December 14, 2016

Senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News Wednesday they have a "high level of confidence" that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally directed how material hacked from Democrats was leaked and otherwise used before the election.

The intelligence came from spies working for U.S. allies and diplomatic sources, the officials said. In 2011, Hillary Clinton cast doubts on the integrity of Russia's parliamentary elections, and Putin had a "vendetta" against her, a high-level intelligence official told NBC News. The effort then morphed into an attempt to highlight corruption in American politics and "split off key American allies by creating the image that [other countries] couldn't depend on the U.S. to be a credible global leader anymore." The CIA has since assessed the Russian government wanted Donald Trump to get elected. Read the entire report at NBC News. Catherine Garcia

8:38 a.m.

Eli Lilly and Company has announced the start of human testing in the "world's first study of a potential antibody treatment designed to fight COVID-19."

The company on Monday said the first patients have been dosed as it tests a potential antibody treatment for COVID-19 in what Stat News described as a "milestone." Eli Lilly touted this as the "first potential new medicine specifically designed to attack" the coronavirus. The study will focus on determining the drug's safety in patients hospitalized with COVID-19, and the company is expecting results by the end of June; it then aims to test among non-hospitalized patients.

"Ultimately, what we would hope is that this would be an effective treatment that would provide very strongly neutralizing antibodies to lower the virus and help patients recover," Mark Mulligan, who is working on the study, told Stat News.

The company also looks to determine whether the drug can be used for prevention, which The Wall Street Journal notes is an "approach that could serve as a bridge toward curbing the pandemic until a successful vaccine is developed." According to Stat News, the study "will only test the drug for obvious side effects," and it will be given to 32 patients.

If this potential treatment "becomes part of the near-term solution for COVID-19," president of Lilly Research Laboratories Daniel Skovronsky said in a statement, "we want to be ready to deliver it to patients as quickly as possible, with the goal of having several hundred thousand doses available by the end of the year." Skovronsky also told Stat News, "I hope there will be multiple successful [antibody drugs]. I expect there will be." Brendan Morrow

8:17 a.m.

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have developed an experimental COIVD-19 test that uses nanoparticles to detect if coronavirus is present in saliva or a nasal swab sample, revealing the results in about 10 minutes through a change in the color of the test liquid, they report in the journal ACS Nano.

"Based on our preliminary results, we believe this promising new test may detect RNA material from the virus as early as the first day of infection," lead researcher Dipanjan Pan said in a statement, noting that additional studies are need to confirm the results. "Many of the diagnostic tests currently on the market cannot detect the virus until several days after infection. For this reason, they have a significant rate of false negative results." If RNA material specific to the new coronavirus is present in the sample, the gold nanoparticles turn the purple test reagent blue.

If the test lives up to its promise in clinical trials, it could be a relatively inexpensive and user-friendly way to monitor nursing homes, college campuses, child care centers, and offices for COVID-19 infections. "The innovative approach provides results without the need for a sophisticated laboratory facility," study co-author Matthew Frieman said in a statement. Pan has created a company to develop the test commercially and is applying for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. Peter Weber

7:06 a.m.

Christo, the Bulgarian-born artist famous for his ambitious, ephemeral public art installations, died Sunday at his longtime home in New York City of natural causes, his office said in a statement. He was 84. Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude, worked together for 48 years until her death in 2009, mostly wrapping fabric around buildings, across landscapes, and over water.

"Christo lived his life to the fullest, not only dreaming up what seemed impossible but realizing it," the statement said. "Christo and Jeanne-Claude's artwork brought people together in shared experiences across the globe, and their work lives on in our hearts and memories."

Christo Vladimirov Javacheff was born in Gabrovo, Bulgaria, in 1934, on the same day as his future wife, Jeanne-Claude Denat de Guillebon. He studied at the Fine Arts Academy in Sofia before moving to Prague, Vienna, Geneva, and finally Paris, where he met Jeanne-Claude in 1958. They were married in 1960, and their first major work involved covering oil barrels in fabric in Cologne's harbor.

Their other famous projects included surrounding 11 islands in Biscayne Bay, Miami, in pink "skirts" (1983); erecting 3,100 giant umbrellas in California and Japan (1991); "Wrapped Reichstag" (1995), where they covered Germany's parliament building in fabric; and "The Gates" in New York City's Central Park (2005). (You can view all their projects at their website.)

Christo and Jeanne-Claude paid for all of their installations by selling drawings, scale models, and other preparatory material for the projects, The Associated Press reports. "I like to be absolutely free, to be totally irrational with no justification for what I like to do," Christo said. "I will not give up one centimeter of my freedom for anything." Peter Weber

5:36 a.m.

John Oliver knows the biggest story from last week wasn't his main story on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. "Due to the fact that we're producing remotely, we currently have to tape Saturday morning," he tweeted Sunday night. "That's never great, and this week, it's especially not-great." This week's main story, he said, touches on "how the president spent the first half of his week."

"For some reason, in the midst of 40 million Americans unemployed, 100,000 Americans dead, and racial tensions boiling over," Oliver said, President Trump declared war on Twitter because it fact-checked his "claim that voting by mail in this year's election will be 'substantially fraudulent,'" a claim Trump has tweeted about "a ridiculous number of times in the last two months, and he brings it up constantly." Trump's nonsensical vote-by-mail allegations are "actively harmful to the democratic process," he said, and this year, to public health as well.

