October 12, 2019

It might not technically be a world record, but it's beyond impressive anyway.

Kenyan marathoner Eliud Kipchoge on Saturday became the first human ever to run a marathon — 26.2 miles — in less than two hours, a feat that was long thought in impossible. The 34-year-old Kipchoge, who has won eight major marathons and three Olympic medals, did it in 1 hour, 59 minutes and 40.2 seconds.

It unfortunately won't count as the fastest marathon in history, though, since it wasn't technically a race and Kipchoge relied on a rotating cast of pacemakers instead of competitors. Indeed, everything about the event was carefully engineered for him to achieve the mark, including a perfectly flat course in Vienna, Austria, and Kipchoge's Nike sneakers, whose legality have been called into question for official events.

Either way, Kipchoge viewed the event as an important first step for marathoners. "I'm expecting more athletes to run under two hours after today," he said.

British petrochemicals billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, who backed the event, called the feat the "last great barrier in athletics." Even with the careful planning, it's still something to marvel at. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Tim O'Donnell

5:02 p.m.

Reopening schools doesn't seem to be a major contributor to coronavirus community spread, data from random testing in the U.S. and Britain reveals. That's especially true of elementary schools, the data shows.

Children, even young ones, can and have been infected with COVID-19 and can transmit the virus to adults. But even as coronavirus surges once again across the U.S. and Britain, random testing data shows young children aren't the ones causing coronavirus spikes, experts who've seen the data say. "The more and more data that I see, the more comfortable I am that children are not, in fact, driving transmission, especially in school settings,” Brooke Nichols, an infectious disease modeler at the Boston University School of Public Health, told The New York Times.

The risks among children in middle and high schools are less clear, experts acknowledge. But they believe "these schools may be able to contain the coronavirus, provided the community prevalence is low and the schools take abundant precautions," the Times reports. It all led Dr. David Rubin, a pediatrician and infectious disease expert at the University of Pennsylvania, to conclude it's worth at least reopening elementary schools in lower-risk areas. "I think there’s a pretty good base of evidence now that schools can open safely in the presence of strong safety plans, and even at higher levels of case incidence than we had suspected,” he said. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:33 p.m.

It's been "several months" since President Trump was in attendance for a meeting of the White House coronavirus task force, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, in an interview with Meet the Press on Friday described the current status of the White House coronavirus task force, explaining that it is now meeting less regularly than it used to earlier in the pandemic despite the U.S. seeing an uptick in daily COVID-19 cases.

"The number of task force meetings have diminished, and we're averaging right now about one a week," Fauci said.

Asked by Chuck Todd when Trump himself last attended one of these meetings, Fauci said "that was several months ago." Fauci also said in the interview that Scott Atlas, a controversial White House COVID-19 adviser who has no background in epidemiology and recently posted a false claim that masks don't work that was removed by Twitter, has the president's "ear" more than he does.

"I definitely don't have his ear as much as Scott Atlas right now," Fauci said. "That has been a changing situation. We certainly interact with the vice president at the task force meetings, and the vice president makes our feelings and what we talk about there known to the president. But direct involvement with the president in the discussions, I have not done that in a while."

Fauci's comments come days after Trump attacked him as a "disaster" and said that people are "tired of hearing Fauci and these idiots." Brendan Morrow

4:33 p.m.

Developers will start rolling out their COVID-19 vaccines in the coming months, leaving U.S. health officials to test their long-term safety. But that won't be easy, especially given that the Trump administration quietly shut down the office responsible for ensuring the safety of vaccines last year, The New York Times reports.

Before the late 1980s, vaccine safety relied on parents, doctors, vaccine makers, and hospitals to step forward and report symptoms they feared were connected to a vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention then worked out a new system that sought out clusters of symptoms among people who receive a vaccine, and expanded that oversight during the H1N1 epidemic of 2009. This system helped the U.S. figure out which symptoms actually popped up long after a vaccine was injected, and which were just coincidental.

But in 2019, the National Vaccine Program Office was shut down in an effort to cut costs and "eliminate program redundancies," Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar wrote at the time. The shortsightedness of that shutdown has come into clear view amid the coronavirus pandemic, said Dr. Nicole Lurie, who who was assistant secretary for preparedness and response at HHS during the 2009 pandemic. FDA and CDC staffers have reportedly been meeting up on their own time to cobble some safety projects together. "There's no sort of active coordination to bring all the information together," Lurie told the Times.

