for Americans who want to enter Venezeula, reduce the number of U.S. embassy officials allowed in Caracas, and bar certain U.S. citizens from entering the country, including former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney.

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