If the COVID-19 pandemic "continues into the fall, as it almost certainly will," expanding vote-by-mail is a crucial mitigation tool to facilitate an essential right, Oliver said. "So tonight, let's take a look at why the option of voting by mail is so necessary, why concerns about it are often overblown, and why talking about it right now is actually really important."

"Fraud can happen in mail-in voting," but it's "incredibly rare," in part because despite what Fox News hosts will tell you, "it is a crime that's difficult, high-risk, and low-reward," Oliver explained. What conservatives really seem upset about is the expectation it will increase voting participation and their speculation "that any increased participation would benefit Democrats, despite the fact researchers have consistently found that it hasn't obviously helped one party or the other."

There is "actually one last thing that we may need to personally prepare ourselves for, and that is that in November, if there is, as seems likely, a surge in mail-in voting, it may take much, much longer for all the ballots to be counted," Oliver warned. "And in fact, we may not know who's won until a few days after Election Day. And if it doesn't look good for Donald Trump, look for him to use that to sow discord among his supporters." He urged people to vote by mail anyway and offered a set of four "I Voted" stickers as a reward. Watch below. Peter Weber

3:28 a.m.

President Trump has responded to the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old black man in Minneapolis, with a mixture of inflammatory tweets, silence, and verbal sympathy. In Florida on Saturday, for example, Trump called Floyd's death "a grave tragedy" that "never should have happened" and "has filled Americans all over the country with horror, anger, and grief."

Even as Trump's advisers privately complained that his tweets "were pouring fuel on an already incendiary situation," his "aides were disappointed that the remarks, delivered late Saturday afternoon as part of a speech otherwise celebrating the triumph of the space program, did not get wider attention," The New York Times reports. "In the speech, Mr. Trump repeated his calls for law and order, but in more measured terms and leavened by expressions of sympathy for Mr. Floyd's family, whom he had called to offer condolences."

The call did not go well, Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd, told MSNBC on Saturday evening. "It was so fast, he didn't give me the opportunity to even speak," Floyd said. "It was hard. I was trying to talk to him, but he just kept, like, pushing me off, like: 'I don't want to hear what you're talking about.' And I just told him I want justice. I said that I couldn't believe that they committed a modern-day lynching in broad daylight. I can't stand for that. I can't. And it hurt me."

Floyd said the family had also spoken with former Vice President Joe Biden and he delivered the same message about wanting justice for his brother. Philonise Floyd told MSNBC he wants the death penalty for all four police officers involved in his brother's death. You can watch the interview at MSNBC. Peter Weber

2:02 a.m.

Dressed in his best suit and ready to dance, Curtis Rogers, 7, threw his babysitter a mini-prom that she'll never forget.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Rachel Chapman, 17, of Raleigh, North Carolina, wasn't able to experience many senior activities, including going to prom. Before the pandemic, Chapman spent most afternoons with Rogers — she would pick him up from school, help him with his homework, and take him to the playground. Rogers' mom, Elissa, told Good Morning America her son "absolutely adores" Chapman, and when he heard that her prom had been canceled, he didn't want her to miss out on the fun, and decided to plan one himself.

Rogers picked out everything, from his dapper suit to the night's menu, which was comprised of food he used to eat with Chapman, including smoothies and apples with peanut butter. During the prom, they safely kept their distance from one another, sharing a meal and dancing from afar. Chapman, who hasn't been able to babysit Rogers since March, said she was "so surprised" by his thoughtfulness. "I had no idea he was going to go all out," she added. "It was very thoughtful and sweet." Catherine Garcia

2:00 a.m.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo visited the scene of George Floyd's death to pay his respects on Sunday, and he told CNN's Sara Sidner he had no hesitation about firing the four officers under whose custody Floyd died. One of the officers, now charged with manslaughter and third-degree murder, kneeled on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. "There are absolute truths in life," Arradondo said. "We need air to breathe. The killing of Mr. Floyd was an absolute truth that it was wrong. And so it did not take, I did not need days or weeks or months or processes or bureaucracies to tell me that what occurred out here last Monday, it was wrong."

Sider told Arradondo that Floyd's family was live on CNN and asked if he had any comment for them. He took of his hat and said he was "absolutely, devastatingly sorry for their loss," and he would do anything to bring Floyd back. CNN's Don Lemon asked Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd, if he wanted to ask the police chief anything, and Sider interrupted Arradondo to relay his question about whether the chief will convict all four officers, not just the one who kneeled on his brother's neck. Arradondo noted he isn't a prosecutor but said as far as he's concerned, all four officers are "complicit" in Floyd's death.

"Being silent, or not intervening, to me, you're complicit, so I don't see a level of distinction any different," Arradondo said. "Mr. Floyd died in our hands, and so I see that as being complicit." Philonise Floyd, who said this was his first communication with Minneapolis police, wasn't entirely satisfied with the answer. "They have enough evidence to fire them, so they have enough evidence to arrest them," he said. "I don't know who he's talking to, but I need him to do it, because we all are listening." Watch the entire exchange below. Peter Weber

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