Other vaccine experts and political scientists have their own concerns: foreign disinformation campaigns, a lack of transparency, proper communications to clear up health issues unrelated to vaccines, to name a few. A coordinated vaccine office would be tasked with handling all of that. Read more at The New York Times. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:14 p.m.

Sacha Baron Cohen still has one more Borat surprise up his sleeve.

In a video posted to Twitter on Friday, the comedian revealed that Maria Bakalova, who plays Borat's daughter in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, apparently got into the White House in September while posing as a journalist.

Video posted to the official Borat Twitter account on Friday showed Bakalova both outside and inside of the White House walking alongside a journalist from One America News, a far-right network that has been promoted by President Trump.

"They take my daughter into the White House," Baron Cohen says in the video as Borat. "No need for security checks or COVID test!"

The video also shows Bakalova briefly exchanging words with Donald Trump Jr. and attending an event where the president himself spoke, though it wasn't clear when that footage was taken.

Baron Cohen previously told Good Morning America on Friday that Bakalova "has been staying in character since the movie and actually recently got taken on a tour of the White House about a week before the super-spreader event by people who believed that she was a real journalist." This White House footage actually didn't make the cut of the movie itself, which was released on Friday. But with Baron Cohen still revealing new scenes after the film dropped, don't bet against there being a few more Borat bombshells in store. Brendan Morrow

2:43 p.m.

A far-right extremist has been accused of opening fire on Minneapolis' third police precinct and sparking violence during May's George Floyd protests.

Ivan Harrison Hunter, a 26-year-old from Texas, was charged Friday with one count of interstate travel to participate in a riot. An admitted member of the "Boogaloo Bois," Hunter opened fire on the precinct and later looted it and helped set it on fire, the FBI said in a sworn affidavit released Friday.

The Minneapolis police's third precinct was just a block from where Floyd was killed, and became the center of protests against police violence that devolved into the destruction of the precinct and buildings around it. Hunter is one of several far-right extremists accused of intentionally ramping up that violence. Armed with a mask and tactical gear, Hunter fired 13 rounds at the precinct while officers were inside and ran away shouting "Justice for Floyd," the FBI alleges. He later bragged about "help[ing] the community burn down that police station" on Facebook.

Hunter admitted he was member of the Boogaloo movement, a collection of far-right, anti-government extremists intent on sparking a second civil war. He was in contact with other self-described Boogaloo Bois who arranged a trip to Minneapolis. He also texted with Steven Carrillo, another Boogaloo member who later shot and killed a sheriff's deputy in California. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:25 p.m.

President Trump on Friday announced that Israel and Sudan will normalize relations — and in the process unsuccessfully sought an attack on his Democratic opponent from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The White House on Friday said that Israel and Sudan "have agreed to the normalization of relations," touting this as a "historic agreement" and calling it "another major step toward building peace in the Middle East." Trump spoke in the Oval Office about the agreement, with Netanyahu joining him over the phone, and got in a dig at Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

"Do you think Sleepy Joe could have made this deal, Bibi?" Trump asked Netanyahu. "Sleepy Joe. Do you think he would have made this deal? Somehow, I don't think so."

But Trump didn't get what he was apparently looking for from Netanyahu, who ignored the question about Biden entirely and avoided going after the former vice president.

"Well, Mr. President," Netanyahu responded, "one thing I can tell you is we appreciate the help for peace from anyone in America." Brendan Morrow

12:38 p.m.

The Trump campaign seems to be calling Thursday's debate a win, at least as far as fundraising is concerned.

In a Friday morning press release following the final presidential debate, Trump's campaign deemed an unspecified time surrounding the debate "the re-election effort's largest digital fundraising day ever." It and the Republican National Committee's combined fundraising arm brought in $26 million during that time, propelling the Trump campaign to mark October its "largest online fundraising month ever," the release said. Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien told reporters on a call that it was the best fundraising day of both this and the 2016 Trump campaign.

The Biden campaign hasn't announced what it raised around this debate. Its previous single-day record was the $24.1 million it raised surrounding the previous debate.

The Trump campaign was in serious need of fundraising after its third quarter records showed it with just $63 million in the bank, out of what used to be a more than $1 billion war chest. Kathryn Krawczyk

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