February 6, 2015

A new study from Weill Cornell Medical College has revealed that New York's subway system is teeming with bacteria, many of which are unidentifiable.

Dr. Christopher Mason, lead author of the study, told The New York Times that subway riders should be impressed with the transit system's variety of life. "I want them to think of it the same way you'd look at a rain forest, and be almost in awe and wonder, effectively, that there are all these species present — and that you’ve been healthy all along," Mason told the Times.

Mason and his colleagues created a project called PathoMap, where researchers collected DNA swabs from wooden benches, subway poles, turnstiles, handrails, and doors. They found that nearly half of the DNA samples didn't match any organisms known to science, and only 0.2 percent matched the human genome.

The researchers also found three samples that were linked to bubonic plague and two samples that had fragments of anthrax DNA, though none of those samples were alive. As for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's response to the study, a spokesperson told the Times that the study was "deeply flawed." Meghan DeMaria

9:18 a.m.

Rudy Giuliani is hitting back at former National Security Adviser John Bolton with his own explosive comparison.

Fiona Hill, President Trump's former top Russia adviser, testified Monday that Bolton expressed concern about Giuliani's effort to get Ukraine to investigate Democrats by comparing him to a "hand grenade who's going to blow everybody up," The New York Times reports.

An angry Giuliani fired back Tuesday with a real "I know you are, but what am I" type of response, comparing Bolton himself to an explosive.

"I'm very disappointed that his bitterness drives him to attack a friend falsely," Giuliani said of Bolton, NBC News reports. "It's really ironic that John Bolton is calling anyone else a hand grenade. When John is described by many as an atomic bomb."

Giuliani further slammed Bolton while speaking to New York magazine's Olivia Nuzzi, saying he's "disappointed" and Bolton's comparison is "almost like projection." Though Bolton didn't make his comment publicly and it instead came by way of an aide's testimony, considering he's got a book on the way and had promised to have his "say in due course," this could be the shape of things to come. Brendan Morrow

8:05 a.m.

Twelve Democratic presidential candidates will gather on one stage in Ohio on Tuesday night for their first debate since House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry of President Trump tied to one of the top candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden, and another leading candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), had a heart attack. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), meanwhile, is now tied with or leads Biden in the polls. The debate, featuring the largest number of U.S. presidential candidates on stage at the same time, will be hosted by CNN and The New York Times.

Billionaire Tom Steyer is making his first debate appearance, and several second-tier candidates are facing a shrinking window to break through before the first caucus. The other eight candidates in Tuesday's debate are three more U.S. senators — Kamala Harris (Calif.), Cory Booker (N.J.), and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) — South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).

The candidates "are really being distinguished on the same set of issues ... impeachment, what's happening in Syria and a lot of other places," Sean Bagniewski, chairman of Iowa's Polk County Democrats, told Politico. "People are actually starting to look at who would be the best leader in challenging times like these." But with so many candidates facing so much pressure to stand out, there might be some unexpected moments. “Who knows what goofy bulls--t Steyer will pull, or Gabbard will pull,” an adviser to one candidate told Politico. Peter Weber

8:00 a.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden in a new interview concedes he exercised "poor judgment" in serving on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

Biden spoke with ABC News in an interview Tuesday about his work with Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian oil and gas company where he served on the board. He has faced criticism from those who say he was inappropriately profiting from his father's position while the former vice president was overseeing Ukraine policy, as well as unfounded allegations of illegal activity from President Trump, whose request that Ukraine's president investigate Biden sparked an impeachment inquiry.

In the interview, Biden concedes that "in retrospect," he used "poor judgment" in getting "in the middle of something that is a swamp in many ways." He also admits he "probably" wouldn't have gotten the position if his last name wasn't Biden, although he defended his qualifications and again denied anything allegations of illegality, saying he did "nothing wrong."

"Did I make a mistake? Well, maybe in the grand scheme of things, yeah," Biden said. "But did I make a mistake based upon some ethical lapse? Absolutely not." He also said it was a mistake in that he "gave a hook to some very unethical people to act in illegal ways to try to do some harm to my father." Biden denied ever discussing his work with Burisma with his father outside of one "brief exchange."

This interview aired the morning of the fourth Democratic presidential debate, though whether any of Biden's opponents will seize upon this criticism or dismiss it as a distraction remains unclear. Brendan Morrow

7:15 a.m.

American Media Inc. and its soon-to-be-sold tabloid National Enquirer shredded secret documents potentially damaging to President Trump right before the 2016 election, Ronan Farrow writes in his new book, Catch & Kill. After reporters for The Wall Street Journal called AMI to ask about a $150,000 payout to a former Playboy model whose story about an extramarital affair with Trump was never published in the pro-Trump tabloid, a panicked Enquirer editor in chief Dylan Howard ordered a staffer to "get everything out of the safe," adding, "we need to get a shredder down there," Farrow writes, according to Politico and CNN.

"The staffer opened the safe, removed a set of documents, and tried to wrest it shut," Farrow recounts, and an Enquirer employee said a trash crew collected "a larger than customary volume of refuse" that day. After the news of AMI's secret Trump files came out, Farrow says, "reporters would discuss the safe like it was the warehouse where they stored the Ark of the Covenant in Indiana Jones, but it was small and cheap and old."

The Journal published its article Nov. 4, 2016, and along with Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's $130,000 hush payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels, it formed the backbone of a post-election scandal that eventually ended in a three-year jail sentence for Cohen. AMI cooperated in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

As scrutiny of Trump's close relationship with AMI and its publisher, David Pecker, grew, the materials were moved to a bigger safe. It was then that an employee "found something amiss: the list of Trump dirt didn't match up with the physical files," Farrow writes. "Some of the material had gone missing." Howard, who has retained a lawyer and is considering legal action, declined to comment on Farrow's reporting. AMI said in a statement that "Mr. Farrow's narrative is driven by unsubstantiated allegations from questionable sources and while these stories may be dramatic, they are completely untrue." Peter Weber

5:30 a.m.

"The impeachment train is picking up steam," Jimmy Kimmel said on Monday's Kimmel Live, running through the various depositions House impeachment investigators have conducted in President Trump's Ukraine scandal and catching up on the legal woes of Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani. "Make no mistake, the president is melting down like a creamsicle in July," Kimmel said. "He's threatening to sue Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff — which you can't do, and not only that, who's he going to get to sue them? All his lawyers are either in jail or going there soon."

"With this and the impeachment and Turkey and Syria and all manner of hell breaking loose," Trump is urging followers to vote for Sean Spicer on Dancing With the Stars, Kimmel said. "And that might be his greatest abuse of power yet."

Trump has "shaken Washington to its core by refusing to recognize the power of Congress to impeach him," Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show. "The question is: Why does the president think he can get away with this?" Neal Brennan had an answer: "Trump doesn't think he got elected; Trump thinks he bought America." When Noah protested, Brennan countered: "Dude, he tried to buy Greenland eight weeks ago" His supporting evidence was kind of persuasive.

"In a normal administration, an impeachment inquiry would be enough drama on its own, but the Trump presidency is like a Black Friday sale happening at the Fyre Festival," Noah said: "Pure chaos!"

Trump faced near-universal condemnation for unilaterally pulling U.S. troops back from Kurdish-held areas of Syria, and now "the thing everyone warned Trump would happen is happening," Noah said. "Turkey invading, Kurds fleeing, ISIS escaping? Like, the Middle East was already a geopolitical Jenga tower, with everyone trying to figure out the right move. And then Donald Trump comes in, he's like, 'What if we move the whole table?'" And while Trump says he's just bringing U.S. troops home, he's actually just shifting them to Saudi Arabia — for cash, Trump bragged. "He is right, that is a first," Noah said. "I don't think America has ever rented out its military before." Watch below. Peter Weber

4:22 a.m.

After federal investigators arrested Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman last week as they boarded one-way flights to Vienna, their close associate Rudy Giuliani wasn't sure he'd been paid "hundreds of thousands of dollars" by Parnas' fraud-mitigation firm, Fraud Guarantee, as Parnas reportedly attested. On Monday, Giuliani was sure, telling Reuters that Fraud Guarantee paid him half a million dollars for legal and technical consulting work last year.

In their indictment of Parnas and Fruman, federal prosecutors say an unidentified Russian businessman arranged for two payments of $500,000 to be wired from foreign bank accounts to a U.S. account controlled by Fruman in September and October 2018. At least part of that money was allegedly used to try to influence U.S. politicians and candidates on Ukraine policy, in violation of federal law. Giuliani told Reuters he's sure his $500,000 came from "a domestic source," though he did not identify the source or explain how he was "100 percent" certain. "I know beyond any doubt the source of the money is not any questionable source," Giuliani insisted.

The federal prosecutors in Manhattan who indicted Parnas and Fruman are also looking into Giuliani's interactions with the duo and Giuliani's other business in Ukraine. Parnas and Fruman were involved in Giuliani's attempts to pressure Ukraine's government to investigate President Trump's domestic political rival Joe Biden. Giuliani is Trump's personal lawyer and fixer, and his legal troubles could also have serious implications for Trump, CNN's Chris Cuomo explained Monday night.

Giuliani's $500,000 paycheck, for work he said started in August 2018 and was completed by 2019, may not seem exorbitant for such a high-flyer, but one of his main attacks against the Bidens is that fellow lawyer Hunter Biden was apparently paid $50,000 a month by a Ukrainian gas company, ostensibly for similar regulatory compliance work. Peter Weber

1:59 a.m.

In his closing statement Monday night, MSNBC host Chris Hayes offered a few thoughts on "the path of least resistance," where organizations turn a blind eye to bad behavior — the NBA's efforts to appease China, for example, or Republican lawmakers pleading ignorance of President Trump's "bile, bigotry, and rank corruption, and abuse of power." But then Hayes veered out on a limb: "Heck, I feel the tug of it myself as my own news organization is embroiled in a very public controversy over its conduct."

Hayes ran through NBC News' pushback against a new book by Ronan Farrow, Catch and Kill, in which Farrow alleges, among other things, that NBC News tried to kill his bombshell report on Harvey Weinstein not only because of pressure from Weinstein's lawyers but also because of concerns about similar allegations about Matt Lauer, then a big star at NBC News.

Hayes noted that NBC News denies these allegations. He seemed skeptical: "One thing, though, is indisputable. Ronan Farrow walked out of NBC News after working on the Weinstein story and within two months published an incredible article in The New Yorker that not only won a Pulitzer but helped trigger a massive social and cultural reckoning that continues to this day."

"The path of least resistance is always there, beckoning seductively with an entirely plausible cover story — 'You've got bigger fish to fry,' 'This isn't the hill to die on,' 'The story isn't ready,'" Hayes said. "But of course it's the very ease of that path that makes it the enemy of the kind of work we as journalists are supposed to do." Peter Weber

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